Battle of Baylen, afternoon of 16 July 1808

Battle of Baylen, afternoon of 16 July 1808

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History of the Peninsular War vol.1: 1807-1809 - From the Treaty of Fontainebleau to the Battle of Corunna, Sir Charles Oman. The first volume of Oman's classic seven volume history of the Peninsular War, this is one of the classic works of military history and provides an invaluable detailed narrative of the fighting in Spain and Portugal. This first volume covers the initial French intervention, the start of the Spanish uprising, the early British involvement in Spain and Portugal and Napoleon's own brief visit to Spain.


In the months after occupying Portugal, Napoleon undertook the conquest and control of Spain. He met much resistance but it was disorganised even when it was effective. By the end of July the Spanish had met the French a dozen times, winning, or at least not losing, at seven of those meetings. Their most spectacular victory was in southern Spain on 23 July 1808, when General Castaños surrounded and forced 18,000 French under General Dupont to surrender at Baylen. On 30 July 1808, the French General Loison massacred the population, men, women, and children, of Évora. Both of these events were to have an effect on the future of each nation's relationships with British troops.

On the same day, Wellesley received a letter from Viscount Castlereagh, the Secretary of War. It informed Wellesley that General Jean-Andoche Junot's forces numbered more than 25,000. Castlereagh forwarded his plans to augment the British army in Portugal by another 15,000 men. General Sir John Moore was to arrive with an army from Sweden, and another force would be forwarded from Gibraltar. The command of this larger force would pass to Sir Hew Dalrymple (the Governor of Gibraltar, a 60-year-old general who had seen active service only in a failed campaign in Flanders in 1793–1794). Dalrymple would be seconded by Sir Harry Burrard, attended by five other generals, all senior to Wellesley (Dalrymple, Burrard, Moore, Hope, Fraser, and Lord Paget). The ambitious General Wellesley hoped to make something happen during the time he still commanded the army in Portugal.

On 30 July 1808, General Wellesley remet Admiral Cotton's convoy with Wellesley's troops at Mondego bay. Wellesley chose this as his landing point because students from Coimbra University had seized the fort making this a safer landing than any place nearer Lisbon. The disembarking of Wellesley's original 9,000 troops and supplies with the 5,000 they met off Portugal lasted from 1–8 August. Some landing craft capsized in the rough surf making the first British casualties in the Peninsula victims of drowning.

The army marched off on the 10th on the hot and sandy 12 miles (19 km) march to Leiria. Wellesley arrived on the 11th and soon argued with General Freire, the commander of 6,000 Portuguese troops, about supplies and the best route to Lisbon. The result had Wellesley taking his preferred route, close to the sea and his supplies, with 1,700 of the Portuguese under the command of Colonel Trant, a British officer in service with the Portuguese Army.

The army then began its march toward Lisbon following a force of the French army. The French were under the command of General Henri François, Comte Delaborde. These troops had been sent by Junot to harass and hold the British while he brought his larger army into position to oppose the Anglo-Portuguese forces.

By 14 August the British reached Alcobaça and moved on to Óbidos. Here the British vanguard, mostly 95th Rifles, met pickets and the rearguard of the French forces. The 4,000 French were outnumbered approximately four to one.

Musinsky Rare Books


Manuscript memoir of a captured French officer's experiences in Spain, 1808-1809. Title: Recollections / By / H de Montvaillant. [Hunthill House, Scotland, 1814].

4to (230 x 185 mm). [10], 233, [4] pp. Written in an italic hand in English, with occasional corrections or additions in a different hand, on wove paper, watermarked Budgen & Wilmott / 1812. Four unnumbered pages of French text at front and four at back, the latter dated 27 May 1814, in a different hand, apparently the author&rsquos, on different paper with no visible watermark. Very good some occasional spotting. Contemporary red straight-grained morocco, gilt edges (scuffed and scraped, joints strained, head of spine chipped).***

A first-hand, unpublished memoir by a French army officer of the terrible Peninsular War. The narrator was one of few survivors of the surrender of French forces after the Battle of Bailén in July 1808. The background to this event was Napoleon's attempt to complete the isolation of England from the continent by sending a French army into the Iberian Peninsula to seize the coast of Portugal and occupy Spain. Napoleon later referred to the Peninsular War, characterized by appalling cruelty on both sides, as the 'Spanish ulcer' it was to be one of the primary factors in his downfall. Although written in a matter-of-fact tone, the details of this memoir are searing.

General Pierre Dupont de l'Étang was charged with securing French control of the major cities in Spain. Dupont's 20,000 men had initial success, but as they penetrated deeper into Spain they faced increasing resistance. The present diary traces the route and experiences of Dupont's army to its furthest point of penetration into Spain: Córdoba. There, after a particularly bloody and cruel occupation, the army was forced to withdraw and was soon overwhelmed. Dupont surrendered his army at Bailén. Originally promised safe passage, most of the French were slaughtered immediately after their surrender.

The start of the Peninsular War marks the commencement of the memoir, written by H. de Montvaillant, an officer from Montpellier who was serving in the second Corps d&rsquoObservation of the Gironde, placed under the direction of General Dupont. Although the starting date of the campaign is generally accepted as March 1808, by Montvaillant&rsquos account the French had already occupied the town of Vittoria (50 miles west of Pamplona) by Dec. 22, 1807. By January 9, 1808 French troops had advanced to south of Burgos, heading toward Valladolid. At every stopover small detachments were left behind to guard the roads, thereby diminishing the strength of the army as it travelled. Spanish guerrilla activity took a toll on the troops so much so that the author records that the troops had to &ldquoredouble our vigilance, and [take] measures the most severe ever adapted to ensure our safety&rdquo (p. 58). On Feb. 16 they entered Medina del Campo on their way to Madrid. Montvaillant records his impressions of the city, its palaces and inhabitants. Toledo was the next destination, where he notes a visit to the palace library, and the suppression of an uprising led by monks.

By the end of May the French had occupied Consuegra and entered La Carolina in Andalusia. It is at this point that the narrative takes on an ominous tone. About to enter Seville, Montvaillant notes a change in circumstances in the countryside and the inhabitants. The population is abandoning villages and fleeing. He records that the senior officers assumed that the army would only be harassed by small bands of &ldquobrigands&rdquo (p. 84), a far cry from the massive insurgency that it encountered: &ldquoWe learned that the insurgents each day gathered strength, and that the Junta of Seville was determined to stop us in our march. The following days we got to the little town Baylen [Bailén], in whose plains two months afterwards our destiny was decided&rdquo (p. 86). The French attacked and sacked the city of Córdoba: &ldquoNeither tears, promises, or humble supplications could arrest the thirst for pillage. &rdquo (p. 89) discipline was nonexistent, and the drunkenness and looting continued for eight days. Soon after Montvaillant is ordered back to the village of Alcolea, not far from Bailén, to guard a bridge crossing. While there he discovers the slaughter of the French sick and wounded who had been left along the line of march while the main body of General Dupont's troops had taken Córdoba.

The army had moved back to Andujar, near Bailén, and encamped. Montvaillant records that the general staff soon realized that the French were now outnumbered and that the opposition had organized itself. Dupont's army was isolated, without hope of reinforcement or re-supply, defending a garrison at the village of Andújar, situated on a flat plain in the scorching sun. The narrative is now of troop dispositions, losses, tactical mistakes, errors of the general staff, and increasing difficulties. Dupont's surrender came on July 20, 1808. The officers were segregated from the defeated army before being escorted (supposedly) to France. Most of the remaining army was slaughtered within days. Montvaillant records the details of his months-long &ldquodeath march&rdquo southwards to the coast, finally arriving at Jerez de la Frontera (near Cádiz) to await embarkation to France. This never occurred. The officers&rsquo captors kept them in Jerez, having discovered that the ruling Junta of Seville had abrogated the surrender treaty, and that the inhabitants were waiting to massacre the French on their approach to Cádiz. Montvaillant now fills his account with anecdotes of captivity and of the officers&rsquo horrendous treatment at the hands of their escorts and guards. He is unclear as to exact dates but it seems that the French captives were held at Jerez until mid-December, before being hastily driven aboard ships to sail for the Balearic Islands (p. 141). A severe storm intervened and they were blown off course to Africa, finally coming to port at Gibraltar several days later they were already back in Andalusia, at Málaga. Then, after more storms and much sailing, they finally made the Balearics where they were exiled to the desert island of Cabrera. There some 4400 surviving men and officers were forced to survive as best they could (p. 148). Almost 250 officers were collected from this exile after a month and taken to the capital, Palma. Imprisoned there, though in better conditions than previously, this group of officers waited nearly half would be massacred during a riot and assault on the prison by the inhabitants of Palma. By March 1809 only 140 of the original 250 rescued officers were alive and were returned to Cabrera where the living conditions were desperate (pp. 155-165). Despite this, the officers were able to conjure up distractions. There is an account of theater productions, dances, and the jealousy and bickering among those playing female roles in these performances. Montvaillant comments that the theatrical chronicle of Cabrera would make quite a book.

Eventually the officers were placed aboard an English ship. On August 4, when they were off Cape Palos (near Cartagena), there were rumors of a prisoner exchange, which again did not occur. After several weeks aboard the English ship, Montvalliant and his companions were disembarked at Portsmouth. He continued on to Salisbury, then embarked again for Leith en route to his final destination in Scotland, Jedburgh, where he remained in exile until the accession of Louis XVIII in 1814.

The text is written in an occasionally stilted English. Eight pages of notes in French by the author are inserted, four at the beginning (using wax seals to insert the bifolium) and four at the end, dated May 27, 1814. The French preface consists of a romanticized, fictionalized account of the author&rsquos Scottish sojourn, including a temptress fairy, and concluding with the author&rsquos promise to never forget his friends in Scotland. The English text is preceded by the title-leaf and a one-page dedicatory poem, introduced by a statement that these &ldquo`Recollections&rsquo in an English Garb, are presented by the sincerest of Friends to the Author,&rdquo and dated Hunt Hill, 1 January 1814. The first of the four final pages in French provides some information about the history of the manuscript (the remaining pages contain literary notes including translations into French of poems by Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott). According to these comments, the diary was originally written in French, and was translated into English by the narrator&rsquos benefactors in Jedburgh. During his years of exile Montvaillant had befriended a well-off family (Rutherford?), the owners of nearby Hunthill House, to whose three young daughters he became deeply attached. Without them, he claims, he would not have survived the loneliness of his exile. To pay them homage, and in acknowledgement of his gratitude, he dedicated his memoir to them. His friends retained the original French version as a valued keepsake of their friend and an engrossing biographical narrative, and presented him with this translation, which he brought back to France, planning to render it anew into French, to share with his family and close friends. The annotations in the text appear to be the author&rsquos. He emphasizes that he plans to keep the manuscript unpublished perhaps the memories were too painful. Item #2677

First day [ edit | edit source ]

Battle of Eylau in the early stages. French shown in red, Russians in green, Prussians in blue.

Marshal Soult's IV Corps and Marshal Murat's cavalry were the first French formations to reach the plateau before Eylau at about 14:00 on the 7th. The Russian rearguard under Prince Bagration occupied positions on the plateau about a mile in front of Eylau. The French promptly assaulted these positions and were repulsed. Bagration's orders were to offer stiff resistance in order to gain time for Bennigsen's heavy artillery to pass through Eylau and to join the Russian Army in its position beyond Eylau. During the afternoon the French were reinforced by Marshal Augereau's corps and the Imperial Guard, making up about 45,000 soldiers in all. Under pressure of greatly superior forces Bagration conducted an orderly retreat to join the main army. The retreat was covered by another rearguard detachment in Eylau led by Barclay de Tolly.

The rearguard action continued when French forces advanced to assault Barclay's forces in the town of Eylau. Historians differ on the reasons. Napoléon later claimed that this was on his orders that the advance had the dual aims of pinning the Russian force to prevent them retreating yet again, and providing his soldiers with at least some shelter against the terrible cold. Other surviving evidence however, strongly suggests that the advance was unplanned and occurred as the result of an undisciplined skirmish which Marshals Soult and Murat should have acted to quell but did not. Whether or not Napoléon and his generals had in advance the consideration of securing the town in order to provide the soldiers with a shelter for the freezing night, the soldiers may have taken action on their own initiative to secure such a shelter. According to Captain Marbot the Emperor told Marshal Augereau that he disliked night fighting, that he wanted to wait until the morning so that he could count on Davout's Corps to come up on the right wing and Ney's on the left, and that the high ground before Eylau was a good, easily defensible position on which to wait for reinforcements.

Whatever the cause of the fight for the town, it rapidly escalated into a large and bitterly fought engagement, continuing well after night had fallen and resulting in about 4,000 casualties to each side, including Barclay, who was shot in the arm and forced to leave the battlefield. Among other officers the French brigadier general Pierre-Charles Lochet was shot and killed. At 22:00 Bennigsen ordered the Russians to retreat a short distance, leaving the town to the French. Bennigsen later claimed he abandoned the town to lure the French into attacking his centre the next day. Despite their possession of the town most of the French spent the night in the open, as did all of the Russians. Both sides did without food — the Russians because of their habitual disorganization [ citation needed ] , the French because of problems with the roads, the weather, and the crush of troops hurrying towards the battle.

During the night Bennigsen withdrew some of his troops from the front line to strengthen his reserve. This action resulted in the shortening of his right wing.

Battle Notes

British Army
• Commander: Wellington
• 6 Command Cards
• 6 Tactician Cards

6 1 1 1 3 6 2 3

French Army
• Commander: Soult
• 5 Command Cards
• 4 Tactician Cards
• Move First

13 5 1 1 3

9 Banners

Special Rules
• The 11 hill hexes that make up the Oricain Heights, form a Temporary Majority Group Victory Banner worth 1 Temporary Banner for the British or 2 Temporary Banners for the French, when that side occupies an absolute majority, at the start of its turn (Temporary Majority Victory Banner Turn Start)

• The British player gains 1 Temporary Victory Banner at the start of the turn for occupying the bridge (Temporary Victory Banner Turn Start)


[1] Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol XX, pg 420-421.


Hello Alex. I've just discovered your interesting blog. The AWI/Revolutionary War is not something I know a lot about and it was enlightening to hear of a non-Loyalist Canadian unit (I kind of assumed there might be Francophone Canadians amongst the Rebels/Patriots but not many 'English' ones).

I have to admit the extract did amuse me. Either Sarn't Major Hawkins was extremely self-delusional or the American forces were so utterly routed if "no troops behaved better, nor any troops left the field in greater order" yet somehow lost most of his equipment and his whole unit until well into the next day.

There were a number of "English" that settled in Quebec after 1763. Some were British veterans granted land but many were New Englanders such as Hazen. Hazen was more than a bit of a con man and was always seeking to make his fortunes with other people's money. He finagled ownership of a seignurie (sort of a feudal demesne) near St Jean Sur Richilieu. On the outbreak of war he offered his services to Governor Carlton who saw him for what he was. On the arrival of General Montgomery's forces he quickly switched sides, if only to make sure his house wasn't burned. With Montgomery reinforced by Arnold at Quebec Hazen figured it was time to commit and proceeded to raise a regiment which had some Canadiens but was primarily other New England settlers.

After the retreat from Montreal Hazen was always after his superiors to march back. One of his schemes included building a military road up to St. Jean (passing through property he and his partner Baylen owned and thus increasing its value). Washington let him start as a means of drawing British attention and pinning a sizeable number of troops in the Montreal-Quebec corridor. The road was never finished. Hazen lost his seignurie but did settle his veterans at the top end of Lake Champlain, selling them the land he and Baylen had acquired.


HMS Agamemnon was a 64-gun third-rate ship of the line of the British Royal Navy. She saw service in the American Revolutionary, French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and fought in many of the major naval battles of those conflicts.

Agamemnon was ordered from the commercial shipbuilder Henry Adams at his Bucklers Hard shipyard on the Beaulieu River on 5 February 1777, to be built to the lines of the Ardent class, as designed by Sir Thomas Slade. Her keel was laid down in May. She was commissioned on 28 March 1781 under Captain Benjamin Caldwell—a full 13 days before her launch on 10 April. She was named after King Agamemnon, a prominent figure in ancient Greek mythology who participated in the Siege of Troy. Lord Nelson regarded her as his favourite ship, and to her crew she was known by the affectionate nickname 'Eggs–and–Bacon'. According to an article in The Gentleman's Magazine, her crew renamed her as they did not like the classical names that were in vogue at the Admiralty during this period (the crews of Bellerophon and Polyphemus also 'renamed' their ships, to 'Billy Ruffian' and 'Polly Infamous' respectively, for the same reason).

In November 1781, the Admiralty had received intelligence that a large convoy was preparing to sail from Brest under Admiral de Guichen. The convoy was composed of transports carrying naval supplies for the West Indies and the French fleet in the East Indies. Agamemnon was part of Admiral Richard Kempenfelt's squadron of 18 ships (11 of which mounted 64 or more guns), which he commanded from HMS Victory. Kempenfelt was ordered to intercept the convoy, which he did in the afternoon of 12 December in the Bay of Biscay, approximately 150 miles (241.4 km) south-west of Ushant. With the French naval escort to leeward of the convoy, Kempenfelt attacked immediately, capturing 15 of the transports before nightfall. The rest of the convoy scattered, most returning to Brest only five transports reached the West Indies. Early in 1782, she sailed to the West Indies as part of Admiral Sir George Rodney's squadron, with Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood as his second in command. On 9 April, the Battle of the Saintes began with an indecisive skirmish, in which the ships of the vanguard division, under Hood's command, were badly damaged and forced to withdraw to make repairs. On 12 April, Agamemnon took part in the second action, which proved much more decisive. Over the course of the battle, Agamemnon had 2 lieutenants and 14 crewmen killed, and 22 others were wounded. After the signing of the Treaties of Versailles brought an end to the American Revolutionary War, Agamemnon returned from the West Indies to Chatham, where she was paid off and docked on 29 October 1783 for repairs and to have her copper sheathing replaced. She came out of dock on 4 June 1784, and was subsequently laid up in ordinary.

In anticipation of the start of Britain's involvement in the French Revolutionary War after the execution of King Louis XVI, Agamemnon was recommissioned on 31 January 1793. She was placed under the command of Captain Horatio Nelson, and after provisioning joined the fleet lying at anchor at the Nore. She subsequently sailed to join the Mediterranean fleet under Vice-Admiral Hood, which was blockading the French port of Toulon. On 27 August the town of Toulon declared its allegiance to the Royalist Bourbon cause, and Hood's fleet moved in to take control of the naval dockyard and the 30 French ships of the line that were in the harbour. After capturing 19 of the ships, Agamemnon was sent to Naples to ask King Ferdinand IV for reinforcements with which to secure the town he agreed to provide 4,000 men. When the revolutionary army, commanded by Napoleon Buonaparte, launched its assault against Toulon, the troops proved insufficient to hold it, and they were forced to abandon the town. In April and May 1794, seamen from Agamemnon, led by Nelson, helped capture the Corsican town of Bastia. The French surrendered on 21 May, after a 40-day siege. After this action, Agamemnon was forced to sail to Gibraltar to undergo urgent repairs, the ship having become very worn out after just 16 months at sea, despite having undergone a fairly extensive refit just prior to being recommissioned. Upon completion of her repairs, Agamemnon returned to Corsica, anchoring south of Calvi on 18 June. After Hood arrived with additional ships, Agamemnon contributed guns and men to the 51-day siege of Calvi, during which time Nelson lost the sight in his right eye when a French shot kicked sand and grit into his face. The town surrendered on 10 August, Agamemnon having lost six men in the engagement. Shortly thereafter the inhabitants of Corsica declared themselves to be subjects of His Majesty King George III.

Agamemnon, still with the Mediterranean fleet—now under Vice-Admiral William Hotham, who had superseded Hood in December 1794—participated in the Battle of Genoa when a French fleet, comprising 15 ships of the line, was sighted on 10 March 1795. Three days later, the French having shown no signs that they were willing to give battle, Admiral Hotham ordered a general chase. The French ship Ça Ira lost her fore and main topmasts when she ran into one of the other ships of the French fleet, Victoire, allowing HMS Inconstant to catch up with and engage her. Agamemnon and Captain came up to assist soon after, and continued firing into the 80-gun French ship until the arrival of more French ships led to Admiral Hotham signalling for the British ships to retreat. Ça Ira was captured the following day, along with Censeur, which was towing her, by Captain and Bedford. On 7 July 1795, whilst in company with a small squadron of frigates, Agamemnon was chased by a French fleet of 22 ships of the line and 6 frigates. Due to adverse winds, Admiral Hotham was unable to come to her aid until the following day, and the French fleet was sighted again on 13 July, off the Hyères Islands. Hotham signalled for his 23 ships of the line to give chase, and in the ensuing Battle of the Hyères Islands, Agamemnon was one of the few Royal Navy ships to engage the enemy fleet. The French ship Alcide struck her colours during the battle, only to catch fire and sink. Many of the other French ships were in a similar condition Agamemnon and Cumberland were manoeuvring to attack a French 80-gun ship when Admiral Hotham signalled his fleet to retreat, allowing the French to escape into the Gulf of Fréjus. Admiral Hotham was later greatly criticised for calling off the battle, and was relieved as Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean by Admiral Sir John Jervis at the end of the year. Nelson was promoted to Commodore on 11 March. Shortly thereafter, in the action of 31 May 1796, boats from Agamemnon and Nelson's squadron captured a small convoy of French vessels off the Franco-Italian coast, while suffering minimal casualties. On 10 June 1796 Nelson transferred his pennant to HMS Captain, Captain John Samuel Smith replacing him as Agamemnon's commander. Having been deemed in great need of repair, Agamemnon returned to England.

In May 1797, whilst under the command of Captain Robert Fancourt, Agamemnon was involved in the Nore mutiny. On 29 May, the North Sea squadron lying in the Yarmouth Roads was ordered to sea. Only three ships, Adamant, Agamemnon and Glatton, obeyed the signal, but Agamemnon's crew later mutinied, and sailed the ship back to Yarmouth Roads. The ship was then taken to join the main mutiny at the Nore anchorage, along with Ardent, Isis and Leopard, arriving on 7 June. After a blockade of London was formed by the mutineers, several ships began to desert the wider mutiny, in many cases being fired upon by the remaining ships. Order was eventually restored aboard Agamemnon when the loyal seamen and marines forcibly ejected the hard-line mutineers from the ship. Captain Fancourt was able to secure a pardon for the remaining ship's company. On 18 March 1800, Agamemnon was damaged when she ran onto the Penmarks Rocks. She came into Falmouth on 25 March 1800. On her way to port she had encountered Childers, which assisted her and accompanied her into port. With the assistance of the crews from two sloops, the guardship Chatham, and troops from Pendennis Castle at the pumps, the crew managed to stop the water level in the hold rising any further. Agamemnon made for Plymouth for repairs. Movement caused the leak to gain on the men at the pumps once more, and when she was off Penlee Point, Agamemnon fired a gun for assistance. When she reached Plymouth she was lashed to a sheer hulk to prevent her sinking. In response to developments in the Baltic in 1801 that threatened to deprive Britain of much-needed naval supplies, Agamemnon was sent as part of a fleet under Admiral Sir Hyde Parker and Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson to attack the Danish at Copenhagen. On 2 April, Agamemnon was part of Nelson's division that fought the Battle of Copenhagen. Agamemnon was positioned second in the line after HMS Edgar, and after passing down the Outer Channel, she grounded whilst attempting to round the southern tip of the Middle Ground shoal. After the Treaty of Amiens concluded the Revolutionary War, Agamemnon was laid up at Chatham in 1802.

Agamemnon's general condition in 1802 was so poor that, had hostilities with France not recommenced, she would likely have been hulked or broken up. Instead, after Britain's entry into the Napoleonic Wars, she was brought out of ordinary in 1804, recommissioned under Captain John Harvey on 31 July, and went to join the Channel fleet under Admiral William Cornwallis. Agamemnon was part of Vice-Admiral Robert Calder's fleet cruising off Cape Finisterre on 22 July 1805, when the combined Franco-Spanish fleet from the West Indies was sighted to windward. The British ships formed into line of battle, with Agamemnon fifth in the line, and engaged Admiral Villeneuve's fleet in hazy conditions with light winds. Agamemnon had three men wounded in the Battle of Cape Finisterre, and lost her mizzen topmast and the foresail yard. By nightfall, Calder's fleet had become scattered, and he signalled for the action to be discontinued.

On 17 September 1805, after completing a small refit of his ship in Portsmouth, Captain Harvey was superseded in command of Agamemnon by Captain Sir Edward Berry, who had previously commanded Nelson's flagship, HMS Vanguard, at the Battle of the Nile. On 3 October she departed Spithead to join Vice-Admiral Nelson's fleet blockading Villeneuve's combined fleet in Cádiz. En route, Agamemnon fell in with a French squadron, consisting of six ships of the line and several smaller vessels, which gave chase. Succeeding in evading the French, Agamemnon joined the blockading squadron on 13 October, and when Nelson laid eyes on the approaching ship he reportedly exclaimed: "Here comes that damned fool Berry! Now we shall have a battle!" In misty conditions on 20 October, Agamemnon captured a large American merchant brig, which she then took in tow. Not long after, HMS Euryalus signalled to Agamemnon that she was sailing straight towards an enemy fleet of 30 ships—Villeneuve's fleet had left port. On 21 October 1805 Agamemnon fought in the Battle of Trafalgar. Agamemnon was positioned eighth in Nelson's weather column, with Orion ahead and Minotaur astern. Once engaged, she was firing both batteries, eventually pounding the great Spanish four-decker Santísima Trinidad until that ship was dismasted and, with 216 of her complement dead, struck her colours. Before Berry could take possession of the prize, the enemy van division began bearing down on the British line, having previously been cut off from the battle by Nelson's line-breaking tactics. With Nelson already dying below decks on Victory, Captain of the Fleet Thomas Hardy ordered Agamemnon and several other ships to intercept them. Three of the enemy ships broke off and ran for Cádiz after briefly engaging Intrépide the British ships moved to try to cut off the fleeing ships. Over the course of the battle, Agamemnon suffered just two fatalities, and eight men were wounded. Following the battle, Agamemnon, despite taking on three feet of water in her hold each hour, took Colossus under tow to Gibraltar. After carrying out repairs, the ship rejoined Vice-Admiral Collingwood's squadron, which had resumed the blockade of Cádiz.

At the beginning of 1806, Agamemnon was with Vice-Admiral Duckworth's squadron in the West Indies, pursuing a French fleet carrying troops to Santo Domingo. On 6 February 1806, the two squadrons clashed in the Battle of San Domingo Agamemnon assisted Duckworth's flagship Superb in driving the French Vice-Admiral Leissègues' flagship Impérial onto the shore where she was wrecked. In October, Agamemnon escorted a convoy on her return to Britain. In 1807 Agamemnon was part of Admiral James Gambier's fleet sent to take control of the Danish fleet before it could fall into French hands. She participated in the second Battle of Copenhagen, and as in the first in 1801, ran aground. After she had come free, Agamemnon landed guns and shot in Kjörge Bay to form part of a battery being established there to command the city. Firing commenced on 2 September, and lasted until the Danes surrendered on 7 September. In November, Agamemnon joined the blockading squadron off Lisbon.

In February 1808, Agamemnon sailed with Rear-Admiral Sir Sidney Smith's flagship Foudroyant to Brazil, where they joined another squadron. At Rio de Janeiro it was discovered that Agamemnon was again quite worn out, with seams in her planking opening and some of her framing bolts broken. In October, Agamemnon and Monarch anchored in Maldonado Bay, in the mouth of the River Plate. They had been escorting the merchant vessel Maria, which had carried the surgeon Dr. James Paroissien to Montevideo where he was tasked with exposing a plot against King John VI of Portugal, who was in exile in Brazil. Whilst there, Monarch ran aground, requiring Agamemnon's assistance to get her off. After learning that Paroissien had been imprisoned, the two ships put to sea, but were forced to return to Maldonado Bay when they encountered bad weather. After the ships returned to Rio in January 1809, the ship was fully surveyed by the carpenter, who drew up an extensive list of her defects.

Mouth of the River Plate, showing the location of Maldonado and Gorriti Island (right) On 16 June 1809 Agamemnon, along with the rest of the squadron (which was now under the command of Rear-Admiral Michael de Courcy), put in to Maldonado Bay for the third and final time, to shelter from a storm. While working her way between Gorriti Island and the shore, Agamemnon struck an uncharted shoal. Captain Jonas Rose attempted to use the ship's boats, together with the stream and kedge anchors, to pull the ship off, but to no avail. The ship had dropped anchor on the shoal just previously, and it was discovered that she had run onto it when she grounded, the anchor having pierced the hull. On 17 June, with the ship listing heavily to starboard, Agamemnon's stores and all her crew were taken off by boats from other vessels in the squadron, and the following day Captain Rose and his officers left the ship. The court-martial for the loss of Agamemnon was held at Rio de Janeiro on 22 July 1809, aboard HMS Bedford. It was found that the ship might have been saved if she had not been in such poor general condition, and Captain Rose was honourably acquitted.

On Wargames and Such

The Finnish army had been in a planned retreat for nearly two months since the start of the Finnish war. Several small engagements had been fought between the Finns and the Russians, including the battles of Leppävirta and Virre, in order to slow down the Russians and buy the army time. Now, the scattered Finnish army began to converge near the town of Oulu and the main army was no longer under the threat of being cut off by the Russian fifth division advancing through Savonia. The Russian supply lines were stretched out and spring was approaching. Soon, the ice covering the Gulf of Finland would melt and the Swedish navy would be able to break the siege at Viapori, the invincible bastion built on the islands near Helsinki. The situation was looking up for Sweden, but high commander Klingspor was still cautious and willing to pull the army back further north towards Tornio.

Adlercreutz at Siikajoki (Albert Edelfeldt, 1897-1900)

The army retreated again but hot on its heels, the tenacious cavalry commander Kulnev posed a serious threat to the Finnish baggage train. Von Döbeln and his Pori (Björneborg) infantry regiment took up position at the southern side of river Siikajoki to allow the baggage train to cross. The third brigade, led by Gripenberg and consisting of the Häme (Tavastehus) infantry who fought at Viirre, would cover Von Döbeln's retreat to the northern bank of the river. Then, Kulnev attacked the Finnish rearguard.

The Historical Battle:

Von Döbeln fought an exemplary rearguard action, stalling Kulnev's forces and feeding his men into the line sparingly. Kulnev sent a detachment of cavalry under the command of major Silin to flank the Finns via the frozen sea. Döbeln held his position near Siikajoki church until half past five in the afternoon. At this point his troops were wavering and he received orders to pull back on the northern side of the river. This was the moment Silin had been waiting for and he attacked with his cavalry. Adlercreutz sent reinforcements to counter the cavalry but nevertheless they struck a weak point in the Finnish positions, at one point threatening to overrun the Finnish command post with Klingspor himself there! The dragoons of Uusimaa drove away Silin's cossacks but Klingspor prudently relocated his command post from Pietola farm towards Liminka, ordering Adlercreutz to withdraw from the field.

The Russians took the southern bank of the river after Von Döbeln withdrew and artillery on both sides began to exchange fire. The Russians made a weak attempt to cross the river but were repulsed by the Finns who were preparing to pull back from the battle. At this point, Adlercreutz marked that the Russian army was spread out too thinly. Acting against his orders, Adlercreutz ordered elements from Gripenberg's third brigade to assault and retake the Siikajoki church. This was achieved by a bayonet charge as darkness fell over the snowy landscape. The Russians withdrew from the field but it was too late in the day for Adlercreutz to pursue.

The battle of Siikajoki was the first proper Swedish victory in the war, but Klingspor did not take advantage of it, ordering his army to withdraw from the field and resume marching north. Still, it was a vital morale boost for the army and a very auspicious beginning for the pushback that was to come.

We fought the battle using Heroics and Ros 6mm and General De Brigade 2nd edition rules. The goal of the Russians is to push back the Swedish defenders from the southern bank of the river, cross over if possible and hold position if not possible. The Swedes should stall the Russian advance until reinforcements arrive and retreat in an orderly fashion without heavy losses. Note that we accidentally reversed Kulnev's and Turtschaninov's positions in our game. Commentary embedded in the images.


Prior to Friedland, Europe had become embroiled in the War of the Third Coalition in 1805. Following the French victory at the Battle of Austerlitz (December 2, 1805), Prussia went to war in 1806 to recover her position as the pre-eminent power of Central Europe.

The Prussian Campaign [ edit | edit source ]

Franco-Prussian tensions gradually increased after Austerlitz. Napoleon insisted that Prussia should join his economic blockade of Great Britain. This adversely affected the German merchant class. Napoleon ordered a raid to seize a subversive, anti-Napoleonic bookseller named Johann Philipp Palm, and made a final attempt to secure terms with Britain by offering her Hanover, which infuriated Prussia. Δ] The Prussians began to mobilize on August 9, 1806 and issued an ultimatum on August 26: they required French troops to withdraw to the west bank of the Rhine by October 8 on pain of war between the two nations. Ε]

Napoleon aimed to win the war by destroying the Prussian armies before the Russians could arrive. Ε] 180,000 French troops began to cross the Franconian forest on October 2, 1806, deployed in a bataillon-carré (square-battalion) system designed to meet threats from any possible direction. Ζ] On October 14 the French won decisively at the large double-battle of Jena-Auerstedt. A famous pursuit followed, and by the end of the campaign the Prussians had lost 25,000 killed and wounded, 140,000 prisoners, and more than 2,000 cannon. Η] A few Prussian units managed to cross the Oder River into Poland, but Prussia lost the vast majority of its army. Russia now had to face France alone. By November 18 French forces under Louis Nicolas Davout had covered half the distance to Warsaw, Augereau's men had neared Bromberg, and Jérôme Bonaparte's troops had reached the approaches of Kalisz. ⎖]

Eylau [ edit | edit source ]

When the French arrived in Poland the local people hailed them as liberators. ⎗] The Russian general Bennigsen worried that French forces might cut him off from Buxhoevden's army, so he abandoned Warsaw and retreated to the right bank of the Vistula. On November 28, 1806, French troops under Murat entered Warsaw. The French pursued the fleeing Russians and a significant battle developed around Pułtusk on December 26. The result remained in doubt, but Bennigsen wrote to the Tsar that he had defeated 60,000 French troops, and as a result he gained overall command of the Russian armies in Poland. At this point, Marshal Ney began to extend his forces to procure food supplies. Bennigsen noticed a good opportunity to strike at an isolated French corps, but he abandoned his plans once he realized Napoléon's maneuvers intended to trap his army. ⎘] The Russians withdrew towards Allenstein, and later to Eylau.

On February 7 the Russians fought Soult's corps for possession of Eylau. Daybreak on February 8 saw 44,500 French troops on the field against 67,000 Russians. ⎘] Napoleon hoped to pin Bennigsen's army long enough to allow Ney's and Davout's troops to outflank the Russians. A fierce struggle ensued, made worse by a blinding snowstorm on the battlefield. The French found themselves in dire straits until a massed cavalry charge, made by 10,700 troopers formed in 80 squadrons, ⎙] relieved the pressure on the center. Davout's arrival meant the attack on the Russian left could commence, but the assault was blunted when a Prussian force under Lestoq suddenly appeared on the battlefield and, with Russian help, threw the French back. Ney came too late to effect any meaningful decision, so Bennigsen retreated. Casualties at this indecisive battle were horrific, perhaps 25,000 on each side. ⎚] More importantly, however, the lack of a decisive victory by either side meant that the war would go on.

Heilsberg [ edit | edit source ]

The Russian army, under General Bennigsen, held strong defensive positions in the town of Heilsberg on the Alle. The French army, under Marshals Murat and Lannes, attacked on June 10. Bennigsen repelled several attacks, resulting in huge French casualties, but had to withdraw towards Friedland the following day.

Battle of Baylen, afternoon of 16 July 1808 - History

Peninsular action, Portugal 1808 near the small town of Runa. Two small forces eye each other up over the river of Rio Sizandro. Two bridges crossing the river are deemed as critical & must be captured.

DBN rules, building on previous musings, based around the basic 12 point DBN army being Divisional size. We went for a larger army size. Each side would consist of 2 Divisions, two Generals, two PiP dice each. The Allies would enter from one road on the left the French on the right. After about two hours real time, 8 games turns, then a die roll would be made to see when the 2nd Divisions would arrive. Each element would roughly equal a infantry battalion/cavalry regiment.

This battle would be different due to my opponent. Back in June I went to the Durham Wargames Show, a good day all round with loads of bargains at the Bring n Buy. Also I bumped into an old school chum, SPAV, who turns out to be a Napoleonics nut. Anyway we kept in touch & a game set up. SPAV has never played DBN before but he soon picked up the rules. A Sunday afternoon was put aside & this game the result. SPAV took ze French & yours truly the Allies. Ze French went first & marched along the Penedo town road, The Allies would arrive on the Runa road. It would be a race for the bridges!

Watch the video: Battle of Marengo, French Eagle #4, European War 6 EW6