Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Battle of Garigliano River, 29 December 1503

As James prepares the refight here are his thoughts, amended unit characterisations and the initial dispositions for the battle.


Following the Battle of Cerignola in April the French fell back on their base at Gaeta. The Spanish, led by Gonsalvo de Corboba, followed up and laid siege but to little avail. When French reinforcements arrived Gonsalvo fell back on the river Garigliano where he took up a defensive position.

The winter weather was appallingly wet, "water answered the spade", and life in the forward positions was reminiscent of the trenches of WW1. To keep up morale the French withdrew much of their army into drier billets away from the river; much of their cavalry withdrew as far as Formia.

Meanwhile Gonsalvo, taking advantage of the French dispersal, planned a surprise flank attack on them. He cleverly had a special bridge of boats constructed, flat pack style, at the Fortress of Modragone: The prefabricated parts of this bridge could be assembled remarkably quickly. On the night of 28 - 29 December he secretly marched his best troops upstream to Sujo where his bridge was thrown across the river. At dawn, before the French knew what was happening, Gonsalvo's men were across the river in force.

So started Gonsalvo's crowning glory: the Battle of Garigliano.

Initial Deployment

Note that, since setting this up, I have moved the gun in front of Formia to the French position near the palisade. Also I realise that the trees should have no foliage in December but I don't have winter trees and the set up looks even odder with no trees at all.

Spanish Order of Battle

1: Commander-in-chief: Gonsalvo de Cordoba - Command rating 10.

2: Prospero Colonna - Command rating 8.
Spanish colunela (4 units).

3: Bartolomeo Alviano - Command rating 9.
Spanish Knights (1 unit).
Italian Lance Spezatte (1 unit).
Italian Stradiots (2 units).

4: Andrado - Command rating 8.
Italian Lance Spezatte (1 unit).
Spanish Genitors (1 unit). I
talian pike (1 unit).
Italian crossbowmen (1 unit).
Italian arquebus (1 unit).

French Order of Battle

A: Commander in chief: Ludovico, Marquis of Saluzzo - Command rating 7.

B (Billeted between Trajetto and Formia): Pierre Terrail, Seigneur Bayard - Command rating 9.
French Gendarmes (3 units).
Italian Lance Spezzate (2 units).
Italian Stradiots (1 unit).
Medium artillery (1 gun)

C: Capitaine Alegri - Command rating 7.
Gascon crossbowmen (2 units).
French pike (1 small unit).
Medium artillery (1 gun).

D1 and D2 (Equally split at Castelforte and San Cosmo): Command rating 8.
Swiss pike (4 units).
Swiss arquebus (2 small units).

E: Command rating 7.
Italian crossbowmen (2 units).
Italian arquebus (2 units).

F: Command rating 7.
Norman crossbowmen (2 units).
Norman pike (1 small unit).

Special Rules & Victory Conditions

For each settlement that the Spanish take they will receive extra stamina points:
  • Castelforte is worth 3 stamina points 
  • Trajetto and San Cosmo is worth 2 stamina points
  • Sujo and Torre del Garigliano are worth 1 stamina point
These can be assigned however the Spanish player wishes.

If the Spanish take Formia they automatically achieve a major victory.

The only special scenario rule in effect concerns artillery. Because the torrential rain has made the ground very soggy, there will be no artillery save modifier.

Pike & Shotte amendments

We will use Pike and Shotte rules by Warlord Games to re-fight this battle but with amended unit characterisation. So you can see where we are at with troop abilities and values you can download the unit tables we are currently using.

I have chosen to increase all move rates and weapon ranges by 33%. My reasoning for this is pretty simple: My table is quite a big one.

Those familiar with Pike and Shotte will also notice that I have also chosen to change certain 'ability' definitions - these include Crossbows being defined as having no short range but being able to give closing fire. The definitions for other things are also somewhat different than standard. I make no apology for this. I think my definitions fit better with what I understand about this particular sub-period. They might not work so well for others.

I hope this provides some food for thought.

Original post.

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