An inconsequential engagement - August 1808, Portugal
This church played a prominent part in the excellent wargame put on by my Secret Wargaming Friend on Thursday 2nd January 2014 - Happy New Year!
My brief indicated that I had to secure the safety of this individual, Antonio de Sosa Jose de Castro, a rabble rousing Bishop of Porto, otherwise known as ' The Special One '. Incidentally, he bore more than a passing resemblance to my Secret Wargaming Friend (including the garments he wore).
Specially selected to lead the mission to secure the Bishop was a boys own hero called Captain Richard Blunt of the 95th Rifles, aided by his right hand man, Sgt O'Rourke.
As an additional insurance, Capt Blunt was supported by Lt Lesley Cavendish and a company of 29th Foot (Worcestershire Regt).
The Bishop had a small entourage and a couple of armed Monks as security, neither of whom were bullet proof.
My Secret Wargaming Friend, clearly a retired man of some personal means, had scratch built and painted the majority of the delectable terrain on show for the game.
A view of the tower strategically placed near a vital bridge over which any French troops would likely have to cross.
A view of said bridge. This would later be the scene of considerable frustration for my French opponent. Shame.
A birds eye view of the battlefield
A graveyard view of the.....graveyard.
Part of the British column marching to the church.
Meanwhile the Bishop dishes out a firebrand sermon to some locals.
It seems to be well attended.
I took note of some potential defensible positions near to the church.
The French didn't hang about, and soon appeared on the table, in comforting strength of numbers.
My game plan was to rush my force to the church, cover the likely enemy approach route over a single bridge, and then scarper. Causing some humiliating casualties to SWF would not go amiss either!
The French closed quickly on the bridge, they looked splendid in their uniforms.
The scene was set for a small, but vicious encounter..........
My riflemen took up some covered positions, and waited patiently.
More riflemen joined the advanced party.
Another company of French joined the party.
At last, and not before time, the bulk of the British force took up defensive positions, and Lt Cavendish went off to find the Bishop.
The Worcesters rush to the church walls.
They discover that it is an ideal position from which to rain down a wall of lead onto anybody fool-hardy enough try and cross the bridge.
Please accept my apologies for some of the blurred photos, I was nervous.
The view of the French troops as they crest the hump of the humped-back bridge, less than welcoming.
Meanwhile, Lt Cavendish urgently explains the situation to the Bishop, as musket fire is heard outside. The chap to his left seems quite animated by the conversation, whilst the bloke at the back ties his sandle.
The French on the bridge bravely advance, ignoring the hail of British musket and rifle balls. Soon their commander receives a terrible wound and is carried by his men from the battle. The company finds what cover it can on the bridge.
Meanwhile the religious gaggle make a sharp exit from the church.
More French arrive and try to circumvent the bottleneck at the bridge.
There seems to be no way across under the fire of the British. Casualties mount for the French. Two men are struck by some giant dice......
Meanwhile, escorted by Sgt O'Rourke, the Bishop speeds away from the carnage to the safety of the table edge.
A French company wades across the stream despite the musketry of the British, and even kill two soldiers, including the unfortunate Lt Cavendish. A bullet strikes his sword and enters his neck.
Note the broken sword - very blurred photo, due to the sorrow at the broken sword (luckily note caused by me).
The rifles stood their ground and in total about 11 French troops were mortally wounded before the engagement ended with the safe departure of the Portuguese Bishop.
These guys were instrumental in holding the French at bay.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening.