Thursday, 19 September 2013

ECW Encounter

Our game this week was an encounter scenario from the ECW.  The Royalists (led by Sir James Goldshaw and under my command) were attempting to march on Kelham ans seize some vital stores.  Steve commanded the forces of Parliament, led by Sir William Brentcliffe.  The layout of the table is shown below

In the left foreground the leading Royalist cavalry unit has just spotted an enemy cavalry unit scouting along the  lane.  In the distance Sir James' second column, commanded by his nephew Sir Roger Page is advancing along a  second lane.  The Royalists need to exit the table where the two lanes meet.  Sir William's brief is to prevent any Royalist advance, giving time for Kelham's defences to be put in order.  His troops will arrive at the junction of the lanes and he must decide which flank to deploy them to.  All the Royalist forces arrive along the lanes, but can move away from them once they enter the table.  Sir William has a second-in-command Fernandino Potts, a prominent Kelham merchant who has raised a unit of infantry at his own expense.

Wasting no time, the major of the leading Royalist cavalry regiment  urged his men forward wanting to trap the parliamentary cavalry in the lane.  This would reduce the Royalist advantage in numbers, but, with luck, would achieve  a quick breakthrough.  In the narrow lane the leading troopers hacked and slashed at each other to little effect. After a few minutes ineffectual swordplay, both sides fell back to catch their breath.  Then the trumpets sounded and the melee was resumed.  Initially the Parliamentarians gained some advantage, but then the pendulum swung towards the Royalists. As the pressure increased, the leading raw Parliamentarian troopers began to waver and suddenly broke and galloped back through their comrades.  All order was now lost and the swirling mass of horsemen fell back down the lane.

Whilst this melee had been taking place, both commanders had deployed their forces.  Sir James sent one cavalry unit to his right, followed by an infantry unit.  To his left he sent his veteran infantry unit towards a low hill, together with his light gun.  He kept one cavalry unit in reserve.  Sir William deployed two infantry units to his left ordering them to occupy the fields, a third infantry unit was sent to a low hill,  covering the junction of the lanes.  Sir William's artillery was placed on a hill towards the rear of his position and his cavalry he kept under his own hand, ready to send where they were needed.

On the other flank, Sir Roger had spotted some enemy dragoons taking post in some buildings ahead.  He sent his own dragoons into an enclosure and then formed up his main infantry unit ready to advance down the lane and push the dragoons back.  His cavalry moved either side of the lane and then advanced covering the flanks of the infantry.  Satisfied he had done well, Sir Roger took post with his two reserve units ready to exploit the impending victory.  However his thoughts were interrupted by a dragoon trooper who came to report that the enclosure in which they were deployed was out of musket range of the enemy.  He then saw that the cavalry, instead of keeping pace with his infantry had, on viewing any horse sounded the charge and galloped forward.  Especially galling was the behaviour of his own regiment (Page's Blues), who belieing their 'veteran' status acted as if there were on the hunting field, charging forward and losing their formation.  Although their opponents were  uphill and more numerous the 'Blues' continued their charge, losing men to fire from the enemy dragoons in the process.  In no time the 'Blues' were routing back, pursued  by the victorious Parliamentarian horse.  This reversal of fortune did at least give his dragoons something to shoot at, but he had to commit his reserve cavalry to counter the threat.

The second unit of cavalry covering the infantry attack along the lane initially made progress against their Parliamentarian opponents.  However, Sir William committed his reserve cavalry and their attack bundled the Royalists back towards their lines.  Sir Roger therefore had to commit the remainder of his infantry reserve to block the Parliamentarian advance.  Faced with a solid pike block, supported by light artillery, the cavalry fell back to their lines.  A long range musketry duel now began with the advantage lying with the larger Parliamentarian units.

This photo shows the position on the Royalist left (Sir Roger's flank) from the Parliamentarian side.  The Parliamentarian cavalry is falling back on the right flank and in the centre.  A unit of infantry (Potts' regiment) has come to support the dragoons, just in time as the Royalist infantry are just about to charge.
The hill to the left of the dragoons is now strongly garrisoned by Parliamentarian infantry.

Sir James was disappointed by the slow progress made by his column.  His right wing cavalry were struggling, opposed by solid infantry with artillery support.  He therefore pulled them back and moved forward his reserve infantry.  In the lane the commander of the cavalry saw the enemy fleeing before him. Should he pursue them, running the gauntlet of infantry fire from the enclosures, or move right and attempt to overrun the Parliamentarian artillery?  The commander chose the latter option and led his men off down the right hand lane.  Suddenly, he found himself to the rear of the Parliamentarian infantry which was blocking the attack by the Royalist right wing.  Reforming his men he charged the infantry.  Fortunately for the Parliamentarians, the cavalry were spotted in time and the rear ranks of pikes turned to face this new threat.    Gallantly, the cavalry tried to charge home but were unable to make any progress against the steady infantry.  As they fell back they came under fire from the Parliamentarian artillery and as they faced this new threat were disheartened to see more Parliamentarian cavalry move forward in support of the artillery.  Totally 'boxed-in' by the terrain they had no option but to retrace their way down the lane, suffering yet more casualties from the musketeers.  Very few made it back to their lines.

Sir Roger now launched his infantry at the dragoons holding the buildings.  Not wishing to take part in such an unequal contest the dragoons fell back and cleared the way for Potts regiment to fire a telling volley at the Royalist infantry.  As the Royalists tried to change formation to bring forward their musketeers they found themselves charged  in the flank by Parliamentarian cavalry.  They managed to turn and face this new threat, but the horsemen managed to break into the formation and scatter it.

The Royalist commanders assessed their position.  They were outnumbered in infantry and the close nature of the field meant that their cavalry superiority was of little use.  There was little chance now of breaking through as the enemy had a solid defensive line.  So, with heavy heart they gave the order to fall back.  For their part the Parliamentarian forces were relieved that their foes were retreating.  Several of the regiments had taken heavy casualties and would take time to recover.




  1. What rules were you using for your ECW games?

    -- Jeff