Sunday, 13 March 2011

Follow up to the Boyne

First, many thanks for the positive comments on the last post, they are much appreciated. In answer to Alan's question re the figures for Banja Luka, the makers are many and various!. The Solacks who led the sortie were Redoubt figures, the majority of the remainder of the Turkish force comprising Azabs and Janissaries, were Dixon figures. The Austrians come from a variety of manufacturers, the garrison overrun by the sortie were Minifigs, but the collection has been built up over time, so no one manufacturer dominates. The buildings again are from various sources, kits,(both plastic and wood) and cast items. Some items have been acquired from Bring and Buys at shows.

This week we returned to the Emerald Isle in a scenario based on the retreat of the Jacobite forces to the west of Ireland after the Battle of the Boyne. The Williamite advance guard, comprising Danish foot and horse has been given the task of securing a bridgehead over a river to enable the main body to advance. The Jacobites for their part have left a rearguard to delay any advance as much as possible.

Here is a general view of the Jacobite position on an island between two arms of the River Gall. The rivers are unfordable and two the bridges over the eastern arm of the river are defended by infantry with artillery and cavalry support. In the far distance is the village of Ballymurphy, behind which is a third bridge which crosses the western arm of the river.

It had been impressed on the Danish commander (me), that securing the crossing was vital and that speed was essential. Therefore, having defeated the Jacobites once already and thinking that their morale may be shaky, a rush was made on the bridges before the artillery arrived. This decision fell neatly within the category known as "tactical error" or in lay parlance "big mistake". The leading battalions came under accurate artillery fire and when they crossed the bridge were stopped in their tracks by telling volleys from the defenders.

Time for a rethink. I moved battalions forward to engage in a fire fight with the defenders, but again before my artillery was in position. Losses began to rise and then my artillery deployed...and found that the infantry masked their fire on the defenders! Anyway that problem was solved as my infantry, down to half strength, retreated.

It was at this point that I received a message from one of my scouts that there was a ford, over on the far right flank, so I despatched the bulk of my cavalry to the ford.

A battle of attrition now began between the artillery on both sides, they were the key to the battle. I lost two light guns, but was able to reduce the effect of the Jacobite artillery by two thirds. Whilst this was going on, the movement of my cavalry had been observed by the Jacobite general and he began to move forces to counter this new threat. He also pulled back his infantry slightly to protect them from my artillery. Encouraged, I made another attempt to cross the bridges. On my right the Danish Guard battalion successfully crossed. On my left I tried to cross quickly with my cavalry, an attempt which ended in bloody failure as they were cut down by volleys from the defenders of the village of Ballymurphy. A second infantry attack across the bridge stalled as the attackers morale failed when they suffered casualties from more volleys. By now help was at hand as my artillery began to fire on the village. This 'persuaded' the defenders to retire, leaving the way open to cross. This retirement was helped by the fires which started in the village. The defenders claimed it was caused by the artillery, the Williamites argued that the defenders set the fires to protect themselves from a vigorous pursuit. The truth will never be known, but the locals returned to find blackened ruins the next day.

On the far bank of the River Gall the two cavalry forces came together. Luck was with the Danes and regiment Juel overcame their opponents regiments Galway and Tyrconnel in close fought melees. The Jacobite commander now realsed that there was a danger that the Danish cavalry could block the bridge and bottle up his infantry between the two arms of the Gall. He quickly moved two battalions into a position covering the bridge confident they would prevail against the Danish cavalry as they had the infantry. Undaunted, Juel moved forward, an unsteady volley failed to stop them and they closed to combat. The rear ranks of Jacobite infantry looked over their shoulders to see Ballymurphy in flames, their own cavalry heading down the road to the west and decided that discretion was the better part of valour. This quickly communicated itself to the rest of the battalion and soon they were all running, pursued by the Danish cavalry.

The victory was the his, but as the Danish commander looked at what remained of his force, he wondered if it was worth it. True his cavalry was virtually unscathed, but his infantry had suffered heavy casulaties. Of his six battalions, only one was ready for action, two had suffered 25% casulaties and the remaining three between them could barely muster the strength of one batallion.


  1. Why not "Carry on up the Boyne"?

  2. Great post, nice period too, love the Danish flags, where did you get them from?

  3. Hello Ray

    The flags were either downloaded from the internet or photocopied in outline and hand coloured. Unfortunately, I don'tknow which site they came from, possibly the Great Northern war site which is no longer available.