The English un-Civil War of 1642
The Parliamentarian battle plan was actually quite simple. Plunkett told the entire line of his army to, "hold your ground and allow the enemy comes forward in force. Shoot your muskets and diminish their lines until, by the grace of God, it comes to push of pike. Let Matherson's musketeers tease the enemy with firepower, advancing to do so if need be. Let our cavalry tackle the enemy's horse in the usual manner, if opportunity presents itself. But with this treacherous ground before us, such engagements with our horse may prove unreliable and inconclusive".
On the left flank, but behind the Cromer Regiment, Plunkett's son Richard leads four of the New Mobile Army's cavalry squadrons.
Next we have John Cromer's regiment of foot.
Slightly ahead of these are William Matherson's Forlorn Hope (skirmishers) taking up defensive positions along the roadside hedges.
To the right maybe sixty paces and also placed along the road, are William Blyton's regiment of foot the Red Coats.
To the side and slightly to the rear of these troops is Nathanial Singleton's lone Galloper, the only field artillery piece from the entire artillery train to have made it through the muddy roads unhindered. Near the farm and the farmer Buxley's lovely daughters.
On the right flank, Oliver Plunkett himself led his Ironhides.
Side view of the Parliamentarian's initial disposition.
Meanwhile, the Royalists have moved up to the road and are deploying in force along an entire front.
Starting on the Royalist right with the O'Sullivan Corkers Irishmen in the White Shirts, Campbell's Blue Bonnet Highlanders, and nearby two squadrons of Mount Rose's personal household light cavalry. Salse Mon sits proudly and somewhat rakishly astride his horse, shouting words of encouragement to the men about him, while drinking fine claret from a cut crystal glass.
Continuing to the left, we have Curly Murphy's Irish Pike and Shot and O'Hare's green shirt Halberdiers. On the extreme left Mount Rose himself with his Argyle Lancers and Outrider scouts.
The battle begins!
Oliver Plunkett was growing impatient and highly bored by the Scots incessant chanting and clannish prayers, and he issued an order for Gunnery Major Singleton to start the proceedings with a few timely rounds from his lone Galloper. But at almost precisely the same moment the cannon fired, Mount Rose's attack began along the entire length of his line. As though by a silent command the Scots moved as a single being in grim unison.
Plunkett smiled savagely to himself, Good! Those walls and hedges will dash their hopes of a clean Highland charge. To his adjutant he said aloud, "I'm blown if I know how they plan to cross that there river. Are they going to dive in head first and go skinny dippi-"
The rest of his words were lost in a sudden deafening roar as Singleton's Galloper sent a solid round hurtling toward the advancing green clad Halberdiers. All heads arched upward and followed the trajectory of the shot, like watching a tennis ball glide from one side of a court to the other. The shot fell flat in the grass well short of its target. From the Irish Halberdiers a set of uilleann pipes suddenly struck up a creepy and tuneless ditty.
Blyton's regiment of Red Shirts watched and waited until the Halberdiers came within decent range. They then let loose a withering volley of musket fire into their enemy's midst inflicting a number of wounds on the poor Irishmen. Having a devastating effect upon their morale the bloodied men turned tail and rushed back toward the safety of the hedges just recently vacated. The uilleann pipes now sounded a manic, sped up and fear induced parody of a tune. A cheer and many taunts rose from the throats of the Englishmen across the water on the far bank. Particularly from the puffed up Red Coats.
Encouraged by these results, William Matherson's Forlorn Hope situated along the hedge beside the road facing the advancing Scottish white shirted regiment let off a volley of their own. Not even one round trimmed the whiskers of the Irishmens'beards. More worrying were the two squadrons of Scottish horsemen rapidly approaching the Forlorn Hope from the extreme left flank. Meanwhile, on the right flank, Plunkett calmly wheeled his cavalry slightly to the right, so as to observe Earl Mount Rose Argyle's own horse as they attempted to cross the river.
Realizing an entire regiment of foot and some nasty looking sword wielding Scottish cavalry were going to descend upon him any moment, Matherson gave the order to retire in good order.
Just in the nick of time his men reached the dry stone wall situated neatly between Blyton and Lord Cromer. There they took up defensive positions in the safety on the far side of the farm wall.
In the centre of the field the O'Hare's Irish Greens had managed to rally themselves and came on once again. They made it to the river bank where they prepared to attempt a crossing. Behind them Curly Murphy's Irish Pike and Shot trudged slowly but steadily in support. On the far right flank the Scottish Outrider cavalry slowly waded across the Tweedle to the south bank. The Alrgyle cavalry also prepared to cross the shallow stretch of water.
The smug expression on Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Plunkett's face faded and was replaced with a momentary look of utter confusion. Mount Rose would have paid many gold sovereign to have seen such a picture. Once again the Parliamentarian muskets rang out all along the front line. Almost all the shots flew wide no doubt hindered by the gunpowder smoke already wafting across the battle field. Singleton's Galloper gun had more success playing skittles with a few of the O'Hare's Halberdiers.
The Parliamentarian Red Coats "at 'em" again with another volley which failed to inflict any serious damage.
Oliver Plunkett, seeing a cavalry engagement on his own flank seemed imminent, prepared a rousing speech for his Ironhides. It was a last minute morale boost to spur on his troops before the big clash. Not that he felt they needed any uplifting, but Plunkett was a cautious man never the less.
Plunkett himself sounded the charge and his horsemen thundered towards the enemy cavalry now situated on his extreme right flank. In the ensuing skirmish the Argyle Scots put up a poor show and were soundly thrashed and beaten. The few survivors were either routed from the field or taken prisoner lock, stock and barrel.
Plunkett's smug smile returned to play across his lips. "Now, if I can just chase these Godless heathens back across the river, I can swing my horses and come about soundly upon the Scottish infantry in the centre." He complemented himself for the discipline he had installed within his New Mobile Army.
In the middle of the battlefield, Blyton's Reds decided discretion was the better part of valour and retreated several paces to take up new positions on the safe side of a farm yard wall. Along the entire front the Parliamentarians waited in grim silence while the Scots continued their slow but steady advance.
On the left flank Lord Cromer only just got his regiment into proper formation to receive a charge before the Mount Rose Household Cavalry crashed into them. Once again Plunkett's training of the men paid off and the Pikemen stoically held the Scots at bay with many a jeer and snarl through clenched teeth.
Over by the apple orchard, where Singleton's gun was set up, a shot boomed out and a whole line of Curly Murthy's Pikemen lay down in the river they had been wading across. The cannon ball seemed to skip across the top of the water like a skimming coin. The morale results were decisive and the whole regiment waivered and fell back in mass panic. This affectively removed the Scottish threat in the centre as a second cheer rose up from the throats of the Parliamentarian Red Coats behind the wall.
Turn 4 & 5
On the left Scottish infantry prepare to engage the Parliamentarians with close range musketry. Mount Rose's Cavalry disengaged from the Cromer Regiment and retired to the rear, allowing Florrie Batt's Cork City boys to form a solid attack line of musketry along the Parliamentarian front. Meanwhile, in the centre things were also hotting up as the Halberdiers charged the Parliamentarian infantry ahead of them. Greatly reduced in strength due to casualty attrition the Irish had been cut down by nearly one third of their number all ready. To the centre rear of the field Curly Murphy's Pike & Shot regiment amazingly regained their discipline and reformed their ranks. But would they attempt the dangerous river crossing a second time?
The brave Irish Halberdeirs charge Lord Blyton's Red Coats behind the farm yard wall.
The ensuing cavalry battle on the right flank between Oliver's Ironsides and the Earl of Mount Rose's Argyle Cavalry came to a sudden head. In an exchange of close combat, the Ironhides received heavy casualties as the Argyle horsemen gained the upper hand during this round of the fighting. The melee continued into a second round of combat.
In the centre O'Hares Halberdiers ended up coming second against the disciplined defensive ranks of the combined Pike and Shot of Red Coats. The Irish lads come apart and their regiment was pretty much destroyed in a wholesale extermination of its ranks. The centre was secured for the third time during the battle as Blyton's regiment cheered victoriously.
Lord Cromer's Regiment faces the Blue Bonnet Highlanders.
On the left flank Lord Cromer saw his moment and declared a sudden charge. His boys stormed over the wall and fell upon the O'Sullivan Clan infantry regiment with devastating consequences for the Irishmen. The ensuing rout saw the white coated Scots utterly unable to hold regimental cohesion. As the formation came apart they were forced to retire from the field scattered and thrashed. This left the Blue Bonneted Highlanders to contend with. Lord Cromer had a deuce of a time stopping his lads from following up with a second charge straight into the waiting sword and targe wielding Scottish barbarians.
In truth the fight had gone out of the Highlanders. Seeing so many regiments in rags and tatters the whole Scottish advance seemed to crumble dismally. Within a few minutes fighting across the whole field was over. The Scots almost as one finally decided it was time to call it a day and started to back away from the English troops. On the left flank Salse Mon offered a silent prayer and breathed a deep sigh of relief so many were saved.
Although half a squadron of Oliver's Ironhide cavalry had been lost to savage Argyle cavalrymen, losses were fortunately low. On the far right flank Mount Rose sounded the general retreat and the battle was officially over. Fortunately the myriad of hedges, walls and even the river itself made it fairly easy for the Scottish Catholics to retire from the field unmolested by Parliamentarian cavalry. Also, fortunate for the Scots, the location of Mount Rose's baggage train was not known to the victorious English and was safe from pillage.
In my own rules campaign casualties usually amount to no more than perhaps 10% to15% of total losses, if even that high. But even so Royalist losses during this small engagement amounted to no less than 17 strips of figures, five or six figures per strip, almost exactly 50% of Mount Rose's entire force present at the battle. Parliamentarian losses were 1 strip of cavalry, lost in a melee exchange with Argyle's elite horsemen. I would imagine Mount Rose learned many lessons during this initial engagement. The learning curve for all combatants during the un-civil war, especially during 1642-43, was very steep indeed.
What will the Scots do now? Will Plunkett, confident after his recent victory, pursue the fleeing Scottish army? Or will he be cautious and wait for his baggage trains and the rest of his brigade to arrive? Will Mount Rose fall back to re-group the clans? Or will he lead the English deeper into his own territory in the hopes of picking them off a piece at a time?
© 2010, Stephen Gilbert