This is the second battle report in our long standing campaign to re-fight the Wars of the Roses. Details can be found on the campaign page. Jeremey takes us through the battle of Blore Heath.
Battle of Blore Heath
I had originally put this battle down with the Lancastrians as the defenders. Accounts of the battle have the Lancastrians arriving first and taking up a defensive position along a stream. The Yorkists then arrived and being outnumbered took up a defensive position in turn at which point the Lancastrians attacked. But my opponent Stephen put forward the arguement that the battle was essentially a Lancastrian attack and so that’s what we went for.
As with the first battle we had two guest commanders, this time Andy joined the Lancastrians while Tim joined the Yorkists. For this battle both sides had 750 points and we played using the Sword and Spear 2nd edition rules.
For the start of the battle I took up command of the Yorkist left while Tim took the right. This left me facing Andy across the stream and Tim facing Stephen. One of the house rules we had for this battle was that the Lancastrians had to have at least four units of cavalry, as that was a feature of the historical battle. In the end Stephen had six cavalry units of various types and kept them all under his command. The Yorkist forces were an even mix of archers and billmen distributed evenly between the commanders. The only difference being I also had some guns in the centre.
The start of the battle saw the Lancastrians waste no time in bringing forward their archers in the centre ground and cavalry on the Lancastrian left. Seeing this I pushed up my guns in the centre knowing they outranged the archers.
Being in keeping with the historical nature of the battle, Stephen decided to charge his cavalry straight across the river. Despite never having played Sword and Spear, Tim managed to put his archers into a good position to cover any attempts by the Lancastrians to cross the river. These made short work of the light cavalry before they could charge into contact.
In the centre it was a different story with the Lancastrian archers getting the upper hand. The Yorkist guns were the first outright casualty while the other archer units also took some damage. Due to this I moved my billmen and men at arms back from the river and out of range. This was immediately called out as a cowardly move by the Lancastrians.
As more Lancastrian cavalry approached the river. This time mounted men at arms, Tim encouraged by the ease at which the last attack was repelled moved some men at arms up in response to the treat.
On the Yorkist left flank I had positioned my cavalry as a diversionary tactic. I was hoping Andy would commit some of his units to counter the threat rather than strengthen the centre. But then having gained the initiative by quite a big margin Andy rolled the dice to see which of his units he could activate. The roll was a complete disaster leaving Andy with only one unit receiving an activation.
Seeing the lack of action on the Lancastrian right and because I was losing the archery duel in the centre I took the bold step of committing my cavalry across the river unopposed with the view of taking the battle to the Lancastrians.
As mentioned the Lancastrian archers were winning in the centre. Despite being Militia units they were outclassing my retinue archers. This led to more tactical (ahem) retreat moves from the Yorkist billmen units.
Meanwhile the Lancastrian right went from bad to worse. The Yorkist cavalry charged in against the opposing billmen with the resulting dice throws ending is a swift defeat for the billmen. In the above picture you can see the Yorkist dice roll (blue dice) versus the Lancastrian (yellow/red dice). Given the impact rule charging cavalry get such a roll saw the billmen destroyed rather than take a couple of wounds.
The second Yorkist cavalry unit did just as well (helped by having a 6 played as the activation giving a boost to the combat) meaning the original diversion of the cavalry ended up breaking through the Lancastrian right and able to turn and threaten the Lancastrian archers in the centre.
In contrast the Lancastrian mounted men at arms on the Lancastrian left failed to run down the Yorkist dismounted men at arms even with the support of the Lancastrian general and outnumbering them.
Luckily the lancastrian general survived the destruction of the cavalry unit they were attached to. Here we see Stephen “repositioning” his general in a backwards direction which the second cavalry unit fights on.
With potentially more cavalry on the way Tim started to move up more units in support, including his own cavalry.
The battle in the centre came to an end with archery from Andy landing the final blow on my Yorkist archers that had already been suffering under Stephens. Despite all of my archer units being wiped out, in the last attacks I was able to make I did manage to destroy a couple of the Lancastrian militia archers that had caused so many problems.
However at this point in the battle the Lancastrians had suffered heavy loses and wer close to breaking. They only lost one unit in the first morale check, but with the Yorkist cavalry rampaging on their left flank, the Lancastrian cavalry being repulsed on thier right and with a distinct lack of targets in the centre, their options were limited.
Trying desperately to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat Stephen charged the last of his cavalry across the river and against Tim’s mounted men at arms that he had managed to get into position. The following melee of light cavalry versus mounted men at arms with another unit in support went as expected pusing the Lancastrian army over it’s break point and handing victory to the Yorkists.
3 Units of Longbows (9 points)
1 Unit of Crossbows (3 points)
1 Unit of Spearmen (4 points)
1 Unit of Guns (2 points)
Total loses 18 points (Army morale 38 points)
2 Units of Mounted Men at Arms (8 points)
4 Units of Currours (16 points)
2 Units of Billmen (8 points)
2 Units of Militia Longbowmen (6 points)
2 Units of Welsh Longbowmen (6 points)
Total loses 44 points (Army morale 43 points)