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.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

The Battle of Cropredy Bridge 1644: A Polemos Refight

I recently had a go at re-fighting the Battle of Cropredy Bridge, which took place in the summer of 1644 (and perhaps a clearer look here).  This was slightly more challenging than I had first realized...

The problem I encountered was in relation to the scenario.  I have two scenarios for this battle, one in Wargames Illustrated 15 and one in Don Featherstone's Wargaming Pike & Shot.

Neither scenario was particularly usable as written, although Don Featherstone's was the closer.  The main problem is that neither writer gives the strengths of the forces actually present, although there is close agreement on the strengths of King Charles' and Waller's respective armies overall.  So anyway, I had to do a bit of educated guessing and came up with:

The King's Army:

C-in-C: King Charles I (not present)

Rear Guard Infantry:
2 bases Trained Foot (Shot-Heavy)

Rear Guard Cavalry:
Northampton (Good)
6 bases of Veteran Horse (Swedish)

Cleveland (Good)
6 bases of Veteran Horse (Swedish)

The Parliamentary Army:

C-in-C: William Waller (Average)

2 bases Trained Foot (Shot-Heavy)
2 bases Veteran Foot (Shot-Heavy)

Hazelrig (Average)
4 bases of Trained Cuirassiers (Dutch) (n.b. I though that these had been destroyed at Roundway Down and the regiment was re-raised as a normal regiment of Horse; but I'm no expert, so I just went with what was in the scenario)
8 bases of Trained Horse (Dutch)

Middleton (Poor)
8 bases of Raw Horse (Dutch)

Wemyss (Poor) *if desired only
3 bases of Guns
2 bases of Light Guns

This represents Parliamentary forces of about 2500 Horse, 2000 Foot and 10-11 guns; whilst the Royalist Rear Guard comes out at 1500 Horse and 1000 Foot.  Any better ideas about this would be very gratefully received.

I set up the game assuming that the leading Parliamentary elements had deployed and the Royalist Rear Guard had assumed line of battle out of march column.  If desired, and ideally if one had a slightly wider table to allow the Parliamentary columns to be a bit deeper, then one might start everyone in column of march and let things proceed from there.

The bridges were solid defensible structures - if they are attacked, count them as having DV1 in addition to its normal defensive qualities.

The Battle

The Royalist rear guard has just deployed off the road (bottom); Waller's troops have just crossed Cropredy bridge and deployed (top) and Middleton's troopers have half-crossed the ford at Slat's mill (top-left)

The view between the lines, with the Royalists to the right, Parliamentarians to the left and Middleton's flanking detachment at the bottom

The view from behind Middleton's column

And the view from behind Middleton's troops

Hazelrig's cuirassiers on the right of the Parliamentary line

And across the line - the Parliamentary guns are on the left

The Royalist foot

Cleveland's Horse

And Northampton's Horse
The Battle:
The cavalry of both sides advance, whilst Northampton detaches around 400 troopers to hold off Middleton (top-right); the Parliamentary Horse have been slightly better handled and have judged their moment to attack to perfection, not allowing the Royalist cavaliers to charge with speed and ferocity

The Horse clashes

The cuirassiers can't maintain the pace of the regular Horse and have fallen slightly behind, creating an echelon effect

Honours are mixed in the fist clashes, with some shaken units on both sides

After the next round of fighting however, the Parliamentary Horse's superior discipline has overcome the superior skill of the Royalists and several troops of their Horse break and run for the rear (centre)

The Royalists gain the upper hand on the cuirassiers

Waller brings up his second line of Horse on the left to complete the defeat of the Royalists and punch a hole in their line, between the Royalist Foot and the remaining intact Royalist Horse

A closer view of the advancing Parliamentary Horse

The leading troops of Cuirassiers are now in full rout themselves, however

Middleton repeats the nifty handling of the Parliamentary Horse on his flank too and manages to get the impetus and initiate the combat

Cleveland's command is now in full flight and the Royalist Foot (left) is looking very exposed

Cleveland himself leads his last troopers into combat, severely disordering the remaining Cuirassiers

Middleton's novice Horse pull off a fine advance and rout some troops of Northampton's veterans!

A closer view of Middleton's success

Some well aimed musketry sees off the last troopers of Cleveland's command

Flush with confidence, the Parliamentarians try a risky attack on steady foot, but it seems to pay off and the Royalist Foot becomes shaken

And they are soon in rout!

The last troops of Cuirassiers do some damage to their Royalist opponents

Middleton brings up his second line (right) to deal with the one stubborn regiment of Royalist cavalry still resisting him (centre)

But the Royalist army's morale is shot and soon all units are running for safety

The final defeat of the Royalist infantry
Game Notes:
An enjoyable game, although it worked out as quite a straightforward victory for the Parliamentarians.  This was partly a mixture of good luck for the Roundheads, who seemed to do consistently better with the dice at crucial moments, but also bad tactics: the Royalists were too aggressive and made life too easy for Waller's men - the thing to do would have been (as historically) to have the Parliamentarians advance further and likely become more disjointed, so the counter-attack would have been more likely to create cracks in the line and exploitable mini-flanks to turn.  As it was, Waller kept on winning the tempo at crucial moments, allowing his troopers to advance to contact, thus gaining a modest tactical advantage but perhaps more importantly, preventing the opportunity for the fiercer Cavalier charge to take effect.  This was what swung it for Middleton - on a more even distribution of luck, the chances are that at least his first brigade would be routed by Northampton's troopers but that didn't happen - showing again the usefulness of the Polemos system's tempo system for generating unusual possibilities for the solo player.

Figures by Baccus 6mm.

Rules were the Polemos ECW set.