Friday, 18 January 2019

Action at Longmarket, a Kelhamshire Pike and Shotte scenario

Lord Melchett's forces had been besieging the Parliamentarian stronghold of Whitecross, but had had to retire when Sir Victor Meldrew's relieving force had approached.  To gain time for the vital artillery and supply trains to cross the river Kelham and reach the safety of Royalist headquarters, Lord Melchett had deployed a holding force on the line of the Blackwater stream, just west of Longmarket.   At this point the road to Longmarket crossed the Blackwater by a ford.  The stretches of river either side of the ford could be crossed by formed units, but the going was very soft and likely to disorder the troops.  The road was lined with hedges and more hedges enclosed fields on either side of the river.

Lord Melchett had 4 regiments of foot, (2 raw and 2 trained), 3 units of cavalry (2 trained and 1 raw) and a light gun.  He place two units of foot under Sir James Fotheringay to the left of the road and two , (under Colonel William Saville), on the right.   His cavalry under Sir Hesketh Fleetwood covered the lane.  The light gun was placed to cover the ford.

Sir Victor Meldrew had the larger force, 6 regiments of foot, (although some were reduced by lengthy campaigning), 2 units of commanded shot and 4 regiments of cavalry.  In addition there was a medium gun.  The commanded shot were deployed forward with orders to unsettle the Royalist infantry defending the hedges by the river.  Colonel Richard Clayton had a brigade of 3 regiments of foot to oppose Sir James Fotheringay and on the opposite flank the veteran Colonel Ezekial Cooper also had 3 regiments.  Sir Victor's cavalry, (2 elite and 2 trained regiments) was gathered by the entrance to the lane under the command of Colonel James Livesey.

The action opened with the commanded shot moving forward to engage the Royalist infantry lining the hedges.  Lord Melchett had requested Fotheringay and Saville to place their raw units in the front line, hoping to preserve the more seasoned troops from unnecessary losses.  The opening volleys from the Royalists belied their status.  Fotheringay's men caused the commanded shot facing them to pull back to reform, and Saville's stopped those advancing towards them.  Sir Victor ordered the remaining infantry to advance and try to use their superior numbers to outflank the Royalist line.
Fotheringay's men await the parliamentary attack
The parliamentary infantry struggled through the boggy terrain by the Kelham and as the fire from the royalists wavered they forced their way over the river.  To put more pressure on the defence Sir Victor ordered Livesey to send two regiments of cavalry up the lane and attack the royalist cavalry.  Livesey protested that the narrow lane was not suitable country for cavalry, but Sir Victor would brook no argument.  With a sense of foreboding, Livesey led his men forward.  At first all was well, the leading troopers splashed through the ford and began their ascent of the opposite slope.  Lord Melchett had placed his light gun to cover the ford, but their fire was totally ineffective and the enemy horsemen passed unscathed.  At the top of the lane, Livesey was surprised to find that he had been allowed space to deploy, accepting this unexpected gift he quickly ordered his leading regiment to deploy and charge.  The ensuing melee was evenly matched , but Fleetwood's reserves were able to support his engaged unit whilst Livesey's supports were still making their way up the lane.  Livesey was forced to fall back, but the royalists were too shaken by the tussle to take advantage and follow up.

Livesey's attack up the lane

At the river line, Fotheringay's leading regiment had broken.  Assailed by the volleys from two regiments to their front; they were shattered by fire into their flank from the commanded shot.  The commanded shot had little time to enjoy their triumph as they were in turn broken by a volley.  This was fired by Fotheringay's reserve regiment which then moved forward to try and retake the hedge.  This they accomplished with ease, as Clayton's men had become disordered pushing their way through and over the obstacle and could offer little to resist the royalist counter-attack.  Bundled back across the Kelham they took some time to recover.
Saville's leading regiment routs
On the opposite flank, Saville had also struggled to maintain his position.    Cooper had attacked on a broad front and advanced steadily and although struggling with the terrain, he had managed to get all three units across Blackwater.  With his men ready, he ordered the charge and his men swept forward.  The closing volley from Saville's men was ineffective and as the pikes struck home, his men turned and ran up the hill.  Cooper avoided Clayton's mistake and didn't try to cross the hedge, instead he awaited the inevitable counter attack.  As Saville's reserve advanced they were met by volleys, but on they marched.  Gathering themselves, they charged the hedgeline.  the parliamentary closing volley swept their ranks and although they closed, they were unable to dislodge their opponents.  As the melee continued casualties rose amongst the royalists and they broke, streaming up the hill.  Saville managed to rally them behind their fellow regiment, which had been rallied by Lord Melchett.

Cooper's men prepare to cross the Kelham
Lord Melchett saw that Sir Victor was reinforcing success.  Across the river, Livesey's reformed regiments, together with the previously uncommitted regiments were moving swiftly to their left.  To counter this had only two regiments.  One of Fleetwood's raw regiments had moved forward to support Fotheringay;s remaining regiment.  Fotheringay himself was no longer on the field, he had tried to rally his routing unit, but had been carried away with them.  Lord Melchett suspected that neither the infantry nor Sir James would halt this side of Longmarket.  The cavalry had advanced too far and the volleys from Clayton's regiments had decimated their ranks, causing them to rout.  Fleetwood had been unable to rally them and they also disappeared westwards towards Longmarket.

The Royalist cavalry rout
The crisis of the battle was approaching, Livesey's troopers were beginning to cross the Blackwater and Cooper had moved forward one regiment  to cover their deployment.  Just in time, Saville's two battered regiments had managed to reform and they advanced towards the parliamentary infantry.  They both fired volleys and when they smoke cleared they could see the enemy infantry running.  Their rout had disorganised the cavalry directly behind them and Livesey decided to pull back.

Sir Victor ordered a ceasefire and pulled his troops back, allowing the royalists to fall back unmolested.

 This was actually a disguised version of the battle of Langport.  Historically. Fairfax sent his cavalry up the lane.  They defeated Goring's cavalry, which fled, together with the infantry.  Rule sets often prevent cavalry attacking in column of route and thus the tactic used at Langport is difficult to duplicate.  An enjoyable game, Steve stuck to his task as parliamentary commander, even though the terrain was against him and came close to victory, being denied by some rogue dice.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

A brief review of 2018

I am sure I am not alone in thinking that the years are passing quicker and quicker.  Also I think that being a wargamer tends to mean that your 'to do' list is always longer at the end of the year.  Looking back I do not think I have too much to complain about, 8 shows attended, c30 games played, (despite the various interruptions from holidays and the real world) and c200 figures painted and added to the collection.  However, there is one failure in particular, the lead mountain has continued to grow, (and at an increasing pace).  For most of the year I did manage to hold my resolve and not purchase more figures, however, there were three major lapses;

In January I took advantage of an offer from Warlord Games and purchased an ECW package of 90 infantry and 24 cavalry.  Then in August at Britcon I fell for a collection of 15mm Austrian infantry (another 100 figures to paint).  Finally, in September came the largest fail, a collection of 25mm Hinchliffe Ottoman figures part painted, almost 200 figures in all.  In my defence I will say that this last purchase was a real bargain (where have we heard that before?)  Here are a few photographs

First the 4 units of Sipahi

As you can see all the figures will need weapons and some painting,

To accompany the Sipahi are 6 units of light cavalry, 2 of archers, a Deli unit and these Arab light cavalry

With the cavalry came 3 units of infantry, (each 20 figures strong), one each of Janissaries, archers and musketeers.

These musketeers require the least work, but the whole collection will take up a sizeable chunk of painting time for the coming year.