To Colonel Montecristo at Advanced Guard Headquarters, from Captain Gattinara of 2nd Company, 1st Medetian Regiment of Infantry..
Sir, this is my report of the action that took place on Easter Sunday, when the force under my command intercepted the enemy rearguard close to the bridge at Vodi. As you know, the terrain here is difficult for formed troops to operate over, with wetlands, woods and those walls that the locals make with stone from the nearby gully.
As you anticipated, the tail of the Fleurian army could be caught if my advanced guard took the old goat trail across the hills. As ordered, we descended the western slopes to find the final wagons, and a rearguard of infantry and an artillery piece, on the final approaches to the bridge over the gully. Seeing them about to escape, we lost no time in moving to cut them off.
The retreating enemy had seen fit to leave a small force defending the bridge, which the rearguard commander was soon to bring under his command.
Despite our cavalry not yet being in sight, I ordered the advance, hoping to capture both supply wagons and the gun, or at least 2 out of the 3 to deliver a decisive bloody nose to the enemy. I myself commanded 20 men and 12 grenadiers from our regiment, while Sergeant Rigato led 10 riflemen and, on the left, young Ensign Lambrusco had a further 10 men. The marsh on the left slowed us a little, but on the right we were soon at the orchard, threatening the rear of the column.
The enemy commander, whom later I recognised to be the wily Captain Mauzac, saw this and had his Chasseurs move forward to deny us an easy route to the road on our right. Notwithstanding this my men eagerly went in to contest the orchard.
Unfortunately the enemy light troops had the better of the encounter among the trees and, inflicting heavy casualties on my men, drove them out.
Not wishing to have these Fleurians sniping at my flank for the rest of the action, I ordered the Grenadiers to clear them out, but in the meantime the enemy was recovering quickly from the shock of our arrival. I could see that Mauzac had ordered the bridge guard forward, while the wagons made what haste they could towards the bridge.
The enemy infantry united under their commander and formed up in line to block our way around the more open ground to our left.
Sergeant Rigato led his men into the trees to commence a lively fire on this tempting enemy target, although possibly their route through the marsh had dampened their powder as their shooting performance this day was sadly lacking.
As I made my way forward in the centre, I saw that in the distance a force of enemy cavalry had arrived and was making straight for the action.
I was thankful, therefore, for the arrival at the very same time of Lieutenant Gillette with our own hussars. They had taken a smoother, though longer, route down from the hills in order to preserve the horses, but now thundered up on my left in fine style. I ordered Gillette to support Ensign Lambrusco and remain in reserve until the right moment.
Soon after this I was able, with the aid of the men of my company, to break onto the road where, after a short fight, we were able to see off the enemy’s artillery crew at the point of the bayonet. Fortunately for us the convoy was moving quite slowly (at this point in the battle at least) and the Fleurians had been unable to extricate the gun from the road and deploy it onto the nearby high ground, where it would no doubt have done us great harm. I am pleased to inform you that the gun, a fine 6 pounder, was subsequently brought back to our camp and sits in triumphant splendour outside your tent even as you read this report.
So ends part 1, final installment to follow..