The Battle of Dara – 530AD   Leave a comment

The only known image of Belisarius from the period

In the late 5th and early 6th centuries, there began a general ambition by the Byzantine hierarchy to restore the Empire’s territory back to the height of the Roman Empire from where it had evolved. Consequently a series of campaigns began across Italy, North Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East, to rebuild the former glory.  It should be noted that at this point in history, the enemies faced by the Byzantines were far more numerous and better organised than those that Rome had first faced centuries earlier. These were now the evolved enemies that had defeated Rome just 100-150 years earlier.

Through the military commanders there began to appear one who seemed more able and gifted at strategy than some others, that being Flavius Belisarius.  He had been born around 500 AD in modern day Bulgaria, then part of the Byzantine Empire, and after joining the army as a young man, had risen through the ranks and performed sufficiently to be noticed first by Emperor Justin and then by Emperor Justinian, to be asked to create a new unit of elite Royal bodyguard cavalry. This developed into a force of over 7,000 men, and soon Belisarius was given field command of entire armies and the title Magister Militum.

However, long before Belisiarius and even before the Byzantine Empire, the Sassanid Persians had been a regular thorn in the side of the Romans on their eastern frontier. The Sassanids had attempted to relive the art, culture and territorial grandness of their ancestors, the Achaemenid Persians. Centuries of conflict between Rome and the Sassanids had worn down both the financial and material ability to keep up hostilities. By the time the Byzantines faced the Sassanids it was common for both sides to pay off the other for periods of peace, as well as raid each other to “collect” needed funds in the way of booty. It was during one such period of raiding then peace that the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius took the advice of his generals to build a forward base in Persian territory at Dara (sometimes called Daras). By the time the Persians were in the position to intervene the fortification had been constructed and garrisoned.

A few years later, a dispute between Byzantine Emperor Justin and the ageing Persian Emperor Kavadh caused a declaration of war by the Sassanids and they invaded Byzantine territories that buffered up to the Caucasus Mountains such as Iberia and Lazica. The Byzantines responded by invading Sassanid territory further south, but with mixed results., although things were looking better until Emperor Justin died.  The new Emperor Justinian looked to shore up the frontier and sent Belisarius with reinforcements to secure and hold the fortress at Dara.

The Sassanids, although considered by many wargamers as a mainly cavalry army, had learnt from Rome and the Byzantines, the art of siege warfare and the use of siege engines. This made them a dangerous enemy, more than most cavalry based armies of the period, so as they approached Dara in 530AD, Belisarius knew he had to defeat them in the field before they could deploy a siege line around the fortress.

Despite being outnumbered hugely; 40,000 Sassanids to 25,000 Byzantines and allies, Belisarius rode out his army to meet the Persians in the field outside the city.

Suggested initial set up for the Battle of Dara

ORDERS OF BATTLE – using a figure ratio approx 1:100 and suggested base numbers for MeG/ADLG/DBM style rules

Sassanid Persian Army

Perozes – Commander-in-Chief – Veteran, experienced, competent leader

Front rank left to right

Clibanarii (5,000 men) – 50 figures – 5 bases – heavy cavalry, experienced, veteran, bow

Light cavalry (1,000 men) – 10 figures – 2 bases – skirmish order light cavalry, no armour, trained., veteran, bow

Levy infantry (6,000 men) – 60 figures – 10 bases – close order infantry, light armour, trained, “levy” morale, 1/2 spear & shield, 1/2 bow

Clibanarii (5,000 men) – 50 figures – 5 bases – heavy cavalry, experienced, veteran, bow

Light cavalry (1,000 men) – 10 figures – 2 bases – skirmish order light cavalry, no armour, trained., veteran, bow

Second rank left to right

Clibanarii (5,000 men) – 50 figures – 5 bases – heavy cavalry, experienced, veteran, bow

Levy infantry (6,000 men) – 60 figures – 10 bases – close order infantry, light armour, trained, “levy” morale,  spear & shield

Clibanarii (5,000 men) – 50 figures – 5 bases – heavy cavalry, experienced, veteran, bow

Rear rank

Guard Cataphracts (6,000 men) – 60 figures – 6 bases – heavy cavalry, armoured, elite, veteran, lance, impact cavalry

 

Byzantine Army

Belisarius – Commander-in-Chief – Veteran, excellent tactician, strategist, inspirational leader

From left to right

Herul Cavalry (300 men) – 3 figures – 1 base – Medium cavalry, experienced. veteran, light armour, spear, shield

Hunnic Light Cavalry (3,500 men) – 35 figures – 4 bases – Light cavalry, open order, experienced, veteran, light armour, bow

Kavallarioi Cavalry (2,500 men) – 25 figures – 3 bases – Heavy cavalry, experienced, veteran, armour, bow

Skoutatoi Infantry (10,000 men) – 100 figures – 10 bases – Heavy infantry, experienced, average morale, medium armour 3/4 spear, shield, sword, 1/4 bow (or depending on rules, all with spear but with a “support” factor to represent the archers)

Sunicas Boukellerioi (600 men) – 6 figures – 1 base – Heavy cavalry, experienced , veteran, armour, lance, bow

Belisarius Guard Boukellerioi (1000 men) – 10 figures – 2 base – Heavy cavalry, experienced , elite, armour, lance, bow

Simmas Kavallarioi Cavalry (600 men) – 6 figures – 1 bases – Heavy cavalry, experienced, veteran, armour, bow

Kavallarioi Cavalry (5,000 men) – 50 figures – 5 bases – Heavy cavalry, experienced, veteran, armour, bow

 

WARGAMING NOTES

The battlefield is open and flat with the exception of a hill on the left side of the Byzantine lines, the hill is “low” and passable. The Byzantines also dug a long ditch in front of their lines as shown on the map, with the centre protruding. This can be represented by a wall or fence if needs be. It is passable, but should leave troops crossing it “disorganised” or “disrupted” for one game turn after passing it.

LURKIO 15mm Sassanid commander, Perozes, readies for battle

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

Dara was a big battle, and a long one. The two armies formed up and faced each other for three days before fighting properly started. The first two days saw  “champions” challenge each other in single combat and a few skirmishers exchange arrows with little results, but on day three (which our suggested set up map represents) the combat began.

It is also a prime example of Belisarius’s military skill, fighting as he preferred, from a defensive position. Over the previous century the Byzantines had dominated their battles with the use of highly effective and mobile cavalry, who were used to overrun, overwhelm, ambush and ride down the enemy. The Byzantine’s response to this tactic was to increase their own cavalry arm, but even still the Sassanids had the definite advantage. So to help counter this unpredictable mobile threat, Belisarius ordered the construction of a long ditch in front of his lines, designed to extend forward in the centre for a tactical reason and in anticipation of how the Sassanids would attack. The ditch was not impassable, but designed to slow down and disorganise troops as they crossed it.

On day three, both armies formed up ready for battle once again, but the Sassanids did not begin an immediate attack. They sat and waited, knowing that the Byzantines normally ate before noon. They hoped by denying them the ability to eat because of being in battle lines would make them weaker if attacked by the Persians, who normally ate much later in the day. So it was in the afternoon when the Persians began their attack, and fortunately for Belisarius it was as he had predicted and hoped for when he had the ditches constructed and his army deployed.

As the afternoon began, the Persians made a general advance along their entire front to within bow shot distance and both armies exchanged volleys of arrows, but he numerical superiority of the Persians was countered by the fact they were firing into the wind, which dulled the effect of their shooting. Once the supply of arrows was exhausted the Persian right wing advanced to contact. Their tactic, as Belisarius had predicted, was going to be to defeat the Byzantine cavalry first, then once they had fled the field, surround and destroy the unsupported infantry in the centre.  As the Sassanid cavalry closed on the Byzantines they were slowed by having to cross the defensive ditch, but even so they were soon pushing back the Byzantine left wing. But just before the Byzantine and Hun cavalry broke, the Heruls who had been concealed by the hill, galloped over the top and charged down the side into the Sassanid flank. At the same time the cavalry Sunicas, who had been concealed from the Sassanids by the massed infantry in front of them, suddenly launched a charge into the other Sassanid flank. Pityaxes men, now surrounded on three sides, began to falter and then broke and fled back to the safety of their own infantry. leaving 3,000 dead behind them.

Frustrated, Perozes brought his Guard Cataphracts over to his left flank to support the two Clibanarii units of Baresmanas and then ordered an attack on that wing. Belisarius and his officers spotted the move, and brought the remnants Sunicas’s cavalry and the Heruls along the back of their lines in readiness to bolster the defence. Once again the Sassanid charge was slowed by having to cross the ditch, but as they recovered on the other side they began to push back the Byzantine cavalry of John and Cyril. Belisarius employed a similar tactic as before, allowing the Persians to pass his centre troops before unleashing his hidden cavalry reserve in their flank, with Simmas and Sunicas getting behind the Persian lines while he personally led his Guard cavalry into the side of the formation. Once again the Sassanids were being attacked on three sides simultaneously and began to waver. Sunicas personally killed Baresmanas in the melee, and 5,000 other Persians were killed in the fighting too.  After witnessing the Persian right wing defeated and retreat, and now the left wing almost destroyed too, the levy infantry in the centre threw down their weapons and ran for their lives. The Byzantines made a full advance and pursued the fleeing Persians, cutting down all they could catch before Belisarius called a halt. The Persians had a reputation of being able to rally and recover in defeat and he didn’t want his victorious army suddenly caught in the disarray of a pursuit and defeated in a battle they had just won.

The war would continue, but for now Belisarius had saved the fortress city of Dara.

Although not used at Dara, a Sassanid elephant, one of their favourite troop types. (LURKIO 15mm)

 

WARGAMING OPTIONS

Due to the large numbers of men fighting at Dara, we would suggest a “bases” set of rules where you can scale things down as far as you want if you don’t have mountains of figures.  So the likes of Mortem et Gloriam, ADLG, DBM, etc would be our suggested choice.

For figures, several suppliers make figures in various scales for these two armies, though bizarrely, quite a few only produce either one of the other. One of the exceptions to this, and in our opinion the best range for these forces is LURKIO FIGURINES who produce a full range of Sassanid Persians, Early Byzantines, Huns and figures suitable for Heruls too! They can also be bulked up with plastic figures made by The Plastic Soldier Company, who use the Lurkio sculptures to create plastic box sets of Sassanids and Huns. All of these can be found on our website, as well as 10mm Sassanids by Pendraken.

On a personal note, both these armies are great fun to play, either in an historical context as in this battle, or in the club/competition circuits against random opponents. My second ever wargames army was a Sassanid Persian army, and even as an inexperienced 14 year old gamer, it never let me down against all sorts of enemies. Early Byzantines are often overlooked by gamers, who tend to go for later Byzantine armies with the Varangian Guard and other elite units to play with, but it was the early Byzantines, the armies of Belisarius and Justinian etc that brought the Byzantine Empire to its height, and the closest it would ever come to the ancestral glory of Rome.

Happy gaming.

The Byzantine Empire at it’s greatest in 555AD

 

 

 

Posted 13/01/2022 by The Little Corporal in Ancients, The Dark Ages

The Battle of Killiecrankie – 27th July 1689   Leave a comment

BACKGROUND HISTORY

The coronation of the Roman Catholic James II of England (James VII of Scotland) following the death of his older and Protestant brother, Charles II, raised old tensions and concerns throughout the realm. The English Civil Wars, some forty years earlier and for some, still in living memory, had in part been fueled by religious differences as well as politics. The country didn’t want to return to that period of history, nor to the Elizabethan Age, where one could quite easily be executed for their religious beliefs.

In 1685 the Duke of Monmouth attempted to overthrow the King with a rebellion, but support never really amounted to much and it became just a local uprising in the South West of England which was snuffed out at the Battle of Sedgemoor in Somerset. The Bloody Assizes (trials and executions of anyone and everyone with even a tenuous link to the uprising) that followed were designed to send a message to all who dared to consider challenging James.

Tensions rose further though in 1688 when James’ wife Mary gave birth to a son, James Francis Edward Stuart, suddenly giving the nation the prospect of another Catholic heir to the throne. Behind closed doors, Protestant politicians and men of power were secretly discussing a solution, and they came up with inviting the Dutch noble, William of Orange, to take the British crown. William was Protestant, he was the son of Charles II’s eldest daughter and was also married to James II’s Protestant daughter, Mary, so it could be argued he was “in the Royal family” already.  Taking no chances, he gathered an army of 70,000 men and landed on the south coast and marched towards London. Resistance was minimal, in fact almost non-existent, prompting this change of monarchy to be known as “The Glorious Revolution”, by the fact there wasn’t mass bloodshed. James, his wife and young son, fled to France to live in exile, but with hopes to return and reclaim the crown.

The Stuarts were a Scottish family, and The Highlands of Scotland was still very much a Catholic region, with its culture and heritage being linked more to Ireland than to southern Scotland. So it was of no surprise that support to restore James to the throne should start here.  The previous year, before the revolution, James had promoted one of his most loyal Catholic subjects, John Graham of Claverhouse known as “Bloody Clavers”, to the title of Lord Graham, 1st Viscount Dundee. In return Dundee had sworn to fight for James until his dying days. A message from James to Dundee as he fled for France gave Dundee the authority to literally fight if necessary, in the name of King James. After political talks in the Scottish parliament went against Dundee and it was agreed to accept King William as the monarch of Scotland as well, Dundee openly began a rebellion for James.

After declaring Dundee “outlaw”, along with other Highland Clan chiefs who supported him, William instructed one of the few British officers in his army that he fully trusted, Major General Hugh Mackay of Scourie, already a veteran of the War of Grand Alliance which raged in Europe. MacKay felt confident, he could muster between 3-4,000 well armed soldiers, compared to the estimated 2,000 Highland rebels, who he considered as untrained, levies.

Williamite Government soldiers by LURKIO FIGURINES (15mm)

 

KILLIECRANKIE

Dundee knew he had a hard task ahead of him, and that he needed a quick victory in battle to gain more support from other parts of Scotland and strengthen his forces. He identified Blair Castle as being a target and route through to the Lowlands of Scotland, the castle was owned by the Earl of Atholl, who upon hearing of the approaching Highlanders decided to leave the castle and gave over it defence to his son, Lord John Murray, who was a supporter of King William, however Dundee had already instructed Patrick Stuart of Ballechin (a relative of the Murrays) to seize the castle in the name of James, forcing Lord Murray to lay siege to his own castle !

Upon hearing of Dundee’s advance, MacKay gathered his forces to meet him and the two armies approached each other from opposite directions. Dundee from the west and taking his army through the long grass and bracken to form up on the hillside overlooking the River Garry, while MacKay, needing a road for his baggage train and artillery, approached from the east through the valley of the Killiecrankie Pass and through which the rive ran alongside them.  Despite being on the lower ground MacKay was still confident in his numerical superiority and trained firepower as the two armies formed up to face each other.

Suggested set up for the Battle of Killiecrankie

 

 

ORDERS OF BATTLE – using 1:20 figure/man ratio and suggested bases for “base rules”

Jacobite Army

John Graham of Claverhouse,  1st Viscount Dundee – Commander-in-Chief – Veteran, tactician, inspirational leader, fearless

Clan Maclean (200 men) 10 figures/4 bases – open order infantry, warband, experienced, impetuous, mixed weapons, 1/4 musket, 1/4 broadsword, 1/4 Lochaber axe,  1/4 spear/dagger

Irish Regiment (300 men) 15 figures/6 bases – close order infantry, experienced, trained, 1/3 pike 2/3 musket

Clan Ranald  (400 men) 20 figures/8 bases – open order infantry, warband, experienced, impetuous, mixed weapons, 1/4 musket, 1/4 broadsword, 1/4 Lochaber axe,  1/4 spear/dagger

Clan Glengarry  (300 men) 15 figures/6 bases – open order infantry, warband, experienced, impetuous, mixed weapons, 1/4 musket, 1/4 broadsword, 1/4 Lochaber axe,  1/4 spear/dagger

Dundee’s Cavalry Guard (50 men) 2 figures/1 base – close order cavalry, veteran, experienced, elite, sword, pistols

Dunfermline’s Cavalry (40 men) 2 figures/1 base – close order cavalry, veteran experienced, well trained, sword, pistols

Clan Cameron  (240 men) 12 figures/5 bases – open order infantry, warband, experienced, impetuous, mixed weapons, 1/4 musket, 1/4 broadsword, 1/4 Lochaber axe,  1/4 spear/dagger

Clan Macdonald  (500 men) 25 figures/10 bases – open order infantry, warband, experienced, impetuous, mixed weapons, 1/4 musket, 1/4 broadsword, 1/4 Lochaber axe,  1/4 spear/dagger

Optional – if used, to be located at the Commander’s choice of location

Lochiel’s Snipers (50 men) 2 figure (1 base) – skirmish order infantry, veteran, experienced, sniper, musket

 

Williamite Government Army

Major-General Hugh MacKay of Scourie – Commander-in-Chief – Veteran, tactician, respected leader, over confident

Lauder’s Fusiliers (200 men) 10 figures/4 bases – close order infantry, veteran, experienced, well trained, musket

Kenmure’s Scottish Regiment (600 men) 30 figures/12 bases – close order infantry, experienced, trained, 1/3 pike, 2/3 musket

Ramsey’s Anglo-Dutch Regiment (600 men) 30 figures/12 bases – close order infantry, inexperienced, trained, 1/3 pike 2/3 musket

Balfour’s Anglo-Dutch Regiment (600 men) 30 figures/12 bases – close order infantry, inexperienced, trained, 1/3 pike 2/3 musket

Annandale’s Horse (60 men) 3 figures/1 base – close order cavalry, veteran, experienced, elite, sword, pistols

Belhaven’s Horse (80 men) 4 figures/2 bases – close order cavalry, veteran, experienced, elite, sword, pistols

Leven’s Scottish Regiment (600 men) 30 figures/12 bases – close order infantry, experienced, trained, 1/3 pike, 2/3 musket

MacKay’s Anglo-Dutch Regiment 30 figures/12 bases – close order infantry, veteran, experienced, well trained, 1/3 pike, 2/3 musket

Hasting’s English Regiment 30 figures/12 bases – close order infantry, experienced, trained, 1/3 pike, 2/3 musket

Artillery (3 small cannon) 2 models/2 bases – 3lb regimental gun, inexperienced, trained crew

 

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

Although confident in his numerical advantage, MacKay was an experienced enough soldier to know that attempting a frontal assault uphill toward the Jacobite lines would be futile against such a strong defensive position. His men were largely inexperienced, with the more battle hardened regiments having been shipped to Holland to fight the French. He therefore ordered his men into firing lines, and for much of the battle had them firing their muskets and small cannon uphill towards the Jacobite lines, causing next to no casualties.

The Jacobites waited patiently, holding their position, although they did send forward a small unit of snipers to occupy a derelict building on the lower slopes to harass the enemy, but these were driven off by a detachment of men from MacKay’s Regiment. MacKay himself was disappointed that this very minor firefight hadn’t prompted a larger response from the Jacobites, as the day was passing and he was determined to do battle before nightfall and avoid the possibility of the Jacobites moving on under cover of darkness.

As the sun began to set behind the hills, Dundee ordered his men to ready themselves to attack. Seeing movement on the slopes in front, MacKay likewise ordered his men to form into Platoon firing lines, three men deep rather the conventional six, which would allow all his man to give fire. His plan was to create a wall of musket shot so intense it would halt the Jacobite army and then he could counter charge to finish them off.

As once the sun disappeared behind the skyline, Dundee ordered his army to advance, and in true Jacobite fashion the predominately barefooted warriors, soon built up speed to a full racing charge down the slopes, discarding everything about them other than their weapons. The largely inexperienced Williamite army fired their first round at 100 paces, and frantically began reloading, as the screaming Scots continued down the hill. A second round of shot felled a small number of the Jacobites, but still they charged forward. Determined that his plan would work, MacKay ordered a third reload as the Highlanders began to close, this final close range volley caused the most damage but did not stop them , the result was that none of the Government army had time to fix their “plug” bayonets, and were literally cut down by the fanatical sword and axe wielding Highlanders.

Despite his greater numbers, within minutes the Williamite lines broke and MacKay’s army fled the field, losing over 2,000 dead behind them. The Jacobite victory may have been swift once the attack began, but it was also costly for them too, losing around 680 men, but most importantly costing the life of Dundee, “Bloody Claverhouse” himself, who was struck down by shot during the final moments of the charge which he led personally.  This would have a major impact on the Jacobite cause, which petered out after their defeat at Dunkeld a few weeks later. MacKay would be sent back to fight overseas, where he was killed in 1692 at the Battle of Steenkirk in Holland.

The Battle of Killiecrankie

WARGAMING THE BATTLE

Although at first glance this may seem a one sided encounter, with the use of different tactics or maybe dare I say, lucky dice rolls, the outcome could be far more of a contest with either side gaining victory.

To simply the battlefield the river didn’t really play any part other than slow up the routing Government troops at the very end, and neither did the woods to the right. So for a simple set up the only really important feature being the high ground that the Jacobites occupied and charged down.

For rules, the main commercial ones for this period are Under Lily Banners by The League of Augsburg team,  Lace Wars by Partizan Press, Black Powder by Warlord Games, and DBR by Wargames Research Group, although a quick search on the interweb, will also lead you to several lesser known sets and free PDF downloads too, which are often fun to play.

Figures are a  little more difficult for an accurate depiction. Most “Jacobite Wars” ranges focus on The ’45 Uprising, some 60 years later, when British uniforms were more akin to the Seven Years War. If that doesn’t bother you then for 28mm fans the Front Rank Figurines range is very good, and for fans of smaller scales try the Pendraken 10mm range.

However, for accurate representation on the table, Dixon Miniatures make a superb 28mm range for the British in their League of Augsburg range and for fans of smaller scales then there is nothing more suitable than the 15mm Lurkio Figurines range who produce both British and Jacobites for this earlier period of the uprisings and can be found on our website at https://thelittlecorporal.co.uk/17th-century-55-c.asp

 

 

Posted 22/12/2021 by The Little Corporal in 17th Century, Category 1

The Battle of Saint-Aubin-Du-Cormier – 28th July 1488   Leave a comment

The Duchy of Brittany, at the northwestern tip of France. had considered itself an independent region to the rest of France since the Battle of Balon in 845AD when the Breton called Nominoe defeated Charles the Bald of West Francia. Over the centuries the Bretons had supplied mercenaries and allied troops to fight for most of its neighbours, including Duke William of Normandy and his invasion of England in 1066, but by the late medieval period it was finding it harder to maintain its independent status against the expansionist plans of the French monarchs wanting a united France.  Brittany found itself repeatedly allying itself with England and Burgundy in an attempt to resist French aggression, however with the English being occupied with its own civil war, the War of the Roses, then the death of Charles the Bold of Burgundy in 1477, Brittany suddenly found itself virtually alone.

It was also around this time that the French monarchy embarked on centralising control of the nation, and looked to end the older medieval and feudal regional control, this caused a rift between the crown and several dukes, barons and nobles, who found sanctuary in Brittany whilst plotting against the king.  The French king saw this as a potential hotbed of treason and demanded Brittany hand over the nobles residing there. When Duke Francis II of Brittany refused, hostilities broke out.  Knowing his Dukedom would not be able to take on the might of France on its own, Francis sent out pleas for help to other dissatisfied nobles, as well as to Henry VII of England and Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire, warning them of the dangers of an over powerful France in their midst.

Henry VII declined from sending troops but offered to negotiate a peace treaty, however on of his nobles, Edward Woodville from the Isle of Wight, defied the king and personally supplied 700 English longbowmen.  The Bretons decided to bluff the French by dressing many of their own archers as the English to try and suggest that Henry VII was assisting them in full. As for Maximilian I, he was suddenly pre-occupied by a rebellion in Flanders, which meant he was unable to support Brittany as Francis had hoped.

It meant that for the Battle of Saint-Aubin-Du-Cormier, the Breton army consisted of a mixture of local professional and levy soldiers, a number of local knights and men-at-arms, a small number of English archers, Gascon crossbowmen, Spanish infantry sent from Castille and Aragon, and a small number of Landsknecht pikemen.

Suggested initial set up for the Battle of Saint-Aubin-Du-Cormier, 28th July 1488

 

ORDERS OF BATTLE

In response to popular request, we are listing these armies as actual numbers, present, suggested figures on a 1:25 ratio, and as the number of stands if using rules such as MeG or ADLG.

Breton Army

Marechal de Rieux – Commander in Chief – Veteran, experienced, respected leader

Levy – (1700 men) – 68 figures – 7 bases – medium infantry, light armour, militia, trained, militia morale, 1/3 bow 1/3 halberd 1/3 spears/swords

Men-At Arms – (600 men) – 24 figures – 2 bases – heavy knight cavalry, armoured, well trained, experienced, impetuous, lance, shield

Breton Infanry – (300 men) – 12 figures – 1 base – close order infantry, medium armour, trained, steady morale, spears, swords, shields

English Archers – (600 men) – 24 figures – 2 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, very experienced, well trained, excellent morale, longbow, sword

Gascon & Bearn Crossbowmen – (2500 men) – 100 figures – 10 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, experienced, well trained, crossbow

Castillian & Aragonese Infantry – (1000 men) – 40 figures – 4 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, experienced, well trained, 1/2 pike 1/2 halberd

Breton Archers (imitation English archers)- (1000 men) – 40 figures – 4 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, experienced, trained, longbow, sword

Knights & Men-at-Arms – (2000 men) – 80 figures – 8 bases –  heavy knight cavalry, armoured, well trained, experienced,  impetuous, lance, shield

Landsknechts – (850 men) – 34 figures – 4 bases – close order infantry, light armour, well trained, experienced, pike

Artillery – ( 3 Culverins) – 2 models – 2 stands – light cannon and crew, trained

 

French Army

Louis II de la Tremoille – Commander-in-Chief – Veteran, experienced, respected leader

Gascon Crossbowmen – (700 men) – 28 figures – 3 bases –  close order infantry, medium armour, experienced, well trained, crossbow

Knights & Men-at-Arms – (2 x 600 men) – 2 x 24 figures – 2 x 3 bases –  heavy knight cavalry, armoured, well trained, experienced,  impetuous, lance, shield

Royal Guard Archers – (200 men) – 8 figures – 1 base –  close order infantry, medium armour, very experienced, well trained, excellent morale, longbow, sword

Archers – (2 x 1400 men) – 2 x 56 figures – 2 x 6 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, experienced, trained, longbow, sword

French Infantry – (2 x 1500 men) – 2 x 60 figures – 2 x 6 bases – close order infantry, light armour, trained, average morale, 2/3 pike 1/3 halberd/polearm

Swiss Infantry – (3000 men) – 120 figures – 12 stands – close order infantry, light armour, well trained, veteran,  elite, 5/6 pike 1/6 halberd

Artillery – ( 1 Culverin & 4 Large Culverins) – 3 models – 3 stands – medium cannon and crew, trained

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

The Breton army deployed first, in readiness for the French advance, who arrived in a fragmented approach giving the Bretons their best chance of a quick victory, but disagreements within the Breton command meant that the French were allowed to deploy without interference and they set out in a strong defensive formation.

Around mid afternoon the Breton army began their attack, using their English archers and supporting units, they hit the French hard forcing back those sent forward to meet them, but when Edward Woodville was killed the attack slowed and halted by the French. However, during this attack the French artillery had been hard pounding the Breton centre, causing significant casualties to the Breton cavalry especially. The commander of the Breton knights, Alain d’Albert requested permission to advance, which Francis granted, but d’Albert moved only the cavalry forward, without support, which created a gap in the Breton the lines.  This opportunity was spotted by the French cavalry commander, the Italian Captain, Jacques Galliota, who immediately led a large into the gap to try and force a wider break for the French infantry behind him. Galliota was killed in this daring attack, but his men succeeded in forcing a wider opening, through which the French infantry charged forward.

To add extra dram in the Breton ranks, around this time a French cannon ball appears to have overshot and struck a Breton magazine, causing a massive explosion behind their lines. This sent panic through the ranks, which again the French capitalised on. Their attack pressed home and a slaughter ensued, with over 5,000 of the Breton army killed, including all the English archers who made a gallant stand against overwhelming odds. The French lost around 1,500.

Francis II was forced to accept a peace treaty which obliged him to hand over the renegade nobles, as well as promise the marriage of his daughter, who was his sole legitimate heir to the Duchy, to marry into the French monarchy, thereby absorbing Brittany into France.

Although the war dragged on for two more years, in modern Brittany and their political nationalist movements, this battle and its consequences is marked as the date that France stole Brittany’s independence.

WARGAMING NOTES

This battle occurs right at the very end of the Medieval period, in fact some would say on the cusp of the Medieval/Renaissance changeover, but for the purposes of refighting this battle we have found late Medieval rules are best, be they specific for the period like Never Mind The Billhooks, or more all encompassing like MeG and ADLG.

Figure wise, those with Wars of the Roses armies or Burgundians and French Ordonnance will be able to field this battle with minor additions such as the Landsknects and Swiss.

 

Posted 14/12/2021 by The Little Corporal in Category 1, Medieval

The Battle of Durazzo – 18th October 1081   Leave a comment

Robert Guiscard by Merry-Joseph Blondel

“Hic terror mundi Guiscardis”

Reads the epitaph on the tomb of Robert Guiscard, translating as “Here lies Guiscard, terror of the World”

Guiscard had gone to southern Italy as the sixth son of Tancred of Hauteville, a minor noble within the homeland of Normandy. Robert and decided to seek his fame and fortune in Italy, the country that news kept flowing back to northern France about as a land of opportunity for those who liked a fight. He followed his two eldest bothers, William Iron Arm and Drogo, allegedly arriving in Italy with a following of just five mounted knights and thirty foot soldiers. For some time his band roamed southern Italy, giving military service to several local Dukes and Lords, including his brother Drogo. In true mercenary fashion he switched sides depending who shook the heaviest purse in his direction, but almost always provided victory for those who could afford it.

His reputation elevated, he found through a series of deaths and conquests that he became the Duke of Apulia and Calabria, before he and his brother, Roger, set their sights on conquering Sicily. The full conquest of Sicily took some time, as well as costing the life of Roger, but having established himself as Duke of Sicily, and having fought and defeated the Byzantines several times on the Italian mainland, Robert set his next ambition as invading the Byzantine Empire, using the excuse of assisting a disrespected clergyman to invade.

He took with him his son, Bohemond and the Count of Ami, as his sub-commanders and invaded by sea, landing in modern day Albania with an army of around 20,000 men including a quantity of the feared Norman knights. Facing him was the Byzantine Emperor, Alexius I.

The Byzantines had suffered a major defeat ten years earlier at Manzikert against the advancing Muslim forces, but despite huge losses Alexius had as a new Emperor, managed to assemble an army of a formidable size (22-25,000) which included an elite unit of Varangian Guard. These feared warriors armed with deadly two handed axes were largely made up of exiled Anglo-Saxon veterans who had escaped England after Hastings and were more than happy to have a rematch against the Normans.

After landing his ships, Robert Guiscard, now aged in his mid 60.s but still very fighting fit, ordered the fleet torched; giving his men a simple message – victory or death.

 

Suggested initial set-up for The Battle of Durazzo 1081

NOTE – Responding to feedback from followers, most prefer for us to now suggest “base numbers” rather than individual figure numbers; so along the lines of the current most popular rules Mortem et Gloriam and L’Art de la Guerre, we list numbers of troops by suggested bases.

ORDERS OF BATTLE

BYZANTINE ARMY

Left to right as per map above

Melissenous – Sub-Commander – Veteran, experienced, respected leader

Skirmishers – 2 bases – light infantry, experienced, javelin

Turco Light Cavalry – 4 bases – open order cavalry, experienced, mercenary, bow

Kavallarioi – 2 bases – heavy close order cavalry, veteran, experienced, lance, shield,

Kontaroi Archers* – 2 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, poor morale, bow

Kontaroi Spearmen* – 3 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, poor morale, spear, shield

* these can be played as one large unit of mixed troops if your rules allow.

Alexios I – Commander-in-Chief – Veteran, experienced, excellent tactician, inspirational leader

Armenian Spearmen – 6 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, medium armour, spear, shield

Varangian Guard – 3 bases – Close order heavy infantry, veteran, experienced, elite morale, heavy armour, 2 handed axes

Vestiaritai Guard Cavalry – 1 base – Close order super heavy cavalry, veteran, experienced elite, barded horses, armoured riders, lance

Archers – 2 bases – Open order skirmish infantry, experienced, levies, no armour, bow

Manicheans – 6 bases – Medium infantry, veteran, experienced, impetuous, swordsmen, spear, shield

Pakourianos – Sub-Commander – Veteran, experienced, respected leader

Tourkopouloi Cavalry – 4 bases – Light Cavalry, veteran, experienced, bow or javelins

Latin Allied Knights – 1 base – Heavy Cavalry, veteran, experienced, mercenary, armoured rider, lance, shield

Kavallarioi – 2 bases – heavy close order cavalry, veteran, experienced, lance, shield,

Kontaroi Archers* – 2 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, poor morale, bow

Kontaroi Spearmen* – 3 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, poor morale, spear, shield

* these can be played as one large unit of mixed troops if your rules allow.

Skirmishers – 2 bases – Open order, light infantry, veteran, experienced, no armour, javelins

NORMAN ARMY

Left to right as per map

Bohemund – Sub-Commander – Veteran, experienced, good tactician, inspirational leader

Norman Light Cavalry – 3 bases – Open order cavalry, veteran, experienced, minimum armour, javelins, shield

Milites Knights – 3 bases – Close order heavy cavalry, veteran, experienced, impetuous, armoured rider, lance, shield

Sicilian Spearmen – 6 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, levies, light armour, spear, shield

Norman Spearmen – 2 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, elite, medium armour, spear, shield, “shieldwall” capable

Robert Guiscard – Commander-in-Chief – Veteran, experienced, excellent tactician, inspirational leader, ferocious warrior

Norman Light Cavalry – 3 bases – Open order cavalry, veteran, experienced, minimum armour, javelins, shield

Milites Knights – 3 bases – Close order heavy cavalry, veteran, experienced, impetuous, armoured rider, lance, shield

Saracen Archers – 4 bases – Open order light infantry, veteran, experienced, mercenary, bow

Sicilian Spearmen – 6 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, levies, light armour, spear, shield

Sicilian Crossbowmen – 6 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, levies, light armour, crossbow

Count Ami – Sub-Commander – Veteran, experienced, respected leader

Italian Spearmen – 6 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, levies, light armour, spear, shield

Italian Knights – 2 bases – Close order heavy cavalry, veteran, experienced, armoured rider, lance, shield

Italian Spearmen – 6 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, levies, light armour, spear, shield

Italian Archers – 4 bases – Open order light infantry, veteran, experienced, no armour, bow

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

 

Varangian Guard of the period of Durazzo

The battle began with an an advance by the feared Varangian Guard. Guiscard tried to slow their approach by making several feint charges with his cavalry, but each time his men were forced back by Byzantine archers. As the Varangians got half way across the battlefield, the Count Ami launched a cavalry and infantry charge, swinging left to try and hit the Varangians in the side, but as his men struck their target the Byzantine left flank under the command of Pakourianos launched their own charge into the flank of the Italians, who were now at right angles to them. The Italians were routed, and made a hasty retreat off the battlefield towards the shoreline, presumably hoping to find some of their ships that were still seaworthy. As they fled, the Byzantine left wing chased after them in pursuit, which greatly depleted Byzantine numbers, and left the Varangian left flank completely exposed.

Seeing an opportunity, Guiscard ordered a full assault by all of his army, his knights and crossbowmen targeting the Varangians especially. On the Byzantine right wing, Bohemund,s men launched forward and a fierce battle ensued, before the Normans finally broke the Byzantine resolve and the army began to melt away. Alexios was almost killed when struck on the head by a Norman knight’s sword blow, his personal bodyguard, the Vestiartai surged around him, forcing back the Normans long enough to rescue their Emperor and escort him from the field, bleeding and virtually unconscious.

Bohemund’s Norman knights shatter the Byzantine cavalry

Down at the shoreline, the Italians were rallied by Guiscrad’s wife, Sichelgaita, wearing full armour and having been riding with her husband and his knights. A true warrior queen !

On the main battlefield it was only the Varangian Guard who now still stood their ground for the Byzantines. Their warriors were taking heavy casualties, mainly from crossbow fire which could not respond to. They decided to pull back in formation to the Church of St. Nicholas which was at the back of the Byzantine’s original position. Here they made a gallant last stand, refusing to surrender with the last few survivors seeking refuge inside the church building. Finally the Normans set fire to the church and the last of the Varangian Guard were burnt to their death,

Guiscard stopped his men from pursuing the Byzantines, instead they gratified themselves by looting the Emperor’s camp which had been simply abandoned in the haste to escape to safety. He spent the next few weeks consolidating his position immediately around Durazzo and made winter quarters there in preparation for a Spring campaign deeper into the Byzantine Balkans.

WARGAMING DURAZZO

This is a brilliant battle to re-fight. With lots of different troop types on both sides and despite the actual historical outcome, it is a battle between two fairly evenly matched armies that could produce an outcome either way.

Depending on your scale preference there are lots of figures available.

For 28mm fans, Gripping Beast make some great Byzantines and their Early Crusader range is perfect for the forces of Robert Guiscard. The new plastic range of Normans by Victrix are also ones to consider in your ranks, with beautiful animation and detail.

Victrix Normans

For 15mm we would obviously suggest our two “home brands”, Splintered Light Miniatures for the Normans and Lurkio for the Byzantines.

Splintered Light Normans

For smaller scales, then look at Pendraken 10mm. Although they don’t currently produce a Byzantine range, with careful buying from their Late Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Arab ranges, a suitable Byzantine force can certainly be put together.

You don’t even have to use figures to re-fight the battle, with the French game manufacturer, Historic.One recently launching the second edition of their game GUISCARD, which allows to you re-fight Robert’s battles across Sicily, Italy and the Balkans. You will find that in our online store too.

Finally, for those who wold just like to learn more about the period, we have several excellent books available in our Book Shop specifically about the Normans in Italy, Sicily and beyond.

Click on our Book Shop tab at the top to see our full selection, and all our books include FREE UK P&P.

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Medieval

The Battle of Taginae – July 552AD   Leave a comment

Byzantine Emperor Justinian I

Justinian I, later known as Justinian the Great, had ideas and plans throughout his extremely long reign to capture territory in what had been the Western Roman Empire and to recreate the glory of Rome as it had been.

In the mid 6th century he decided on a campaign to try and retake the Italian peninsular, the centre of the old empire, and with this in mind he assembled an army some 25,000 men strong to invade Italy and remove the Ostrogoths who had settled there and established their own Kingdom of Italy fifty years earlier. As was typical of Byzantine armies of the time, as it had been in the late Roman era, the army was bulked up with large numbers of foreign allied troops, in this case Lombards, Huns, Heruls and Gepids. Command of this mixing pot of soldiers was given to the Empire’s Imperial Chancellor, the Armenian eunuch called Narses, who after assembling his forces in modern day Croatia, opted to march them north and around the land route into northern Italy before then turning to march directly on Rome.

Defending the Kingdom of Italy was Ostrogoth King Totila. He was veteran of fighting the Byzantines and had defeated a previous attempt to invade Italy by Justinian, even though he had been greatly outnumbered. This time he had the same problem; his main army numbered only 12,000 as he marched north to intercept the invaders, but he hoped that an extra 2,000 cavalry would meet up with him before he had to do battle.

The two armies met on the morning of July 1st on the great plain west of Taino near a small village called Taginae, and before Totila’s reinforcements had arrived. As the two armies deployed Totila could see he was vastly outnumbered and decided to play for time. He started by sending an envoy to supposedly discuss terms with Narses, but Narses knew this was a ploy, after-all Totila had not responded to any previous requests by the Byzantines to have talks before the invasion and had even now deployed for battle, so the envoy was sent back to his army without discussions. Totila’s next ploy was to send out a “champion” from his ranks and request a one to one contest. A soldier volunteered from the Byzantine ranks and the two rode out to meet each other, as the huge Goth warrior charged for the kill, it was recorded the smaller, lighter armed Byzantine was able to turn his horse at the last minute and sidestep the Goth before thrusting his own spear into his body and killing him, with huge cheers coming from the Byzantine ranks. Still not deterred, Totila put on a suit of ceremonial armour, covered in gold and decorated with purple cloth and feathers (the colour of Emperors), he rode out onto the plain and began by all accounts, give a display of his horsemanship, performing jumps and rearing up, while at the same time throwing his spear up into the air and catching it like a cheerleader’s baton. He did this for some time, while making sure he kept out of archery range from his enemy, then when seeing a signal from his officers that the reinforcements were arriving he rejoined his army and changed to less conspicuous armour so not be picked out in battle. It was now around midday and the two armies prepared for battle.

 

Suggested initial set up for the Battle of Taginae

ORDERS OF BATTLE

BYZANTINE ARMY

Narses – Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, veteran, skilled tactician, respected leader

Right Flank

Dismounted Horse Archers (4,000 men) 4 to 6 bases – Medium Infantry, experienced, veteran, good shots, bow with stake to front

Hun Cavalry (1,000 men) 2-3 bases – Light Cavalry, open order, experienced, veteran, good shots, bow

Centre

Dismounted Allied Cavalry (Lombards, Gepids, Heruli) (10,000 men) 10-14 bases – Heavy Infantry, close order, experienced, veteran, spears, swordsmen, shields.

Left Flank

Dismounted Horse Archers (4,000 men) 4 to 6 bases – Medium Infantry, experienced, veteran, good shots, bow with stake to front

Lombard Cavalry (1,000 men) 2-3 bases – Medium Cavalry, experienced, veteran, spear, shield.

Extreme Left Flank

Dismounted Horse Archers (1,500 men) 2 to 3 bases – Medium Infantry, experienced, veteran, good shots, bow

Kavallaroi (1,000 men) 2-3 bases – Medium Cavalry, experienced, veteran, bow.

OSTROGOTH ARMY

King Totila – Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, veteran, excellent tactician, inspirational leader

Front Rank

Medium Cavalry (1,200 men) 3-4 bases – Experienced, veteran, impetuous warriors, spear, swordsmen, shield

Heavy Cavalry (1,200 men) 3 bases – Experienced, veteran, impetuous warriors, spear, swordsmen, shield

Heavy Cavalry Totila’s Guard (1,200 men) 3 bases – Experienced, veteran, elite, impetuous warriors, spear, swordsmen, shield

Heavy Cavalry (1,200 men) 3 bases – Experienced, veteran, impetuous warriors, spear, swordsmen, shield

Medium Cavalry (1,200 men) 3-4 bases – Experienced, veteran, impetuous warriors, spear, swordsmen, shield

Rear Rank

Goth Warriors (8,000 men) 8-10 bases – Experienced, veteran, impetuous warriors, spear, swordsmen, shield

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

Totila, reinforced, but still outnumbered had limited options. He had attempted to capture the high ground to his right as he first arrived on the plain but had beaten to it by the Byzantines.

He had beaten the Byzantines before against these odds, so must have felt there was a good fighting chance of success. He opted fr a full force and full frontal cavalry charge, hoping to punch a hole through the Byzantine infantry which were notoriously the weakest element of their army, but he was ignorant to the fact that the Byzantine “infantry” were in fact predominantly dismounted warrior and noble cavalry, with much better fighting skills and morale.

To inspire his men, Totila took up position in the centre unit with his personal guard and the army’s champion warriors. He ordered his men to only fight with the lance and probably in true Gothic fighting style they moved forward with their lances at shoulder height, their heads down and their shields held high over them. Starting a trot to cantor they gradually crossed the plain and launched into a full speed galloping charge. At this point the Byzantine archers opened fire, their position allowing them to shoot into the flanks of the charging Goths. Totila’s men began falling in significant numbers but still they pressed on, but when they reached the “infantry” they found a solid wall of shields bristling with spears that their horses refused to ride into. Despite this, the Goth lances were longer and Totila’s men jabbed at any gap they could find or make in the wall, while in response the Byzantine’s tried to jab at the horses and men as they whirled around in front of them.

The Goths tried several times to pull back slightly to regroup and recharge, but as once they stayed too far from the Byzantine infantry they would come under a renewed barrage of arrows from the flanks. It was approaching dusk when during one of these regrouping manoeuvres that Totila was struck by an arrow not fatally, but certainly seriously, to the extent that a bodyguard of men had to escort him to the rear. Rumours rapidly spread through the ranks, some that he was wounded and others that he was dead. He was lucid enough to order his infantry forward to finish off the job of breaking the centre, but at around the same time the cavalry decided that the rumours were worth retreating for and turned to flee.

Goth and Byzantine cavalry clash at Taginae

The sight of the fleeing cavalry approaching persuaded the Goth infantry to stop their advance and retreat as well. It was also a green light for the Byzantine army to make a full assault in pursuit, with all their mounted units charging forward to engage the fleeing soldiers.

As always in these cases, it was in the rout that the greatest casualties occurred, and over 6,000 Goths were killed, including at some point King Totila himself.

Narses advanced and took Rome with little resistance, although a successor to Totila emerged, Teia, the Ostrogoths suffered another and final defeat at the Battle of Mons Lactarius later that year. The Byzantines would establish some control over Italy again which they held, in part for nearly another 600 years, and the Lombards would also carve out their own domain in the country; the destruction of both these holdings within Italy would come to an end thanks to the request for military assistance and the employment of mercenaries who then decided “why fight for others, when we can fight and make our own kingdom” – the Normans.

WARGAMING NOTES

This battlefield is extremely easy to recreate with a virtually flat plain with the exception of a one hill on the flank (see map).

Figures wise, we would say unless you are a 28mm fan with the resources to kit out the forces then we would suggest 15mm. The Plastic Soldier Company make and excellent range of plastic Goths, which can be found in our online store https://www.thelittlecorporal.co.uk/product-page/15mm-goth-army-pack-mortem-et-gloriam or can be purchased directly from The Plastic Soldier Company. For the Byzantines, we would recommend the Early Byzantine range from Lurkio Miniatures at http://lurkio.co.uk/lurk10live/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=146_79

Rules are always a personal choice, but Mortem Et Gloriam or L’Art De La Guerre seem the most popular two rule sets right now for bigger and fast play battles.

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in The Dark Ages

The Battle of Lapua – 14th July 1808   Leave a comment

Alexander I of Russia

The Battle of Lupua was fought during The Finnish War, a war fought within the greater conflict of The Napoleonic Wars between Russia and Sweden.

Following the signing of the Treaty of Tilsit which brought peace between France and Russia, Alexander was obliged to join The Continental System, Napoleon’s blockade and military aggression towards Great Britain. Consequently, Russia and Britain went to to war in 1807. Considering the locations of both these two nations, it was apparent that any military action would be limited to naval engagements which prompted Russia to ask Sweden to ensure the Baltic sea channel was closed to British shipping. King Gustav of Sweden was slow to reply; he detested the French and was secretly making an alliance with Britain in hope of support against his archenemy, Denmark.

Gustav IV Adolf King of Sweden

Russia and Sweden had a long standing rivalry from previous wars and Alexander seized the opportunity to declare war on Gustav on the basis he was not following the Tilsit treaty and could not be trusted. In reality Alexander saw the opportunity to take “Finland” and by doing so, push the Swedish army hundreds of miles back away from its current close proximity to his capital, Saint Petersburg.

On February 21st 1808 the Russian army crossed the border into southern Finland and hostilities began. Sweden was in an awkward position, as it also feared an attack from Denmark, meaning it had to spread its army to potentially defend both fronts. Over the next few months Russia made advances north and west, capturing the lower half of Finland until the summer when Swedish counter attacks put the Russians, for a while, on the defensive. One of the first of these counter-attacks came on the 14th July 1808 near the small town of Lapua in western Finland.

Swedish Major-General Count Carl Johan Adlercreutz with an army made up largely of Finnish regiments numbering 4,700 men and 18 cannon, marched south to attack a hastily fortified position held by a 4,000 strong Russian force led by Major-General Nikolay Rajevski. After initial exchanges of musketry by skirmishers on both sides, the main Swedish army began to emerge from the heavily wooded approach road around 4pm and it immediately began to deploy for an attack.

Suggested initial set up for The Battle of Lapua – 14th July 1808

ORDERS OF BATTLE – using a man/figure ratio of 20:1

Russian Army

Maj.General Rajevski – Commander-in Chief – Experienced, veteran, hesitant, respected leader

5th Brigade

23rd Jaeger Regiment (440 men) – 22 figures – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Kaluga Infantry Regiment (480 men) -24 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Artillery battery (6 guns) – 2 models – experienced, trained, 3lb cannon

14th Brigade

2 x Battalions of the Petrov Infantry Regiment (2 x 480 men) 2 x 24 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Kaluga Infantry Regiment [one company] (120) – 6 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Artillery battery (5 guns) – 2 models – experienced, trained, 6lb cannon

21st Brigade

2 x Battalions of the Veliki Infantry Regiment (2 x 480 men) 2 x 24 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

2 x Battalions of the 26th Jaeger Regiment (1 x 480 men, 1 x 240 men ) 1 x 24 figures, 1 x 12 figures – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Artillery battery (5 guns) – 2 models – experienced, trained, 6lb cannon

Artillery battery (3 guns) – 1model – experienced, trained, 3lb cannon

Artillery battery (3 guns) – 1model – experienced, trained, howitzer

Cavalry Units

Cossacks (40 men) – 2 figures – light horse, open order, veteran, elite, lance, carbine, pistols, sabre

Grodno Hussars (2 x 80 men) 2 x 4 figures – light horse, veteran, elite, carbine, pistols, sabre

Swedish Army

Maj.General Adlercreutz – Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, poor tactician, respected leader

2nd Brigade

Pori Infantry Regiment 1st battalion (440 men) 22 figures – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Pori Infantry Regiment 2nd battalion (380 men) 19 figures – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Pori Infantry Regiment 3rd battalion (380 men) 19 figures – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

5th Finnish Artillery – (6 guns) – 2 models – experienced, trained, 6lb cannon

4th Brigade

Savo Infantry Regiment 1st battalion (240 men) 12 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Savo Infantry Regiment 2nd battalion (240 men) 12 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Savo Infantry Regiment 3rd battalion (240 men) 12 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

2 x Battalions of the Savo Jaeger Regiment (2 x 160 men) 2 x 8 figures, – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Karelian Jaegers (240 men) – 12 figures – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Karelian Dragoons (80 men) – 4 figures – heavy cavalry, veteran, elite, carbine, pistols, sabre

Savo Artillery (8 guns) – 3 models – experienced, good morale, 1 x 3lb, 1 x 6lb, 1 x howitzer

ARRIVING IN MARCH COLUMN FROM ROAD TOP RIGHT

3rd Brigade

Hame Infantry Regiment 1st battalion (320 men) – 16 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Hame Infantry Regiment 2nd battalion (220 men) – 11 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Hame Infantry Regiment Jaeger battalion (380 men) – 19 figures – experienced, elite, good morale, musket

Uusimaa Infantry Regiment 1st battalion (220 men) – 11 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Uusimaa Infantry Regiment Jaeger battalion (160 men) – 8 figures – experienced, elite, good morale, musket

Uusimaa Dragoons (80 men) – 4 figures – heavy cavalry, veteran, elite, carbine, pistols, sabre

2nd Finnish Artillery – (6 guns) – 2 models – experienced, trained, 6lb cannon

1st Brigade

Turku Infantry Regiment – (380 men) – 19 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Uusimaa Dragoons (80 men) – 4 figures – heavy cavalry, veteran, elite, carbine, pistols, sabre

1st Finnish Artillery – (3 guns) – 1 model – experienced, trained, 3lb cannon

Russian skirmishers engage the advancing Swedes through the woods

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

As Adlercreutz’s army emerged from their advance along the approaching road, he deployed them immediately choosing to attack south against the main Russian defences, maybe missing an opportunity to thrust straight ahead at the Russian left flank and outflank the main force which sat behind hastily constructed barricades of logs and ditches.

He did however send the 2nd Brigade to face the left flank, but then ordered them to halt their advance until the 4th Brigade could deploy to their left to give them support, the result was the 2nd Brigade took quite heavy casualties from Russian artillery and Jaegers while awaiting the order to advance again.

The Swedish 4th Brigade also faced heavy fire, but they did manage to cause some chaos in the Russian ranks when their artillery fire managed to set the hamlet in the Russian lines on fire. Russian wounded had been placed in the buildings and number burnt to death before they could be rescued.

Meanwhile, on the left, the Swedish 2nd Brigade couldn’t stand waiting and taking casualties any longer and without waiting for orders they launched a charge against the Russian defenders in front of them. Traversing the makeshift barricades, they went in at the bayonet and overwhelmed the defenders sending them running and leaving the Russian left flank exposed.

The Pori infantry regiment had distinguished itself, but was now quite exhausted from casualties under fire and then hand to hand combat. As they momentarily rested their supporting 3rd and 1st Brigades began to emerge and form up at the rear.

Sensing numbers were going against him, Rajevski ordered a general retreat while he still had control of his army. They made an organised withdrawal with cavalry covering their departure.

In actual fact the overall numbers were very similar, 4,700 Swedes to 4,000 Russians, the latter having the advantage of the crude barricades, a better defence or maybe even a Russian victory could have been achieved by a more determined commander.

WARGAMING THE BATTLE

As Napoleonic era battles go, this is quite a small one, so should be an easy project to recreate. The table is relatively flat with the exception of the right edge, where most of the trees are too. The river should be impassible apart from at the bridge.

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Napoleonic Wars

The Battle of the River Idle – 616AD   Leave a comment

King Raedwald of East Anglia circa 620AD

The Battle of the River Idle was an engagement between the armies of two early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Bernicia and East Anglia, the latter kingdom being led by King Raedwald, the most likely contender to be the noble buried at Sutton Hoo and owner of the now world famous helmet.

The cause of the battle begins a number of years earlier, from when Aethelfrith became the King of Bernicia (the northern part of Northumbria) and began to exert his authority in neighboring regions. His ascent to power is a bit of a mystery, however one consequence of his kingship appears to be the exile of Edwin of Deira (a kingdom at the southern part of Northumbria). Aethelfrith soon styled himself as King of Northumbria in total, and began to threaten the kingdoms bordering his. Meanwhile Edwin found himself seeking refuge wherever he could find it. Edwin first found sanctuary in Gwynedd in Wales, but after several attacks by Aethelfrith’s Northumbrian army on the Kingdom of Gwynedd he decided to move on, Mercia being his next refuge. When that ended he moved further east to East Anglia and the court of King Raedwald.

Replica of the Sutton Hoo helmet

Aethelfrith initially tried to bribe Raedwald to either kill or hand over Edwin, but the newly converted christian Raedwald refused, and after allegedly being lectured to by his wife on his moral duties he instead decided to raise an army and march on Aethelfrith in an attempt to restore Edwin to his kingdom.

Gathering together as many men as he could, he, his son, and Edwin marched north towards the southern Northumbrian border in modern day Yorkshire, taking the old Roman Road running from Lincoln to Doncaster. Hearing of the advance, Aethelfrith also mustered his forces, but with the pressure of time was unable to match the numbers of men advancing towards him. Despite this, his men were largely experienced veterans and they decided to make a defensive stand at the River Idle where the Roman Road crossed it via a gravelly causeway, prone to flooding in bad weather.

Taking position on the west side of the river, they waited for Raedwald approaching from the east.

Suggested initial set up for The Battle of the River Idle 616 AD

Historical Note

The Battle of the River Idle took place at the height of the Dark Ages, and many accounts of events and the people involved were later destroyed by Viking raids on religious buildings where most documents of the time were written and stored. We have put this account together having studied and cross referenced over fifty books and articles relating to this engagement, to create what we feel is a very probable summation of events and the forces fighting. It is though, as with so much early history, subject to different opinions and interpretations of the evidence available.

Wargaming Note

We have again listed forces both by the numbers of actual men involved, for those who wish to scale down accordingly for their own preferred rules, and we have also suggested numbers of bases to use for those playing the more modern rules such as MeG or ADLG.

The battlefield should be completely flat, as the whole area was a flood plain. The battle appears to have been fought in summer months, so in addition to the causeway road, an area either side (denoted on the map by black dots), which was gravel used to build the road on is also passable for soldiers. The rest of the river should be impassible.

ORDERS OF BATTLE

Northumbrian Army

King Aethelfrith – Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, veteran, warlord, feared leader

Noble Warriors (1000 men) 2 or 3 bases – heavy infantry, experienced, veteran, elite, swordsmen, “shieldwall”

Warriors (1000 men) 2 or 3 bases – heavy infantry, experienced, veteran, swordsmen. “shieldwall”

Atheling Eanfrith – Sub-Commander – Modest experience, respected leader, impetuous

Noble Warriors – (500 men) 1 or 2 bases – heavy infantry, experienced, veteran, elite, swordsmen, “shieldwall”

Warriors (1000 men) 2 or 3 bases – heavy infantry, experienced, veteran, swordsmen. “shieldwall”

Allied British Cavalry (300 men) 1 or 2 bases – Medium cavalry, experienced, good morale, spear, shield

Skirmishers (400 men) 6 to 8 bases – light infantry, open order, experienced, good morale, half bows, half javelins

East Anglian Army

King Raedwald – Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, veteran, warlord, inspirational leader

Noble Warriors – (500 men) 1 or 2 bases – heavy infantry, experienced, veteran, elite, swordsmen, “shieldwall”

Warriors (1500 men) 3 or 4 bases – heavy infantry, experienced, veteran, swordsmen. “shieldwall”

Atheling Raegenhere – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, warlord, inspirational leader

Noble Warriors – (500 men) 1 or 2 bases – heavy infantry, experienced, veteran, elite, swordsmen, “shieldwall”

Warriors (1000 men) 2 or 3 bases – heavy infantry, experienced, veteran, swordsmen. “shieldwall”

Levy (500 men) 1 or 2 bases – medium infantry, basic training, levy/militia morale, spear, shield

Lord Edwin – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, inspirational leader

Noble Warriors – (500 men) 1 or 2 bases – heavy infantry, experienced, veteran, elite, swordsmen, “shieldwall”

Levy (1500 men) 3 or 4 bases – medium infantry, basic training, levy/militia morale, spear, shield

Skirmishers (400 men) 6 to 8 bases – light infantry, open order, experienced, good morale, half bows, half javelins

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

As King Raedwald approached the River Idle he divided his army into three battle groups, Edwin on his left flank with largely Levy infantry who had been hastily mustered to make up numbers, himself in the centre with his best men, and his son and heir on the right flank with more warriors and a small amount of Levy. He sent his skirmishers forward first to capture the crossing, but they were met by Aethelfrith’s skirmishers on the opposite bank and they faced each other off exchanging arrows and javelins while the main army units came forward on both sides.

Aethelfrith decided his best tactic would be to kill Edwin, he was after-all the reason that Raedwald had attacked, and maybe if Edwin was dead a truce could be made. With that in mind he charged his battle group across the causeway supported by the British cavalry, as he reached the opposite bank he veered off to his side to attack Edwin’s battle group while his son Eanfrith, followed his father and hit into Raedwald’s group. However a grave mistake had been made, Aethelfrith had veered off in the wrong direction, towards Raegenhere rather than Edwin. He and his men fought like like demons to break into the opposing shieldwall and kill the commander, thinking it was Edwin. The British cavalry made a flank charge and between the two attacks Raegenhere’s group began to break up formation, allowing the enemy to cause mayhem in a killing spree.

Several sources claim that the blood chilling roar of Raedwald when he heard his son had been slain, momentarily brought everyone to a silent halt in the fighting. More than likely a Saxon legend rather than fact, but roar or not, the news his son had been killed made Raedwald into a berserk killer. His men crushed down Eanfrith’s shieldwall and scattered them, cutting down anyone who stood to fight. The real Edwin and his men chased them over the causeway in pursuit while Raedwald turned to take on the now trapped and isolated men of Aethelfrith. Sensing disaster the British horsemen fled, leaving the two veteran warlords with their best men to slug it out.

Splintered Light Miniature “King Raedwald”

The two sides reformed and faced each other before they both launched themselves into a charge, neither shieldwall holding. As the melee tuned into a brutal hacking and stabbing of men, the more experienced Northumbrians began to take the advantage, but before they could seize victory Raedwald pushed through to Aethelfrith and with his heart full of vengeance for his son’s death he cut him down, before decapitating him and holding his head aloft to show his victory. Aethelfrith’s men ran for their lives and Raedwald had won the day.

THE AFTERMATH

In killing Aethelfrith, Raedwald had effectively taken the Kingdom of Northumbria, and could at this point have declared himself king, but true to his promise to Edwin, he escorted him north and ensured he was installed as King Edwin of Bernicia, Deira, and Northumbria.

Eanfrith, Aethlfrith’s son, went into exile with the Picts in Scotland, where he married a Pictish princess. Years later in 633, after King Edwin was killed battle at the Battle of Hatfield Chase by King Penda of Mercia and King Cadwallon of Gwynedd, Eanfrith crossed the border and seized the crown of Bernicia, a title that lasted only a few months. After travelling with a small bodyguard to Wales to make an alliance with Cadwallon, Cadwallon had him and his men murdered. Eanfrith’s brother Oswald then became king and would go on to become one of the better known Saxon kings in history as well as Saint.

King Raedwald would continue his reign until 624, during which time he was granted the title of Imperium by the Church of Rome for defending the faith in England. He was, more than likely, buried at Sutton Hoo, laid out with weapons, jewels and armour in a 90 foot long Saxon longboat, before it was covered by a giant mound of earth where he lay undisturbed until 1939.

 

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in The Dark Ages

The Battle of the River Coa – 24th July 1810   Leave a comment

The British Light Division defending the bridge over the River Coa – image painted by Christa Hook

In the 1810 Napoleon had a new master plan for an attempted third invasion of Portugal that would finally defeat the British and Portuguese armies, hopefully sending Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future titled Duke of Wellington, back to England as a defeated and spent force. Marshal Andre Massena was therefore given command of a new army of 65,000 men to carry out this campaign.

The River Coa is unusual for Portugal in that it runs north to south, almost parallel with the Portugal/Spanish border, albeit a few miles inside Portugal, as opposed to an east to west route which most rivers in that country flow. For Wellesley it offered a natural barrier that would be an obstacle to the French advance and consequently he sent out written orders to his officers that he wanted all British and Portuguese units to be pulled back to the west of the river so as to form a defence.

Brigadier General Robert Craufurd, a stubborn, moody commander, prone to outbursts of fowl language when angered, and also a strict disciplinarian, was in command of the British Light Division, approximately 5,000 men made up of three British and two Portuguese light regiments of infantry, including the famous 95th (Rifles), as well as two light cavalry units and a handful of artillery guns. Despite receiving Wellesley’s instructions to pull back across the Coa River, he decided, for whatever reason, to ignore them and kept his forces on the east side of the river. Maybe he considered the French to be too far away to be a threat, or maybe he sought personal glory by seemingly standing up to the enemy, either way, he was shocked that just two days after receiving Wellesley’s orders the entire French VI Corps, over 20,000 men led by Marshal Ney appeared, advancing on his position.

The speed of Ney’s advance swept past a small British picquet unit and quickly threatened Cruafurd’s main force, leaving him no option but to attempt a fighting retreat as his men retreated across the only bridge in the vicinity, over the otherwise impassable Coa River.

Suggested initial set up for The Battle of the River Coa

Wargaming Notes

The area, as can be seen from our map, was a hilly, craggy region with limited routes that units can advance through without severe disorganisation. The river itself needs to be classed as an impassable obstacle, unless crossing at the bridge.

The British had a very small picquet force of about 40 men and one cannon at a windmill on high ground (marked on our map); it’s your choice whether to field this force or not as the French totally disregarded it, simply rushing past in their pursuit of catching the main British force.

As with previous recent articles, we are listing the suggested army lists by regiments to be fielded rather than actual figures to be used as we appreciate that because of the sheer number of differing Napoleonic rules currently played this seems the easier way for players to translate this information to their preferred set.

ORDERS OF BATTLE

British Army

Brig.General Robert Craufurd -Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, veteran, respected leader.

1st Brigade

Lt-Colonel Sydney Beckwith – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, inspirational leader

1/43rd Regiment of Foot – Experienced, veteran, good morale, musket

1/95th (1/2 battalion) Regiment of Foot (Rifles) – Experienced, veteran, elite, rifle

3rd Portuguese Cacadores – Experienced, well trained, steady morale, musket

2nd Brigade

Lt.Colonel Robert Barclay – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, inspirational leader

1/52nd Regiment of Foot – Experienced, veteran, good morale, musket

1/95th (1/2 battalion) Regiment of Foot (Rifles) – Experienced, veteran, elite, rifle

1st Portuguese Cacadores – Experienced, well trained, steady morale, musket

Cavalry Brigade

Brig-General George Anson – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, inspirational leader

14th Light Dragoons (3 Squadrons) – Light cavalry, experienced, veteran, good morale, carbine, sabre

16th Light Dragoons (2 Squadrons) – Light cavalry, experienced, veteran, good morale, carbine, sabre

1st King’s German Legion Hussars (4 Squadrons) – Experienced, veteran, elite, carbine, sabre

Chestnut Troop Royal Horse Artillery (6 guns) – Experienced, veteran, elite, 6lb cannon

French Army

Marshal Michael Ney – Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, veteran, impetuous, inspiarational leader

2nd Division

Maj.General Julien Merment – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, respected leader

25th Line Infantry (2 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

27th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

50th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

59th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

3rd Division

Maj. General Louis Loison – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, inspirational leader

66th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, veteran excellent morale, well trained, musket

82nd Line Infantry (2 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

32nd Line Infantry (1 battalion) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

20th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

The Hanoverian Legion (2 battalions) – experienced, average morale, trained, musket

Legion du Midi (1 battalion) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

1st Division (present but never made contact)

Maj.General Jean Marchand – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, respected leader

76th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

39th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

69th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

6th Light Infantry (2 battalions) – experienced, excellent morale, well trained, musket

Cavalry

Brig-General Auguste Lamotte – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, inspirational leader

3rd Hussar Regiment (3 squadrons) – Light cavalry, experienced, veteran, elite, carbine, sword

15th Chasseurs a Cheval Regiment (3 squadrons) -Light cavalry, experienced, veteran, elite, carbine, sword

15th Dragoon Regiment (4 Squadrons) – Heavy cavalry, experienced, veteran, dragoon musket, sword

25th Dragoon Regiment (4 Squadrons) – Heavy cavalry, experienced, veteran, dragoon musket, sword

Foot Artillery (4 batteries of 6 guns) – Experienced, veteran, good morale, 8lb cannon

Horde Artillery (2 batteries of 6 guns) – Experienced, veteran, excellent morale, 8lb cannon

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

The French advance was swift, so much so that they completely ignored the small British picquet force left isolated on high ground as they raced to catch the main British army. The 95th (Rifles) stepped forward to initially cover the retreat hoping their longer range and more accurate Baker guns would slow the French. In response the French firstly opened up with artillery on the Green Jackets, and then Voltigeurs closed to start an exchange of fire, before sensing their superior numbers, the Voltigeurs launched a bayonet charge, forcing the (5th to pull back.

The Rifles woes were increased when the small Portuguese garrison of Almeida mistook their dark uniforms for French soldiers and began a long range artillery bombardment on them, causing even more tension in the ranks.

The French cavalry advanced to attack the British 43rd Regiment, though they were slowed and disorganised by the undulating terrain by the time they reached their target. However other French infantry units were able to mange the broken terrain better than the horsemen, and soon Craufurd could see his only line of retreat being threatened . He ordered an immediate withdrawal across the bridge, the cavalry crossing first as the infantry followed along the road behind. A supply wagon overturned in their haste which for a while blocked the British escape, and to cover the incident the 43rd Regiment was ordered to take up a defensive line along the rivers edge south east of the bridge to give covering fire.

Miraculously holding back the French advance through determined fire assisted by difficult terrain, the British and Portuguese began to pass through the bottleneck bridge and get to the west side of the Coa from where they gave volleys of fire to hold back the French advance log enough for the 43rd to make their escape across the bridge too.

Pursuing the British, the French 66th Regiment attempted to storm the bridge but were forced back by the intense musketry pored at them from the other side of the river. A force of amalgamated elite French light infantry then attempted to take the bridge, now covered with the bodies of the dead and dying, but again were beaten back.

Ney opted instead to secure his position by attacking the town of Almeida; but Craufurd, shaken by his narrow escape, decided to withdraw his men under cover of darkness, leaving both the town and the bridge to the mercy of the French.

The bridge today.

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Napoleonic Wars

The Battle of the Standard (Northallerton) – 22nd August 1138   Leave a comment

Coronation of King Stephen

After the death of Henry I in 1135, a power struggle for succession that turned to civil war broke out across England and Normandy.

Before his death Henry had asked his barons and earls to swear their allegiance to his daughter, Matilda, and for her to become Queen. But as soon as he died, their moods changed, unsure as to be ruled by a woman, and one who was married to the Count of Anjou, a rival of Normandy.

Stephen of Blois, King Henry’s nephew, made a claim to the throne, and many barons rallied to his banner. He was crowned King of England in December 1135, but war was now on the cards.

The war largely centred around the old capital and religious centre of Winchester in southern England, however there was also fighting in Normandy, the east of England , and today’s battle, in northern England. Today, Northallerton is a busy and attractive market town about 15 miles south of where we, The Little Corporal are based. Back in 1138, it was just a small hamlet and became the site of this decisive engagement purely by chance in so much that it sits the distance of one day’s march north of York, from where the English Royalist army was marching from.

1138 was a troublesome year for Stephen, with several barons rebelling in southern England that needed his personal attention to put down the uprisings. Seeing that Stephen had his hands full, King David I of Scotland, who was Matilda’s uncle, took the opportunity to invade England in support of his niece. With an army around 16,000 strong he marched south.

As Stephen was otherwise engaged in the south, he entrusted the defence of the north largely to two men; William of Aumale, the Earl of Yorkshire, and Archbishop Thurstan of York. Between the two of them, through preaching and persuasion, they raised an army of Yorkshire levies which were bolstered by professional knights and archers, bringing their numbers up to possibly 10,000 men. Still far short of the numbers David advanced with. As a morale boost for the smaller army, Thruston had created a carroccio, a wagon upon which was mounted a ship’s mast. At the top of the mast was fastened a pyx containing the holy host and from the mast was hung four religious banners; those of the cathedrals of Durham, York, Ripon and Beverley. It was a method of creating a “sacred” army banner and rallying point that had been used for sometime by the Italians, as well during the early Crusades, but was the first, and to my knowledge, the only time such a banner has ever been used in England. It is this elaborate holy wagon that of course gave this battle its name – The Battle of the Standard.

Setting off from York to intercept the Scots, Aumale’s army made only one day’s march before meeting the Scots on the foggy morning of 22nd August near Northallerton.

 

Suggested initial set up for The Battle of the Standard

Wargaming Notes

Due to popularity now of ancient & medieval rules like Mortem et Gloriam and L’Art de la Guerre, which use “bases” rather than individual figures like the traditional WRG rules and Shock Of Impact, we are now listing suggested base numbers in our Orders of Battle instead of figure numbers. As always, our army lists, although thoroughly researched, are just a suggestion and designed to be as generic as possible so you can apply them to whichever rules you prefer.

ORDERS OF BATTLE

Scottish Army

King David ! of Scotland – Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, veteran, competent leader.

Royal Knights (200 men) – 1 base – mounted medium knights, veteran, elite, lance, shield

Prince Henry of Scotland – sub-commander – Experienced, impetuous, ordinary leader

Knights (2 units of 250 men) – 2 bases – mounted medium knights, impetuous, lance, shield

Bowmen (2 units of 1,000 men each) – 2 x 2 bases – bowmen, medium infantry, experienced, bow

Spearmen (4 units of 1,500 men each) 4 x 3 bases – heavy infantry, experienced, spear and shield

Galwegian Warriors (4 units of 2,000 men each) 4 x 4 bases – medium infantry, impetuous, unarmoured, swords and shields.

Royalist Army

William d’Aumale – Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, veteran, competent leader

Household Knights – (200 men) – 1 base – mounted medium knights, veteran, elite, lance, shield

Carrocccio & Guard – (Scared banner/camp with 200 men) – Camp base + 1 base – dismounted knights, heavy infantry, veteran, elite, swordsmen

Yorkshire Levy – (5 units of 1,000 men) – 5 x 2 bases – heavy infantry, mediocre morale, spear, shield

Bowmen – (2 units of 1,000 men) – 2 x 2 bases – bowmen, medium infantry, experienced, bow

Dismounted Knights – (2 units of 750 men) 2 x 2 bases – dismounted knights, heavy infantry, veteran, swordsmen

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

William d’Aumale, having a much smaller army, and despite the “divine standard” supplied by Archbishop Thurstan, opted for a practical way to bolster the morale of his newly raised Yorkshire Levy. He had the majority of his knights dismount, and placed them in the front line interspersed with archers; a formation normally attributed to much later battles of the 100 Years War. Having his knights present and relatively static, he hoped would steady the more nervous levies. The only knights that remained mounted were his own Household guard which he no doubt kept mobile in case of an emergency exit being needed.

Across the battlefield King David had initially planned to deploy in a similar fashion. He was an experienced commander and knew how to fight the Anglo-Normans. However his Galwegian allies demanded that they lead the battle and take the front line. David eventually gave in to their demands as they did make up almost half his army and he had witnessed them defeat English knights before, but that was on a far smaller scale and in advantageous terrain. This battle was very different.

The Galwegians took the front line and with screams and war-cries, launched their charge across the open ground towards the English army. Fast moving, but unarmoured, they came under devastating clouds of arrows unleashed by the English bowmen. Despite taking considerable casualties they pressed home their charge and smacked into the wall of dismounted knights who had filled the line as the bowmen moved back. Their sheer weight of numbers and ferocious fighting style began to push back the knights and the front line levy units, who thankfully held under the pressure. The Galwegians kept up the fight and forced the English line back to the carroccio which had it’s own guard of knights. The reserve Yorkshire Levy were now committed to the fight too and eventually the Galwegians were halted and then pushed back before being routed.

All the while King David had watched from the opposite hill without sending his other troops forward, but his impetuous son, Price Henry decided to support the Galwegians and launched a charge of his cavalry without orders from his father. But it was too late, by the time his men hit the English lines most of the Galwegians were either dead or fleeing and Henry found himself and his knights fighting alone. William d’Aumale launched his own Household knights to counter attack the Scots cavalry in the flank as they battled with the Yorkshire Levy, which quickly sent them into retreat.

It was now that King David decided to send forward the rest of his army, another 8,000 men, but it was too little and certainly too late. Half way across the battlefield his fresh troops were confronted with fleeing Galwegians and Henry’s knights in full retreat. The remaining Scots immediately halted and opted to turn around and fall back too.

Despite their smaller numbers, the English Royalist army had won. The Scots lost over 10,000 men, mainly Galwegians who were reported on by an eyewitness as “looking like hedgehogs, there were so many arrows in their bodies”. English losses were minimal.

POST SCRIPT

As I hope you can see from the account of the battle, it could have all been different with different tactics, or even just a speedier intervention by David’s reserves. It would certainly make an interesting re-fight in miniature, and if you do re-fight it from this the article then please send us a picture of your game and we’ll send you some freebies.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

We have both games and books available on this site if you want to learn more about The Anarchy, just click on the images below to see more information on each item.

 
 

The Anarchy – “Cry Havoc” hexmap game

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Medieval

The Battle of Guisborough – 16th January 1643   Leave a comment

Guisborough is today a bustling market town on the edge of industrial Teesside, in medieval times it had been a bustling market town thriving on the visitors from far and wide who came for pious reasons visiting the enormous Priory founded in the 12th century by Robert de Brus, an ancestor of the later and more famous, Robert the Bruce of Scotland. In the time of the English Civil War it was a shadow of it’s former self, the Priory having been destroyed during the Reformation; however it was still important strategically. Positioned south of the Tees Valley it was a gateway to the River Tees and beyond that, to Royalist Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Guilford Slingsby was a part f the Yorkshire gentry with estates around Hemlington ( now a suburb of Middlesbrough where we are based) , and had been the private secretary to the Earl of Strafford up to his forced execution by Parliament in 1641. When the Civil War broke out he naturally supported the Royalist cause and raised a regiment of his own, both foot and horse, and realising the importance of Guisborough, moved his men there to guard against Parliamentarian attacks on supplies crossing the River Tees between Royalist held Newcastle and Royalist York.

On the Yorkshire coast however, at Scarborough, loyalties lay with Parliament, and local commander Sir Hugh Cholmley, decided to take action, especially after hearing the the Royalists intended to send a garrison to nearby Whitby. After being reinforced by two troops of dragoons from Sir Matthew Boynton, he set out in mid January across the Moors, a forty mile march in mid-winter, to threaten Guisborough.

After what can only be imagined as a very challenging march across difficult terrain in freezing weather, the Parliamentarian forces arrived at Guisborough on the 16th January.

Suggested initial deployment for the Battle of Guisborough

Wargaming Notes

The Battle of Guisborough was quite a small engagement, with hundreds rather than thousands of troops being involved. It would lend itself to large skirmish rules such as Pikeman’s Lament, or if fought with really small scale figures could even be recreated on a one to one scale.

For the purposes of our lists below we are suggesting a figure scale of 1:10

ORDERS OF BATTLE

ROYALIST ARMY

Guilford Slingsby – Commander-in Chief – Inexperienced, Inspirational Leader

Slingsby’s Horse (100 men) – 10 figures – cavalry, experienced, good morale, sword, pistol, carbine

Slingsby’s Foot (400 men) – 40 figures – 20 close formation infantry, inexperienced, basic training, enthusiastic morale, light armour, pike – 20 open order infantry, inexperienced, basic training, enthusiastic morale, unarmoured, musket.

 

PARLIAMENTARIAN ARMY

Sir Hugh Cholmley – Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, Respected Leader

Cholmley’s Horse (80 men) – 8 figures – cavalry, experienced, trained, average morale, sword, pistol, carbine

Cholmley’s Dragoons (60 men) – 6 figures – mounted infantry, experienced, average morale, sword, musket

Boynton’s Dragoons (110 me) – 11 figures – mounted infantry, experienced, good morale, sword, musket

Cholmley’s Foot (130 men) – 13 figures – 5 close formation infantry, experienced, average morale, light armour, pike – 7 open order infantry, experienced, average morale, unarmoured, musket

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

When Slingsby saw the Parliamentarian forces approaching Guisborough he confidence was buoyed by the fact he knew he outnumbered his enemy, and consequently his force sallied forth out of the town and positioned themselves on the open ground about a mile south of the Priory.

The Parliamentarians formed up opposite and then both sides advanced on each other. Slingsby’s Horse were made up largely of Dutch veterans he had employed as mercenaries and they charged forward into the mounted dragoons and halted their advance. A melee ensued lasting sometime between the mounted forces, until Slingsby happened to glance over his shoulder and saw his infantry behind him in total disarray.

The more numerous mounted troops of Cholmley, along with his infantry, had advanced beyond the cavalry melee and straight into the Royalist infantry. Despite their inexperience, the Royalists had initially stood their ground, before being gradually pushed back through the Priory ruins and to an area now called “Wars Fields” where they made their final stand. Slingsby could see that rallying his men was near impossible, but tried all the same, only to suffer gun shot wounds to both legs and fall from his horse while his men fled.

Slingsby was taken prisoner and due to his wounds had both legs amputated above the knee; three days later, aged 32, he died of his injuries and was buried at York Minster. Victorious, Cholmley advanced his men to Yarm, another market town in the Tees Valley and at in that time the site of the first bridge from the river mouth over the River Tees, which they secured to stop supplies from Newcastle to York.

Post Script

As said earlier, this isn’t a grand battle, more of a large skirmish, but an interesting one and certainly not a forgone conclusion depending on your own tactics and dice rolls. It grabbed our attention having taken place just a few miles from where we are based.

 

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in ECW & 30YW