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

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

ECW Campaign - Big Finish - The Battle of Brockleymoor, 1644

To resume our tale of the English Civil War in North Lancashire and Cumbria in 1644…

Capt Groves' Royalist firelocks occupied the churchyard at Leaning St Mary's,
but did not delay the brigade of the Earl of Dunbar for long
After the Battle of High Cark, the King’s forces were contained in the town of Lowther and the fortress of Erneford, on the River Arith, in north Lonsdale. The victorious Army of Parliament went into one of its habitual phases of re-organising itself, with the result that very little effort was made to lay siege to either of these places, or even to seal them from the outside world, and in early May the Royalists marched out of their supposed prisons with breathtaking synchronisation, meeting no serious opposition at all, and headed north toward the Royalist town and castle of Penrith, where they were to be joined by a reinforcement sent from the garrison of Carlisle. It is evident that communication between Carlisle and the valley of Arith had been untroubled by the presence of the blockading troops. 

So complete was the surprise achieved by this move that it took a few days for the Parliament forces to set up a pursuit.

The reinforcement had not yet reached Penrith when they got there, so the King’s men continued northwards, eventually meeting up with a force commanded by the military governor of Carlisle, Lord Peterkin Maule, near the town of Lazonby, two days' march beyond Penrith. This additional column brought from Carlisle consisted of the regiments of foot of Col Thomas Ganesbrough, Col Hendrik Penny, Col Charles Martindale and Col George Crompton, the regiments of horse of Lord Maule and of Col Josiah Trimbull and a couple of serviceable guns from the Carlisle garrison.

The augmented army turned to confront the pursuing Parliament force and met them near the village of Plumpton, in Cumberland, at what has become known as the Battle of Brockleymoor, on 27th May 1644.

[The size of the forces involved, together with my beta-test “Brigade Orders” activation rule, required a raid on the spares box to raise extra officers, who were temporarily mounted on coins for the occasion - my apologies for the Old School informality.]

At the head of the Allied army, Sir Henry Figge-Newton was conspicuous by his absence – he had travelled to London on private business, and so the overall command devolved to the capable (though unloved) Sir Nathaniel Aspinall, who kept the Covenant forces in distinct brigades but took the admirable step of placing the Scottish general, William Geddes, in command of all the Allied Foot.

The field is fairly open – one fordable stream flows into an odd, swampy sink-hole, which was a no-go area at this time of year. The hills occupied by the Royalist line are not high, though the slopes were slippery after a period of rain. I hope to give a rudimentary narrative through the picture captions. The general style of the terrain is moorland fells, lightly wooded.

 General view from behind the Royalist left - Darracott held a symmetrical
line, cavalry on each flank, while the Allies placed their main weight on
their left, with extra horse in support of the centre. The village of Plumpton
is the middle of the Royalist position

Col Frayne's Northumbrian troops in the Royalist right wing

View from behind the position of Sir Marmaduke Davies' reserve brigade,
towards Geddes' slow but sure advance

Royalist dragoons at the lead mine, on the extreme left flank, had a very quiet day

After some delays caused by problems with orders, Geddes' left flank is ready to attack

Aspinall's plan (his army is on the far side) was to attack with his stronger left,
then to advance his right if the Royalist army started to shift reserves to support
their own right, but the day was decided before that.

Darracott was determined to hold his cavalry back, but the dice determined
that Broadhurst, on the Royalist right, saw an opportunity to harrass the flank
of the Parliament attack

Broadhurst had greater numbers, and handled his troopers well enough, but
his men could not fight for toffee. These are not the sort of dice you need when
fighting cavalry

Yet again, the fate of the Royalist horse suddenly became critical to the outcome
- this picture shows a sort of high-water mark, as Broadhurst's men have pushed
back the advance, but themselves have taken a battering. [Red counters are losses,
other colours denote the brigading]

It took a while, but the infantry attack finally goes in - Sir Julius Mossley has the leading brigade

The Parliamentarian cavalry brigade of Sir Beardsley Heron became the
surprise heroes of the day - after wrecking Broadhurst's horse, they took
the Royalist position in flank and caused a general rout there. Here
they arrive at the end of the Royalist reserve position, exposing the shakier
second-line troops - the Trained Bands of Penrith and Lazonby had not expected
to be subjected to this sort of treatment, and simply melted away. Sir
Marmaduke Davies was badly wounded trying to rally the shreds of his brigade.

The Royalist line is not what it was; Aspinall's hawk-like gaze was watching
for any movement of the reserves, but none came in time to save Davies and Monkton

The collapse of Darracott's right and the loss of a couple of general officers
produced a violent swing in Victory Points at the end - 12 was enough to win the day...

And still there is no action at this end of the table - not much remains of Darracott's right, though

Big Wullie Geddes waving his hat in victory, celebrating the end of the Royalist
presence in Lonsdale. Darracott, still with a large army despite the carnage,
retired to Carlisle. Aspinall, aware that many of his men were a long way from home,
and plagued already with high rates of desertion, let the King's army go, and
fell back to Lancaster. The campaign was ended.

Orders of Battle - Brockleymoor, 27th May 1644

[Units marked # were from the Carlisle garrison; those marked * were remnants of units, converged to give a formation of useful size]

Royalist Army (Sir John Darracott)  3200 horse, 11065 foot, 2 guns

Horse (Lord Sefton)

Bde of Sir Allard Jenkinson
Jenkinson’s RoH
Ld Sefton’s RoH
Ld Cressington’s RoH
Bde of Sir Roderick Broadhurst
            Clevedon’s* & Broadhurst’s* RoH
            Moorhouse’s* & Noden’s* RoH
            Maule’s# RoH
            Trimbull’s# RoH

Foot (Lord Maule)

Bde of Col Monkton
            Monkton’s RoF
            Galliard’s* & Rice’s* RoF
            Ganesbrough’s# RoF
Bde of Lord Ullet
            Ld Ullet’s RoF
            Maxwell’s RoF
            Parkfield’s RoF
Bde of Sir Marmaduke Davies
            Davies’* & Fulwood’s* RoF
            Penrith TB
            Lazonby TB
            Penny’s# RoF
Bde of Col Frayne
            De La Roche’s* & Frayne’s* RoF
            Wooding’s RoF
            Martindale’s# RoF
Bde of Col Charlton
            Charlton’s RoF
            Fintry’s*, Corfield’s* & Brogan’s*
            Crompton’s# RoF

Dingle’s Dragoons
Groves’ Firelocks
2 med cannons

[Losses on the day were approximately 1200 horse, 3000 foot, and two of the brigade commanders – Sir Roderick Broadhurst and Sir Marmaduke Davies – were severely wounded. Broadhurst subsequently died of his wounds on 4th June.]

Allied Parliamentarian & Covenant Army (Sir Nathaniel Aspinall)  4000 horse, 11350 foot, 3 guns

Horse (Lord Alwyn)

Bde of Col Allington
            Ld Sudley’s RoH
            Ld Eastham’s RoH
            Pitlochrie Horse
Bde of Sir Beardsley Heron
            Heron’s RoH
            Winstanley’s RoH
            Chetwynd’s RoH
Bde of Sir Rowland Barkhill
            South’s RoH
            Barkhill’s RoH
            Dundonald’s RoH

Foot (Gen William Geddes)

Bde of Sir Julius Mossley
            Buckland’s RoF
            Mossley’s RoF
Grafton’s RoF
Bde of Col Bryanston
            Bryanston’s RoF
            Hawkstone’s RoF
Bde of Lord Lambton
            Burdett’s RoF
            Ld Lambton’s RoF
            Nielson’s RoF
Bde of Col St Clair
            St Clair’s RoF
            Laird’s RoF
            Petrie’s RoF
Bde of Col Herdman
            Herdman’s RoF
            Yester’s RoF
            Sweeting’s RoF
Bde of the Earl of Dunbar
            Snodgrass’s RoF
            McKinnon’s RoF
            Earl of Dunbar’s RoF

Ancaster’s Dragoons
2 med cannons
1 heavy cannon

[Allied losses were approx 700 horse, 800 foot.]


  1. What a great looking game. Well done!

    1. Thank you, sir! - played solo, using my cut-down C&C-based game, with a home-brewed activation system inspired by a cross between Blücher and Neil Thomas, the game played out in a little over 3 hours, including a break for lunch and pauses for photography. It took about the same time to clear up afterwards!

  2. Replies
    1. Some of the figures I have had painted by commission are actually beautiful, the ones I did myself and the ones I bought pre-owned and touched up are probably not so lovely, but the overall effect is pleasing enough. I have had a couple of major windfalls of figures on the way, but i bought my first ECW castings in April 2012, and it has progressed at a rate I wouldn't have believed.

      If my 1809 Spanish project goes anything like as well I shall be delighted!

  3. No wonder there is speculation that the lax siege was actually a clever plan to lure the Royalists out into the open.

    That aside, what stirring pictures! What bold and bonny wee soldiers.

    1. Ah, the historians love conspiracy theories...

      I found your description of the troops both pleasing and touching - struck a chord. These are toys, no doubt about it, and they took a good deal of collecting, fiddling and organising, and they are source of great pleasure to me - the fact that they are an informal tribute to a lot of real, very brave people from long ago increases my affection. Bonny wee soldiers is exactly how I see them - thank you for that. There is something jauntily determined about them.

  4. Great to see such a large scale action - the terrain and figures are superb!

    1. Thank you, Ian - I really enjoyed the spectacle and the lack of subtlety! Great fun.

      This battlefield must be within sight each time you drive up the M6 - it's just that no-one else knows it's there... Plumpton is a real place. So is the moor. Only the history was faked.

  5. What a fine ending to what has been a very enjoyable campaign to follow on-line. Well done. Of course I am also pleased to see an ultimate victory for po-faced rectitude over flamboyant, lace-fringed Royalist excess and Papism! Orf with all their heads says I. (Despite taking the odd tincture of red wine for my health I come from Scots-Irish Presbyterian stock, so naturally barrack for Parliament.)

    1. Thanks for reading the stuff and for your comments, Steve. I get a lot of pro-Royalist banter on ECW topics, which, of course, is enjoyable and adds to the fun, but I am amazed how many folk seem to have 1640s Royalism somehow associated with a class war, or patriotism, or a regional division of some sort, or even a "people's revolution". I am pretty confident that most modern Royalists would not have been at all happy with the attitudes and conduct of Charles I. I have no real bias in the matter - I try to read history with an open mind - but old Charlie was a bit of a sneak, wasn't he? I have little positive to say about the Parliamentarian leading lights of the day either, but who wants to be ruled by a twonker?

      Anyway, my little campaign is entirely what my kids used to call Pretend Be, so it never happened and no-one can be offended!

      Cheers, and thanks!

    2. Oh not at all, thanks for the posts. It's been like having a serial to follow. I look forward to the next campaign with bated breath.
      Chucks One and Two were definitely a couple of pills. Their problem was giant egos I think. Fancy managing to alienate both their Scottish and English power bases. Of course a choice between the Charlies and the Cromwells is the ultimate Hobson's. The real outcome of these two groups of extremists battling it out was a good old English compromise that gave you the constitution you have now, so it all worked out in the end.
      How can you say nobody got hurt though? I feel sorry for all those poor little metal wives and kiddies waiting outside their little metal cottages for little metal heroes they'll never see again. Tragic, when you think about it.

    3. Agree entirely. Chuck One had the additional disadvantage of being convinced that he was personally employed by God, which seems to have clouded his judgement more than somewhat. Not - I hasten to add - that having God on their official team sheet did much for the judgement of the other lot, either.

      My metal soldiers do not have wives and kiddies - I insist on this - it's a qualification for the gig. On the subject of metal soldier mortality, I am reminded briefly that all of us only get to borrow our soldiers for a while - unless something cataclysmic happens, they are going to be around longer than we are. I wish I hadn't thought of that.

  6. A most stirring sight indeed, and a sense of personal satisfaction at seeing so much of my own brushwork on parade! Great game.

    1. Lee - you are one of a select bunch who have put the "quality" into my armies - I take credit only for the "quantity". Thank you again!

  7. I hope Sir Roderick was carried back to his manor house where he expired in the bosom of his family in the finest tradition of 1980s television.'
    I regret that I wasn't able to follow all of this campaign in the way it deserved but I look forward to going through the series again now that academia is off my back.
    Ref the comments about the pro-Royalist chatter in comments, I don't really have a dog in that fight, being but a rude colonial, but I do find that there is something odd going on with ECW wargames and displaced politics, though I think it is more noticeable with the 1930s version - I'd be interested to hear your comments on the VBCW trend, if you are tracking it at all.
    Well done on bringing this project to a conclusion!

    1. Well now - since you raised the subject...

      Broadhurst's fate is a little unclear. Although all the Royalist horse at Brockleymoor had orders from the C-in-C (Darracott) to hold position until directly instructed to do otherwise by his personal order, there is a family tradition that Broadhurst was ordered to attack by his friend and immediate superior Lord Sefton (Ralph Molyneux, commanding the Royalist horse on the day) - after querying the order, Broadhurst duly attacked, things went badly and the collapse of the Royalist right flank is very largely due to this action. It is said that Sir Roderick deliberately placed himself in a position of danger, and refused quarter. Wounded through the lung by a pistol ball, he was escorted back to his own army by order of Lord Alwyn (the Parliamentarian cavalry chief). He travelled in the personal carriage of Lord Maule, and was taken to the home of his niece, Mistress Petunia Foster, at Great Corby, east of Carlisle, at which place he died within a few days.

      It is believed that Sir Roderick was interred at his family home at Gadfield, near Shrewsbury. His two children had both died in infancy, and his widow late remarried and the house was sold. Sometime in the early Nineteenth Century the place was demolished and the estate was broken up - the name survives now only as that of an industrial estate in a built-up area, and the whereabouts of Sir Roderick's grave are unknown.

      VBCW - interesting. I have been aware of the topic, and pondered buying the books, but considered it to be too much of a step change from my other areas of (sparse) knowledge - a complete change of scale, scenery and what-have-you. Also the games looked a bit tactical for my normal taste. However - I've recently read a couple of books on 1930s politics in the UK, and it is really rather interesting. I may well invest in the rules and the guide book from Solway(?), but - as ever - when I look at the discussion fora and the blogs I have to go and lie down for a bit.

      The appeal, I think, is that the geography has more immediate meaning to a UK resident than most theatres, and it has obviously changed with time far less then the ECW. The pro-Royalist and other factions in the banter may be symptomatic of a certain, developing weirdness in current British social, political and regional attitudes. Everyone is looking for some other lot to blame for the economic difficulties - it even seeps through into game plying...

    2. When the going gets tough, peoples' horizons tend to narrow and they get a lot more tribal.
      With the mining boom ending, I won't be at all surprised to see a resurgence of Nineteenth Century grumbles here in Australia. We have a a rich history of bickering to draw on including Western Australian secessionism, Northern Territory statehood claims, Queensland and Tasmanian fears of marginalisation, the Riverina self-determination movement, and competition for economic and political supremacy between NSW and Victoria. These days the poor old South Australians have gripes of their own because everyone else is taking all the water.
      All that background could make for an interesting colonial-era wargame campaign, actually.