Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Giving personalities to our figures and a little tale.

Our little metal and plastic warriors, carefully selected, purchased, painted and based eventually find themselves on a table top, ready to do battle. The individual miniature soldier becomes part of a unit, which itself then becomes part of a larger army. We stand and survey our forces with satisfaction and cannot wait to grab a hand full of dice to move them into action and undoubted glory.

Some rules, especially small scale skirmish games, actually allow each tiny trooper to have a name and rank, possibly even a medal or two from past battles and campaigns. We may well grow fond of a particular character or regiment and actually worry about their fate, when they become involved in some particularly nasty combat with the likelihood of taking casualties.

In the recent batrep on 'The Battle of Wakefield Road,' posted on this blog.

 As the battle raged I could not help but think what it must have been like for those men, most being involved in combat for the very first time. Yes I know, they are plastic and metal, no skin, bones, blood or a brains, they do not feel fear or even move on their own accord, but our hobby is one of simulation, and as the fighting around the house, grounds and the wall surrounding them, intensified with volleys of musket fire and wild charges with pike and swords, the wall was lost, won and lost again in wave after wave of vicious, close, face to face combat, I couldn't help but feel the sheer terror those sort of encounters must have engendered in the men involved.

Their story should really be told. After all, we lay out and fight the battles, create elaborate battle reports with copious quantities of photographs, giving a blow by blow account of glorious charges and ignominious routs, but we don't tell the story from the miniatures eye view, the troops who we throw into this cauldron of our own making.

I aim to right that wrong, and wish to introduce you to two young fellows who took part in 'The Battle of Wakefield Road.'

Here we have the Parliamentary army under the command of Sir William Brereton, marching along the Pontefract Road to join with the Wakefield Road. The rearmost foot regiment is that of Colonel Samuel Joseph. That fellow closest the camera, in the centre, with his musket over his shoulder is nineteen year old William Byng.

The Royalist force under the command of Lord George Goring is also approaching the Wakefield Road. A member of the foot regiment under the command of Colonel Marmaduke Rawdon, is also nineteen years old, Robert Miller, there he is in the front rank, second left as we look, his pike at the ready.

The Lost Stopper.

William Byng was enjoying himself, although a cold January day, it was bright and clear and the march from camp at Pontefract had warmed him up. He was glad to be on the move, he had no idea where he was headed or even why, but he did know he was part of the force that was to throw the king's men out of Yorkshire. What a force it was too, he had marveled as hundreds of horsemen had formed up and moved out of camp, his foot regiment too was part of a huge battalia of three regiments and huge pieces of ordnance, pulled by mighty horses, trundled along at the rear of the column. Any Royalists would surely turn tail and and run in fear at such a mighty force of horse, men and cannon.

Also the sergeant was too busy keeping order in the regiment, hurrying men along here and there if they began to straggle, to bother with him. Sergeant Dursley terrified him, even more than his own father did, not something he could ever have imagined being possible. Constantly checking the musketeers kit, especially the shot pouches on their bandolier. William's hand automatically went to the bandolier, 'make sure the stoppers are in tight, no bloody use if the powder is wet,' the sergeant would constantly yell at him.

The column ahead came to a halt, so too did William's regiment. It was then he heard the sound of distant musketry! The was a murmur in the ranks, men talking to each other and pointing ahead. William had no idea what was happening, had a battle started? Would he be involved?

Robert Miller's regiment had too come to a halt, he took the opportunity to rest the butt of the pike on the ground, his arms ached with carrying the sixteen feet of pole topped with a vicious metal blade, itself almost a foot long. He heard the sound of musket fire too, somewhere ahead. The ground began to shake as three full regiments of horse, the whole horse battalia, moved from his left side and crossed ahead of the column, making for a hedge line. 

Robert had no idea what was happening, but suddenly shouted orders had he and his colleagues hefting their pikes and moving forward at double speed. 

Up ahead was a large house set in grounds with a chest high wall surrounding it. Clouds of black powder smoke could be seen rising from the far side of the house, some kind of battle was raging! Robert gripped the pike even tighter as his regiment moved ever closer to the wall, the sound of musket fire getting ever louder with each step he took. His regiment was in the lead, and so the first to reach the wall. It was no mean feat, getting hundreds of men, many carrying pikes over the wall, in any sort of order. Confusion reigned as men struggled and cursed to cross the wall and then reform.

William's regiment too was now moving at double time toward the sound of musket fire, and up ahead he could now see a large house. Clouds of smoke rose into the air and William thought the house was on fire, before realising it was dense clouds of powder smoke, it seemed the dragoons were in a firefight with unknown musketeers within the house. Orders were being shouted down the line and ahead the regiments were beginning to deploy. William was confused, he couldn't see any enemy, only flashes of musket fire coming from the windows of the house ahead, and only the upper windows as the wall blocked the view of the lower floor.

The dragoons had taken casualties and men lay about, with terrible wounds, others lay motionless. outside the perimeter wall, The other two foot regiments had taken up positions in front of the house and were pouring in musket shot. William's regiment halted, and seemed to be mere spectators to the battle raging in and around the house.

Suddenly a roar went up from the two foot regiments and the dragoons, William had no idea why, but suddenly the two foot regiments advanced and started to climb over the wall in front of the house.

Robert was gripped with fear, he could barely see anything for the clouds of powder smoke, his eyes stung and and his ears rang with the musket fire all around him. He was still in the grounds of the house but enemy fire was coming in from both the front and the flank! A hat-less dragoon with wild eyes appeared before him, Robert recognised the purple coat with gold trim and lowered his pike to let the fleeing man pass. It was then a sudden loud cheer could be heard from the enemy positions. His sergeant appeared as if by magic, 'Steady lads, the dragoons have broken, we have to hold the wall.' Robert had no idea what was happening around him the bushes, shrubs and trees in the grounds as well as clouds of acrid spent gunpowder obscuring his view.


William watched as the surviving dragoons pull back from the wall and mounted their horses. Orders come down to take the position vacated by them, his matchlock musket is loaded and primed, the saltpeter coated cord is smoldering. The regiment moves forward and takes their place at the wall, peering over the top he can actually see some figures moving about, the enemy!

'Pick a target and prepare to fire!' William rests his musket on top of the wall, but can no longer see any of the enemy. A musket ball strikes the wall below him, sending a shower of stone particles and dust into his face, his musket recoils into his shoulder almost knocking him over. He hadn't meant to fire, he quickly grabbed another shot pouch, maybe the sergeant hadn't noticed. He fumbled with the stopper as the rest of the regiment obeyed the order to fire and an almighty roar of noise filled the air along with dense clouds of powder smoke. The screams of wounded and dying men could be heard over the wall.
'Advance boys, over the wall with you.' William with musket in his left hand and shot pouch in the right, tried to obey and with the others jumped up and over the wall. He crouched on the other side and noticed the stopper was missing. In a panic he scoured the ground, but it was nowhere to be found! In the midst of death and chaos, he was more afraid of his sergeant and what he would say about the lost stopper.
'Advance, advance!' the cry went up, still clutching the pouch, minus its stopper he advanced into the smoky gloom.

For Robert, the incoming volley of musket fire had been devastating, men either side had dropped mortally wounded or screaming in agony. The black cloud stung his eyes and made it virtually impossible to see anything. What use was a pike when men are shooting muskets at you? he thought. It was then he saw a figure ahead, stumbling blindly through the undergrowth, but carrying a musket. Robert didn't recognise the grey jacket, it must be one of the enemy. Levelling his pike he advanced as he had been trained. The enemy musketeer noticed him at the last moment, a shocked expression on his face. Robert thought of his friends who had just been cut down, maybe even by this very man and charged forward. The enemy soldier seemed unable to move and the pike, with Robert's weight behind it, went through the man's stomach and exited his back, the blade and a foot of wooden shaft. The musketeers shocked expression never changed as he dropped to his knees.
'Twist and pull lad, you did well.' it was one of the older men in his regiment. Robert did as he was told and shuddered at the sight of the thick blood and other unspeakable pieces of innards that dripped and dangled from the point.

The musketeer, now released from the pike, fell face down on the ground, his musket in his left hand and a shot pouch, minus a stopper in his right. The contents of the pouch, slowly trickled out and mixed with the widening pool of blood beneath the dying figure.

Robert advanced toward the wall.

He had taken only a few paces when the top of the wall erupted into a mass of flame and smoke. A musket ball hit him in the right side of his chest, passed through his lung and lodged in his spine. The blow felt like a kick from a mule. As the sound of thunder from the volley of muskets filled his ears, he staggered and fell backwards. He couldn't breathe! his mouth was filled with...blood! He gasped and gagged, his chest in agony. The sounds of battle had suddenly ceased and was replaced by a bubbling sound, like a pan of water on the fire. He was trying to make sense of the sound when he died, his head coming to rest on the hand, holding the shot pouch with the lost stopper.

So that is the tale of two of  the combatants in the battle I fought on the tabletop. I hope you enjoyed the tale, I certainly enjoyed writing it. Now if you would excuse me, I need to search for the missing stopper, it must be somewhere on the table?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Small Table 28mm - The Battle of Wakefield Road. Turns 15 through to end.

Turn Fifteen


The first and only blunder of the game! The Royalist horse battalia rapidly retreat two moves!

Royalist Medium battery fire at the Parliamentary horse at long range and miss.

Royalist foot, in a desperate attempt to defend the perimeter, cause another casualty to Rawdon's Foot but do no damage to Oglesby's as both hits are saved.


The Parliamentary horse advance one move, chasing the Royalist horse.

Okey's Dragoons, with job done and being vulnerable are ordered to remount and pull back.

This allows Joseph's Foot to assault the wall and cause casualties and disorder to Newcastle's Foot, who are known as 'The Lambs' due to their white jackets.

In vicious fighting with musket, sword and fists the Royalist 'Blewcoats' save one hit but become disordered. The London Trained Band manage one hit on Rawdon's Foot but it is saved.

Ominously, the Parliamentary medium ordnance begin to move into position to bombard the house.

Whilst the light battery move and unlimber to attempt counter-battery fire.

Turn Sixteen


The medium battery now gain three moves, and unlimber in front of the house. Whilst the horse chase after the Royalist horse.

The battle of the house and grounds rages on,  Royalist units take more casualties and Rawdon's Foot successfully pass a break test.

'The Lambs' take another casualty and save a second.


A renewed surge by the Royalist foot regiments see the London Trained Band recoil through casualties, become disordered and in the break test have to fall back one move. Oglesby's Foot also take casualties and become disordered. The Royalist horse attempt to turn to face the enemy but fail.

The L.T.B. are pushed back.

Newcastle's Lambs cause a hit on Joseph's Foot.

The royalist medium battery causes medium range hits on the Parliamentary light guns and forces them back out of range.

Turn Seventeen

The Royalist horse finally turn and charge. Rupert's horse score 6 hits on Ireton's horse which manage to save 4 of them!

In more hand to hand fighting, the Blewcoats inflict two further hits on Oglesby' foot which are now disordered and shaken. It is too much and they fail the break test.

Oglesby's Foot have routed from the field.

The L.T.B, are also now shaken but take no further casualties. The Lambs, cause another casualty to Joseph's Foot.


Seeking vengeance, Joseph's foot surge forward again and this time take the wall causing more casualties on the The Lambs who become shaken. They fail the break test, some slip away to the false safety of the house, whilst the majority, totally exhausted throw down their weapons in surrender.

The Lambs are no more.

Ireton's Horse score three hits on Rupert's Horse and put them in disorder.

Turn Eighteen


More desperate fighting in the grounds of the house see Rawdon's foot suffer more casualties but they pass the break test and so remove a casualty.

The casualty is removed, but is just false hope, as the now free and still bloodthirsty Joseph's Foot also pour musketry into them.

The result is devastating, huge casualties as well as becoming shaken. The remnants throw down their weapons in surrender.

The Royalist position is close to collapse, they are one unit routing away from defeat.

Ireton's Horse give them that unit! They score six hits with only two saves on Rupert's Horse. They reel under the onslaught and failing the break test, take to their heels in rout.

The battle is over, it was a close run affair, but the sudden collapse of three Royalist units in quick succession gave Parliament a much needed victory.

Sir William Brereton had suffered casualties in the victory, but had captured two batteries of guns, their crews and abandoned the weapons. Lord George Goring and many of his men were now his prisoners and the whole victorious force marched on to Wakefield to join with Lord Fairfax.

For Lord Newcastle, the defeat was irksome, though not disastrous. He would have to delay his march into Lancashire to deal with this new threat in his rear.

So there you have it, a 28mm scale battle on a small table, using small units. I had to compromise in a few areas, but overall the Pike and Shotte rules worked really well. I must admit in the heat of the battle, I totally forgot the small scale of the units and seeing three horsemen representing a regiment didn't detract from the spectacle for me.

Thank you to everyone for your support and comments on this series.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Small Table 28mm - Battle of Wakefield Road. Turns 10 through 14.

Turn 10

Parliament: The army have 3 moves and so are all now on the table.
Okey's Dragoons fire on Foulston's Dragoons and cause disorder, but one casualty saved.

Royalist: Okey' Dragoons cause a hit and disorder on Foulston's Dragoons.
Remainder of army advance 1 move.

The whole Parliamentary army is now on the field.

Royalist army advance one move.

Turn Eleven

Royalist dragoons fire and miss
Parliamentary dragoons fire one hit which is saved.

Royalist horse battalia move 3 onto the road.

Foot battalia move 2 toward wall. Artillery also make a battalia move of 3.

Parliamentary horse fail roll.
Foot advance 3 to wall.
Artillery move 1.

Turn Twelve


Okey's Dragoons cause a further hit on Foulston's Dragoons.

Foot battalia move 3 to the wall.

Horse battalia advance and go into line.

Artillery advance 1.


Horse to advance and form line (fail)

Horse battalia move 3 and enter grounds of house and so occupy house with the Dragoons,

Artillery battalia advance South 2 moves.

View of the action.

Turn Thirteen


Foulston's Dragoons fire and miss, but in return suffer a further casualty and fail break test.

They are removed from the table.

Foot battalia move 2 and horse battalia fail (again!) artillery battalia advance and unlimber.


Waller's Horse charge Gerard's Horse and cause disorder and two hits in close combat. Supported by Ireton's Horse. They suffered five casualties but saved three of them.

Foot battalia fail.

Artillery move 1.

Royalist artillery deployed but cannot fire into cavalry melee.

Rawdons foot are in the building.

Turn Fourteen


Two foot regiments fire on house causing two hits, one of which is saved
Okey's Dragoons fire on house causing one hit,

Waller's Horse smash into Gerard's Horse scoring eight hits, four of which are saved. However the unit fails its break test.

Gerard's Horse are removed from the table. Parliament artillery advance three moves including unlimbering.


Foot battalia 3 moves so all are now in the house and grounds, I see the building as the main with a number of outbuildings in a walled enclosure, an adhoc fort.

Blewcoates score 3 hits on Oglesby's foot, one save.
Rawdon's foot score 2 hits on the London Trained Band, no saves.

Horse battalia, two moves and charge Waller's Horse. In melee they score 7 hits of which 3 are saves, however, Waller's Horse are broken and leave the field.

Waller's Horse are gone.

So as turn 15 approaches, the Royalists have lost two units to Parlaiments one. The battle is still on a knife edge, the Royalists making a stand in the house and grounds, each sides horse are cancelling each other out whilst the artillery is still trying to get into action.

I shall pause here and continue in daylight tomorrow. Be sure to call back.