Wednesday, 13 April 2016

English Civil War Battle Report – The Earl of Newcastle & Sir Hugh of Beeston

Its been rather a while since I’ve done one of these, various factors including life and football taking over somewhat from wargaming, but it’s a busy week with a trip yesterday to a good friends establishment to use his wargaming shed, and on the Thursday I will return to Broughton for the first time in six months for a game of Saga.

Onto yesterday and my English Civil War troops took the windy road and beautiful towards Ruthin, via Llay (and another car repair) and Mold.  The opposition was fielding his Royalists; the Earl of Newcastle and his Whitecoats no less!  My troops normally take the Kings side, but given the ‘enemies’ sympathies I suspect that made my men, who are usually part of the King’s Oxford army, the baddies. 

The rules used were pike and shotte, with victory going to the side that broke all of the enemies brigades first.  The armies were evenly matched in makeup and numbers.  Both sides fielded several foote regiments, with Newcastle electing to divide his into two brigades, while Sir Hugh of Beeston (ever after to be Sir Hugh) massed most of his foote into one large brigade.  These worthies faced each other across a rural scene somewhere in a Welsh valley, while their respective cavalry wings eyed each other up.  Sir Hugh’s plan (by which I mean my own) was to use my own horse aggressively against the other, while pinning the enemy foote with my own until they could be flanked.  I felt my choice to included more dragoons and packets of musketeers within my horse wing would give me enough of an edge.

The battle field seen from behind Newcastle's horse wing (near on the left), faced by Sir Hugh's horse, while the bulk of the foote are on the far side.

Pacifism and Barns
The battle started brightly with the Earl of Newcastle failing almost all of his command checks, and his army stood around comparing the effects of Daz vs other lesser known brands.  Their dragoons faltered at the door to the large barn that dominated the centre, leaving Sir Hugh’s musketeers ample time to establish a stronghold within under their noses.  Sir Hugh’s left wing of foote moved into stronger positions ready to receive the enemy, while his horse was more tardy in their efforts, and despite desperate shouts of ‘charge!’ they didn’t.  This was to prove a theme for the mounted contingent on both sides well into the afternoon, with plenty of pacifism on show.

Lighting a Fire
In the foote department Newcastle lit a fire under his men and they forgot their laundry and marched swiftly forwards to engage the enemy at close range.  The whitecoats had superiority in numbers of musketeers and they looked to make this count, disrupting Sir Hugh’s efforts at using his pike blocks to counter attack.  The exchanges of lead gave way to melee near the barn in the centre as two of Sir Hugh’s pike regiments; Talbots and Hopton’s, charged into contact, but were unable to push through their enemy, and were subsequently counter-charged by Newcastles own pikemen, in the case of Talbot this was in the flank.  Not even a break for lunch and hot pies could prevent Sir Hugh’s men from being worn down, Stradlings pike followed the others, and soon the large foote brigade was broken and in full retreat, with only the ordinance; a solitary Saker, sticking around for longer to take a toll on the enemy, complete with smoke marker.

Sir Hugh's dragoons giving fire near the barn.

The two lines of foote move in for the clash.

It begins to go wrong for Sir Hugh's men, with the enemy pike pushing them back.  Strykers commanded shotte can be seen in the bottom left putting up a fierce resistance against the enemy horse.

Winging It
On the cavalry wing, however, things were different.  Sir Hugh’s horse had managed to break Strykers commanded shotte near the barn, and despite some valiant charges by Newcastle’s horse it was not enough to see off the mounted enemy and the northern horsemen were swept aside.  Unfortunately for Sir Hugh too much time had been spent trying to achieve this result, and most of his mounted gallopers were shaken or nearly so.  In the hope of rescuing the battle he turned them to wheel around the rear of the barn to try and take the whitecoats in the back, but too much time had passed, Sir Hugh’s foote had long gone and Newcastle was able to form a battle line facing the gallopers and a skirmish line of dragoons.

Sir Hugh's horse moving around the barn to try and attack Newcastles men from behind.

The gallopers dashed themselves against this line several times, hoping to break through and then turn again and take their enemy from the rear while the dragoons occupied their front, but time and time again they were driven back by accurate musketry.  Long after they should have quit the field the gallopers, and their supporting dragoons and packets of musketeers, were finally beaten into submission by the volleys of lead, and, very roughly handled and almost entirely shaken, they departed to the jeers of Newcastle’s troops.  Victory to Newcastle and his whitecoats. 

But the whitecoats are ready, and it is all for nothing.


Two similar, and well matched armies, with Newcastle’s foote able to get the better of the slightly outnumbered Sir Hugh’s infantry before my horse could sweep round, and then able to turn and see off the shaken cavalry with musketry.