Monday, November 14, 2011

Powick Bridge, 12 September 1642

In  what is popularly characterised as the opening 'battle' of the English Civil Wars, the battle of Powick Bridge saw about 1000 Royalist cavalry and dragoons led by Prince Rupert defeat a similar force of Parliamentarian cavalry and dragoons led by Nathaniel Fiennes. This action took place in the narrow lanes and hedged enclosures near the hamlet of Lower Wick, north of Powick Bridge, in Worcestershire.

This first encounter in an English Civil War mini campaign for DBA-RRR designed by 'Cromwell' of Fanaticus employs 6 elements a side: 4 cavalry (parliamentarians) or Knights (Royalist), one dragoons and one shot.

Linear obstacles were included using the DBACW rules (Keep it Simple Rules) for this terrain type (slightly adapted to reflect troop types in DBA-RRR).

  • Stone walls: Foot, Gun/Cannons and mounted are classed as being 'in cover' when defending a stone wall (shooters firing into cover get -1 to distance shooting. Defenders get a +1 close combat modifier when in close combat). They are classed as bad going and only foot (excluding cannon/guns) can cross stone walls and they must have sufficient movement for the entirety of the base to clear the wall in that turn (ie. cannot be left straddling the wall). Groups can only cross in one element wide columns. I play it that it must always be clear which side of the wall a unit is on - so you cannot have an element of a group straddling the fence. They are impassible terrain when it comes to outcome moves for mounted and cannons/guns. Impetuous mounted do not advance across the wall if their opponent is destroyed/recoiled/flees.
  • Hedges are counted as 'minor linear obstacles' - they count as bad going and have the same effect on movement as stone walls. Hedges provide no modifiers to distance shooting or close combat.
  • Linear obstacles block line of sight except where the shooting element has its firing edge,  and/or the target has the edge being shot at, hard up against the wall/hedge.

This adaption may have some 'bugs' still - but I/we just apply common sense to solving problems.

Beyond the initial campaign 'rules' I imposed some set-up and movement conditions in the first bound. I decided the parliamentarians should deploy on the bridge over the River Teme advancing in a column along the road (excepting the element of shot - mostly because there was not room). The Royalists deployed in the open fields (Wick field) out of direct sight of the exhausted Parliamentarian column.
The Royalists were given the opening move and then Fiennes' column was obliged to advance a full move along the road into the lanes beyond the bridge.
The action began with Rupert ordering half of his cavaliers to sweep wide on the Royalist right in the hope of catching Fiennes' column in the rear. The remainder of his mounted troops spurred on into the lane while the shot and dragoons secured the hamlet of Lower Wick. The Parliamentarian column was halted with a volley of musketry as they tramped down the lane.
Fiennes' dragoons were thrown back by the volley but they quickly took cover behind the hedges. Royalist and Parliamentarian horse faced each other at either ends of the lane awaiting the outcome of the musket duel that ensued. Meanwhile, Rupert's flanking manoeuvre continued. Fiennes' led the rear of his column out of the lanes to meet the charge.
As the fighting in the lanes reached a crescendo the cavaliers on Rupert's right wing pushed the Parliamentarian cavalry back to the banks of the Teme (which ended up as a paltry river in this game). Fiennes called more of his cavalry out of the lanes to counter this push and the impetuous cavaliers were caught in the flank with heavy losses (1 element of cavaliers (Kn) lost).
Rupert's cavaliers charge down the lane as the parliamentarian dragoons fall back in a hail of musketry.
Fiennes orders in a third troop of cavalry to support his hard pressed left flank. 
The impetuous advance of Rupert's cavaliers pushes the parliamentarian horse back into the river Teme but Fiennes  leads a decisive counter charge surrounding and decimating the Royalist left flank.
Sensing the tide of the battle was turning, Rupert led his remaining cavaliers in a thunderous charge down the lanes destroying the troop of cavalry facing them while his dragoons swept around the hamlet in a flanking manoeuvre. Rupert's decimated right fell back allowing Fiennes to send some cavalry back into the hamlet to slow the advance of the Royalist dragoons. The battle hung in the balance ... the first to destroy another element would be the victor.
At this apex of the battle, the parliamentarian foot managed to rally in the woods next to the hamlet and swept into contact with Rupert's mounted troops in the lanes. Unable to manoeuvre, the leading troop were trapped by a deadly volley of musketry at close quarters.
Alas, the dash and daring of Prince Rupert was not enough to carry the day. The Royalists fell back to lick their wounds destined to meet the parliamentarians in the first major battle of the civil wars in a little over a month at Edgehill.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

1643 ... somewhere in the west country (a solo DBA encounter)

In late summer 1643, a sizeable force of Sir Ralph Hopton's army surprise Waller's Parliamentarians near a hamlet in Somerset. The Royalists quickly deploy their mounted troops to the open ground on their right wing hoping to strike while Waller's foot struggle out of ground domindated by hedges. Knowing his foot is outnumbered in the centre but certain that his left flank is securely pinned on the hamlet where his dragoons lurk, the Royalist commander quickly takes the initiative on the right and charges the Parliamentarian artillery.
View from the Royalist rear - the cavaliers charge on the right is countered by Parliament's  heavy cuirassiers
The Parliamentarian commander, seeking to buy some time while his remaining shotte deploy to reinforce his beleaguered left, leads his heavy cuirassiers in a daring charge to break the Royalist foot that have rushed in to support the cavaliers. The cavaliers try to ride down the exposed Parliamentarian left but the momentum of their charge is broken at cannon's mouth. In the centre the Royalist foot deploy their pike in depth, and the musketeers steady themselves for the maelstrom of lead that will issue from the cuirassiers wheellocks as they smash into their ranks.
The cavaliers falter as the Parliamentarian heavy cavalry countercharge
The failure of the cavaliers to drive their charge home, coupled with the heavy losses among the Royalist mounted troops from cannon and musket fire, gives the Parliamentarian shotte time to deploy. Encouraged by the arrival of the foot, the horse teams are whipped into the melee and manage to draw the heavy guns back out of danger. But, the undaunted cavaliers wheel around and slam into the flank of the muskets forcing them to turn to meet the charge. The din of battle soars as the 'lobsters' drive into the Royalist foot decimating the front ranks of pike and musket, driving all before them with their commander at the very apex of the charge. Yet, seemingly out of nowhere, remnants of the Royalist mountet troops slam into the left flank of the cuirassiers - both commanders sense the moment of decision has come. Who will carry the day?
The high water mark - remnants of the first Royalist charge strike the exposed left of the
Parliamentarians while the cavalry reserve charges to support them.
Battle rages ... the smoke of musketry blinds those engaged ... the commanders rise in their saddles ... the gods of war roll their dice ...
Bella detesta matribus! (Horace)
Wars, the horror of mothers! The lobsters shrug off the challenge to their flank and decimate the Royalist centre. While in the distance, the hard-pressed Parliamentarian musketeers are savaged by the impetuous charge of the few remaining cavaliers, the remaining foot flee. The Royalist commander rushes to plug the gap in his line ... but the day is lost (4:1).
The Royalist heavy cavalry arrive too late.