Race to Río de la Manteca

The 69e Ligne are now within reach of the Río de la Manteca. If they can cross this obstacle, Marshal Massena’s plan to turn Wellington’s flank will be much advanced. Although Lieutenant Boursoufle’s grenadiers suffered a reverse at Iglesia de los Santos Pederastas, that officer has gathered his remaining men and forged onward, travelling by an alternative route and reinforced by some horsemen from the flamboyant Escadron de Mamelukes de la Garde Imperiale.

Captain Campbell and his highlanders from the 42nd Foot, supported by Portuguese sharpshooters from the Atiradore company of the 3º Caçadores aim to head off the perfidious French.

Racing to the River

As the 42nd step out in style down the road past the vinery, pipes playing and drums beating, the French arrive with less fanfare but almost as much speed.


Lieutenant Sauter of the 15e Régiment de Chasseurs-à-Cheval intends to take his horsemen along the road that runs between the vinery and the outskirts of the village, so turning the Allied left flank.

The French Dispositions

Meanwhile Lieutenant Dupas brings up his Mamelukes on the other flank.


And Sous-Lieutenant Hugo de Nigot leads his voltiguers through the woods.

Voltigeurs in the Woods
McLaren’s Lights Screening

Half a dozen atiradores follow the much-admired Sargento Sexias into the upstairs of the largest house. From the windows they can cover the French approaches to the river. They open fire and, even at extreme range, their best shot, Ricardo Olhomorto, brings down one of the colourfully clad Mamelukes.

Sargento Sexias Opens Up
A Mameluke Falls!

Alferes Nagedas, who has been somewhat tardy, gets his riflemen onto the hill by the rather impressive windmill.

Alferes Nadegas Holds the High Ground

The highland skirmish screen shoot at the voltigeurs and prove remarkably accurate, dropping four of their trousered counterparts.

Good Shooting
Voltigeurs Fall!

The Mamelukes canter up, sabres and pistols at the ready.

Mamelukes Charge!
McLaren Orders a Retreat

McLaren has left it too late. He gives the order for his men to fall back but before they can retreat through their supporting line, the Mamelukes are upon them!


The highland lights are slaughtered, their remnant routing.

Mamelukes Victorious

Dupas orders his Mamelukes to ready their blunderbusses. He’s not keen on charging Campbell’s line.

McLaren’s Remnant

McLaren manages to halt his remnant at the village where they begin to regroup.

A Volley

The highlanders carefully controlled volley is effective.

Mameluke Losses
The 42nd Reload

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Boursoufle is urging his men along the road while the cavalry occupy the attention of the highlanders.

Boursoufle’s Grenadiers Reach the River
Grenadier Column

Boursoufle turns his men, forming a classic French attack column.


The blunderbusses crash out, though to little effect.

The chasseurs find the street narrower than they had hoped for but they canter down it regardless.

Turning the Flank?

Campbell’s men fire another volley and the Mamelukes decide they’ve had enough.

Mamelukes Thrown Back
Formation Broken

The recoiling horses break Boursoufle’s formation. the lieutenant is not pleased.

French Disorder

Hugo de Nigot takes his voltigeurs forward.

Voltigeurs Advance

Boursoufle reorganises his column and orders a charge! His men surge forwards singing Le Chant de l’Oignon.

Pas de Charge!

A fierce melee ensues. Sergent-Major Boumdier is wounded, as are both the highland serjeants. It is the French who, grudgingly, give back. Both sides have taken significant losses.

The Highlanders Hold!
The Grenadiers Recoil
Scotland Forever

The surviving highland lights occupy the ground floor of the building that Sargento Sexias is in. They fire at the advancing French light cavalry and Lieutenant Sauter falls from his horse, stunned.

Flank Fire

Campbell is tempted to charge the grenadiers but the threat the voltigeurs would pose to his flank decide him against it and he orders another volley.

The Highlanders Fire Again

Boursoufle’s ranks are thinning and French morale begins to sink.

Thinned Ranks

The chasseurs fall back in considerable disorder, leaving their officer lying in the dusty road.

Chasseurs Fall Back

But now Hugo de Nigot gets his men firing and the highlanders become disordered. Drummer Watson cops a nasty wound.

Voltigeurs Inflict Casualties
Thinned Ranks

And the ranks are further thinned by more accurate fire from the voltigeurs. Nagedas’ atiradores fire in support of the highlanders from  the hilltop.

Atiradores Fire

Boursoufle’s grenadiers are looking very ragged now, and the lieutenant himself is hit.

The Column Reels

But Boursoufle is a great veteran and has ambitions to join the Old Guard. A musket ball in the shoulder does not deter such a man! Quickly, he instructs Isabelle Bitche, well-beloved by all the men of the 69e Ligne to hand out cognac, gets his sergents to dress the ranks, reorganises his men into a compact line and raises a chant of ‘Vive l’Empereur!’

Boursoufle Reorganises and Deploys

Campbell too has consolidated his depleted ranks. The French charge again!

Pas de Charge!

And this time the charge is decisive. The highlanders are still in some disorder and the French are fired up by passion and the superb example set by their leader.

Grenadiers Victorious!

It is a rout. But French morale is still brittle despite this success.

Driving On

Alferes Nagedas hopes his men can kill enough French to turn the tide back in favour of the Allies.

Last Chance

But to no avail. Nagedas realises that his men dare not stand to receive a charge from the grenadiers and orders a retreat.

Alferes Negedas Orders Retreat

The French win and now control the vital crossing of the Río de la Manteca!

The Butcher’s Bill


  • Dead – 12 Highlanders
  • Wounded – Serjeant MacDougall, Serjeant MacDonald, Piper McIntyre, Drummer Watson, 5 Highlanders
  • Captured Wounded – 9 Highlanders


  • No Losses


  • Dead – Lieutenant Dupas, 8 Grenadiers, 2 Voltigeurs, 4 Mamelukes
  • Wounded  – Lieutenant Boursoufle, Sergent-Major Boumdier, 3 Grenadiers, 3 Voltigeurs, 2 Mamelukes

Riposte at Iglesia de los Santos Pederastas

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.

Iglesia de los Santos Pederastas and its Environs

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.

The 42nd Highlanders Advance

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.

Padre Ryan and his Cock

Lieutenant McLaren brings his highland light bobs onto the crest of a low ridge where they see the French.

Highland Lights

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.

Chanter Remorquer Rangée Rangée Pour les Grenadiers Français

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.

Chantant Toujours Remorquer Rangée Rangée

Brandy and shouting restore some order to the voltigeurs although continued firing from the church has brought down a few f their number.

Plus Cognac Quelqu’un?

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.

Adora Heras

More voltigeurs fall and further disorder ensues.

Casualties and Disorder

Campbell gets his men into line and advances with McLaren’s Lights screening his front.

Interested Goats
Highland View

Somewhat belatedly, having taken a wrong turn, the French cavalry arrive at the canter.

Chasseurs à Cheval

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.

Pour la Gloire!

Finally the French voltigeurs get into action, firing rather ineffectually against the guerillas in the church.

Exchanging Fire

McLaren is ordered to Campbell’s right flank. The Scottish captain doubts that the Spanish irregulars can be relied on to hold their ground.

McLaren Opens Up

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.

Holding the Wood

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.

Adora Heras Holds her Nerve

The result is a shambles for the French and a surprising win for the guerillas.

Thrown Back!
Adora Heras Victorious
Still Holding the Woods . . .

Lieutenant Boursoufle has now arranged his men into a magnificent column of attack.

Attack Column

Seizing the opportunity, the grenadiers volley into the highlanders hoping to reduce their line before pressing home a charge.

French Fire

Campbell orders Piper McIntyre to play a rousing tune, reorganises his firing line and his men present their muskets.

Scots Rally

The highlanders begin to trade volleys with the grenadiers.

French Losses
Exchange of Fire

Ragged volleys by Adora Heras’ guerillas speed the retiring French horse on their way.

Sauve Qui Peut!

Meanwhile the fight at the church continues.

Skirmish Duel

Can Boursoufle get his men to charge in before the voltigeurs give way?

“Mind My Cock!” Cries Padre Ryan
Still Trading Fire

Lieutenant McLaren takes stock and decides that cold steel is the answer.

Get Tore Intae Them!

With a wild cry the highland light company men charge.

Close Quarters

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



Assault on La Concha

After losing touch with Second Lieutenant Moon following the Foray to Corazón Sangrante, Captain Tom Blunt has fallen in with a small company of the 42nd foot under Captain Campbell. With the victorious 69e Ligne advancing on Lord Wellington’s lines of communication, Campbell and Blunt resolve to stop them at the village of La Concha. But the French are marching hard and their light troops are almost at the village when Old Nosey catches their scent.

The Battle-Scarred Veteran Lieutenant De Rière Leads the Way
More Voltigeurs

Blunt hastens his Riflemen into a good firing position in the loft of the local granary where, firing in relays from the half-dozen small windows, they pick off a couple of  the battle-scarred Lieutenant Claude De Rière’s voltigeurs.

The Rifles Open Fire

Meanwhile, the highlanders advance up the road on the other side of the church.

42nd Foot

The highland light bobs line the wall of a freshly ploughed field despite the protestations of the local priest. The open up at nearly a hundred yards range but manage to pick off a French skirmisher.

42nd Light Company Troops Fire Their First Shots

Lieutenant McLaren commanding the highland line apologises to the priest for any damage to the recently planted crops, for which he generously offers recompense. However it turns out he must have left his money in his other sporran and the Spaniard must be content with a hastily scrawled note of hand.

Scotland the Brave

While the highlanders advance boldly up the low road, the French are on the high road.

The Column Presses On

And French cavalry appear on the other flank.

The Chasseurs Arrive

Capitaine Pépin decides to divide his force in the face of the enemy.

The British Left Flank
The Column Prepares to Divide

The highlanders, on an open column, left wheel and send some lead towards the voltigeurs.

The French in the Village

The French hold their ground but with Blunt’s men in the barn and the highlanders now in front of them, they are caught between two fires.

Musketry Continues
Shooting From the Barn

The gallant Pépin leads his fusiliers to drive Blunt from the barn while De Rière’s men begin to falter.

Pépin Attacks
De  Rière Still Holds His Ground

The highland lights continue their long-range duel with the voltiguers. A man or two falls on either side.

Skirmish Duel

Sous-Lieutenant Bouffon brings his men up in attack column, threatening the flank of McLaren’s line. Now it is the British caught in a closing vice.

Bouffon Threatens the Highland Flank

But Tom Blunt realises the danger. Even as Pépin’s men force open the barn doors, the rifle captain leads his men down the back steps and straight at the depleted voltiguers under De Rière.

Fix Swords!

The rifles have the numbers and the edge in quality.

Blunt Charges In!

And the French are cut down, only Lieutenant De Rière and the nimblest of the voltigeurs surviving to beat a hasty and somewhat ignominious defeat.

The Rifles Win!

The French light cavalry canter past the windmills, planning to wheel and then charge down the skirmishing highlanders in the ploughed field.

Les Chasseurs

Bouffon wheels his column and McLaren, realising his danger, frantically orders his men to turn.

Can the Scots React in Time?
Bouffon Takes His Chance!

But the French Lieutenant is too quick and leads his men in a rush against McLaren’s flank and also into the left of the skirmish line.

The Moment of Crisis

Savage fighting. The highlanders are unloaded and disordered by the unexpected advent of Bouffon’s column. The fight is short and sharp.

Will the Highlanders Hold?

The impetus of the French is too much and the kilted Scots are broken, retiring fast down the road.


Victory to the French!

The Butcher’s Bill


  • Dead – 4 Highlanders, 1 Rifleman
  • Wounded – Captain Campbell, 1 Highlander, 1 Riflemen
  • Captured Wounded – 4 Highlanders


  • Dead – 6 Voltigeurs, 2 Fusiliers
  • Wounded  – Sergent Corniaud, 5 Voltigeurs, 3 Fusiliers

Escape to Vitória

The guerillas of El Hombre Sin Nombre and Adora Heras have captured the infamous Major Manque, but, in the company of some riflemen commanded by Ensign Valentine Moon, are being hunted by the French. If they can reach the small Portuguese border town of Vitória, they should be safe. Close to that place, they must cross an expanse of open country and Polish lancers are rumoured to be scouring the vicinity.

Guerillas and Riflemen Hasten to Vitória
The Outskirts of Vitória

An agent of Major Lee (exploring officer extraordinaire) awaits the arrival of the captured Manque. Miss Juliet Mycock may have the look of a simple English governess but has a reputation for remaining unfazed by even the most impressive weapon that might be pointed in her direction, and packs a loaded pistol beneath her skirts.

Miss Juliet Mycock Waits

Half way across the open ground to Vitória and still no sign of the enemy.

La Señora Adora Heras Leads the Way

But suddenly . . .


With their gallant officer leading the way, the Poles come on at the canter.

Lejt. Lech Wódka in Command

And voltigeurs appear in the woods.

Recently Exchanged Sous-Lieutenant Hugo de Nigot

And Lieutenant de Rière advances to the flank of the lancers. The trap is sprung!

The Trap is Sprung!

The guerillas of El Hombre Sin Nombre blaze away at the oncoming lancers, causing some disarray in their ranks but no casualties. De Rière’s voltigeurs shoot down two guerillas and Serjeant ‘Kid’ Fiddler brings his riflemen into action. Battle is joined.

Fiddler’s Men at Play

La Señora Adora Heras and her men press on, ignoring fire from de Nigot’s men atop the hill.

Adora Heras Presses On

But Sergent Serin, whose brother, you may recall, recently met with a well-merited demise, has reached the north gate of Vitória. Will he be in time to rescue Major Manque?

Le Sergent Serin est Arrivé à la Porte Nord

Lejnant Wódka leads the charge, his men bravely galloping at the rag-tag guerillas.


Adora Heras enters the town.

Nearly There

Second Lieutenant Moon adds his fire against the lancers but his men take two casualties from de Nigot’s sharpshooters.

Moon Waxes Poetic to Inspire his Men
De Nigot Prefers Bullets to Fine Words

The ragged line of guerillas flee from the onrushing lancers but are caught.

Too slow!

The fleeing guerillas are skewered, some of them several times over as the Poles use them as live targets to practise various techniques. El Hombre Sin Nombre turns just before he is ridden down and pistols one man from the saddle, hurls the empty weapon into the teeth of another , draws his second pistol and shoots Lejnant Wódka through the shoulder. But his heroic stand is to no avail and pricked by lances, he is brought down and captured by the vengeful Poles.

El Hombre Stands Alone

La Señora and Miss Mycock meet. But Sergent Serin’s men are in the granary whose steps Miss Mycock is standing at the foot of. Escape will be a near run thing . . .

Miss Mycock, I presume?

Moon has his riflemen fire at the French voltigeurs who are running down the road. Two of the Frenchmen fall, one is Lieutenant de Rière himself!

Have that, Froggie!
Moon, Full of Himself

Serin leads his brave voltigeurs from the granary, charging down the steps into Adora Heras’ guerillas who meet them knife to bayonet. The struggle is short and vicious. At the end, the three surviving French retreat into the granary, dragging their wounded Sergent with them while two guerillas lie bleeding in the dusty street.


And with that, the battle is over bar some angry French and polish shouting. El Hombre Sin Nombre’s little band are scattered but Moon and Fiddler win clear to join Adora Heras and Miss Mycock in Vitória.

The Butcher’s Bill


  • Dead – 1 Rifleman
  • Recovering from Wounds – 1 Riflemen


  • Dead – 3 Voltigeurs, 2 Polish Lancers


  • Dead – 4 Guerillas
  • Wounded – 2 Guerillas
  • Captured Wounded – El Hombre Sin Nombre, 2 Guerillas

Where Grasshoppers Dare

Lieutenant Harpe has just witnessed a British defeat. The situation is desperate. Although the Spaniard Don Diego is dead, the secret of the infallible cure for hemorrhoids has not died with him. Somewhere in Aldehuela lurks the alchemist who prepares the ointment and the French are set on scouring the area for him. Surely the curtain is about to be drawn  on the last act in this hamlet.

But as with any great drama, first there must be a comic interlude to relieve tension, ideally one involving an animal. This is provided by Sergent Bufor, who it will be remember is the unfortunate Frenchman who stared at a goat. Hellbent on revenge for his sore stomach and bruised dignity, the sergeant informs his superiors that he will search the little copse where the goat lurks in case the alchemist should be hiding therein. His men shake their heads and mutter darkly.

The goat waits, patient in rancour.

Il Obtient Vraiment Ma Chèvre

The contest is swift and brutal. Prepared this time, Bufor has his musket ready but the goat is devilishly quick and although the musket ball scores its back and Bufor’s bayonet slices its haunch, once again the Frenchman is sorely buffeted by the wicked horns. Again, Bufor collapses with the wind knocked out of him. His men shake their heads in despair and trudge off to join the main body.

The Black Goat of the Woods Wins Again. !

And now the story really starts.

The French Voltigeurs are in force – Capitaine Javert knows his career hangs in the balance. Lieutenant Harpe’s scouts have counted more than three dozen of the French, and that they have a cannon also. All seems lost as Harpe has only thirteen under his command but he is unexpectedly reinforced by a similar number of greenjackets under Lieutenant Wolfe Whistler of Blunt’s company. Harpe rapidly explains the situation and Whistler readily agrees that they must find the alchemist before the French.


Riflemen quickly check the windmill and the adjacent shed. They find nothing except some husks and a few bottles of cheap local wine.

Beginning the Search

Javert quickly deploys his men and Lieutenant Boulet carefully sights his gun.


Not satisfied with his original sighting, Boulet adjusts the lay of his gun once more while voltigeurs close on the bell tower and small cottage where an old woman is feeding her chickens. Will this old woman prove more than she seems?

Voltigeurs Avance

Whistler crosses the Rio Corona and gets his men into the vines. There is no alchemist skulking here.

Rifles Ready

The rest of the Rifles close in on the barn and its courtyard, scouring the woods for any signs of the man they seek on their way.

Lieutenant Harpe Leads the Way

Javert’s men proceed quickly. Soon they are within hailing distance of the old woman who turns to flee, started by the appearance of so many rough looking fellows. The hens also scatter, enraging the cockerel who flaps about, getting under the feet of the French and pecking at them, causing much cursing and the advance to falter.

A Fighting Cock

Wolfe Whistler, who has a great fondness for birds, orders to his men to fire on the distant French.

Opening Accounts
Fighting Cock: Still Game

Sous-lieutenant Destin comes over the hill. He outnumbers Whistler by three to one.

Voltijoors to the Flank!
The Long View

Whistler falls back to the river under fire.

Whistler Falls Back

The French press forwards.

Whistler Shoots It Out

While shots ring out at the river, Harpe’s men have been searching the barn to no result and now move into the walled yard where a woman stands. While Chosen Man Solomon Grundy (who is pleased today is not Saturday) gets the riflemen to cover the gates, Harpe attempts to question the woman, though his knowledge of Spanish is limited to speaking rather louder than usual.

The Hamlet

Whistler repulses a bayonet attack but is knocked unconscious. His remaining men fall back, dragging their sensless commander with them.

At the River
The Long View

Javert’s voltiguers have searched the bell tower and the cottage. The old woman has persuaded the Rifles to let her into the yard and Harpe still struggles to make himself understood to the beshawled woman.

Preparing for the Last Act at the Hamlet

Whistler’s men take more fire and withdraw steadily.

The voltiguers Win the Fight at the River

The woman in the shawl throws it off, and her dress besides, revealing to a rather started Harpe that she in in fact Fray Bentos, a Franciscan known the length of Spain for his skill in both medicine and pastry making. He must be the source of the miracle cure for piles. Harpe hustles the Spaniard into the safety of the barn

Fray Bentos Revealed!

Whistler’s men slip away to lick their wounds. The French have opened their way to the river.

Final Volley at the River

The French prepare to assault the yard, against the odds. Sergent Croisville leads the way over the wall.

The Assault Begins

Amazed at the French audacity, the Rifles fall back. They have only lost a man but the French have established themselves in the yard unscathed.

Fight in the Yard

Grundy rises to the occasion (after double-checking with his mate that it is  not in fact it a Saturday) and leads a counter-attack.

Preparing to Counter-Attack

While the fight rages in the yard, Sous-lieutenant Destin gets ready to cut off Harpe’s escape.


Cat On A Hot Tile Roof
Sword Versus Bayonet

A bloody fight and the sheer number of the Rifles tell.

Death to the French!

The two remaining voltigeurs flee the yard leaving their Sergeant bloody and unconsious on the ground. Sergeant Havers, whose men got a bit lost in the woods arrives and fires at Javert’s men.

Sergeant Havers Catches Up

Javert does not hesitate, he charges Havers’ men trusting in the elan his men have shown. But today Javert’s luck has run out. He is killed and his men routed. But Destin has cut off Harpe’s escape route, blocking the stairs.

Escape Blocked


Le Bang!



As the cannon shot shakes the barn, Harpe decides it’s time for a sharp exit. He leads his men out and down the steps, scattering the voltigeurs. He’s joined by Sergeant Havers but Lieutenant Destin has one last card to play. As Harpe’s men run for safety, Destin urges his men to a supreme effort and they catch up to the riflemen, taking them by surprise in the rear.


The Final Charge

Outnumbered the French may be but the surprise of their sudden onset has balanced the odds. Destin has shown iron resolve but all he receives is Harpe’s steel through his liver.

Harpe’s Triumph!

Fray Bentos and his secret recipe are saved. Harpe has triumphed and the French foiled.

The Man Who Stared at a Goat

The Field of Battle

A British force under Captain Bowler (33rd Foot) has rescued Don Diego Vega from the French. After some hard marching along the Rio Corona, they are arrived at the small hamlet of Aldehuela, having met up en route with a horse gun commanded by Lieutenant Earnest Boome. Accompanying Bowler’s redcoats are some riflemen commanded by Lieutenant Harpe, who is still recovering from wounds received in an earlier action.

Aldehuela is where Don Diego must meet with the man who provides him with the most infallible cure for piles, a secret that must not fall into French hands.

Enter the French

But Capitaine Javert of the 69e Ligne has not been idle. He has regrouped and reinforced and, hot on the trail, arrives at Aldehuela just as the British appear.

First Shots

Harpe gets his men into action straight away. They may be firing at long range, but the marksmanship of the 95th is astonishing. Capitaine Pépin falls stricken and his lieutenant is killed outright be a bullet through the eyeball. This is a devastating blow for the French, leaving only Sergent Butor to command the line infantry.

Deadly Accurate Fire
The Rest of the British Arrive

Lieutenant Boome deploys his gun, Don Diego an interested observer, while Bowler slowly brings up his line.

Boome’s View
The Situation

The rifles pick out Sergent Butor who is trying to urge the column forward and pick him off before dropping back through the trees. The men of the column mill about their fallen leaders and play no further part.

Sergent Butor Falls!

Meanwhile, a small group of voltigeurs under Sergent Gaultier has been investigating a little copse of trees. They encounter a large and impressively horned black goat. Gaultier stares at the goat. The goat stares back. Gaultier thinks about goat stew. The goat charges, buts him in the stomach and the sergeant collapses winded. His men draw back, aghast.

The Man Who Stared at a Goat

With every other Frenchman of rank now dead or incapacitated, Capitaine Javert realises this miserable state of affairs will only be resolved by drastic action. He gathers his score of voltigeurs and informs them that the honour of France and the good health of the emperor depend upon them. They charge straight into the mouth of Lieutenant Boome’s cannon! Three men fall as smoke belches from the gun’s muzzle, but Javert keeps going and his men follow.

Charge Pour le Canon, Il A Dit

Startled by the charge, Boome orders his men to temporarily abandon the gun. Don Diego is amazed by this craven behaviour and lingers by the British line, drawing his sword.

The Gunners Retire

Bowler orders his line to fire into the voltigeurs while Harpe’s riflemen add their fire from across the river. Javert’s gallant band is thinned.

Volley Fire

Javert continues on! his men crash into the end of the redcoat line while he himself faces Don Diego, a man renowned as the finest swordsman in all Spain! The odds are heavily against the French, tired from their charge, fewer in numbers and shaken by the fire they have received. Their only advantage is that they have, through their impetuosity, caught the British unloaded.

A la Mort!

The voltigeurs are desperate men and their attack is driven him with almost unbelievable ferocity. Seven of the redcoats fall!

Slaughtered by French Bayonets

Bowler’s men panic and rout from the field, leaving Javert to duel with Don Diego. The cowardly Ingleses may have fled but Don Diego is determined to uphold the honour of Spain.

Voltigeurs Triumphant

Javert realises at the first pass of swords that he is outclassed by his Spanish foe. He resorts to the streetfighting tactics of the Parisian gutter. As Don Diego languidly parries and ripostes, Javert closes, seizing the Spaniard’s blade with his left hand, smashing the hilt of his sabre into Don Diego’s impressively Roman nose and bringing up his knee. As the Spaniard doubles over crying ‘¡Juego sucio!’, Javert cuts his throat.

Victory from the jaws of defeat!

It slowly dawns on Javert that he has killed the man who knows the secret cure for piles. But surely, he thinks, in a cold sweat, a Spanish nobleman would be no ointment-peddler. Don Diego must have sourced his ointment from somewhere and the only reason he must have been here would be to find that person. Aldehuela must be searched and the alchemist found!

Next episode: Where Grasshoppers Dare

Saving Don Diego

Major Paul ‘Watermole’ Perth, one of Wellington’s intelligence officers recently arrived from having established a penal colony in Van Diemen’s Land, has been severely put out by the French capture of Don Diego Vega. ‘Watermole’, so-called because of his cuddly and inoffensive looks, is in fact of a peculiarly venomous nature when put out. He has sent Captain Bowler (33rd Foot) and the badly wounded but still game Lieutenant Harpe (95th Rifles) away with fleas in both ears and strict instructions not to return without certain information known to Don Diego. This information, an indisputably certain cure for piles, could, in Perth’s opinion, prove of eventual benefit to the French were it to come into their possession.

El Hombre Sin Nombre y Sus Hombres

Spanish guerillas led by the infamous and mysterious El Hombre Sin Nombre and the Amazonian beauty, la Señora Adora Heras, have discovered that Don Diego is held prisoner in a wagon being escorted by men of the 69e Ligne. They plan, with the help of the British, to free Don Diego and keep safe the secret hemorrhoid cure.

The Convoy

The French dragoons have reached a bridge over the Rio Corona, a tributary of the Rio de Cocina Laga and only a few miles from the safety of their own lines. The infantry are not far behind, strong parties of voltigeurs on either side of the road and the wagon bringing up the rear.

The French Let Sleeping Pigs Lie
A Column Of Ducks Reviews the French
Les Dragons

Adora Heras springs the trap, shooting into the dragoons onto the bridge. El Hombre Sin Nombre appears on a hill to the south of the bridge and shoots also. A dragoon is tumbled from  his saddle.

Par Ici. Pas de cette façon!

The dragoons about face and ride towards La Señora.

Forward, Lads!

Harpe’s rifles arrive followed by Bowler’s redcoats. The rifles give the dragoons a volley in their rear, knocking Sergent Lemur from his saddle and unnerving the rest considerably. Morale shattered, they will play no further part in the day’s events.


A brisk fight breaks out between El Hombres guerillas and Javert’s voltigeurs.

A brisk fight.
Still Brisk.


¡El Hombre Recibe Un Disparo!

Struggling from the muddy stream while trying to reach his blunderbuss-armed men, El Hombre takes a musket ball in the leg and collapses hors de combat. Meanwhile, the French column moves onto the bridge.



Harpe Collapses

Lieutenant Harpe, who it will be remembered is carrying a nasty wound, collapses from loss of blood. Over the river, Adora Heras is also badly hit and her little band of guerillas fall back, dragging her loyally but with difficulty. Captain Bowler and his sergeant are the only Allied leaders left on their feet, and Bowler’s men are advancing at a pitiful rate – too much time spent in musket practise, not enough on marching and drill.

Le Moment de la Crise

The leaderless riflemen give the French column some fire as it deploys and then, driven to fury by the sight of the bloody Harpe lying on the ground, launch a madcap charge. Bowler shouts to restrain them, but their blood is up and they race on, swords fixed and howling through the smoke.

Give Them the Sword!


Though outnumbered nearly three to one and leaderless, the enraged riflemen wreak terrible destruction on the French.


The French cannot stand and flee! The few guerillas by the river fall on them, but are driven off.

The Situation East of the River
Enter a caption

The rifles take fire from Javert’s men and face their new enemy, but their numbers are thin. Bowler’s line comes up slowly.

A Chance to Win!

The rifles fall back, shaken and outnumbered by the voltigeurs. The wagon driver sees his chance and whips up his team. Once over the bridge, they must only get past the house to reach safety. The British line is too slow, the guerillas too far and the riflemen surely too shaken to interfere. Soon the Emperor will have the secret of his cure!

The End

Captain Bowler may have neglected marching and drill, but by God he has not neglected the men’s musketry! As the wagon passes he order his men to present. A tremendous volley rings out. Both horses are killed, and the driver and cantinière.  But Don Diego is unharmed. Some may say it is blind chance, but Bowler knows that it is his men’s accuracy that has paid off.

Javert retires, determined to catch the British before they can reach their own lines. He will find them at Aldehuela.

Next episode: The Man Who Stared at a Goat


Ill Met by Daylight

Don Diego Vega has been a thorn in the French side since the Dos de Mayo. The last piece of intelligence sent by the infamous Major Manque, just before his recent capture by guerillas at Corazón Sangrante, revealed that Don Diego was visiting his mother at her country estate. Capitaine Eugène Javert of the 69e Ligne has hastily assembled a force to arrest Don Diego. However, the 33rd Foot are in the vicinity and one of their companies, along with some riflemen under the command of Lieutenant Stephen Harpe, is also approaching Donna Vega’s residence.


In the cold dawn light, Javert leads some voltiguers up to the east wall of Donna Vega’s residence, supported by some dragoons.

Javert’s Voltigeurs
Donna Vega Looks On Aghast as Grasshoppers Infest Her Vines

Lieutenant Stephen Harpe swarms over the west wall, followed by his small but doughty band of riflemen. The lady of the house informs them, somewhat frostily, that there is a door they could have used. Fortunately neither Harpe nor his riflemen know any Spanish beyond ‘vino‘, ‘señorita‘ and ‘¿Cuánto cuesta?‘, which last they mispronounce shockingly.

The Fight Begins

Voltigeurs push forward in the centre while a small column of French infantry comes marching down the road. A French canon is deployed to cover the British approach.

The 33rd move up in two small columns to the south of the stables. Some of their light bobs occupy the stable yard, fling open the gates and fire upon the small group of skirmishers they see. The French are a bit startled but unhurt.


Harpe’s men struggle through the vines. ‘¿Por qué no usaron la puerta?‘ demands Donna Vega of her nonplussed son.

Prend Ça!

As if in answer, Voltigeurs burst through the gateway and pour fire into the riflemen. It’s hard for them to tell green jacket from  green vine though and the effect is desultory.

Face Gauche!

The French column makes good time down the road and forms line to face the 33rd as they emerge from behind the barn.


Entourez la Maison!

Javert’s voltigeurs come over the wall and fire a ragged volley which sees Lieutenant Harpe reel and collapse into the vines. Exchanging fire, the riflemen dash into the villa as the dragoons attack the north door.

The Fighting 33rd

French and British skirmishes shoot it out at the stables while the main bodies advance.

Shooting at the Stables

The French line shoots first.

33rd Advance!

The voltigeurs who are shooting it out at the stables kill the British corporal and, emboldened, take the stable yard at the point of the bayonet.

The Stable Captured

Bowler’s redcoats press on into cannon and musket fire.

The 33rd Prepare to Fight

The long range volley has good effect on the French. Captain Bowler’s men may not march quickly but their shooting is good.

The French Line Take Casualties

The Fight for the house has been desperate. Although leaderless, the riflemen have withstood shooting from three sides and assaults from both dragoons (who have quit the field) and Javert’s voltigeurs (who have lost over a third of their number). But with every assault, their numbers have diminished and Javert rallies his men for a final attack.


The remaining small handful of men in green fight tooth and nail, but as the French force their way through the windows, they reluctantly abandon the house and slip away, two dragging the wounded Harpe from where he lies amidst the vines.

With Don Vega captured (and goodness knows what fate awaiting his aged mother and young niece, not to mention the donkey), Captain Bowler of the 33rd, realising his redcoats are too few and too far to interfere, orders a retreat.

Victory to the French.

Next episode: Saving Don Diego.

Foray to Corazón Sangrante

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.

Major Manque

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.

Trabuco Naranjero

As Tom Blunt’s Rifles spread out, Voltigeurs appear on the crest of a hill to the north.

The Rifles Arrive
French Voltigeurs Advance

El Hombre Sin Nombre brings up more guerillas as Adora Heras encourages her men to fire another volley, which fells another grenadier within.

El Hombre Sin Nombre Brings Reinforcements

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.

Opening Shots

The Voltigeurs exchange shots with the Rifles, coming off worse.

Skirmish Duel

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.

Close Range Skirmish Duel

Lieutenant Connard brings his men forwards, intending to turn the British flank and threaten their line of retreat.

Attack Column

Sergeant ‘Kid’ Fiddler brings up his men at the run to reinforce Blunt’s thin green line.

‘Kid’ Fiddler Dashes Up

Capitaine  Pépin arrives with the balance of the 4e Compagnie of the 69e Ligne.


 Pépin advances very briskly.

The French Advance Apace.

Fiddler’s men add their firepower to Blunt’s line.

Rifles Hold the Line

Adora Heras hopes to stall the inexorable French advance by turning their open left flank.

Guerilla Tactics

Lieutenant Connard moves to the west of the tower.

Turning Blunt’s Flank
Threatening the Rifles’ Line of Retreat

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.

Forming Line

The Rifles bring them under fire, and also the remnant of the poor French skirmishers, who have been very roughly handled.

Deploying Under Fire
Roughly Handled Skirmishers

Pépin completes his line and his men present their muskets. Tom Blunt does not flinch, although some of his men swallow rather hard.

Not Flinching. Much.

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.

Feeling Safer

Connard detaches Sergent Corniaud to hold the road and moves the rest of his men to trap Blunt’s Rifles.

The Road Cut
The Trap Closes

Grundy and his men waste no time in quitting the tower.

Run For It!

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.

The French Charge!
Leg It!

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.

Clash at Granja de Grasa

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.

Don and Señora Galgara
Time for a Smoke and Glass of Vino in the Viñedo Gargala

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.

Boulet Avance le Canon!

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.

The Guards

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.

The Allies Deploy

Lieutenat Boulet’s dash is beginning to look foolhardy as the voltigeurs struggle to keep up.

The Gun Forges Ahead!
And the Grenadiers Arrive

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.

The Rifles Engage
Boulet Recule!

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.

Surround the House
Form an Orderly Line

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.

The British Advance
The Voltigeurs Return Fire

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.

Skirmish Duel
The French Advance!
French Attack Column

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.

Les Voltigeurs se Retirent

The Rifles fall back through the line and Sillie calmly gives the orders to present and fire.

Rifles Retire
Presented Fire
Some Disorder
Voltigeurs Retire

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.

Le Bang!
Canister Hits Home

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.

Have Some of Your Own Medicine!
Give Them Another, Lads!

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.

Third Time Pays For All

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!

The Grenadiers Volley!
And Volley Again!
The Guards’ Line is Broken!

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.

The British Withdraw

Captain & Lieutenant Colonel Sillie watches the triumphant French advance.

Captain & Lieutenant Colonel Sille Bids the French Au Revoir

Vive l’Empereur!


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