Tuesday 16 August 2022

Nap Campaign: Battle of Sanlucar 3rd April 1808

The village of Sanlucar is located to the north of the action in 15A1. Grey 3 is the Spanish 2nd Division lead by Iglesias. He took it upon himself to ignore orders to withdraw towards Spain should the French approach and believed he will gain glory by defeating any French advance. Blue 2 is Lobau with an infantry and a cavalry division from the 6th Corps. It is his job to neuter any flanking threat to the main French force.
Continued -
Battle of Sanlucar

Table size - 3'9" x 3'9"
Figures - 6mm Baccus
Rules - General de Brigade
Start time - 0900 hrs total 32 turns

The Battlefield

                                                                        15A1                                19B1
                                                                        15A2                                19B6

15A1 – Firm grazing land, Hedgerows, River deep, village of Sanlucar to north.

19B1 – Soft grassland

15A2 – High peaked hills smoothing out into firm grazing land. Fences, farm, river deep.

19B6 – Rough bleak terrain, Inn. High peaked hill.


An overview of the board at the start of the battle looking north. Iglesias has positioned his Spanish troops behind fences providing them a degree of cover. He has anchored his right flank against a deep river and his left flank on rocky difficult terrain. He quite simply intends to blunt any attack with overwhelming musketry.

Lobau, advancing from the south, intends to break up the Spanish using the small 21st Division and his artillery. This is not ideal terrain for cavalry undermining this French advantage. They are therefore kept in reserve to be used whenever opportunities present themselves but in particular when the anticipated Spanish morale collapses they are to mercilessly cut them down.

An overview looking north west.

2 out of the 8 Spanish battalions are held in reserve with their artillery covering the road.

The French position. Penne's 2nd Infantry Brigade (bottom left) is tasked with the main assault on the Spanish left flank supported by the horse artillery and Merlin's 2nd Cavalry Brigade.

Lafitte's 1st Brigade is situated on the French left flank with the divisional artillery battery. Their job is to keep the Spanish right occupied and only switching to attack when their left flank is rolled up.

The French rear with Colbert's 1st Cavalry Brigade of lancers in the foreground.
Turns 1 - 4

The battle begins with an artillery barrage from both sides combined with skirmishers engaging.

The exchange of fire continues for the first hour (4 turns) during which Iglesias attempted to reposition his troops to meet the French threat to his flank. Only one was successful, the Aragon Light battalion now supporting his left flank (bottom of photo). The others seemed oblivious to orders! Several casualties were inflicted on both sides but nothing dramatic.
Turns 5 - 8

Penne receives his orders to commence his attack and he leads his brigade out towards the Spanish lines. Merlin's cavalry brigade moves forward to support him. The 2nd Cazadores de Antequera open fire downing a figure from each lead column.

The French 6pdr foot battery runs low on ammo! A double '1' was rolled and they will now be firing at half effect. 

Penne's lead battalions, the 1/65th and 1/75th Line launch their charge at the 2nd Cazadores. Another volley from the Spanish knocks another figure down but they fail to stop the charge. The Cazadores fail their morale check and immediately retreat.

In the background the French 6pdr horse artillery battery also run low on ammo! A shocking start for the French artillery.

Penne's Brigade continue their advance. The Aragon light infantry (middle right) attempt to reform into a defensive line but fail their formation test and remain static.

A frustrated Iglesias comes to the conclusion that to get his battalions to do anything he must join them and berate their commanders! Here he orders the Mallorca battalion to reposition in order to meet the threat developing on their left.

The 1/75th Line charge the hesitant Aragon light infantry who immediately retreat. They are still in charge range of the French battalion who continues into melee. The Spanish are automatically defeated and will continue retreating.

A slight ray of hope for the Spanish when the 2nd Cazadores successfully rallies (middle bottom).

The 1/65th Line also launched a charge at the 1st Cazadores and for the 3rd successive time a Spanish unit failed to stand and fell into retreat.

On the right the Mallorca battalion now repositions following Iglesias' rollicking.

The Guadalajara Line battalion held in reserve on the right flank had ignored all orders to move to the left. Iglesias now gallops towards them to instruct the imbecilic battalion on the basics of obeying orders.

An overview at the end of turn 8.
Turns 9 - 12

As the two battalions of the 75th Line approached the 2nd Cazadores, the latter poured a surprisingly effective volley at close range into the 2 columns. The 2/75th on the left in the photo suffered particularly badly losing 3 of their number, a significant loss for such a small battalion. The 1st battalion on the right suffered the loss of 2.

Both French battalions launched their charge but only the smaller 2nd battalion passed their morale test to charge home. The 2nd Cazadores decided not to hang around and immediately retreated (far right).

Merlin's cavalry now roamed around looking for juicy targets.

The 1st Cazadores in the foreground successfully rallied and were in the process of reforming as Iglesias arrived to take control of the Mallorca battalion.

The Mallorca battalion were ordered to form a line and defend the fence line. However, the close proximity of the 1/65th Line and French cavalry (far left) required a formation test which the Spanish battalion failed. They were now static as the French approached!

In the top right the Guadalajara battalion had responded to Iglesias' orders and are in the process of repositioning to reinforce the Spanish left flank.

The Spanish may have not had much success holding in the face of French charges, but they were rallying well from retreat. The bottom right the Aragon Light battalion rallies and begins reforming.

To the French rear, Colbert's brigade of lancers has been ordered to join the thrust on the right flank.

Merlin's cavalry brigade rush forward in an attempt to take advantage of broken Spanish infantry units but are frustrated by hedgerows and fences slowing them down. To the right the 2nd Cazadores is the first Spanish battalion failing to rally and will now disperse from the field.

It is now turn 12 and the Vistula Legion are ready to charge the Spanish only to find their vulnerable prey, the 2nd Cazadores have now departed just leaving a square to deal with!

Back to turn 11 and you may recall the Mallorca battalion stuck in a march column along the fence in the photo. This is the aftermath of a charge by the 1/65th Line battalion (middle of photo) at the flank of the hapless Mallorca column. The latter promptly routed through the 1st Cazadores causing them to falter. Iglesias (upper right) attempted to rally them but failed and they fled the field.

Fortunately, no other Spanish units joined them with a sweetener that the Guadalajara column (upper left) were in a good position to launch a charge at the exposed flank of the 1/65th.

Turn 12 arrived and the French won the initiative depriving the Guadalajara battalion the opportunity to launch their charge. The 1/65th Line pre-empted them charging the 1st Cazadores (right of photo). The Spanish battalion immediately retreated to the position in the photo where Iglesias successfully rallied them.

The 1/65th cancelled their charge using the remainder of their move to pivot towards the Guadalajara battalion and were joined by the Westphalia Lancers to their left. In the foreground the 11th Chasseurs negotiate the fences and hedgerows to get at the Spanish infantry.
Turns 13 - 16

The 1st Cazadores (top) have joined the Aragon light battalion (right) in forming squares. A worry for the Aragon battalion are the two, now rather small, battalion columns of Penne's Brigade now close to charge range.

The Guadalajara battalion, having manoeuvred themselves into a position where they could challenge the French infantry advance, was now charged by the Westphalia Lancers. Had they stood in their column formation they may have had a chance but they retreated and were caught by the lancers. They automatically lost the melee losing almost half their number. They will continue to retreat with the lancers pursuing them.

The situation in the French rear with Colbert's lancers directed towards the Spanish right flank. Lafitte leads his 2 battalions of light infantry towards the decidedly shaky Spanish lines.

Two French cavalry charges herald the start of turn 14. On the right the 11th Chasseurs fail to charge home and halt in good order.

On the left the Vistula Legion charge the Aragon battalion square but fail to break them and are pushed back.

The Westphalia Lancers pursuit seals the fate of the Guadalajara battalion cutting them down almost to a man. The few survivors manage to flee to safety.

Another French charge and another Spanish failure to stand. The 1/65th Line (on the left) charge the Cordoba battalion who promptly rout.

The view from behind the French lines as Lafitte's infantry brigade and the brigade of lancers continue to converge on the Spanish right.

An overview at the end of turn 14. Iglesias has so far heroically held his division together and continues to gallop between units to get them to respond to orders. The situation for the Spanish though is dire and it has become obvious to Iglesias there is no prospect of victory. It is now a case of extricating as many of his force as possible.

Turn 15 arrived with both battalions of the 75th Line attempting to destroy the Aragon Light Infantry still in square formation. Both battalions are showing signs of fatigue with both halting before impact.

At the top of the photo the 11th Chasseurs charged and failed to break the 1st Cazadores square and were pushed back.

On the Spanish right flank, the Cordoba Line battalion failed to rally and dispersed from the field. Iglesias has ordered the Cadiz Line battalion to retire (upper middle of photo). The Spanish 6pdr battery (middle right) successfully rallied from retreat but were at the mercy of the 1/65th column (middle left). Fortunately for them the French battalion was out of command range of its Brigade commander and failed to charge using its own initiative. 

Turn 16 and the Spanish artillery decided to remain unformed in order to try and escape the oncoming French forces. To the right the Cadiz battalion similarly attempted to make their escape.

On the left both 75th battalions attempted to charge again and this time the smaller 2nd battalion was successful. The Aragon Light battalion decided they had enough and departed the field.

Iglesias on his increasingly tired horse, now raced back to ensure the 1st Cazadores, still in square formation, retires before they get destroyed by the larger French forces. 
Turns 17 - 20

In the foreground the 1/8th Light charge into the limbered and unformed Spanish artillery battery. There could only be one outcome with the artillery suffering a mauling and dispersing from the field.

In the middle right of the photo, the 1/65th Line which is out of its command range, acts on its own initiative and charges the rear of the Cadiz Line battalion. The latter just has enough time to about face to meet the charge. Both sides fight to a standstill and the melee will continue into the next turn.

In the middle right of the photo, Iglesias has joined the 1st Cazadores and ordered them to retire from the field. They have reformed into a column ready to move off. 

It is now turn 18 and Iglesias has successfully escaped with the 1st Cazadores.

On the opposite flank the last Spanish unit, the Cadiz Line battalion, is still in melee with the 1/65th Line when the 2/8th Light battalion pile in. The two French battalions now defeat the Spanish battalion but only pushing them back.

As the Cadiz battalion falls back, Colbert with the 2nd Lancers quickly gain on them.

It is now turn 20 and what transpires to be the last action of the game sees the 2nd Lancers charge the unformed Cadiz battalion. To their credit the Spanish held their ground, unlike most of the other units of the division, but they stood little chance as the Lancers ploughed into them. 20 casualties were inflicted on the Spanish leaving the few survivors to flee the field.

An overview at the end of turn 20 marking the end of the battle with all Spanish units departed.
An easy victory for Lobau and his mission of removing any threat to the French flank accomplished. Had the Spanish infantry been a little more resilient in engaging the French in melee it could easily have been a different result. The French infantry was heavily outnumbered and the terrain not conducive to effective cavalry operations. This lead to a failure of the French cavalry to take advantage of retreating Spanish infantry to cause them serious damage with the 2nd Lancers giving a glimpse of what could have occurred.

For Iglesias the rapid collapse of his division was a salutary lesson. He would indeed now join the newly raised main Spanish force to the north before engaging the French again.

Losses -
Spanish:  67, recovered 17, overall loss 50. (21% of his division)
French:  27, recovered 13, overall loss 14. (6% of the total)

NEXT: Battle of Holbrook (Holland) Allies v Grouchy


  1. I wonderful report. Thanks for sharing it. What rules are you using?

    1. Oh never mind. It says "General de Brigade" right at the top. Just browsed over it I guess.

    2. Many thanks for your kind comments mkee. Missing the rules is easy done.

  2. Major-General Iglesias is badly in want of cavalry, methinks! Although one sided, the narrative of the sustained drive by the French made compelling reading!

  3. Hi Jon ….. a strange encounter with your blog :-). I have recently been discharged from hospital and have been having poor sleeps. A point of fact is that I have never been one who can recall dreams etc.

    Anyway, your post was the last thing I read before going down last night and without sounding too gooey! I had three episodes of intense dreaming that took one of my upcoming planned topics and played it out in fairly deep detail on your table, in your format! to a ‘non-dreamer’ it was amazing and surreal and I should say that no meds were involved in the telling of this story. Anyway, there you go, as the advert says, your blog can reach parts that other blogs can’t reach!

    Looking forwards to the conclusion tonight :-) Knowing my luck, the theme will change and it will be a nightmare based on having to paint 2000 figures or some such before getting a game to the table!

    1. You had me worried there Norm with "a strange encounter with your blog" Lol. So long as the blog does not generate nightmares!

  4. The poor old Spanish commander must be rather tired having spend most of the game galloping all over the tabel trying to get his troops to follow orders. As you say, a salutary lesson for him to remain with the main force in the future.

    I think the Spanish did better than I was expecting when I first looked at the table and the OOB for both sides. Do you think the French artillery going low on ammo affected the outcome at all? Although one sided it was a great game and AAR as always and interesting in terms of the campaign and the effects it has had to both sides. Certainly looking forward to the next clash:).

    1. Spanish over-confidence there Steve although it did momentarily look dodgy for the French infantry when they suffered fairly heavy casualties from the initial Spanish volleys. The French artillery going low on ammo made little difference in reality. Aside from inflicting more casualties on the Spanish the real damage was done when the latter repeatedly failed to stand in the face of charges.

  5. A very fine report... as usual, Jon!
    I have a lot to catch up on!

    1. Welcome back Peter and hope you enjoy the reads.

  6. From Rob who still can't comment Jon:

    "Once again please pass on my appreciation of Grymauch's latest - the Battle of Sanlucar. I really enjoyed seeing a Spanish army in a fairly unhealthy position being fought as though the outcome was actually up for grabs, although the result rang very true."

    1. I have checked my spam folder and nothing in there. Frustrating for Rob and cannot find an obvious issue at my end.

      Rob - many thanks for your comment. It was an uphill task for the Spanish but there was a glimmer of hope early on but it was not to be.

  7. Thankyou Jon - another enthralling battle in this excellent campaign series!