Praise we the Lord!
Came spurring hard with thousands a score:
Praise we the Lord!
Beleaguered York, that we lay before,
He knew would be ours ere a week was o'er,
So to scatter our hosts he fiercely swore.
To the Lord our God be glory!
William Cox Bennett
With the snow of recent weeks now merely a fading memory, we played the postponed Marston Moor game yesterday, here at the Chateau Foy. Excellent fun - using my Commands & Colors-derived rules, we fought the battle to a result in about three and a half hours elapsed, which is not bad going at all, considering that I was umpiring...
Baron Stryker, true to type, embraced the role of Prince Rupert with his customary zeal, while Count Goya played out the part of the canny Lord Leven with a more calculating, cautious approach which was entirely appropriate.
The battle was set out according to the most reliable OOB listings I could find. Rupert was given a couple of choices before commencement:
(1) he could, if he wished, reposition the two advanced units of foot on his right - his own and Lord Byron's regiments - which earned him much criticism on the day from Lord Eythin; he opted not to change the set-up, and left them in their historic position
(2) along with his own regiment of horse, Rupert started in reserve, off the table, and could appear on either flank, as he wished; in this case he chose to join Goring's cavalry on his left flank, rather than the choice he made back in '44, when he joined Byron and Molyneux on the right
The game had some strong similarities to the original battle - both sides won their own left flank - Cromwell and Leslie with the horse on the Allies' left were successful, after an initial struggle which could have gone either way; Goring (with Rupert) won the cavalry fight on the other flank for the Royalists - rather easily, in fact. In the centre, the Allied foot was more cautiously handled than in the original, and Rupert surprised everyone by attacking in this area. This was a bold move, though there is a reported eye-witness account which claims that at one point he was heard to say, "erm - I wonder if I should have waited for them to attack...?".
With luck, some form of battle narrative should suggest itself from the photos. The Allies won by 14 Victory Points to 9 - the units and leaders eliminated being:
Earl of Newcastle's Foot
Gibson / Ernle's Foot (combined)
Prince Rupert's Foot
Lord Molyneux's Horse
Lord Byron's Horse
Chas Slingsby's Foot
plus a couple of cannons and a few commanded shot (which don't count), and also the following generals:
Sir Charles Lucas
Earl of Manchester's Foot
Lord Eglinton's Horse
Earl of Manchester's Horse
plus one light cannon, plus
Sir Thomas Fairfax, who was killed in the cavalry fight near Long Marston
To my guests yesterday I offer, yet again, my heartfelt thanks for their good humour, patience, enthusiasm and excellent company. It should be recorded that, in honour of the substantial Covenanter presence on the field, our lunch menu featured haggis, neeps and tatties.
|Very open terrain - view from the South-West (Allies on this side)...|
|...and from the South-East - the edge of the village of Long Marston is off the table, |
and only there to provide some scenic context
|Same two views, with the armies in position|
|Prince Rupert - his dog featured in the scenario rules. Earl of Newcastle's carriage |
in the background.
|Cromwell attacks the cavalry on the Royalist right flank|
|In the centre, Rupert shocks his opponent by attacking|
|Meanwhile, on the Royalist right, only a battered remnant of the horse remain, and they are |
about to be finished off
|...there you are - they've gone, and Lord Byron is now taking refuge with the |
Foot, a bit further along
|The battle in the centre is now building up, though Rupert could have done with some more troops|
|Having defeated the Royalists' horse on their right flank, Cromwell turns his attention to the foot|
|Rupert running out of steam in the middle - the VPs are mounting up|
Appendix 1 - afterthoughts...
With the battlefield dismantled and everything put away, the dining room returns to its normal calm. With Glenn Gould playing Bach on the hi-fi, it's hard to believe that so many thousands fought and died here just yesterday, a feeling which is not unlike what I experienced when I walked across the Marston Moor battlefield in the pouring rain only a few weeks ago - it's just farmland now - odd how the years take away the suffering...
So, if one day the battlefield archeologists visit my tabletop battlefield, what will they find? - just a family dining room?
Not necessarily! - they might find evidence of my splendid new play-mats from the Early Learning Centre, which add greatly to the stability and the evenness of my battlefield, and would probably serve to deaden the sound of tiny hooves in the basement below - if we had one, that is.
Appendix 2 - the Rules
Mostly, everything went well. The game is intended to allow a large action to be fought to an understandable finish in a short time, and that was accomplished without problems. A couple of things I learned, which may appear on Version 2_70 in due course:
(1) Artillery is worse than useless - arguably even more useless than it should be. Easily fixed - I'll go back to fielding two artillery pieces in each unit of medium or heavy field artillery - that should fix it.
(2) The scenario rule to handle parties of commanded shot attached to units of horse was something of a wash-out. Since loss of these musketeers did not involve Victory Points, it would have been better to state that if they became separated from their parent unit of horse (normally as a result of the horse galloping off at cavalry speeds, which happened a lot, both in the real battle and the toy one) then they would simply retire quietly to a nearby hostelry. Trying to keep track of them and make sensible use of them after separation was not useful.
(3) The latest version of my rule which tries to give "Galloper" cavalry a reasonable advantage over "Trotters" has become too fiddly again - it would be handier and simpler if they just got an extra Battle Die in all combats. My attempts to do something more subtle really only produced a small extra measure of irritation...