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.

Monday, 10 December 2018

ECW Campaign Battle 13: The Battle of Corbridge

The Battle of Corbridge, April 1644*:
Given the strength of the Royalist Northern Army, Leven was unable to mass sufficient of his army and supporting logistics to make a direct assault on Newcastle.  Leven therefore sent a detachment forward along the border to then besiege Carlisle, then moved the rest of his army forward to bypass Newcastle and move south.
Newcastle weighed up the odds and felt that given his superior strength in Horse, then a battle was worth a try, knowing that in the event of defeat he could relatively safely retreat behind the walls of Newcastle, whereas success might stop the Scottish invasion before it could do any real damage to the Royalist cause.  Leven tried to avoid combat but failed and was brought to battle by the superior Royalist Horse.  He therefore drew up his troops in an improvised defensive position and waited for the onslaught...

The Royalist Army:
C-in-C: Newcastle (Poor)
Generals: Eythin (Poor), Cavendish (Average)
Horse: 26 bases of Veteran Horse (S), 2 bases of Veteran Dragoons
Foot: 16 bases of Veteran Foot (SH)
Guns: 4 bases

The Covenanting Army:
C-in-C: Leven (Average)
General: Baillie (Poor)
Horse: 8 bases of Raw Horse (D), 2 bases of Raw Dragoons
Foot: 18 bases of Veteran Foot (Mixed)
Guns: 5 bases

The Set-Up:

The Royalist army approaches from the South East (bottom), the Covenanters hold the Northwest (top), based around the high ground (left) and a village (centre)

Covenanter Foot and Guns hold the hill

Covenanting Foot in front of the village, with Dragoons garrisoning the village itself

The left of the Covenanting Army is "in the air" but the Covenanters' Horse is much weaker in numbers and in skill than their Royalist opponents

Along the battle lines: Scots' Foot gaze down upon the Royalist Foot preparing to advance

Another shot along the line: the Royalist superiority in Horse makes the army look a lot bigger than it actually is...

Brigade upon brigade of the King's Horse gaze forward on the field of battle, itching to cross swords with their less experienced and less well-mounted opposite numbers.  Thoughtful officers count the large number of Scots' pikemen however...

The Marquis of Newcastle looks upon the Scots' Foot defending the village...
The Battle:
The Northern Foot advance to get to grips with the Scots: the Royalists' firepower superiority tells here...

Another Royalist attack is prepared in the centre...

First blood to the Royalists! On the left flank, Royalist fire superiority breaks the extreme right-hand Scots' battalia (top-left)

Another Scots' battalia breaks, again a result of fire superiority

The fighting in the centre continues; one of the Scots' battalia (right) attacks towards the Royalist guns (bottom-right)

Intense fighting on the top of the hill, as the Scots' try and hold on...

Ethyin pushes along the now empty lower slopes of the hill...

The firing grows in inensity in the centre - and note that some of the gunners are succumbing (centre-left) - but neither side is able to bring the affair to push of pike...

Despite taking heavy casualties, the Scots' gunners push back the Royalist Foot on the hill

One Scots' battalia braves the storm of fire and charges home!  Those extra pikes are really telling when the combat gets close

A Scots' brigade which had been slightly in reserve moves forward (centre) to stem the advancing Royalist tide

Neither side can gain the advantage in front of the village

The Scots' pikemen break a battalia of Royalist Foot and it flees down the slope

Another successful Scots' charge, this time in the centre: the Royalist Foot is looking distinctly shaky...

The casualties inflicted on the Scots in the centre are finally telling; Newcastle himself comes up to encourage his men into the assault

The remaining Scots on the hill are finally turned and routed

But a 1000 Englishmen are running in the centre!

Despite Newcastle's best efforts, his infantry are thrown back!  Meanwhile Royalist artillery makes life difficult, and in many cases literally impossible, for the Scottish Foot (right)

The Scots' gunners see off more of the Royalist Foot on the hill!

Ethyin is able to mount a flank attack on the victorious Scots near the centre

Scots' Foot on the hill about to overrun some English guns...

With the pressure increasing on the Scots' line, Cavendish finally leads the Royalist Horse into the attack

with somewhat mixed fortunes!  but the Royalist Horse has the advantage, on balance...

Baillie is captured as the last of the Scots are cleared from the hill...

The clash of Royalist Horse and Scottish Foot on the Covenanters' left breaks up into some confused combats...

However, Eythin has managed to contain the Scots' advance in the centre

Whilst reserves try and stem the attack of the last Scots' battalia on the Royalist left

...with little success!  The Scots' Foot are very formidable opponents in close combat...

However, the battle of the Foot in the centre has largely been resolved in favour of the Royalists

Some Scottish Foot units have been broken by the Northern Horse and are streaming to the rear, but a couple of units have held out and have broken, or are breaking, their foes (centre & centre-right); however the Covenanter commander, Leven, is about to be captured in the melee (centre, between the routing Scots' Foot and the Royalist Horse)

The Veteran Northern Horse make short work of the raw Scots' Horse...

The Scots' centre is broken and the dragoons holding the village are under severe pressure

The two remaining Scots' battalia on the centre-left advance!

On the Royalist left, another Royalist Foot unit is broken by Scots' pike!

But to compensate, the last Scottish Foot in the centre are routed

The successful Scots' battalia is surrounded at the base of the hill by Eythin

A unit of Royalist Foot makes a bold attack on the Scots' Horse, which has no response to the musketry

Cavendish's troopers sweep away the remnants of the Scottish centre's reserves

The Royalist Centre and Left: this battle has really seen the break up of the neat lines of battle, but it is clear that the Royalists have won a famous victory here...

In contrast to the Royalist Left and Centre, the Right has seen little action!  The Covenanters have decided to bring their remaining foot into action to try and change the fortunes of the day (right, note the short distance between the lines)

Mopping up around the village

A troop of Covenanter Horse breaks under fire (top-left)

All over around the village

The situation when the Covenanter Army finally broke and fled.

Results: A very hard fought and sanguinary affair, but with a clear winner.  The Royalists lost c.1200 Foot, 900 Horse & 2 Guns but the Covenanters lost c.2450 Foot, 1475 Horse and Dragoons, and 4 Guns, with both their commanders captured.  However, as a result of this defeat, the remaining Covenanting forces have retreated out of England under Leslie, recalled by the Scottish Parliament...
Obviously this has the most profound consequences for the war.  Newcastle has saved the North for the King and there is no chance now of this being reversed.  Fairfax in Yorkshire is living on borrowed time until the King or Newcastle is able to march and catch him and Hull must eventually fall.  This can only be reversed by a large victory in the South which might allow Manchester to join Fairfax.

Game Notes: A very satisfactory (and hard-fought) game.  Scots' pikemen are hard for Royalist Horse to break.  With my rules modifications, muskets are more effective than pikes in infantry combat.  However, if I were to play the rules as written, the Scots might well have won this.  Unfortunately, given the coarseness of D6 games, it can't be balanced any further between Foot with 1:1 shot:pike ratio and 2:1 ratio.  If the latter win on a +1 (i.e. cause at least a halt result), then shot-heavy foot is the way to go.  If the former do (i.e. no damage caused), the extra muskets are useless and the foot needs more pikes.  Given the advantage of pikes vs cavalry the choice would be the proverbial "no-brainer".  Since historically the pressure was always for more muskets, then I have re-calibrated to make shot-heavy troops more effective.  I don't think I wish to unwind that.  What I do need to examine is whether my changes make artillery too effective: I think perhaps they do.  Although shorter-ranged, artillery seems nearly as effective in the ECW as it does in my Napoleonic games, which is obviously wrong.  The solution to this therefore is that I need to change the Ranged Combat offensive and defensive factors rather than the results table.  More of this in the future!

As ever, rules were Polemos: ECW, the figures from Baccus 6mm (obviously including the new Covenanters suffering from the dreaded 'first battle syndrome'!) and buildings mainly from Baccus too, I think.

* n.b. Normally, I try and make the battlefield at least vaguely plausible for the area it is set in.  This battle tested me to the limit on that score!  The closest I can think of might be Berwick Hill, with the village being Kirkley.  But I have kept it as a generic Battle of Corbridge for the moment...

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