Suspending interest payment funds for his country’s foreign debts in June 1861, Mexican President Benito Juarez drew the wrath of his three European creditors; France, Britain, and Spain. His creditors formed a coalition to force him to pay his debts. Coalition naval and ground forces from December 1861 to January 1862 occupied Mexican ports of Veracruz, and Campeche, using them as advanced land bases on the Gulf of Mexico coast from which to launch their military operations. Falling apart in April 1862 the true nature was discovered – the ambition of French Emperor Napoleon III. His real purpose was to seize all of Mexico, while claiming to “maintain free trade”. While Britain and Spain withdrew from the coalition Napoleon III of France continued.
I would like to personally give thanks for the design of this battle scenario to Armchair General. This scenario helps me to plan a battlefield strategy utilizing my talents, skills, and abilities. The scenario will bring out the leadership in me.
The Mexican Republic resisted France’s aggression, with the turning back of France’s first invasion of their capitol. Mexico defeated a 6,500 man French army at the battle of Pueblo (May 5, 1862). Forcing to withdraw and await reinforcements Mexico’s president (Benito Juarez) declared the victory Cinco de Mayo.
Knowing that the United States was engaged in the War Between the States (Civil War), and not able to intervene, France’s president Napoleon III, sent troop reinforcements to Mexico in September. March 1863, saw a two battalion regiment (2,000 men) of the French Foreign legion under the command of Colonel Pierre Joseph Jeanningros. A siege of Pueblo began with 24,000 troops on March 1863, progressing throughout April. French supply lines were extended through the Mexican countryside to the main base at Veracruz.
French units were assigned to convoy escort duty along the route that was constantly attacked by Mexican regular and irregular troops. The French Foreign Legion’s 1st Battalion was responsible for a 25 mile sector between Soledad and Chiquihuite.
The scenario started in April 30 1863 near a small village in Camerone, Mexico. The role of Captain Jean Danjou (commander of the French Foreign Legions 3rd company, 1st Battalion) was assigned me. My job was to do a security screen along the Chiquihuite – Soledad east of Camerone. While my 65 man company was halted enroute just east of Camerone a force of 800 Mexican cavalrymen were coming from the north. While their initial attack of 50 cavalrymen was repulsed, the commander wanted to test my strength. My mission was to determine how best to defend against this much larger force.
The French units were widely dispersed along the length of the supply line, I cannot expect timely reinforcements. The upcoming battle must be fought on my own. My original concept of operations; Following my initial volley which turned the 50 Mexican cavalry soldiers back towards their main body, I seized the opportunity during their retreat to form my company into a
column of two’s and forced marched as a single unit to the Hacienda de la Trinidad.
During the march I briefed Lieutenants Villain, and Maudet on, 1) Mexican units involved and their strength, 2) our advantages (superiority of our weapons (longer range, etc.), 3) the Mexican commanders strategy (waiting for infantry reinforcements, while tracking our movements, and reporting back to his headquarters), 4) division of the company into three groups once we reach our destination (Villain – 17, Maudet – 17, and myself Danjou – 31), 5) we only had 59 rounds per man (have the separating columns give my group an extra 30 rounds leaving 29 rounds for the separating columns), 6) separation strategy using concealment from the prying eyes of the combined Mexican cavalry and infantry.
I chose the Hacienda because my units that are seperating from my column can conceal themselves from the Mexican cavalry and infantry, proceed to make a breakout using the terrain to their advantage (forcing the cavalry to dismount and try to follow them on foot, and French soldiers on a forced march are the best in the world. They will be, closer to the main supply route (convoy), and our naval support. The French convoy will be alerted by Lt. Villain’s column (turned back to carrying 3 million francs, weapons and gunpowder as well as other supplies to reinforce the garrison and the siege – get reinforcements and then proceed on their route), while Lt. Maudet’s column will breakout to the garrison to bring reinforcements back.
My objective is to, 1) save as many Legionnaires to fight another day, 2) tie up the Mexican cavalry and infantry as long as possible until reinforcements arrive, 3) make sure the convoy proceeds as ordered, 4) continue to maintain intelligence on the enemy units (disposition, etc.), the group that is left will fight a rearguard/holding action with the support of our rifles (600-1000 yards standoff distance), 5) disrupt their command and communications, 6) take out as many of the enemy as can be expected, and 7) sacrificing ourselves for our comrades shows the true merit of the French Foreign Legion in battle that will bring honor.
Documenting Historical Battles
Step 1 – Document the History
Step – 2- Document your Strategy
STEP 3 – Justify Your Decision
Battle Scenario Decisions
Step – 1: Always document the Overall History of the conflict.
Step – 2: When writing your decision of the conflict tie in as many facts as possible based on the period
Step – 3: Always justify your decision
Step – 4: Provide photos when necessary
Step 1: Make sure your target audience knows the historical period.
Step – 2: Provide an outlet for them to respond
Step – 3: Maintain historical accuracy