Monday, 8 November 2010


We were north of the border last week refighting the Battle of Inverkeithing. The scenario is an attempt by the English to secure a bridgehead on the northern bank of the Firth of Forth and neutralise a Scots artillery position which has made resupply of the English forces by sea difficult. General Lambert had landed a force of 4500 men on the small peninsula near Inverkeithing, (roughly the site of the present Forth bridge), and the Covenanter forces, with similar, or slightly larger forces moved to neutralise this threat.

The advantage lay with Lambert as his men were veterans whilst the Scots Covenanter forces contained local militia forces. Lambert also had the advantage of some light atillery pieces which proved effective in unsettling the less experienced Scots units. As the Scots advanced the English moved to secure their flanks. General Holborne, comanding the Scots decided to concentrate his attack on the apparently weaker English right (below) and then swing round and trap the remaining enemy against the Forth.

On his left he posted Argyll's regiment and the link between the flanks was to be the Highlanders, who would use the broken terrain to try and flank the English positions. His first problem was the artillery which unnerved the Perth Militia and he therefore moved to rally them. In spite of the best efforts of the accompanying minister the militia struggled to regain their composure, no doubt worried by the approach of enemy cavalry whilst their own lingered in reserve. At least they were saved from further artillery casualties; as Stewart's regiment at last manoeuvred into position on the artillery's flank and fired a telling volley which killed , or drove off, all of the crew. However, this was not enough to save the militia, who were indeed charged by the English horse. They were unable to muster a volley, but under the eye of their general they managed to hold their position against the first wave and the Scots supports moved forward. Then the English reserve squadrons charged and the Scots began to waver. As they were pushed back the Militia colonel pleaded with the Scots commander to save himself and assist the units in the centre. He (the colonel), would order a fall back to some broken terrain where the foot would be safe from the cavalry. Reluctantly, the commander agreed and immediately they saw his move, the militia assumed all was lost and ran for the broken terrain. Nearly half of them reached it, but many were butchered by the cavalry.

Meanwhile on the right,Argyll had held his ground in spite of the galling enemy artillery fire. His command had lost a quarter of his effectives and now Lambert had decided to move forward, firing volleys as he did so. The Highland archers were casuing casualties, but not enough to slow the advance, so Argyll began to fall back, hoping to lure the Englsh on and give the Scots horse an open flank to attack. The Highland clan Maclean who were holding some rough ground in the centre had been spotted by Lambert and he ordered his artillery to open fire on them. Infuriated by this, the clansmen surged forward towards the nearest enemy unit, which happened to be some of the reserve cavalry. This was not what the Scottish commander had intended, but he could do nothing as the clansmen charged downhill at the English. Their initial impetus was absorbed by the veterans and as more reserves joined in, the Highlanders were pushed backwards.

In a last desperate gamble, the Scots general orderd his lancers to charge forward and breakthrough the English line. They managed to defeat a unit of dragoons, but, disorganised by the resulting pursuit they were totally outmatched by Lambert's last reserve. With his right and centre falling back and his left wing attack stalled, it was time for the Scots commander to try and extricate his troops, which he did under cover of darkness. Events on the table had followed history in producing an English victory.


  1. Passed the location a lot of times, but it is difficult to imagine how the Scots could have lost given the advantage of the ground.


  2. I live quite nearish the battlefield and the castle where the heroic highland last stand is here in Dunfermline. I pass the battlefield everyday on my commute by train to work. A few years ago a local historian organised a battlefield walk which was fascinating.
    Thanks for posting a great looking game!