Monday, 25 November 2013

The Storming of Leeds: a WAB ECW version

Steve and I thought it would be interesting to run the "Storming of Leeds" scenario again, but this time use the WAB ECW rules and see how they worked with the small units involved.  All the forces and terrain were identical to those used for the game a fortnight ago using the 1644 rules.  One significant difference was that the Parliamentarian dragoons were deployed as skirmishers, as were one unit of Royalist dragoons.

Here is the map again.

The Parliamentarian forces south of the river were first into action, the dragoons firing at the defenders of the barricade whilst the clubmen formed up ready to charge across the bridge.  I decided that it would be better to replace the dragoons at the barricade with my small infantry reserve, (which had some pikemen) and therefore began to move them forward.  Meanwhile my artillery was attempting to find the range to inflict some damage on the clubmen.  [The WAB rules require you to estimate the range and then roll an "artillery dice" to determine the actual point of impact, followed by a second roll to determine the 'bounce'].  In the end it was the third round from the gun which hit and the clubmen had to take a test.  Although raw, they did have the advantage of being able to count extra ranks and this enabled them to pass the morale test.

Supported by fire from the Parliamentarian musketeers and dragoons the first unit of clubmen surged across the bridge.  There was no fire from the barricade as the Royalist infantry had only just taken up their positions, but the field gun did fire and a round of hail shot swept across the clubmen.  Undaunted they charged the barricade, but could make no impression against the pikemen.  Pulling back to regroup they were hit by another round from the gun and also suffered casualties from the musketeers.  This proved too much and they routed back across the bridge, their movement unsettling the dragoons and musketeers who also fell back.  For the moment, the bridge was safe.

Savile saw none of this; his attention was focused on the western defences.  Two further units of clubmen, those from Birstell and Liversedge were approaching the town.  They had been shielded from the fire from the defenders by dragoons in a skirmish line, but their final charge was met by a solid volley from the Royalist musketeers.  The clubmen ignored their losses and closed to melee.  Even though the Royalists were supported by a unit of pikemen the impetus of the Birstell clubmen carried them over the defences.  A further push was rewarded by the sight of the Royalists fleeing back towards Briggate.  Savile galloped over and rallied the defenders, but Parliament had gained a foothold in the town.  To the left of the Birstell men, the clubmen from Liversedge also charged the defences.  Their first push was stopped, but regrouping, and inspired by the preaching of Ezekial Sowerbutts, a local minister, they returned to the task and also gained lodgement within the defences.

Savile had moved a unit of pikemen from the church sector to support the endangered section of the defences, but these men refused to charge the flank of the clubmen.  A second order was sent, but the pikemen resolutely  stood their ground.  What was worse these pikemen also blocked a unit of cavalry which was trying to intervene.  Eventually, Savile intervened and ordered the captain to move his d*** men out of the way.

Nearer the river the Royalist defenders were also stretched to the limit.  They had managed to hold the skirmishing dragoons in check, but the introduction of  Fairfax's musketeers dramatically altered the balance of forces.  Fairfax's first volley inflicted crippling losses on the defending dragoons and although they stood their ground, their fire was too weak to slow the advance of the parliamentarian musketeers.  This is the view of the western defences as we halted proceedings for lunch.

The Birstell clubmen (yellow flag by the house) have advanced to make way for the first of the Parliamentary cavalry to cross into the town.  The Liversedge clubmen are part way across the defences, but threatend by cavalry to their right.  In the distance Fairfax's musketeers are ready to cross the defences and enter the town.  Not a good morning for the Royalists, but still with a chance to regain control.

When we resumed Fairfax ordered the Liversedge clubmen to charge the Royalist infantry behind the hedge.  Ignoring the cavalry to their flank they did so and pushed back the Royalists again.  Savile ordered the cavalry to charge and they failed to do so.  The Liversedge clubmen moved forward again and once again charged the Royalists, pushing them out of the enclosure and into the streets of Leeds.  This had the advantage of removing the cavalry threat to their flank.  The Royalist horse did manage to advance and take up a position threatening the flank of any further Parliamentarian cavalry crossing the defences. 

The Birstell clubmen were charged by Royalist infantry and beat them off.  Rallying, the Royalists charged again and this time it was the clubmen who were defeated.  Scattering before the pikemen they quickly crossed the defences and made for their own lines.  This allowed the Royalists to move further forward and take on Fairfax's musketeers.  The musketeers had little chance of withstanding the pikes and were soon joining the clubmen outside the defences.  However, this second advance had moved the Royalists too far from their supports and the Parliamentary cavalry swept down on their flank and cut them down.  The sight of the destruction of this unit panicked the Royalists nearby and three units of musketeers/ dragoons took to their heels.  Presented with such an opportunity the Parliamentary cavalry wasted no time in riding down the hapless Royalists.

At the bridge a second attack by the clubmen was rolling forward.  Again, the field gun welcomed them with a round of hail shot, but the clubmen pressed on.  The Royalist defenders didn't stand this time and abandoned their barricade and headed off up Briggate.  This precipitated further routs and soon a large body of infantry were heading for the road to York.  Seeing the infantry leaving the artillery men decided that they had done enough and joined the exodus.

It was left to the Royalist cavalry to cover the rout.  The only bright spot for Savile was that his sole remaining infantry unit managed to defeat the Liversedge clubmen and drive them back out of the town, buying the time for the remainder of the Royalists to pull back.

The scenario played out close to the historical facts.  The WAB ECW rules enabled the clubmen to stand up to morale tests better and they fared better in the melees, mostly due to their large size.  Artillery was much more of a lottery than in the 1644 rules.  The use of dragoons as skirmishers enabled the Parliamentarian clubmen to get closer before they came under fire and this too helped them prevail in the ensuing melee.  

Monday, 18 November 2013

Deepdale mark 2

In June this year Steve and I put on a game for the Lance and Longbow Society at the Phalanx show.  The game will have another run out at the RECON show at Pudsey in December.  Having done a bit more research about the Banastre Rebellion it seems that the battle may have taken place closer to the town fields of Preston. Also, the forces under the command of Vavasour probably came from the Pontefract area and would arrive at Preston from the east via  Ribchester, rather than from the north.

We used the WAB Ancient Battles rules with troop characteristics from the Western Christendom list. 

Vavasour was rated as impetuous and would charge any rebel force on a roll of 1 or 2 on a d6.   Surprisingly, Vavasour restrained himself and was in the end charged by the sole unit of rebel knights.  Having gained the initiative the rebels proceeded to cut through the Yorkshire knights.  When the latter broke the rebels followed up but met the mounted sergeants of Vavasour's command.  Against the odds, the sergeants stood their ground and held the charge of the rebels. 

We didn't get chance to run through the whole scenario as we spent quite some time re-acquainting ourselves with the rules, (not having used them since June).

However, we have checked we still have all the figures we need and also what scenery/buildings etc we will have to take with us on the day.

If you are attending the Pudsey show please stop by the Lance and Longbow Society stand and say hello.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Storming of Leeds, January 1643

This week we had another scenario from the series of books published by Partizan Press which have featured in earlier posts. The action concerns the attack by Thomas Fairfax on Leeds.

Above is a photograph of the map for the scenario.  The River Aire can only be crossed by the bridge and the defences, although providing cover, can be crossed by horse if there are no defenders to oppose them.  A roll of the dice determined that I should take the part of Sir William Savile, commanding the Royalist forces defending the town, Steve took the part of Fairfax.  I had five small mixed units of infantry and three of dragoons (all raw). A field gun commanded the bridge and in the town centre I had three units of horse (one of which was trained) and a second field gun. 

Faifax had four large units of clubmen, (all raw), two  south of the river and two north.  South of the river he had two raw musketeer units. North of the river he had a large unit of trained musketeers and two smaller raw musketeer units, plus three large units of horse.  Although we were using the 1644 ruleset the parliamentarian horse were rated similar to 'trotters' in the Warhammer ECW rules reflecting their preference for caracole type tactics  rather than the charge.  A major problem for Fairfax was the lack of any artillery.  [A note about the following photographs; lacking sufficient clubmen figures we used pikemen instead.] 

The battle unfolded with the parliamentarian clubmen south of the river forming up to charge across the bridge, covered by the fire of the musketeers.  My artillery started off well, hitting one unit of musketeers with their first round, but this was to prove their sole success for sometime.  My dragoons, manning the barricade blocking the bridge, began a prolonged musketry duel with the opposing musketeers, but over time my losses began to rise. Although I managed to stop the first attack by the clubmen my line was beginning to look rather thin.

The western defences were also now under attack.  Two units of clubmen were nearing the town, covered by the fire of their supporting musketeers.  Fairfax seemed to be planning to pin my infantry with this attack and then overwhelm the dragoons manning the defences nearer the bridge with his trained musketeers.  This would then open the way for his cavalry to break into the town.  As there was no immediate threat to the northern section near the church, Savile ordered their pikemen to move to support the defences nearer the river. He also sent the sole infantry reserve from the town centre in that direction, plus a unit of cavalry.  The second field gun was moved slightly forward to support the dragoons by the bridge.

The first unit of clubmen charged forward and attempted to break into the town.  A feeble volley failed to stop them, but the supporting pikemen proved just enough to hold the line and then push them back.  As the clubmen tried to reform a further volley crashed into them and they broke.  Fairfax galloped over to stop the rout, but it took some time for the unit to recover.

To their right, the second unit of clubmen had more success.  Their attack had initially been stalled by fire from the defenders, but, recovering they now resumed the advance and their energetic charge carried them through the defenders' fire and over the defences.  Desperately, the defenders fought back, slowing the attackers then forcing them back.  Eventually, the defenders regained their lines and the two sides paused to catch their breath.

Nearer the river the Royalist dragoons were having a torrid time.  Although enjoying the benefits of the cover afforded by the defences they were unable to counter the weight of fire which was coming their way.  Within no time they had lost 50% of their strength and the line was stretched very thin.  Fairfax's musketeers continued their steady advance,supported by a second unit of musketeers. A final close range volley cleared the defenders from the works and the way into Leeds was open.  Fairfax ordered his cavalry forward, ready to exploit the gap.

However, just as the musketeers reached the works they were surprised by a charge by the Royalist defenders.  The reserves sent by Savile had reached the defences in the nick of time.  Unable to resist the push of pike the musketeers were forced back in disorder, the line was held.

[It was at this point we broke for lunch, with both commanders thinking their opponent was on the brink of success]

The success of the Royalist counter attack was short-lived.  With little fire support the pikes were vulnerable to musketry fire and they could not venture out of the defences because of the Parliamentary cavalry.  Once Fairfax's musketeers recovered their composure, their volleys forced the Royalist pikes to fall back.  Again, the Parliamentarians reached the works, again the Royalists charged, but this time they lacked the numbers to halt the advance.  The Parliamentarian musketeers pushed the pikes back and crossed the works.
At the bridge the second attack by the clubmen was forming up.  The Royalist artillery seemed unable to hit the proverbial barn door and the Parliamentarian musketeers were successfully reducing the firepower of the dragoons defending the bridge barricade.  As the clubmen surged over the bridge the dragoons fell back to take shelter in the houses.  Unopposed, the clubmen crossed the barricade, sensing victory.  It was an illusion.  Hit by fire from both guns and a close range volley from the defending musketeers the clubmen stopped.  A second round of firing inflicted yet more casualties and the clubmen broke and routed back over the bridge. For good measure, the Royalist artillery then fired on the other unit of clubmen which was still reforming and caused that to rout as well.  The threat from the bridge sector had been defeated.

Savile still had the threat from Fairfax's musketeers to overcome.  He had already sent his sole trained unit of cavalry to support the first reinforcement and as he galloped to the threatened area he ordered both units of cavalry to follow him.

Savile saw that Fairfax's musketeers were still reforming after crossing the works and immediately ordered his cavalry to attack.  Unable to fire the musketeers had to resort to their musket butts but could not stand against this new attack.  Those trapped inside the works were cut down, the rest ran for their own lines.  With the whole Parliamentary cavalry force in the vicinity Savile ordered his own cavalry to pull back and reform.  His trained men did, but the raw recruits saw only a fleeing enemy and in a ragged mob picked their way over the defences and pursued their opponents.

With his dragoons driven off with heavy casualties, Savile was relying on pikemen to line the defences; but with no supporting fire they were being 'picked off ' by Parliamentary musketeers and also pistol shots from the cavalry.

The western defences also required Savile's attention.  The clubmen were reforming for  a second attack.  With Fairfax in attendance, the clubmen surged forward and crossed the defences.  Even the pikes couldn't halt them.

The position seemed lost; but, taking a chance, the commander of the Royalist unit to the right of the one being pushed back, reformed his own pike block and led into the flank of the clubmen.  Doing this he left his own musketeers to face an attack by the second clubmen unit on their own, but he calculated that there would be time to return to his position.  Caught off guard by the supporting pikes, the clubmen were pushed back in disorder.  However, the supporting pikes were also disordered and until reformed were useless.  Savile moved to rally them, but at first he was ignored.  The Parliamentary clubmen had by now charged the unsupported musketeers.  A combination of lucky (and unlucky) dice meant a drawn melee and this gave just enough time for Savile to rally the pikes.

With his infantry units battered and his cavalry unable to affect the outcome, Fairfax reluctantly decided to withdraw.  For his part Savile was thankful that he had held on.  Truly, a 'close run thing'

Friday, 1 November 2013


No game this week as I set off for a short city break in Glasgow.  The aim was to visit the museums and art galleries and this was achieved in fine style; you are spoilt for choice in what used to be referred to as "the second city of the empire". 
At the Burrell collection I came across the small display of medieval armour and weapons

This is a nice example of a late 15th C Burgonet as favoured by the light cavalry of the time.  What I found particularly interesting was the painted tomb of a knight of the Spanish Espres family from the mid 14th C.

There is still some of the detail remaining and it must have been a stunning sight when first completed

The Hunterian Museum, at Glasgow University has recently opened a display of artefacts associated with the Antonine Wall.  Ballista balls and javelin heads have been recovered from the Roman fort at Kirkintilloch as well as lead slingshot from Birrens fort.

A number of the distance memorials are on display.  One of the largest, (a cast of the original) has an excellent representation of a Roman cavalryman
Both museums are free to enter and well worth the visit.  Also worth a mention is the Transport Museum with it's collection of model ships and Kelvingrove with it's armour collection.