Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Ripple Field

For our last game of 2014 Steve set up a scenario from the English Civil War, Ripple Field.  He used Steve Maggs' book  of ECW scenarios and set up a table with a low ridge flanked by two hedged lanes. Waller's Parliamentary forces were trying to prevent Prince Maurice from moving further west.  Both sides were predominantly cavalry, with Waller having the slight edge in artillery.  (Historically, the Parliamentary artillery was ineffective and was swept away by the Royalist advance).

The dice decided that I would command the Parliamentarians and I decided to place my dragoons on my right to try and prevent an outflanking manoeuvre, the cavalry reserve was placed behind my left.  From the beginning I rolled some very lucky dice for my artillery.  The Royalist cavalry in the centre was particularly severely damaged and very few reached the guns.  Those that did saw my gunners running for the safety of Middleton's musketeers and were then driven back by a discharge of hail shot from a second gun.

In the lane on my right, my dragoons fired on the Royalist horse as they galloped past,but to little effect. They then turned their attention to the Royalist musketeers who were following in the wake of the the horse. To try and prevent the Royalist horse breaking through I sent forward the small unit of 'lobsters' under Haselrigg. Although outnumbered, the confines of the lane would be to their advantage and I trusted they would plug the gap.  It was not to be.  The dice decreed that this was not to be Haselrigg's day.  Although better armoured, his men were pushed back and eventually routed.

Meanwhile, the two main cavalry forces crossed swords on the flanks of the ridge.  On my right, the fight was close,with the advantage swinging one way and then the other.  Steve committed his reserve on this flank and this proved decisive, my forces eventually being driven from the field.  On my left, the artillery had disrupted the Royalist advance and I took advantage of this. Committing part of my reserve, I drove the Royalists from the field, but then found myself under fire from the Royalist musketeers lining the hedge. Losses mounted and the battered remnants of my cavalry eventually straggled back to the ridge, but were too weak to take any further part in the battle.

The Royalist dragoons had by now moved right round my left flank and were threatening to attack the rear of Middleton's musketeers.  I had to commit my final reserve, a raw cavalry unit to drive them off and this left Middleton's men alone on the ridge as Maurice's own regiment of horse,joined by the victors over Haselrigg swept forward.  The gunners saw the enemy horse and ran for safety.  Waller personally formed up Middleton's men to face this threat and as the Royalist horse closed a devastating volley was fired.  The losses were such that the Royalists had to fall back to reform.  Again they charged, and again a close range volley stopped them in their tracks.  Prince Maurice rallied his men once again and then led them forward a third time.  Middleton's third volley was not as effective and this time the cavalry closed to combat.  The musketeers did their best, but without pike support they began to edge back.  At this crucial point the Parliamentary cavalry reserve returned from driving off the Royalist dragoons.

Charging forward, they joined in the melee and their intervention swung the advantage back to Waller's men. Maurice's cavalry were driven back and the battered remnants of the Royalist force retreated.  A reversal of history, but the action could have gone either way.

After lunch we reset the troops and fought the action again, with me taking the part of Maurice.  Again the artillery was quite effective and again the melees were close run affairs.  This time Maurice won by a narrow margin, but with heavy casualties.

The 1644 rules which we used are quite simplistic and results often rest on the commanders ability (or not), to roll a '6'.  The artillery can be effective against small units and perhaps we should have reduced the number of guns.  But, two close-run games in a day, with plenty of fun involved, why change things?

Many thanks to everyone for their continued interest in the blog over the year.  Happy New Year and I wish you all a successful 2015.


  1. I always enjoy reading your ECW battle accounts.

    -- Jeff

  2. Thanks very much Jeff. . We will be play testing the "Pike and Shotte" rules next year so there will probably be quite a few ECW scenarios to report. All the best for 2015.