Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Battle of Adwalton Moor - A Polemos ECW Refight

Miniature Wargames 86 contained a scenario for the Battle of Adwalton Moor. At first sight the scenario looks very unbalanced, but in the real battle, the Parliamentarians seemed to make a reasonable fist of it despite having inferior numbers, poorer equipment and lower quality troops, so I felt after due consideration it was worth a go.

Part of me wonders why exactly the Parliamentary forces fought this.  It isn't a classic attack/defence battle (the odds were too great) nor is it a delaying action.  It was actually a Parliamentary surprise attack that didn't come off, but I don't quite understand why Fairfax persisted,  Nevermind...
The aim of the battle is for Newcastle to break the Parliamentary army whilst suffering as few losses as possible, whilst Fairfax is merely aiming to hold on, a draw here being as good as a victory.

Orders of Battle:

The Royalists:

C-inC: Newcastle (Average)

Commander of Horse: Goring (Average)
3 brigades of 4 bases of Trained Horse (Swedish tactics)
2 brigades of 6 bases of Trained Horse (S)

Commander of Foot: Col Skirton (Good)
2 brigades of 4 bases of Trained Foot (Mixed)
2 brigades of 3 bases of Trained Foot (M)

2 bases of Guns
3 bases of Light Guns

The Parliamentarians: 

C-in-C: T Fairfax (Good)
Maj-Gen Gifford (Average)
F Fairfax (Poor)

4 brigades of 2 Trained Horse (Dutch tactics)

3 brigades of 2 Raw Foot (Pike-Heavy)

Order of battle details are quite sketchy in the article.  Possible variants might include some variation in the ability and equipment of the Foot of both sides, in particular that of Parliament.  The Royalist forces should add up to 10,000 in total, but this might be 6-8,000 Foot and 2-4,000 Horse.

The Battle:

The armies arrayed on Adwalton Moor; view from behind the Royalist right-rear

And from behind the Royalist centre

The view along the lines from Warren Lane - Fairfax' Army to the left, Newcastle's Army to the right

A closer view of the Parliamentarians: infantry line the hedges, with horse to the flanks and rear

And from behind the Parliamentarians towards the advancing Royalists

Some of the Royalist Foot, in front of Adwalton village

And the remainder of the Royalist Foot.
 The Battle:
The Royalists begin by advancing into musket range on their centre-right

The Royalist Horse advance to try and turn the Parliamentary left flank

Realizing that to hesitate would be to inevitably lose, the Parliamentary Horse decide to advance into contact and rely on the Polemos rules favour for slow controlled advances to help them out - and they are duly rewarded, disordering and pushing back a couple of troops of Royalist Horse

Pressing home their advantage, a couple of units of Royalist Horse are routed!

The second group of Parliamentary cavalry push back their opponents

Somewhat reversing fortunes, the Royalist Horse pull off a successful charge for a change and rout some of the Parliamentary troopers

But further Parliamentary success has routed a large contingent of Royalist Horse!

The Parliamentary Horse about to defeat yet more Royalist cavalry

Royalist Horse on the right flank streaming towards the rear!

The situation on the right: one group of Royalist Horse is pursuing towards the Parliamentary rear, one group of Roundheads is pushing on toward the Royalist rear...

After several rounds of ineffective musketry, eventually Royalist fire superiority told and gave the opportunity to advance, which the Royalist Foot has taken and breached the line of the hedge.

The Royalist Foot approaching the remainder of the Parliamentary position more gingerly...(centre-left)

The left-wing Parliamentary foot on the point of collapse...

Another view; the Royalist musketeers are having no effect at all on the Parliamentary Horse

The Parliamentary Horse see off another base of Royalist Horse!

The hedgerow is decisively breached by the Royalist Foot!

A slightly wider shot of the same

On the other flank (Royalist Left), the Parliamentary Horse launch another desperate spoiling attack

And meets with some success! Another base of Royalist Horse races for the rear

Royalist Foot begin to envelop Parliamentary Horse..

And yet another Parliamentary Horse triumph!

The Parliamentary Horse by the hedge are pinned in place whilst the flank attack is prepared...

So far so inconclusive in the other infantry fighting, but Royalist Foot are again working the internal flank

Some order restored to the Royalist left flank

Parliamentary Horse in trouble as they are surrounded by Royalists...

And Parliamentary Foot retreat in a hurry after being attacked in the flank!

Parliamentary Horse trapped and charged

and a closer view just as the Parliamentary Horse surrenders en masse

The remainder of the Parliamentary Centre routs and the Army's morale collapses
 Game Notes: An interesting game, well served by the Polemos rules.  Their emphasis on shock enabled the Parliamentary force to put up a really good show - as did their historical forebears. The battle was won in a very historical way too - by Col Skirton pushing his men into and through the Parliamentary defences and breaching the line after a number of reverses.
The Parliamentary Horse continues its excellent showing in this series of games, fully exploiting the fact that it only needs to roll par to win.  Considering the odds, the Parliamentary Horse did nearly manage to pull off an unlikely victory before the Parliamentary Foot was defeated.  I'd be interested to know other gamers' views - what is the relative efficiency of Dutch cavalry tactics versus Swedish?
So a better game than the scenario promised, at first glance, which the Polemos rules enabled.

Figures by Baccus 6mm, buildings by Baccus 6mm and Timecast.


  1. As ever, an excellent report. I really do enjoy reading these. Hwoever, I do think that you were badly served by the original scenario in terms of the composition of the forces.

    Fairfax's foot were actually mostly musketeers, quite the reverse of the Pike Heavy, and one of the reasons that the Royalists found it such heavy going was that they found themselves outgunned. They were also a well seasoned and travelled bunch with a string of minor and major engagements and victories behind them with active and competent officers. Veterans probably, Raw, certainly not. Fairfax's horse were also notable for their liking for charging sword in hand and should most definitely be Swedish tactics.` Also, don't run Ferdinando Fairfax down. He tends to be obscured by the exploits of his son, but he was a TYW veteran and a very safe pair of hands. The Yorkshire roundhead army was not very big, but it was extremely competent.

  2. Thank you very much. Your information and comments are really helpful and I will certainly incorporate them into the scenario if/when I refight this in the future.
    The scenario as written isn't written to the level of detail where one can easily ascribe troop and equipment types. What it did say is that there was a large number of raw and ill-armed troops amongst the foot, so I went for that as a rough average. I also perhaps included too much Horse, I am not sure. I will also incorporate your comments about Fairfax' Horse preferring to use Swedish tactics; it will help them in Neil Thomas' rules, but not so much in Polemos...

    Thanks again