Sunday, 22 July 2018

Pontefract, 1645

After the best part of a month, Steve and I actually managed to get a game organised for this week.  It was a Pike and Shotte scenario based on the battle of Pontefract, 1645.  The idea came from an article in Miniature Wargames no 111 by John Barratt, (he has recently had "A Rabble of Gentility: the Royalist Northern Horse 1644-45" published by Helion). 
The Northern Horse under Sir Marmaduke Langdale have been ordered to relieve the siege of Pontefract Castle, currently besieged by Parliamentary forces under Lord Fairfax.  However, as Fairfax was in York, Commissary-General John Lambert was in command.  Other than a brief skirmish at Melton Mowbray, Langdale's approach march was untroubled, Parliamentary forces being unsure of his destination until opposition patrols clashed near Doncaster.  Fairfax ordered Lambert to stand on the defensive and await reinforcements.  In the event, Lambert had ordered a force of horse and dragoons forward to cover the crossing of the river Went.  This force was pushed back, but it did delay the Royalist advance long enough for Lambert to deploy his forces.

Forces used in the game were:
Royalists Sir Marmaduke Langdale

Sir Philip Monckton
2 standard regiments of horse (start the game disordered as they have pursued the covering force                                                         from the Went crossing) 1 trained, 1 veteran

Sir William Blakiston
2 regiments of horse  trained

The 'Northern Horse' had been joined by a mixed force of horse and foot from Newark
Lt Col Cartwright
3 units of horse, 1 standard, 2 small, all trained.

1 standard unit of  foot (3:2 musket/pike) trained

[The Newark foot arrive on turn 3, a die roll determines on where they appear, (1-3 left end of base line, 4-6 right end of base line)

Historically, the sight of Langdale's force encouraged a sally by the Newark garrison.  This may appear following move 3 (dice each turn, 6 - arrives turn 4, 5/6 turn 5 and so on, a 1 is always a fail).  The garrison appears on the flank of Lambert's infantry and can fire a volley or opt to charge before the parliamentary foot respond to their presence.

1 small unit of commanded shot, trained. 

View from behind the Royalist position, Newark Horse on the left
Lambert's forces comprise

Colonel Christopher Copley
2 standard regiments of horse, (start the game disordered as they have been pursued the Northern                                                           Horse from the Went crossing), 1 trained 1 veteran

Colonel Burton
2 standard regiments of horse, trained

Colonel Thomas Morgan
2 standard regiments of horse, trained

Colonel John Bright
Yellow reg (small 1:1 musket/pike)
Green reg (standard 3:2 musket/pike)
Commanded shot, small

Morgan's brigade prepare to advance

The combat took place on Chequerfield, south of Pontefract, an open area with hedge-lined enclosures and 'allotments'  around it.

A Royalist victory would be achieved if two cavalry units in good command could exit the parliamentarian table edge.  Parliamentary victory would be preventing any Royalist forces exiting that way.

The action began with the Newark Horse and Blakiston's brigade advancing,  whilst Monckton was still struggling to get his regiments back in order.  As they advanced the Newark Horse came under fire from the parliamentarian commanded shot, this had little effect and they charged into Copley's brigade.  Copley's leading regiment was defeated and fell back through their supports, pursued by the eager Royalists.  However, Copley's second regiment ignored their retreating comrades and stood firm.  In the resulting melee the leading regiment of the Newark Horse was routed and fled the field, carrying one of it's supports with it. 

Copley's brigade rout the leading unit of the Newark Horse
The remaining Newark regiment, Grimshaw's, was saved by Monckton's brigade who had at last regained their order and were advancing rapidly.  Monckton drove back Burton's brigade which had been menacing Grimshaw's flank and then attacked the reforming Copley forcing him to retreat.

On the Royalist right, Blakiston and Morgan had both advanced and engaged in melee.  An even contest flowed back and forth, with neither side being able to gain an advantage.  With Monckton forced to pause to reform following his attack, Grimshaw once again resumed his attack.  First he charged Lambert's own regiment of horse, (part of Copley's brigade), routing it; and then carried on to drive Livesey's (part of Burton's brigade), from the field.  However, this success was his undoing.  Victory over Livesey's had brought them too close to Bright's 'Green' regiment which fired a close range volley that drove the Newark horse back in confusion.

Monckton's men drive back Livesey's (Copley's brigade)
Langdale had seen the arrival of the Newark foot and ordered them to drive off the commanded shot on the Royalist left, before advancing through the enclosures to attack the parliamentarian foot.  Having the advantage of pikes, the Newark men should have made short work of driving off the 'shot', but their opponents proved hard to dislodge and as the melee took place around the enclosure danger approached.

Copley's remaining regiment had recovered from their earlier reverses and now returned to the fray.  In the centre of Chequerfield, Monckton and Burton were still fighting away, neither able to gain the advantage.  On the Royalist right, Morgan was at last gaining the upper hand.  Blakiston's men were beginning to be pushed back.  Copley saw that the commanded shot were in danger of being overwhelmed and led his men in a charge on the exposed flank of the Newark foot.  With their attention focused on the infantry to their front, the Newark foot were totally unprepared for the avalanche which their right flank.  In no time at all they were streaming to the rear, pursued by Copley's troopers.

The Newark foot are routed
Far too late the sally by the Pontefract garrison arrived, only to see that the Royalist forces were quitting the field.  The siege had not been lifted.

Historically, the battle was decided by the sally, as their unexpected volley routed one of Lambert's infantry regiments, allowing a gap through which the Royalist cavalry could pursue the defeated Parliamentarians.  Also, Lambert was wounded when his regiment was routed which took away the command and control of his forces.

Our table-top fight did not reproduce these decisive events (though Lambert's regiment was routed).  However, it did provide for an enjoyable  2 hour game with plenty of ebb and flow.  After lunch, Steve and I  swapped sides and in the second game the Royalists achieved a 'winning draw' by which they were on the verge of pushing a unit through the Parliamentary line and off the table. 

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