Welcome to Marauder Moments - a chronicle of the Mortimer Street Marauders; the games we play, the rules we use, the figures we play with and the scenery they fight over. Hope you enjoy these pages and maybe call back to catch up with our escapades.

Friday, 6 September 2013


The Battle of Vimiero.

We try to squeeze a couple of two day game events in each year plus a few one dayers to get something fun done in one sitting. We combine this with gratuitous all day drinking, a night of fine food, fine wine, cheap drugs and cheaper women. (No prizes for guessing which of these wild boasts isn’t true!).

Panorama of the battlefield from behind the French left flank. Vimiero looking impressive in the centre, Toledo on the right, Ventosa way away on the ridge line.

Being something of a control freak I offered to sort the scenarios. We are all four of us still scarred after Borodino so two more low key games seemed in order. Both had to occupy four players in challenging situations for a whole days play and still give both sides a fair chance of winning. I collect Napoleonic scenario books so had plenty to choose from. Of late I have finally cottoned onto the gaming possibilities of the Peninsular War so picked a fluid battle – Vimiero. This also allowed me to field my newly arrived Portuguese Brigade! The second game, played on the Sunday was an 1814 Campaign in France encounter, more details later...

The scenario map from Chris Leach's excellent Napoleonic scenario book - "Fields of Glory" - written with Arty Conliffe for use with Shako rules. We use General de Brigade but happily everything is very easily converted. Highly recommended reading, stuffed full of very playable games for the Napoleonic wargames buff, c'est moi! Buy it!
The above map sets out pretty much everything, our table looked as similar as I could make it. I added more open flanks to the table top but kept the deployment exactly as above. Each square represents one foot. The players weren't aware of off table forces, in this case Crauford, Brennier and Margaron; the latter commanding a number of Dragoon regiments which were available at Junot's discretion - if released they would limit the extent of a French victory.

The French left going in preceded by voltigeurs as usual.
Charlot front left, Thomieres front right, St. Clair following, C in C General Junot on the right.

Chris and Tony used my French army straight out of the big red tool boxes I use - this meant that they simply chose the toys they liked the look of. Hence the Swiss and Nuechatel are elite combined grenadier battalions whilst the Bavarians are French line, all the detached voltigeur companies are French line models. It all worked out perfectly of course.   

The scenario, like many of Chris Leach's, imposes victory conditions which differ for each side making a game of it and giving the allies reason to attack Toledo and not just sit back on the reverse slope and wait. Whilst effective, ridge hugging red lines make for a boring game. Having appointed Rich as Wellington for the day I knew there was no chance of this happening anyway! Those who have read some of my previous posts will recall that it is Rich who masterminded the "all out attack strategy" for the Russian defence at Borodino! Indeed.     

Ferguson's British brigade near Ventosa "defend" against Solignac to the front and now Brennier's flank marching brigade which turned up bang on time to spoil the party.
Where the hell is Crauford?

Behind Vimiero in the British centre.
All those woods with regular planted trees are orchards.

A closer in shot from behind the British centre at Vimiero - a few turns later than above.
Both pictures reveal more top brass milling about in the village square than I remember. Infact the pictures seem to show Vimiero filling up throughout the game, possibly skirmishers retiring to the relative protection afforded, who knows?
I also mixed up the players a little; I would play with Rich as the Brits, Chris and Tony the French. The historical battle had been brewing for a few days with both Wellesley and Junot trying out fox the other. Both generals were issued a game map and army lists plus objective sometime before the game but neither side knew much of the other or of the arrival of reserves or flank marchers.

Kellerman with his combined grenadier battalions (depicted by Italians!) near Toledo. 

The French left advances supported by divisional artillery - here an Italian 12lb foot battery.
British brigade skirmish screen taking pot shots at the oncoming columns.
I really love the poplar trees, they were made for me by S&A Scenics - never released otherwise apparently.

Solignac's attack approachs Ferguson with ample support from Brennier powering in from the right.
On Solignac's left Nightingale heads for Toledo pausing to put some fire into the passing French columns.
Behind Nightingale we can see Bowe's Brigade moving up to support him and to steady Ferguson a little.   
The orders of battle are below. The brigades are small and brittle - some being under strength as flank companies were detached to form brigade skirmish screens. We rarely use skirmishers but they seem such a feature of peninsular battles that we simply should! Also we all have tons of them floating around unused gathering dust – shameful really.

Tony moves Brennier's brigade up to attack Ferguson. The small British foot battery is spoiled for targets.
Allied order of battle;-

C in C - Wellesley (Wellington)
Anstruther - 2 x 24 Line, 30 Elite, 12 skirmishers, 1 foot battery of 3 guns.
Fane - 24 Line, 24 Elite, 12 skirmishers.
Acland - 2 x 24 Line, 12 skirmishers.
Nightingale - 24 Line, 24 Elite,12 skirmishers.
Bowes - 2 x 30 Line.
Ferguson - 2 x 24 Line, 12 skirmishers, 1 foot battery of 3 guns.
Cavalry Reserve - 24 Light Dragoons.  
Crauford's Portuguese - 2 x 30 Line, 2 x 24 2nd class. Initially off table.

Bowes supports Nightingale. Ventosa to the left, Toledo centre rear, Ackland to the right. 

The allied supply of Brandy is carelessly left at Ventosa in plain view of the advancing French - no wonder they seemed so motivated to keep plodding on despite some frightful casualties. 
The French Order of Battle;

C in C - General Junot
Charlot - 2 x 30 Line, 12 skirmishers.
Thomiere -  2 x 30 Line, 12 skirmishers.
St Clair's Grenadiers - 2 x 36 Elites.
Kellerman's Grenadiers - 2 x 36 Elites.
Solignac - 2 x 36 Line, 2 x 30 Line, 12 skirmishers, foot battery of four guns.
Brennier - 2 x 36 Line, 2 x 30 Line, 12 skirmishers, 18 Dragoons. Flank marching.
Margaron - 2 x 24 Dragoons, 1 x 24 Chasseurs. Optional reserve.
Divisional artillery - 12lb foot battery, 4 guns.

Charge of Light Brigade - take one, 1808.

The next few shots show a small part of the battle unfold. It seems British cavalry commanders never learn.

Back in the centre things are hotting up.
The main French battery has run low on ammo and is sending the caissons to the rear.
Sensing this opportunity for mischief Rich moves the Light Dragoons up to run the battery down.
Kellerman deploys one battalion into line for extra fire power.
On the left pressure is building against the thin red lines... 

The Light Dragoons head off toward the guns - Ackland's boys cheer them on.

Similar shot to above but slightly wider.
Is this a suicidal move?  

Ackland moves forward in line to support the charge of the Light Dragoons.
12lb foot batteries firing canister at close range are still pretty nasty even on low ammo - especially with a 36 strong elite battalion in line firing as support...   

The dice are rolled, brave riders tumble from crashing horses as canister and well aimed musketry tear into them.
The poor light dragoons fail to charge home, their retreat takes them clear of the table edge in no time - sad. 
Meanwhile back at Ventosa...

The allied left goes mental. Crauford arrives with the Portuguese just as Ferguson's brigade ceases to exist. Three French battalions are up on the hill-top having greased a British battalion another is about to go down and the skirmish screen is legging it pronto. Never mind , my newly painted Portuguese are here, partially based but with flags flying. 

Ventosa is occupied by Solignac's French without a fight, two other French battalions are up on the ridge too.
 Brennier is finishing off Fergson to the right. In the foreground another battalion moves up to reinforce the position.
Crauford's Portuguese brigade is arriving top right.
The French battalion in line facing off screen left is the 8th de Ligne - these guys have deployed from column under flanking fire from the 95th Rifles in line. In three successive turns they took 4 casualties per turn then 5 on the fourth turn for a grand total of 17 casualties in four turns during a very bloody firefight. Passing every morale test they were allowed to march off with flying colours and shouldered arms. This action earned the 8th De Ligne the nickname "Iron Heads" much to the nodding approval of all players; a little bit of wargames history in the making.  

Centre stage the "Iron Heads" engage the 95th Rifles in a  bloody stand up firefight
Bowes tries to swing his brigade around to fire on Ventosa and face the French swarming over the ridge.   

The Allied right where line met column again and again. 

Here Anstruther and Fane are deployed in depth with artillery support uphill in a strong position to hold the right flank. These lines repeatedly knocked back the French formations who in turn kept rallying and coming back for more creating an excellent ebb and flow feel to this part of the line.    

Finally Nightingale gets a battalion into far away Toledo as the 95th rifles continue their personal war with 8th de Ligne, the "Iron Heads". Bowes in the foreground has redeployed his brigade to resist further French attacks and to engage the French occupying Ventosa more directly with musket fire. This new line effectively stopped the whole Allied line from being rolled up.      

Another fairly broad shot from behind the French right towards Vimiero over Toledo. This is still quite early in the game.
The central orchards and impassible rocky area proved to split the game in two, although it needn't have done so really.

Crauford's Brigade arrives and begins to very effectively shoot up both Brennier and Solignac who have between them broken Ferguson and taken Ventosa. Despite this fine performance it was "too little too late" to alter the outcome - a French victory.   

Behind the Allied right at the close of play; Fane and Anstruther creak under sustained pressure - they couldn't take much more towards the end so fell back.

Final positions on the Allied left; Crauford's fire drove back Brennier and kept Solignac on the hill but broke neither. A fine first outing for these new Portuguese regiments - a great addition to our collection. I'll sort some close up when I finish the basing and attach banner tops.
So the Allied plan of attacking defense didn't work out as we lost the game. But that's missing the point entirely! It was a great days gaming, real ebb and flow, moments of Marauder History were made eg the "Iron Heads". Newly arriving forces kept upsetting the balance and the smaller brigades refuse to break, instead rallying and returning to the fray. We'd play this one again for sure.

We wrapped up quite early and set up ready for Sundays game - Montmiral. Then we made for the Quarryman's Arms for a vast three course meal, cheese and wine, rivers of ale and hard liquor -
Plan A always works, there is no Plan B.

Call back for the 1814 bash, hopefully soon! Best wishes warpaintjj.



  1. Now there's a coincidence, given the very recent demise of Don Featherstone. A refight of Vimiero featured in the first copy of his 'Wargamer's Newsletter' I managed to acquire in the late '60s. You seem to have made a much better job of it than we did!


  2. Excellent looking game! I'm quite impressed, thanks for sharing.

  3. I really enjoyed your write up and photos. You have inspired me to complete building my armies for this early 1808 campaign.

  4. Looks brilliant!

    I feel from Rich's Borodino tactics he nay just be a military genius!!! Great way to take the French and her allies out of their comfort zone. A Russian all out attack at Borodino!

  5. Thanks for all the positive feedback gents - makes it all worthwhile.

    Gary - like many players Don Featherstone was a cornerstone in those early years of my gaming - basically helping me make the move from playing with toy soldiers to wargaming with toy soldiers; a big shift. Cheers for the compliments. Be good, jj

    Very happy to inspire John - good luck with the 1808 project.

  6. Great looking game chaps. Hopefully Rich got to play Ney in the next game.....

    1. Hi Scrivs, Rich got to play Napoleon with all the baggage that entails! Glad you liked it, cheers Jeremy

  7. Looks and sounds like two days well spent. As ever, great battle report and lovely pics. I particularly like all the 'stand in' troops, ha ha!

    Looking forward to the report of the Montmirail game; presumably you used the Fields of Glory scenario for that one too? Another good one.

    1. Hi James, thanks for the feedback pleased to hear you enjoyed the read. Yep the Montmiral was was also from the same book - invaluable. Call back soon, cheers Jeremy

  8. Been too long since I frequented these pages...

    Really fantastic reports,Jeremy. Great pictures and figures, and genuine enthusiasm for th game felt in every detail...

  9. Cheers Brian, glad to have you back! Hope life is good and gaming is proving worthwhile.
    Be cool,