Saturday, June 25, 2011

La batalla del Cantina de Rosie: A test game of the new rules

(Apologies to those who have noticed a change in the post title, the name is still being debated  )

After their defeat at Plattsburg Valley in May, the Anglo-Mexican army fell back along its supply lines into Mexico. By the end of June, the army had been rested and reinforced and was ready to take the offensive again.

 The Americans had not been slow in following up and occupied a strong position on an island in the Rio Azul, controlling the only bridges leading back into the disputed territory.    General Ross deployed his 1st Brigade with the 1st Infantry deployed just out side Rosie's Cantina with the 2nd infantry deployed to defend the West Bridge. A gun anchored their right and a howitzer their left. To defend the East bridge, Ross deployed the 3rd Infantry with the Bangor Rifles being held in reserve in a small wood behind them. The Mountain gun was posted on the far left. Behind the lines, the Frontier Mounted Rifles were posted on the left, behind the wood  while the 1st Dragoons were posted just West of the town. (All dispositions being as per  Scenarios for Wargames)

General Hubert deployed a scouting screen comprised of Larsen's Lancers and los husares amarillos de la tierra de rosas or the Yellow Hussars as they are usually called in British accounts. On his left he deployed 2 guns then the 1st Brigade with the 1st Canadian Battalion supported by the 27th Foot. The Governor General's Bodyguard were deployed to their left. To their right were two more guns with the 2nd Brigade deployed in line beyond them, the 2nd Canadians, Royal Marines and then the San Carlos active militia. The brigade was screened by the skirmishers of the Victoria Rifles.

General Hubert quickly grabbed the initiative and kept it nearly the entire day. (The Americans winning the toss on only 1 turn which was what they wanted since it allowed them to fire first consistently). His plan was to bombard the defenders of the West Bridge while attacking the East Bridge with infantry. At about 10 am he ordered the guns to open fire.  The 2nd brigade pushed forward aggressively and the rifles were soon engaged but were were driven back by cannister and the fire of the Bangor rifles which had come forward to support the defence. The line quickly stepped forward as the Rifles rallied and a protracted firefight began,     The cavalry screened was recalled and formed in reserve despite some reluctance of the farther Hussar patrols to retire.

Casualties were mounting fast on the Allied infantry by 11 o'clock as they were raked by American artillery and hammered by the aimed fire of their infantry when a courier arrived from the Yellow Hussars reporting that they had located a ford to the East of the island. General Hubert contemplated this discovery and tried to decide what to do (5,6 switch the main attack to the ford, 3,4 send the cavalry over the ford but keep pressing the bridges, 1.2 ignore the ford until at least 1 attack on the bridge has been repulsed then check again). His troops were already committed and pulling them back might be difficult. The Americans seemed to be unaware of the ford and he decided to keep it that way unless he had to use it.

Herbert had already ordered his center battery forward and their cannister was tearing holes in the enemy  ranks. The enemy appeared to be wavering (on 2 consecutive turns they tried to pull back but rolled)  
too low to pull back through the town). He sent an order for the Lancers to attack.  Gallantly they galloped over the bridge, ignoring the unsteady fire of the Americans and driving them broken through the streets of the town. Rather than enter the narrow streets, the Lancers wheeled and rode down a detachment of riflemen, sending the survivors fleeing but casualties were mounting and they were forced to rally back in turn. (I goofed, thinking that 50% was the break point as opposed to over 50% oops, oh well, it applied to both sides of this one thanks to good rolling on the part of the rifles and less than good rolling by the lancers)
As the Lancers fell back, the Canadians were ordered to seize the now undefended bridge. They formed column and rushed forward but were barely across the bridge when they were hit by the US Dragoons and sent fleeing back through the 27th who calmly opened files to allow them through. The Dragoons felt the urge to pursue across the bridge, a move that might have won the battle, or lost it right there, abut they heeded the bugle playing Recall.

 As noon approached, the situation was looking desperate and General Hubert reconsidered his options. He decided to send the cavalry over the ford and began issuing orders. With the enemy infantry momentarily pushed back, the British artillery concentrated on counter battery fire and eventually silenced first the gun in the center and then the one west of town. The left hand battery was ordered to limber and move forward. There was a slight delay but by 1 o'clock they were deployed within point blank range and had opened fire on the American troops manning the roofs of the adobe houses.

To the east, there had been some hesitation (failed out of command tests) but eventually the cavalry crossed the ford and deployed under an ineffective rifle fire from the Bangor Rifles who had been pulled back through the wood to oppose them. By the East Bridge, the weight of numbers finally began to tell as first the mountain battery was silenced by rifle and musket fire, then the 3rd Infantry began  to waver and was pulled back to regroup in the cover of the woods.  At last all was in place, the Yellow Hussars charged forward and clashed with the Mounted Rifles, driving them back.

It was now or never, the General issued orders for an all out assault. The San Carlos Militia formed column and stormed across the bridge while the 1st Canadians and the 27th Foot fixed bayonets and  stormed across the bridge and into the town. In a matter of minutes it was over. The American infantry, weakened by a long bombardment and an extended firefight, fired a  ragged volley then broke and ran all along the line. The Mexicans pursued through the woods,  catching the Bangor Rifles from the rear and pinning them against the river.

The GG Bodyguard passed through the Hussars, formed and charged forward into the Dragoons who spurred forward to meet them. After a brief clash, the Dragoons gave way and the Bodyguards drove driving the Dragoons and the remnants of the Mounted Rifles from the field.

In town, the 27th  following hard on the heels of the 1st Infantry drove them back through the narrow streets, over running the remnants of an American battery.  General Ross, having taken refuge with the 2nd Infantry was trapped. Reluctantly he authorized a white flag of surrender.

What can I say?  This was the most exciting Solo game I've ever played. All I wanted to do afterwards was to reset the game and play again. The game last 10 or 12 turns (I got too involved to keep track) representing about 3 hours of real time and took about just over 3 hours to play.  It felt like what I have been struggling to achieve for 5 years. 

I believe I have the rules for both my 1812 and Indian campaigns. 


  1. Give you joy of your game sir!
    I am delighted all is going so well upon the games table.
    best wishes

  2. Ross Mac,

    Your enjoyment and enthusiasm simply ooze off the page ... and I can see why you wanted to reset and refight the battle again!

    Well done! I am really pleased that you have found what you have been looking for with regard to developing your 'new' rules.

    All the best,


  3. A very satisfactory outcome. I look forward to the Battaille del Restaurante de Alice.