We don't always field balanced forces in our games. Real life was never balanced, and we find more interesting games (and unusual conditions which find gaps in the rules) often develop from situations where the overall outcome isn't in much doubt and victory conditions need to be more imaginative. This was the situation here, although the French did not know just how weak the British were.
Picton's under-strength Division (commanded by Dave and Ross) was tasked (a little unfairly!) with fighting a rearguard action to hold off the pesky Frogs as long as possible; the position chosen was a nice, classic British-friendly ridge line overlooking the village of Santa Maria but the limited forces available to the British commander made it unlikely his position could hold for long.
The French players (Ion and Geoff) commanded Gen. Delaborde's Division; this formed the Advance Guard of a Corps and was required to brush the pesky redcoats aside quickly so the Corps could advance unhindered.
|Quiet and peaceful - the previous day....|
This view, from the French centre, better shows the area of the table where all the action took place:
|Santa Maria from the East, with Perdido in foreground and Derrida top right|
The French set up with their left and centre packed into the central third of the table, with three Infantry Brigades aimed directly at Santa Maria:
|Gen. Merlot's and Gen. Medoc's Infantry Brigades, with Gen. Margaron's Grenadiers, put on a fine show|
The Dragoons were sent on a wide sweep to the left, and other than eventually discovering part of the sunken stream which protected the British southern flank, contributed nothing to the battle - probably wisely, given the superior quality of (most!) of the British.
|Milhaud's Brigade looks impressive, but they are raw recruits|
|Gen. Thomiere's and Gen. Solignac's Infantry Brigades, with Gen. Colbert's Light Cavalry Brigade and Horse Battery on the right flank|
|Gen. Merlot's Brigade advances in the centre, and finally some British appear - two artillery batteries open up from in front of the ridge line|
|The view from the British gun line above Santa Maria. Unseen, the Light Brigade hold the enclosures and the southern part of the village|
Gen. Halkett's Light Brigade ambushes and destroys a French battalion on the southern flank...
|... and the Portuguese conscripts (with some help from their friends) see off an initial French attack...|
|...but now the inexorable French pressure starts to build as they swing around the British left flank.|
|The British Heavy Cavalry are all but annihilated in a rash charge against the French horse battery, and the writing is on the wall...|