Having received a savaging at Fuexu, Pépin’s company of the 69ème Ligne have fallen back in search of much-needed supplies. But although short on food and water, the ever-aggressive Pépin, discovering that Captain Blunt’s small force of riflemen has followed them, decides to try once more for the crossing of the Rio del Cocina Laga. Unbeknown to the French, Blunt has been reinforced by a 6-pdr under the command of Lieutenant Arthur Thunderman.
With Sous-Lieutenant Hugo de Nigot captured, Victor Bouffon, newly promoted from the ranks steps in to fill the vacancy. Although only half the company are fit for service, the rest reorganising under Lieutenant Connard, the voltigeur company have sent some men to reinforce Pépin under the command of the capable Lieutenant Jacques de Riere.
The sun is burning hot as the French march along the dusty road that leads past the Viñedo Tripa de Pudrición and Pépin’s men are flagging from want of water. But the captain drives them on ferociously, telling them that they can drink their fill at the Rio del Cocina Laga.
At the vineyard, Blunt and his small band lie in wait.
Serjeant ‘Kid’ Fiddler starts the shooting while Lieutenant Thunderman gets his gun into position in the shade of a handy peach tree.
A ripple of rifle shots and Sergent Corniaud falls stunned as the ball that blew the brains from a man further forward dents his shako.
Second Lieutenant Valentine Moon brings his riflemen into action.
Captain Blunt has taken possession of the vineyard from the Spanish owner – ‘I’m awfully sorry, but I’m afraid we’re going to have to occupy your property’ – he gets a frosty response.
The voltigeurs begin firing.
With the voltigeurs now covering the flank, the main body of the French near the road junction.
Under heavy fire, Pépin deploys.
A Spanish pedlar arrives and is eager to sell the thirsty Frenchmen brandy from the bottles carried by his mule.
Encouraged by the prospect of alcohol, Sous-Lieutenant Bouffon leads the rear of the column up.
Thunderman’s cannon continues to play on Pépin’s ragged line while the rifles take a steady toll.
Pépin may have received a mauling but Sous-Lieutenant Bouffon drives his men forward regardless, weathering canister shot and getting them into line. The brandy doubtless helps with this.
Sous-Lieutenant Bouffon unleashes a rather ragged volley that kills a gunner, and then another far more devastaing one.
Fiddler sees three of his men fall and a ball passes through his calf. His Caledonian expletives keep his remaining men in the fight. Lieutenant Thunderman’s men are reduced to a single gunner who runs screaming from the fight while Thunderman gamely drags the gun to safety.
But Bouffon’s small success has come too late, Pépin’s men are on the verge of total collapse. Ordering the retreat, the bloody but defiant Pépin shakes his hat in rage as he is foiled again.
The Butcher’s Bill
- Recovering from Wounds – Sergeant Fiddler, 3 Riflemen
- Dead – 3 Gunners
- Dead – 3 Voltigeurs, 3 Fusiliers
- Wounded – Capitaine Pépin, Lieutenant de Riere, Sergent Serin et Sergent Corniaud, 2 Voltigeurs, 12 Fusiliers