The Second Battle of St Albans – 17 February 1461

Stephen takes us through the return match of the Wars of the Roses that was the second battle of St Albans.

The Second St Albans has always struck me as one of those battles that no one’s heart was really in.
It’s more of a surprise battle that happened by accident.
Coming quickly on the heels of the battle of Mortimer’s Cross it had the Yorkists, led by Warwick, looking north expecting an attack.
Meanwhile, the Lancastrians, led by Somerset, were actually approaching from the south. The Yorkists had deployed in depth – most of the army looking north around the area of Normansland Common, with Warwick encamped at the village of Sandridge, and the artillery park (with King Henry) a mile or so south, just north of St Albans.
Scouts had reported to Warwick that Lancastrians had been seen approaching from the south at St Albans. Warwick had none of it. The Lancastrian vanguard marched into St Albans, sweeping aside the York pickets. Warwick still wouldn’t accept it.
On they marched, north, out of St Albans on the road heading for Sandridge. The Yorkist artillery had been dug in, but facing north! Urgent reports went back to Warwick – the Lancastrians are advancing from the south.
This time Warwick listened and sent out his own scouts to see how true it was. Meanwhile, the artillery was over-run and King Henry was given the chance to join the Lancastrian cause – unsurprisingly, he agreed.
It was only now that Warwick started funnelling troops south to face the approaching enemy army. The outcome was inevitable – the Yorkist army was routed.

The order of battle

Like all the other battles in this series it was gamed using Basic Impetus on a 3×2 foot board. The important aspect of this battle is that both sides had to continually feed troops in to the battlefield. The Lancastrians start with most present. The Yorkists have just their artillery, some handgunners, and Henry VI’s camp.
To represent troops entering the battlefield I decided that from Turn 3 onwards whichever side won the initiative could roll a second die – on a 4, 5, or 6 no more troops entered. On a 1, 2, or 3 that many units of their own troops could enter the table from their edge within 1 base-width of the road.
Here’s the initial deployment. North is to the right, south/St Albans is to the left.

Deployment

Initiative went to the Lancastrians for the first couple of turns, which allowed them to move up with speed and also meant that on Turn 3 they brought more troops on. This was as it should be, since the rest of the army was just 500m to the south coming through St Albans town, whereas the York army was a good couple of kilometres further north.
The artillery stayed still, waiting for the Lancastrian archers to come into range. The handgunners moved forward so they could start scoring hits sooner than later. However, neither side was rolling that well and what exchanges there were proved desultory. Nevertheless, the inevitable happened – the handgunners fell under the weight of the archers.

Handgunners light their fuses

More Lancastrian troops arrived and I was starting to wonder if the Yorkists would ever arrive and maybe they’d just march right across the battlefield unopposed.
The artillery opened up but it was more noise than effect. The archers concentrated their fire and that was that.

The artillery lets rip!

At this stage there were no Yorkist forces in the table!
Without much resistance the Lancastrians rolled into King Henry’s camp and they captured the King.

King Henry about to be captured

At this point it had all gone pretty much according to history.
Then the Yorkists stole initiative and they could bring on some troops – just the one unit this time, so I opted for the fully armoured men at arms. There they stood, that one unit looking toward St Albans, all alone, facing the entire Lancastrian army.
The men at arms moved forward, optimistically expecting more troops to arrive and wanting to make room for them.

York Men at Arms come to see what all the fuss is

This wasn’t misplaced optimism, and close on their heels came a couple of units of Yorkist longbowmen.
The Lancastrian army started to get a lick on and advanced quickly to hedge in the newly arrived York troops and make it difficult for them to manoeuvre into position.
The Yorkists knew there was nothing to be gained by staying still and so they pushed the men at arms forward – they had to get stuck in as quickly as possible to halt the Lancastrian advance and to strike a blow. The archers protected the flanks of the advancing men at arms and an arrow exchange between the two sides ensued.
Fortunately, more Yorkist troops now started to arrive – Warwick had clearly come to his senses!

Warwick’s Troops Finally Get On Table (on the right)

Up until now the Lancastrian army had been unscathed, but now they started taking casualties and wouldn’t be having it all their own way. Nevertheless they were also dishing it out. Those Yorkist men at arms became an arrow magnet and arrows fell heavily on them, but eventually they made their way forward and charged the Lancastrian bow line.
For what good it did them, though. Drained by the shower of arrows they were soon finished off by the archers but gave a good account of themselves in return.
Meanwhile, the Yorkist troops had moved forward to get the Lancastrian army in close range – there was nothing to lose and they had to hope that God (the dice) would be on their side and they could blast the Lancastrians.

York Men At Arms Finally Get Stuck In

This tactic wasn’t lost on the Lancastrians though. Recognising that each side had a 50/50 chance of success in a bow exchange they decided to swing the odds in their favour and advanced their men at arms and billmen through their lines and charge into the York archers.

Lancastrian Infantry Charge Through The Archers

And it was a tactic that paid off.
The weight of the fresh Lancastrian melee troops fell upon the Yorkist archers and the combat was brief but decisive – the day would go to Lancaster!

Previous entries in Stephen’s War of the Roses battles:

 

The 3 S’s: Stargrave, Space: 1999 and Serenity

Andy tells a story of repurposing an Eagle…

With the announcement of the release of Stargrave last year one of our members suggested that as a lockdown project those interested might like to kitbash or scratchbuild a shuttle or spaceship and paint up a 15mm crew for the game, with a target date of early 2021 when we hoped we might be able to resume meetings. The due date was of course extended.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Actually, no, it was in the 1970’s in Rochester, I bought and made up an Airfix Space 1999 Eagle Transporter. Said model has followed me around various student lodgings, digs, flats and finally my current home.

So, I had a search in the loft and found the Eagle. It’s not had very much use, but at one point I completely repainted it into a non-cannon scheme.

Eagle as found

I noticed that the thruster units were missing, I have a vague recollection that I removed them for the last repaint, and put them in a ziplock bag somewhere. Exactly where I don’t recall, hopefully they will turn up at some point.

Having found the model I decided I didn’t want to do a full strip and repaint, but I wasn’t that keen on the colour scheme I had used for the doors on the cargo pod or cockpit.

I decided to just touch up the grey and repaint the cargo pod and cockpit panels. I started off by giving the doors and the cockpit panels a couple of coats of Foundation White. Once dry I then repainted the doors and panels with Fluorescent Orange, with some black lining. The instrument panels at the top of the doors were painted Gunmetal Grey.

I also decided that the main engine nozzles need a touch-up, matt black inside and Gunmetal Grey outside. I also repainted the black panels on the cockpit section. I suspect my decision to use a grey and orange scheme may have been influenced by old Royal Navy SAR helicopters.

I had a rummage through my spare transfer box and found quite a few sheets from some Hasegawa 1:72nd scalexe UH-1D Helicopters I’d built for Vietnam games. This gave me a load of duplicate registration numbers, plus some Japanese Kanji characters. I gloss varnished the areas I to which I was going to place the transfers, added some 5-digit numbers to the front and sides, and larger two-digit numbers to the sides and top surfaces. I also added a Kanji block to the sides of the cargo pod, these actually read Rikujōjieitai or “Japan Ground Self Defence Force”. The reasons for adding some Kanji characters will become clearer later.

Eagle repainted

While I was working on the Eagle and posting WIP pictures on the MWS groups.io discussion page a debate arose about whether I should give the Eagle some weapons. There were arguments in favour and against, some of which were quite passionate.

I decided to try and have the best of both worlds, and make the guns detachable. Looking at the Eagle the spinal lattice work had gaps of approximately one inch. I thought I could make some inserts to fit this lattice to hold the guns.

I started by cutting some 25mm square sections of 5mm foamboard, then trimming about 2 mm off each edge of one of the cardboard faces and the underlying foam. This needs to be done carefully so as not to cut through the second face. This results in a roughly 21mm square “plug” with a 25mm square upper face. I made two of these.

Left to right: 25mm square foamboard, markings for the edge cuts, the roughly 21mm square plug with 25mm upper face.

I obtained a selection of spare guns from Brigade’s 15mm Accessories range, and made two gun packs, one fixed gun firing forward using a Triple Powergun and one with four Remote Weapons Mounts, think of some small Vulcan Phalanx systems.

I painted the guns Gunmetal grey and the body of the pack as close a match to the Eagle’s grey as I could mix. I then gave the guns a liberal coat of Army Painter Dark Tone wash.

Eagle Guns (L to R) Chin gun from a Kirin walker, Triple Powergun, Remote Weapon Mount

These gun packs just push fit into the spinal lattice, the foam is flexible enough to deform as they fit into place and expand again to hold them solid. The separate twin turret just fits into a recess in the cockpit section.

Eagle guns mounted

Now onto the crew.

A while ago I was tempted by a couple of GZG figure packs that bore an uncanny resemblance to the cast of a certain 2000’s Sci Fi TV show and film. Shiny. So, these would become the crew of the Eagle.

I mounted these on some 16mm diameter washers, built up the bases with Polyfilla and undercoated them with grey primer.

I found a few pictures of the cast on the web and used those as inspiration for the colour scheme, or as close as I could get with the mostly Valljeo paints I had available. The bases were then finished off with basetex and the figures varnished.

Three of the cast had duplicate figures, either different clothing and / or weapons, so I painted the second version in slightly different colours so that they could be used as different characters if required.

Left to right: two versions each of the Captain, Enforcer and First Mate.

The other six members of the crew only had a single casting each:

Left to right: Telepathic teenage ninja girl and her brother the Doctor; Pilot (husband of the First Mate), Engineer, Shepherd (sort of a priest) and Courtesan.

Oh, and the use of the Kanji script on the Eagle? In the TV show the characters speak a mixture of American English and Mandarin (the latter usually mild profanities) and the latter also appears in company names and logos, the Kanji decals were the closest I had to Mandarin.

I originally thought that the Airfix kit was 1:72nd scale, but if so, the crew would have to be contortionists to fit in the cockpit.

Off to Google. There’s quite a few websites dedicated to Space: 1999. I found one website that states that the Eagle is 76 feet (23.16m) long which, given the model length of 300mm nose to engine nozzles, would make the kit  approximately 1:77th scale; another  compares the Airfix kit to the different Eagle models used in the TV series, which were not necessarily consistent with each other.

This suggests that the Airfix model is likely to be closer to 1:96th scale. I could probably start some arguments if I started making pronouncements that 15mm = 1:100 scale (personally I reckon it’s closer to 1:120), but the bottom line is I think that the Eagle looks OK next to 15mm figures, and the crew could get into the cockpit without scraping their heads on the ceiling.

Unarmed Eagle and crew

Wherever you have protagonists you need antagonists. As far as I could see GZG didn’t do any of the TV show’s “baddies”, the Alliance, so I went elsewhere.

Brigade models do some Uniformed Starship Crew and some Tank Crew in helmets. I got a pack of each. Unfortunately, the bases on these were too small to glue directly to the washers, so I had to cut some suitably sized cardboard fillers to bridge the gap. These figures got a generic mid grey uniform with some red and silver highlights here and there. Depending on your viewpoint these are the heroes of justice, or the lackeys of the oppressive state.

Alliance Officers: The Commander (2nd left) and her Lieutenants.
Alliance Grunts

These chaps don’t have a ship of their own, but I do have a vehicle, a Brigade Javelot scout car, for them.

Grunts and car

It might be a bit tight for all 8 of them in there, so I might need to get them more transport!

The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross – 3rd Feb 1461

Stephen has fought another battle in the War of the Roses campaign…

So this is the next one in my Wars of the Roses battles.

Like all the others, the intent is that anyone should be able to game it. This was played on a 3’x2’ table using Basic Impetus.

This battle was the famous one where the atmospheric phenomenon known as a parhelion was witnessed and was interpreted by Edward of York as the Holy Trinity and was, therefore, an omen for victory. In recognition of this he took the Sun In Splendour as his personal emblem.

But a victory for who?

Order of Battle

From a gaming point of view there is one important thing to take into account – the Yorkists deployed some of their archers and cavalry hidden in the woods on the Lancastrian left. I decided that the Lancastrians could not move against these hidden troops unless they either moved or shot their arrows to revel their presence.

The battlefield itself is a rather simple affair. The river Lugg on the east border, and a ridge and woodland on the west. Other than that, it’s all open – these two terrain features dictated the deployment of troops.

Deployment

How did it go then?

Historically, the Yorkist ambush opened the battle. This had the desired effect on the Lancastrian line. Although the Lancastrians had a slight numerical superiority the Yorkist ambush did the trick and Edward of York sealed the victory.

This is how my re-fight went.

The key was obviously going to be when to spring the ambush. Since both sides were up for a fight there was no postponement of initiative rolls like in previous games – initiative was rolled for from the start. This can frequently mean that one side gets a double go – last to move in one turn and then first to move in the next turn. Would this affect the ambush?

Yes, it would.

Edward leads his knights

The Yorkist plan was to let the Lancastrian knights advance past the hidden cavalry and then be peppered by the archers and Edward of York leading his knights in a charge on the weakened cavalry. Meanwhile, the hidden cavalry would rush out and slam into the Lancastrian infantry line. At least, that was the plan.

The ambush is finally sprung

Sure enough, forward went the Lancastrian knights. This put them in range of a bow attack from the archers and a follow up charge by the cavalry. This was tempting and would probably rout them. But if things went the Yorkist way (i.e. they won initiative next turn) they could then have their cake and eat it and their plan would go the way they wanted. Had Edward of York’s omen of the parhelion been true – was it a blessing from the Holy Trinity?

Well, if it was, it wasn’t just yet. The Lancastrians took the initiative which meant the Lancastrian knights not only galloped past the archers but they also managed to take the charge into the Yorkist knights (who were being led by Edward).

The knights clash

Meanwhile the rest of the Lancastrian line trudged forward. The Yorkists, kicking their heels at missing out, nevertheless managed to spring part of their ambush and the cavalry charged into the Lancastrian billmen.

Over on the Lancastrian right flank, where they had their currours and hobilars, they decided to spur their cavalry and take the charge to the Yorkist longbows. Otherwise they’d just find themselves turning into pin cushions.

The currours advance

Although the Lancastrian knights had cleared the ambush they were still far from safe. Their charge had taken them past the York battle line, and into the Yorkist knights. They needed to pull this off or they would be in a dire situation. And pull it off they did – they pushed Edward and his knights back and followed up with a pursuit.

The two infantry lines had started sending arrows over at each other, but these long shots had little effect. However, as they closed, casualties started mounting, particularly amongst the Lancastrians. Despite the less than auspicious ambush, it could be the day would still go the Yorkist way.

The centre battleline

The Lancastrian levies took firm hold of their spears and went for the Yorkist archers who had despatched the currours. They dropped their bows and took up hatchets and swords and, supported by billmen, gave melee. The result was indecisive – all units suffered hits and stayed locked in combat.

Over in the ambush area things were starting to get dirty. The Lancastrian billmen had stood firm against the cavalry and routed them! But that wasn’t all. The struggle between the Yorkist and Lancastrian knights also came to a conclusion – the Lancastrian knights had won the fight and not only routed the Yorkist knights but had also killed Edward as well!

So much for the Holy Trinity!

Edward is gone

This still wasn’t the end for York, far from it. On the eastern flank, by the banks of the Lugg, the Yorkist infantry had routed the Lancastrian levies. In the middle it was still a mix – the two lines had yet to come to blows, preferring to exchange bowfire. This had affected both sides with no absolute winner.

In go the levies

In the west, by the woods, the ambush had come to nothing. The cavalry had been beaten, the Lancastrian knights had slipped through and killed Edward of York, and it just left the archers, feeling all alone and surrounded.

It wouldn’t go on for much longer. The Yorkist archers inevitably fell. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Enough was enough, and the army of York had reached its break point. Victory would go to Lancaster!

Not looking good for the archers

It had been a slight victory. Had the Lancastrians lost one more unit it would have been a York victory.

The undoing had been the poorly executed ambush. It had been a gamble on whether to wait for ideal conditions, and a gamble that didn’t pay off. It didn’t help that dice rolls had been poor all game, poor for both sides, meaning that fights drew on. Any winners in combat had generally taken such a pummelling that though they may have won they had also been left spent.

Next up is a return to St Albans…

A Quick Camping Trip

Jeremey puts the Romans to shame by building a marching camp in just a few hours!

This all started because I wanted to expand my Wars of the Roses army to the point where I could field both sides. In many rulesets dealing with Medieval warfare a camp is required for each army. I only had one camp as I previously only had one army.

I therefore set about making a camp from scratch. Yes I could have ordered some tents and camp equipment miniatures but I was in one of my “Just make something” moods.

The Start of a basic palisade

I thought the easiest option would be a stockade/Palisade style camp. I already had a base and dug out the air drying clay to make the bank and interior terrain of the camp.

It was at this point things just didn’t work, the clay just would not stick to the wooden base as I was sculpting it into shape. So I took it off the base and continued on the work mat. But then I realised I needed to make an indentation for the cocktail sticks, sorry wooden palisade fence before the clay dried.

At this point I threw my toys out of the pram as I couldn’t see it working and I’d have to wait for the clay to dry. Then I had a eureka moment and turned to my old modelling friend EVA foam. I make everything out of the stuff so why not the camp.

The air drying clay is ditched in favour of foam

I cut off of a EVA foam floor mat a couple of strips to act as the defensive bank and also (just because I could) another couple of pieces to turn into a hut/shed.

Life would not be worth living without a hot glue gun

I then fired up the hot glue gun and stuck the foam to the base. Instant results and no waiting for clay to dry.

20 minutes later and the palisade is complete!

Ah I hear you cry but how did you create a gap for the palisade. All that was needed was to cut down through the top of the foam bank and then push the cocktail stick down through the cut. I simply used a little bit of superglue to stick them together. I then went across the top with my wire cutters to trim all the sticks to the same height.

Back to the hot glue gun

At this point I could have gone back to some for of putty/clay to model the inside terrain of the camp. But I was on a roll and wanted the camp finished in a day!
So I went back to the hot glue gun and used it to build up the ground against the foam banking, and I also used it to create the muddy path between the two entrances. This is easy to do, you just use the nozzle of the glue gun to melt the glue as you run back through it. I also made a little pile of logs for scenery.

A splash of brown and a bit of flock

I then turned to painting the camp. A simply covering of brown followed by a bit of dry brushing with lighter shades took care of the camp and surrounding palisade. Once the paint had dried a bit I spread PVA glue and sprinkled some flock.

The hut/shed takes form

Having to pause to let the PVA glue dry I turned to the other piece of scenery the hut/shed. To build this I stuck two pieces of foam together wit the glue gun and then cut out the entrance, I then cut the top of the block into a slanted roof shape. The roof was made by cutting a very thin layer off the foam floor tile and sticking it down on top. This formed a nice curving roof.
To create the look that it was thatched was done by drawing the craft knife gently across the top. Just enough to score it not cut it.

The finished camp

A quick paint job on the hut including painting on the wooden beams in the wall for that medieval look took moments and then I stuck it in place.
At this point for finishing flourish I added some different flock to break up the grass areas. I do have a couple of figures I might add to this, but for a model that took me about 3 hours I’m really pleased with the results.

Reinforcements Have Arrived

Jeremey shows off his Wars of the Roses army now that it’s complete (well almost).

On the 17th February 2020 I put up a blog post about the first Wars of the Roses units I had managed to paint up. This was the start of my very first historical army. Fellow club member Stephen was also painting up his own Wars of the Roses with the idea of fighting the various battles thoughout the year.

We managed one battle before lockdown scuppered getting down to the club.

First battle to test our Wars of the Roses armies

So I packed up the army for the following months and turned to other ptojects. But I kept drifting back to the army and found myself making terrain. Given the first Battle of St Albans was essentially a town battle I started making tudor houses.

Still a lot of work to do on these buildings. More plasterwork and thatched roofs

But Stephen started to post a few solo battles using his army and mentioned adding a few additional units, so I caved and ordered some more for my army. using the Sword and Spear army lists I went for a few of the support units. Welsh Longbows, Welsh Spearmen, General Spearmen and Mercenary Crossbows.

Welsh Longbows and Spearmen on the Painting Table

I painted these using the same method as my existing units. Stephen had painted his units in uniform colours but I wanted a much bigger variety. Although armies of this time were starting to wear their lords Livery, but I didn’t want to tie my units down to any particular faction.

I picked out a range of colours (various, browns, greens and the odd khaki shade) and painted different parts of each miniature so that no two miniatures were the same. This was potentially more time consuming but I still went through the miniatures like a production line.

Another new aspect for this army was to make the flags changable, in order to allow my army to represent any side in the conflict, or for when several lords bring forces to the battlefield.

Changable Flags for my Units

I simpy glued the flags together and left a loop to fit over the flag poles on the units.

And so finally I got to a point where I had a large enough army for a real epic battle.

The whole army with a multitude of flags
The Left Flank of the Army
The Right Flank of the Army

The Battle of Northampton – 10th July 1460

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 Lancastrian Battle Line

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!

Order of Battle

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.

Armies Deployed

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.

Warwick Urges His Men Forward

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.

The First Casualties

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.

March’s Troops Contact Grey’s

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!

Across The Line They Go

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.

March Engages Buckingham

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!

The Battle Is Over

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…

Chickamauga – 1863

Stephen takes a break from his War of the Roses games to revisit the American Civil War…

I fancied an ACW game, and since I had a scenario for Chickamauga already written out for play at the club (whenever that will be) I decided I’d have a solo game and give it a go.

I don’t have enough models to do the whole of Chickamauga so I decided to concentrate on one small part – the Confederate attempt to outflank the Union left on 19 September. This would be a challenging battlefield – nearly all wooded! Normally a piece of felt on the table indicates woodland, but not this time – the felt indicated open spaces. Everything else was woodland, so would be difficult going and all engagements would be at close range. So a potentially deadly battlefield (as indeed it was, both historically and in my re-fight).

The objective was simple – the Confederates had to get a brigade on the opposite side of Lafayette Road and take fewer casualties than the Union. The Union had to stop them. During the course of the battle fresh brigades would arrive on both sides.

Let’s see how it played out…

Brannen holds the river

The Union won the initiative in the early rounds, allowing them to dictate the course of the battle. I pulled Croxton’s brigade back – he was on his own, far forward, at the junctions of Alexander Bridge Road and Walker’s Road and staring down two Confederate divisions on his own. But on the next turn I realised I’d made a mistake – an uncontested advance is just what the Confederates wanted, so I decided to push him back forward to stall the Confederates and to bring up Baird’s Union division and Turchin’s brigade (and feed in the rest of Reynold’s division when it arrived). This would hold the Confederates back.

The Confederates advance on the road

Up on Reed Bridge Road Pegram set up his artillery and got his cavalry ready for a charge against the Union line. In hindsight I should have dismounted the cavalry, but I was carried away by the romance of a cavalry charge. Whilst the cavalry got ready Pegram’s artillery started a duel with the Union artillery to soften them up before the cavalry went in with their sabres.

Confederate corps commander, Leonidas Polk, along with Cheatham’s division arrived on table in the area of Alexander Bridge Road, meaning that flank was heavily loaded against the Union. Liddell’s division led the Confederate advance and with bayonets fixed and a wild rebel yell they charged Croxton and Turchin. Surprisingly, they were bounced back – the Confederate charge didn’t go in.

The Confederates go in

Inspired by the infantry’s zeal the Confederate cavalry did likewise, and charged in. The effect was just the same – repelled by the Union line.

The Cavalry go in

Meanwhile, to the south (the Union right flank) Baird’s division still moved up slowly. This was caused by the need to keep the artillery in line with the foot brigades.

Baird’s Division moves slowly

Further south, as the rest of Reynold’s division came on, they found themselves all that stood in the way of two aggressive Confederate divisions.

Battle for the right flank

Wilder’s cavalry brigade launched a daring and foolish charge against the Confederates – outflanked and outnumbered they were shot down and cut down.

Confederate numbers start to tell

It started to dawn on the Union that the right flank was looking very weak with not much (a lone artillery battery) between the confederates and Lafayette Road. Further north, Brannen’s division held firm against Pegram and Forrest. Pegram’s cavalry had taken a mauling so were pulled back and Forrest’s infantry were pushed forward.

The right flank opens up

Baird’s slow advance actually paid off here because he hadn’t moved too far forward and was able to pull back Starkweather’s brigade and an artillery battery into an enfilading position to try and do something about the Confederates who realised how close they were to victory with little to stop them securing Lafayette Road with a mad dash.

Wright’s brigade is sacrificed

Starkweather’s repositioning proved successful. The Confederates had used Wright’s brigade to screen Jackson’s brigade’s dash for the winning line. But Wright took a hell of a pounding and paid the price – his brigade was obliterated and routed off the field. Sure enough, Jackson had made it to Lafayette Road, but the Confederates had taken quite a few casualties and lacked the oomph to assert control over the road.

Too little too late

In the end it was a historical outcome – the Confederates moved on Lafayette Road but didn’t have the manpower to completely take it. Further north, the Union troops held firm and stopped Forrest’s advance. Neither side could really claim a convincing win at this stage (the full battle went on into the 20th Sept and would ultimately be a Confederate victory).

Wars of the Roses: Battle of Blore Heath

Stephen continues his refight of the Wars of the Roses…

This is the second battle as part of my plan to re-fight all the major battles between York and Lancaster.

On to Blore Heath we go! Like before, this will be done using Basic Impetus. It’s worth saying a bit more about these games. The idea is they can be played by anyone at home who has limited space – table size for all these battles is just 3’ x 2’.

For anyone interested in having a go themselves then here’s the order of battle I put together for the game.

Order of Battle

This one was always going to be difficult for the attacker. To reflect the difficulties faced by Lord Audley’s troops I classified the stream as Difficult Going. In addition, the archer’s stakes cancel out the attacker’s Impetus bonus, and the Yorkist’s will also get a bonus for defending the hill. It’s not going to be easy for the Lancastrians.

Deployed battle lines

I decided not to waste time rolling for initiative for the first couple of turns, not until just before the two sides got into bow range. At which point initiative was rolled for because then it would be important.

Audley moved his forces forward. The infantry all moved in good order, keeping their line intact. This meant they had a few turns coming under telling bow fire.

Lancastrian advance

The cavalry initially held back, unsure where they would be needed. In the end, the currours started wheeling and moving to the Lancastrian left, where they could support the infantry attack on that flank. I nearly turned the mounted knights that way as well, to load that flank for a hefty punch. But I could see it would cause a traffic jam, so I hung them back and decided to keep them in the middle where they could support the infantry there. That would prove to be a lucky decision.

Currours start to outflank

It wasn’t looking good for the Lancastrians. Moving in slowly, against the Yorkist archers, had the inevitable effect. I wondered how long it would take and if the two sides would even come into melee. On Audley’s extreme right flank the levy spearmen had slogged forward against the archers on the hill, taking damage as they went forward. By the time they had splashed through the stream, hiked up the hill, and finally got into battle, they were all but spent. The archers dropped their bows and pulled out swords and mallets and finished off the spearmen.

First contact – it won’t go well

The Yorkist archers were proving very effective. Not only had the levies been shot away, so had the Lancastrian centre – the billmen took a heck of a pounding as they progressed. Fortunately, Audley had held back his knights in the centre, and as the bills were dispersed, he drew his knights into order and got them ready to charge.

Audley prepares his knight

It had been a reversal of fortunes on the left. Here the Lancastrian archers had engaged Salisbury’s dismounted knights on the hill. It was obvious they couldn’t stay there, with arrows falling on them. Although their armour protected them from the worst, it was still a steady drip of casualties. There was only one thing for it – Salisbury himself took control and ordered his knights to charge down the hill in a counter-attack.

Salisbury orders a counter charge

This wasn’t the only charge being made by knights. With his knights now all lined up, Audley gave mis men the order to charge through the stream and up hill against the Yorkist archers.

The classic encounter – knights charge archers

The wise money would have bet against them prevailing – through the difficult stream, up the hill, and then fighting across stakes. Historically, this is what did for Audley and how he lost the battle. But what can you do? Such a valuable asset to the army can not be left behind – at some point they have to go in, and it’s never going to be good for them under these conditions. However, the God of Battle (the dice) can be fickle. And fickle they were. Although the knights lost a lot of dice with all those obstacles in their way, they still made a good roll (4 of 6 dice rolled 6s) whilst the archers couldn’t hit a barn door (not a single hit!).

The charge proves successful

This would prove to be the decisive action of the battle – the Yorkist knights charging the Lancastrian billmen, and the Lancastrian knights charging the Yorkist archers. Whichever was successful first would win the battle.

That honour would go to the Lancastrians.

The Yorkists held the right flank…

Salisbury holds the right

…but the Lancastrians held the centre and left flank.

But Audley has a firmer grip on the left

In the end Audley won the battle by the narrowest of narrow margins – there was just one point in it!

As Pyrrhus once observed, ‘Another victory like that and we are done for.’

On to Northampton next…

Wars of the Roses: First Battle of St Albans – May 1455

Stephen embarks on a modest endeavour to refight the War of the Roses…

I decided that I would re-fight all the major battles of the Wars of the Roses (well, those listed on www.britishbattles.com) in order.

So first up is the First Battle of St Albans.

For rules I am using Basic Impetus, because these will be solo games and Basic Impetus provides a nice and simple game that lasts just about as long as you want it to. For anyone who might also be interested in having a go then here’s the order of battle I cobbled together for the game:

I went with a historical deployment, and after that the battle was mine.

So, the Yorkists had Salisbury on the left flank, Warwick in the middle, and York on the right. The Lancastrians had Somerset on the left, King Henry in the middle, and Clifford on the right. Although it’s clear the battle ended in the town, it’s unclear where it started. I went with the Lancastrians positioned on the edge of town and the Yorkists crossing the fields. The Lancastrians had barricades protecting the lanes, and I decided these would negate the Impetus bonus for any charge across them (in either direction).

There was no reason for the Lancastrians to move out from a defensive position (in fact, a lot of the battles during the war were assaults against prepared positions), so I let the Yorkists take initiative for the first couple of turns until they got within bow range. At that point it became important who had initiative each turn so then started dicing for it.

York led his nobles down Shropshire Lane toward the Lancastrian defences whilst Salisbury led his men down Sopwell Lane.

This left Warwick, who had the largest contingent, across the fields. The early rounds looked bad for the Yorkists. In fact, I was wondering how on earth they could win – the Lancastrian bow fire took out two Yorkist units before units met in combat.

The battlefield formed a natural funnel – the fenced lanes gave little room for manoeuvre, which meant any jockeying for position was down to Warwick. In fact, it would turn out this is where most of the action would take place.

Just a few turns in, and I thought I had been careless with York’s deployment. His archers went down, leaving the plate-armed nobles to push forward as quick as they could, all the while taking fire from the ensconced archers under Somerset. If they went down, then York would go with them and that would be that!

The same could be said for Salisbury, who got locked in an archery duel against Clifford. Warwick, in the middle, was also looking weak since he had lost units going in.

Yes, things were looking good for King Henry!

The Yorkists were not gaining anything by exchanging bowfire. This was partly because I forgot I had classified some of the Lancastrian archers as levy and was rolling for them as retinue quality. Oops.

Warwick needed support, because it was becoming clear that this was where the main battle would be – to punch through and nab the king. So levy spearmen were funnelled into the middle to support Warwick against any losses.

Down in Sopwell Lane things had stalled. Eventually, Salisbury decided to bring it to a head – he urged his billmen forward who swapped lines with the archers and forward they went. Clifford realised his archers would fair poorly against the bills, and he did likewise – pushing his billmen forward.

Meanwhile, along Shropshire Lane, the Duke of York’s dismounted nobles surged forward and smashed into Somerset’s line. If it went badly, then that would be the end of the battle. But York prevailed!

Although the Lancastrian archers had given good account of themselves, once Warwick’s billmen got stuck in things soon started to change. The archers soon fell under their blows, and so the King ordered forward his nobles.

But as the Lancastrian archers had rolled well in the initial turns, it was now the turn of Warwick’s troops to be blessed with good dice rolls.

The battle had really been fought in the middle, and when the Lancastrian nobles were cut down, then King Henry went with them!

It would be a Yorkist victory!

So that was my re-fight of First St Albans finished. I really didn’t see how the Yorkists could win. But once they got stuck in, then things started to turn around. In hindsight, the levy spearmen should have been deployed with Warwick in the first place, instead they lost several moves and had to manoeuvre into position where they could support Warwick’s assault.

Work in Progress Wednesday

It’s Wednesday again, so that means a quick look at what everyone has been up to.

First up Andy has finished his Saxon, Viking and Welsh Princess. I suspect these are going to make an appearance in quite a few games.

picture of miniatures
28mm Saxon, Viking and Welsh Princess

Steve has been taking advantage of the season’s availability of various plastic creepy crawlies to paint up some monster miniatures.

pictures of spider miniatures
Various plastic spiders and scorpions accompany a few other creatures (from Ral Patha)

Tony has finished painting up a new force for Hammers Slammers. This time the New Ukrainians, apparently they’ve already seen action (successfully), vanquishing the Thunderbolt Division.

picture of miniature tanks
Tony’s new force of 15mm miniatures for Hammers Slammers

Lastly for this week John L has finished painting his scratch built bunker for Zona Alfa.

picture of a bunker
Finished Bunker for Zona Alfa

The club members are definitely getting quite a bit done at the moment, next week it looks like we will have more Panzer action from Mark J and sea creatures from Marcus.