Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Bridge Too Close

The Varangian Major Halmarson took command of the brigade attacking the western bridge near the village of Gallo. He had four infantry battalions and the heavy cannon from Civita Maria. The enemy did not fortify much, nor did they construct a bridgehead. The enemy Colonel was a rich citizen of one of the southern cities, with a volunteer provincial light infantry detachment of a hundred and twenty, and two standard strength provincial battalions under his command. He was smart enough to raise a redoubt, but on the wrong side of the bridge. 

After consulting with the battalion officers, the loyalist commander decided to keep one unit in reserve, and sent for the reinforcements stationed to the east well ahead. However, they had to cross treacherous land and there was no time to take the road as it would have been a huge detour, their  time of arrival was therefore too uncertain for the Colonel's taste.

Halmarson did not concern himself with the loyalist reinforcements. He led forward the veteran Varangian mercenaries and found a crossing. The Civita Maria militia followed their more experienced comrades, and after exchanging volleys, the loyalist light infantry fell back to the grove south of their position to prevent the Varangians' running them down. The freshly appointed Civita Maria officials received simple and clear orders to delay crossing the bridge itself and only tie down the provincials until a foothold is gained.

The heavy cannon soon forced the forward provincial foot to fall back in disarray.

The Cacciatori stood their ground in the woods and their precise shooting took its toll on the Varangians. The Major ordered them to retreat and sent the militia forward to man the stone wall.
As the provincials retreated, the Civita Maria regulars, until then waiting in the cover of the woods north of the bridge, marched across and deployed in line. A group saw the loyalist officer waving his hat, riding up and down. They captured and dismounted him, then sent him back across the bridge. It was a critical moment as the reinforcing two provincial battalions were already sighted, arriving slightly off their intended destination.

The militia formed march column and went right after the regulars. The battalion commanders could finally dress the ranks of the previously routed redcoat unit, and sent them behind the redoubt in march column. The enemy artillery shot at them again, but most of it missed. The gunners worked as hard as they could, and the next round of fire brought the provincials down: most of them fled while a few joined their comrades holding the redoubt.

Halmarson now attempted a classic oblique order maneuver, bringing up the veteran Varangians again, and ordering the Calvacasa militia on the extreme right to stand against the enemy reinforcements. He intended to outflank the redoubt before the enemy could arrive in strength and relieve it.

Concentrated heavy artillery fire tore up the loyalist ranks, and both battalions wavered and retreated when the Calvacasa volunteers released a volley at them. The loyalist Colonel could finally steal a horse from the artillery train and ride up to them, but he could not rally the foot for another attack.

Although threatened on the flanks by the arriving Varangians, the last provincial battalion managed to escape in good order. By carefully managing his resources and trusting in the heavy guns, Major Halmarson secured the bridgehead with a lot less fuss than it happened on the east.

Here's the OOB for both sides, using Easy tircorne, my homebrew rules:

CIC Major Halmarson C:2
Major the Hon. Geologist Ravanelli C:1
Major the Judge Marconi C:1

1 unit of 2 heavy cannon
3rd Varangian foot btn., 3 bases, FP1 FI4
Calvacasa Volunteers, 3 bases, FP1 FI2
Civita Maria Household, 4 bases, FP2 FI2
2nd Civita Maria militia btn., 3 bases, FP1 FI1

Colonel, C:3

2x Provincial foot, 4 bases, FP2 FI2
1x Volunteer Cacciatori, 3 bases, FP2 FI2, Skirmishers

+ 2x Provincial regular infantry as reinforcements, same attributes as above