Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Winstanstow; an ECW scenario

This week's battle is an ECW scenario which comes from Robert Giglio's  "English Civil War Gaming Scenarios Vol 3 .  It concerns the manouevring of the Royalists and Parliamentarians in the Ludlow area in 1645.  With Royalist garrisons reduced to provide men for the Main Oxford army, the local Parliamentary commander sent out a force under a Dutch mercenary Lt Col William Reinking. In response the local Royalist commander Sir Michael Woodhouse began to assemble a force made up from the garrisons of Hereford, Worcester and Hartlebury.  Reinking aware that he was outnumbered, began to fall back and requested reinforcements from Shrewsbury.  The scenario has 3 units of foot (Mackworth, Lloyd's and Hungerford) and two of horse (Lloyd's and a combined garrison unit) plus a medium gun and a light gun for Reinking's force.  They are deployed to take advantage of the close terrain around the village of Wistanstow.   Woodhouse has 5 units of foot (Scudamore, Conningsby, Croft, Woodhouse and Gerard), 5 units of Horse (William Sandys, Scudamore, Samuel Sandys, Ludlow and Lunsford), Sandys dragoons with 2 light guns.

Winstanstow with Reinkings troops deployed
I took the part of Woodhouse and with the threat of parliamentary reinforcements I decided to waste no time in attacking.  With the typical Royalist cavalry's disdain for the opposition, William Sandys regiment of horse made straight for Winstanstow along the lane.  As they rounded a corner they came under fire from the parliamentary medium gun.  Although they suffered some casualties they continued to press forward, even though they came under fire from the musketeers of Hungerford's regiment, who were lining the hedge along the lane.  Reinking moved forward one troop of his cavalry and they charged the Royalists .   In the melee, the more heavily armoured Parliamentary horse gradually overcame the elan of Sandys men and began to push them back down the lane.  Once the rearward movement began it became unstoppable and soon the Royalist horse were streaming back towards their lines.

Sandys Horse move up the lane, coming under fire from the parliamentary musketeers

   As the Royalist horse careered down the lane they ran into Gerard's foot regiment and the ensuing confusion took some time to sort out.  Meanwhile, Sandys commanding the Royalist left had ordered his troops to hack through the hedges so they could advance on the enemy.  The delay in achieving this allowed Reinking time to send forward a unit of horse, which charged the dragoons who were leading the way.  The dragoons were forced back onto the hedge and only saved from complete disaster by the Lundsford's Horse.  Slowly the advantage swung towards the Royalists and the Shrewsbury Garrison Horse were pushed back.
The Royalist dragoons are trapped against the hedge
On the Royalist right Scudamore was also finding it difficult to make progress due to the hedges.  He too ordered his men to hack their way through and led by the forlorn hope, Scudamore's regiments of foot and horse moved forward against Mackworth's regiment.  The men of Mackworth's were too experienced to stand and wait for the inevitable charge by overwhelming numbers.  They fired volleys at the advancing Royalists and then, as the enemy neared, fell back to the next position (the wall surrounding the church), to repeat the pain for the attackers.  Scudamore's horse saw that there was no chance of an attack in such close terrain and moved to the far left to the lane which led to the rear of Winstanstow.  However, Reinking had anticipated such a move and placed his reserve cavalry in the lane to oppose any Royalist advance.

Scudamore's Horse charge up the lane
In the narrow confines of the lane numbers counted for little and at first the Parliamentarians had the upper hand.  Fortune (ie the dice) then changed sides and the Royalists began to make progress, eventually driving back their opposite numbers and seeing them flee from the field.  However, the delay caused by the melee allowed Reinking to pull back Mackworth's pikemen and they now took up a blocking position in the lane near the village.

In the centre, Woodhouse saw the congestion in the lane and decided to commit his reserve in support of Scudamore, rather than push any more troops directly towards Winstanstow.  Sandys, on the left, could have used some help.  His infantry(Croft's and the Monmouth regiment), were moving against Lloyd's and Hungerford's and even with the aid of a light gun Croft's were suffering heavy casualties.  By the time they reached charge range; they had lost half their number and when the Parliamentary light gun opened up on them, their officers could not make them close (ie they failed the morale test) and the remaining men  began to fall back towards their own lines.  However, the Monmouth regiment did manage to charge home and their impetus pushed back Lloyds men.  The Royalist foot continued to push forward, but their very success proved their undoing. 

Hungerford's musketeers prepare to counter attack
With Croft's regiment falling back, Hungerford's musketeers turned to threaten the flank of the Monmouth men.  Their intervention was only just in time, Lloyd's men were now pinned against the hedge lining the lane and on the brink of breaking.  The Parliamentarian counter attack first stalled the Royalist advance and then began to push them back.  Heartened, Lloyd's men lay on with a will; suddenly it was the Royalists who were hanging on and then they broke and ran for their lines.  Having restored affairs, Hungerford's men halted and reformed, but Lloyd's, carried away chased after their foe.

Fortunately for the Royalists Sandys cavalry had begun to reach around the Parliamentary right, but found their way barred by the last of Reinking's cavalry.  On the opposite flank, Scudamore's cavalry was trying to discomfort Mackworth's pikes by pistol fire.  This failed and as the pikemen edged forward the cavalry had to evade the pike points.

At the church Mackworth's musketeers resolved to make a stand and fired off a final volley as the forlorn hope charged.  With the benefit of the stone wall surrounding the churchyard, the veterans beat off their assailants.  This was only a temporary respite for Scudamore's foot now moved forward.  The veterans knew that to try and beat off a full regiment was a recipe for defeat and so they pulled back.

Mackworth's stand against the forlorn hope
For his part Woodhouse was concerned he was going to lose the day.  Half his infantry had been driven from the field and although his cavalry had prevailed, the terrain made it difficult for them to exploit their success.  However, Reinking saw that his men had, by their efforts, given themselves a chance to break off the action and preserve themselves and so he withdrew from the field.  There had of course, been no reinforcements coming to help Reinking and Steve had done a very good job of defending against such numbers.

Another very interesting scenario which gave an enteratining days gaming.


  1. An interesting account, sir. Might I inquire as to what rules you were using?

    -- Jeff

    1. Hello Jeff, we were using the 1644 ruleset.