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OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

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OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Thu Jun 25, 2009 7:53 am

[This is the thread for the cavalry action that takes place further east. all other threads can be found at the Battle Index.]

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Fri Jun 26, 2009 12:51 am

Noon, Barca d´Avintas, a few miles east of Oporto

v. Lossow uneasily shifted in his saddle as he watched the first lot of soldiers march onto the ferry. The boat was a rickety affair to begin with, not German workmanship at all, and having been sunk by the French had not improved it. The Portugese had raised the ferry as soon as the French piquet left their village, and repaired the damage, or rather repaired enough damage to float it again, but he still had misgivings about it's serviceability. For once he was glad that some KGL infantry had the honour of crossing first, not that he would ever admit that.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:35 am

Standing close by their german counterparts the 15th observed with mild curiosity how the first crossing was to be conducted. Some that stood closer to the front were able to see the ferry shift ever so slightly under the weight of the men, yet it held. Their horses stood, more or less impatiently , uninterested in the whole affair, some mulling at the ground even with their bits firmly set in their mouths, while others tilting their heads back or merely standing in place.

Willoughby leaned a little bit forward in his saddle, then stood at his stirrups to lift himself just a bit higher, looking on towards the river. He patted Herrero's neck and the horse twitched his ears towards him, barely aknowledging the rider.

So far so good.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:00 am

The ferry was loaded with soldiers now, even if they were looking slightly apprehensive, and seemed to be stable enough to attempt a crossing. v Lossow looked around and spotted General Murray with his staff in heated conversation with the Hannoveran commanders and wondered what they were discussing. Crossing a river was a pretty straightforward affair, wasn't it? Even infantry should be able to manage that, especially as they were completely unopposed.

Shifting in the saddle again he surveyed the assembled troops. Two battalions of KGL infantry were to cross, an additional company of Jäger with rifles, two guns, as well as two squadrons of cavalry. His was waiting patiently behind him and next to them a detachment of the 15th cooled their heels.


Last edited by von Lossow on Sun Jun 28, 2009 8:11 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:06 am

'We'd be safer swimming,' muttered Sergeant Parker as he eyed the ferry.
'What, and spoil our famous hussar uniforms, Parker? The Major would have my head for it,' said Pierce darkly, his own misgivings about the ferry evident.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:15 am

"Want to bet they'll turn over by the time they reach the middle?" Kenley asked and leaned from his saddle making a motion towards the crossing infantry. "Don't be daft, if anything they'll be up to their heads in the river..should t' ferry have enough holes." Formes muttered, silently enough that it wasn't to draw attention.

"Think the ferry will hold." Willoughby commented as he seated himself more heavily back in his saddle, Herrero shifting his weight from his right side more to his left.

"Too bad." Hadfield muttered, his ever grim face turned to the ferry and it's shabby, slow progress. "No Frogs so far." He added, and reached down to adjust the possition of his saber, resting in its scabbard.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:27 am

Finally, the ferry was moving. It's load of Jäger, the Hannoveran light troops, were clutching their rifles and hardly dared to move as to not upset the cumbersome vessel. It was a flat and wide and boat that could probably carry a small flock of sheep or even a carriage and its horses, but it had been fired and the sides were scorched and brocken to the waterline.

v Lossow pulled a telescope out of his sabretasche and trained it on the other shore. The huddle of houses that was Barca d´Avintas appeared free of French but there were still smouldering sheds on the river bank. They had probably housed more boats. A few Portugese were standing by to recieve the ferry. There was no detectable movement in the orchards that covered the hillside behind the village, nor along the shoreline to the west.

He turned his attention back to the ferry and absentmindedly shoved the telescope into it's place. The vessel had reached the middle of the river now, where the current was strongest, and more of the Jäger were hauling on the rope now.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:41 am

"Here they go.. telling you.. they'll sure sink." Kenley nodded towards the Ferry. Though none had been able to judge the strength of the current from where they stood on their horses, Kenley seemed convinced that the ferry would sink. It looked to continue in it's path though. It did make a slower progress, with more effort invested in the hauling.

"They're over the centre there.. Clapp."

The young man shrugged. "Luck, bummed luck." He murmured glad he hadn't bet. John Williamson cursed, for it would've been an easily earned money should he have done it.

"There they go.. still afloat." Another of the Hussars whispered, keeping his voice low for the officers.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Sat Jun 27, 2009 12:48 am

The ferry had almost reached the other shore now. v Lossow twirled his mustache, calculating the weight the boat could take. They would have to cross by sub-divisions, no, probably less, with half of the men holding two horses each, and the others pulling the rope and the sergeant and corporal keeping a lookout.

The Portugese on the other side eagerly recieved the craft, and the light troops quickly disembarked and disappeared in the village. v Lossow marveled at the lack of opposition. What were the French thinking? No shots were fired, no pickets roused and presently ferry started to make its way back across.


Last edited by von Lossow on Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:21 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling, of course)

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Sat Jun 27, 2009 1:03 am

"Who's turn is it next?" Who else but Kenley to speak, and this time he recieved a glare from one of the sergeants. They saw that the ferry passed with little incident, and the men came from it leaving space for the next group to be ferried across.

The men didn't like the thought of being ferried across with their horses, though the thought of having to swim or attempt it, was even less appealing. They weren't sailors, they were the cavalry. And horses had no business on ferries, but on firm land, chasing after other cavalry, people, the enemy.

Still there were no French, which was a thought that rose suspicion in some. What were they waiting for, if they were there? And if they weren't, they were certainly fools for it.

The ferry touched their side again, ready to take on new cargo.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Sat Jun 27, 2009 11:03 pm

v Lossow swore under his breath. A shiny staff officer had brought their orders, orders that did not sit well with him. They were to wait, and let a battallion of infantry cross first, to 'secure the landing site, dear chap'. Preposterous. The company of light troops and their cavalry would be much better suited to that task. He was itching to get a lookout onto the opposite hill, or to scout along the road leading to Oporto.

Fuming he tried to catch the eye of the 15th's captain.

[do you have any more senior officers with you?]

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:07 am

"What are we waiting for?" It was no surprise it was Kenley again. The lad had been warned but he seemed still to persist. " T' order of goin'.. Don't think we're next." Came a reply from another trooper to his left. Willoughby observed the ferry. It would hold, though hopefully it would not be worn out by the time it was their turn to board it. He glanced towards the officers, by the looks of it The German cavalry wasn't being prepared for the boarding either. Waiting would continue for a little while longer at least.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:16 am

Pierce did not like waiting for the infantry, but at least if the ferry was going to be proven faulty, he'd rather it happened when his men were ashore. But then again it might capsize under the weight of the horses. He glanced over at the KGL cavalry: was it so wrong to want them to test the ferry first?

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:04 am

The other captain seemd prepared to await whatever fate had in store for them. v Lossow admonished himself to be patient and pulled out his notebook to sketch the lay of the land, as far as he could see it.

In the distance there was a rumbling, like thunder, but the sky remained clear and blue.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Mon Jun 29, 2009 9:54 am

Pierce glanced around as if searching for the source of the thunder. He would not mind a thunderstorm, though it would aggravate the fighting conditions. He liked thunderstorms. Shaking his head slightly, he tried to get rid off the odd thoughts. It was best to follow the example of the KGL's officer and keep busy.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:50 am

Orchards, olive groves, cattle sheds and small vineyards were crowded on the Douro’s northern bank, with small tracks running up the hillside and a narrow road in the piece of level land next to the shore. Plenty of cover for the soldiers in their green and grey uniforms that were slowly occupying the opposite hillside, but rather unsuited for cavalry. v Lossow scowled at his notebook. At least somebody had come to their senses and it was the Light Battallion that was being ferried now.

The sound of the firing was coming as a continuus roar now, channeled up the steep-sided river valley, but v Lossow could not tell whether the cannon were firing on the northern or southern bank of the Douro, or both.


Last edited by von Lossow on Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:51 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : grammar)

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:23 am

It was beginning at last. Though one might hope for a battle to wait upon the men to be ferried across, and to then commence, when the men were ready. It was never so with the fate of war, luck too often chose the other side, and fate was something not to consider, nor trust.

The land was not suited for the cavalry. Steep hillside, not open and bare, but with the cover. Good perhaps for a skirmish, but ungainly for the horses who would have to climb it, would not gather speed, and tire more easily.

Willoughby shifted in the saddle of his horse, which was rather calm and patient, nearly disinterested in the going-ons. Perhaps even in the firing, the thunder that had the animal only flick his ears back and forth.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:15 am

As soon as he saw that there were only a few Jäger left on their shore, v Lossow gave orders to dismount and advance to the small jetty.

"Atze, pass the word please. They are to cross by sub-division, the ones with more horse-sense leading two or three horses each, the others pulling.

Sgt. Hassler! Your lot and the bugler are on the first boat with me! Hop hop!"

There was a flurry of activity as the horsemen sorted themselves out, but quickly order was restored, and the return of the ferry was eagerly awaited.


Last edited by von Lossow on Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:20 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:20 am

Splendid. The Germans would be first to test the barges with their horses. If they survived their weight the 15th Hussars would have more faith in doing the same. There was an eerie silence come to the said Hussars, as many stood in their stirrups or leaned forward, expecting the boat to return at any moment, and to see if there would be any trouble after.

The horsemen looked to have managed to find order again, and rather quickly as well. Good. Time wasted in the preparations would only mean that they'd have to wait longer to see who sinks and who swims.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:46 pm

He felt the eyes of the assembled horsemen on him as he led his horse onto the ferry. Bam, a skilled campainer, was unperturbed by the unsteady ground, she had done this many times before. V Lossow gave her neck a few laudatory pats. She was setting a good example for the less experienced horses.

The vessel filled quickly with men and horses, and v Lossow thoughts turned lugubrious. It was due to the losses they had suffered in the last few days, continuusly engaged with the retreating French, that a half-division found room on the ferry.

Sgt. Hassler bellowed “Alle Mann an Bord, Herr Rittmeister!” from his place at the stern. v Lossow turned and gave his most rakish grin. “Dann man los, Jungs! Let’s see if we can find some froggies hopping around on the other shore!”

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Jul 03, 2009 1:33 am

There they went. First boat to leave with the horses and men. So far it looked steady enough, though it weighed lower in the water than when they had only ferried men across. There seemed to be no indication of trouble just yet, but the men kept silent and observed with great attention and care. They moved closer with all the cleared space, and some of them already began to prepare their animals for when the turn would be on them.

"So far so good." One of the men commented, peering over his horse's back. "..Lets just hope it holds when we're about to go over."

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Fri Jul 03, 2009 1:57 am

The ferry was holding. He ordered the men to prepare themselves for crossing. He took up a place in front and ordered Parker to watch out for the nervous horses. Hopefully, there'd be none.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:19 am

There were a few tense moments during their crossing, but the ferryman assured v Lossw that the subsequent trips would be calmer because of the tide or the moon or somesuch. While he did not understand the technicalities, v Lossow was reasured by that. Even in calm conditions it would take a log time to ferry the rest of his squadron across, and then the 15th, and the other batallion...

He slipped the man a coin as he led his horse off the boat. The others followed shortly and he threw the reins to a trooper and strode of to find someone who knew what was going on.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Jul 03, 2009 9:04 am

The ferry unloaded the men and horses, and again returned to the opposite bank. Another load of horses to be had, with more men who kept or tried to keep them calm, and still it held and nobody fell in, nor was any horse scared or rearing needlessly. The 15th were preparing themselves and their horses, and the first were already chosen, with the calmer horses upfront, to be followed by those that were less used to such form of travel.

"....There.. firs' load." Kenley observed as finally the first of the 15th stepped forward to board the ferry under the command of their officers.

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Re: OPORTO, 22nd May - Barca d’Avintas

Post  Guest on Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:47 pm

It was unbelieveable. Murray was sending new orders on almost every boat, each countermanding the previous ones. The Light troops were supposed to march in three different directions while at the same time guarding the jetty and their commander was swearing a blue streak at anyone coming near him.
v Lossow himself had no orders, so he had quietly send small patrols onto the hill and along the river with orders to report back as soon as possible. The french had to be somewhere.

At least the crossing proceeded with a minimum of fuss. The first load of 15th would arrive presently, and v Lossow went to the jetty to greet them.

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