Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Naseby Project ‘out and about’

November 10, 2017

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The Naseby ‘battle in miniature’ has done a couple more outings over the Summer …

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The Holdenby event was the BBC’s ‘Northamptonshire’ day – and, despite being a blustery Autumnal day, was hugely popular.

From a battlefield championing point of view, we got cleaned out of every battlefield trail leaflet we could get hold of*.

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Holdenby, of course, is where Charles I was held prisoner in 1647 after end of the Civil War – so has it’s own point on the Naseby Timeline.  

Like the pub in the village, a great place to be able to display the model and interpret the battle.

Enthusiasts will be pleased to note that, in the pub, we did a full refight of the battle – which engaged not only some non-wargaming reenactors but also a foreign student over here on an exchange visit (who decided that Naseby would be a good topic to pick for her study project)!

Here are some familiar scenes – but after the recent refurbs and adaptations …

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(Okey’s dragoons unleash fire into the flank of the Royalist cavalry)

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(Maurice’s cavalry rally forward and drive back Ireton’s wing)

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(in the centre, there is a small amount of gunfire as the King’s infantry approach)

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(a general melee follows along the ridge held by Fairfax’s New Model Army)

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(Cromwell’s cavalry completely overwhelm Langdale and dominate the Eastern side of the battle)

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(with much of the King’s army surrendered or retreating, a body of Rupert’s Blewcoats prepares to make a stand – 15mm figures by Peter Pig and Minifigs)

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These were very popular and successful outings … active learning and interpretation.   Obviously we could do so much more for people’s understanding and enjoyment of their battlefield heritage if only we had the resources to make permanent exhibits and upscale our ‘out and about’ programme.

There is a saying … ‘if you build it, they will come’

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(the Naseby Battlefield travelling display)

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*before, of course, a week later, being in yet another heritage funding meeting in which earnest stakeholders question whether anyone will visit.   Why is it the mandarins who appoint administrators to quangos always appoint people who don’t care about military history and have no knowledge of such a key sector in their new brief?  I am sure if we needed to resource a knitting museum or ‘social history’ tea room we’d have far fewer problems.

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Col Pride’s Regt.

October 25, 2017

I’ve been unsure/unsatisfied for some time over how to represent Pride’s Regt. on the Naseby model …

Streeter shows two bodies … a reserve and a small body captioned as a rearguard.

Naseby Refurbs 00

It’s clearly a very important part of the model and the game – Rupert (Maurice) drives Ireton off this flank but fails to find a way round the end of the army.

Rupert and his cavalier leadership are blamed but Streeter shows this flank was well defended … firelocks around the artillery train as well as Pride split and plugging gaps.

After (for a long time) splitting the unit down (which leaves one of the bodies without pikes) I decided to build two units … with fewer men but each formed around a stand of pikes.

My units usually look like this …

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The reduced units will look like this ..

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This gives them the same footprint as full strength bodies (so they can block at full value even if we opt to lower their combat strength as a consequence of their split manpower).

I have also chosen to represent Bernard Astley’s Regt. on the Royalist side (so all the bodies are represented and both sides are now ‘up one unit’ on their rosters) …

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I think this works better.

This is how we set up at Holdenby.

Partizan 2017

May 23, 2017

The Naseby project was invited to exhibit as part of the history zone at Partizan, Newark Showground, at the weekend.  We took along the familar tableau of the battle and were fortunately to be sharing space with The Battlefields Trust, The Pike and Shot Society and the Civil War Centre.

… so an excellent opportunity to make the historical pitch to the Reformation/Early Modern warfare enthusiast.

Good light, too, for photographers …

(Naseby in glorious 15mm)

There was something of a Civil War thing going on … Burton And District did Cropredy …

An interesting interpretation of the topography and a pity we didn’t have time to chat about the characteristic terrain at Cropredy …

That was 28mm … meanwhile Andrew B and Simon M has a smaller scale Edgehill using Simon’s card driven To The Strongest rules … battle en masse and super figures …

Well, Naseby, Cropredy and Edgehill at the same show.   Plus the societies and the Civil War Centre … Quite a feast for the ECW Battles enthusiast!  Great show … spent most of it on the stand but well worth a look.

Campaign 2017 … the Naseby display

May 15, 2017

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It’s a familair story but one we never tire of telling.   Here are some shots of the Naseby game from this year’s Campaign (public display, The Centre, Milton Keynes in May … ).

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(the armies arrayed on Broadmoor)

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Skippon anchors the Western end of the New Model line on the ridge a mile or so North of Naseby village.

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While Cromwell massed his cavalry on Parliament’s right, vastly outnumbering Langdale’s Northern Horse.

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In like fashion, the King’s best cavarly were stationed on their right wing, opposite Henry Ireton and hard against Sulby Hedge.

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The King’s infantry were arrayed in three large battaglia in the centre.

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The Royalists also employed a significant reserve, mixing Horse and Foot.

Apparently at Cromwell’s suggestion, Parliament had infiltrated Col. Okey’s regiment of dragoons into the closes along Sulby Hedge …

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… and the battle opened with the dragoons pouring fire into Maurice’s flank.

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As the King’s centre attacked, it encountered a Forlorn Hope stationed in to foot of the valley.

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And Cromwell’s cavalry poured over the crest of the old rabbit warren …

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As this ‘bird’s eye’ shot shows, Cromwell moving forward while the rest of the army held the ridge prevented Langdale from protecting the flank of the King’s infantry as it made the uphill attack.

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The battle, viewed from the South West.

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Battle is joined on Closter Hill … the King’s army driving forward.

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Meanwhile, Rupert and Maurice disperse Ireton’s cavalry and pursue into Parliament’s rear.

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Needing to be in overall command during the key phases of battle, Rupert is reported as being shot at by the artillery train Firelocks, out of contact with his senior officers …

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Langdale is driven from the field, and Cromwell’s rear lines turn in on the King’s centre ..

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The key moments viewed from Okey’s position in Sulby Closes.

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The King’s infantry are surrounded and surrender.

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Although Thomas Fairfax commanded the army, Cromwell’s name will always be foremost in the story of the victory at Naseby on the 14th June 1645.

Naseby battlefield is in the process of major Lottery Fund bid to build a Visitor Centre at All Saints church, in the village (and which was the scene of some of the events earlier in the day of battle) …

Any help you can give will be hugely valuable in achieving this vision.

 

Naseby in Miniature … (The Other Partizan, May 2016, Newark)

October 10, 2016

13263959_10204757413453527_4729155320208476746_n(Naseby 1645: a miniature version of the battle ‘dropped into’ Streeter’s famous projection of the battlefield)

Earlier in the Summer, in association with The Battlefields Trust and Northampton Battlefields Society, we put on the wargame version of the battle at Newark’s Summer show …

Making best use of the set up, rather than play the battle through as a game, I moved the pieces forward roughly in accordance with our understanding of the battle to create a series of tableaux …

With the addition of a couple of set-up scenes to complete the narrative, here is a miniature battle of Naseby.

14th June 1645 … 8:00 am

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Fairfax and Cromwell ride forward and see the Royalist army deploying to the North …

They pick a the gentler ridge the South side of Broadmoor as a position where Rupert might be prompted to attack them.

naseby-narrative-16-01a(what they might have seen: the model landscape dropped into today’s view of the battlefield from the ‘Fairfax Viewpoint’)

Meanwhile, although they know it is close, the Royalists are unsure of the exact whereabouts of Parliament’s army.

The New Model army draws up on the ridge of Closter Hill, Skippon’s regiment taking the end of the infantry line, the grazing cows were brought in and a forlorn hope was sent forward into the foot of the valley….

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Cromwell sends Colonel Okey and his dragoons to ambush the King’s army…

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Behind Parliament’s lines several detachments were deployed as rearguards, and further back a ring of firelocks were guarding the artillery train …

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The armies deploy on opposite sides of Broadmoor

naseby-narrative-16-02(Naseby – the opening positions viewed from the Royalist side: in this picture from Newark, the opening shots are being fired)

9:00 am …

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the Dragoons open fire into Prince Maurice’s cavalry throwing the planned attack into confusion.

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Rupert takes personal command of the cavalry and they ride forward, reorganising in the foot of the valley before mutually attacking Ireton’s cavalry on Parliament’s left.

The musketeers attached to support the cavalry attack have been drawn into the firefight with Okey’s ambush …

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10:00 am …

… the foot begin their assault on the New Model infantry on Closter Hill

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… the first opposition is from the Forlorn Hope …

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… then they make the uphill attack into the New Model regiments just back from the crest of the ridge …

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… in the dip of the valley, the approaching foot had dropped out of sight only reemerging as they crested the slope – few shots were got off as the men charged into personal combat with musket butt and tuck.

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Naseby 370 12a

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(Naseby 1645: the infantry ofboth sides go straight to ‘push of pike’ and fight ‘with musket butt and tuck’)

Cromwell and Langdale’s cavalry wings engage ..

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Maurice forces Ireton’s men backwards

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Astley’s foot gradually prevail on the ridge

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Cromwell’s cavalry force Langdale’s Northern Horse a quarter mile off the battlefield

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11:00 am …

Maurice’s cavalry pursue the broken elements of Ireton’s wing off the battlefield but fail to find a way round Parliament’s flank

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The King must now launch the reserves to prevent Cromwell using his remaining cavalry to encircle the foot on Closter Hill …

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The King is disuaded by his courtiers and is led from the battlefield.

12:00 …

Cromwell’s reserves now close around the King’s infantry, isolated in their winning fight on Closter Hill …

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Surrounded, most of King’s infantry now surrender

1:00 pm …

Most of the King’s army is now in flight.

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The Bluecoats stand like a wall of brass covering the retreat

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The retreat and pursuit carries on all afternoon with localised firefights breaking in the roads and fields on the way to Market Harborough.   The massed surrender of Royalists meant this was the decisive battle of the war, and amongst the baggage captured after the battle were papers which were subsequently used to put the King on trial.

On June 14th 1645, in a field in the parish of Naseby, the war for the style of government in England was won by Parliament.

Civil War Northamptonshire

June 5, 2016

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Gloucester – a Pike and Shotte what if.

June 27, 2015

Ph Gloucs 01

Saturday’s Phalanx show was followed by the now customary Gentlemen Pensioners big game on the Sunday: this time an English Civil War ‘what if’ based on the relief of Gloucester in 1643.

The background is explained in this extract from The Battlefields Trust resources …

Despite few troops and poor provisions the parliamentarian Governor of Gloucester, Colonel Massey, refused to surrender. Unwilling to repeat the heavy losses that had resulted from the storming of Bristol, Charles besieged the city.

The fate of Gloucester was seen as a key factor likely to determine the outcome of the war. The parliamentarians in response were busily equipping and raising troops for Essex’s army in London. At the end of August the Earl of Essex, with an army some 15,000 strong, set out from London the relief of Gloucester. On learning of Essex’s approach Charles raised the siege on the 5th September and withdrew southward. Gloucester had been relieved and re-supplied.

gloucester-campaign(campaign map reproduced from BCW-project.org)

Our game explored the other option: an attempt by the King to prevent Essex’s army getting to Gloucester.  In the game, Parliament had to reach the security of the hedges and enclosures of the Severn valley.  They were heavily defended, but losing them would signal that the King’s attempt to prevent the relief of Gloucester would fail.

Ph Gloucs 01a(enemy troops denying Parliament possession of the enclosures)

The rules used were Pike & Shotte from the Black Powder stable.  On previous occasions I have not found them to be at all reflective of Civil War battle – but for this game Steve had made some significant changes and it and the parent game are familiar to me (which helps get your head round a big game) so I was keen to give it a go.

The main changes were (a) to depict Regiments of Foot as single, mixed weapons, bodies (rather than brigaded units of pike and shot) … (b) to enable disorder to be removed on a die roll before activations, and allowing disordered troops to withdraw (both to limit the tendency to stall in front of the enemy) and (c) to soften the effects of failed activations (to allow players to get on with the game  – especially as it was an 8 player game).  All good changes.

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I was asked to take the role of the Earl of Essex and command of the army.  I gave strong cavalry commands to Will and Dave on the flanks, and Chris and I shared the infantry in the centre.   I allocated the main punch to my subordinate figure, Philip Skippon.  And we wasted no time setting about the task.

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The attack was a little lop-sided … all the troops under my own command pressed forward enthusiastically (low rolls on the activation giving them multiple moves) while the other brigades in the centre failed to move off.  This set a pattern.

On the flanks I expected the generally harder charging Royalists to barrel forward and put us under pressure.  But on both wings we managed to box them in and take the battle to them.   It still should have been tough but we were clearly getting the better of it.

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Initially Skippon’s attack in the centre went well – the good activations got to the hedge lines quickly and some vigorous charges and good saving rolls carried the position.  Unfortunately the defenders ran off through their supporting reserves who unleashed a withering fire which drove the assault back*.

This formula repeated several times, and although the defensive lines were breached repeatedly, we never really threw the enemy completely from the positions.

Ph Gloucs 03(high water mark of the Parliamentary attack)

I fed a second wave of foot into the assault, and by this stage the whole centre was on the move.  Attrition was building up on both sides but we were now in a general engagement and news from the cavalry wings continued to be positive (indeed, I had held some troops back in case of disaster and these could now be fed in also) …

Ph Gloucs 06(Gloucester?: the second wave goes in)

Even so, resistance remained stubborn and frustrating and the matter was eventually resolved by the collapse of both Royalist cavalry wings (in pure game terms breaking their army; in our gentlemanly assessment, requiring their foot to retire at nightfall).

We had, there or thereabouts, achieved our objective, though in a surprising way (I had expected we would likely have cleared at least some of the closes with out foot but that we might be stripped of our horse – actually the foot had made the barest of progress and it was the horse that carried the day … the Earl was indeed very pleased with his commanders) …

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This was by far the best game of Pike & Shotte so far: not without a lot of issues but a far better feel and much easier to play ‘in character’ (i.e. to make role-based rather than game-based decisions).  Homogeneous pike and shot units transform the game, giving it the tactical (and play) simplicity of Civil War battle but the whole musket-disorder thing still strikes me as very 18th century/Napoleonic.   It was tamed in this game, but the withering fire itself doesn’t really ring true.  Same goes for artillery … still cracking away in the latter phases of the game (indeed I even had a regiment of foot broken by a lone gun after the infantry it had seemed to be attached to had themselves run off) … Hmmm.

I was less aware of what was going on the flanks but I gather that the Royalists found it hard to get their cavalry charging (activation failures) so in the majority of cases the Parliamentarians charged in with the Royalists counter-charging.   We beat them in combat (luck) which allowed sweeping advances to repeat the discomfiture.  A lot of that is die-rolling of course.

Despite all that, this was a very enjoyable game engaged in good spirit by all the players.  And that’s what really counts.  I hope Steve continues to improve the basic game, and I’ll look again at the statistics for firepower effects, artillery and officer incidents to see what light these shed.

On a separate note, the game also confirmed the King’s historical decision to raise the siege and retreat rather than confront Essex’s relief force.

NOTE

*indeed, a misreading of the ‘large unit’ break point saw test these troops too soon, much to their disadvantage (they failed horribly) but such is the fog of war.

LINKS

Will’s blog of the game

Wargame Amateur’s blog of the game