Friday, 16 February 2018

The Battle of San Giovese

One again we are in Italy, recording the ongoing struggles of the French and Imperialists for control of that land.  The action centres on the convent of San Giovese which sits next to a vital crossroads; vital because the roads in question are the quickest route between the respective camps and the best inns in the region.  Le Compte de Carignan, the French commander, has determined that he will seize the initiative and has ordered his forces to move forward to the crossroads.  The way was led by his cavalry in two brigades, under le Duc de Gamay and le Marquis de Merlot.  Each brigade has two units of gendarmes, a unit of men at arms and a unit of stradiots.  Behind them came the Swiss contingent under Lord Landroter, (2 units of pike, 2 units of arquebusiers and a small unit of halberdiers, plus a light gun) and the Compte's own command, 2 units of pike, a unit of arquebusier and a medium gun.

The crossroads from behind the Imperialist right wing.
The view from behind the Imperialist left wing
Le Compte concentrated his infantry for the attack on the convent and place the cavalry on his right, in the more open terrain.  As the French advanced they found that their opponents had also advanced in force.  The Duke of Tempranillo had received a report that the French were moving and resolved to forestall them.  He too had placed his two brigades of cavalry on the open flank; the Count of Barbera, (2 units of gendarmes, a unit of men at arms and a unit of mounted crossbows), being joined by the Duke of Trebbiano, (a unit of gendarmes, 2 units of men at arms and a unit of mounted arqubusiers).  The Imperialist foot had Graf von Spatburgunder with his landsknechts, a unit of arquebusiers and a light gun on the right, and Tempranillo himself, with two units of pike, a unit of arquebusiers, a unit of swordsmen and a light gun in the centre.

Carignon's command advance
Carignon led his men forward, the pikes heading for the landsknechts, the arquebusiers for the walled convent precinct.  In the centre, the much vaunted (and well paid) Swiss seemed reluctant to commit themselves.  Landroter was evidently taking great pains to make sure his unit commanders knew exactly what their orders were!  Gamay's cavalry, with the exception of the stardiots, also milled about aimlessly.  However, Merlot's men needed no urging, as they responded eagerly to the order to advance.  Indeed, Trebbiano's arquebusiers, who he had hoped would harass the plodding approach of the gendarmes, were all too soon racing back for the security of their own lines and disordering the leading unit, the men at arms, in the process.

The dithering Swiss

Gamay's reluctant cavalry
The clash, when it came, was brief.  The Imperialist men at arms were hit at the halt by their heavier opponents and were soon racing for the safety of their camp.  Behind them the leading unit of gendarmes ignored the fleeing rabble and  met the rampaging French gendarmes with resolve.  Casualties were heavy on both sides, but it was the French who pulled back to reform.

The heavy cavalry clash
Barbera was having more success.  Taking advantage of the dithering of Gamay, his cavalry took the low hill and had the briefest of chances to fall on the open flank of Merlot's command.  However, at that point indecision prevailed and the chance was gone.  With the enemy now clearly in view all dithering by Gamay ceased and his units were soon advancing to meet their foes.

In the centre, the Swiss still prevaricated, a tentative advance by the arquebusiers was soon stopped and Tempranillo was able to get his men forward to the crossroads without hindrance.  On the Imperialist right, Spatburgunder managed to win the race to the convent, with his arquebusiers taking up positions where they could fire on the French as they crossed the wall.  The landsknecht pikes advanced in support and the leading unit was soon engaged with a unit of French pikes.  The French were defeated and fell back, disorganising their supports.  Sensing an opportunity, the landsknechts charged again, but this time were defeated and had to retreat themselves.

The Imperial centre advances
The landsknechts advance
 After a strong reminder from Carignan on the terms of his contract of employment, Landroter eventually moved his men forward.  To his right Gamay's cavalry had by now wrested control of the hill from Barbera following a determined resistance from the Imperialist gendarmes.

Gamay overcomes Barbera
Merlot had by now driven Trebbiano's remaining men from the field and was manoeuvring to advance on the Imperialist centre.  Tempranillo's men, having advanced so easily, now found themselves having to fight desperately to hold their position.  Landroter's arquebusiers outnumbered them and their fire was slackening as casualties mounted.  Then, over the hill came one of the Swiss pike blocks.  Tempranillo sent a unit of pikes to stop it, but it was like trying to stop a battering ram with a snowball.  The first waverings in the Imperialist pikemen were seen before the two units came into contact.  In seconds it was all over, the remnants of the Imperialist unit fled to the rear.  The pressure was now increasing dramatically for the Imperialists.

The Swiss advance
There is no stopping the Swiss !
Would the landsknechts regain the initiative?  This was not to be their day.  Twice they charged the French pikes and twice they were beaten off.  The second time so disordered that it would take some time before they could resume the fray.  In the convent, the French arquebusiers gained the upper hand and forced the Imperialists to retreat.  From the convent precinct they could now bring fire onto the flank of Carignan's command as it attempted to halt the seemingly inexorable advance of the Swiss.

The landsknechts retreat

The final position
Plainly the day was lost, so the Imperialists fell back, relinquishing command of the crossroads to their opponents.  Perhaps there would be a good inn somewhere else?

Many thanks to Steve for devising the scenario.  A most enjoyable game, (even though I came second).

1 comment:

  1. Reading the report and viewing the photos, makes you want to fight a war-game. Great upload. Thank you. Michael