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.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

ECW Campaign Battle 03: Battle of Barningham

In mid-February 1643, the Marquis of Newcastle, marching south from Hexham on his way to take back Richmond from the Parliamentarians was met by the Fairfaxes on a defensive position on a bare hillside near the village of Barningham.  The Fairfaxes were slightly outnumbered, but felt that the combination of more Horse and a good defensive position would be enough to hold off the Royalist army...

The Forces:


Commander: Newcastle (Poor)
Ethyin (Poor)

Horse: 10 Veteran Horse (S), 1 Veteran Dragoons
Foot: 10 Raw Foot (SH*)
Guns: 3


Commander: F.Fairfax (Poor)**
T.Fairfax (Good)

Horse: 12 Veteran Horse (S***), 8 Raw Horse (S), 2 Raw Dragoons
Foot: 4 Raw Foot (SH)
Guns: 1

The Set-Up:
The Parliamentarians on the hill (top) are to the South-East; the Royalists are approaching from the North-West.

F. Fairfax's right wing

And the Parliamentary centre.  All the foot in the front line, with Dragoons (top-left) and Horse (top-right) in reserve.

The Parliamentary left flank

The Royalist left flank

The Royalist Centre - note the large preponderance of foot.  The Marquis of Newcastle is behind his foot and guns.

The Royalist Right.
The Battle:
The Royalists made the running initially, slowly and methodically moving forward their foot and guns to the base of the hill

On both flanks, Fairfax deployed his third line of Horse to extend his flank, hoping to create outflanking opportunities later in the engagement

The Royalists try to exploit their superiority in guns to create some kind of gap in the Parliamentary centre - no luck so far!

The first attack in earnest is made by the Parliamentary Horse.  Thomas Fairfax, sword in hand, leads his troopers into the charge against the end of the Royalist first line of foot...

...and is rewarded with complete success!  The flanking Royalist foot battalia flees, broken...

However, the Royalist Horse counter-charges: one fight (left) is inconclusive, but the Cavaliers on the right rout their Roundhead rivals...

Whilst both sides try to win the advantage in the cavalry flight, Ethyin slips a battalia of Foot around the inner flank of the Parliamentary centre...

The second line of Royalist Foot halt the pursuit of the charging Parliamentary Horse...

And a quick advance-and-volley routs the Roundhead troopers.  Thomas Fairfax is left with a few of his officers wondering what has happened...

The Royalist Horse on the Right reforms first and is winning the next phase of the cavalry combat...

The mini-flank attack on the hill has borne fruit and the flanking battalia of Parliamentary Foot is disordered and pushed back...Ferdinando Fairfax brings up his reserve of Horse to restore the situation.

The front brigade of the Parliamentary Horse has been completely dispersed now...the second line brigade watches from the slopes of the hill (top)

The Royalist Foot's flank attack develops - one of the Parliamentary Foot units breaks and the other is threatened...The Parliamentary Horse must wait for the fleeing foot to clear its front before charging

The wider position at this point in the battle - the Royalist Right is definitely in the ascendant

Hoping to restore the fortunes of the day, Thomas Fairfax orders the second Horse brigade on the Parliamentary Left to charge

And Ferdinando Fairfax orders his Reserve Horse brigade to charge home too

The Royalist Foot bravely hold on and the Parliamentary horse retire in disorder (note the casualty marker behind the nearer base of Horse)

Another troop of Royalist Horse flees to the rear to avoid the Godly wrath of the charging Protestant Horse...

However, the Royalist troopers, attacking at the trot have manged to see off a troop of Parliamentary Horse too (centre)

The Royalist infantry flank attack is progressing very well, routing another battalia of Foot and troop of is difficult to see how this attack can be stopped now

Another view of the same (reverse angle)

Despite some pressure, the remaining Parliamentary Foot are holding their own...

Fighting switches to the other flank (the Royalist left); the flank attack has developed, but the Royalists have managed to charge them with success!  The Marquis of Newcastle at the head of his troops leads the ferocious charge and the Parliamentary troopers are wavering...

....and soon two-thirds of them are in headlong rout!

The Royalist Horse on the other flank have finished off the last of their opponents too: the second brigade (foreground) has been committed and routed the last troops of Parliamentary Horse; the last Parliamentary Horse brigade has gone too wide on its flanking movement and despite desperate appeals, has not been able to influence the action

The end approaches for the Parliamentary centre too, as the remorseless Royalist attack continues

Thomas Fairfax (foreground) wonders how the battle, which started off so well, has gone so badly awry...

The position at the end of the battle.  Ferdinando Fairfax used his remaining Veteran Horse and his Dragoons to successfully disengage.
Game Results:
A decisive Royalist victory this, only slightly spoiled by the number of routing troopers that the Fairfaxes managed to rally after the battle - thus the Parliamentary casualties look abnormally light for the size of the defeat.

Royalists: c.700 Foot, c.40 Horse
Parliamentarians: c. 1200 Foot, c.425 Horse, 2 Guns

Game Notes:
A very exciting game this, that could have gone either way - but enough things broke well for the Royalists and their plan turned out to be better.  I think the main bit of luck was the flanking Royalist foot beating off the charge of Fairfax's reserve Horse: that really could have gone either way, and might have stabilized the centre.  I didn't feel I encountered any "mechanical" issues with the rules at all, but I continued to use my modifications which allows firepower to be a little more effective.  When everything gels, these rules do give a good game.
My recent investigations into cavalry tactics paid off and I felt a lot more confident using both sides's Horse to best effect.  Most of the charges worked to a greater or lesser extent, as did the advances to contact when they were most appropriate.  I think that I can offer a further insight, too: the best distance to hold off Swedish-trained cavalry is 3BW.  This tempts the cavalry to charge but if this opportunity is refused and the cavalry merely advances, it allows the other side to just advance to contact with the mild bonus that entails.

Figures as ever by Baccus 6mm.

*From 1643, I have started allowing the Royalists more muskets.  Although in the north, I would guess there is an argument for having all the armies more mixed pike:shot.  I await the comments and corrections of those more knowledgeable than me.
** The King's War game rates Ferdinando Fairfax as a good officer but a poor army commander.
*** From previous comments, I have rated Fairfax's Horse as Swedish-trained rather than Dutch-trained, to allow them the option of charging at the gallop.

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