Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Battle of Nantwich - English Civil War Battle Report

Given that several of the participants in this week’s English Civil War campaign had been to the re-enactment at Nantwich the previous Saturday it was apt that the battle was based around the town.  It should be noted to those who may read believing that this is a historical refight that it is not, it was based roughly on the geography of Nantwich, and designed to fit in with the RGMB campaign.  On to a bit of scenario background:

 The Battle of Nantwich – or – Sir Pembleton-Smyth’s Amazing Adventure

Sir Pembleton-Smyth, the golden boy of the Royalist efforts in Cheshire, had spotted an opportunity to catch one of his arch-enemies; Oliver Cromwell, on the hop, and bypassed Nantwich by the northern-most bridge outside of the town with this aim.  Unfortunately it was here that his plan came unravelled.  Firstly Cromwell’s larger army had turned and were formed up prepared for a scrap rather than being caught on the march, then Pembleton-Smyth learnt that not only had the Nantwich Trained Band declared for Parliament, and threatened his only two routes for withdrawal across the river, but also that the well prepared Roundheads were marching swiftly to cut him off and end his military career permanently!  Sir Michael de Blondeville’s Swedish forces were within sight of Nantwich, and aiming to prevent the Royalists retreat until Stapleton-Smyth (his cousin) could also arrive and overwhelming force could be applied.

Pembleton-Smyth uttered a number of choice words, and prepared his troops for a run to the river crossing, and a hard fight once they got there!  Two things were in his favour; firstly that Stapleton-Smyth’s troops would not reach the battlefield until after nightfall, and so would not take part in the battle, and secondly his ally Lord Byron had heard of his plight and was marching with his large force to his aid, and would take part in the battle!

Events were set in motion for a race over a river; if Pembleton-Smyth could extract most of his men and himself back across the river and away down the road towards Chester then the Royalist would claim a victory.  Should Sir Michael, and the assisting Nantwich Trained Band and Cromwell (pressing Pembleton-Smyth as he retreats) prevent this, then the Royalists would suffer a grievous defeat.

Armies, commanders and aims:
For the Roundheads: Sir Michael de Blondeville (Michael) and his Swedes advancing onto the battlefield to the West of the river Weaver to assist the Nantwich Trained Band (Rick – me), who begin in the town (which sits astride the river), in blocking the Royalist escape, while Cromwell (Luke - on the East bank of the river) presses hard upon Pembleton-Smyths retreating Royalists, trying to crush them against the water (impassable but for two bridges - one in the town, one outside).
For the Royalists: Pembleton-Smyth (Chris), stuck on the East bank of the river must escape (2 or more of his units and his own personal figure) either through the town of Nantwich or the further away crossing point, while Lord Byron (Red) marches onto the table to assist this venture.

The Battle:

Now being the creator of the scenario I expected Chris Fazey (aka Pembleton-Smyth) to avoid the town with its buildings filled with musketeers, and head for open country, the other unguarded bridge and a clash with Sir Michael, followed by Lord Byron and Cromwell arriving and it all being quite grand open country fighting.  I hadn’t counted on Mr Fazey’s alternative view of the world, and he launched the entire of his army across the bridge and into my musketeers in the town, which shouldn’t have worked.  But did.

While his solitary foot regiment formed hedgehog to hold up Cromwell his horse charged headlong into a mass of musketeers, who fled – I failed every break test in the game bar one.  Cromwell made short work of the hedgehog, but then seemed unable to galvanize his troops into further movement and apart from the two regiments of ironsides they stayed outside of the town.  Sir Michael, advancing onto the battlefield had a similar problem – constantly failing his command rolls for most of the game.  Lord Byron, arriving to rescue Pembleton-Smyth, who was busy cutting his way through the pathetic newly raised Nantwich trained band, advanced more steadily, his horse reaching the edge of town just as the Ironsides entered the other end.

The garrison’s resistance crumbled under assault from horse regiments on both sides, and was reduced to a couple of units hiding in buildings while Lord Byron’s horse initially pushed the Ironsides back out of the town.  However, the garrisons last meaningful action was to use their musketry to destroy two regiments of Byron’s horse to open the way for the Ironsides return; and they swept in to push the remains of Pembleton-Smyths troops back.

Pembleton-Smyth's first charge across the bridge into Nantwich. 
He left his rearguard - a regiment of foote in white coats - to face the entire of Cromwells army.  Lord Byrons troops can be seen appearing in the top of the picture, while Sir Michaels are off by the far at the top right.

The Swedes arrive, and take root, refusing to move further.

Lord Byrons men are more accommodating on the movement front.

Pembleton-Smyths horse dismantling the Nantwich defences very swiftly!

The end of Pembleton-Smyths regiment of foote, as well as the furthest most of Cromwells army moved!

The Ironsides force their way into the town, causing great damage to Pembleton-Smyths troops before Lord Bryons horse arrive to force them back.

Byron's horse enter the edge of Nantwich, while his foot follow at a more sedate pace.
On the far side of Nantwich Lord Byron’s foote began to deploy to attack the town, but Sir Michael’s Swedes finally came to life, threatening his left flank and causing him to stop and turn his brigade as the Swedes foote and horse began to pile pressure on.  In the town Pembleton-Smyth gathered his remaining two units and prepared to withdraw gracefully as victory becokoned, however, they misunderstood their orders, and the Ironsides, lead personally by Cromwell in a last ditch attack, sent them reeling from the field, Pembleton-Smyth himself falling in the melee.  With their talisman gone, and more Swedish troops arriving on his flank Lord Byron conceded and victory went by the smallest of margins to the Roundheads.

The Swedes finally put in an appearence, falling upon Byrons flank.

The Ironsides were not to be denied their quary, although it took much luck and a 'follow me' to

The focus shifts to the fight between Lord Byron and Sir Michael in the dying moments of the game.

Some mug shots of most of the players, bar the one hiding behind the camera.

The last clash of horse in the streets of Nantwich - both the Ironsides (red coats) and Lord Byrons men breaking and fleeing after the combat was drawn.


I genuinely expected Chris to opt for the open bridge, and his decision to try and smash his way through the town was as unexpected as his success in doing so!  The Nantwich trained band was almost wiped out, along with Chris’ command, and a total of 6 horse regiments perished with them on the streets of the town in a bitter fight that seesawed as each side gained the upper hand.  Both Luke and Michael (as Cromwell and Sir Michael) had very poor luck with their command rolls, and little of each of their armies joined the fighting, while Red’s troops (Lord Byron) were at least starting closer and seemed more inclined to get stuck in!  The fighting in the town was very entertaining, although it required a lot of give and take regarding rules of movement, and victory hung in the balance right to the end where a single command roll success would have change the result.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Work In Progress......

Hold the phone, catch that pigeon and look out for flying farm yard animals.  I've painted something.  Sod the 'why', 'when', even the 'where' and move straight to the what and some pictures.

The What: 40 musketeers, 16 pikemen and 1 Lord Flasheart for my Royalists.  Who they are will be covered in an ECW update sometime soon.

In Progress: One resin building which was in need of upgrade, and the gates for my fortress which need the bracing struts (installed following sustained bio-titan damage) painting.  I will also move onto another Royalist unit, but not sure which one yet.

The Pictures:

Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Holly Holy Day - Battle of Nantwich

I took the family out to Nantwich for the annual English Civil War re-enactment (, something which I've been aware of for a number of years, but each year missed it due to work commitments.  Now, with a current lack of work and a child who might be interested in soldiers and things that go bang (even if his mum really, really isn't) I arranged for a day out there.  In the end we arrived in time to see the Sealed Knot troops heading towards the market place, then went for a sandwich in a Subway, before heading down to Mill Island for the battle at 2pm.  The noise (especially of the cannon) proved too much for both of the other members of my party and we had to settle with standing on the road side to watch, hence the long distance pictures.  We also only managed 35 minutes out of the little one before he got bored, but that was 20 minutes more than I had thought so we did well, certainly seemed to do better than Red who by accounts didn't even make it too the road because of the loud bangs.  Perhaps next year we'll see more, not sure who was on which side, but it all looked good fun and excellent exercise!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Flames of War - Panzerkompanie Vs. American Tank Company - Late War Battle Report

A first game against James at Deeside saw my Panthers finally get another outing after their last appearance in April at the big Ardennes game.  After filling 50% of my 3,000pts with 8 of these monsters I supplemented them with 10 Panzers IV’s, a couple of FlaK36’s, two platoons of pioniers (including one armoured) and some AA guns and scouts on motorbikes.  The opposition predictably had some Shermans, but only 8, with half being of the 76mm variety (nasty stuff), backed up by 3 lots of artillery, some paras, some infantry and some Stuart light tanks.

The scenario rolled up was Fighting Withdrawal, and James won the right to decide whether to attack or defend, and with a plan in mind he chose defence, setting up the objectives and deploying first.  I deployed second, picking my right side to attack down, but leaving he FlaK36’s and scouts to provide a threat on the left. 

The Battle: I automatically got first turn and sent my armour storming forward so fast that I swiftly overran the position James had earmarked for his ambushing tank destroyers!  I was forturnely that the enemy artillery and airforce were off colour slightly during this advance, and my Panthers and Panzer IV’s wiped out the two batteries on the right while the pioniers prepared to launch their assault on the paras guarding the objective.  The Shermans traded some fire with the Panthers from a wood that they were using as cover from the FlaK36’s.  The Stuarts meanwhile abandoned their post guarding the far left objective to try and get a flank shot or two on the Panthers, before changing their minds and heading to the FlaK36’s while my scouts slipped past them.

The assault went in, and failed as the pioniers bounced off.  A second attempt, this time by the half tracks, was more successful and caused the remains of the paras to retreat, although not far enough to leave the objective unguarded.  The tank destroyers arrived and joined the Sherman 76’s in firing upon the Panthers and Panzer IV’s, with both taking casualties.  The Panthers were able to take out the tank destroyers before they fled (my morale checks were average as usual), while the Stuarts took fire from two Panzer IV’s as they approached the FlaK36’s.  The paras would not be shook off, and when turn 6 dawned they retreated with a smile and the objective as James removed both.  Unfortunately he hadn’t spotted the threat from my dismounting scouts, who, having sneaked past the Stuarts, had beaten them back to the left hand objective and now sat pretty – victory was mine!

Initial setup, Germans to the left.

German armour storms forwards.
Tank destroyers arrive.

Scouts claim the day.

Analysis: It was a hard fought battle, with my armour storming across the field on the right in such force that James struggled to find any stopping power, however his paras stalled my assault long enough for him to remove the objective.  If he had then seen the threat from my scouts then his Stuarts would have been able to cover the left hand objective and victory would have been his instead in what was a very close, and entertaining, game.  Forgot camera again so stuck with iPhone pictures, damn.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Battle(s) of Oswestry - English Civil War

Round 1:

A swift run through of couple of dustups for Lord Flasheart and his Royalist chaps this evening as a couple of rum coves tried to steal the town of Oswestry from him!  First up was Sir Samuel Stapleton-Smyth (Aidan), that renown Parliamentarian and flower arranger.  It took the tulip lover until the cavaliers were halfway across the board in their aggressive Terico formation to realise that he hadn’t the numbers of infantry to oppose the larger Royalist army by using the same formation.  His attempts to reform his line into a Swedish design of musketeers at the front was hampered somewhat by his own blunders, and his dilemma deepened still when his horse failed to deliver the goods when faced with equal numbers on the flanks. 

The roundheads resorted to forming hedgehog to try and fend off the cavalier pikes, but the cavaliers simply formed up and poured musketry into them.  When one of the hedgehogs broke in combat Stapleton-Smyth realised the game was up, and disappeared sharpish, along with his army, leaving Lord Flasheart and his Royalists in possession of a nice new armoury – more cannon for him, if only he had worked out what cannon did.

Round 2:

No sooner had Stapleton-Smyth departed (to sit on the sidelines, snipe and pass on tactical advice) but his cousin; Sir Christopher Pembleton-Smyth (Chris Fazey) appeared with a shout of; “winner stays on”!  It appeared that he also thought Oswestry with its hillfort and potential to build a museum about iron horses was a keeper, and proceeded to deploy his army, which unsurprisingly was heavily cavalry based.  At this point Lord Flasheart got a bit too cocky, abandoned his usual formation and went all Dutch.  And promptly regretted it.  Sir Christophers horse trounced his own, and at the same time made rather a mess of Flashearts formation, so it arrived at the formed up line of Sir Christophers muskets in dribs and drabs, only to be shredded by the fire opposing it.  Lord Flasheart decided enough was enough, and he didn’t really like Oswestry anyway, in fact the up and coming town of Crewe was more interesting, and struck a deal with Sir Christopher as his troops limped from the battlefield defeated.

Post battle(s) anaylsis - Things we learned this week; we still like the Terico formation.  Chris Fazey is scary when given horse to command.  Large horse formations are difficult to defeat.  Dragoons are b*****d’s.  Also Lord Flasheart won himself an armoury and so can include an extra cannon, and lost the town of Oswestry while picking up Crewe instead.  Finally, thanks to a bystander, the plague has struck again, and Flasheart while have to do without troops from Wrexham or Chester next week!  Photo quality very poor this week.  All those using smartphones instead of camera’s; there is definitely a massive drop in performance!  I will try to remember my camera next time.

Flashearts men close on the outnumbered Parliemntarians of Stapleton-Smyth.

Flasheart on the attack - initial setup with Stapleton-Smyth's troops on the right.

Flashearts men in disarray after Pembleton-Smyth gets at them.

The second game set up, Flasheart on the left once more.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

American Civil War Project

A brief bit about the American Civil War.  Following my game against Will McNally at Deeside I was inspired enough by his 20mm plastics to dig out my Airfix troops from that period, and I genuinely believe it may suit my purposes to use them in my aim to collect a couple of ACW armies.  Yes, this means avoiding the 28mm, 15mm and 10mm metal and hard plastics that had caught the eye, but its not just the potential cost saving thats attracting me, the scale has the right imagery for me of massed troops while not too fiddly, and I can buy them off the shelf.

I also have a fair number already waiting, enough to create 5 battalions of Union troops, and 3 of Confederates, and hopefully they should be easy to get hold of from different manufacturers.

The softer plastic of the airfix models has always worried me when considering painting them, but Will's troops (see American Civil War battle report in 20mm) seem in good shape, and he puts this down to the fact that they are based (on 45mm square bases of mounting card).  I'm going to use plasticard instead, and I'm trialing two bases - one Confederate and one Union - to see if the effect and quality of painting is what I'm after.  I will probably use the Dip stuff on them as well, and dip the testers when I'm doing the next lot of ECW musketeers.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Work In Progress.........

Time for a work in progress, and I've brought the painting table/desk/tray out of semi-retirement with the current aim of improving the look of my Royalists.  The Battle of Chester report really put the Royalist side to shame with the entire Parliamentarian (and Swedish) force painted, and it gavve me the required kick up the backside to do something about it.  Plus my purchased to painted ratio is shocking, especially as I'm hoping to pick up a few more bits in York at Vapnartek at the beginning of February.

The first troops to be looked at are pictured below,  and are the 24 musketeers that form the sleeves to Hopton's regiment.  I'm about half way through with all the annoying details still to do.  Following these will be the extra 16 musketeers I had to get to enlarge the King's Guard and Stradling's regiments of foote to the right musket sleeve size.  The idea is to paint the 24 and then the 16, and then dip the whole lot in one go.

As a slight distraction I've also stuck some Airfix American Civil War troops to a couple of 45mm square bases with the intention of painting them and seeing if the effect can encourage further expansion of the idea.  I'm aiming to do a little bit of modeling/painting each night, except where gaming takes over. 

In other news I've photographed and written the descriptions for the remaining models to be sold on eBay; a bunch of Chaos Space Marines and a fair number of Imperial Guardsmen (including 4 tanks).  The Chaos lot are on first, and finish a week Sunday, hopefully a few more pennies will come trickling into the fighting fund for gaming purchases, although I don't expect them to be anywhere near as successful as the Battlefleet Gothic or Epic 40k.  I expect quite the opposite in fact, however even a few more pounds would be useful, and the models would go elsewhere to be used rather than sitting without hope in my garage.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Battle Of Herbert's Road - English Civil War

The Battle of Herbert’s Road was in fact a series of linked confrontations between the nefarious forces of that renown Royalist Lord Flasheart (myself), and those of Colonel Oliver Cromwell (Luke) and his famous and incredibly frustrating ironsides.  Cromwell having defeated Flasheart comprehensively at the Battle of Tarvin a week previous the Royalist was keen to put his additional recruits from the Battle of Chester to good use bringing the rebel down a peg or two.  To achieve this he firstly set two ambushes across a road that goes nowhere, from nowhere, and the only local is called Herbert and is quite mad, hence the title.

Having left his subordinates to set up a proper roadblock with Stradling’s foote and the Kings lifeguard, Flasheart raced ahead and sought to achieve surprise by blocking the road with Talbots foote and attacking the enemy flanks with his horse.  He hadn’t counted on the enemy horse being led by an aggressive commander (yes, Chris Fazey once more changed coats and took command of the Parliamentarian horse), which swiftly pressed and then routed his horse for the same losses of their own.  Unfortunately the rebels could afford to lose a few regiments of horse, and their foote advanced upon the hastily effected barricade and sent Talbot packing, despite the attempted intervention of the last of Flasheart’s horse. 

His troops completely scattered, Flasheart was unable to backtrack down the road to where his brigadier; Sir Hugh of Beeston, prepared a more substantial blockade for the remaining troops of Cromwell’s army.  With the Parliamentarians pulled towards the lure of the King’s Guard regiment on the road, Sir Hugh led Stradlings foote in an outflanking manoeuvre which could their enemies on the hop, and almost succeeded in putting them to flight.  A last ditch counter attack by a rebel pike block put pay to this gallant effort however, and the King’s Guard struck a deal for a truce while their fell back.

There was still time in the day for Flasheart to pull his troops together for one last attempt at defeating Cromwell, and he picked a much more traditional clearing to do so.  The Royalists deployed in the rarely seen Tercio formation; pike blocks in the centre and muskets on the edges, with the horse to the right.  With daylight (time) ebbing away both sides knew there was no time to waste if a result was to be gained, however, even the rebels were surprised when a couple of open command orders left their foote regiments scant feet from the Royalists in turn 1!  Their horse (the redoubtable Fazey having left) were more sluggish, and blundered around at the back.  The Cavaliers didn’t hesitate and charged with pikes levelled at the heart of the enemy, to the enemies horror!

 The 3 pike blocks pushed through, with Talbots and Stradlings arriving on the other side to face the rebel horse, who promptly charged the pike regiments fronts!  Both sides expected the horse regiments to be sent packing swiftly, but unbelievably the heavy Parliamentarian horse barely flinched, and they started to push the pike back, sending them running.  The Royalist horse crashed into the side of the rest of the rebels horse, causing much damage, while musket fire continued elsewhere, wiping out whole units of rebel foote.  Cromwell decided the losses were becoming more than he could stomach, just moments before Flasheart had similar thoughts, and the Roundheads retreated.

Flasheart's desperate first attempts to stop Cromwell, foiled by the Ironsides!

Stradling's foote comes close to victory.

The Royalist Tercio (bottom).

The Royalist pike blocks push onwards.

The fearsome charge of the Ironsides!

At the end of the frantic fighting Luke’s forces have claimed the village of Great Sankey as an additional  recruiting ground, while Flasheart has secured the border town of Oswestry with its hillfort.  More information at:

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Battle Of Chester - English Civil War

The Battle of Chester, fought before the walls of the city and outside of the East gate, was a sprawling affair, dragging in most of the personalities of the region.  For the Parliamentarian forces Sir Samuel Stapleton-Smyth (Aidan) led the line, supported by the pro-Swedish forces of Sir Michael de Blondeville (Michael).  The Royalists were nominally commanded by Prince Maurice (Red), with their right wing nearest the city led by the Royal, as well as Lord Byron (also Red), facing Stapleton-Smyth.  The centre was under the command of Lord Tiberius Flasheart (Rick), and the left wing that most daring of cavalier cavalry leaders Sir Pembleton-Smyth (Chris), both facing Swedish opposition.  Within the city a brigade of Scotsmen waited, determined to join the side that could offer the most whisky and chance of victory.

The centre saw the least fighting, as Lord Flasheart raged at him men, seemingly incapable of making them move forward an inch.  Following two blunders in his opening two attempts at ordering, he settled down to fail with the regularity of the speaking clock, and it was only at the very end of the b battle that he managed to persuade Stradlings regiment of foote to advance.  The Swedes of Sir Michael were more mobile, if cautious, and stepped forward slowly to occupy the edge of the corn fields and seemed happy to trade musketry with the stalled Royalists.

On the Royalist left the horse wing of Pembleton-Smyth clashed with the musketeers of Sir Michael de Blondeville, with the Swedish infantry forming a number of hedgehogs to avoid being run down by the numerous horse regiments.  There was particularly bloody fighting in a field enclosed by hedges, that the Royalist horse firstly fought their way into, and then the Swedes fed unit after unit of musketeers in to hold.  Eventually the horse forced their enemies back or too flee, but the damage done was impressive, with both horse brigades commanded by Pembleton-Smyth broken and withdrawing.

The right flank rapidly became an infantry contest, with Stapleton-Smyths musketeers facing the larger Royalist pike blocks of Lord Byron while Prince Maurice and Stapleton-Smyth himself serenaded the Scots of Chester, trying to persuade them that it would be a good idea to join the fight on their side.  Prince Maurice proved most persuasive; what he offered the Scots is still unknown, but they c hose to join the Royalist cause, marching from their stronghold to attack the Parliamentarian flank.  By this time, however, the pike and shotte of Lord Byron had been reduced in size and morale, and the brigade was quitting the field.  For the rebels Stapleton-Smyth had ventured too close to the walls with his horse and they were driven from the battlefield by Scottish shotte, while for the large Parliamentarian brigade of foote and horse fighting Lord Byron the pressures told, and the arrival of the Scots was the last straw, with the brigade broken.  Their parting shot was to rattle the cage of Prince Maurice’s horse, which also began to retreat.

At this point the Parliamentarian army was broken, despite the Swedes still holding strong positions on the furthest flank to the city.  As a parting shot they had also broken the Royalists, but Prince Maurice’s men still held the centre and the Scots, having come out as Royalists, were unassailable as the holders of Chester, and a Royalist victory was declared (although not until 30 minutes of negotiation had took place!).

Sir Michael de Blondeville 
Sir Samuel Stapleton-Smyth

Prince Maurice

Lord Tiberius Flasheart

Sir Pembleton-Smyth

Opening deployment and table, Royalists on the right (bottom to top - Pembleton-Smyths horse, Flashearts foote in the centre and Prince Maurice towards the Chester walls), with Parlimentarians on the left (Swedes on the left, Stapleton-Smyth near the city walls).

The Parlimentarian & Swedish troops looking the part all fully painted.

Flashearts troops blunder, then refuse to move for 4 turns straight.  Pembleton-Smyths horse have no such issues, advancing to challenge the Swedes and that fateful field on the left.

Lord Byron's foote advance towards the rebels of Samuel-Smyth.

Hedgehogs all round on the left!

The rebels give Lord Byrons foote a bloody nose and they begin to withdraw.

Rebel dragoons manning Marks & Spencers (?) on Foregate Street while Prince Maurice pleads successfully with the Chester garrison (field on the right).

The movers and shakers in Chester.

The garrison decide!  And stream out of the gates following Prince Maurices horse.

Slaughter in the fields on the left between the Royalist horse and swedish musketeers.

Flasheart finally moves some troops!  Just one regiment which attacks a disordered Swedish line to little effect.

The garrison commanders arguing about something.

The end of the battle from the walls of the city - Chester is claimed by the Royalists!

Post-script and credits:  With the Royalists capturing the city of Chester they have gained a number of important economic benefits; Lord Flasheart claiming the city itself (counting as a town - +100pts, a big event for the campaigns smallest army!), Lord Byron the shot tower and armoury to enable him to field more ordinance, and Pembleton-Smyth a share of the city.

Credits go to Aidan for the excellent scenario, and to the Stanney Wargames Club for their excellent venue, although the constant references to ‘hedghogs’ seemed to confuse a fair bit!  Also to all the players who took part in an enjoyable afternoons punch-up.  Many there be many more!  Aidan has put a full report up on the campaign blog: