Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Bucklebury, An ECW scenario for Pike and Shotte

We are back in Kelhamshire this week, with the ongoing campaigns of Sir Victor Meldrew and Lord Melchett.  Sir Victor had arrived in Bucklebury expecting to find the convoy of artillery and provisions ready to leave.  Instead he found wagons, guns, supplies but no draught horses.  Even worse, his scouts reported that a Royalist force under his old foe Lord Melchett was heading towards him.  Colonel Marsden, who commanded one of Sir Victor's cavalry brigades was given very specific orders.  "Find some draught horses, I don't care how you do it, but get a dozen horses back here by noon at the latest!!"As Marsden left, Sir Victor had 3 regiments of foot, plus a unit of commanded shot under Sir Nathanial Starkie, Rigby's Dragoons and Colonel Emmot's two regiments of horse, Shuttleworth's and Livesey's.  The yellow and green regiments were deployed on the outskirts of Bucklebury, Colonel Carter's regiment was held in reserve in the village centre.  Lloyd's commanded shot took up positions in the buildings whilst Rigby's were deployed in Norton Wood.  Emmot was ordered to station his regiments on Gorse Hill where they could get a clear view of the Royalist forces.  With his dispositions made, all Sir Victor could do now was to await the return of Marsden with the draught horses.

Sir Victor in Bucklebury
For his part Lord Melchett was confident of success.  He had five units of foot in two brigades, Molyneux's ( 2 regiments) and Gillibrand (3 regiments), with three units of horse under Duxbury. Two of the cavalry regiments were small, but it gave the Royalists a little more flexibility.  Gillibrand on the right was to advance straight towards Bucklebury pinning the defenders in place, whilst Molyneux on the left was to advance past Norton Wood and then attack the defenders in the flank. For their part, Duxbury's cavalry were to drive off the Parliamentarian horse before supporting the infantry.  Lord Melchett was already anticipating the prospect of a hearty meal at the inn in Bucklebury.

Gillibrand prepares to advance
The Royalist advance was led by Duxbury's cavalry who cantered forward towards Gorse Hill. Shuttleworth's, Emmot's leading regiment hesitated and seeing this indecision Duxbury's front line charged up the gentle slope of the hill.  As they closed on the Parliamentarians they received a feeble volley of pistol fire which they ignored.  Tyldsley's and the Kelhamshire Horse crashed into Shuttleworth's and in no time the latter were driven back in disorder.  Fortunately, Livesey's in the second line retained their formation and when Tylsley's swept forward in pursuit they were sharply repulsed.  (The Kelhamshire Horse had not pursued as they were shaken by their losses).  Seizing the advantage, Livesey's charged and overwhelmed the Kelhamshire Horse who routed.  Livesey's now attacked Tyldsley's and also drove them back.  Not a good day for the vaunted Royalist cavalry.

The Kelhamshire Horse are driven back by Livesey's
On the flanks, the Royalist foot had been advancing towards Bucklebury.  Molyneux, on the left, was being cautious; his largest unit, Newsome's, was newly raised and he didn't want their first experience of battle to be one which would shatter their morale.  Typically, it was this unit which came under fire first.  Rigby's dragoons began sniping at them from the woods.  However, their commander Colonel Josiah Newsome responded  in just the right way; realigning the ranks and then advancing steadily towards the dragoons with levelled pikes.  Rigby was too experienced a soldier to take on such odds. With a final flurry of shots his men withdrew into the woods and then made their way back to their mounts before pulling back to cover the flank of the Green regiment outside Bucklebury.  On the right, Gillibrand pushed forward towards the cornfield which was held by the Yellow regiment.  Assheton and Broughton were in the lead with Gerard in reserve.  After an exchange of volleys the two Royalist regiments charged and ignoring the final volley from the Parliamentary foot closed for a melee.  Even with the advantage of the ground the Yellow regiment could not maintain its position and it had to fall back to the outskirts of Bucklebury.  As the victorious Royalists crossed into the field they became disordered and this gave their opponents just enough time to reorganise their lines.

Assheton drives off the Yellow regiment
In the centre the cavalry melee continued.  The victorious Livesey's were charged by Clayton's regiment and driven back.  As the victorious cavalry followed up they ran into Shuttleworth's who despite being caught at the halt  managed to maintain their position, forcing the Royalists to fall back. Again both sides now paused to regroup.  When Duxbury resumed the attack he had support from Gerard's regiment and also Tyldsley's returned after being rallied by Lord Melchett.  Emmot decided that the odds were now stacked against him and he decided to pull back.  His intention was to support the open right flank of the Royalist position, but Shuttleworth misunderstood his orders and fell back towards the other flank where he got in the way of Carter's regiment which Sir Victor had ordered forward to support the Yellow regiment.

Shuttleworth's get in the way
Sir Victor's mood was not improved when Gerard's regiment took full advantage of the confusion within the Royalist force to advance right up to the village and attack the houses held by Lloyd's commanded shot.  The outnumbered Royalists did their best, putting up a stout resistance, but eventually they were driven back into the village centre and the disorganised mob flowed past the wagons and down the road towards Kelham.  On the Parliamentary right, the Green regiment had been attacked by Taylor's regiment with Newsome's in support.  The defenders had greater firepower, but when it came to combat, the greater numbers of pike on the Royalist side prevailed and the Green regiment retreated.  Sir Victor hurried to rally them, desperate to try and hold the village. He could not afford to give any more ground or the guns and wagons would be lost.  Where the **** was Marsden!

High water mark of the Royalist advance
As if in answer, a trumpet call rang out.  Turning, Sir Victor saw the welcome sight of the leading troopers of Marsden's command coming down the road.  Behind them was a group of draught horses and then a second regiment of cavalry.  The arrival of these reinforcements put new heart into the forces of Parliament.  The Yellow regiment together with Lloyd's held off attacks from Gerard, Broughton and Assheton.  In a final throw of the dice, Lord Melchett ordered Tyldsley's to charge Lloyd's regiment, hoping that the horsemen would break through and at least drive off the replacement draught horses.  However, Lloyd's men stood their ground and repulsed the attack.  With the Green regiment reformed and cavalry massing on his flank Molyneux felt he had to pull back.  It had been a close run thing, but Sir Victor had saved the guns and supplies.  |Lord Melchett could only ponder what might have been.

Marsden oversees the departure of the supplies and artillery
A close run game, made a good deal closer, (too close for me as Parliamentary commander) by Marsden's tardy return.  My cause was helped by the Royalists suffering several 'disorder' results due to crossing obstacles which slowed their pursuit of my defeated troops.  One innovation was to vary the shooting and melee factors for the infantry regiments in line with their size and also the pike/musket ratio.  It seemed to work quite well and we will try it again soon.


  1. By any chance could you show a set-up map of the battlefield?

    Best regards,

    Chris Johnson

  2. Nice looking game with beautiful armies...and wagons!