Major Robert Edward Lee, an exploring officer ever in the shadow of the far more principled, able and well-known Grant, has stumbled across some French despatches (literally stumbled, he tripped over the mutilated body of their bearer in the dark whilst lost and drunk). A rather hungover assessment of their contents has revealed to him the likely location of his French counterpart, Major Barthélémy Manque. Fired by dreams of glory, perhaps even a public statue complete with a suitable plaque describing his fine virtues as a soldier and man, Lee has sent the local guerillas to abduct the Frenchman. And, as an afterthought, Captain Blunt’s riflemen to make sure Manque arrives more or less in one piece.
Manque, with a small escort of grenadiers, is interrogating a young Spanish woman in a barn when a band of picked guerillas, armed with blunderbusses and under the command of the Amazonian Señora Adora Heras throw open the doors and unleash a hail of shot, killing two Frenchmen stone dead.
As Tom Blunt’s Rifles spread out, Voltigeurs appear on the crest of a hill to the north.
El Hombre Sin Nombre brings up more guerillas as Adora Heras encourages her men to fire another volley, which fells another grenadier within.
More blunderbussing, another two grenadiers hors de combat, a failed attempt at an assault on the barn with no casualties on either side, another charge – successful – and the guerillas butcher the sole remaining grenadier attempting to surrender, and begin to scour the loft for Major Manque who must be hiding amongst the musty sacks of grain.
Meanwhile, the 69e Ligne advance against the riflemen.
Captain Blunt and Second Lieutenant Moon form a skirmish line while Solomon Grundy leads some riflemen into the tower.
The Voltigeurs exchange shots with the Rifles, coming off worse.
The guerillas discover Major Manque, who has just finished his intimate examination of a young peasant girl. Though the honest Spaniards would have normally cut off more than just his protestations, with the 69e Ligne arriving in force they content themselves with bundling him unceremoniously out of the barn before he can even button his flies.
By the tower, the skirmish duel continues.
Lieutenant Connard brings his men forwards, intending to turn the British flank and threaten their line of retreat.
Sergeant ‘Kid’ Fiddler brings up his men at the run to reinforce Blunt’s thin green line.
Capitaine Pépin arrives with the balance of the 4e Compagnie of the 69e Ligne.
Pépin advances very briskly.
Fiddler’s men add their firepower to Blunt’s line.
Adora Heras hopes to stall the inexorable French advance by turning their open left flank.
Lieutenant Connard moves to the west of the tower.
El Hombre Sin Nombre gets his men moving towards the walled garden, hustling along their prisoner.
Pépin realises the threat to his flank and detaches Sergent Nigaud with a couple of files to deal with the threat. He begins to get the rest of his men into line.
The Rifles bring them under fire, and also the remnant of the poor French skirmishers, who have been very roughly handled.
Pépin completes his line and his men present their muskets. Tom Blunt does not flinch, although some of his men swallow rather hard.
Lieutenant Connard, meanwhile, gets inexorably closer to cutting the line of retreat.
Inside the garden, behind its high walls, the guerillas feel safer – though Major Manque does not.
Connard detaches Sergent Corniaud to hold the road and moves the rest of his men to trap Blunt’s Rifles.
Grundy and his men waste no time in quitting the tower.
Capitaine Pépin orders his drummer to beat Le Chant de L’Oignon and his men move forwards, singing lustily. Tom Blunt realises that even his gallant lads cannot hope to beat both Pépin’s advance and Connard’s force to their rear and orders Bugler Tooting to sound Retreat. Moon and Fiddler lead their men through the gap in the wall to join the guerillas while Blunt heads west to join Grundy. Pell-mell flight ensues, during which several riflemen are captured.
Major Manque remains in guerilla hands. With Captain Blunt separated from the group, can young Valentine Moon convince Señora Adora Heras not to separate Major Manque from his assets? How will El Hombre Sin Nombre react to the fresh-faced Moon’s attempts to engage Adora’s attention? Will Robert Lee ever get the statue and plaque he feels he richly deserves?
Captain Pépin has no time for questions. he will leave the fugitive riflemen to the tender mercies of the Polish lancers who will be sent to hunt them down. He must press on for Cerro Manteca.
The Butcher’s Bill
- Wounded – Second Lieutenant Moon, 2 Riflemen
- Captured Wounded – 2 Riflemen
- Captured – 3 Riflemen
- Dead – 2 Voltigeurs
- Wounded – 4 Voltigeurs
- Captured – Major Manque
- No loss.