Take the High Ground
Second Battle of Rellano, 20-23rd May 1912
March 1912 Pascual Orozco Jr. a former Maderista leader, rebels against the new Madero government due to the slowness of the much promised land reforms. Orozco`s followers “Orozquistas” were often called “Colorados” due to the red flags they often carried. Orozco began a march on Mexico City and won a surprise victory over the Federal forces at Rellano, using a “Maquina loca”, literally crazy machine – basically running a train packed with explosives down the track into an oncoming enemy (in this case Federal Government) train – those of you familiar with the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone will recall such an incident happened in his movie “A Fist Full of Dynamite” with James Coburn.
By 20rd May President Madero`s government forces commanded by General (later President) Huerta have been chasing the Colorado Rebels across the countryside. Both sides had multiple columns moving to and fro on a variety of axes, clashes were often small and inconclusive, but occasionally major engagements occurred. Rellano Station was the site of the first major defeat of the Federal (government) forces by the Orozquistas, but that was several months previous and the Federal forces have learned from their mistakes.
In pursuit of the Rebels, the Federals of Huerta`s Division of the moved towards Rellano Station, they discovered the enemy was holding the station and nearby hills in force. This was quite a large engagement with the Orozquistas having an estimated 6,000 men! So I`ve decided to concentrate on the Federal right wing and their attempt to clear the station itself seize the hills behind on the rebel left. I`ve taken some liberties with forces using what I have available.
General Huerta was in overall command but Colonel "Pancho" Villa and Federal Colonel Rubio commanded the actual fighting.
Rubio`s artillery supported attacks carried out by infantry of O`Horan`s Brigade and Villa`s mounted scouts, plus cavalry from the 56th Rurales Corps. These faced Colorados both cavalry and infantry supported by a few guns under command of Cheche Campos which had spent several days (if not weeks) preparing trenches and defences.
The Government forces need to capture the station as a staging area for further operations and drive the rebels off the overlooking high ground.
The Colorados would like to hold what they have, hopefully infliction a defeat on the government at the same time. At worse they want an orderly withdrawal including the supply train.
Looking north towards the government advance
Various farms, ruins and entrenchments
HQ – Pancho Villa, Col. Rubio and staff
A battalion of infantry from O`Horan`s Brigade (includes a MMG)
A company of scouts (including Yaqui & 2 Rexor LMGs)
1 squadron of Rural Scout cavalry (2 troops)
1 x 75mm battery
1 x 70mm battery
1 x light battery (37mm)
2 companies of infantry
2 squadrons of cavalry (3 troops each)
1 x 75mm
1 x 105mm
1 x 60mm, 1 x Vickers 1pdr pom-pom & 1 x MMG
Trenches and wire – Huerta reported after the battle that the defences had been constructed by military engineers and proved effective.
One and a half platoons occupied the station with both light guns – the 60mm was mounted on a rail flat car.
The rest of the infantry either occupied the two ruins of the trench line, the HQ was in the right ruin as this was the highest vantage point to oversee the action. The 105mm was in the left ruin, the `75 in the centre.
They decided to keep both cavalry squadrons in reserve off table.
The government forces decided to push straight at the station, one company plus the HQ and MMG left of the rail-line; the other two companies (one following the other) down the right side of the rail-line, the second company was accompanied by a Hotchkiss 37mm auto cannon. The battalion was directly supported by the 70mm battery.
Colonels Rubio & Villa set-up their command post on a hillock in the center.
On the government left their 75mm battery set-up with the plan to target the farm on that flank.
The government also decided to hold its cavalry off table, the commander attached his 37mm Hotchkiss revolving cannon to this unit. Finally the scouts and Yaqui will perform a flank march off table down the right and attack with surprise from that flank on turn 10!
The government battalion advanced towards the station, whilst the 70mm battery fired on it and the `75 battery targeted the farm on the left. Both batteries were quickly on target and caused casualties among the defenders.
By the end of turn 3 both the farm and station building were on fire! The Colorado big guns were too far back to be effective (as they were in the real battle), but the 60mm did cause some casualties among the advancing infantry.
Saw the Government infantry continue their slow advance, their artillery continued to land shells onto the farm and station. The Colorado guns did manage to land a couple of hits and cause casualties among the infantry.
The first companies of the Government infantry reach the road, the Colorado Vickers pom-pom and 60mm inflict quite a few casualties this turn.
In return a Federal 70mm scores a direct hit on the 60mm wiping out its crew!
Federal infantry are now in rifle range of the station and exchange fire with some of the defenders, both sides take casualties.
Both commanders decide to bring on their cavalry reserve, the Federals on their left driving towards the now burning farm. The Colorados split his command sending one squadron down the right (towards that burning farm), whilst the other goes down the rail-line towards the station.
The Federal infantry attack the station – the platoons on the left flank move to their right so the buildings screen them from the Vickers which has caused quite a few casualties!
Both sides cavalry continue to advance towards their objectives.
At the end of turn 8 the Vickers crew assisted by a couple of infantry begin to drag their gun back towards friendly forces.
In the centre of the Colorado line the `75 is now unsighted (the Federal infantry are masked by the station and smoke, so it limbers up to move right along the ridge to prepare for the Federal cavalry moving that way.
At the road the Federals unload their Colt machine gun to join the general advance on foot towards the station. On the Federal right the Hotchkiss 37mm auto cannon is unlimbered and set up by the road to cover the infantry attacking the farm on that side of the rail line. To the rear both Federal batteries limber up to move forward.
The farm on the right is well defended and even though faced by overwhelming numbers the Colorados inflict casualties supported by the 105mm in the ruin behind them on the hill.
All the cavalry continue their moves, Federal infantry now occupy the station.
Both units of Colorados cavalry are now within charging distance of their foe
The farm on the Federal right suffers withering fire from nearly and entire company of Federals, the defenders also take flanking fire from the station and to really ruin their day the Yaqui and scouts sweep in from their left overwhelming that flank. The brave defenders do inflict some casualties as they go down fighting.
The Federal 70mm battery unlimbers to prepare to support its infantry against the hill behind the station
In the final shot of turn 10 the Federal 37mm pops of a ranging shot at the Colorado 105mm and misses (just)
The train driver decides he needs to get out of the line of fire and moves off – this disrupts the Colorado cavalry who were using the rail line as a line of march!
On the Federal left the first unit of their cavalry dismounts to occupy the farm
At the station the Vickers pom-pom crew have arrived at their fall-back position and prepare to continue the defence
The Federal 37mm auto cannon scores another near miss on the Colorado 105mm killing the gun captain and another gunner causing a morale check (which the remaining gunners fail).
The Federal 70mm battery fires on the fleeing train, one gun gets a hit! The wagon derails, but luckily for the train driver it uncouples itself and the engine escapes the wreck.
The engine escapes around the hill
The first Colorado cavalry troop charges the nearest Federals (a scout platoon)
The Colorado captain in command of ruin hill stops the fleeing gunners at rifle point to make them re-man their weapon.
It doesn`t matter as the Federal 37mm scores a direct hit and smashes the gun anyway
On the Colorado right their `75 arrives at its new position, its commander decides not to fire on the farm and increasing number of Federal cavalry moving to occupy it but to direct his shells towards the Federal `75 battery setting up on the road.
He didn`t see the Federal 37mm Revolving cannon setting up in support of the cavalry at the farm!
Sees the Federal infantry overrun the rest of the station, they took some casualties off the defenders and the Vickers, but eventually numbers told and surviving Colorados surrendered.
The first Colorado cavalry charge was caught in a blaze of rifle and Rexer LMG fire, they caused casualties, but were in turn cut to pieces! The second troop arrived on turn 14, but couldn`t do anything to change the general situation as the Federals had created a killing ground.
Ruin hill was under constant bombardment from Federal guns, casualties mounted!
On the Colorado right “B” squadron together with all available infantry attack the farm
The Colorado `75 scores a direct hit on one of the Federal `75s
The last Colorado cavalry troop of “A” Squadron tried to counter attack against the station, but they were just cut to pieces
The rest of “A” squadron have had enough and are in full route
Ruin hill is still under heavy bombardment and now rifle and Rexor fire adds to the casualties
On the Colorado right a near miss on their `75 kills the gun captain, the crew morale breaks and they desperately try and limber up their gun!
The dismounted Colorado cavalry plus infantry are fighting a protracted battle against the Federal defenders of the farm, they have the number in their favour, heavy casualties on both sides.
The Colorado cavalry attacking the station route and make a run for it, this sight breaks the morale of the nearest infantry unit also!!
On ruin hill the Captain is killed, this combined with casualties and the imminent arrival of vengeful Federals cause the rest of the defenders to break and run.
On the Colorado right their `75 takes a direct hit wiping it out before its crew can get it limbered up
This flank is the highlight of the battle for the Colorados as they drive the Federal cavalry from the farm! But with the station lost and the whole left side of the table under Federal control – the battle is lost!!