Sunday, 16 September 2012

Montrose moves north?

Back in March we re fought the Battle of Inverlochy and last week we looked at a 'what if?' scenario in which Montrose moved north up the Great Glen instead of south and had met the forces of Seaforth near Fort Augustus. 
Seaforth's forces were more numerous 8 units of foot, (of which two were raw) and three of cavalry, but his heavier artillery were delayed by the terrible condition of the roads.  He also had a unit of Campbells and some archers.   Montrose was hampered by having his clansmen 'foraging' in the surrounding countryside and so was left with his elite Irish foot and two units of Gordon foot plus three small units of cavalry and an ultra light gun.  Seaforth's job was simple, destroy Montrose's army.  Montrose had to hold his position and then under cover of darkness use one of the two available roads to slip past Seaforth's men. The umpire controlled the arrival of the Covenanter artillery and the clansmen.

 Montrose deployed his men with the Gordons in the flanking villages, the Irish in the centre and the cavalry in reserve. Rocky, wooded terrain made any outflanking manoeuvre by the Covenanters extremely unlikely.  Having taken command of the Covenanter army and knowing about Montrose's use of terrain to spring ambushes I sent the Campbells to my right and the archers to my left to investigate the woods. I decided to attack on a broad front to exert pressure along Montrose's line and held back the cavalry to either 1) exploit any gaps created by the infantry, or 2) help shore up my flanks from the anticipated attacks.

The attack moved forward slowly, taking time to deploy.  Fire from Montrose's line inflicted casualties, but, once the infantry got sorted themselves out they halted and returned the compliment.  Lady luck seemed to be smiling on me because, even though the Irish had a higher fire factor I managed to achieve parity in causing casualties.

On my left the archers pushed into the woods, but suffered casualties from  the Gordons and also some snipers.  Home's regiment moved to attack the village on Montrose's right but although they reached the boundary of the village they were repulsed. They were then counter-charged and began to give ground.

On my right the Campbells had reached the woods when suddenly the first of Montrose's clansmen appeared. Pausing only to fire a volley, both sides rushed forward into melee.  The battle swayed back and forth, but eventually the Campbells prevailed.  Forgetting any notion of following orders they set off in pursuit of their defeated foes and paid no further part in the battle.

As the prolonged fire fight in the centre dragged on with casualties mounting on both sides, pressure on my left increased when another unit of clansmen appeared there and I moved two units to support Home's regiment.  Their movement took them across the front of my cavalry just as the first signs of a loss of command appeared in the Irish foot.  This would have been the moment to launch a charge, but my own infantry were in the way!

The covenant infantry on my right had eventually reached a position where they could charge the village on Montrose's left.  At first the Gordon foot (the Strathbogie regiment) held their ground against superior numbers and summoned up  their reserves.  These should have decided the matter in Montrose's favour, but Lady Luck decided otherwise and against the odds the Gordons routed.

At last my heavy artillery had arrived and with the threat of further casualties to his centre Montrose decided that he should withdraw, covered by his cavalry.  My infantry in the centre were too battered to move forward and it took time for the cavalry to come forward, so the action ended.  Neither side achieved their objective, but unlike the Covenanters, Montrose would find it difficult to replace his losses, particularly to his veteran Irish foot.

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