Thursday, 22 May 2008
Ravenna. The Wargame part one.
The French, now deployed before the entrenchments of the Spanish Viceroy and his Papal allies, looked in vain for the infantry of whom thousands had been reported. Only the massed ranks of cavalry and the occasional officer dashing on some important business could be seen. Indeed, the Spanish and Italian were there; but they had been ordered, by Pedro Navarro, to lie down to avoid the shot from the French artillery which was already firing ranging shots into the entrenched camp. Here they lay, drinking some wine, eating some cheese and catching some Italian rays, before the torment of battle that would surely come all too soon for many.
The battle, as expected, was opened by the French. As the Picard pikemen and Landsknechts shuffled forward, the light cavalry under Caraciolo advanced to skirmish with their counterparts. The Skirmish was brief and bloody. Amongst the hail of quarrel and shot, charge was followed by pursuit followed by counter-charge, until finally the Spanish had gained the upper hand. The French light cavalry were dispersed and the Spanish held that part of the field. Caraciolo was slain; his horse fell and he was overwhelmed by Genitors.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the field the French guns were beginning to tell on the Collona’s cavalry. They fell back under its withering fire. This signalled a general advance by the Landsknechts and French infantry supported by the cavalry of Palice. As they advanced the Italian mercenaries under Bozzollo turned somewhat to their flank to prevent the Spanish light horse exploiting their hard won gain. They were supported in this by the cavalry under Gaston de Foix (pronounced Fwa – and you don’t get more French than that!)
In the Spanish camp the shouts of the officers could be heard above the tumult outside. The Spanish infantry stood up to receive their assailants. The first clash at the entrenchments came at its corner. Here the Landsknechts, supported by a unit of Picard pike tried to dislodge the Colunella defending it. The Colunella crashed out volley after volley into the oncoming Germans who fell dead, rank after rank, into the ditch - but they still came on. Clambering up the embankment before them, they were counter-charged by the Colunella. This was too much. With their gallant commander Jacob Empser skewered by a Spanish sword and buckler man, and having suffered horrendous casualties, the Landsknechts broke and fled towards the rear. Their supporting Frenchmen did not wait around long to reap the consequences. Throwing down their weapons they scattered. Seneschal, whilst trying to prevent their flight, was murderously killed by his own countrymen.
On the Cesena road, the French were faring better. Here Palice’s cavalry pushed back the Papal men-at-arms and now had a foot hold within the Spanish camp. But it was Gaston de Foix who now showed his worth. Seeing his Landsknechts run, he left his own command and galloped at breakneck speed to rally them. Jumping from his horse, and holding his purse aloft, he stopped their retreat at the Cervia road. D’Algre had arrived with the rearguard – all was not lost.
To be continued……..