Category Archives: English Civil War

Wrotham Common

“Sir, We hear by letters that the Lord Morton will be in West Melfordshire this day or soon after. Whether he will go northward or southward we know not, but we earnestly desire you to take order for the best intelligence which way he marches, and that your forces may be at such places as may most conveniently succour in the north if there be occasion, or if Lord Morton shall march southward that he may not get between your army and these parts. We doubt not but you will forthwith send such succour into Melfordshire as may suppress the enemy in their recruitment and secure your association.”

Sir Francis Pickwick placed the letter from London on the table and pondered its implications once more. In an attempt to halt a string of Royalist victories, in which Lord Morton had defeated a large Roundhead force just two weeks prior and taken two fortifications with his significant siege train in the days after he, Sir Francis, had been dispatched by Parliament to restore Parliamentarian fortunes in the county of Melfordshire. Finally the elusive Morton, and his Royalist army that had done such damage, had been bought to battle…

Despite much of his horse being detached, and discarding much of the baggage, Sir Francis marched his army briskly towards Morton, determined to bring him to battle. Then, on the 27th day of  March, Sir Francis deployed his army on the fields near the village of Wrotham. To his front lay several enclosures and in the distance a low hill just northeast of Wrotham. The Roundheads comprised 3,600 foot arrayed in six regiments and were supported by 600 harqubusiers, 200 dragoons and a small number of sakers and other light pieces. Below, several troops of Colonel Thomas Harrison’s Regiment of Horse on the Roundhead left.

Lord Morton has a tendency to field a significant number of gunnes, no doubt ideal for the reduction of several fortified positions in Melfordshire. The most recent engagement was to be no different. Opposite the ranks of the Roundheads a significant number of Royalist sakers, supported by a number demi-culverins, were deployed. To their left and right were a number of Royalist foot. Saftely to the rear a number of Royalist horse took up a position near Morton and other Papist gentlemen.

The battle opened with a barrage of cannon fire. Sir Francis engaging Royalist foot on the hill on the Royalist left. In contrast the gunnes of the Royalists, massed on the centre right, engaged a range of targets. The demi-culverins fired diagonally across the Royalist lines to engage the Roundhead right while the sakers engaged, more conventionally, the Roundhead centre.

Sir Francis was the first to move and ordered forward a number of musketeers from Goode’s Regiment to occupy the village of Wrotham. The commanded shot gained the gained the village and caused much consternation to the Royalists. Unfortunately, the Royalists reformed, and with a greater numbers drove out the Goode’s commanded shot, the valiant forlorn suffering heavy casualties. Once ensconced in Wrotham however the Royalists achieved little.

Above, commanded shot of Goode’s Regiment are driven back in Wrotham.

In the centre things were more confusing. Initially Parliamentary dragoons advanced to disrupt the Royalist positions and, on the extreme left, drove back the Royalist dragoons. The advance in the centre resulted in the piecemeal advance of Royalist foot, which in turn prevented the Royalist gunnes from firing. Soon the Roundhead foot, more formed than their opposite number, advanced allowing the musketeers to ply their deadly trade.

Sensing they were gaining an advantage a number of Roundhead surged forward with clubbed musket and sword. Unfortunately they were pushed back and soon both forces reformed engaging instead in increasingly ineffective musket fire.

Below, the centre with Royalists on the right somewhat broken up while the Roundheads advance. Two troops of Parliamentarian horse, under Elias Batchelor, advance in support ready to engage the Royalists with carbine or pistol.

On the Roundhead left things were equally confusing. A number of dragoons under Captain Daniel Abbott – known for his zeal to the Parliamentarian cause, had earlier been successful against their opposites were now forced back when Royalist horse moved forward to counter them. Caught by enemy shot and horse before they could retire, the dragoons were ridden down. Abbott himself was fortunate to escape. Despite this, their action covered the advance of two Roundhead regiments who now pressed forward to engage the pursuing cavaliers as the sun set on the field.

Above, two troops of Royalist horse fall back from after having pursued too far and encountered the ordered pike of Vincent Boyce’s Bluecoats. To Boyce’s left can be seen a portion of William Wade’s Redcoats, veterans also.

As the light faded neither army was demoralised. Yet, Lord Morton had had enough. As the hour was late and with victory robbed from him, the Royalists quit the field. After a string of Parliamentary defeats in Melfordshire honour had been finally restored.

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For King or Covenant

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on my Renaissance site, but that shouldn’t be confused with a lack of Renaissance gaming. Far from it in fact with armies being deployed almost every week. As always the games played with the locals are always excellent. Last Wednesday’s game was no exception.

Jim deployed his newly completed Scots Covenanters while I took the field with my English Civil War Royalists in a game set in 1644. Each army comprised 300 points. The situation found the Scots invading, on a fine Autumn day with the Royalists deployed behind a stream. To the Royalist left several enclosures bordered the stream and would play a part in the battle. To the Scots left rear a small wood hampered the Scots deployment but would otherwise not impact the battle.

The English deployed in traditional manner with foot, some 1600 in number, in the centre with some 800 horse split evenly on the wings. A few dragoons and a handful of guns supplemented the small English army. The larger Scots deployed their foot across the battlefield interspersed with guns of various weight. Their horse, outnumbering the English, were deployed to the rear due to their doubtful quality.

Both armies advanced in the centre where soon the foot of both armies were hotly engaged in a prolonged exchange of fire. As time past the Scots foot and gunners would suffer heavy casualties. On the English left the enclosures soon rattled with musket fire as English Dragoons and Scots dragoons and musketeers engaged each other.

However the wings where the scene of much action when English foot charged across and threatened both Scots flanks. On the English right the stream caused much disruption and delay. While a foothold was gained counterattacks eventually drove the English cavaliers back in rout. On the English left the cavaliers were more successful. While delayed but Scots dragoons eventually across and began to drive in the Scots horse. Meanwhile English foot prepared to press their hard won advantage in the centre.

Alas it was only the lateness of the day that was to save the Scots right from collapse. Well, at least according to the English pamphlets reporting the battle…

English Civil War Gaming Scenarios: Volume 4

The fourth volume in the series and also written by Robert Giglio this is the final volume in the series I have purchased to date. It maintains the same format with around 60 pages.

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The battles coverd are Aylesbury 1642; Bradford 1642; Highnam House 1643; Gainsborough 1643; Shieldfield 1644; Inverlochy 1645; Sherburn-in-Elmet 1645; Ballaghkillgevill and Benburb 1646; Y Dalar Hir 1648; St Quen’s Bay 1651 and the Rising of John Lambert 1660.

Looking at some of the scenarios a couple of points are worth noting. Both Y Dalar Hir, in Northern Wales, and Lambert’s Rising are very small actions and may need to be scaled up to provide interesting games, especially so if you are using DBR.

Bradford, with around with 1000 Roundheads and 1500 Royalists while small, should provide an interesting normal sized game while the relief of Highnam House looks a fascinating scenario and very different from typical equal points games.

For those with a Scots Royalist army, Inverlochy will be a challenge for the Marquis. Being outnumbered almost 2:1 it illustrates the need for more poorly trained Scots Covenanters in armies in Scotland, something that is missing in the DBR Scots list.

Benburb, set in Ireland, is a scenario that I find particularly interesting having read Clive Hollick’s excellent book on the campaign and battle. It will be interesting to compare the scenario with Hollick’s order of battle when time permits. This scenario should make an excellent open battle.

St. Ouen’s Bay is perhaps the most unusual scenario dealing as it does with the Parliamentarian landings on Jersey in 1651. Outnumbered the veteran Parliamentarians will have a hard time undertaking an amphibious landing, but given their is little historic detail on the engagement this scenario can, and possibly should, be modified to increase playability. Indeed, this is worthwhile remembering with many of these scenarios as sources are often limited and while the scenarios are well presented, most if not all, could be interpreted very differently.

In some respects I consider this to be the weakest volume in the series, yet it still combines some useful and interesting scenarios. Inverlochy and Benburb are two outstanding scenarios of interesting battles. All volumes are available from Caliver Books.

English Civil War Gaming Scenarios: Volume 3

The third volume in the series of English Civil War scenario books by Partizan Press, and the second volume by Robert Giglio, the publication follows the same format of earlier volumes. That is, A4 with excellent illustrations and maps with a page count of around 62 pages.

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This time the line up of battles includes Coventry 1642; Southam & Dunsmore 1642; Siege of Manchester 1642; Storming of Leeds 1643; Middlemarch 1643; Selby 1644; Tippermuir 1644; Wistanstow 1645; Langport 1645; Willoughby Field 1648 and Severn 1655. As before the scenarios include an interesting section placing the engagement in context which sets the scene well in each case.

Selby strikes me as a difficult engagement to wargame and I struggle to see how it would play out as a scenario. Why, well the game is set in the town itself. There are just four assault points, the roads, that join in the town square. The defenders field some 2000 foot and 1500 horse and as they are in the town can not deploy, at least in a traditional form. The problem for the attacker is no different as Fairfax has 3500 foot and 2000 horse and is constrained by the limited attack routes. I just don’t see how this scenario is playable.

Severn is an interesting choice and I’m sure it has been selected to appeal to the North American market as it was fought in Maryland. However, with only 400 men in total it is really a skirmish. That said given that the rules are not defined for a specific rule set a not unreasonable action to be included and will have appeal to the American English Civil War enthusiast. As to forces involved the Providence Puritans number 160 men and the St Mary’s Royalists 240.

The other battles however look very playable and being less well known are rather appealing. Southam and Dunsmore Heath are fought on successive days with increasing forces so would make an interesting linked game or mini-campaign as suggested. Langport has always seemed a difficult battle to wargame, but interesting non the less. For this scenario Mr Giglio has selected to focus on those forces actually involved. That is the forcing of the crossing of the Wagg Rhyne and the attack on the Royalists deployed on Ham Hill. A very sensible decision.

With a couple of exceptions another excellent volume.