Chris Harrod and I played the Gavilan scenario for Liberators QPR. I was the defending Patriots and Chris the Royalists. It was great fun but Another epic in terms of play time. The Patriots won. We’re not sure the Royalists can win even with beefing up Morgado’s forces.
Setting: Gavilan Hill, Conception, Chile; 5 May 1817
We used all of Chris’s 8′ x 5′ 6″ table. The ground scale was 1″ = 15 yards and the troop scale was adjusted to compensate. I made specific lake and river features for the game along with a Gavilan Hill.
The scenario constrains the deployment quite tightly, particularly for the Royalists.
Table at Deployment
Patriots to left and the entry points of two Royalist columns on the left.
The white crosses just show the grid for setting up the terrain.
As the Patriot defender I deployed on Gavilan Hill but with my cavalry massed on the right and infantry on the left.
The artillery was grouped in the centre behind the little lake. This was to maximise their fire zone.
Patriot Artillery and its fire zone
The battle started at 0700 hours as the Royalist Column Ordonez entered the table. The Patriot grand battle singled out the Grenadiers of the Conception battalion for a massed blast … and routed them.
Table 0700 hours
Patriot artillery routs Royalist Grenadiers
Despite his losses Ordonez pushed ahead. His plan was to rush his cavalry up between the swamp and the bank of the Bio Bio river. The infantry would follow as best they could and mounted an attack through the swamps. The artillery would stay behind to threaten the distant Patriots.
Table 0715 hours
Chris scored well for the arrival of Morgado’s column which duly arrived on the far flank.
Column Morgado arrives
I definitely would have appreciated some more time to deal with Ordonez before the Royalist reinforcements arrived. Now I knew I’d have to fight a battle on two fronts.
The Patriots see Column Morgado arrive in the distance
The Royalists had to advance under heavy fire from the Patriot artillery. On the plus side for Chris Chillan was already half way along the edge of the swamp.
Table 0730 hours
But their rapid advance meant the Royalist Chillan Dragoons would now become the focus of the Patriot artillery.
The Royalists Chillan Dragoons get hit by the Patriot artillery
The the Royalist columns now both half way across the table I cracked and moved my troops to counter their advance. Chris had won the psychological battle of wills and in hindsight at least some of this movement was unnecessary. Most significantly I pushed my cavalry off the hill and split my artillery into two groups.
Table 0745 hours
Royalists advance to both left and right and the Patriots respond
The Royalist Chillan Dragoons raced on but were still being enfiladed by the Patriot artillery. I wasn’t doing massive damage but we’d see what the final toll would be when the Chillan got within charge distance.
Royalist Chillan Dragoons race forward but continue to take artillery hits
On the other flank Morgado tried to lure the Patriots off the hill and started a cat and mouse game. As the Royalist infantry and artillery entered the marsh around the lake the cavalry began to advance then retreat on each side. Chris knew his cavalry were outclassed so wanted to draw my cavalry into range of his guns before the fateful encounter.
Column Morgado tries to lure Patriot cavalry closer
Ordonez finally got his Chillan dragoons past the marsh near the Bio Bio river. And on the far flank I committed my Argentine Horse Grenadiers in the centre. Now we’d see if the Royalist artillery could whittle them down before they got hold of some enemy cavalry.
Table 0800 hours
Third turn in a row in which one of the squadrons from the Chillan Dragoons takes a hit from the Patriot artillery.
Royalist Chillan Dragoons on the banks of the River Bio Bio
but still under fire
Second Royalist unit routs.
Table 0815 hours
As the Royalist Chillan Dragoons lined up to charge Gavilan Hill the Patriot artillery broke one of the Royalist squadrons.
As the Argentine Horse Grenadiers faffed about in the centre of the table the Royalist Chillan Dragoons began their charge.
Table 0830 hours
Two squadrons of the Chillan Dragoons charged the Patriot line. But they are were charging steady infantry and guns. And were vastly outnumbered. These guys are not French Cuirassiers and not surprisingly they cracked under the withering fire of the Patriots.
Bad day for the Royalist Chillan Dragoons
With the demise of the Royalist Chillan Dragoons Ordonez called off his infantry attack as well and pulled his fusiliers back towards the marsh. On the other flank the Argentine Horse Grenadiers finally thought they had a chance at charging some Royalist Cavalry; unfortunately both squadrons had been taking hits from the Royalist artillery in front and behind.
Table 0845 hours
Now it was Column Morgado’s turn. The Argentine Horse Grenadiers charged as Morgado’s ad hoc infantry
Table 0900 hours
The elite Argentine Horse Grenadiers sliced cleanly through the Royalist Frontier Dragoons and pursued them off the table.
Argentine Horse Grenadiers rout Frontier Dragoons
Back on Gavilan Hill the Argentine 11th and supporting artillery watched as Morgado’s ad hoc infantry battalion advanced towards them. Once in range the Royalist infantry quickly routed the opposing artillery. But they still had the 11th to face and they had the victorious Argentine Horse Grenadiers behind them. Didn’t look good.
Enemy infantry line up
Patriot battery routs
With the cavalry from both Column Ordonez and Column Morgado routed ,Chris conceded the game.
Conclusions and Thoughts
We really enjoyed this game because of the challenges it presented. Particularly for the Royalists. During the after battle debrief we wondered what the Royalists could do. The only alternative option we could think of was to combine Column Ordonez and Column Morgado in the centre and attack from their. But no guarantee of victory.
Might be worth beefing up the Royalists somehow. As per John Fletcher’s recommendations I had increased the Royalist Ad Hoc Infantry Battalion in Column Morgado from 4 to 10 stands. But it is a pretty rubbish unit and can arrive late so this might not be enough.
Next time we might give the Royalists more control about when Morgado arrives. He arrived on turn 2 for Chris and Chris still lost so a bigger gap would have proved even worse for the Royalists.
Despite these reservations both Chris and I were keen to replay the game as the Royalists, just to see if we could do better.
Chris made skillful use of Column Morgado. Conscious they both his cavalry and infantry were weak Chris set out to play a game of cat and mouse in the hope of luring the Argentine cavalry off the hill and near his guns. He managed to do this, and to keep the Argentines at bay for quite a long time, but ultimately, when the Horse Grenadiers charged, it was game over.
Chris’s more dramatic move was with the Chillan Dragoons. Chris had in mind a glorious Napoleonic cavalry charge. But his South American troops weren’t up to it and dissolved under long term and massed Patriot fire. I suspect neither of us will try that again.
In the incident where the Royalist Ad Hoc battalion marched into musket range of one the Patriot batteries and promptly routed it has convinced me musket fire is too strong. From what I’ve read a similar frontage of guns and fusiliers should have the same firepower. But with my house rule to deploy infantry in two deep lines it means the infantry have twice the firepower. Clearly wrong. At some point I’ll tweak the house rule so that an infantry base is six figures in two ranks, i.e. halve the number of foot bases but leave the number of figures the same. That will effectively halve musketry firepower and put them on a par with guns.
I think this was the first time I had my sabot movement trays for my Liberators figures. Quite handy.
I like making up the specific terrain features for this game – Gavilan Hill, Bio Bio river and the lakes. If I’d had more time I would have made the other features as well including the big hill in the corner.
We agreed we’d try this Liberators HOTT version of this scenario next time.