Thursday, 5 April 2018

Maipo 200

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Maipo, which basically secured Chile's independence from Spain, so obviously I decided that I would have to refight it.

I have, in fact, games it a few times, most of which are covered on this blog. Here's some links to the relevant posts:

Refight (Liberated Hordes)
Refight (Liberated Hordes)
Refight (Liberated Hordes)
Refight (Rocket's Red Glare)

For those not in the know, here's a brief history.

For a start, everything I've read for the past few years has called it the Battle of Maipú. However I've called it Maipo for the past 20 years and I'm going to stick to that.

Anyway, in February 1817, José de San Martín led an army across the Andes, defeated the Spanish  and captured Santiago. This is the campaign that includes the battle of Chacabuco, which I've refought a few times before. Look it up. I'll wait.

San Martin set Bernardo O'Higgins up as the Supreme Director of Chile and, a year after Chacabuco, O'Higgins declared Chile independent. However, the Spanish viceroyalty sent an army to Santiago under General Osorio and the Patriot armies were defeated at the Battle of Cancha Rayada in March 1818. After their defeat, the Patriots regrouped, rebuilt their army in a matter of days, and eventually numbered about about 6,000 men, a mixture of Argentinians and Chilean patriots.

Meanwhile, Gen. Osorio realised that he had not defeated the Patriot army conclusively at Cancha Rayada, and moved against them. They met near south of Santiago, at Maipo.

Both armies formed up on ridges, facing each other across a valley. The Patriots outnumbered the Royalists, but their army was less experienced and was still recovering from the earlier defeat at Cancha Rayada. In addition the Royalist army contained a regiment of Spanish veterans from the Peninsular campaign.

After an ineffective artillery bombardment, San Martin advanced against the Royalists on both flanks,  and drove back their left. The Royalists counterattacked, mostly in the centre where their better troops were stationed, but the Patriots held and pushed them back. The solid Spanish units held off attack after attack but eventually gave ground, and Osorio fled the field. His successor managed to rally part of the army, but it was too late and the Patriots forced them to surrender, winning a decisive victory.

As I have done many times before, I used my Liberated Hordes HOTT variant for the refight, and my 6mm figures on 25mm frontage stands. This gives a teeny-tiny game with a massed battle look.

This is the terrain. The Royalists would set up to the right and the Patriots to the left. Some of the Royalists had to set up on the smaller hill in the foreground.

The Patriot army, a mix of regular and militia infantry with a solid striking force of elite cavalry.

The Royalist army; smaller, but with a core of elite infantry veterans.

And the deployment. Caesar took the Patriots, whilst I took the Royalists. Both armies had to set up entirely on their own ridge, except that the Royalists had to deploy three elements on the isolated hill. The Royalists deployed first.

Actually I think this is one of the first times I've tried this battle with a 'free' deployment, rather than replicating the historical setup.

The rather poor Royalist cavalry deployed on the right. In the distance you can see the Patriot cavalry deployed to advance and destroy them

Caesar simply used his artillery to cover his right. I advanced my isolated infantry towards it, hoping to turn the Patriot flank.

Caesar went for a classic attack; he formed his infantry up into columns and advanced as quickly as possible. The first exchanges of musketry saw losses on both sides. The low-quality Chilean infantry suffered particularly badly. However the Patriot artillery eliminated some of the infantry advancing against them.

Poor PIPs held the patriot cavalry back at this stage. The Royalists stayed on the safety of the hill.

Caesar used San Martin's general bonus to push as many of his troops forward as possible, and broke up the Royalist line some more.

The Patriot cavalry attacked. One element of Royalist horse ran away instantly, but the other put up more of a fight, pushing back its opponent.

At this point the Royalist PIPs dried up, and their left flank was only able to mount a half-hearted attack on the Patriot right.

With his army falling back, the coward Osorio decided to quit the field. Marvellous.

This left the Royalists even more starved for PIPs and only one element away from defeat. Caesar launched attacks on two vulnerable Royalist units: the remaining cavalry and one of the units of Spanish regulars. Both elements saw off their opponents. Now was the time for the Royalist army to pull together and inflict enough damage on the Patriots to drive them off.

They rolled another '1' for PIPs, and for the second bound in a row none of the Royalist troops moved. Their cavalry couldn't hold out forever, and its loss broke the army giving the Patriots a win.

This was a pretty straightforward game, but we both enjoyed it. Once again the shaky quality of the Patriots made their attack risky, but the quality of the elite Horse Grenadiers saw them through. The Royalists have good troops poorly commanded, and spent a lot of the game in a state of command paralysis. If the same paralysis happens to the Patriots then the Royalists can pull off a win, but that didn't happen in this game.

So, for our 200th anniversary refight a Patriot win, securing the liberation of Chile, was the right result.


  1. So good to see this significant battle commemorated on its 200th Anniversary, and in such an exciting and attractive way!

  2. Thanks Kaptain, thoroughly enjoyed refighting this decisive battle with you on this auspicious anniversary. Liberated HOTT gave a great game in an evening. Excellent write up.

  3. Hi, this is great. Where you buy the 6mm south american wars miniatures? Thanks

    1. Hi,

      They're mostly 6mm Napoleonics from Irregular Miniatures. The Royalists are Spanish infantry and the patriots are French. The cavalry come from a range of Irregular's periods; most are Napoleonic again, but I have figures from their 19th century Mexican ranges too.


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