Explaining the battle at the 2013 Naseby Battlefield event

Naseby 13 00

It was a great pleasure to be involved with the Naseby Project’s family event and thankfully the weather remained moderate so we had a viable weekend.   One day, normal summer will return to Britain and we will have a splendid weekend.

That said, I recall that it rained all day just prior to the battle and the General Fairfax got stuck and drenched because he had forgotten the password.   The bottom of the valleys were soggy with burts of water on June 14th 1645.   So a familiar story perhaps.

Naseby 13 01(my little corner of the event gusty but under cover throughout)

The event was an informative combination of Living History and staged displays with indoor lectures and films, info and shopping stalls and my wargames version of the historical battle.

Naseby 13 06(Sealed Knotters wait to be presented to Earl Spencer on the Sunday morning)

The 21st Century summer meant that plenty of people frequented the pavilion … and many took a healthy interest when I warmed into an explanation of the movements and tactics of the armies.

Indeed, a number commented that it was much clearer when explained on the wargames model than on the film being shown in the Village Hall.   Maybe they were being polite – but I am sure it is true: nevertheless it is still sometime a problem to convince the drier type of military historian that models are the best way to convey the ebb and flow of battle.

Naseby 13 04a(Naseby 2013 – a variety of attractions for all the family)

I was equally amused when one of the battlefield guides concurred with some of my interpretations … apparently although she had missed my demonstrations, she had a good idea of the gist of it as a number of her walkers were asking ‘is this where …’ and ‘are those the ones who …’ (armed with snippets from my spiel) …

Well, I think that’s excellent – it shows the system is working.

I’m also very pleased with how the few pictures I took came out … the overcast but June daylight has given the landscape and figures a rare glow …

Naseby 13 04(the table set at the opening phase: Okey’s dragoons lay fire into the flank of Maurice’s cavalry wing)

I should have taken more … but the good news is that such was the popularity of the wargame that I didn’t really have time for many more over the weekend.

A lot of visitors came in from the village and as usual were very welcoming and inquisitive: I love the way they are fascinated by history and like their open-minded interest … this year’s popular theme seemed to be casualty levels and what happened to the dead and wounded …

Aftermath of battle … the dead and wounded of the Naseby fight:

Breaking down the losses, the Sealed Knot briefings seem to follow Marix Evans … the Royalists lost around 4,000 prisoners (most of the infantry who got trapped on Broadmoor), and 600 killed (Brooks gives a round total of 5,000 ‘losses’), against Parliament’s losses of around 200 (under that killed on the field, plus 45 subsequent fatalities amongst the 535 wounded).

The prisoners were first taken to Market Harborough before being marched on to London.  4 cart loads of wounded accompanied that march.

Churches were popular places for the captured and wounded … being some of the biggest and most easily secured buildings to which to gather people.  9 extra surgeons were summoned to help deal with the wounded.   The Parliamentarian wounded were mostly taken to Northampton (40 were treated in St John’s Hospital in Bridge Street).

The most seriously wounded of the leaders was Philip Skippon whose regiment had been hotly engaged throughout the peak of battle.   He was shot through from hip to shoulder and was too critical to be moved further than Brixworth where he was attended.   He subsequently recovered.

So less than 1000 fatalities of the, say, 22,000 engaged … 75% of those from the losing side (the winning dead being less than 2%).

In part of course, the low level of actual fatality is because such vast numbers, knowing the were surrounded, laid down their weapons.  The king’s army was entirely lost, of course, and all his baggage, guns and train.

Naseby 13 06a(mock battles under a threatening sky)

Naseby 13 05(the New Model formed up on the crest of Closter Hill)

Naseby Battlefield Project

Artillery Train at Naseby

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2 Comments on “Explaining the battle at the 2013 Naseby Battlefield event”

  1. yesthatphil Says:

    Thanks, Jon …

    There are a great many of these battlefield commemorative events, but few of them take advantage of the wargame’s power to delight and inform …

    Phil

  2. Jon Freitag Says:

    Great looking event and your game layout is exquisite. Enjoyed seeing the reenactment photos.

    I agree with your assessment of wargaming as a method of gaining insight into a particular battle. Gaming a battle always increases my understanding of the decisions made and outcomes produced.

    Jon


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