Tuesday, 8 May 2018

French-Mexican War - Camerone and Puebla

The week commencing 30th April has anniversaries for two of the better known actions of the 2nd French-Mexican war, the French Intervention in Mexico or the Maximilian Adventure - whatever you want to call it.

The 30th April is the anniversary of  Camerone / Camaron where a small company of the French Foreign Legion held off a large republican Mexican force for several hours before being overwhelmed.

The 5th May is the anniversary of the battle of Puebla where a Republican Mexican army repulsed a French army and stopped it's advance on Mexico city.

To commemorate these actions we refought both using Bloody big Battles. Although this ruleset is designed for very large battles where 1 base = 1000+ men, it also works very well at lower scales: Camerone at 1 base  = 3 men and Puebla at 1 base  = 120 men. Having good scenarios helps.
The attack on the hacienda at Camerone by dismounted Republican cavalry

The Camerone scenario was taken from Tim Tilson's Maximilian in Mexico scenario book. This is geared towards The Sword and the Flame  ruleset but translates easily to BBB
The assault on the eastern gates

There were a few changes to the standard BBB rules

  • Units could not combine their firing 
  • Leaders only affect units they are attached to
  • The Foreign Legion is Elite - ie never goes spent

The Republicans storm the eastern wall

As always the Foreign Legion were overwhelmed but due to the Victory Points they won 39 to 38.

The smiley face markers are yellow for disordered, green for low on ammo and red for spent.

For Puebla we used Vincent's BBB order of battle and scenario rules with some changes but opted for the map in Tilson's book which is a lot simpler to set up.

The changes to the OOB and scenario rules were

  • Only the 2 Zouave units are Aggressive
  • Mexican units only count Fragile for Movement but NOT for combat
  • Drop the number of artillery pieces on both sides from 6 to 3
  • Artillery going low on ammo remains low for the remainder of the game
Puebla is on the right. On the ridge Fort Loreto is middle bottom and Fort Guadelupe is middle top . La Ladrillera is top left. The church in Puebla and the 2 forts are objectives as is the French supply wagon which is about 5 foot to the left of this picture.


The French assault begins with a 3 foot trek to the forts. The village of La Ladrillera is about to get the undivided attention of the French artillery.
Fort Loreto's garrison, the Reforma Morelia Battalion, await the invaders.
Fort  Guadelupe's defenders, the unreformed Morelia Battalion, watch the French nervously
The defenders of La Ladrillera proved to be a thorn in the French flank
The main French assault column advance, two battalions of the 2nd Zouaves and a battalion  of Naval infantry. In the background is their commander, Major-General Charles de Lorencz
The French forces deploy to assault Fort Guadalupe
The French reserves follow up, two battalions of the 99th Line, Chasseurs a Pied, Chasseurs de Vincennes and a battalion of Colonial Marines
The Zouaves prepare to attack the covered road between the forts held by the San Luis Rifles
However only 1 battalion goes in as the other is halted by fire from Fort Guadalupe.
The Zouaves push the San Luis Rifles back from the covered road.
The Zouaves attempt to push on towards Puebla but are thrown back by the San Luis Rifles
Meanwhile the French reserves have come up to assault Fort Guadalupe where the defenders are low on ammo.
On the final turn the French storm and capture Fort Guadalupe

A tally of the objectives - Puebla and Fort Loreto are still in Mexican hands while the French hold Fort Guadalupe and their supply wagon. Therefore a draw.

With only 8 game turns this is a difficult one for the French as they start over 36" away from the nearest fort. The next time we play this I will add in some roads to make initial moves quicker.

The Mexican force at La Ladrillera tied up several French units that could have been useful in the attack on the forts. 

The Artillery low on ammo scenario rule was a pain as all 3 French guns fired together and rolled an 11. Ok so they killed a base defending La Ladrillera but essentially that was it for the guns for the remainder of the game

Two enjoyable games from one of my favourite periods using an excellent set of rules that can be tinkered with to get reasonably historical results.

Thanks to Vincent for the Puebla scenario

Tim Tilson's Maximilian in Mexico is well worth getting for the Camerone scenario and others.

The figures are all 15mm Freikorps and the buildings are by Musket Miniatures and Peter Pig.


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