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Bailén 1808 with Blücher

Wargamers are never happy. We have an excellent set of wargames rules in the shape of Blücher but competition gamers find fault with the lists. The new kid on the block, Bataille Empire has excellent lists but the orders system is beyond me. Commands and Colors is a fantastic boardgame but may lack a little detail? You know where this is going by now; Blücher rules , lists from Bataille Empire lists and the scenarios from Commands and Colors. As a test, Steve and I decided on a test game, Bailén 1808.

The Commands and Colors website gives excellent scenario. They are all free to download as indeed are the rules for the whole C and C range. Steve is manfully creating 6mm armies for the period but for tonight’s game, we would be using the Blücher cards. They are really miniature works of art. I believe that Sam Mustafa’s wife paints the images but don’t quote me on that. All that needed to be done was to organise the Orbats and get the cards.


Large areas of Spain are in rebellion against the French. The invaders General DuPont has advanced his corps to occupy Córdoba and Sevillà. Dupont’s conscripts faced 30,000 Spaniards under Francisco de Castańos. July 19th sees DuPont worrying that his communications would be cut, he retreats but the Spanish are already astride his line of retreat.

The Spanish

Five Spanish Line units

Two Spanish Light units ( Mark line cards with skirmish ability)

One Grenadier ( steady ability)

Two Light cavalry

Two Heavy cavalry

Two field artillery

Six Provincial infantry

Two Swiss line  ( use Spanish elite cards)

The Spanish army benefits from the rally ability. For two manoeuvre points, the Spanish commander can lift a step loss. Useful in this battle of attrition.

The French

These will move first. Like the Spanish the army totals just over 180 points.

Four French Line units

One Guard French Marines ( skirmish, steady and shock)

Three French conscripts ( tempting to use Marie Louises but use the early ones!)

Two French Light Cavalry

One French Cuirassiers

One French Heavy cavalry

Two field artillery

Four Swiss line ( I used French model allies rather than “other allied” foot. These were certainly not elite troops and would bolt in the actual battle. To reflect this, if two units of the 2nd/ 6th Swiss rout , then the other two rout/ go over to the enemy too. DuPont be aware!

Historical Outcome

Without reconnaissance , Chabert’s brigade of Dupont’s van sent 3000 infantry and cuirassiers against three times their number of Spaniards. Most of Dupont’s corps attacked piecemeal and were repulsed. Not even the Marines of the Guard would dent the Spanish host. A perfect excuse for me to claim that DuPont set a low bar. Could I do better. I think you know the answer…

My Swiss were sent against the low ridge on the Spanish right. I lost confidence in my troops and the attack faltered into desultory skirmishing.

If my Swiss were lacking in enthusiasm, my four line regiments were made of sterner stuff and gained a foothold on the Spanish left. The violence of the assault had the Spanish commander searching for reserves.

I threw in my cuirassiers. These are possibly the most iconic of troops. I love their uniforms and they did not disappoint. They struck the Provincial infantry and paralysed the Spanish centre.

Castanós was wise to the move though. He skillfully flanked my Swiss with cavalry and brought up more troops to dispute the other flank too. True to form, the Swiss in French service were not up to the job. Pinned to the front, and assailed by Spanish horse, they fell back behind the very nervous conscripts.

It was time to send in the Guard marines but it lead to a dismal end. Surrounded on all sides and with their comrades falling back all around, even Napoleon’s maritime elite could not save the day! The final cruel blow was the French Swiss units changing sides and seeking forgiveness from their former Iberian employers. It had been a great battle to refight, with a real chance for the French to win. On the day however I failed miserably, historical and hysterical.

Keep watching next week for 6mm basing guide and a return to Kings of War historical.

Thanks very much for reading


    • Hi David,
      Movement and ranges by hexes. One hex equals one Blucher base width. Seemed to work well. Very easy to set up scenarios with Commands and Colors hexes!


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