Wars of the Roses – 2nd Battle of St Albans – Battle Report

We went for something different for the sixth battle of our Wars of the Roses campaign. Stephen was a bit more clued up on how the 2nd Battle of St Albans was fought and suggested a true representation of the battle would be to have both sides slowly making their way to the battlefield, in a piece meal fashion. You can see the depolyment rules we used for this game on the campaign page.  For the battle I took command of the Yorkist Left under the Duke of York with Andy once again acting as Lord Ferrers my second in command. On the Lancastrian side Stephen had the Duke of Somerset with Lord Roos and Lord Codnor as captains. Tony F joined the Lancastrians in an attempt to salvage his reputation from Mortimers Cross by taking charge of the Duke of Exeter with Lord Clifford as captain. Both sides had 750 points for the Battle and as throughout the campaign we used  Sword & Spear 2nd edition.

2nd Battle of St Albans
I wasn’t sure if our depolyments rules would work for this game, some foot units are very slow in Sword & Spear so there was a danger it would take ages to get an entire army onto the battlefield. At the start I had deployed my guns (facing the wrong way as per the deployment!), a camp, a unit of Currours and Mounted Men at Arms. The Lancastrians under Stephen deployed two units of longbows and two of hand gunners.

I didn’t want to just go charging in with my cavalry, I needed the activation dice to get more units on the battlefield and so just concentrated on turning the guns round and using those to hassle the Lancastrian longbows. From this very early stage I was very concerned at how vulnerable the Yorkist camp was.

I managed to turn my guns round as the Lancastrian longbows moved into range. The guns fired but caused no damage. With the help of some activation dice Andy managed to get some longbows marching down the road in support.

The Lancastrian longbows managed to take out the Yorkist guns with their first volley and I once again started to fear for the camp. I thought given the lost of the camp causing a discipline test for all units would be a prize worth pursuing, but as would become evident throughout the battle, the Lancastrians just didn’t seem that interested in taking it.

With the Lancastrians being cautious the Yorkists decided to ignore their cavalry and concentrate on getting as many units on the battlefield as possible. Using the extra movement gained from the road we risked creating a jam and advanced in column down the road as fast as we could.

The Lancastrians followed suit and had most of their units on the battlefield by the end of the third turn. Tony’s forces out on the Lancastrians right front advanced their longbows well ahead of the rest of their forces but without the advantage of the road.

As the Lancastrians continued to advance, Andy quickened his pace and got a unit of Longbows up to the camp. Again the Lancastrian longbows did not advance but instead waited for their men at arms and pikemen to catch up.

Andy was all for engaging in an archery duel with the Lancastrians but I insisted he push passed the camp to block the enemy. Andy took the best of both worlds by advancing and taking a hasty shot which managed to damage the Lancastrian archers. Return fire from the Lancastrians caused some damage but the way to the camp was blocked.

Things were starting to heat up in the centre, the Yorkist longbows managed to destroy their Lancastrian counterparts. With this success I decided to charge the Currours against the other unit of longbows in the centre. To my great surprise this proved decisive and destroyed the longbows.

Letting the success go to my head I gave the Currours a bouns dice and charged the men at arms. The Lancastrian heavy infantry withstood the charge and both sides took casualties, but neither side gained the upper hand. I was willing to sacrifice the Currours to delay the Lancastrian advance so the damaged caused was a welcome bonus.

While the fighting in the centre continued both sides looked towards the rest of their armies to continue the advance. I gathered up my longbows and with the generals help marched them towards the Lancastrian archers being formed up opposite by Tony. At this point I also moved my as yet uncommitted mounted men at arms out on the Yorkist flank. This was to threaten the Lancastrian left. Stephen reacted as I hoped he would by moving some longbows to hassle the cavalry.

The centre then took an odd turn with the damaged Lancastrian men at arms losing to the Yorkist archers. With the Yorkist’s having managed to get some billmen and their own men at arms up in support, the centre would now be decided by the Lancastrian pikemen.

Out on the Lancastrian right flank Tony’s archers began engaing the Yorkist longbows. Making up for the poor showing at Mortimers Cross Tony’s archers started to inflict more wounds than they suffered. Given this poor showing from the Yorkist archers I decided to move my spearmen and other infantry units in support in case the archers were wiped out.

The centre battle saw the poor Yorkist archers easily overcome by the Lancastrian pikemen, but with the number of Yorkist heavy infantry now present I felt confident of stopping the pikemen. Having lost the archers in the centre Stephen brought up some billmen to try and dislodge Andy’s longbows who had taken up a commanding firing position.

Seeing the danger I moved some men at arms to support the archers. The Lancastrian billmen almost destroyed the Yorkist archers despite Andy giving them a bonus dice for the melee. The retaliation from my men at arms managed to destroy the billmen. At the same time the Lancastrian pikemen in the centre succumbed to an onslaught of men at arms and billmen effectively winning the centre for the Yorkists.

Meanwhile out on the Lancastrian right, Tony’s longbows proved themselves superior, and as feared he had also managed to advance his infantry through the gap. Tony’s men at arms charged my spearmen making short work of them. But with a unit of billmen in support I was able to counter charge them in the flank and destroy them. That last act managed to break the Lancastrians and give the field once again to the Yorskists.

This was a very interesting battle, the staggered deployment meant players had to decide on the type of battle they would fight. With the Yorkist camp in the centre of the battlefield I decided to concentrate my units there. And to get them moving as quickly as possible. I thought the battle would be a race to the camp, but it never turned out that way. Stephen and Tony deployed as if it was a normal battle with both sides facing off against eachother. This was the second battle in this campaign where I thought the objective was obvious but where my opponent didn’t capitalise on it. Although things could have gone differently had the Lancastrians held out longer in the centre. Tony won the better part of the right flank and could have been a real threat had he been able to turn towards the centre in support.

Although the casualty lists seem to show an overwhelming Yorkist victory. The last turn of the battle did have the Yorkists reach their first morale point, but this was too late for the Lancastrians. With the campaign six battles in the score stands at 4 wins to 1 for the Yorkists. The bloodbath of Towton is next, will the Lancastrians finally be able to turn the tide?

Yorkist Loses
5 Units of Longbows (15 points)
2 Units of Militia Longbows (6 points)
1 Unit of Spearmen (3 points)
1 Unit of Currours (4 points)
1 Unit of Guns (2 points)
Total loses 30 points (Army break point 44)

Lancastrian Loses
2 Units of Men at Arms (8 points)
2 Units of Hand Gunners (4 points)
2 Units of Billmen (8 points)
7 Units of Longbows (21 points)
1 Unit of Pikemen (6 points)
Total loses 47 points (Army break point 40)

Yorkist Victory