Archive for the ‘ECW & 30YW’ Category

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

The Battle of Lens – 20th August 1648   Leave a comment

Louis II de Bourbon, Prince of Conde, directs the French army at Lens

The battle of Lens was the last major battle of the Thirty Years War, a conflict that had at some point involved most European nations and had devastated the continent with bloodshed, famine and social displacement.

After the decisive French victory at Rocroi in 1643, they had gone on to capture a string of towns and fortifications along the French – Spanish Netherlands border (Flanders). In an attempt to gain Austrian support in their conflict with France, Spain appointed Archduke Leopold Wilhelm to command the Spanish Army of the Netherlands. With a major offensive in 1647, Wilhelm captured three important towns in the disputed area and looked set to overturn the gains made by France in the previous years.

The King of France, Louis XIV, or rather the advisers to the 10 year old king, recalled Louis II de Bourbon, Prince of Conde from his struggling campaign against the Spanish in Catalonia and appointed the talented and dashing 27 year old as Commander in Flanders with the mission of defeating the Spanish on France’s northern border. Conde wasted no time at all and with his 16,000 strong army captured the Town of Ypres; but celebrations were short lived when news came that Wilhelm was laying siege to the town of Lens with 18,000 men. Conde immediately regrouped his army and set off to face the Spanish army.

 

Suggested initial set up for the Battle of Lens 1648

ORDERS OF BATTLE

We are adopting a looser style of suggestions for setting up battles in view of the multitude of rules available on the market and commonly used now for most periods, we therefore suggest the number of units as opposed to the number of figures so gamers can adapt to their preferred scale and unit size

SPANISH ARMY

Archduke Leopold Wilhelm – Commander in Chief – Experienced, nervous, cautious

Right Wing

Prince de Ligne – sub-commander – Experienced, rash, unsteady

6 units of Walloon Cavalry – heavy cavalry, trained, unpredictable, pistols and sword

Centre

Baron de Beck – sub-commander – Experienced, veteran, reliable, inspiring

1st line

5 units of infantry mixed pike and shot formations (40/60 ratio) – Trained, veteran, steady morale

1 unit of Caballos Cavalry – heavy cavalry, experienced, veteran, elite, pistol and sword

3 batteries of cannon – heavy field guns, trained, steady, reliable

2nd line

4 units of infantry mixed pike and shot formations (40/60 ratio) – Trained, veteran, steady morale

2 units of Dragoon Cavalry – open order, trained, unreliable, pistol and sword

Left Flank

Prince Charles de Salm – sub commander – Experienced, rash, unsteady

5 units of Walloon Cavalry – heavy cavalry, trained, unpredictable, pistols and swords

FRENCH ARMY

Louis II de Bourbon Prince of Conde – Commander in Chief – Experienced, Veteran, Inspiring, Tactician

Right Wing

Aumont – sub-commander – Experienced, veteran, cautious

5 units of Chevaux-Legers Cavalry – Heavy cavalry, trained, experienced, unpredictable

Centre

Chatillon – sub-commander – Experienced, veteran, inspirational leader

1st line

5 units of infantry mixed pike and shot formation (30/70 ratio) – 4 units – Trained, veteran, reliable and the remaining unit (the Picardie infantry)- Veteran, elite, stubborn fighters

2 batteries of cannon – heavy field guns, trained, steady, reliable

2nd line

3 units of infantry mixed pike and shot formation (30/70 ratio) – Trained, veteran, reliable

2 units of Gendarmes Cavalry – Heavy cavalry, experienced, veteran, elite, pistols and swords

Left Wing

Gramont – sub-commander – Experienced, veteran, steady, reliable

4 units of Chevaux-Legers Cavalry – Heavy cavalry, trained, experienced, unpredictable

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

As dawn broke on the 20th, Conde, seeing the strength of the Spanish army and its disposition decided to withdraw. His army had been deployed all the previous day and was now low on food rations, It was decided to retreat back to a village called Neus where his supply train could meet up with them, and an order was given to fall back in full battle order.

To cover the withdrawal, the French artillery gave volleys of covering fire, while the right wing of cavalry formed up to make a rearguard. Baron de Beck’s cavalry, without orders, saw their chance to win the field and charged the French cavalry rear guard, routing them. For a moment the French position was doubtful as Conde’s page was captured and almost the Conde himself. The elite Picardie infantry rallied the routing cavalry by dashing to support them and halt their pursuers.

It was now 6:30am and Beck was pleading with Wilhelm to let the Spanish army launch a full attack while the French were in disarray. Ever cautious, Wilhelm refused, maybe suspecting a trap, until eventually after more than a hour of dithering, he agreed. He then summoned his personal priest, said prayers and then galloped off the battlefield leaving his army to its own future. However by now, having recovered from the initial cavalry assault, Conde ordered his army to about turn and face up in battle formation again to take on the Spanish. His army began a general advance towards the Spanish with his artillery pounding the Spaniards as their sub-commanders attempted to bring together an orderly response. Conde personally led the infantry and frequently stopped their advance to ensure they didn’t lose formation, which had the bonus that the Spanish artillery found it hard to hit their targets being unable to predict their advance speed.

As the two armies closed, the French left wing cavalry led by Gramont came to the Spanish Walloons who at 20 paces discharged their pistols which killed, wounded or unhorsed the entire French front line, however, undeterred the French second line of cavalry charged in and routed the Walloons off the field. A similar event took place on the opposite flank, with the French receiving the Spaniards fire first before then charging in while they hurriedly tried to reload and routing them off the field.

In the centre of the field things were different, the Spanish led by the inspiring Beck were pushing back the French and some units were at breaking point, including the French Guards and Scottish Guards regiments. Once again it was the Picardie regiment that saved the day, standing firm against the Spanish and acting as a rallying point for other units. After bitter fighting for some time, the French cavalry returned, satisfied that they had scattered and destroyed their Spanish counterparts as a fighting force. On their return they supported their infantry and with weight of numbers began to successfully surround the Spanish infantry.

Unlike at Rocroi, where the Spaniards made an heroic last stand, at Lens they simply surrendered and 6,000 prisoners were captured. So many in fact it took several days of relay marches to escort them back to Arras for internment.

Although the battle brought an end to the Thirty Years War, France and Spain would remain at war another 11 years, with France also suffering from a civil war during this period too. Events that taught the boy king Louis XIV the importance of taking initiative in political issues and through his tendency to assert power, kept France at war with someone almost his entire 72 year reign.

French infantry training with muskets

The Thirty Year War saw a massive change in weapons and tactics. The primitive arquebus, commonplace in the 1620’s was replaced almost entirely by the more accurate and powerful musket by the 1640’s. The Spanish tercio formation (pike block with extended corners of firearms troops) became replaced by the Dutch formation (a block of pikes with firearms troops in line either side). Cavalry became lighter armoured and more mobile, the old fashioned gendarme knights disappearing, replaced by faster moving cavalry with modest or no body armour.

In the UK, the English Civil War always seems a far more popular period, for obvious reasons, but the Thirty Years War and the overlapping 80 Years War (Dutch Independence) offer even more troop variations and interesting engagements to play. Well worth reading up on and playing a few games.

 

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

The Battle of Lansdown – 5th July 1643   Leave a comment

Parliamentary cavalry attack

The West Country was quite an active war zone during the early part of the English Civil War, with the two former friends, Sir William Waller and Sir Ralph Hopton now finding themselves on opposite sides of the conflict and trying to outwit and defeat each other. The early part of 1643 saw the Royalists, led by Sir Ralph Hopton, win a number of victories over Waller and as result they were able to break out of the Devon/Cornwall peninsular and move east through Somerset towards Wiltshire in an attempt to join up with the King’s army at Oxford.

One of the natural barriers the Royalists had to consider was the River Avon, which in most of it’s length can be either deep or with strong currents, often both. The Royalists aimed for one of the few safer crossing points at Bradford, south east of Bath. Waller and his army, which was near Bath, moved out to attempt to block the Royalist advance, taking position on high ground blocking the route to Oxford. On the 3rd July, Waller’s defensive position was sufficient to make Hopton look for another route, although not before his musketeers had caused some heavy casualties on the Parliamentary scouting cavalry. Hopton effectively looked to sidetrack Waller, but Waller also moved sideways and took up a new position blocking Hopton’s advance along the ridge and slopes of Lansdown Hill. Realising that he would be unable to avoid battle forever, Hopton formed up his army to face Waller’s prepared defenses.

Suggested initial positions for the Battle of Lansdown 5th July 1643

ORDERS OF BATTLE

Using a 1 to 25 figure ratio

ROYALIST ARMY

Sir Ralph Hopton – Commander in Chief – Excellent, veteran, inspiring

5 Regiments of Cornish Infantry (5 x 800 men) – 5 x 32 figures (16 pike/16 musket) veteran, elite, steady – half armed with pike/half armed with musket

4 Regiments of Horse (4 x 400 men) – 4 x 16 figures – Medium cavalry, trained, impetuous, experienced, sword and pistols

2 Regiments of Horse (2 x 400 men) – 2 x 16 figures – Medium cavalry, elite, impetuous, veteran. sword and pistols

1 Regiment of Dragoons (300 men) – 12 figures – Mounted infantry, elite, steady, veteran, musket

PARLIAMENT ARMY

Sir William Waller – Commander in Chief – Excellent, veteran, inspiring

5 Regiments of Foot (5 x 800 men) – 5 x 32 figures (16 pike/16 musket) veteran, trained, steady – half armed with pike/ half armed with musket

4 Regiments of Horse (4 x 400 men) – 4 x 16 figures – Medium cavalry, veteran, trained, steady, sword and pistols

2 Regiments of Cuirassiers (4 x 400 men) – 2 x 16 figures – Armoured heavy cavalry, veteran, elite, steady, sword and pistols

1 Regiment of Dragoons (300 men) – 12 figures – open order infantry, veteran, elite, steady, musket

Artillery – 4 models of heavy guns – veteran, trained, steady

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

By the date of this battle, Hopton was running low on ammunition so had to consider his plans carefully. After facing Waller’s position it became apparent to him that Waller did not want to move forward to do battle, so Hopton ordered his army to withdraw. At the same time, Waller did not want Hopton to escape again to another route, so launched his cavalry down the slopes to attack the Royalists as they moved off. After an initial cavalry melee, the Royalist cavalry broke and began to pull back, but the Cornish infantry stood their ground and faced off the enemy. Two of Hopton’s more reliable cavalry regiments, his own and that of Prince Maurice, joined the defiant Cornish in the stand, together they managed to turn the defense in to an offense and began to slowly push up the slopes of Lansdown Hill.

A counterattack by Waller’s cavalry was once again beaten back and the Royalists began to boost their morale with a slow but steady advance along the entire front; Dragoons pushing up along the flanks while the Cornish infantry marched onward and upwards. As they neared the lip of the slope though the fighting intensified, with Waller’s men throwing every effort into not letting the Royalists get a foothold on the top plateau, once again many of the Royalist cavalry fled, with only around 600 troopers remaining in the fight. Colonel of infantry, Sir Bevile Granville, inspired the Cornish foot by taking to lead their advance, holding off three cavalry charges, they finally stepped onto the plateau and as they did so, Sir Granville was shot and fell dead. Despite this loss the Royalists now pressed on and secured their foothold with more men, the Parliamentarians pulling back to another defensive line, this time behind a stone wall (at the top of the map). The exhausted Royalists now stood firm along the brow of the hill and declined from advancing further for now, preferring instead to rest and make camp. Waller’s men appeared to be doing the same, and throughout the night the Royalists watched the flickering camp fires across the plateau, only to discover in the morning that they had been duped, and Waller’s men had actually withdrawn in the night, leaving fires to confuse their enemy..

It was a hard fought battle on both sides, but for now still not decisive for either side. A few days later that decisive battle would come at Roundway Down.

 

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