After the abortive French attempt to cross the Rio Tagus at Abrantes, Ney fell back to Ponte de Sor to lick his wounds and attempt to write that unfortunate episode out of the annals of French military history. His opponent Beresford however wasn’t idle. Leaving a screen of light cavalry at Abrantes, he moved his troops down the opposite bank to Santarem and then attacked Coruche on the 20th. General de Division Suchet had been reporting increasing enemy forces across the river for several days and as senior general in Coruche was under orders to retire if attacked. Duly, he and the 20 odd thousand infantry trooped back to Mora as the Anglo-Portuguese streamed into Coruche. However, the bridged road had only allowed a small number of the gathered troops to cross, but a bridgehead was there and more would be following up tomorrow.
In Ponte de Sor, Marechal Ney immediately realised that something had gone wrong with his plans when on the evening of the 20th April he received a courier bringing news of enemy forces in Coruche. Where Suchet and his men had gone wasn’t clear but he had only one choice. To send couriers out to all his troops to concentrate on Coruche and so the stage was set for both sides to sieze the initiative. On the 21st, the French got the jump and their troops marched down two roads into Coruche while Anglo-Portuguese troops reinforced from Santarem.
And so on the 22nd even more troops piled into Coruche, finally amassing 37k French to 22k Anglo-Portuguese infantry. (We’ve experimented with a new method of having reinforcements on the table this game. Anything arriving during the day of the battle starts the game on the baseline – not the most realistic option but a more pleasing one from a game perspective.)
French forces amassed on the right, the thin Red (& Blue!) line on the left.
The French waste no time moving forward to attack. Suchet’s Division nearest the camera, with Marchand’s furthest away heading for the British Light Division atop the hill and rapid movement for the reinforcement division lead by Gazan while in the midde the cavalry under Ney himself move forward.
The French move cautiously on the left flank while Marchand deploys into line as he starts to take skirmish fire from the top of the hill. Mermet advances to support Marchand.
Suchet deploys into line in the face of the British cavalry, and Loison begins to move to hit the end of the infantry line where the Portuguese artillery defend a field.
Suchet prevaricates and the British cavalry resist the temptation to charge no longer. Suchet’s troops form square and the cavalry bounce, taking some damage from the musketry and cannister fire. On the hill, Marchand moves up to volley fire range, but the British are waiting and a stunning volley rolls out, causing massed casualties but suprisingly only one unit fails morale and becomes shaken.
Marchand’s troops fire a pitiful volley and cause few casualties but the return fire is withering. Casualties again are heavy and the units in Marchand’s Division are almost broken. Loison continues forward in the face of artillery fire. The British cavalry fall back shaken and fewer in number while the reserve units of Leith’s Division take position behind his artillery to combat Loison’s advance.
Marchand trys to retire out of volley fire range retreating down the hill but the Light Division keep piling on the pain and follow him. In the centre Loison changes into column and outflanks the artillery line while charging it frontally. They are repulsed easily. The British cavalry continue to fall back while Suchet advances with his units scattered.
Marchand again retreats out of volley fire and this time Craufurd lets him.
Loison trys again to see off the Portuguese artillery, the frontal charge again failing and the attack in the flank ends in stalemate.
Leith sends in his reserves to try to see off the enemy once and for all and Loison just doesn’t have the ability to push anything else in from his side.
Unfortunately, that’s where time ran out on us. However, we’re going to finish it off next week when we should hopefully be back to a complement of 4 players which should make things flow a bit quicker. I hope you enjoyed reading, please feel free to leave a comment.