Saturday, 7 April 2018

Back to Kelhamshire

After a lengthy break, we return to Kelhamshire this week for another instalment of the ECW campaign in that benighted county.  The Royalist forces in the port of Fairhaven are under siege and Sir Royston a Dammes, (victor of the affair at Richards Smithy ) has been ordered to advance quickly and raise the siege.  His scouts have reported that the Parliamentary cavalry have mostly been relegated to foraging expeditions and he is unlikely to meet serious opposition.

The Parliamentary siege force is under the command of Sir Francis Spencer, (Sir Victor Meldrew is currently engaged in protracted negotiations to retain some element of command in the county).  Sir Francis was not the first choice of the committee, but he hadn't ruffled any feathers and he was a good natured, if naive man.  The progress of the siege had been steady, if uninspired and Sir Francis was undoubtedly a good administrator, as the regular rations supplied to the troops testified.  However, he had yet to be tested in battle.

Having had word of who the opposing commander was encouraged Sir Royston to be bold, (in truth he needed little encouragement). He addressed his staff at a 'conference' at the well appointed White Hart Inn suggesting that the affair to come would be little more than a skirmish and several rounds of toasts were drunk to that belief.

The battlefield from the south
The field of battle (see photo above) was around the Red Post crossroads.  By the crossroads is the Packhorse Inn, and just to the west of it can be found Woodman's Copse.  Closer to Fairhaven the land is more enclosed, not ideal cavalry country, but this is where the two cavalry forces clashed.
Sir Francis was fortunate that one of his more experienced commanders, Colonel William Clegg was already in the area.  His force consisted of 2 units of horse and one of dragoons.  The dragoons had been deployed in Woodman's Copse whilst the cavalry were approaching along the road leading north east from the cross roads.  Sir Francis (with 3 regiments) was approaching the crossroads along the road from Fairhaven (ie from the north),  whilst a third brigade, also of three regiments, under Colonel Ralph Bates  was to arrive on the road from the north west.

Sir Royston ordered Sir Benjamin Havers to take his brigade (3 regiments) straight along the road to Fairhaven.  He expected Havers to run into some opposition, but he, together with Sir Thomas Linley's brigade (3 regiments) were going to advance over the more open country by Woodman's Copse and outflank any defenders.  Sir Royston ordered his dragoons to attack the White Horse Inn, expecting that his opponent would have placed any musketeers/dragoons there to command the crossroads.

The Royalists advance
Havers made good progress along the road, his leading troopers growing more apprehensive as they neared the Inn, expecting to be swept by musketry with no room to manoeuvre.  Surprisingly no musketry greeted them, but to their right they could see Clegg's troopers approaching.  Havers sent one of his units into the open ground to his right, but as they deployed they were charged by the Parliamentary horse.  Caught at the halt they were quickly bundled backwards in disarray with their opponents hard on their heels.

Sir Francis' troops near the battlefield
In spite of all Sir Royston's roaring, his regimental commanders seemed lethargic this morning, (perhaps too much wine the night before?), and their slow progress gave the dragoons in Woodman's Copse ample opportunity to snipe away at them.  The Royalist dragoons were also slow to approach the Inn; tired of waiting for their support Havers ordered his leading unit to gallop forward anyway.  The Inn remained silent, but his men did suffer casualties from pistol shot.  Clegg had deployed his remaining unit behind the hedges lining the road beyond the Inn and they inflicted several casualties as Havers' men galloped past.

Havers' men pass the White Horse Inn
Ignoring the fire from Woodman's Copse, Sir Royston led his brigade to the left around the western side of the copse.  Linley moved forward between the Inn and the copse.  His troops suffered yet more casualties as they crossed the front of the dragoons' position in the copse, the leading unit becoming so disordered it needed to halt to reform.

The delays to Linley and Havers allowed just enough time for Sir Francis and Colonel Bates to reach the battlefield.  Although the enclosures hampered a full deployment, they each managed to get one unit through the bottleneck and ready to charge.  Sir Francis sent his unit against Havers, who managed to get his leading unit into line before the Parliamentarian charge hit them.  Although all the advantages lay with the Parliamentarians, it was the Royalists who prevailed, pushing back their attackers.  When they followed up, it was the Royalists' turn to be repulsed.  Eventually, both sides fell back to reform.

The Parliamentary dragoons keep up a harassing fire from Woodman's Copse 
Colonel Bates was hoping to keep Sir Royston's forces bottled up near Woodman's Copse where the dragoons could continue to whittle away at their strength.  His lead unit managed to drive the nearest Royalists off in total disorder, but then found themselves attacked to front and flank.  They too were forced back, disordering their supports in the process.  Both Parliamentary units were now forced back and Sir Royston's advance continued.

The fighting in the centre was intense
Seeing the stalemate in the centre, Colonel Clegg led his nearest unit through a gap in the hedge to attack Havers.  Once again, although having the initiative, the Parliamentary cavalry were bested. and Clegg's men were driven from the field.  Clegg's remaining unit was just returning from destroying their opponents and seeing that the focus of the battle was moving north towards Fairhaven, he led that unit that way, hoping to reinforce Sir Francis.  Clegg's attack had given Sir Francis's units time to rally and now they returned to the attack.. Once again they swept forward, but once again, the Royalists prevailed.  The Parliamentary retreat turned to rout and in their haste the defeated troopers disordered their supports.  Only the close terrain, which hampered pursuit, saved the Parliamentarians.

On the opposite flank, Colonel Bates was also struggling.  With two of his units in need of time to reform, he deployed his remaining unit to cover the gap in the hedges through which Sir Royston's troopers would have to pass.  He assumed that Sir Royston would pause to gather his strength before attacking again.  However, the "Damned a Dammes" disdained such an approach.  Raising his sword aloft he ordered another charge and once again the Royalists swept forward.  To Colonel Ralph's shame his men put up only token resistance before they and their comrades turned, and raced for the safety of their own lines.  Sending one unit after the Parliamentarians to "keep them running" and with orders to "save any claret for me"; Sir Royston led his remaining men, plus Linley's depleted, but fairly fresh units, against the remains of Spencer's command.

Sir Royston orders the attack
Once again it was the battle for the gaps in the hedges that decided the issue, and once again the Royalists prevailed.  Sir Francis sent messengers to warn the siege lines of the coming Royalist attack and then joined a final charge against Sir Royston's troopers.  At first it seemed that the Parliamentarians may just turn the tide, but with Sir Royston hard pressed, Havers made a vital charge and completed the Royalist  victory.


  1. It's great to see more ECW being played. I may have missed it, but what rules were you using?

  2. We were using our own version of Pike and Shotte, with amendments in particular to combat and morale.

  3. Looks very nice, splendid figures!