1808 in Iberia
The Uprising through The Emperor's Arrival
To Assure My Dynasty can be used with Et sans résultat! or nearly whatever your club ruleset is for Napoleonics.
Maps are provided in scale miles. Orders of battle include detail down to number of battalions, and our online conversion page allows you to translate recommended unit Combat Ratings to other popular Napoleonic games.
It is easy to use To Assure My Dynasty with whatever system you choose.
Don't see your favorite game on the conversion page? Write us and maybe we can help with that.
The opening contests of the Peninsular War pitted relatively small Forces against each other in fairly standup engagements.
These scenarios make for terrific two to four player battles that allow intermediate players a challenge.
Medina de Rióseco
Espinosa de los Monteros
Molins de Rei
Burgos o de Gamonal
Did the French really just walk over the Spanish?
If they did, can you repeat it?
With all those French victories, how were the Spanish never ultimately defeated?
The campaign framework shows the relationship between the battles: why the numerous French successes do not have the same impact as the few Spanish victories.
This gives historical battles historical context, some battles will be more important to you than your opponent and vice versa.
What is our victory condition? What is our opponent's? What forces do we have available and what have they brought to face us with?
Just because our reinforcements were ordered to march to this position, doesn't mean they are marching from where we thought they were.
And just because we last saw the enemy to our front, doesn't mean they didn't steal a flank march on us.
There are many mysteries in the Iberian Peninsula. One of the biggest is, 'What was everyone wearing?'
Locating all the source material that you'll need to paint up the Spanish regulars, the British foot, and the French line is trouble enough; but then, how will you ever fit all those books on your painting table?
Better to just use the one book that has everything you need in it.
Iberia does vary from nearly all other Napoleonic campaigns in one specific way: We really do not know what many of the Spanish were wearing. That means that this is the first time we cannot say that we've included *every* Unit's uniforms. But what we can say, is that every Unit we do know the uniforms of is included, and there are an awful lot of them.
To Assure My Dynasty is our fifth Campaign Guides for the Napoleonic Wars.
We've been busy writing scenarios for the first chapters of the Glory Years, the 1809 war with Austria, 1812's Russian invasion, and 1813's epic fight to preserve the Empire. Now we've entered the Peninsula what is left? A lot.
Wherever we travel next will follow the same format:
Travel with us.
Join our Announcements Mailing List to hear about the next opportunity.
|Medina de Rióseco||Four||Beginner||3.5 by 4.5 scale miles||Bessières's Advanced Guard
vs Cuesta's Army
|When Cuesta fails to support Blake, Bessières overwhelms their poorly coordinated defense.|
|Bailén||Two||Expert||4 by 5 scale miles||Dupont’s Corps
vs Castaños’s Army
|The destruction of Dupont’s command after it was divided in two by Castaños’s Spanish Army.|
|Roliça||Two||Advanced||3 by 4 scale miles||Wellesley’s Expeditionary Force
vs Delaborde's Division
|Wellesley’s British and Portuguese fall upon Delaborde's isolated command.|
|Vimeiro||Two||Intermediate||3 by 4 scale miles||Junot's Corps
vs Wellesley’s Expeditionary Force
|Junot attacks the British and Portuguese after reuniting with Delaborde’s command.|
|Zornoza||Two||Intermediate||3 by 4 scale miles||Lefebvre's Corps
vs Blake’s Army
|The advanced elements of Napoleon’s main army strike Blake’s Spanish but fail to destroy them.|
|Burgos o de Gamonal||Two||Beginner||2.5 by 3 scale miles||Bessières's Corps
vs Belveder’s Army
|Belveder’s Army defends central Spain against Bessières command.|
|Espinosa de los Monteros||Two||Advanced||2 by 3 scale miles||Victor's Corps
vs Blake's Army
|Blake halts his retreat in a determined effort to turn back Victor's pursuing corps.|
|Tudela||Two||Intermediate||3 by 7 scale miles||Castaños's Army
vs Lannes's Corps
|Lannes aggressively falls upon Castaños strung out Army.|
|Somosierra||Two to Three||Advanced||3 by 5 scale miles||Napoleon's Advanced Guard
vs Benito San Juan's Army
|Napoleon determines to pierce the Spanish defenses ahead of Madrid.|
|Cardedeu||Two||Intermediate||2 by 3.5 scale miles||Vives's Army
vs Saint Cyr's Corps
|Saint Cyr confronts Vives on his way to relieve the siege of Barcelona.|
|Molins de Rei||Two||Intermediate||3 by 4 scale miles||Reding's Army
vs Saint Cyr's Corps
|Saint Cyr pursues the remains of the Spanish Army west of Barcelona.|
|La Coruña||Two||Advanced||3 by 5 scale miles||Soult's Corps
vs Moore's Army
|Sir John Moore defends the harbor against Soult so that the British may return to England.|
As the major opening action of a renewed campaign westward, Napoleon ordered Bessières forward with all haste. Cuesta sought to meet this threat directly , but Spanish politics were against him. Despite this, the Spanish Royal Army marched out to meet the avant garde of La Grande Armée west of the River Squillo, and the French rushed to engage them.
Having felt the pressure of operating independently in Andalusia, Dupont fell back from his more advanced position but remained in the southern region. Beginning on 16 July, Spanish elements began literally descending upon Dupont’s Force from a variety of directions. As Dupont attempted to respond to these threats, he further thinned his Force, playing into the plans of Castaños and Reding. While Castaños pinned Dupont near Andújar, Reding traveled by Mengibar, crossed the River Guadalquivir and pressed the French rear, successfully retaking Bailén.
This successful strategic action pinned Dupont’s main elements between the two converging Spanish Armies and cut Dupont’s route of retreat. Worse yet, Dupont had dispatched Vedel’s Division northeast of Bailén, thus the French could not concentrate and unite their Force without first solving the problem of Reding’s occupation of Bailén.
Junot had been charged with the conquest of Portugal and following his incredibly successful strategic campaign in November of 1807, the Portuguese monarchy conceded defeat. Following the beginning of The Uprising, the Portuguese people turned against the French as well. Junot successfully put down the most substantial revolt in Évora at the end of July.
The British intervention began with the landings of the British Expeditionary Army. Wellesley landed his Force in Portugal just north of Lisbon on or about 5 August 1808. Wellesley was tasked with creating a military relationship with the Portuguese and beginning coordinated operations against the French. Finding the Portuguese decentralized and disorganized, Wellesley realized only limited coordination was possible. He knew that his command independence would be severely limited, since Moore, Burrard, and Dalrymple were all en route to the Iberian Peninsula as well. Between politics and seniority, he would quickly be junior to all others.
Junot dispatched a Force towards Wellesley on 6 August, wishing to actively prevent a British foothold in Portugal.
After Delaborde was driven out of Roliça, Junot determined to regain the initiative by moving against Wellesley, confronting the British before they had moved too far off the coast. Wellesley was determined to meet the threat defensively.
Throughout the campaign, the Emperor was frustrated by the failure of his subordinates to execute his plans. While planning to execute an encirclement of Blake’s Army of Galicia, Marshal Lefebvre acted more aggressive than was practical, striking Blake before the trap was set. This drove Blake towards a more cautious stance and allowed him to escape Napoleon’s plan for his Army’s destruction.
The calamity of events that led to the Battle of Burgos o de Gamonal is strange at best. Napoleon, having expected significantly different than he had received from Victor, Bessières, and Lefebvre, was frustrated and seeking decisive action. Soult arrived from Germany and took command of Bessières’s Force, with orders to move on Burgos with all speed and strength.
On the Spanish side, the high command was similarly in complete disarray but for entirely different reasons. Pignatelli had been charged with holding the city, but he was relieved by Castaños when the Army of Castile was folded into the Army of Andalusia. The tiny garrison Units stationed in Burgos were actually under the authority of Blake, but on 7 November Belvedere assumed command based on seniority. Thus, Blake’s elements were now considered, at least temporarily, under the umbrella of the Army of Estremadura.
It was under this spectacle of rotating command authority that the two Armies collided on 10 November.
Blake had escaped the planned encirclement at Zornoza while Victor was criticized for having failed to take initiative and press Blake once Lefebrve had caused the Spanish retreat. The result was that Victor immediately upped his efforts and Blake’s rear guard was pressured through 9 November when he set up a defense along the heights of the road through Espinosa de los Monteros.
The confused mess of a campaign, caused predominately by the Spanish lacking anything remotely similar to a unified command structure, continued around Tudela. Castaños sought to consolidate the Forces in the area to cover the defensive line from Tudela to Tarazona. Napoleon, having just transferred command of the III Corps d’armée from Moncey, offered its new Commander very direct instructions: to pierce the enemy line, and open the road to Madrid.
Napoleon’s entrance into Spain was characteristic. The Emperor immediately ordered a series of strategic maneuvers to pin, outflank, and encircle the various Spanish armies. While the Spanish performed poorly on the battlefield, they were able to consistently escape the traps planted for them, partly due to luck, the failings of Napoleon’s subordinates, and, at times, the instincts of the Spanish Commanders. Napoleon resolved to drive on Madrid via the Somosierra pass and to do so in person.
The city of Roses controlled a major communications and supply route to Barcelona. Saint Cyr arrived with the VII Corps d’armée at the opening of November, determined to flush the British garrison and open the road. A determined defense, well supported by the natural advantages of the city’s citadel and the British Royal Navy, resulted in a costly month-long stalemate.
After weeks of failure to break the British grip on the city, Saint Cyr detached a large Formation to cover the city and moved towards Barcelona via the inland route, the coastal road being dominated by British naval artillery. This coincided with Vives being appointed to take command of Spanish Forces in the area. Both those who would confront the French en route to Barcelona, and those besieging Duhesme’s French garrison.
The two Armies would come to grips northwest of Cardedeu along the mountain valley road.
Following the relief of Barcelona, Saint Cyr began moving against Reding’s Spanish Force west of Molins de Rei. After retiring from Barcelona, Reding’s Spanish Force had arrayed themselves along the heights to oppose the likely forthcoming attempts by the French to cross the River Llobregat.
The British began their retreat to the coast on 25 December. A series of small clashes occurred during the 250-mile pursuit, at Benavente on 29 December, and at Cacabelos on 3 January. A joint British-Spanish stand was aborted and Romana, now leading the remnants of Blake’s Army of Galicia, moved west while Moore continued the British retreat northward towards Coruña and the British fleet.
Convinced that Moore would not offer battle, and that the gap between the fleer and pursuer could not be adequately closed, Napoleon delegated the pursuit to Soult and marched with the bulk of the Army to Madrid. A week later, Moore drew up a defensive line at Lugo on 6 January with Soult’s II Corps d’armée strung out along the line of pursuit. It took Soult two days concentrate his Force over the poor Spanish roads, but Moore became concerned of an envelopment and renewed his retreat.
The British arrived at Coruña just a day or so ahead of the French; however, it was nearly three days before the balance of Soult’s corps was on-site. During that time the British rested, rearmed from stores carried to shore by the British Navy, and destroyed the local Spanish supplies that could not be carried away.
Over the next 48 hours the two Armies arrived and deployed; it was not until 2PM on 16 January the battle began.
The French Army that marched into Iberia had mostly transitioned to its Mid War uniforms that would also be seen on the hills of Germany in 1809 and the plains of Russia in 1812. But for the first time during the Empire, the French main army also included a large number of foreign units, from Poles, to Germans, to Italians.
Spain had a lot going against it during the Napoleonic Wars, and one of the greatest detriments was the Junta. After the collapse of the Spanish monarchy, a variety of regional juntas took charge of all military action. This resulted in an ongoing lack of coordination in all things, including uniforming and supply of their Armies.
The British army was small, efficient, and mostly supplied. While there were variations from regulation at the whim of local commanders, just as in the French army, the British were typically able to equip their units consistently. However, due to its expeditionary nature, it was common to augment uniforms with local supplies. As in seemingly all armies, the trousers were the first to be swapped out.