Monday, 3 July 2017

a Tercey Campaign battle - St Sullivan's Church

Introduction
We enter our second season of fictional campaigning along the Tercey during the times of the English Civil War.  I am using my very old collection of Foundry figures painted almost 30 years ago rebased and now using the new The Pikemen’s Lament rule  This is a record of my solo play.


Battle of St. Sullivan’s


Nathaniel (with eyeglass) and Archibald Wiser, the latest 'Tawney' commander (mounted),  in conversation

Prologue 

“So, Nathaniel, they cometh? You see them in your eyeglass?”

“Afraid so, Archibald. Looks to be Hampden’s Regiment.  They look good in their green tunics and red breeches”

“Yes, yes leave you sartorial comments til late! Who else? “

“Commanded by the mystery man himself. I see his sedan chair “

“ The Earl?“

“Sir Howard Hewes himself it would appear.  There is a unit of horse moving into the field yon. And a unit of dragoons I think.  Nerne’s poor lads? “

“Probably.  Hopefully their martial abilities have not yet improved for our sake. “

“They still outnumber us.“

“Unless our own Browne’s dragoons got the call “

“There is that; but Ballard’s lads both Shoote and Pike have proven worthy and Blare’s troopers are up to a good fight. “

“Yes, but the damned gun!  With its current…injuries…we cannot afford to be forced to retreat! “

“Ah, poor ‘Sister Margaret’.  She is old and here axle is worn out.  The gunners are trying to repair her mind you.

“Can she be fired? “

“Oh, I doubt it.  It would take a miracle I would think.  Divine dice from above “

“Well, I shall warn Ballard of the danger of the approaching enemy.  I shall have his shotte, who currently reside in the woods to move to its western edge and give fire to the Earl’s horse.  His pike will move up to protect the gun from assault and I rather think Blare would enjoy doing injury to the enemy. From whereth would Browne and his dragoons cometh? “

“ From the north I would think but when is only God’s knowledge“

“Well have the gunners make haste upon the repairs “

Still looking through his eyeglass, Sir Nathaniel Drake muttered to himself: “I would think they would have liked another few hours…. “


The Narrative so far

After their victory at Armoury Hill (previous post) the ‘Tawny’ army moved with “Sister Margaret”  the only cannon large enough to be effective in the siege towards the Earl’s Manor;  but it had broken down near “the old Saxon graveyard” at St. Sullivan’s Church (itself dating from the Anglo-Saxon era).

The Earl of Rockforth, Howard Hewes, not to be trapped in his manor, now leads a small contingent to try again to gain possession of the important artillery piece.
His ‘army’ of 16 points for The Pikeman’s Lament rules advances upon Archibald Wiser’s ‘Tawny’forces
The Earl's advance.  St Sullivan's church in the distance

The Battle

Hampden’s Pike rapidly moved up the road and formed close order upon seeing Ballard’s pikemen deployed on the crossroad.  Hampden’s Shotte moved to their right into the open field of haystacks, followed by Narne’s Dragoons (who surprisingly had yet to fail activation!)
Hampden's Pike

Nerne's Dragoons (lower) and Hampden's Shotte ( middle) move through the hay stacks while Hamden's pike move on the road (upper) 

This was not the case for poor Wingate whose order to move through the wheat field protecting the left flank was met with many activation failures no doubt due to, in large part, by his horses up to their fetlocks in mud which made his transit lengthy. 
[ the Earl…well OK me, as this IS a solo game…obviously failed to remember that rough ground of the wheat field filled with clawing mud from the recent days of rain, caused half movement ]

With six failed activations and counting, Browne’s Dragoons have yet to make an appearance leaving Wiser’s ‘Tawnys’ with only 12 points.  The gun could not be counted upon.
Ballard's Pike at the crossroads.  Their rout will change the battle.
In the middle, with both pike units formed in close order for the inevitable clash and Hampden’s
Shoote and Nerne’s Dragoons moving to the graveyard to flank Ballard’s grey clad pikemen, it came to their shock as Blare’s wild charging horse burst around the corner of the church and galloped against Nerne’s startled mounted infantrymen. Half of Nerne’s lads were casualties in the first round of fighting. The follow up charge had the rest of Nerne’s dragoons fall.  Two of Blare’s troopers were casualties.  Nerne did fight back however causing two casualties on Blare.
Blare's charge against Nerne's dragoons

On the Earl’s turn, the shock of Blare’s attack seemed evident as Hampden’s Shotte failed their activation which did not allow fire upon the close by enemy horse but any response to the attack. It looked grim for the Earl’s army.

However….Blare also held up any attacks as his troopers regrouped. [ They also failed their activation! ]  The stalemate continued for many minutes — as my die rolling again failed both sides for two turns! 

Hampden’s men finally shot upon Blare’s horse causing no hits however!. As they fumbled with their muskets, their regimental counterparts fell upon Ballard’s in a furious push of pike. 
Push of Pike

Casualties were even and so , as the attacker, Hampden fell back but was shocked to observe his enemy stuck with sudden shock and bolt from the field!  [ I rolled double ones for their morale!  Can I NOT roll such dice at critical times in this campaign?! ]

Ballard’s frightened pikemen shoved through the busy artillery men repairing the gun who did not seem the notice the pikemen engrossed in their task  {No doubt as I then rolled 10 for their morale so they ignored the rout through them.  Rather than the 3" rule, if a unit crashes into another, it must take a morale test as usual with the results applied.}

Blare’s horse now charged into Hampden’s Shotte causing 7 casualties after the obligatory pursuit. While battered, the shotte held together, Temporarily.  Obviously the Earl’s reproachful voice from inside the sedan had them feel as they failed their rally roll in ‘dramatic form’ (my poor dice once again!)

Well, Browne’s Dragoons finally arrive on the battlefield but hearing the gunfire halt to take stock of the situation. [ my famous double ones again (!) preventing activation ]. 

Wingate relieved to be finally clear of the muddy field was startled as musket fire fire erupted from the woods on the other side of the road before him. Only one of his troopers fell but the morale of his tired troopers barely passed the test (one less pip and ….)
Wingate's Horse facing Browne's Dragoons (left) and Ballard's musketeers (centre back) just before Ballard's desultory fire.

 With this Wingate was faced with Browne’s unit now rapidly upon his left, Ballard’s musketeers ensconced along the edge of the rough ground of the woods, but looking around calmly (no wild charge rule for him!)  he observed Blare’s depleted horse approaching the rear of Hampden’s pike.  He must try to block their way allowing the pikemen to take the gun. Ordering the charge (passing the Attack activation) he advances and wins the melee and so defeating the last chance for the Tawny to save their gun.

Epilogue
While the Earl of Rockforth’s fled with remnants of Hampden’s shotte , Wingate’s quick action to defeat Blare’s final charge did not save the gun for the Earl.
In a bid to disrupt the Earl’s plans, a brave artilleryman wields an axe and breaks the axle and destroys the touch hole rendering the old cannon dead. In addition the gunpowder went up in a huge explosion.
[ I rolled a 9 passing ‘activation’ of 9+ to have the artillery not repair but destroy the old gun.  The act of blowing up the gunpowder stores also succeeded in might blast of double fives! ]
the axeman destroying "Sister Margaret"
preparing for the explosion

So damaged and without ammunition, the Earl’s confidant and new military commander, Sir Stanley Primrose, remarked,  “Sister Margaret is no more”

The Earl and Primrose


10 comments:

  1. Really nice report. Poor Sister Margaret.

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    1. but she went out with a bang!
      Glad you enjoyed the story

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  2. Excellent report, sir! Sorry to hear about Sister Margaret. She was a good gun, was Sister. On an historical note, St. Sullivan's was a nothing parish ca. 1643, but later became the setting for a beloved movie, The Bells of St. Sullivan's starring Ingrid Bergman and Bing Crosby. (I have a movie poster, but Blogger doesn't allow posting pics in comments - it's not Facebook.)

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    1. Yes, just like the scene in the movie "Ms Doubtfire" looking about for a good name I spotted yours.
      cheers

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  3. Nice figs that have stood the test of time, Doug. I'm not very familiar with ECW or Pikeman's Lament, for the matter - but your solo gaming sounds like a good time! BTW, what's all this new-style varied-numbered figure bases you all are into lately? :)

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    1. I like the effect of the bases and requires less arm movement to move all the figures!

      The Pikeman's Lament is very similar to Lion Rampant with a bit of period additions. Ideas from one of "Rampant" series of rules can be adopted to another easily.
      cheers

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  4. Yet another excellent battle report. I wish I could paint now like you were able to 30 years ago.

    Alas, Sister Margaret. Your dice were so much more effective in destruction than repair.

    Do you have any secrets to share about gaming solo? I find it useful for testing rules and scenarios but somehow lacking in that little something that makes it seem otherwise rewarding for regular gaming.

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    1. Bill, It is my inner desire to be a novelist coming to the surface I suspect. I just try to imagine the scene and give voice to the action. I do try to move the units as logically and beneficially as possible for both sides during the game/battle. However the story usually derives itself from "I guess I put these here. Now why are they there? Well I suppose they are there to......" and that becomes the narrative. Reverse engineering really.
      I love the solo aspect of wargaming which one cannot get from others around the table treating it as just a game or will of might against the dice.

      I remain your humble servant, Sir.

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    2. I find the primary rule for solo gaming is "don't live with cats." They can't resist joining the fray when the little men get set up on the table.

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  5. David,

    How could that possibly be consider Solo if you have three or more participants?

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