Following the successful French Assault on La Concha and the significant reverse inflicted upon the 42nd Highlanders, Général de Brigade Antoine Louis Popon de Maucune urges the men of the 69e Ligne onwards towards Cerro Manteca with all speed.
But the notorious guerilla known as El Hombre Sin Nombre has, with the assistance of Padre Ryan of the famous Iglesia de los Santos Pederastas, escaped from French clutches and taken refuge in the crypts below the church. His comrades have arranged to meet him there, little knowing that the grenadiers of the 69e Ligne under the redoubtable Lieutenant Boursoufle have chosen that road in their pursuit of the retreating British.
And neither Spaniard or Frenchman are aware that Captain Campbell, having reorganised his highlanders, has cooked up a surprise for the advancing French and is determined that this time he will land them in the soup.
Enrique, the mild-mannered potato-peddler and sometime janitor of the Iglesia de los Santos Pederastas approaches the church. Surely he cannot be the notorious El Hombre Sin Nombre?
French voltiguers arrive ahead of the main column.
They press on towards the church with orders to detain Padre Ryan.
Lieutenant McLaren brings his highland light bobs onto the crest of a low ridge where they see the French.
Before McLaren can even begin his pre-battle peroration, Spanish guerillas fire from the church, alarming the French light troops under the much-scarred Claude de Rière and killing one of them.
As the sound of musket shots rings out, Lieutenant Boursoufle arrives at the head of the main column.
Isabelle Bitche, well-beloved by all the men of the 69e Ligne, hastens to bring some relief to the hard-pressed voltigeurs.
With over a dozen guerillas ensconsed in the church and firing in relays upon the voltigeurs, Captain Campbell hastens to the action.
Boursoufle leads his men down the road. If the line companies could beat Les Amazones then his grenadiers should sweep them aside with ease.
Brandy and shouting restore some order to the voltigeurs although continued firing from the church has brought down a few f their number.
Just as De Rière is about to get his men moving again . . .
La Señora Adora Heras has an unwelcome surprise for the poor voltiguers. Her men fire from the woods.
More voltigeurs fall and further disorder ensues.
Campbell gets his men into line and advances with McLaren’s Lights screening his front.
Somewhat belatedly, having taken a wrong turn, the French cavalry arrive at the canter.
Seeing this fresh threat, Adora Heras orders her men to fall back through the woods.
The cavalry ride on, intent on chasing the guerillas outside the church from the field. Then they can fall on the flank of the highlanders.
Finally the French voltigeurs get into action, firing rather ineffectually against the guerillas in the church.
McLaren is ordered to Campbell’s right flank. The Scottish captain doubts that the Spanish irregulars can be relied on to hold their ground.
Emboldened by the advance of McLaren’s lights (and damned if a bunch of foreign women are going to look braver than her), Adora Heras advances once more.
Meanwhile Campbell and Boursoufle have advanced to meet each other, Boursoufle attempting to form an attack column.
The French horse charge in at the gallop against the guerillas who, rather unwisely, decide to stand their ground. Numbers may be even but the odds are hugely in favour of the chasseurs charging home against dispersed infantry, even with the trees offering some advantage to the defenders.
The result is a shambles for the French and a surprising win for the guerillas.
Lieutenant Boursoufle has now arranged his men into a magnificent column of attack.
Seizing the opportunity, the grenadiers volley into the highlanders hoping to reduce their line before pressing home a charge.
Campbell orders Piper McIntyre to play a rousing tune, reorganises his firing line and his men present their muskets.
The highlanders begin to trade volleys with the grenadiers.
Ragged volleys by Adora Heras’ guerillas speed the retiring French horse on their way.
Meanwhile the fight at the church continues.
Can Boursoufle get his men to charge in before the voltigeurs give way?
Lieutenant McLaren takes stock and decides that cold steel is the answer.
With a wild cry the highland light company men charge.
The voltigeurs facing them are cut down to a man, Claude de Rière is wounded and surrenders his sword to William Mclaren. They’ll be dancing in the glens when word of this reaches them!
With his left wing collapsed, Lieutenant Boursoufle grits his teeth and orders a retreat.
The Butcher’s Bill
- Dead – 2 Highlanders
- Wounded – 3 Highlanders
- Wounded – 1 Guerilla
- Dead – 2 Grenadiers, 7 Voltigeurs, 4 Chasseurs
- Wounded – 1 Grenadier, 2 Voltigeurs
- Captured Wounded – Capitaine De Rière, 3 Chasseurs
- Captured – 1 Chasseur