ROLIÇA (French Second Position) - 17 August 1808 (C&C Napoleonics)

Historical Background: Delaborde expertly withdrew his force near Roliça to a second defensive position before the British flanking columns could encircle him. The new position was extremely strong and could only be reached frontally by four rugged gullies. 

Wellesley quickly repositioned his forces to repeat his double envelopment for his afternoon attack, but his plan was preempted when the Lieutenant-Colonel Lake of the 29th Worcestershire Regiment prematurely forced his way up one of the central gullies. Wellesley chose to support Lake’s effort and the entire British army surged forward. The French battalions advanced to meet the British before they could emerge from the gullies, but were repulsed. De Laborde once again drew off his troops in good order. 

Ultimately Roliça was an indecisive action. Although Delaborde did slow the British advance, Wellesley forced him to retreat before he was reinforced.

The British right under Fergusson advance and engage the French right. (British 0, French 0)

Fergesson's faltering advance is supported by Lake in the British center, but the action is inconclusive as the French hold on to their defensive position. (British 0, French 2)

French light cavalry surges in the center to disrupt British attack, with Fergusson and Lake struggle against the French right. (British 0, French 3)

The French light cavalry is repulsed by the British center, but emboldened French troops engage the British right, manned by their Portuguese allies. (British 0, French 3)

The French surge forward en masse while Fergusson pushes desperately against the French right with his heavy cavalry, attempting in vain to finish off under strength French units left in the rear. (British 0, French 3)

Despite have finally some success against the French right, Fergusson and Lake find themselves cut off from the rest of the army, which is holding off the French counterattack. (British 1, French 4)

While the rest of the army is in good shape, Wellesley is forced to pull back as Fergusson and Lake find themselves completely encircled by Delaborde. (British 1, French 5)



Lake Trasimene 217 BC (C&C Ancients)

Historical Background: Much of Hannibal’s “genius” for warfare lay in his ability to take the measure of his opponents’ abilities and intentions. His opponent in 217 BC was Roman Consul Gaius Flaminius, a vain and incompetent patrician. Armed with this knowledge, Hannibal determined to set a trap for his opponent by ravaging the countryside to spur Flaminius to action. True to form, Flaminius rushed headlong into pursuit of Hannibal, marching his army through the narrow defile next to Lake Trasimenus where Hannibal’s army lay in wait. Hannibal posted his veteran infantry as a blocking force, hiding his light infantry and cavalry in the hills. As the day of battle dawned, a heavy mist covered the area – Flaminius further aided Hannibal’s plans by neglecting to send out scouts. The Roman vanguard stumbled into the Carthaginian blocking force, and the battle was joined. Almost immediately the ambushing Carthaginians descended from the hills and fell on the Roman column before the soldiers had enough time to deploy. Flaminius died early in the fighting; more than half of his army died along with him, either in the desperate fighting or drowning trying to escape. It was noteworthy that the only portion of Flaminius’s army to escape intact was the vanguard – those soldiers fought their way through Hannibal’s best infantry to do it. It surely was not through lack of bravery that the Roman army met disaster at Lake Trasimenus.

The Roman left repulses Hannibal's cavalry probes, while the center barely holds out against a massed Carthaginian infantry assault. (Romans 2, Carthaginians 2)

The Roman center pushes back Hannibal's troops, but meanwhile the left is annihilated by determined Carthaginian charges. (Romans 2, Carthaginians 4)

The Roman center begins to buckle as they are assailed by their now unprotected left flank. (Romans 2, Carthaginians 5)

What remains of the Roman center is encircled and Flaminius' army either surrenders or flees. (Romans 3, Carthaginians 6)


ROLIÇA (French First Position) - 17 August 1808 (C&C Napoleonics)

Historical Background: After landing unopposed at Mondego Bay, Sir Arthur Wellesley led a Portuguese/British army of some 15,000 men south towards Lisbon. Opposing him was General Henri Delaborde, with a force consisting only of some 5000 infantry, 500 cavalry and 5 field pieces. Delaborde resolved to fight a delaying action against Wellesley’s advance while awaiting reinforcements from Generals Junot and Loison. 

Delaborde chose his first defensive position in the hills just northwest of the village of Rolica. Wellesley advanced in three columns against the French, ordering the Portuguese troops under Colonel Trant on the right and Fergusson’s column on the left to turn the enemy’s flanks, while the artillery and infantry in his center were to engage the enemy in the front and hold them in position.

The British attack was underway by seven o’clock in the morning on the 17th. Although the French were hotly engaged all morning, Delaborde’s outnumbered force still held onto the hill position. However, by early afternoon, the wary Delaborde could see that his position was being outflanked and quickly moved his forces back to a second defensive position to the south.

The British repel the French cavalry on their left, but on their right, the Portugese take heavy casualties from the French cavalry push. In the center, the British advance meets stiff resistance. (British 1, French 2)

The French make a push on the British right, while on the left the British move toward one of the objective hills to encircle the French. (British 3, French 2)

British cavalry take the hill on the left flank, while the British center repels the French counterattack. Victory goes to the British. (British 5, French 2)


Mount Garganus 72 BC (C&C Ancients)

Historical Background: Spartacus was an able strategist, and he knew that his rag-tag army could not expect to defy Rome indefinitely. Spartacus planned to escape from Roman territory over the Alps, and headed north through Apulia. He divided his ever-growing army and placed his lieutenant, Crixus, a Gaul, in charge of a force of 30,000 German and Gallic slaves, while he maintained personal command of the remaining 40,000 fighters. Crixus was over-confident after their many victories and allowed Spartacus to march far ahead while he allowed his men to continue their raiding and plundering. The consul Lucius Gellius Publicola came upon them suddenly and forced a battle. Crixus hastily formed his available men into a line of battle, but Publicola’s legionnaires cut them to pieces. Crixus was killed, along with two-thirds of his of his men. The survivors scattered and many probably re-joined Spartacus’s main column.

Lucius Publicola steadily advances in the center with his legionaries and auxiliaries. Crixus sends his forces to attack the roman flanks, which buckle somewhat but push back their foes. (Romans 0, Crixus 0)

Part of Publicola's infantry then rushes forward to meet in battle with Crixus' warriors, who are back to a mountain and have no where to run. Crixus tries to relieves the pressure by attacking the flanks again, in vain as part for his cavalry flees the battlefield. (Romans 2, Crixus 0)

The Romans advance even more troops in the center and begin slaughtering Crixus' warriors. (Romans 5, Crixus 0)

Finally, the Romans shatter all of Crixus' warriors in the center. He barely survives himself, fleeing in the chaos, while his surviving troops on the flanks melt away. (Romans 6, Crixus 0)


Mount Vesuvius 73 BC (C&C Ancients)

Historical Background: The greatest slave revolt against Rome was led by a gladiator named Spartacus. He was a Thracian slave, trained as a gladiator by his owner, Lentulus Batiatus, at a gladiatorial school near Capua. Spartacus escaped from the school with 78 fellow gladiators. After some successful skirmishes with local guards, his force set about raiding the countryside, freeing more slaves to join their ranks. Spartacus set up a base on the defensible slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Remembering the earlier Slave Wars in Sicily, the Senate in Rome took this outbreak seriously. They dispatched Praetors Claudius Glaber and Publius Varinius with 3,000 men to suppress the uprising. Glaber and Varinius blockaded Spartacus at his base on Mount Vesuvius, intending to starve out the slaves since their camp was only accessible by a narrow and difficult passage. The wily Spartacus did not intend to be starved into submission, so he devised a daring plan. He ordered ladders to be made from the vines that grew on Vesuvius. Spartacus and most of his followers quietly descended the vine ladders, undetected by the Romans. Soon, a picked force of the slaves rushed the Roman camp from the mountain. Once the Romans were fully occupied by this attack, Spartacus and his force struck unexpectedly. Attacked from both sides, the Roman camp fell in short order. This victory over regular Roman forces allowed Spartacus to expand his operations and recruit a massive slave army.

Spartacus sends some warriors after Varinius alone in the middle of the camp, but he eludes them long enough for his troops to mount a defense in the rear. Meanwhile, Spartacus troops to the North crash unsuccessfully on the walls of the camp. (Spartacus 0, Romans 1)

A force of Spartacus' warriors managed to breach the walls and burn part of the camp, but are repelled at some cost to the Romans. (Spartacus 2, Romans 3)

Spartacus then attempts another push from the south, but once more the Romans stand firmly their ground and the attackers are nearly wiped out with minor casualties on the Roman side. (Spartacus 2, Romans 4)

Desperate, Spartacus charges back into the fray with some of his best men, but he is cut down by Roman legionaries in the fighting. With this Roman victory, his forces scatter. (Spartacus 2, Romans 5)