'Skirmish' is a local show to many of the Warlords; it's at a school in Sidcup, and attracts about a dozen games and about 25 traders of wargames and toy soldiers. A Warlords display team lead by Ian Spence took the Battle of Ayacucho along to support the show.
The Battle of Ayacucho in Peru occurred between the Royalists (Spanish) and Patriots during the South American Wars of Independence (1808–1829). Also known as the Battle of the Generals, it was fought on December 9, 1824, on the high plain in southern Peru and ended in victory for the forces seeking independence from Spain.
The terrain was constructed based on some contemporary maps of the battle and the use of modern technology. Google Earth and photos of the area were used and we consulted some South American experts who explained how the battlefield looked. The figures are all plastic 1/72 , from various leading manufacturers HaT, Zvezda, Strelets and Italeri. We have been using Dave Brown’s Generale de Brigade for Napoleonic battles, for many years. The second version was released in 2010 and became even more popular with us as various tweaks in the rules allowed smaller units of 15-20 figures to be represented in a realistic way.
Although other Spanish colonies in America had already been granted independence, Spain sought to hold Peru because of its considerable mineral wealth and the largely apolitical attitude of its people. In 1823, however, revolution and upheaval in Spain created widespread dissension among the Spanish forces in Peru. In 1824 Patriot leader Simón Bolívar and General Antonio José de Sucre took advantage of this and opened a military offensive, hoping to retake Lima from the Royalists.
After prolonged maneuvering during the autumn of 1824, the two sides came together in battle on the Plain of Ayacucho, 186 miles southeast of Lima. Spanish Viceroy José de La Serna y Hirojosa commanded the Royalist force of some 9,300 men and seven guns. Sucre had 5,780 men and two guns. Both sides had some cavalry.
In the maneuvering before the battle, La Serna managed to position his force north of Sucres army, hoping to cut the Patriots off from the sea and additional forces that Bolívar was raising in Lima. La Serna tried to employ his superior numbers to advantage by encircling his opponent, but Sucre avoided this, taking up an excellent defensive position on the plain. La Serna then planned to pin the enemy flanks while finishing off the Patriots with a drive into the center of their line. Sucre planned to allow La Serna to attack, hoping that he would be able to first contain the attack and then exploit it with a reserve of three battalions of infantry and five cavalry squadrons.
The battle opened early on the morning of December 9. The Royalist left wing advanced first against the Patriot right wing commanded by General José Maria Córdoba. This attack failed, as did another Royalist assault on the Patriot center. Córdoba then counterattacked, driving back the Royalist left and opening a break in the Royalist lines that allowed Sucre to introduce his infantry and cavalry reserves to seal the victory. The entire battle had lasted less than an hour and a half.
Despite being outnumbered, Sucre had won a complete victory. The Royalists lost 1,400 dead and 700 wounded, while the Patriots sustained 309 dead and 607 wounded. Particularly grievous for the Royalist cause was the large number of senior officers—including 15 generals, 16 colonels, and 68 lieutenant colonels— among the 2,500 Royalists taken prisoner. For this reason the engagement is sometimes called the Battle of the Generals. La Serna, who had received a half dozen wounds, was among those captured.
Under the terms of capitulation, La Serna agreed to withdraw all Spanish forces from Peru. Sucre then moved into upper Peru. In August 1825 he declared the province of Chuquisaca independent and renamed it Bolivia, in Bolívar’s honor. Although fighting by small isolated Spanish units continued thereafter, the Battle of Ayacucho marked the effective end of the South American Wars of Independence.
The terrain was constructed based on some contemporary maps of the battle and the use of modern technology. Google Earth and photos of the area were used and we consulted some South American experts who explained how the battlefield looked. The accounts that exist are not very helpful as Sucre fails to mention the gully in his account. The gully or quebradas as it is called in South America is the key battlefield feature and it plays a vital role in preventing the Spanish from using their greater numbers to overwhelm the Patriots. It presented a particular problem as we had to make it a nice feature, but also had to make it clear for gaming purposes where it started and finished. The quebradas aside the terrain is flat and uninteresting, not a tree in sight! The Board is made of high density foam board used for roof insulation on a 10mm MDF base.This gives it solidity and stops it from warping.
The figures are all plastic 1/72 , from various leading manufacturers HaT, Zvezda,Strelets and Italeri . The decision to use plastic, rather than metal was a cost and weight one at first. However, it was also a practical decision as we realized he amount of work required to get the armies we wanted. Nobody, when we started, did a commercial range of figures in 1/72. It also shows that starting up in wargaming does not have to cost a lot of money.
The Napoleonic ranges from these manufacturers offer nearly all you need to field the main armies of the period. Where there are gaps, a bit of conversion work was required. For the infantry, the main conversion work was with the shakos. For the artillery it was a case of removing particular distinctive items and also making sure that the very light calibre guns were represented correctly (no 12pdrs here !) For the cavalry there was a great deal more conversion work required. A large number of the units in this period were lance armed, so we had to replace the sabres and carbines with metal lances. One particular unit though required far more work
The Dragons de Peru, in the Spanish Army, wore a uniform that was part Carabinier and part Hussar. This resulted in using Hussar bodies and replacing all of the heads with Carabinier ones, using the cut/pin/superglue process. These were then mounted on the Carabinier horses. There are cavalry units on the Patriot side that required combining various sets of figures and cutting and pinning arms as well. We would like to draw your attention to the Command figures on display. Most of these are one-off conversions by Martin, and are rather nice!
We have been using Dave Brown’s Generale de Brigade for Napoleonic battles, for many years. The second version was released in 2010 and became even more popular with us as various tweaks in the rules allowed smaller units of 15-20 figures to be represented in a realistic way. The QRS that we are using today was amended for Liberators by our group and is available as a download from the Generale de Brigade Forum - see Rules updates on right hand side.