Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Battle of Warchester - the Scots March On

The commander of the Scottish Army, Sir Vernon Cottar, fresh from his epic victory at Louthburn, re-gathered his forces and continued his march south by way of the west midlands.  Thomas, the Lord Lieutenant of the Northern Marches had been recalled to London to answer for his failings to the Lord Protector and had been replaced by Anthony Smythe, the Lord Lieutenant of the Welsh Marches, despite calls to recall Fairfax from his self-imposed retirement. 

Despite being offered few units of the New Model Army by way of reinforcement, Smythe was charged with blocking the Scots' march south at Warchester, either at the main road through the town or by holding the high ground to the west.  If he could hold Cottar there long enough (ie to the end of the 15th turn) then much of the New Model Army itself would be able to march north and block the way south. (This is Scenario 14 - Static Defence).
View of the battlefield from the west during turn 1 - the key hill is in the left lower corner, Warchester is top centre.  The battlefield is divided by the central woodland. The scenery is somewhat rudimentary!
Cottar himself had been reinforced by the first of some Royalist sympathisers. Rumour had it that he had been joined the Royal heir but this was not confirmed.  The wily old soldier, veteran of Marston Moor and the continental wars knew that Smythe would have to cover both key landmarks (ie would have to keep at least two units within 12 inches of the town and the hill) and therefore concentrated his forces on the town, looking to cover his left flank with a unit of reiters and a unit of Highlanders (swordsmen).

The position after Turn 2
The Scots advanced on Warchester, looking to wear down the defenders with their firepower while the powder lasted.  Supplies were clearly being disrupted to both armies as very quickly most units ran out of firepower (rolling 1 or 2).  Although taking damage, the English unit in Warchester would prove a tough nut to crack being under cover.  The Highlanders were pushed forward into the wood with the aim of attacking an open flank if they could find one.  On the English right, the cavalry was sent forward to see if they could encircle the Scots flank.  They quickly thought better of it when faced off by a further Scottish infantry regiment.
The Scots close in on Warchester
 With the English cavalry retiring on the right to await a better opportunity to attack, the Scots were able to concentrate all their forces onto Warchester, although the Highlanders were still pushed forward under cover of the wood.  The second English infantry regiment moved forward from behind the town to blast the advancing Scots, only to find their matches were damp and the powder kegs empty.

The battle proceeded to its inevitable conclusion.  With the English having to leave two units to hold the hill, they could only look on as the Scots slowly encircled Warchester's plucky defenders and moved into the town.  But could the English hold on just long enough to be relieved by the New Model Army?  The answer was not quite.  By the end of the 13th turn, the Scottish infantry were just able to surround the last English regiment and winkle them out.

For his victory, Cottar was ennobled and became Lord Cottar of Hawburgh.  But his work was not yet done and he pressed on south looking for fresh victories.

This was another finely balanced scenario from One Hour Wargames, although this one was as much a battle against the clock (the 15 turn limit) as it was against the English.

Next up: Scenario 20 - Fighting Retreat

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