Monday, 10 December 2012

First Battle of Middlewich, 1643

Like the ECW scenario a few weeks ago, this was taken from English Civil War Gaming Scenarios, Vol 3 by Robert Giglio and published by Partizan Press.  A Royalist force under the command of Sir Thomas Aston holds Middlewich with local trained band units.  Two bridges over the river Wheelock are covered by dismounted dragoons and small units of musketeers.  The reserve of cavalry is stationed in the open ground between the river and the town.

The Parliamentary cavalry under Sir William Brereton, supported by two units of dragoons and one of musketeers approach from Northwich.  The infantry, under James Lothian, advanced from Nantwich.

The Royalists win if they hold the town against the Parliamentarians.  They secure a significant victory if the Parliamentarians suffer 50% more casualties than they inflict.  However, they will need to keep the road to Congleton clear of enemy troops as it is their 'escape' route.

Brereton's cavalry and supports arrived first and he elected to try and reduce the defensive fire covering the bridges before committing his cavalry.  The musketeers filed into the fields and taking post at the hedges, began to fire at the dragoons on the other side of the river.  At the southern bridge the dragoons carried out a similar operation.  Several rounds of firing produced seemingly little effect on the royalist fire and casualties were rising amongst Brereton's men.  Losing patience, he rashly ordered the first troop of his horse across the Wheelock bridge.  As the cavalry reached the far bank they were fired on in flank by Royalist musketeers.  Their advance stalled they discharged their pistols at their assailants, but were unable to reload as the Royalist cavalry were bearing down on them.  Against the odds Brereton's men held their ground and then drove back their opponents.  This did them little good as whilst they attempted to regain their order they were shot at again by the Royalist musketeers.  With their morale shattered, the remnants of the troop turned and raced for the security of the far bank of the river. Yet more saddles being emptied as they crossed the bridge.

By this time Lothian's two trained bands regiments were approaching Middlewich.  As they deployed a round shot from the Royalist artillery placed by the barricade on the Nantwich road ploughed through the musketeers of the Red regiment.  The Royalist musketeers who lined the garden plots of the town added to the confusion by adding their fire.  Lothian ordered the colonel of the Red regiment to get his men in order and push on like their comrades in the Yellow regiment to their right.  This took some time, but eventually the infantry moved forward and forced the musketeers to fall back.  Lothian's artillery had by now come up and was targeting the pikemen holding the barricade.  Confined in the narrow street, the Royalist suffered heavy casualties, but their nerve held.  Just as it seemed that the Parliamentarians were gaining the initiative there were two misfires.  One totally destroyed the gun and killed the crew, the other killed a crew member.

The Yellow regiment had by now reached the outskirts of Middlewich and in a brief struggle drove off the Royalist musketeers and threatened to outflank the barricade.  Aston pulled back the battered pikes and moved them to meet the new threat.  To meet the attack of the Red regiment he ordered the pikes of the Wirral Trained Band to charge.  A push of pike took place across the hedge line with both sides determined to prevail.  However, the superior numbers of the red regiment eventually told and the Wirral men broke and ran towards the church at the centre of the town.

Back at the river Brereton could hear the fighting in the town and ordered his cavalry to attack across the bridge again.  To his right, the dragoons were making no progress in clearing the Royalists from the second bridge, so his men would have to make the decisive breakthrough.  Running the gauntlet of fire from the Royalist musketeers the cavalry crossed the bridge and moved up the lane towards Middlewich. Here they were met by Royalist cavalry and a melee took place.  The vaunted Royalist cavalry were again defeated and driven back on the town, but as their  victors reformed they were fired on by a unit of musketeers brought forward by Aston.  Brereton committed his final troop of horse to the attack and ordered the musketeers to follow, to deal with the Royalists lining the road.

As Aston surveyed his position from the church tower he could see that the day was lost.  He had three units of foot running up the road towards Congleton. The Parliamentarian foot were working their way through the town and threatened to block the Congleton road and now Brereton had managed to get his cavalry across the Wheelock.  It was time to escape with what troops he could rescue.

Losses in the battle had been fairly equal; Brereton's losses to musketry fire being balanced by the Royalists losses in melee.  

1 comment:

  1. Hi David, sounds like a battle I could try down the club, do you have an OOB?