Monday, 14 October 2019

The Battle of the Chinorro Hills,an Italian Wars scenario for Pike and Shotte

Almost 6 months ago, I posted a report on a Italian Wars game at Steve's. (link)   Following that inconclusive clash the Franco-Swiss force had fallen back across the Borgogno hills, with the Imperial force of the Duke of Tempranillo  following them.  Hoping to catch his opponent off guard Le Compte de Carignan had halted and then marched towards the approaching Imperialists.  When they were sighted, crossing the Chinorro Hills, Carignan deployed Gamay on the left, then Carignan's command, with the Swiss under Landroter next and Merlot on the right wing.

The armies deploy
For his part Tempranillo had deployed with Trebbiano's cavalry on his right, then his own command of  arquebusiers and pikemen, with Graf von Spatburgunder's landsknechts and then Count Barbera's cavalry on the left.  Tempranillo's plan was to take the low hill in the centre with his arquebusiers and hold the narrow gap between it and the wood with his pikes.  The lansdknechts were to advance and deal with the Swiss, supported by Barbera's cavalry.    Trebbiano was to hold the right against the French cavalry, covering the flank of Tempranillo's infantry.

The battle did not start well for Barbera as part of his cavalry ignored his order to advance, leaving one unit of gendarmes close to the French cavalry and unsupported.  However, Signora Fortuna seemed to be smiling on Barbera as Gamay's cavalry remained rooted to the spot.  Tempranillo had no such problems with his arquebusiers who quickly established themselves on the central hill and prepared to defend it against Carignan's crossbowmen.  However, Spatburgunder's landsknechts advanced only slowly and the two units got in each other's way passing through the gap by the wood.

Temparanillo's men advance
Carignan had his own problems; Lord Randroter was once again proving difficult.  As usual the main stumbling block was money, this month's pay was late and veiled threats had been made about the Swiss returning home.  Using his courtier's charm, Carignan at last persuaded Landroter to stay with the army for another two weeks and in the meantime his participation in the day's battle would be 'much appreciated' (ie there would be a 'bonus').  At least Merlot's cavalry were following orders and moving forward at speed against Trebbiano's force.

Barbera's gendarmes take on Gamay's men at arms
Barbera had at last got his men moving, the gendarmes in particular now keen to attack.  They first clashed with Gamay's leading unit of men at arms and quickly scattered them.  Seeing a unit of gendarmes in front of them, the Imperialists charged into them as well.  The French gendarmes provided far tougher opposition, but in the end they too gave way routing back towards their own lines.  Barbera's men, now isolated and weakened by their losses  were in a rather precarious position, not helped by the moves of a unit of Swiss halberdiers which was attempting to work round onto their flank.

The first clash between Merlot and Trebbiano
On the Imperialist right, Trebbiano was trying to hold back Merlot's men.  After some skirmishing between the opposing units of light cavalry, the men at arms joined the fray.  Initially, the Imperialists gained the upper hand, driving back their French opponents.  However, before they could recover from the melee they were hit by a unit of French gendarmes.  This proved too much and they routed.  The rot was stopped by Imperialist gendarmes who charged the victorious French gendarmes and after a fierce struggle forced them to fall back.  Harassed by the Imperialist light cavalry the gendarmes lost all order and continued to fall back.  Their destruction was completed by Trebbiano himself, who, galloping over to his reserve unit of gendarmes, led them in an unstoppable charge which drove the hapless gendarmes from the field.

The Imperialist halberdiers attack the French crossbowmen
In the centre, Carignan and Tempranillo were urging their men forward. The Imperialist arquebusiers  won the race onto the central hill and their fire halted the French crossbowmen in their tracks.  A second unit of crossbowmen attempted to force a path through the gap between the hill and a wood, but they were met by a charge from a unit of Imperialist halberdiers.  These tough fighters made short work of the crossbowmen who turned and ran for their own lines.  Carried away with their success, the halberdiers pursued the fleeing French, only to be hit by a unit of French pikemen.  The much outnumbered halberdiers were driven back with very heavy casualties and played no further part in the battle.  In their turn, the French were charged by Imperialist pikemen and a prolonged melee took place.  Eventually, the French had had enough and fell back.  Determined not to over reach himself, Tempranillo ordered his pikemen to stand and recover their order before they advanced, trusting his arquebusiers to keep the French in check.

Swiss pikemen force the Imperialist cavalry to fall back

Tempranillo prepares to lead forward his pikemen to repel the French advance
Further to the Imperialist left, the Swiss and landsknechts had eventually begun to advance.  The smaller Swiss pike block outpaced their companions and pushed back a unit of Barbera's cavalry; the cavalry unwilling to charge the phalanx of pikes.  A unit of Imperialist arquebusiers also fell back before the Swiss and a gap opened up in the Imperialist line.  Fortunately, Spatburgunder had a unit of landsknechts on hand to plug that gap.  A fierce melee followed as the two between the two opposing pike blocks pushed home.  Although the initiative swung back and forth  the decision eventually went the way of the Imperialists.  However, these now found themselves 'out on a limb'.  To their front were Gamay's cavalry and the Swiss halberdiers, the second Swiss pike block had now advanced beyond them and was heading for the remainder of Spatburgunder's command.  Their nearest friendly unit were Barbera's gendarmes who were gradually falling back to reform after their earlier exertions.  The landsknecht commander eventually decided that the best course of action was to fall back in concert with the gendarmes.  To the left of the Imperialist gendarmes had been a unit of men at arms, but they were scattered by a charge from Gamay's final unit of gendarmes which followed up this success and moved forward towards Barbera's rallying units.  Disaster was averted by confusion in the French ranks.  Gamay was far away, trying to rally the survivors of the earlier clashes.  Imperialist light cavalry were hovering on the flanks of the gendarmes, peppering them with shot.  No one seemed to be taking charge and whilst they dithered the Imperialists regrouped.

Gamay's gendarmes drive back Barbera's men at arms
Urged on by Landroter the large Swiss pike block swept forward crushing a unit of arquebusiers which happened to be in their way.  Spatburgunder ordered his last reserve to stop them and a second mighty clash of pike took place.  Losses were heavy on each side and initially the Swiss were gaining the initiative.  Summoning their last reserves of energy the landsknechts halted the Swiss push and then moved forward themselves.  Slowly, step by step, the Swiss fell back, the landsknechts keeping up the pressure.

The unstoppable Swiss?

Irresistible force and immovable object
Surveying the field, Carignan saw he had done all that he could.  On the left, Merlot's attack had stalled and his men were now in danger of being surrounded.  In the centre, his own attack had failed and the Swiss had again failed to be the battle winners they claimed to be.  Gamay's men had also taken a beating.  His best option was to fall back while he had strength remaining to deter any close pursuit.  For his part Tempranillo also was keen for the battle to die down.  All his troops needed time to reform from the heavy fighting; any pursuit would have to be undertaken on the morrow.

Merlot's command (by trees), surrounded by Trebbiano's units
Thanks once again to Steve for hosting the game.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Sagasu : A GNW scenario for Pike and Shotte

This week we return to the Great Northern War using the Prince August figures.  A coalition of forces is besieging a Swedish garrison in the port of Sagasu on the Baltic coast.  The Swedish command has organised a relief force of 3 brigades of infantry and 1 of cavalry to raise the siege.  For their part the Russian, Saxon and Danish besiegers have begun to construct defences against such an attack.

An overview of the battlefield, Swedes on the left, the Danish defensive work between the woods and the Saxon camp on the right.

The Danish brigade had suffered heavy losses and had been re-organised into 4 under strength battalions.  They had almost completed a redoubt covering the approach to Sagasu from the south, but the northern face was unfinished.  In the camp are a brigade of Saxon infantry and a field gun.  To the west, a brigade of Saxon cavalry.  Once all the Saxon units are activated the coalition commander can start to roll for the arrival of the Russian infantry brigade, which will appear to the east of the camp.

The 'Danish' redoubt
The Swedes arrive one brigade at a time, the order determined by the Swedish commander before the game starts.  Victory conditions are straightforward; for the Swedes, breakthrough and raise the siege, for the allies prevent the Swedes breaking through.

Initiative lay with the Swedes, but their first move was cautious,meaning the Danes had a chance to fire a volley before the inevitable Swedish charge.  However, the Danish fire inflicted little damage, unlike the Swedish response which disordered the Danes facing them.  Encouraged, the Swedish infantry charged home losing a few more casualties to the closing volley.  Against the odds the Danes managed to hold the defences and prolong the melee.  Other Swedish units now began to move to assault the sides of the redoubt whilst the much lauded Swedish cavalry entered the field.

The Swedish attack
Back at the Saxon camp the sound of the musketry roused the Saxon forces.  Not all responded immediately but as they did the infantry marched out to support the redoubt and the cavalry formed up ready to support the infantry.  In fact the cavalry responded quickest and as they moved forward on the right of the redoubt they met the Swedish cavalry.  The Swedes had been  slow to advance and now the Saxons seized the initiative and charged.  Once again the Swedes were slow to react and were caught at the halt.  The first unit was swept away in no time and disordered its supports as it routed.  Sensing victory the Saxons pursued crashing headlong into the immobile Swedish cavalry.  This was a more prolonged affair but eventually the Swedes gave way leaving the Saxon cavalry triumphant but, disordered and well away from their supports.

View from the Saxon camp before the Russian arrival
At the redoubt the struggle continued.  One of the flank attacks had failed but the defenders on the southern face eventually gave way unable to resist the pressure of the Swedish attack.  They fled through the open northern face of the redoubt making for the camp.  A battalion turned to face the Swedish infantry as they swarmed over the defences, but being a raw unit, they became disordered attempting the manoeuvre.  The Swedes had also lost order as they entered the redoubt, but their volley inflicted sufficient casualties to cause the raw unit to rout.  Seeing the redoubt could not now be held, the last remaining defenders fell back in good order.

The Swedes in the redoubt
On the Swedish right a brigade of veteran infantry advanced past the redoubt.  Their fire swept away the last remaining Danish unit and then they moved against the Saxon infantry who were now forming line covering the camp.  A welcome sight for the allied commander was the arrival of a Russian brigade of four battalions to the left of the camp.  This now moved forward towards the veteran Swedish brigade.  In the rear, the final Swedish brigade arrived, but it's commander seemed unable to get them to move forward.  Their slow advance eased the pressure on the Saxon infantry who now just faced the first Swedish brigade which had already been weakened by the attack on the redoubt.

The Swedes attack the Saxon infantry
The cavalry contest continued to favour the Saxons.  Although reduced to only two units the Swedes attacked and managed to drive the Saxons back, but did not break them.  When the Saxons counter attacked the Swedes gave way and were now too weak to influence the battle.  An attempt by the Saxon cavalry to attack the Swedes in the centre came to nothing as the leading unit was wrecked by a Swedish volley.

Saxon cavalry driven off by musketry
In a final throw of the dice the Swedish commander launched his veteran brigade against the Russians.  The Russian front line was unable to hold the Swedish charge, but it fell back without disordering its supports.  This enabled the second Russian line to attack and they pushed back the Swedes with heavy loss.  The eventual arrival of the third brigade was too late to influence the outcome of the battle, merely to cover the withdrawal of the rest of the Swedish force.

The Russians arrive
A close run thing, with lady luck definitely favouring the Saxons in the 50/50 situations.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

The Wells, the wells ! - a Sudan scenario

Our battle this week was a Sudan scenario set up by Steve.  The story, which received much coverage in the London press after the event, began when a group of officers arrived at base camp.  They had been sent south from Cairo, with orders, direct from London, that "something must be done" to reach the city of Khartoum.  The ranking officer was Brigadier Reginald Stowell Peregrine Bloodnok; "Birdy"to his staff.  After consulting the maps at headquarters the solution seemed obvious to Bloodnok, make straight for Khartoum across the desert using the wells to resupply with water.  The officers at base camp pointed out the logistical difficulties this would entail and that such an enterprise was unlikely to escape the attention of the Dervish forces in the area.  Bloodnok's response was that steamers would arrive tomorrow afternoon with troops that had extensive training in the deserts around Cairo and the plan was to depart at dawn the following morning before local sympathisers could send reports to the Dervish forces.

Therefore, at the appointed time the 'flying column' set out for Khartoum.  It comprised three detachments of mounted infantry and five detachments of cavalry accompanied by a field gun and a machine gun.  Their departure was of course common knowledge among the locals and the news soon reached the ears of Emir Khat.   After 3 days the column was nearing the Allah's Tears well.

The well and the small settlement surrounding it
Bloodnok was not going to approach the well without scouting ahead.  He deployed his small force with Captain Archibald Thynne's mounted infantry in the centre, accompanied by the field gun.  To the left were Captain St John Bannister's three cavalry detachments and on the right, Captain James Moriarty's cavalry with the machine gun.  Whilst Thynne's infantry waited, Bannister and Moriarty sent forward scouts to check for any evidence of Dervish forces in the area.  Bannister's scout moved onto a low hill directly in front of the well but saw nothing.  Signalling it was safe to advance he moved to his left to check more dead ground.  On the right the scout crested a low ridge and immediately saw a unit of Dervishes massing to advance.  As he turned to warn Moriarty's command two Dervish sprang from behind the rocks and pulled him from his horse.  A tide of Dervishes swept over the ridge and towards Moriarty's leading unit, the 23rd, Duke of Albermarle's Lancers.

Bannister's command, Royal Scottish Lancers with Prince George's Hussars and the Welsh Horse
Moriarty had his hands full.  Before the appearance of the Dervishes to his front another unit had broken cover on his right and were bearing down on the Prince David's Lancers.  He had ordered the machine gun to unlimber and cover the flank of Prince Davids and then moved forward to get a better appreciation of the threat.  Before he knew it, he was embroiled in the melee as his men fought for their lives.  Outnumbered,  the cavalry thrust with their spears and then in the press, changed to their swords.  Moriarty had managed to shoot two assailants with his revolver but as he reached for his sword he received a spear thrust to his thigh.  A trooper helped him to the rear of the melee, but Moriarty  ordered him to return to the fight.

Prince David's Lancers in melee
 To their left, the Duke of Albermarle's Lancers were also struggling.  They had lost heavily in the first rush by the Dervishes and Bloodnok sensed that they may break.  Telling Thynne to move his men forward, Bloodnok galloped forward to try and steady the Duke of Albermarle's.

Thynne deployed the 3rd (Middlesex) to cover the advance of the other two units of mounted infantry, the 15th (Radnorshire) and the 84th(Clackmannanshire).  The Middlesex were soon exchanging volleys with the Dervish riflemen ensconced in the buildings around the wells and their fire seemed to be having some effect.  Encouraged, the 15th moved quickly towards the wells, dismounting before entering the settlement.  Once reformed they began a steady advance which was checked when a unit of Dervish broke cover and charged towards them.  A closing volley downed most of the front rank of the Dervish but this did not stop them and soon the 15th were fighting for their lives.  The 84th had moved left but as they crested a rise they came under fire from a Dervish field gun.  This inflicted little damage and the 84th quickly moved into the buildings to the left of the 15th.

The end of Brigadier Bloodnok
On the left, Bannister's scout had spotted another unit of Dervishes.  He signalled to Bannister, with an estimate of their numbers and direction of advance and then moved further to the left.   Bannister halted the Royal Scottish Lancers and ordered his other two regiments to move further to the left to outflank the Dervishes waiting in ambush.  They did not have the chance to take up their positions as a crowd of Dervish swarmed over the rise and headed towards the Lancers.  Accepting the challenge, the lancers charged and crashed into the enemy mass.  As the melee swayed back and forth the Hussars and Welsh Horse moved into position.  They were just in time as the lancers were being overwhelmed.  As the few remaining lancers broke off and attempted to save themselves, the Hussars crashed into the Dervish flank.  The Dervish were unable to withstand this new impact and turned to run, only to be hacked down by the vengeful cavalry.

The Hussars cut through the Dervish infantry
Away on the right, Bloodnok was unaware of Bannister's struggles, he had problems of his own.  A message from Moriarty arrived saying that he may have to fall back as his command was in danger of being overrun.  Bloodnok turned his field glasses on the melee further to the right just in time to see Prince David's Lancers disappear under an avalanche of Dervish infantry.  Very few of the lancers survived and among the dead was Moriarty, fighting to the end.  Distracted by events on his right,  Bloodnok was too slow to react to the shouted warning as a group of Dervish infantry broke through the Duke of Albermarle's and headed for the command group.  Bloodnok and his staff tried to fight off the attackers, but Bloodnok's horse took a spear in the flank, reared and fell trapping his rider beneath him.  Before he could get free Bloodnok was assailed by three Dervish and died under their attack.  What was left of the Duke of Albermarle's broke contact and routed to the rear.  All that remained of the Imperial right flank was the machine gun team.

The Dervish cavalry arrive
Unaware of events to their right, the mounted infantry fought on.  The 84th were exchanging volleys with a unit of Dervish among the buildings on the far left and gaining the upper hand.  Although battered, the 15th were managing to hold their own against their assailants.  Further back, the Middlesex had driven off their opponents and were contemplating advancing in support of their comrades when a shout of 'Ware cavalry' was given.  Out of the desert appeared 3 units of Dervish cavalry.  Two made straight for the Middlesex, whilst the third moved into the settlement.  The Middlesex were supported by the field gun and their combined fire destroyed the first unit, but the second one charged home on the infantry.  To the right the machine gun had fired to great effect against the remnants of the Dervish infantry which had wiped out Moriarty's command, eliminating that threat for good.

The Hussars come to the rescue
Bannister's command now resumed the attack.  The Hussars buoyed by their success now charged the Dervish field gun which had fired on the mounted infantry.  Not wishing to take on the cavalry, the gunners quickly took to their heels and the Hussars entered the village.  Here they hit the flank of the Dervish fighting the 15th and wiped them out.  Hardly pausing to re-organise they then charged the Dervish cavalry which was entering the settlement.  These too were overcome, but when further Dervish infantry swarmed out of the buildings, the Hussars decided that discretion was the better part of valour and fell back.  What of the Welsh Horse?  They had moved even further to the left and were just about to turn and enter the settlement when they were charged by a unit of Dervish infantry which suddenly appeared on their flank.  Caught unformed and at a great disadvantage they had no chance and only a few remnants of the unit made it back to safety.

The Welsh Horse are ambushed
Bannister gathered the remnants of his command and fell back towards the centre.  Here he was met by Thynne who told him of the deaths of Bloodnok and Moriarty and pointed out that he, Bannister, was now in command.  Looking about him Bannister assessed that his only course was to withdraw, the supply camels were intact and with luck, sufficient water remained to enable the survivors to cross the desert back to base camp.  He ordered Thynne to order the 15th and 84th to fall back and for the Middlesex and field gun to cover the retreat of the mounted infantry.  The machine gum would cover the centre until the retreat began.

The last stand of the 'fighting Middlesex'
The 15th and 84th, plus the remnants of Bannister's command gathered and then began their return journey, but there was still one more disaster to befall the Imperial force.  The Middlesex, you will remember had been charged by the remaining Dervish cavalry unit.  They fought gallantly, but, not being in square, were outflanked and overrun.  The field gun, with it's crew working like demons fired round after round into the Dervishes but the wave of cavalry swept over the gun and made for the machine gun.  However, here they met their match and the machine gun's fire proved too much and the remains of the cavalry fell back to the wells.

Limbering up the weary machine gun crew quickly made off to catch up with the remains of the force, leaving the field to the enemy.

Another enjoyable scenario from Steve, with plenty of interest. 

Sunday, 8 September 2019

The Bear and the Crescent: an eastern scenario for Pike and Shotte

Back in January I published this post about my painting plans for this year, specifically prioritising my Hnichliffe Ottoman collection.  I haven't posted anything further for the very good reason that little progress has been made.  However, at last two units of cavalry are complete. 

Ottoman light cavalry

The Spahi
Not enough to take the field on their own, but Steve kindly added part of his collection and there were sufficient to take on a force of Muscovites.  It was an all cavalry affair, set on the rolling steppes. Eight units of Ottoman cavalry, (4 spahi and 4 light cavalry) versus Eight Muscovite units, (4 feudal cavalry, 1 skirmisher unit and 1 general's bodyguard unit plus 2 units of Cossack allies).  The objective was simple, defeat the enemy and drive them from the field.

The Muscovite commander and his bodyguard by the old watchtower

The Muscovites await the arrival of the Ottomans with the old watchtower in the distance
Steve's Ottomans ready for the fray

The action opened with a headlong advance by the Cossacks against the Ottoman left wing light cavalry.    In the ensuing melee, one of the Ottoman units was overwhelmed and driven from the field, whilst the other just about managed to avoid routing.  The wing was saved from annihilation by the casualties and disorder in the Cossack units.

In the centre the spahi began their advance.  For their part the Muscovite horse archers managed to avoid being caught in melee, shooting and evading as the spahi closed.  Some casualties were sustained by the spahi, but they continued to move forward.  On the Ottoman right the light cavalry moved forward rather hesitantly even though they were unopposed.

Not a melee; the archers are just about to evade the charge
The Mucovites' cause was not helped by a unit of feudal cavalry mishearing an order to advance and instead fell back.  This allowed two units of spahi to attack one Muscovite unit and inflict heavy casualties on it.  The Ottoman commander had by now sent a rather curt order to the right wing light cavalry to advance in support of their heavier comrades, or a risk a swift and permanent demotion.  This had the desired effect, but as the light cavalry moved forward so did the unit they were supposed to support, they still lagged behind.

Half the feudal cavalry were teetering on the edge of collapse, pressed hard by the spahi.  The other two units were standing their ground and even beginning to gain the upper hand.

Spahi versus the feudal cavalry
The centre
Eventually the Cossacks recovered from the earlier melee and closed in on the remaining left wing Ottoman light cavalry.  The latter did their best, but outnumbered and still shaky from the previous combat they were swept away, exposing the flank and rear of the spahi units.  Not wishing to spurn his chance, the Cossack commander halted his troops, reordered them and prepared to advance.

Cossacks triumphant
With his spahi fully committed, the Ottoman commander sent his aide off to the right wing with orders for that light cavalry to hasten to the left.  He was too late.  The Muscovite commander had spotted that one of spahi units had exposed their rear as they turned to attack the Muscovite centre.  Seizing the opportunity he led his bodyguard forward in a desperate charge.  The commander of the Ottoman right wing light cavalry could have charged the flank of this charge, but his order, if heard, was ignored.  As the spahi tried to turn to meet this threat they became disordered and suffered heavy casualties as the bodyguard charged home.  Reeling from this attack they were then hit in the rear by the horse archers as the bodyguard continued to press from the front .  All order was lost and the spahi streamed from the field.  They were not alone, with his force disintegrating the Ottoman commander gave the order to retreat; which rapidly degenerated into a rout, with the Cossacks gleefully pursuing the fleeing Ottomans.

A unit of spahi rout
After lunch Steve and I reset the troops and ran the scenario again.  This time it was the Ottomans who prevailed.  Even though the Cossacks once again were successful against the opposing light cavalry, they were once again disordered.  On this occasion a unit of spahi intervened and drove off the Cossacks, removing the threat to the Ottoman centre.  The Muscovite horse archers once again skirmished against the spahi in the centre, but got too close to their supports and disordered one as they evaded from a spahi charge.  Taking advantage, the spahi charged and drove off the feudal cavalry.  One by one the remaining feudal cavalry units were meleed and then hit by a fresh unit before they could recover.  Theere was little the Muscovite commander could do except gather the remains of his force and pull back further north.

With a win for both forces honours were even.  A most enjoyable day's gaming.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Catlow Moor, a Kelhamshire scenario using Pike and Shotte

It has been some time since Lord Melchett and Sir Victor crossed swords, so I dusted off my ECW figures and set up a scenario for our weekly game.  Catlow Moor is an area of upland between the Kelham and Catlow valleys.  Mostly rough moorland with bogs and pools, a few farmers try and scratch a living on its fringes.  By chance both commanders have decided to try and outflank the opposition by cutting across this moor, Lord Melchett had reached Earnshaw's Farm last night and requisitioned the best (ie only bedroom) relegating Seth Earnshaw and his family to the barn.

As a misty dawn broke, the Royalist force roused itself, preparing to continue its march.  However, scouts reported that an enemy force was approaching and so Lord Melchett ordered his force to deploy; the cavalry, two brigades, each of 3 regiments and commanded by Colonel Richard Foster and Hesketh Fleetwood, were on the firmer ground near Black Pool.on the Royalist left.  The infantry in two brigades in the vicinity of Earnshaw's Farm.  Colonel William Saville commanded two regiments behind the low ridge, (called rather optimistically Wolf Heights).  To his left Sir James Fotheringay deployed the three regiments of his brigade to occupy an enclosure and link to the cavalry brigades.

Sir Victor's men had deployed in the same way as Lord Melchett's.  On the Parliamentarian right were the cavalry; one brigade commanded by Colonel James Livesey, the other by Sir Walter Foote.  In the centre on the low ridge called Low Fell, Colonel Ezeekial Cooper deployed his three regiments.  On the left Sir Richard Clayton's three regiments were struggling through the boggy ground of Fleet Moss.  Both sides have only limited artillery, (one light gun each) and the same objective, drive back the enemy and then continue the advance.

The battlefield from behind the parliamentary force.
[There is a fault with the photograph above, I hadn't noticed that Wolf Heights had been moved, (no one had owned up yet).  It should be by the farm, not in the centre of the table.]

A dice roll allocated the parliamentary command to Steve and seeing he had a slight superiority in foot he decided to attack towards Earnshaw's Farm whilst occupying the more numerous Royalist cavalry.  For my part as Lord Melchett, I decided to use my superiority in cavalry to drive off the Parliamentarian horse and then turn against the infantry.

Earnshaw's Farm

Clayton's brigade and Fleet Moss, with Cooper's brigade beyond
Both Fleetwood and Foster struggled to get their men moving forward, which would have allowed the Parliamentary cavalry to take the narrow gap near Black Pool, nullifying the Royalist superiority in cavalry.  However, both Livesey and Foote also struggled to get their men moving.  This general inertia was not present in Cooper's command as the Parliamentary foot stepped forward with a will.  To the left, Clayton was also moving, but one unit got disordered by the boggy ground of the Fleet Moss.  Saville's men seemed to be still half asleep and by the time they reached the crest of Wolf Heights, Sir Richard's men were in musketry range and greeted them with a volley.  In the centre, Fotheringay's and Cooper's men were also exchanging volleys.  Cooper's own regiment got in a telling volley against the Royalist light artillery, forcing them to fall back.

Cooper's Brigade advance
On the Royalist left the cavalry eventually came to blows.  Fleetwood's leading regiment, Gillibrand's clashed with Nutter's and although the Royalists prevailed, they had shaken by their losses and thus could not follow up.  Fortunately for them, Nutter's withdrawal had disordered their supports, Livesey's own regiment and this allowed the Royalists to fall back to recover.  Foster and Foote also engaged in melee, but after a long and inconclusive struggle both sides fell back to reorganise.

The melee between Fleetwood and Livesey
With the cavalry fight inconclusive, the initiative lay with Sir Victor.  Cooper's men seemed to be gaining the advantage against Fotheringay.  Gerard's in the enclosure, were losing the fire fight with Talbots and Rodney's redcoats, although larger than Cooper's own regiment were similarly being out shot.  On Wolf Heights, Saville's leading regiment, Assheton's was facing the fire of two of Clayton's regiments and without waiting for their supporting regiment, Taylor's, charged their nearest foe, Gell's.  Disregarding a rather ineffectual closing volley Assheton's charged home, trusting to their greater number of pikemen.  However, Gell's stood their ground and their greater numbers told on the flanks, forcing the Royalists to fall back up the slope and take shelter behind Taylor's who had just arrived.

The struggle begins for Wolf Heights
In the centre Rodney's charged Cooper's regiment and routed them, disordering their supports.  Sir Victor galloped over to try and rally the fleeing regiment.  He managed to stop their flight, but the unit had become so disordered that it was a long time before it could take any further part in the battle.  For his part Fotheringay ordered Rodney's to follow up their victory.  As the regiment surged forward they took a withering volley from the rapidly recovering Tiplady's regiment who had witnessed Cooper's rout.  This stopped them in their tracks and a further volley forced them to fall back to recover.

Colonel Foster was also suffering a setback.  Gillibrand's regiment was still recovering from the earlier melee when it was hit by one of Foote's fresh regiments.  Caught at the halt, the regiment was swept from the field and the Parliamentary horse was only stopped by a gallant charge by Molyneux's regiment.  Fleetwood also suffered a setback when Clifton's was also routed by the recovered Livesey's.  Both brigade commanders mad strenuous efforts to rally their remaining regiments and take the fight to the foe. 

Gell's regiment routs
Clayton had managed to get his third regiment, White's, reorganised after the crossing of Fleet Moss and it reached the lower slopes of Wolf Heights just in time, as Taylor's regiment had charged Gell's regiment and routed them.   It took a steady volley from White's to stop Taylor's from exploiting this opportunity.  Lord Melchett ordered Gerard's to advance from the enclosure and sent orders to Saville to press forward with Assheton's to support Taylor.  Fotheringay was to maintain the pressure on Cooper's men and when a solid line was formed a general advance would be made.

The cavalry melee resumes
Fleetwood and Foster had by now managed to restore order in their remaining regiments and they too began to advance.  Livesey and Foote tried to offer resistance, but their  regiments had all suffered losses in the earlier melees and they began to give ground.  A newly formed regiment, the Kelhamshire Horse, which was part of Foote's command broke under the pressure, fleeing the field.  Royalist numbers now began to tell.  Slowly the Parliamentary troopers were forced back, being driven away from the infantry and towards the slopes leading down into the Catlow valley.

Sensing that if he maintained his position, his infantry would be in danger from Royalist cavalry, Sir Victor ordered Cooper and Clayton to make a slow ordered withdrawal.  Lord Melchett saw a victory within his grasp and sent orders to Fotheringay and Saville for an all out attack.  However, his commanders could not comply.  Their regiments were on the brink of exhaustion and almost out of ammunition.  Riders were sent to Fleetwood and Foster with orders to turn some of their men against the Parliamentary foot.  By the time the couriers arrived, the cavalry melee had degenerated into a running fight down into the valley and it would take hours for the Royalist cavalry to form up.  Fuming, Lord Melchett turned his horse and left the moor, seeking the delights of the Swan Inn in Twiston, ordering his staff to make arrangements for an advance on the morrow.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Britcon 2019

Usually, our penultimate wargames show of the year, Britcon is more of a competition event than a traditional show; but it is local and Steve and I take a participation game along on behalf of the Lance & Longbow Society.  This year our game was a fictional scenario set in the 1470's, with two local families, the Lowthers and Stricklands, coming to blows in an escalating row over manorial rights and boundaries.  The catalyst had been the capture of the Strickland heir by a raiding party of Lowther retainers.  Sir Thomas Strickland has therefore raised a small force and headed north to free his son, Walter.  For his part Sir Hugh Lowther  has also gathered his men together to defend his home.  The two forces meet a few miles south of Penrith near the hamlet of Clifton.  Word of this serious breach of the King's Peace had reached the Warden of the Western March, Richard of Gloucester and he, together with his retinue is heading south to restore order.  This gives the participants just 1 hour to defeat the opposition before Richard arrives.

An overview of the battlefield
Over the weekend we ran the game five times, with the score 3 to 1 in favour of Lowther; though in the majority of cases the result was very close, with both sides suffering very heavy casualties. Many thanks to our volunteers from the general public; Tim, a New Zealand gamer on a touring holiday, Mike, Jim, David and another Tim, who had gamed at university a few decades ago, but not since.  They, together with Andy, Peter, Steve and Will helped the weekend pass quickly, even though the show as a whole was pretty quiet other than the Saturday morning.  Special mention must be given to Dave for providing the essential liquid refreshments and to Lynne, a newcomer to wargaming, who played a couple of games on Sunday.

Fenwick's spears about to attack Conyer's archers

Lowther's archers supported by Pennington's men at arms
The only other game was a Thirty Years War battle, Breitenfeld, using Pike and Shotte rules.

Swedish cavalry commander

Swedes on the left, Imperialists the right
Imperial infantry

Swedish infantry

A mass of Imperial cavalry beginning their advance