Wednesday 19 May 2021

Fuentes de Onoro

Black Powder game in the Peninsula. Mike chose the French (Massena) with four divisions of infantry under Reynier, Loisin, Junot and Drouet, 28 battalions in all plus 5 batteries of artillery and Montbrun's dragoon division. In support, Bessieres with the Imperial Guard cavalry.

Wellington has six infantry divisions (1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th & Light plus Slade's cavalry division and Barbacena's Portuguese cavalry. 8 batteries of artillery dominate the skyline.

The empty battlefield - the French will arrive on the right.

Indeed, scouts are already examining the terrain

The bridge leading to the village is the obvious pinch point

The French divisions mass preparatory to the attack - including two of cavalry nearest the camera.

Mike decides to attack on all fronts together

British infantry are occupying the close knit small buildings of the village

The Light Division are in the woods to the left

Only skirmishers visible to the French

Houston's 7th Division have occupied the small village of Poco Velho

Now we can see the British guns on the heights above the village

a local tavern keeper, El Murrio, watches anxiously.

Open fire !

The French are coming !

Big solid ranks of infantry in column

and the first of them hit the village

others head for the gap between Poco Velho and the woods

including all the cavalry

Quickly, the French get to grips with the defenders

The Portuguese cavalry charge Montbrun's dragoons
KGL Hussars sit behind Poco Velho village watching the approaching French

Two houses have fallen already

The Portuguese cavalry have gone so now British light dragoons charge forward

but French dragoons punch heavier

and the British are thrown back with one regiment gone

the French dragoons way outnumber them

so now there are none - British cavalry broken !

French flags flying in Fuentes de Onoro 

the Light Division prepare for action as the enemy nears the woods

Wellington refuses to commit his reserves yet

the Imperial Guard cavalry now advance

the KGL cavalry have to try and hold this for as long as they can

the left side of the village is now under heavy infantry attack

just the artillery and skirmishers fire from the hills

the Allied right flank is about to be turned

the Light Division is deployed 

over on the British left, more French columns approach

Wellington watches with some concern

the Horse Grenadiers have seen off the KGL cavalry and approach the British right flank

and infantry lines are getting the better of Craufurd's men in and around the woods

Houston's men are still holed up in Poco Velho and take pot shots at the passing enemy cavalry

the British are still holding on to two houses on the right

and the church and one small house on the left of the village

French columns now ascend the heights

which is William Erskine's cue to advance his division

 French battalions have cut their way through the Light Division and now assail the British right where Wellington has thrown in Brent Spencer's 1st Division 

they beat off the first attacks 

its all down to this fight

Send in the Guards !

Three French battalions wait to attack but they are being hurt by Houston's men in the village

For now, the French cavalry have no role to play

the British artillery has worn down several French battalions and they have fallen back shaken

behind the woods, others refuse to advance any more having taken too many casualties in their fight with the Light Division

even the French cavalry are being picked off by Houston's men shooting out of the windows

Erskine's men have defeated the French attacks on the left of the hill

Will the French be able to punch through the right flank ?

British troops have recaptured the houses on the left of the village as French troops recoil disordered

the left side is quiet as the French retreat

another desperate attack down the street is disordered by fire from the church

the hill line is secure

the Guards and KGL infantry cover the rear of the village

the French attack in the centre of the village falters


and attempts to make further gains on the right are thwarted  

Suddenly, the largest French division of 10 battalions attacking on the right flank broke and fled - over half of their number were shaken or had taken excess casualties.

This coupled with the retreat of two other divisions means the battle is over for Massena.

What will Napoleon make of his report ? Will it cost him his job ?  Well, we know the answer all these years down the road !

This looked bad for a long time for Wellington but he prevailed in the end.