The Sunday following the St Helens show, Steve hosts a game. His scenario this year came from the ECW and proposed that, instead of withdrawing and lifting the siege of Gloucester, the Royalist army stood it's ground and opposed the advance of the Earl of Essex's army. We used the Pike and Shotte rules and each army consisted of four commands; two infantry commands in the centre and one cavalry command on each wing. The Royalists were deployed in the enclosures in the valley of the Severn, whilst the Parliamentary army was on the last slopes of the Costswold ridge.Eight of the Gentlemen Pensioners took the commands whilst Steve and I acted as umpires. I was at the Royalist left flank end of the table and had only brief forays to see how events were unfolding elsewhere.
|Lord Forth's infantry on the Royalist left|
In his briefing, King Charles was keen that his nephew, Prince Rupert remembered that this was a 'defensive' battle and as things turned out that advice was heeded. The Parliamentarian plan was to hold the expected Royalist cavalry onslaught on the wings, whilst the infantry pushed forward into the enclosures.
|The Parliamentary right wing|
First moves saw the Parliamentarian cavalry edging forward keeping pace with their infantry support and some dismounted dragoons. The main infantry command on the right swept forward (Phil rolled low dice allowing him three moves). For their part the Royalist cavalry made small moves forward to gain more deployment room, but no mad cap charges (even though one roll would have allowed it). The Parliamentary infantry's big move forward had brought them into musketry range, but most of the Royalist infantry were slightly back from the hedges and thus unable to fire, meaning that, at most, the attackers would only have to endure two volleys before they closed.
|Parliamentary infantry reach the hedge|
On turn two the first volleys were fired by the Royalists and soon it was "push of pike" along the hedge line. The Royalists had some light guns in support and this helped repel the first attack. However, after a pause the Parliamentary infantry came on again and this time forced one of the Royalist regiments to retreat. Losses had been heavy on both sides and in the subsequent break tests, I adjudicated that two of the Parliamentary units had routed. [This is a local 'amendment' that we have adopted as we feel that the break test is too quick to remove units from the field. The routing units had a second chance to pass the break test, but if that is also failed then they are removed]. It was only after a couple of moves that I realised that, as large units the infantry had 5 strength points instead of 4 and that no test had been required. It is to Phil's credit that he accepted this philosophically, even though it was akin to being given out LBW by the umpire when the ball had pitched outside the line, would have missed the stumps and the bowler had overstepped the crease!
|Cavalry melee on the Royalist left|
Anyway what had Prince Rupert been doing in this time? One unit had charged some artillery which had moved forward to support the Parliamentary cavalry, but it had suffered heavy casualties and failed to charge home. A subsequent round from the artillery had imposed a test which had been failed and the cavalry routed back through their supports. As the Parliamentary cavalry came forward the Royalists had charged them, and received point-blank pistol shots as they closed. In the melees which followed the much vaunted Royalist cavalry were soundly beaten and forced to fall back, becoming disordered in the process. (their cause was not helped by some unlucky dice rolling by Rupert). Whilst they were disordered the Royalists could not charge or counter charge and this enabled the Parliamentary cavalry to seize the initiative. They pressed forward pushing the Royalists back again and again.
|Prince Rupert's troops are pushed back|
Meanwhile, in the centre, the Parliamentary infantry pushed forward again. They were initially held at the hedges, but slowly, they began to push forward, overrunning the Royalist supporting artillery. Phil had received some support from the other Parliamentary infantry commander, Chris, but the majority of the latter's command had not moved all morning. A brief foray to the other end of the table showed that there too, the Royalist cavalry were coming off second best. For a report on the action see Will's blog which also has some excellent photos.
|The Battle for the hedges|
|From behind the Parliamentary position|
|The Parliamentary right ready to push forward|
|Plenty of Royalist infantry, but no cavalry|
By mid afternoon, all of Rupert's command had been driven from the field and the Royalist infantry commanded by Lord Forth were in danger of being taken in flank. We decided that the Royalists would have to retreat before they were enveloped by the enemy cavalry and that siege was raised (as happened historically), but the Royalist army was in a bad way and would need time to recover.
Many thanks to Steve for devising the scenario and to Dave, Phil, Chris, Will (Parliament); Ian, Roy, Nick and John (Royalist) for playing the game in such a good spirit.