Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life; currently concentrating on a re-fight of the entire Peninsular War, but with the odd foray into ancient, medieval and WW2 battles.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

ECW Campaign: December 1642

The English Civil War: December 1642

Several new leaders became active at the beginning of December 1642.  For the Parliamentarians, Brereton became active in Manchester, Groby in Market Harborough, Massey in Bristol, Wark in King's Lynn and Willoughby in Colchester.  Ruthin took over the small army besieging Reading from Ballard.  On the King's side, Cavendish became active in Newcastle.

Sherborne assured the King of its continued loyalty.  More importantly however, the King's party in Oxford sent secret messages letting it be known that the city was ripe for revolt against the hated Roundheads for their "many and several outrages".  This intelligence had a profound effect on the King's thinking, for instead of relieving Gloucester, he resolved to risk a quick return to Oxford, hoping to effect a quick re-capture and change the strategic balance to one of equilibrium.  Choosing a slightly circuitous route so as to always be protected by the Avon, the King moved via Birmigham and Coventry to Banbury.  At this point, Essex marched from his central position around Warwick to intercept the King's march between Coventry and Banbury.  However, finding the King in a strong position, behind a swollen stream with much of the ground turned into a quagmire, Essex declined to attack and left Oxford to its fate, returning to his base at Warwick, concentrating upon more training of his troops.  The King reached the latter place, but unfortunately for him, the plot to revolt and open the gates was discovered and crushed before the King could enter the city.  He thus began a regular siege of the place.

The Earl of Bedford moved his army to Dorchester to threaten Hopton, who had begun to besiege Lyme.  That latter general however removed to Bodmin.  Waller moved to Plymouth to take control of that city and begin recruiting.

The Marquis of Newcastle concentrated upon training his raw troopers. The Fairfaxes moved towards Richmond.  The Marquis attempted to intercept this movement, but the Fairfaxes eluded his reconnaissances and reached and took Richmond.

Hampden moved to London to take over the garrison there.  Byron moved to Guildford.  Vasey moved to Shrewsbury, that being a more promising recruiting ground at present than the East Midlands.  Wark moved into The Fens.

Foppington continued his successes by capturing Gloucester, whilst Ruthin captured Reading.

 The North:

Newcastle at Hexham with c.7000
Forth at York with c.1000
Derby at Blackburn with c.2000
c.1000 at Preston

c.1000 at Carlisle
c.1000 at Hull
The Fairfaxes at Richmond with c.6000
Brereton at Manchester with c.2000

The Midlands:

c.1000 at Chester
c.1000 at Newark
c.1000 at Worcester
King Charles with c.15000 besieging Oxford

Wark with c.3000 in The Fens
Essex with c.13000 at Warwick
Foppingham with c.3000 at Gloucester
Massey with c.2000 at Bristol
c.1000 in Oxford

The South:

The Royalists:
Hopton with c.10000 at Bodmin
c.2000 at Basing
Byron with c.1000 at Guildford
c.1000 at Chichester

The Parliamentarians:
Waller at Plymouth with c.2000
Bedford at Dorchester with c.7000
Ruthin with c.3000 at Reading
Hampden at London with c.4000

Game Notes:
A mixed bag this time around.  The Royalists overall look quite strong and the King is in a good position, despite having failed to seize Oxford by a coup de main.  Essex must move next turn to protect London and Oxford.  That said, the early fall of Reading and the re-capture of Gloucester are probably permanent gains to the Parliamentary cause and Bristol looks less vulnerable.

In the South and South-West, both sides have been recruiting heavily before launching major offensives in the New Year.  Hopton's force looks formidable, but can he afford to leave Plymouth free in his rear or must he take that first - a very difficult proposition?  Hampden and Ruthin could probably squash Byron, but with the King around Oxford, they probably do not dare to leave London unguarded.

In the North, the Marquis of Newcastle is strong enough to attack, but should he attack the Fairfaxes or Carlisle first?  And should Brereton try and regain the majority of Lancashire for Parliament or strike southwards instead?

Friday, 23 March 2018

ECW Campaign: November 1642

The English Civil War: November 1642

Manchester and Norfolk sent messages stressing their continued support for the cause of Parliament against privilege and popery.

Waller took Winchester and then moved to Salisbury to reinforce Bedford against Hopton.  Hopton, in his turn, turned back and began to besiege Lyme.  Newcastle moved his raw Northern army to Hexham, to threaten the Fairfaxes in Carlisle.  The Fairfaxes, leaving a garrison in Carlisle, moved southwards and took Appleby.   Foppington, fresh from his capture of Oxford, moved to Gloucester to begin besieging that place.  Prince Maurice moved fresh levies from Shropshire and Wales to support the King in Worcester, where the King, Prince Rupert and Astley were hastily training their troops - as were Essex and Skippon - but Byron was sent to Basing to try and revive the Royalist cause in the South after the recent set-backs.  Ballard moved from London to begin besieging Reading.  Derby took Blackburn.    Meldrum moved from Grantham to King's Lynn to begin recruiting.  Vasey left the King's army to go to Newark for the same purpose.


Newcastle at Hexham with 7000
Forth at York with 1000
Derby at Blackburn with 1000
1000 at Preston

1000 at Carlisle
1000 at Hull
The Fairfaxes with 5000 at Appleby
1000 at Manchester

Vasey at Newark with 1000
1000 at Shrewsbury
Charles at Worcester with 16000
1000 at Gloucester

Foppington at Gloucester with 4000
Essex at Warwick with 12000
Meldrum at King's Lynn with 3000
3000 besieging Reading (Ballard being replaced)
4000 at London

1000 at Chichester
1000 at Guildford
Byron with 1000 at Basing
Hopton with 7000 at Lyme

Bedford with 6000 at Salisbury

Notes: The quick reinforcement of the King has stabilized the situation in the main theatre of war but Foppington and Ballad have begun the reduction of further Royalist strongholds.  Things are beginning to warm up in the North too, as Newcastle has begun to fence with the Fairfaxes.  So far however, both parties are more inclined to threaten than risk all on a general action. 

It appears to me that the Royalists are still looking quite strong, especially in the South and South Midlands and they may be inclined to resume offensive operations soon.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

ECW Campaign: October 1642

The English Civil War: October 1642

Sherborne and Oxford re-assured the King of their continuing loyalty.

Hopton moved quickly to Sherborne having recruited heavily, hoping to both relieve the Siege of Sherborne and also defeat Bedford - Bedford decided that discretion was the better part of valour and retreated upon Salisbury.  The Earl of Essex however decided to try and exploit the King's separation from Prince Rupert and launched an attack upon the King's army near Warwick.  Prince Rupert however, after leaving a small garrison within Gloucester, quickly marched to the King's aid in time to take part in the Battle of Ettington.  Not that it did much good, as the King was quite badly beaten and forced to retreat upon Worcester.  Realizing that this would probably spell the end of Oxford, the King sent a message to Byron permitting him to negotiate terms.  Byron did so, and was allowed to join the King in Worcester with his garrison upon immediate surrender of the city. Fearing that the campaign in middle England would be lost, King Charles sent Forth to York to begin recruiting there.  The Fairfaxes were quiet around Carlisle, conducting some much needed training, as did Prince Rupert around Worcester.  Derby marched out of his stronghold at Preston to take Lancaster.

The King:
Derby has 1000 at Lancaster
1000 at Preston
Newcastle has 5000 at Newcastle
Forth has 1000 at York
1000 at Newark

The Fairfaxes have 5000 at Carlisle
1000 at Hull
1000 at Manchester 

The King:
Prince Maurice has 5000 at Shrewsbury
King Charles has 12000 at Worcester
1000 at Gloucester

Earl of Essex has 14000 at Warwick
2000 at Bristol
Foppington has 4000 at Oxford
Meldrum has 1000 at Grantham

The King:
Hopton has 7000 at Sherborne

Ballard has 4000 in London
Waller has 3000 in Portsmouth
Bedford has 3000 in Salisbury

With a victory in the field against the King and his capital, Oxford, being taken, clearly Parliament had a much better October than Charles I.  The minor Royalist successes - the succour of Sherborne and the taking of Lancaster could hardly compensate.
Charles will need reinforcing by Prince Maurice to match Essex and Foppingham in middle England.  However, Newcastle now has sufficient forces to threaten Fairfax, or merely hold him, whilst the Royalists rebuild their cause in Yorkshire.
Hopton can probably defeat Bedford, unless the latter unites with Waller.  However, his mere threat may be able to stop the Parliamentarians' campaign to reduce further Royalist fortresses in Southern England.
The King may be down, but not out...

I made an error regarding the rules in the Battle of Ettington, which entirely worked against the Royalist side.  I also made an error of remembrance, forgetting that Royalist cavalry fighting in the Swedish style (i.e. charging, sword-in-hand) are not forbidden by the Polemos tactical rules from using the Dutch style (i.e. trotting forward to fire pistols before closing)!  Therefore, although I didn't void or replay the results of the battle, what I did rule was that the casualties of both sides would be added to the recruiting pools, thus the Royalists would lose only their tactical position, not their overall strength, as a result of my mistake.  This seemed as fair a way as any of moving the game on without letting my errors spoil things too much.

As ever, comments on the strategies being employed by both sides would be very much welcomed!