|As night falls, Ney withdraws|
|Initial troop concentrations|
Caught unprepared for a British attack so late in the day, many of the French were back-footed by Wellington's attack. Although the British got off to a slow start due to miscommunication, the initial advantage in initiative remained with the British throughout most of the battle. Details of the action are summarized in the captions of each photo.
|Marchand responds to British advances by pushing |
his legere forward to defend Poisao
|French legere throw out heavy skirmishing screen to disrupt |
Craufurd's division moving up through the gully.
|Picton gets his troops moving and quickly closes|
on French positions defending in the wooded hills
|Mermet launches a counterattack from the woods|
to disrupt the British advance.
Wellington orders his guns to the high ground
|With volleys increasing on the British right, some of Mermet's|
formations become disorganized as they fall back
through the woods.
|On the French right, Marchand's two battalions of legere |
punish the lead element of British foot.
Nearly destroyed in a lopsided, close range firefight,
the British battalion falls back through its support.
|Portuguese gain a foothold on the heights on the|
British right as Mermet's brigade gives ground.
Due to effective incoming cannon fire from the heights
above Paisao, Marchand's battery limbers and evacuates the village.
|Pressure mounts against Mermet and the French left.|
His brigade is slowly pushed back through the woods.
|Suffering moderate losses, Mermet abandons the high ground on the left.|
Paisao is vigorously defended by the French while Marchand
pulls back the remainder of his brigade.
|British press French against the river.|
|With Marchand's troops beginning to flee across the bridge,|
Mermet is backed into a corner with little means of escape.
Will he be able to cut his way through?
|Much of Marchand's brigade flees the field and makes|
good its escape.
Mermet may soon be trapped.
|Having abandoned Paisao, Ney now worries about |
having his escape route cut by the British
before Mermet's brigade can intercede.
|Marchand leaves Paisao to the British as he fights a delaying|
action to allow his brigade to pass over the bridge to safety.
The problem for Ney is that Mermet could be trapped if
the British reach the bridge ahead of Mermet.
|Paisao in British hands|
|Situation is tight for Mermet. Already two battalions have|
routed into the raging river and have been swept away.
Craufurd cuts Mermet's escape as the bridge falls into British hands.
In the early stages of battle, Marchand's legere man-handled the first British battalion it faced. Craufurd risked having his attack stall almost before it started. Rather than keeping pressure on Craufurd, Marchand fell back. In doing so, he uncovered Paisao to British attack. Once Marchand began his retrograde, the French position was compromised and casualties mounted quickly. Craufurd had a shorter path to the bridge than did Mermet. While Merment fought valiantly to extricate himself from his unfortunate position, he could not. Surrender was his only option. The result was an Anglo-Portuguese victory.
With the puzzle that this presents to the French player, I plan to give this action another try. Perhaps a solo refight is in order to evaluate the situation? Perhaps another outing with active participants is the way forward. Whichever path is taken, I have a few notions on what could be attempted and maybe improved upon. Perhaps Massena was right to be irritated with Ney for taking such a position on the wrong side of a swollen river against his orders. It was very good to see the 28mm Napoleonics out on the gaming table and in action after a long hiatus.