Stephen continues his refight of the War of the Roses…
This one was never going to go well for the Lancastrians.
This is the third battle in my plan to re-fight all major encounters of the War of the Roses. Like previous games I am using the Basic Impetus rules. There were a couple of important aspects to this battle that had to be reflected if it were to be a faithful re-fight.
Firstly, due to the rain (typical British summer) the Lancastrian artillery could not fire due to wet powder. They were in the line but totally ineffective. That was easily dealt with.
The second, and most important thing, was Lord Grey’s betrayal of King Henry. As Warwick and the Yorkist army marched north they entered into secret talks with Grey and promised they would not harm him in return for his help. What happened in the actual battle was that the Earl of March (on the Yorkist left flank) advanced against Grey (on the Lancastrian right). As March’s retinue crossed the ditch and bank Grey’s men gave way and allowed them to roll up the Lancastrian line and capture King Henry.
This would have to be reflected. I was in two minds about how to deal with this. It didn’t help that this would be a solo game so I could hardly spring a surprise on myself. In the end, I decided that if March’s troops neither fired nor attacked Grey’s troops then Grey would give way when contacted (effectively counting as loses against the Lancastrian army). This, of course, would have a major impact on the Lancastrian army, but then that’s exactly what it had in reality!
OK, so let’s get on with the battle.
The Lancastrian army had ensconced themselves in a bend in the river Nene on the opposite bank from Northampton. They had put a ditch and defences in front of their position. King Henry VI was with them but the army was led by the Duke of Buckingham.
The Yorkist forces were led by the Earl of Warwick with Lord Fauconberg on the right and the Earl of March on the left. With Warwick’s skullduggery and plotting with Grey, the advance of the Yorkist forces was led by March.
Like the previous two battles, this was little more than an attack on a prepared position. Therefore, I gave the Yorkists the initiative until things got within bow range.
The last thing the Lancastrians wanted was poor dice rolling. Being in a stationary position meant their fire should be more effective. But no. The God of Battles (the dice) were against them. Warwick’s troops in the centre got within bow range of the artillery and they soon sent the gunners packing.
March’s men started moving up. Now, it may seem like it would be a done deal – why would I engage the Lancastrian line with March’s men? However, I did decide that if the Lancastrians gave a good account and their bowfire proved effective, and the Yorkist looked like they would take a beating, that this would prove enough motivation for Grey to reconsider and then engage March’s troops. However, the poor rolls by the Lancastrians made that look unlikely.
Fauconberg also started exchanging bowfire with the Earl of Shrewsbury.
A couple more turns, and it still wasn’t looking good for Buckingham and his men. In truth, neither side was rolling that well for their archers, but the Yorkists had the edge. March’s men carried on with their advance, still holding back from loosing their arrows.
Buckingham moved up his plate armoured men at arms and his billmen, hoping the Yorkists would have the decency to engage in melee rather then sit back and keep shooting.
Finally, March’s men started clambering over the Lancastrian defences. No casualties had been caused to Grey’s men and so Grey dutifully pulled back and allowed March into the Lancastrian defences!
It was now only a matter of time. It wasn’t a case of if the Lancastrians would lose but how much damage they could cause the Yorkists before they did.
Buckingham swung his billmen around to try and put something in the way of March’s assault. However, the levy spearmen in March’s retinue got stuck in and charged the Lancastrian archers. After a brief melee the archers fell to the spearmen.
And that was that!
A Yorkist win. It had been a convincing win at that – Warwick’s troops hadn’t taken a single casualty. Exactly how it happened historically. The real battle lasted less than an hour and my re-fight took only a bit longer.
Next up then, is the battle of Wakefield. Unfortunately I will have to bypass that one – Wakefield was a large cavalry engagement and I don’t have anywhere near enough cavalry bases. Shame, because the castle would make a great backdrop to the battle. This one would make a good club game when we can get back together.
Therefore, I’ll move on to Mortimer’s Cross…