A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Saturday, 5 April 2014

ECW – The Battle of Auchinrivoch (1645)

View from behind the Covenanters' centre as they wheel right from the road
into line of battle
In truth, the forces are not quite ready yet, but I went ahead anyway and staged a wargame employing my new “Campaigns of Montrose” units. The Battle of Auchinrivoch is, of course, fictitious, but represents what the troops involved at the real Battle of Kilsyth might have done on the same ground, on the same date, if they had not been otherwise engaged.

The Marquis of Montrose has available 2 units of regular Scottish foot, being the regiments of Strathbogie and Gordon of Monymore, plus his Irish brigade of 3 regiments, under the command of Major-General MacColla, plus approximately 2500 highland clansmen, 2 regiments of horse and a very small unit of firelocks.

He is opposed by General William Baillie, with a Covenant Army consisting of 7 regiments of foot (mostly from Fife and the Lowlands) and 2 regiments of horse, the cavalry commander being Lord Balcarres.

The rules are the current version of my adaptation of Commands & Colors for the ECW. All regular units count as average, trained troops, all cavalry are Trotters, the highland levies have no firepower and count as “raw” (double retreats). There is no artillery present – Montrose doesn’t have any worthy of mention, and Baillie has left his behind on the march. To reflect his greater flair, Montrose has 6 Command Cards in his hand, Baillie has 5.

7 Victory Points for the win.

Set Up

Montrose took personal command of the (unpredictable) highlanders, on high ground on his right wing. MacColla’s Irish troops were in reserve in the centre, and the regular Scottish Royalist foot were on the left, commanded by Lord Gordon. The firelocks were installed in Auchinrivoch Farm, in the middle of the table.

Baillie’s initial dispositions were generated by dice rolls, since his force (historically) was in column of march, and faced right to form line of battle when he realized that the Royalists had an ambush waiting for him.

Both forces had cavalry on the flanks, but they had no involvement until the very end of the action.


Baillie’s original plan was to attack the highlanders with his main thrust, but the brigade under Colonel Haldane was distracted by the firelocks in the farm, who were causing some loss and annoyance. Haldane swiftly took the farm, but was promptly driven out again by MacColla’s Irish, at which point the highlanders swept down from the hill and routed most of Haldane’s men.

Baillie and Balcarres showed considerable personal courage in taking advantage of a Leadership card to gain some temporary success against the Monymore regiment, but this, too, was swept aside and Montrose won the day in a little over 90 minutes – 7-3 on Victory Points. The Covenanters also lost Colonel Haldane, severely wounded and taken prisoner.

The Pictures

Overview of Baillie's forces, from his right flank

Balcarres' Horse, on the Covenanters' left flank - they did nothing all day

Montrose's initial deployment

MacColla's Irish brigade in the Royalist centre

Montrose on the high ground, taking special care of his brave but brittle highlanders

More underemployed horse - this lot are Ogilvy's regiment, on the Royalist right flank

Baillie gets cracking with a "March to Victorye" card - throwing his infantry forward

This is how they would have looked from a helicopter above the Royalist lines

MacColla takes a more belligerent stance

Haldane would have done well to ignore the farm, but couldn't resist driving
the firelocks out of the position

Of course, having taken the farm, Haldane's men could not hold it against the Irish...

…and were driven out again with heavy loss...

…which they managed to reduce with some lucky "Rallye" dice...

…after which they got a further seeing-to from the highlanders.

Suddenly there were some very big gaps in the Covenanter line

General Baillie felt decidedly isolated as his men left him to get on with it

When the cards are against you, they are against you all the way. In desperation,
Baillie played a "Hazzard a Chaunce" card, forcing Montrose to take a Chance Card.
Typically, this should not have been in Montrose's best interests, but today it resulted in the
Royalist Gordon Horse suddenly realising that this was, in fact, their day to be
unbeatable, and they became Rash Gallopers on the spot...

…and they duly celebrated by cutting down Loudon's Foot, to give Montrose
his decisive 7th Victory Point. Game over.

1 comment:

  1. A very attractive game, both as a whole and in parts (really like the dice and cards). And a plausible game as well as one that reads like fun.