I started this blog on 21 Feb 2001 and then Migrated Balagan to WordPress on 15 Sep 2013. So, roughly 4.5 years ago. One of the great things about WordPress, compared to the hand crafted HTML site I had before, is that I get statistics on page views. Apparently I’ve had 1,176,779 views since I migrated and 1,125 comments. My biggest day (23 Feb 2018) brought 2,420 views – this was because Reddit got hold of my Academy of Street Fighting: Tactics during the Battle of Stalingrad post. Today is a typical day with 750 views.
A couple of years ago I put my few Peninsular War figures on big bases. Some French Dragoons and various Spanish new battalions. Now that I’m trying to finish my Albuera project I’m going to supplement these with more figures. Before I do that I have to decide, exactly, how to deal with the company distinctions of the various nations. The French, who gave each company in the battalion, including the fusilier companies, pose particular challenges.
There are quite a few interesting things about the Battle of Albuera (16 May 1811). Enough of interest that the battle has become the subject of my first Peninsular project. The battle was the bloodiest of the Peninsular War. It was a major battle but had modest sized forces involved. Wellington wasn’t there. The battle has French columns facing British (and Spanish) line – so is a good exemplar of what happens in that situation. As a result the core of the battle was a long gruelling musketry competition. It has perhaps the most famous example of cavalry charging, and destroying, unprepared infantry; infantry that in other circumstances were considered steady. And finally, the Allied forces included perhaps the best Spanish troops of the war – those trained by Zayas.
In my recently published Albuera – A Volley and Bayonet Scenario, I used an Order of Battle by Jeff Glasco. For the scenario I did not try to reconcile Glasco’s order of battle with my own Orders of Battle at the Battle of Albuera. Nor did I inject my own thinking on the Spanish forces at the battle and it is the Spanish I want to focus on in this post.
I appears that Jeff Glasco, like most Napoleonic wargamers, doesn’t think much of the Spanish and layers on the disadvantages. This attitude and approach is fairly common in the wargaming community and, in truth, the Spanish armies were often pretty rubbish. But I’m not sure this indictment is warranted for the Battle of Albuera (16 May 1811). I want to highlight and counter some of the anti-Spanish points in the order of battle.
English historians since Oman have claimed that the French V Corps at Albuera formed ordre mixte, i.e. mixed order with battalions in a combination of line and column. Strangely French sources make no such claim. In all French sources V Corps was in closed column (colonne serrée). Unfortunately Oman mistook a French source and, because of that mistake, English historians have got it wrong since.
James Falkus, Rich Wilcox, Chris Harrod and I wanted to try out Shako II. Because of my recent enthusiasm (Spanish Units at Albuera) I suggested the Albuera scenario from Fields of Glory (FOG). FOG is for Shako I and some aspects of the scenario bug me but nobody had the energy to make up a different scenario and we hoped it would be a good game anyway. It was!
I thought I’d write up everything I could find about the Spanish units that fought at Albuera (16 May 1811). It started out as a “how do I paint them?” exercise for my Albuera Project then moved into a “where else could I use those figures?” exercise. Mainly I was just conscious that I’ve lots of material and this gives me an excuse to publish some of it in a way that adds something (i.e. the Albuera context).
The orders of battle were originally based on Smith (1998) – which I read first – and then the more detailed orders of battle in the specialist Albuera books by Oliver and Partridge (2007) and Dempsey (2008).
Shako offers a default orders of battle for the Peninsular and Fields of Glory (FOG) – the Shako scenario book as opposed to the rules – has some Peninsular scenarios, including Albuera. I thought it would be interesting to compare these to each other and to the Historical Order of Battle.
I wanted to build some Peninsular War Armies for Shako based on a historical Order of Battle. The Battle of Albuera (16 May 1811) seems a reasonable starting point or perhaps finale since it requires three armies: Spanish, Anglo-Portuguese, and French. The two overall commanders (Beresford and Soult) were competent and several significant others were also present including Joaquín Blake y Joyes who commanded the Spanish, José de San Martin who was one of the famous Liberators in the South American Wars of Liberation , and José de Zayas who was arguably the best of the Spanish divisional commanders during the entire war. The French and Anglo-Portuguese are roughly the same numbers (ignoring the Spanish). The orders of battle are close to those in pick up lists for Shako.