Saturday, 21 September 2013

Puebla 1862 - A Mighty Mean-Fowt Fight

Vive La France!
After playing a Mexican Adventure game last week, and a few smaller test games at odd moments during the week, I have been revising my square-grid ACW rules 'Mighty Mean-Fowt Fights' (available on the 'Free Stuff' page of this site. There were a number of aspects of the rules that I'm still not happy with, and I have been tweaking, changing and rewriting.

This morning I had the time to set up a full game to try out the changes. I'll probably write up what I'm changing in another post, so this will just be a report of the game.

Although the rules were written with the ACW in mind, I have used them for the South American Wars of Liberation and, as last week, the Mexican Adventure of 1862-67. I decided to play another game of the latter, because I had enjoyed having the figures out last week so much.

I decided on a refight of the First Battle of Puebla, when a French army launched a head-on assault against the forts defending that city, and were repulsed, an event still celebrated in some parts of Mexico as Cinco De Mayo. For inspiration I used a scenario in Tim Tilson's 'Colonial Campaigns - Maximilian In Mexico' booklet. This is designed for use with 'The Sword and the Flame', but the scenarios are adaptable, especially for a more abstract set of rules like 'Mighty Mean-Fowt Fights'.

Here's the set-up, looking from the French side of the battlefield. In the distance is the city of Puebla and in front of it a ridge-line. On the ridge are two forts, Guadelupe (left) and Loreto (right). Between them is a simple entrenchment. In the foreground is a building (which I think might be a brickworks, according to one map I've seen).

The French army. I have an OOB for this force somewhere, but couldn't find it, so I may have made a few things up. Specifically I added in some Mexican allies. The French had four regular infantry units, one elite, one regular cavalry and two regular artillery. Their Mexican allies consisted of three militia infantry, and two militia cavalry. At the back can be a seen the force's commander.

The Republicans had the following troops: two regular infantry, four militia infantry, two militia cavalry and a militia artillery. So a very fragile force, but with solid defensive positions.

Here's the Republicans deployed. The regular infantry were in the forts, with the artillery entrenched between them. The militia infantry and cavalry was held in reserve, aside from one unit which was in the brickworks and tasked with delaying any advance on that flank.

The French objective was to either capture both forts, in which case they immediately won, or break the Republican army by routing more than half of their units. There were nine Republican units, but I counted each fort as a unit too, so the French needed to rout/capture six units to win. They had ten turns in which to do this.

Here are the defenders of Fort Guadelupe.

And the troops in the brickworks.

The initial French deployment. A second wave of attackers is off-table. The plan was to assault the ridge with the better quality French troops, and use the Mexican allies to work around the Republican flank.

The Mexican allies approach the brickworks.

The French advance towards the ridge. On the right this would be a straight assault, but in the centre they would use their artillery to try and soften up the defenders first.

The Mexican allies attack the brickworks ...

... a close assault supported by cavalry.

The defenders retreat, then fail their morale roll and rout.

There was an exchange of artillery fire ...

... but with no real effect.

The French advanced to within musketry range of the fort.

Meanwhile the Mexican allies were engaging the Republican right.

French infantry formed up for the attack behind their artillery.

The first assault on Fort Loreto stalls.

On he other flank there was an inconclusive cavalry battle.

French and Mexican troops took the northern end of the ridge, but Republican infantry were formed up to counter-attack.

Another attack on Fort Loreto fails ...

... whilst fire from Fort Guadelupe drives the French off that end of the ridge.

Another attack on Fort Loreto just fails to drive out the defenders. Melee is simultaneous, with both sides rolling to hit the other. The side which scores the most hits wins, but in the event of a tie the lowest die roll which still hit does. In the event of a tie on that, the defender wins. So here the French have hit with a '6', but the fort defenders have hit as well. With the scores the same the defenders win. Had the fort rolled a 3 or less (a miss), then it would have been captured.

The Republican cavalry started to drive the Mexican allies back.

It was now halfway through the battle. The French abandoned the artillery duel, and advanced the infantry in their centre, including their elite unit (depicted as French Foreign Legion, but actually Chasseurs a Pied).

Meanwhile a Republican infantry unit failed a rally roll and slipped quietly from the battle.

The Republican cavalry attack continued.

The French start their first full assault on the ridge and the forts ...

... whilst a counter-attack by their Mexican allies routed a Republican cavalry unit.

Republican musketry drove the French back once again ...

... but they rallied and came back for another assault.

Once again the French failed to take a fort by a narrow margin; this time it was Fort Guadelupe which barely held on.

The French withdraw again.

On the Republican right their last infantry unit routed. They had now lost four units, and only a single cavalry unit remained to cover the flank.

Fort Guadelupe survived another attack.

The French cavalry withdrew to 'defend the camp from enemy guerillas'. In reality they badly failed a rally test.

The last Republican cavalry unit was routed by the Mexican allies.

This was it - the Republicans had now lost five units and one more loss would give the French a victory. But it was also the last turn of the game; they had to kill something, or capture a fort. Once more they assaulted Fort Guadelupe.

And once again they failed to capture it on a tie ...

As the afternoon rains began to fall, ending the battle, the French withdrew for the last time. They had come close to victory, but not close enough.

Their Mexican allies were virtually in the outer suburbs of Puebla, but it wasn't enough; the forts and their defenders were still fighting.

Fort Guadelupe.

Fort Loreto. To the right can be seen a militia unit which held that hilltop position for much of the game and secured the flank of the fort. The artillery between the two forts did an excellent job as well, fending off a couple of assaults by the French elite infantry.

The Republican losses - two cavalry and three infantry.

The only actual French losses were this unit of cavalry.

The French were very unlucky in this battle; they had some bad rally rolls which delayed some of their later attacks, and their firing was universally abysmal. Saying that, though, they had three near-misses when it came to capturing forts - any one of them being a success would have swung the battle their way, and the last would have given them a victory. So all in all this was a very close game. The Republican tactics were obvious - delay, delay, delay. Anything that could hold up attacks on the forts helped them, even as their losses mounted (also due, in part, to awful rally rolls).

On the whole the changes held up well. The main thing I need to look at it cavalry close combat in rough terrain which, ironically, is less of an issue for the ACW battles the rules are really written for because the cavalry tend to dismount. I shall document the changes in a later post, however.


  1. Very nice! Interesting report and system and, of course..."Vive la France!"...

  2. An excellent battle report!

    I love the whole 'look' of what you have done (the chessboard is exactly right!) and looking at the pictures one gets the impression that it took place on a much large playing area that it actually did.

    All the best,



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...