Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Kelham Moor : an ECW scenario using Pike and Shotte

It has been a long time since the continuing campaigns in the county of Kelhamshire have featured in this blog; so for this week we set up a scenario with plenty of infantry, (to try out more of the Pike and Shotte rules), involving Lord Melchett's attempts to relieve the siege of Kelham.  The location was Kelham Moor, an open expanse with an isolated farm and a boundary hedge and ditch and plenty of room to manoeuvre bodies of infantry.

Lord Melchett had gathered 5 regiments of foot, organised into two battalia.  The first, under Sir Harry Vane comprised (left to right), the regiments of Broughton, Assheton and Taylor supported by two light guns.  In the second line, under the command of Lord Strange, were the regiments of Gerard and Butler, the latter being newly-raised.  On the right were the cavalry under Sir Fleetwood Hesketh with three regiments, the County Horse, Tyldesley's and Rupert's.  On the left flank were a unit of commanded shot under the veteran of the German Wars, Major Sharpe.  Melchett's plan was a general advance, pin the enemy line with his infantry and once the cavalry had driven their opposite numbers from the field, attack the enemy infantry in the flank.

An overhead view from behind the Parliamentary position
Sir Victor Meldrew had assembled four regiments of foot.  The front line was formed by the battalia of Ralph Muncaster, comprising the Green and Yellow regiments supported by a light gun.  Muncaster also commanded the medium gun which was placed in the farm complex on the parliamentarian right.  Supporting Muncaster was the battalia of Ezekial Thurston, comprising the Gell's regiment and the Kelham Trained Bands.  On Meldrew's left were his cavalry, commanded by Sir Roderick Livesey, comprising his own regiment, plus that of Shuttleworth.  A Forlorn Hope occupied the hedge line and a unit of dragoons defended the farm and provided support for the medium gun.  Sir Victor had decided to opt for a passive defence; slowing the Royalist advance with fire from the forlorn and the artillery, then falling back to let the enemy attempt to cross the hedge.  When they attempted this, (possibly becoming disordered in the process) his front line would charge and push them back.

The Royalist line prepares to advance
With the notable exception of Sharpe's command the whole Royalist force advanced.  Indeed the County Horse, with a flush of enthusiasm (perhaps engendered by their inexperience), outdistanced their supports and charged headlong for the enemy.  They were met with determined resistance from Livesey's regiment, which counter-charged and got the better of the melee.  As the County Horse fled towards their own lines, Livesey's surged forward to engage Tyldesley's regiment.  The resulting combat was a draw, but both units suffered enough casualties to make them take a break test.  Tyldesley's rolled low and had to retire; Livesey's rolled disastrously low, (see below) and fled the field.

The dreaded 'snake eyes'
In the centre, Vane's battalia had advanced into range of the Forlorn Hope holding the hedge.  Their first volley inflicted casualties, but did not disorder the Royalist regiments.  As the Royalists neared the hedge a second volley caused some disorder to Taylor and Assheton's musketeers.  The Royalist line halted and fired a volley, supported by their light artillery.  This proved too much for the Forlorn and they fell back. Encouraged Vane's men surged forward and Assheton's regiment began to cross the hedge and ditch.

Sir Victor had seen with some concern, the cavalry action on his left and ordered Thurston to relinquish Gell's regiment so that he (Meldrew), could move it to cover the flank of Muncaster's line.  Thurston took the opportunity to lead his other regiment, the Kelham Trained Bands towards the other flank to cover the gap between the Yellow regiment and the farm.

Meldrew repositions Gell's regiment
After a slow start, Sharpe had got his men moving and they now began exchanging shots with the dragoons in the farm.  They quickly got the better of the exchange and after suffering significant casualties, the dragoons retired, leaving the gun isolated, and the target for Sharpe's men.  After a couple of salvoes increasing casualties forced the gun to fall back.  This gun had been causing problems for the left hand unit of Broughton's muskets and the slackening of fire made it possible for them to recover from their disorder.

The Kelham Trained Bands arrived just in time to oppose the advance of Broughton's men.  The musketeers fired at their opposite numbers whilst the pikes steadied themselves for the inevitable charge.  They were not to be disappointed.  Broughton's green coated ranks swept forward towards the raw recruits. Outnumbered, the Parliamentarians stood their ground and against the odds defeated their opponents in a hard fought melee.

The Kelham Trained Bands see off Broughton's regiment
With one unit of musketeers also being driven off, the threat to the right flank of Muncaster's line was defeated for the moment.  At the farm, Sharpe had advanced towards the outlying buildings.  As he neared the fence the medium gun fired at close range.  The centre of the Royalist unit was shredded by the hail shot and one of the casualties was Major Sharpe.  As his men struggled to reform a unit of musketeers from the Trained bands charged them in the flank and the Royalists were swept from the field.  Ezekial Thurston's chest swelled with pride at the exploits of his men and he gave thanks to the Lord for his protection.

The end for Major Sharpe
Whilst his left was in trouble, Lord Melchett was more hopeful that his cavalry would win the day for him.  He was confident that Hesketh would quickly rally the County Horse and Tyldesley's and that Rupert's regiment would sweep Shuttleworth's from the field before swinging round to attack the Parliamentary infantry.  Gell's regiment was making very slow progress and the flank of the Green regiment at the end of Muncaster's line was very inviting.  As Rupert,s swept forward it received fire from the light artillery and musketeers of the Green regiment.  Casualties were taken but the Royalists continued their advance.  When they charged, Shuttleworth's counter charged and the melee was drawn.  However, both units had taken casualties in excess of their stamina level and had to take a break test.  Both had to fall back,disordered.  All the cavalry was now out of action until rallied and this gave Meldrew just sufficient time to get Gell's regiment forward and plug the gap at the end of his line.  Indeed Hesketh proved to be totally unable to rally his men, it took a personal visit from Lord Melchett to get Tyldesley's and Rupert's rallied.  The County Horse resolutely refused to rally and took no further part in the battle.

It was in the centre where the decision would be reached.  The two infantry battalia met in push of pike.  The Royalist musketeers were outnumbered and were more easily shaken (meaning they could not act as supports to their pikes).  Although the pikes soldiered on, one by one the musketeer units were destroyed and as Sir Harry attempted to rally one of his units he too became a victim, the second Royalist commander to fall that day.

Push of Pike
Lord Strange had brought forward his battalia and Gerard's moved to the left through the debris of Broughton's regiment and attacked the Kelham Trained Band.  Their was to be no repeat of their earlier triumph; the Parliamentarians were swiftly defeated and once again Meldrew's right was in danger. However, Assheton's and Taylor's were exhausted and Butler's men were urgently needed to increase the pressure on the enemy line.  Butler's pikes moved forward to support Taylor and charged the musketeers of the Green regiment.  They received a closing volley which inflicted two casualties.

Butler's come under fire
As a recently raised regiment they needed to roll for their reaction to being in combat for the first time.  Oh the fortunes of war!  The Kelham Trained Band had also taken this test and rolled a '6'; Butler's rolled a '1'. As a consequence they were disordered and only hit on a roll of '6' in the melee.  Needles to say they lost the melee, had to take a break test, rolled very low dice and ended up fleeing the field.  With half his army in rout, Lord Melchett ordered Hesketh to cover the retreat of the remainder with his cavalry.

We were pleased with the way that the rules dealt with the infantry melee.  Having the regiments as three separate sub-units allows for supports and also a more realistic representation of the contemporary deployments of armies in this period.  One thing to not is that small units of musketeers are very vulnerable; it is best to have what for us are large units of at least 36 figures (two units of 12 musketeers with a unit of 12 pikes) so that all the units count as being of 'standard' size.

Taking note of Will's comments on previous posts we did not use the caracole rule for the Parliamentary horse, instead we made the Royalists 'Gallopers' which meant that they HAD to counter-charge, make a sweeping advance if possible.  This gave a better balance.  We also changed the sequence of play to

Royalist move
Parliamentary fire

Parliamentary move
Royalist fire

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