Wednesday 29 May 2013

Battle of Salamanca

22nd July 1812.

After weeks of marching and counter marching, Wellington has finally lured Marshal Marmont into battle on his own terms and waits for his enemy to make a mistake.
This is the view of The Arapiles that Marmont saw from his position East of Salamanca

On the edge of the ridge is the ruined chapel from where Marmont examined the British positions. It was from here that he thought he saw a dust trail which convinced him the British were withdrawing. He was wrong, all Wellington was doing was sending his baggage train away.
The chapel has now been fully restored.

 And has a battlefield board in front of it
These are the views directly from the chapel
It was over there that Thomiere's division got separated and got taken by surprise by Packenham's troops - the turning point of the battle.
Below is a stream which runs to meet the River Tormes near Salamanca town. Marmont' s troops crossed here to approach the British positions
Salamanca can be seen clearly in the distance
This is the Lesser Arapile which British troops occupied
The French took the Greater Arapile unopposed
The village of Los Arapiles is seen in the background
Another battlefield board at the base of the Lesser Arapile
The memorial atop the Greater Arapile (we couldn't get our coach up there !)
Board at the entrance to the village
And yet a further reminder
Here in the plain much of the fighting took place
The village has a nice little museum which was shut when we arrived but the villagers sent off to bring the key holder.
The locals kept us entertained whilst we waited !
The museum has a very good diorama inside with descriptive boards around


Well worth a visit if you get your timing right !
I am so glad I have visited the site of another one of Wellington's great victories.

Monday 27 May 2013

Fondler's Escape

Being Scenario 10 in the Too Fat Lardies Sharp Practice "Compleat Fondler"

In this, Fondler & Lt. Harry Cost are prisoners of the French and are being transported to the fort seen at the end of the board.
They have to be saved, so 30 Portuguese Cazadores plus the Guerillas of El Zapatero have been dispatched for this mission.

Once they are beyond the bridges, they are beyond help
The ever present pub landlord, El Murri, is ready to serve drinks whatever !
Here we see the head of the French column appear
Fondler & Cost are in a waggon guarded by Sgt.Desade
Without delay, El Zapatero swoops down from the hills with two of his groups
And they open fire on the head of the column
Fondler and Cost wait for an opportunity to escape
El Zapatero urges his men on
Then up on the hill to the left of the French column, the Cazadores, commanded by Lt. Luis dos Santos appear
And they proceed to engage the column with their Baker rifles, being careful to avoid the waggon with the prisoners !
The French officers have to calm their waivering troops
Reorganised, they fire up the hill at the Portuguese
Part of the column turns to fully engage the Cazadores
Fondler, having failed to cut Harry Costs's cords, decides to make his escape
Despite his hands being tied, Cost also leaps out of the waggon and even overtakes Fondler scrambling up the hillside !
The French light troops have fallen back with shock
At this point, a lunch break was called for ... this was just Steve Clarke's meal by the way, my healthy breakfast bar was out of camera shot (ahem) !
And his pet pheasant, Philip III came for lunch too
Right, back to war ... Sgt Desade attempts to recapture Fondler
But dies at the hands of our hero
The French are suffering devastating volleys from two directions
But more arrive and barge their way past the first wave
By now Fondler and Cost have reached the Portuguese lines and assist in organising their fire to great effect
El Murri, being an ever resourceful entrepreneur, decides to bring the beer to the men if they won't come to the pub !
As yet another French officer bites the dust, the column decides its had enough, gives up the thought of getting to the fort and legs it back down the road from whence they came.
So Fondler is spared for yet another adventure !
With the exception of the Portuguese Cazadores, all troops, terrain and buildings from Steve Clarke's amazing collection and big thanks for his kind hospitality and even laying on beautiful sunshine too !