Wellington’s victorious army was too tired to give immediate chase to the defeated French after the Battle of Orthez, but Wellington did dispatch General Hill with two divisions of infantry, a cavalry brigade and horse artillery to deny the French time to regroup. Hill caught up with General Clausel’s rear guard at Aire. Marshall Soult ordered Clausel, with two divisions, to hold Aire long enough to allow Soult’s artillery stores and ammunition to be moved out of harm’s way.
The French hold the ridge line overlooking the River Grave. The British and Portuguse allies have made a crossing in the centre but their flanks have still to cross the bridges
The British left begin the crossing in force. The French opposite are heavily outnumbered and their artillery battery is positioned behind the ridge near the Seminary
The French lights in the centre try to hold back the British advance, in cooperation with the line units further to their right
Over on the French left, the heavy Dragoons advance to the bridge, threatening the Portuguese Cacadores
A well-coordinated attack on the French right repulses the British back across the river with serious losses
Back on the other flank, an ill-advised French attack across the bridge forces the Portuguese into square but leaves them open to counterattack by the Horse Artillery and cavalry
The Portuguese counter-attack across the river (over the defeated French dragoons) is initally successful but then driven back to the river
The Portuguese have the reserves to win this engagement and soon the French line are fighting for their lives at point blank range, with their retreat cut off!
One last throw of the dice - a stirring bayonet charge in the centre almost shatters the Allied line, and while it destroys the Portuguese threat there they are able to reform on the other side of the river
A nice battle indeed though a victory for the Allies; this was replayed with six players (each taking one section) and despite almost total ruin for the French we pulled it out of the bag for victory 6-5 at the last gasp!
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