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:

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