Flushed with the French success in forcing the Río de la Cocina Laga, Lieutenant Boursouflure and his grenadiers of the 69e Ligne spearhead the advance into Cerro Manteca. In their path lies Granja de Grasa, an estate owned by Don Elver Galarga, who just happens to be the father of the infamous guerilla, Señora Adora Heras. The señora’s ally and would-be paramour, the notorious individual known only as El Hombre Sin Nombre has therefore directed a force of the 1/3rd Guards, commanded by Captain & Lieutenant-Colonel William Sillie, to intercept the French before any harm befalls Don Galgara or his property.
Voltigeurs under the veteran Lieutenant de Rière, who is doubtless still aching from his many recent wounds, and the rather unsavoury Sergent Serin, are the first to arrive, but they are quickly overtaken by a gun under the command of Lieutenant Boulet who dashes forwards in the best spirit of the French artillery.
The 1/3 Guards reach the small farm of the aged and diminutive Viuda Pato, who is here seen watering her cow as the guards march past.
Lieutenant Whistler brings his rifles up at the run as Sillie manoeuvres the guards to face Boulet’s rapidly advancing gun. El Hombre Sin Nombre and his motley band assemble to the rear.
Lieutenat Boulet’s dash is beginning to look foolhardy as the voltigeurs struggle to keep up.
De Rière’s voltigeurs can’t coordinate themselves properly and end up losing two men to Whistler’s riflemen – a fusilade that also kills an artilleryman and sees Boulet’s gun crew wheel sharply and retire.
As Serin and his men occupy the ground floor of the Galgara house, El Hombre Sin Nombre’s occupy the garden and approach the west windows. The Guards shake out into a firing line and the French grenadiers bash on up the road.
Sillie orders the Guards and Rifles to advance and Whistlers men fire some rather ineffectual shots as they do so that merely hasten the retreat of Boulet’s gun. They take some return fire which throws Sergeant Havers’ men into a bit of confusion.
Boulet’s gun has churned the dirt road to the point where it is making slow going for the column of grenadiers.
Always keen to resort to the dagger, and mindful of impressing the man who he hopes will become his future father-in-law, El Hombre Sin Nombre orders his guerillas to assault the house. The Spanish are thrown back but Sergent Serin falls, mortally wounded, while holding the door. While a man of poor repute and vile deeds, he died a heroes death in the service of the emperor.
Boulet gets his gun crew into some semblance of order on the flank of the French line. The gun must still be loaded. Rifles and Voltigeurs exchange fire with the French getting the worst of it but the handful of rifle shots hitting home isn’t nearly enough to stem the French advance.
Under constant harassing fire from the guerillas, the remnant of Serin’s voltigeurs quit the house. The don and his señora have a grandstand view of the unfolding battle.
The Rifles fall back through the line and Sillie calmly gives the orders to present and fire.
Boulet gets his gun into action, firing canister into the left of the British line. only one man falls, but there’s some confusion that the crisp Sergeant Pringle endeavours to bring under control.
While his sergent-major and sergent restore order to the ranks, Boursouflure decides to give the British a taste of their own medicine and the French fire a nicely controlled volley that fells several guardsmen.
The Guards are superbly drilled, of course, and they get another well controlled volley in before the French can reload. ‘Three rounds a minute will do very nicely indeed, my fine fellows,’ says Captain & Lieutenant Colonel Sillie.
But Sillie’s rather smug satisfaction is short-lived. Lieutenant Boursouflure somehow manages to exhort his men to fire two volleys before the Guards can reply. The French grenadiers’ shooting has been more deadly than the of the British Guards – and so it continues!
Lieutenant Whistler’s riflemen pick off a couple of the French gunners as they cover Pringle’s men. El Hombre Sin Nombre bids Don Galgara farewell and makes a swift exit.
Captain & Lieutenant Colonel Sillie watches the triumphant French advance.
The Butcher’s Bill
- Dead – 2 Guardsmen
- Wounded – 6 Guardsmen 2 Riflemen
- Captured Wounded – 2 Guardsmen
- Missing – 1 Guardsman
- Dead – Sergent Serin, 3 Grenadiers, 4 Voltigeurs, 1 Gunner
- Wounded – 1 Grenadier, 4 Voltigeurs, 1 Gunner
- Recovering From Wounds – 1 Voltigeur, 2 Gunners
- Dead – 1 Guerilla
- Wounded – 2 Guerillas