Sulby/Lantford/Archwrong – which is right?

a newly accessible view of the battlefield

So, on the eve of the WD Naseby Battlefield walk, I find myself thinking .. well, that changes everything.

Actually not – just the logical penny has dropped, and, as a consequence, I will need to change a little corner of the Naseby terrain model.   Essentially, it is a given that Streeter has foreshortened the perspective in his depiction, and – just as he has squeezed down the gap between Naseby and the battlefield – he has squeezed down the gap between the armies.

Streeter's Naseby unamended

(Streeter’s view: very clear but highly foreshortened, with the armies barely separated)

The armies should be further apart .. the King’s army should be smaller in both senses and further off into the background, on top of Dust Hill (not almost at the bottom of Broadmoor dip).    The only sense in which this ‘shrink back from the artist’s view’ causes a wrinkle is that behind Rupert’s flank there are a pair of closes.  These are probably not imaginary landscaping, and are probably in the correct place on Dust Hill.    The ‘shrinking back’ needs to leave these where they are, with Rupert’s flank butting up alongside them.

stretching Streeter out over the landscape

(in compressing the view, Streeter placed Okey’s main force of dragoons in position 1;  retaining their position relative to Rupert’s flank moves them to position 3; reenactors have used position 2)

The rethink came about as a result of a quick recce of the battlefield at the weekend with Graham Evans, which included a visit to the newly opened Sulby viewpoint (and trying to figure out exactly where it is in relation to the rest of the battlefield … and why it is where it is …)..  One of those half understood/half skated-over inconsistencies that only falls into place when you try to relate the landscape to the maps (and to the pictures).

(the clip is taken from the position marked ‘Sulby Flag’ on the other pictures)

Putting the flank back alongside these closes is important because, identified by Glenn Foard as ‘Archwrong Closes’, they are where (virtually) all the shot finds on the western side of the battlefield are.  As far as archaeology is concerned, if there was a firefight on Rupert’s flank, this is where it was.  So this is almost certainly Okey’s most advanced (and most hotly contested) position.

The yellow ringed area is where the vast majority of shot on the western fringe of the battlefield has been found

Against this certainty, Foard is reluctant to say Streeter is wrong (Streeter is usually pretty reliable), and not only does Streeter show the dragoons further down the hill, he also captions the nearer run of hedges ‘Lantford hedges lined with dragoones’*.   In fact, I don’t see this as a problem.

Further up the hedge, the dragoons are quite explicitly shown firing straight into Rupert’s flank … so (a) to keep faith with Streeter, when you move Rupert’s flank back to alongside the closes you need to take the dragoons back as well (or they will be shooting at nothing) … and (b), it doesn’t mean the Lantford hedge wasn’t also lined with dragoons (Okey’s regiment at full strength was 1000 … even allowing a lower figure, and deducting horse holders, still plenty to occupy a small close and line the hedge as well) …

Streeter shows the dragoons shooting into Rupert's flank

More important …

(1.) it tallies correctly with Cromwell’s instruction to Okey to ‘occupy a small close on the left flank’ …

(2.) it tallies better with Okey’s description of his men’s position being ‘incompassed on the one side with the King’s Horse and on the other side with the Foot and Horse to get the Close’ – it is easy to see this island jutting into the Royalist deployment being encompassed (much easier than squaring Okey’s words with the conventional interpretation);

(3.) it marries the eye-witness account with the archaeology …


I always start the battle with Okey shooting into Rupert’s flank (the first action of the first turn!) … this is how the battle starts.  I also slope the closes boundary in onto Rupert’s flank as it seems clear that the smaller Royalist army deployed on a narrower frontage.  I already dismount the regiment of dragoons as 2 units of LI as they should (and with their numbers could) occupy a fairly wide frontage.

The one inconsistency is that I’ve never been sure what Okey needs to do to remount (as he said he did) later in the battle (i.e. which bit is which and where does it remount?) .  Thinking about how all this works, it has become clear that I’m already suggesting (consistent with the rules for Regiments of Foot) when the dragoons dismount, they can deploy a forlorn hope as well as a main firing line (so the two bodies I already permit).  In this case, I would say the Archwrong close position is the main force, the Lantford hedge position the forlorn hope (probably placed there to guard the way back to Parliament’s lines).   Streeter shows the horse holders directly behind the force firing into Rupert’s flank (so this is where they will be in the game, and this is where the regiment remounts**.

On the battlefield model, where the hedge currently widens out on Rupert’s flank, it needs now to form a box, with a ‘dog-leg’ back into the hedge line that follows the edge of the table.

Let battle begin.

*positively identified as the hedge running along the Sulby/Sibbertoft boundary alongside Lankyford furlong (Lantford = Lankyford) …

** following Martin Marix Evans, the remounted dragoons will be allowed to follow the tracks back up to the Naseby position to re-enter the field (the Sibbertoft end of these closes is off table).

This interpretation follows Foard as far as I understand the analysis he provides (Naseby: the decisive campaign … p.245 to 248)

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One Comment on “Sulby/Lantford/Archwrong – which is right?”

  1. Well, my compliments for this post. Very informative and interesting!

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