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

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Not Quite the Siege of Newcastle 1644 - (1) Beginnings and Set Up

It will be a little while until the actual game takes place, but I've made a start on setting up an appropriate battlefield. Because of the short artillery ranges, the ground scale and the small size of 17th Century towns, I have decided to play the game across the table, which has a number of advantages.

My starting point is a contemporary map of Newcastle, dating from 1610 or so. Here it is.

By the time Lord Leven arrived at the gates in February 1644, a number of changes had taken place. The suburbs outside the northern section of the wall had been demolished (they burned for days, apparently), the walls had been put into a good state of repair (they had even been plastered, to make escalade more difficult - my walls have not been plastered...), but were still old-fashioned medieval walls with no frontal protection against artillery, and a sconce had been erected at Shieldfield, north east of the town, to cover the Sandgate area against possible approach along the valley of the Pandon Burn.

Having stared at the map for a while, consulted my various sources and scratched my chin, I have decided to represent the northern side of the town on the table. This represents only part of the assault (which did not take place until October, for reasons which I shall attempt to explain at some point in the next few posts), but it is the easiest section to play as a game, and it does include the location of the primary artillery barrage.

This first post is primarily to show off my very approximate version of Newcastle, and the captions to the pictures will give a little more information. In later posts I'll say more about why the real siege of Newcastle does not lend itself to a game without a lot of fudging - which will involve one of Foy's infamous potted histories - and discuss some new aspects of my rules. One further advantage of setting the field up early, of course, is that I can do some experimenting with particular rule mechanisms to see how they look. The game itself will probably be in a couple of weeks (availability of commanders permitting), and it will be a collaborative, rather than a competitive, effort!

In 1644 Newcastle was a prosperous town of some 11,000 inhabitants. The section
of the town shown is seen from the north, and is rather simplified. The River Tyne is
about 2 hexes beyond the far edge - somewhere behind the chairs. Following the
visible section of the wall round from the left, you can see the Pandon Gate, the
Corner Tower, the Carliol Tower, Pilgrim Street Gate, the Ficket Tower, the Bartram
Monboucher Tower, Newgate, the Heber Tower and the Westgate. Off the table, on the left
the wall loops around to the Sandgate, which is on the riverfront, and on the right it
meets the river near to the Closegate. The bits of white paper are to help me memorise
the names of the key locations. 

General view from the north east.

View from The Leazes, where General Baillie set up his batteries. The hexes are
about 200 paces across the flats, so you can estimate that the range is about 800
to 1000 paces from the hills. I believe the football stadium would feature prominently
somewhere in the middle of such a view of the modern city. 

General view from the north west.

Looking from the Castle, towards Newgate Street.

View towards the Newgate, inside the walls - get your ticket for the guided walk...

Pilgrim St Gate from the top of Pilgrim St.

The new fort added by Lord Glemham at Shieldfield - it looks a little more grand
than it really was - it occupies 2 hexes, and was manned by about 300 musketeers.
Somewhere via this link you will find an entertaining little dramatisation of some of the key issues of the real siege - click on the movie and you will meet some of the principal characters - notably Sir John Marley (the town mayor) and the Earl of Leven (the commander of the Scottish army outside).  They are heavily disguised, apparently, but you get the idea. I'll introduce them again in a later part of this short series of posts.


  1. Great set up, wonderful pictures!

  2. Never have I seen a better example of a walled town on the gaming table. Impressive display!

  3. Thank you gentlemen - much appreciated! This is just the scenery, however - the cast should appear shortly, and the script (rules) had better be up to scratch! Main theme for the rule changes is that I am trying to make the siege-moves rules more consistent with the tactical-move rules (which means making them a bit more C&CN-like) without destroying the spirit of the underlying Chris Duffy game.

    Jonathan - is your spell-checker developing a personality of its own...?

    1. Autocorrect is quite troublesome especially when responding via iPad.

  4. Lovely stuff! Looking forward to the development of the game, but it almost seems a shame to spoil the town by fighting over it!

  5. A magnificent set up Tony, especially the way it works with the hexes. Street level shots wonderful :)

  6. Wow. I want to take the walking tour and buy the postcard. This is fantastic. And I learned what a "sconce" was. "Ensconced" makes a lot more sense now. See, wargaming is educational.

  7. Superb set-up Tony, I look forward to the main event. Regards, Iain.

  8. Thanks again gentlemen - no tease intended! - the game should be in a week or 10 days.