Saturday, 27 January 2018

Richards Smithy: a Pike and Shotte scenario

In Kelhamshire arms and armour production is limited to just a few locations; one of which is  Richards Smithy.  For the last 9 months it has been supplying a good percentage of the Royalist forces' requirements and Sir Victor has determined that that state of affairs has to change.  Accordingly he gathered a force of 4 brigades, two each of infantry and cavalry and marched north to seize the village from its small Royalist garrison.

Looking north towards Richards Smithy
Sir Victor's troops will enter from the south on the two roads, (a brigade of horse and foot on each one).  Once the Parliamentary order of march has been decided the Royalist defenders will be put in place.  The dice decreed that I should take the part of Sir Victor, whilst Steve would be Sir Royston Addams, a temporary commander for the Royalists appointed by the King to serve whilst Lord Melchett recovers from his wounds.  (see the post on Millbridge ).

Murgatroyd's brigade

On the left hand road Nathanial Parker's brigade of infantry, (3 regiments of foot, a unit of commanded shot and a light gun), with the support of Colonel James Meldum's cavalry, (2 units of horse and one of cuirassiers), had orders to seize the farm complex and then move up onto the ridge.  On the right, Colonel Boyes was to advance his infantry (3 regiments of foot and a light gun) towards the central hill.  Meanwhile Sir Roderick Murgatroyd's cavalry (2 regiments of cavalry and one of dargoons) were to advance between the road and the woods  seize the high ground and threaten the flank of any units defending Richards Smithy.

Richards Smithy from the farm complex
 As his troops advanced Sir Victor scanned the ridge in front of him and saw that the Royalists outnumbered him slightly in cavalry and they were placed on the flanks.  Only three units of foot held the central ridge; if that was all the opposition he faced, the day should be his!  On the ridge Sir Royston gazed at the approaching Parliamentary forces, hoping his plea for reinforcements would be answered.  The sound of the first musketry exchanges had hardly died away before a rider galloped up with the welcome news that another brigade of infantry was on its way.  Soon the leading ranks of the first regiment were spotted approaching Richards Smithy.

It was none too soon.  Parker's infantry had reached the farm, his commanded shot had occupied the barn and begun sniping away at the Royalist infantry on the ridge.  One regiment had deployed in the field to the left of the road and their first volley had driven off the dragoons placed there by Lord Withers, who commanded the Royalist right wing cavalry.  He ordered one unit to remain on the ridge to threaten the flank of any infantry advance on Richards Smithy and led forward the other two regiments to prevent Meldrum's cavalry advancing any further.  The ensuing melee was won by the Royalists, but they were too battered to follow up and by the time they had recovered, Parker had deployed his light gun to support Meldrum's horse.

Meldrum and Withers clash
On the opposite flank events were moving in the Royalist's favour.  Murgatroyd's cavalry had been repulsed in their first advance and Hope's dragoons, who had been ordered to advance through the wood and fire on the flank of any Royalist attack, seemed to have got lost.  Colonel Boyes' leading regiment, having seen signs of wavering in the enemy line following their opening volley, charged across the field  intent on driving off their opponents.  They were met by a telling volley and then found themselves outmatched in the ensuing melee.  Falling back, they were hit by a second volley and then a third.  Retreat dissolved into rout and the unit fled the field. As his own forces diminished, Sir Victor saw that the enemy line on the hill was thickening, more Royalists were entering the field.

Whilst one unit began to exchange volleys with the Royalists, Boyes sent his remaining unit straight for the ridge, hoping to push back the defenders before they became too strong.  Unfortunately, the Parliamentarians became disorganised crossing hedges and as they reformed they were swept by musketry.  Boyes galloped forward to rally his men, but as he moved up and down the ranks he was felled by a musket ball and command devolved upon Ezekiah Clarke.   Clarke pulled the men back over the hedges hoping for a respite.  However, Sir Hugh Tipton spotted the opportunity and approaching the nearest Royalist infantry unit called "Follow me they're running".  Streaming off the hill the Royalists reached the hedge line before Clarke's men could rally.  Another volley crashed into the milling ranks with the inevitable result that the unit dissolved into a mob streaming from the field.  Sir Victor and Clarke tried to stop the rout but to no avail.  All Sir Victor could do was to order Clarke to hold his position at all costs.  Indeed the Parliamentary right was on the edge of disaster.  Murgatroyd's cavalry had made no headway against Hesketh's men and Clarke's remaining unit had it's flank 'in the air'.

Following the death of Boyes, his infantry rout
It was Parker who saved the right wing by moving one of his regiments to threaten the flank of Sir Hugh's charge.  The old soldier recognised the danger and withdrew to the ridge, not wishing to weaken the defence.  On the ridge things were not going well for the Royalists.  Parker's commanded shot had 'whittled away' at the unit facing them, which by chance was composed of raw recruits.  Unnerved by the fire they had broken and fled back from the ridge towards Richards Smithy, leaving a gap in the line.  Parker sensed he had an opportunity and after ordering one unit to advance up the road towards Richards Smithy, he personally led his remaining unit up onto the ridge.  Meldrum supported Parker by once again advancing against Withers.  The resulting melee was a bloody affair with no quarter.  Both sides suffered losses, the most significant or which was Meldrum himself, who had to be taken to the rear to have a wound dressed.  His command was saved by fire from Parker's infantry and gun which kept the Royalist cavalry at bay whilst Meldrum's command rallied.  Indeed the fire was so effective that one Royalist unit was driven from the field.

Parlismentary fire against the ridge increases
On the ridge,  Parker found himself facing a regiment of foot supported by a medium gun.  Undaunted he charged, trusting in the spirit of his men.  Trust was no armour against the storm of lead which swept the ranks.  Of the many casualties was Parker himself , the remains of the regiment fled down the hill back to the farm where Lemuel Ingoldsby,  Parker's second in command, managed to rally them.  The regiment advancing up the road now halted and began to fall back.  All the impetus seemed to have drained from the Parliamentary advance, Sir Victor was thinking he may have to retreat, but the cavalry came to the rescue.

Parker's attack is beaten back
Murgatroyd, with the support of Clarke's artillery and the fire of Hope's dragoons forced back Hesketh's men.  Now it was the Royalists who were clinging on as successive charges pushed the troopers back.  On the left Meldrum returned to the field and immediately galvanised his men.  With the cuirassiers leading the way the Parliamentary cavalry pushed back Withers' battered units until Meldrum reached the crest of the ridge and was able to view the village of Richards Smithy.  Now was the time for Sir Victor to launch the final infantry assault on the ridge, but losses had been to great.  The cavalry alone would be unable to dislodge determined infantry from the buildings and with dusk falling a withdrawal began.

Meldrum's cavalry reach the ridge

The Royalist infantry prepare to defend Richards Smithy
Sir Royston had exercised little real control over the action.  His subordinates had managed affairs for him.  He had been occupied trying to rally units which had fallen back.  In his report to the court, Sir Royston duly recognised the part Tipton, Hesketh, and Withers had played.  However, no discerning reader would miss the implication that all had been done under the direction of Sir Royston himself.

Sir Victor had once again lost valuable commanders in a battle.  In addition he faced an imminent interview with the Kelhamshire Association, which would no doubt like to know when it would see an improvement in the military situation.

Many thanks to Steve for a very enjoyable scenario.


  1. Thank you - enjoyed the read.

  2. A wargame report with photos to view, thank you.