Mayhem In Mexico!

Well, this was originally doing to be a game report about a Paraguayan War game, but I changed it at the last moment. What’s the point of starting a Mexican army if it’s not going to get used (see here for further details)! This is another e-mail game played against my regular opponent John and I can only apologise for the pictures, since I’ve had trouble getting enough light to take a picture given how murky it’s been lately! Most of the introduction comes from the e-mail briefing I sent John before the game started.

INTRODUCTION/MOVE 1

The French have to escort a supply train to the pontoon bridge and get it across the river (i.e. off board).  If the supply train is attacked and destroyed on board it remains in play as a static item.  If that happens, the only way the French can win is by driving off the Mexicans and holding the field of combat at the end of the game.

The French have:

A Foreign Legion battalion (1) – these are elite troops (the numbers in parentheses refer to the tokens next to the units in the picture below and are to aid identification for e-mail play).

A supply train (2)

A regiment of Chasseurs d’Afrique cavalry (3)

A zouave battalion (4)

A Turco battalion (5)

Apart from the Foreign Legion, the rest of the French infantry are veterans.  Infantry move 6 inches in column, the supply train moves 6 inches and the cavalry move 8 inches.  The infantry can only move in column but can form line to fire more effectively (they can still fire in column).  Formation changes happen right at the start of the move, followed by movement, firing and close combat.  Infantry in line can turn and fire but at reduced effect.  Only infantry can move through woods at a reduced rate.

Cavalry are for shock action only and tend to get shot up by infantry with rifled muskets.  French infantry are always allowed to charge enemy infantry even when outnumbered.

The Mexicans have:

An irregular cavalry regiment (A)

Three line infantry battalions (B), (D) and (E)

An artillery battery ( C )

A militia battalion (F)

The artillery battery has a range of 16 inches.  All of the Mexican regular infantry have rifles with an 8 inch range, same as the French, whilst the militia have smoothbore muskets with a range of 4 inches.  The Mexican cavalry are shock action only.  All of the Mexicans count as regulars for morale with the exception of the militia and cavalry (who are a class lower).

The French have the advantage in that their infantry can attack even when outnumbered and their morale is better.

The Mexicans have just appeared to the south.  The piece of paper on the board measures approximately 8 inches by 6 inches to give an idea of movement distances and infantry firing ranges and I’ve also identified the woods with letters to make defining orders easier.

MOVE 2

The French supply train and its escort move forward cautiously between the woods, but the wagon becomes stuck in a muddy rut (see picture below – muddy rut not shown for clarity)!

Nearer to the river, the supporting French infantry advance, ready to challenge the advancing Mexican units. The latter generally advance towards the French on a broad front (see below – the French are in the background).

The situation at the end of Move 2 is shown below.

MOVE 3

With the wagon unable to move this turn, the French took steps to protect it while the supply troops heaved and strained to get the wagon moving again. The Chasseurs d’Afrique covered the front of the wagon while the Foreign Legion rearguard turned to face the Mexican irregular cavalry approaching the rear of the supply column. On the other flank the Turcos and zouaves advanced to secure some room for manoeuvre and take some pressure off the other flank.

The Mexicans chose to keep up momentum on the two flanks whilst holding their centre steady. On their right flank the line infantry moved forward in column towards the wood sheltering the supply train whilst the cavalry decided to risk charging the Foreign Legion before the latter could form a firing line. Although taking casualties during closing to contact, the cavalry hit the Legion hard and pushed them back in disorder (see picture below).

On the other flank the Mexican militia advanced towards the woods whilst the two remaining line infantry battalions halted in column formation and opened fire on the advancing Turcos and zouaves. Both of these French units took some casualties and also came under fire from the Mexican artillery (see below).

The situation at the end of Move 3 is shown below.

MOVE 4

After their rough handling at the hands of the Mexican cavalry the Foreign Legion formed a firing line and loosed a devastating volley into their attackers, forcing the remnants of the latter to withdraw to a safe distance.

With little room to manoeuvre between the woods and the supply train the French cavalry turned to face the Mexican infantry advancing on the wood, blocking the latter’s line of sight to the wagon. In the centre the Zouaves formed into line and opened fire on the closest Mexican infantry, whilst the Turcos on the French right flank also formed a line and opened fire on the Mexican militia advancing to the wood. French firing inflicted very few casualties however.

With their cavalry support rebuffed, the Mexican infantry closest to the supply train advanced through the intervening wood, but found their advance blocked by the French cavalry. On the Mexican right the militia battalion advanced through the woods, attempting to outflank the Turcos whilst remaining undeterred by French rifle fire.

In the centre the two Mexican infantry battalions formed firing lines and opened a withering fire at the Turcos, causing severe casualties. With its firing lines partially obstructed the Mexican artillery fired on the zouaves and inflicted a further casualty on this unit. The French right flank was now looking quite shaky (see below)!

The situation at the end of Move 4 is shown below.

MOVE 5

The French supply train now managed to clear the woods and head for the bridge, covered by the Chasseurs d’Afrique who took up position at the rear of the wagon and prevented the Mexican infantry in the wood from firing on it. In the meantime, the Foreign Legion formed column and advanced with a view to dealing with the same Mexican infantry!

On the French right the Turcos also formed column and, despite being outnumbered, bravely charged the Mexican militia emerging from the woods. Fighting ferociously, the Turcos forced the militia to withdraw, but they were left in a dangerously exposed position. In the centre, the Zouaves kept a steady fire against the remaining Mexican infantry.

On the Mexican right, the advance of the Foreign Legion towards the woods prompted the remnants of the Mexican cavalry to edge forward to keep an eye on things! The Mexicans in the wood were seemingly oblivious to the approaching Foreign Legion, forming a line and opening fire on the Zouaves in the centre. The latter also became the target of the Mexican artillery and one of the other infantry battalions and casualties started to mount, although the veteran Zouaves held their ground. This was just as well, as the situation on the French right flank was about to get a lot worse!

Seeing their militia comrades repulsed by the Turcos’ furious charge, the closest Mexican regular battalion promptly formed column and charged into the Turcos’ vulnerable flank. Reduced to less than half strength, this assault broke the Turcos, the few survivors streaming away to the rear! While this melee was in progress, the Mexican militia pulled themselves together and advanced to support the regulars. Details of the view from the Mexican left flank are shown below.

The situation on the Mexican right is shown below. Despite Mexican efforts, that wagon is getting awfully close to the bridge!

The situation at the end of Move 5 is shown below.

MOVE 6

Setting a good pace, the supply train finally reached the bridge, still covered by the Chasseurs d’Afrique. To provide additional support, the somewhat battered zouaves also pulled back, preventing the Mexicans from being able to direct any fire at the wagon. Over on the French left, the Foreign Legion charged the Mexican infantry, hitting them hard in the flank and forcing them back from the wood.

The Mexicans, however, were determined to press their attack against the supply train, with the militia and one of the infantry battalions continuing to advance towards the river. The Mexican artillery and remaining infantry continued to fire at the (now withdrawing) zouaves, continuing to inflict casualties. Over on the Mexican right, the infantry driven out of the woods re-formed and advanced again to try and close with the Foreign Legion, the remnants of the Mexican cavalry sweeping around the wood in the hope that they might be able to catch the Legion off guard. A closer view of the action on the Mexican right and centre is shown below.

The situation at the end of Move 6 is shown below.

MOVE 7

Having got to the bridge the supply train wasted no time in crossing it and getting to safety. The Chasseurs d’Afrique followed close behind, leaving the zouaves unsupported in the face of a general Mexican advance. The zouaves luck held though, and they managed to get to the bridge unscathed, a parting volley from the Mexican militia having no effect whatsoever!

The Foreign Legion were in a tighter spot though, with infantry and the remnants of the Mexican cavalry threatening to close with them. The Legion decided to withdraw to the woods closer to the river in the hope that some cover would buy them a bit more time. This paid off, the Mexican forces following not being close enough to prevent them from getting to the woods. The Mexican cavalry decided to pull back rather than suffer casualties from Legion rifle fire and it was left to the Mexican artillery to inflict a few more casualties on the Legion as they withdrew. Although the Mexicans had more than enough strength to be able to attack the Legion’s position, with the escape of the supply column they decided to withdraw before French reinforcements could arrive! The picture below shows the position of the various units at the end of Move 7.

The picture below is a closer view – the Foreign Legion, the only French unit remaining, are in the top right of the picture!

So, with the escape of the supply column, the French secured a win (which meant I lost)! It was, however, a close run thing. Of the four French units protecting the wagon, only the Chasseurs d’Afrique were still at full strength, quite an achievement considering the vulnerability of cavalry to massed infantry fire (as the Mexican cavalry found out to their cost). Although the chasseurs failed to contact any Mexican units, for most of the game they blocked line of sight to the supply train, putting themselves in the firing line in the process. The Turcos finally succumbed to a Mexican charge after taking rifle fire and repulsing the militia. The zouaves and the Foreign Legion were both under half strength at the end of the engagement.

The Mexican units performed quite creditably throughout, with the infantry units being at least at three-quarter strength at the end. Although two infantry units were repulsed by French charges, both reformed and returned to action immediately. The Mexican cavalry were down to quarter strength by the end of the game, having suffered heavily at the hands of the Foreign Legion, although they had succeeded in pushing the latter back after charging them.

I think the game was balanced overall and difficult for both sides. The wagon getting bogged down for a move did give the Mexicans more time to close in, but it did manage to get away (and was lucky not to get bogged down again). If the French had had even one extra unit to defend the wagon it would have been even harder for the Mexicans – as it was the French secured victory, but at a cost.

Whereas I’d have used the Borders of Blood rules if I’d been playing either a solo or face-to-face game (since they provide for more variability in unit behaviour) I opted to use Neil Thomas’ 19th Century European Warfare rules for an e-mail game, since they’re easier to manage the actions of the remote player’s units. Overall, a good game, and difficult to predict the outcome until the end! I just need to get on and paint some more Mexican units now!

44 comments

  1. Thanks for an enjoyable battle report. I liked the scenario twist for early loss of the train moving – thus allowing the game to continue for a reasonable length. Nice figures – are these all 25mm or 1/72 plastic or metal?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Lorenzo! 🙂 I had to introduce the option of the wagon getting bogged down, otherwise it was possible to just block line of sight to the wagon and sneak it round to the bridge! Given the odds (a D6 throw of 6) I’m surprised it bogged down right at the start and then had a trouble free journey after that. Figures are mostly 1/72 plastic with some metal 20mm thrown in (all the cavalry, some of the Turcos and zouaves and all of the Mexican officers and colour bearers).

      Liked by 2 people

        • The Mexican cavalry, some of the zouaves and two of the the Mexican colour bearers are Newline design and are 20mm so maybe slightly shorter than some 1/72 plastics but I don’t think they look out of place. Some of the Turcos are old Qualiticast 1/72 metal ACW zouaves (that I think someone somewhere still sells) and they fit in well with the Strelets Turcos. The French cavalry are 20mm Irregular Miniatures and, like all of their 20mm figures, are on the small side but this is less noticeable as they’re the only cavalry on that side. Two of the Mexican officers and one colour bearer are Jacklex figures, which tend to be a similar size/build to 1/72 plastics although the detail is quite basic. To be honest, if I can get the figures that do the job I don’t tend to worry about a bit of size difference!

          Liked by 2 people

  2. This is an excellent report as always, John! The photos were great and made it easy to follow the action. It was a close game to boot! I enjoy reading reports of a game like this because things like flanks and cannon fire are a bit of a novel concept for me. I’ve never played a wargame with them (though I certainly dreamed of doing so with Warhammer Fantasy as a young man) so its interesting to see how tactics change with a ruleset like this. Allez les bleus! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Jeff, glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 I’m finding that I have to get used to securing flanks and/or trying to turn the enemy’s flanks. I struggle with keeping clear fields of fire for artillery and being able to support infantry until they get close enough to fire and charge, but some of this (at the moment) is because I’m just setting up on a small space for solo or e-mail games. I think if was using my larger 6′ x 4′ table I’d have more room to manoeuvre and more artillery! The scenario for this game was better played on a smaller area I think.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks IRO, glad you liked it! 🙂 Since it was an e-mail game I wrote each move up in a blog post and then e-mailed to my mate so that he could plan his next move. At the end of the game I then just needed to add a few thoughts at the end and post it, so it makes it easy to do overall.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Roger, always nice to hear from you! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the game report and, just for you and because it’s Christmas, it was a game with 20mm figures! Pay no heed to those naysayers who might tell you that all my armies are 20mm scale and that it was therefor nothing special! I’ve enjoyed my Christmas and I hope you have too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed this report – an exciting encounter! It seemed nicely balanced throughout, ebbed and flowed and with any number of possibilities in play right to the end.

    Happy New Year to you, John! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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