Monday, May 14, 2012

Part 1: Battle of Costa Blanca

Date: 12-15 May 1808/2012
Location: Costa Blanca, Iberia
Situation: British Extreme Left Flank
The Battle Of Costa Blanca

Three days after the battle, several officers of the 16th Light Dragoons discuss mixed reports about their brother regiment; the 15th Hussars. We find the former billeted at a roadside inn enjoying breakfast twenty miles north of Costa Blanca. The army is in retreat.

Erskine (left): "You would think a well-to-do inn might serve a tolerable breakfast.

Wesson: "Complain'n again? Lucky we are to have a decent place to sleep. We could be with the 15th under the discontented eye of the general camped in the rain and 'orrible mud."

Erskine: "Aye, there is that. The 15th will know the scowl of the general for many a day. I heard when the Emsdorf lads trotted by ol' General Pettygree they were rid'n mighty proud until...."

Staff Officer: "The 15th is coming into camp General."

Pettygree: Colonel Stuart Sir. A moment if you please.

Stuart: "Aye Sir. Regiment. Hal---'alt." 

Stuart: "General."

Pettygree: "I understood Sir, your regiment was to form a central reserve at Costa Blanca.

Stuart: "At first Sir. At first. My Lord Paget in command of the left wing saw an opportunity to confound the French by rid'n wide to the left and into their rear. He thought the confusion might stop 'em cold there."

Wesson: "An' that's what they did.

Wesson: "Colonel Stuart led his two squadrons wide to the left beyond any French vedettes and picquets. The sounds of battle were clearly heard far to his right but action was blocked by a forested ridge."

Wesson: "When the 15th passed by that ridge, they wheeled right by echelon into the rear of the Duke of Bensonville's French Brigade where a Chasseur A Cheval regiment faced them and...."

Wesson: "With the memory of Emsdorf and that battle honour on their swallow-tailed flags, Stuart ordered a charge at the gallop. [Melee round #1 Losses: British 4 and French 9. Saving throws were significantly above and below average respectively.]

Erskine: "I heard the 15th pushed back the French cutting down more of 'em. [French lost 7 more, routed, were pursued and cut down by the 15th.]

Bolles (right): "Aye but did you know....

Bolles: "A second French Chasseur A Cheval Regiment had come up disorderly in support of their friends and when they saw the 15th coming on in pursuit, they evaded across a bridge to safety.

Stuart: "And General when that second Chasseur Regiment abandoned the field to us, I considered charging on but thought we had done all we could for the moment. Off to my right there were three French battalions. I thought at least one would have to eventually turn to face me in their rear.

General: "This would have slowed their attack on our left wing, Paget's sector. However, Paget retired from the field to support our forces in Costa Blanca. Your regiment was needed in central reserve to counter a surprise French breakthrough. Only the 16th Light Dragoons were there for this service. Still even with you there we were significantly outnumbered unable to hold the port more than a moment longer."

Pettygree: Very well Colonel. Take your men into camp and rest 'em for tomorrow we continue the retreat north."

Stuart: "Very good General."

Closing Remarks:

1) Yours truly is happiest commanding cavalry in tabletop games. When Lord Paget ordered the 15th to swing wide, Stuart (me) eagerly obeyed.

2) The 15th some will recall was formed during the Seven Years' War as a light dragoon regiment. It's celebrated successful charge at Emsdorf in 1760 won distinction and regimental pride. Their successors desired to continue that tradition at Costa Blanca.

3) Der Alte Fritz commanded the British Army. He was positioned in the environs of Costa Blanca on our right flank. Paget, (yours truly) had the left. Stuart was far to the left of Paget.

4) A certain black coach somehow has appeared in Iberia. (Left behind by it's owner actually.)

5) There are more photos to be posted another time. Meanwhile, I thought the above story might be of interest. Why not read it again and ride with Stuart. Der Alte rightfully was reminded of J.E.B. Stuart from our American Civil War. Indeed, I named the regimental colonel after him as a result. Seems fitting and proper don't you think?

6) Remarks welcome as always.


  1. A great tale and wonderful tension between what the regiment see as a success and the general sees as a neglect of orders.

    I was particularly struck by the nice wayside shrine by the bridge. Is it of your own construction or a commercial piece?

    Duke of Baylen [currently recruiting Provincial Grenadiers from Andalucia]

  2. A wonderful tale and account of the action on the far left. There was a definite Fog Of War between what the respective commanders thought should be done with the cavalry deployment. I had completely forgotten that the horse were supposed to be in reserve in the center until they were actually needed as my brigade fell back on the town when heavily pressed by the French. This is a terrific example of why one doesn't need to have artificial fog of war rules -- the players are quite capable of providing it on their own :)

    Jim (Lt Colonel James Graham -- 83rd Regt)

  3. The 15th has always been my favorite cavalry regiment in the British army. Nice to see them continuing their tabletop exploits here.

    Best Regards,



Comments Here