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.

Thursday 13 December 2018

ECW Campaign Battle 14: The Battle of Biggleswade

The Battle of Biggleswade:
Feeling himself brimming with confidence after his own victory over Manchester and elated with the news of the Marquis of Newcastle's triumph over the Covenanters, King Charles and his advisors decided that there could not be a better opportunity than now for a bold march upon London.  Feeling that he would exhaust his time, patience and supplies fruitlessly trying to bring Brereton or Fairfax to battle, he simply commanded his army to march South, knowing that Manchester must fight to stop him or allow him the chance to march on a scarce-protected capital city.  Manchester's analysis was similar although without the same sense of confidence, thus he put himself astride the King's route at Biggleswade and hoped that the Parliamentary luck might change...

The Forces:

The Royalist Army:
C-in-C: King Charles I (Average)
Generals: Byron (Average), Astley (Good), Gerrard (Poor)
Horse: 30 bases of Veteran Horse (S), 4 bases of Raw Horse (S), 1 base of Raw Dragoons
Foot: 14 bases of Veteran Foot (SH), 3 guns

The Parliamentary Army:
C-in-C: Manchester (Poor)
Generals: Hampden (Average), Foppington (Poor)
Horse: 18 bases of Veteran Horse (D), 4 bases of Raw Horse (D), 1 base of Raw Dragoons
Foot: 8 bases of Veteran Foot (SH), 10 bases of Raw Foot (SH), 4 guns

The Set-Up:

Manchester deployed his Foot along the line of the stream, in the town (right) and on the hill (centre); his Veteran Horse supported both flanks of the hill.

A wider shot.  Manchester's remaining Horse are in reserve (bottom-right).  King Charles' army has approached from the north (top)

The Royalist Right Flank

The Royalist Centre

The Royalist Left, with a further detachment of Foot in a massed formation ready to cross the stream

The Foot face each other across the stream

The stream is entirely protected by Parliamentary Foot

Manchester's best infantry holds the front of the hill

The Parliamentary Left consisting of Veteran Horse, but slightly outnumbered by their Royalist rivals
The Battle:
King Charles begins the battle by ordering forward his centre...

And his left-wing Horse advance...

The Royalist Horse attacks and achieves early success; note that the rear Royalist Horse brigade (top) is taking fire from across the stream

The Royalist Horse triumphant, the Roundhead troopers are in flight!

A severe early setback for Manchester's troops

Some of the Parliamentary Horse (the flanking troops) remain to fight on

The infantry fight begins in earnest: casualties begin to mount on both sides but the more numerous Royalist Foot are gaining the upper hand...

At last! Some of the Roundhead troopers gain the upper hand and rout a troop of Royalists

The leading Parliamentary brigade is under severe pressure and a battalia (yellow-flag) breaks under the strain

Further fighting sees further Parliamentary routs!

A Royalist Foot battalia (centre) pushes forward into a gap

Meanwhile, the stream is the scene of some heavy skirmishing, but neither side feels confident enough to storm across the stream...

Manchester, feeling that he must be defeated in the centre unless there is a change in the flow of the battle, launches an attack on the Parliamentary Left with his Horse

Honours are roughly even in the initial clash, which is disappointing since Foppingtom might have reasonably expected to have had the upper hand, to a degree

Further bad luck - the Parliamentary troopers appear to be losing across the broad!  Three troops are in rout...

A small ray of sunshine: a couple of troops of Royalist Horse are routed

Only a single battalia of the leading brigade in the hill remains in the fight

And then collapses, sweeping away a second-line battalia too!

The Parliamentary Foot are streaming to the rear, down the far slope

Parliamentary Horse are also fleeing en masse

A couple of Royalist troops fleeing to the rear, but overall, the Royalist Horse remains intact

Foppington, in desperation, brings up his second brigade: the Royalist Horse (centre) is somewhat reduced but still intact, but Byron has another two intact brigades of Royalist Horse still to throw into the battle

The Royalists command the hill in the centre of Manchester's position

The Foot continues to fire across the stream without decisive effect

But the Royalists know that there is no need to risk such an assault, because the Parliamentary army's other wing has collapsed!
Game Results:
The Royalist Army lost around 1300 Foot and  340 Horse, which is not unsurprising given the hard fighting initially around the hill.  The Parliamentary Army has again had severe losses though, losing around 3300 Foot and 920 Horse.   Manchester's army has again been battered and forced to withdraw and it is clear that Manchester cannot stop the Royal Army without significant reinforcement.

Game Notes:
The skill and confidence of the Royalists seems to generate that little bit of extra luck which rewards the taking of risks, which leads to further success.  The attack on the hill was a 60:40 affair, but was crowned with almost complete success. Similarly, the Royalists did much better in the cavalry combats than would have been expected statistically: Manchester has every right to feel that in this engagement, the problem was more with his troops than his generalship.  The only thing that can be said about that is that a slightly better deployment might have made it harder for the Royalist Foot to achieve the shallow envelopment which eventually did for the lead Parliamentary Foot brigade.
I don't think there were any rules issues with the game, at least ones that I haven't discussed before.

Buildings mainly by Leven, figures by Baccus and the rules were Polemos: ECW.

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