Thursday, 15 November 2007

The Relief of Naples (Part 1) - 14th November 2007

Spain
Army value: 124 florins.
Battle Posture: Right flank attack.
Battle Hand: 10, 6 VPs, 2 Battle Advantages (King of spades) taken as two extra morale cards.
Morale Cards: Brilliant Commander Card, Cavalry up1 in melee.
Morale Chips: 29.

France
Army value: 87 florins.
Battle Posture: Defence.
Battle Hand: 4, 4, & 2 VPs. (One 4 was lost due to lack of possible objective).
Morale Cards: Stratagem (type unknown at this time).
Morale Chips: 13.

Terrain
The centre of the battle field was a wide open plain surrounded by villages and agricultural land. The extreme French right was flanked by a shallow stream (Type I). A type II hill (in the combat area) on the French left dominated the plain, 6VPs. The Spanish had dug a significant earthwork (36” long, from a minor ridge in their flank deployment zone, extending to an open flank) across the front of their main deployment area, behind it was their well stocked camp, 10VPs. A minor road junction in the French deployment area and a road exit giving them communication to Gaeta were the only other important features, worth 2 and 4 VPs respectively. An area of boggy ground in Spain’s right flank deployment zone would be of little import to France’s or Spain’s plan of action.


Spain to the left and foreground . French right middle to “the wall”.

Spanish forces
The Spanish divided their forces into 7 command groups. They were deployed forming a rough L shape around the French deployment areas as follows:

Main deployment zone:
1. The C-in-C with a bodyguard of Spanish knights forming a reserve behind the earthworks.
2. Four Colunellas and a battery of medium guns defending the earthworks.
3. Two units of Spanish skirmishers (arquebus) on a low hill in their flank deployment zone to the right of the position.
4. Two units of Genitors deployed on the far side of the stream. (Extreme Spanish left.)

Right flank deployment zone:
5. A nine stand Landsknecht pike block, a unit of Landsknecht skirmishers (arquebus) and two batteries of light guns (limbered). These were stationed on the right.
6. Two units of mercenary Lance Spezatte. These were stationed on the left.
7. A unit of Stradiots, a unit of mercenary Italian mounted crossbow and a unit mercenary Italian skirmishers (arquebus). These were, due to a lack of room, stacked up between the units above.

French forces
The French, hamstrung by a lack of defensible terrain in their deployment zone and having been flanked, deployed their four commands as follows:

A. The French C-in-C with a bodyguard of elite French Gendarmes and a unit of Argoulets deployed on the extreme left of their flank deployment zone facing the flank attack.
B. A 9 stand Landsknecht pike block A 9 stand Swiss pike block, a battery of medium guns and two units of Italian mercenary skirmishers deployed (right to left with the left refused) in the centre left of the deployment area facing the Spanish earthworks.
C. Two units of Italian Lance Spezatte and a unit of Italian mercenary mounted crossbows deployed on the French right facing the Spanish earthworks.
D. Three batteries of heavy guns deployed in the French centre facing the Spanish earthworks.

The Battle
The battle opened with the Spain’s flanking force commander and the French C-in-C racing to gain the summit of the type II hill in the combat zone. The Spanish beat them to it and desultory skirmishing by the light troops of both sides took place.


Skirmishers at work.

On the French right, the Italian mercenary cavalry moved forward to envelop the open flank of the Spanish earthwork. (In the deployment photo above it would seem this was pre-planned!) This move was hampered by Genitors, which being fast and aggressive by nature, swarmed all over their slow moving or under-armed enemy – the Italian mounted crossbow being scattered. The Genitors evaded the slow charges of the Lance Spezatte only to reform and be over them again like a rash. Eventually the Lance Spezatte had to split up, one unit to move onward against the earthwork, the other to keep the Genitors at bay. The French heavy artillery made its presence felt at this time, concentrating its fire against the Colunella holding the hanging flank of the earthworks and causing severe casualties; but these soldiers were not for running and stood to face the oncoming extra heavy cavalry.


The earthwork’s exposed left flank.

Back on the French left, to and fro skirmishing took place between the French Argoulets and Landsknecht shot with neither gaining significant advantage. The Stradiots made their presence felt by emptying some saddles of the C-in-C’s bodyguard. This irritation spurred the Gendarmes to action. They wheeled away from the Stradiots and fell on an advancing body of Spain’s mercenary Lance Spezatte, forcing it to recoil and exposing the flank of its brother unit. Quickly reforming after their charge they charged again into the exposed flank, but these Lance Spezatte were made of sterner stuff. They held the charge, counter-charged and broke their attackers, cutting them to pieces in a short pursuit. The French C-in-C, thrown from his horse, hid in a vineyard until rescued by some retreating Italian shot.

The French, seeing their left flank crumble threw caution to the wind. Their mercenary pike was ordered to counterattack. The Swiss advanced past its supporting artillery the wheeled left to face the oncoming Italians, dispersing a unit of Spanish skirmishers who had meantime advanced down from their hill in the process. With no serious opposition left before Spain’s Landsknechts wheeled and advanced towards their old enemy.


Bad War! Spain’s Landsknechts march towards the Swiss.

The Landsknechts, giving a great shout (Heroic Moment Card) threw themselves forward into the teeth of flying shot that emanated from the Spanish earthwork.


Landsknecht charge!

At around this time, the French heavy gun line, having become exposed by the advance of its supports, was descended on by a unit of wily Genitors who had slipped past the Lance Spezatte ordered to keep them at bay. The gunners, standing no chance against the veterans of the wars against the Moors ... to be continued.

Credits
Written, painted and photographed by James Roach.

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