Monday, 23 November 2015

Lindal in Furness; an ECW scenario for Pike and Shotte

One of the aspects of the hobby which Steve and I enjoy is trying out 'different' scenarios which   'push the envelope' for a set of rules.  Thus scenario does just that; as it features a force which is predominantly clubmen taking on a much smaller force which is mostly musketeers.  I found the bare bones for the scenario when looking through P R Newman's thesis "The Royalist army in Northern England 1642-45".
[As a side note for ECW enthusiasts this can be obtained via the British Library e-theses online service (EThOS  ) all you need to do is register]
In the thesis I found an account of the siege of Thurland Castle by a parliamentary force under the command of Alexander Rigby.  He learned of an attempt by forces from Cumberland to raise the siege and taking part of his force marched to intercept them.  The two forces met at Lindal in Furness.

Rigby's force comprised about 500 infantry, three small troops of horse and two drakes.  Ninety percent of the infantry were musketeers, with c50 pikeman in attendance.  The Royalist force was led by Sir William Harrington and consisted of c1500 men, all clubmen raised in Cumberland. Some contemporary accounts also credit the Royalists with three troops of cavalry.  The action, such as it was lasted little more than half an hour.  Seeing himself outnumbered, Rigby decided to be bold and ordered a general attack.  His cavalry overwhelmed their opponents who fled from the field.  Seeing this, the clubmen also decamped.  Over 400 prisoners were taken by Rigby whilst he admitted to only two casualties, one of whom was wounded when he accidentally shot himself in the foot!

The Royalist left
To make more of a game I strengthened the Royalist forces by including Preston's regiment of foot, a Cumberland regiment which at the time was actually serving in the Marquis of Newcastle's forces. Harrington's force was thus

Preston's Regiment            (small)
West Furness Musketeers  (small)
Harrington Clubmen
Egremont Clubmen

A second battalia was commanded by Colonel Pennington
Eskdale Clubmen
Allerdale Clubmen
Leath Clubmen

The horse were led by Colonel Strickland
Dacre troop
Walton troop
Egremont troop

The Parliamentarian force had under Rigby's command
Green musketeers
Yellow musketeers
Light gun
Detached pike company

Captain Nutter commanded the three troops of horse
Salford troop
Lancaster troop
Blackburn troop

The battlefield had the road from Barrow to Ulverston on it's eastern edge.  Two areas of enclosures were separated by Lindal Common which provided some open terrain for the cavalry.

An early Parliamentary success
The rules classify the clubmen as warband, which means they are limited to one formation.  Special rules rabble and militia  mean that they must be given orders individually thus it is difficult to co-ordinate attacks, and they fail an order test on equaling the leadership value, (standard units fail if they exceed the leadership value).

A roll for initiative was won by Harrington, who tried to advance; only one command roll was successful, with Preston's regiment moving forward.  Pennington failed to get any of his clubmen units to move forward and rather surprisingly Strickland's men also failed to move.  This hesitation seemed to inspire Nutter, who got all three of his units to push forward with some speed.  However, Rigby's men seemed quite happy behind the hedges and content to await the Royalist infantry.  The sight of the approaching Parliamentary cavalry galvanised Strickland's men, The troops of horse from Dacre and Egremont charged forward to be met by pistol fire from their opponents.  Lancaster, who opposed Dacre fired a telling volley which disorganised the Royalist horse who were forced to fall back after making no impression in the melee.  Egremont rode through the pistol fire but were worsted in the melee and also fell back.  Fortunately for the Strickland, the Parliamentary cavalry were also disordered by the melee and could not follow up.

The Eskdale clubmen cross the hedge
However, the presence of the Parliamentary cavalry persuaded Pennington's men that it would be prudent to stay behind the hedges for moment.  Harrington meanwhile continued to push forward with Preston's regiment and the West Furness musketeers.  These units were joined by Harrington's own unit of clubmen and all three advanced on Rigby's Green musketeers, with the musketeers taking up a flanking position to fire at the parliamentarians from close range.

On the Royalist left, Strickland managed to get his men organised and moved forward to renew the fight with Nutter's men.  They had some success, but Nutter committed his reserve, the troop of horse from Salford and once again both sides fell back to recover.  Pennington had by now managed to get his clubmen to advance, but they made slow progress.  Rigby's Yellow musketeers decided to advance and get into musket range of the Royalists.  Their first few volleys had no effect and this seemed to encourage Pennington to press on.  The Allerdale clubmen charged forward, but were stopped by a closing volley which forced them to fall back.  Gallantly, they rallied and charged again, only to suffer the same fate.  This time the accumulated losses resulted in a rout and they played no further part in the battle.  Pennington had tried twice to get the Eskdale clubmen to charge in support of their comrades, but each time they held their ground.  Now that the Allerdale unit was broken, Eskdale decided to obey orders; ignoring the closing volley from the Yellow musketeers they charged home. Against the odds the musketeers prevailed and Eskdale had to fall back.  Pennington had by now managed to get the Leath clubmen to move forward, but their stay was short.  One volley from the Yellow musketeers was sufficient to break them and they fled from the field.

The Allerdale clubmen attempt to charge home
While Pennington struggled on the Royalist left, Harrington was slowly winning the musketry duel with the Green musketeers.  The Furness musketeers were proving effective with their flanking fire and prompted Rigby to commit his company of pikes to drive them off.  Manoeuvring into position took some time, but eventually the pikes charged and drove off the Furness musketeers.  Behind the musketeers were the Egremont clubmen.  They fired an ineffective volley at the pikes as they charged home, but managed to withstand the impact and hold their ground in the melee.

The decisive charge by the Egremont troop of horse
All this time the cavalry melee had continued, flowing back and forth across the common. Eventually, the Royalists gained the upper hand and drove the Parliamentarian cavalry from the field. The Royalist infantry definitely needed support.  Pennington's battalia had been reduced to one unit and was edging back towards the hedges.  Harrington had lost the Egremont clubmen who had given up their struggle with the pikes and routed.  His own unit of clubmen was badly shaken and on the verge of breaking, as were the Furness musketeers.  Only Preston's regiment was carrying the fight to the Parliamentary  forces.  Strickland reformed his men and the Egremont troop charged home against the flank of the Yellow musketeers, who routed.  These losses plus his lack of cavalry, persuaded Rigby that he should withdraw.  For their part the Royalists were only too happy to round up the remnants of the Yellow musketeers and tend to their wounded.

The scenario demonstrated the difficulty of handling a force with a large number of militia units.

  • The difficulty of coordinating an attack
  • The weakness of the clubmen due to feeble musketry and low melee value
The 'Follow me' order was an option, but it did put the general at risk,

1 comment:

  1. That was an interesting read. I haven't played black powder yet, but I keep meaning to give it a go.

    Also hurrah for King Charles and confusion to the parliament!