Friday, 18 September 2020

Onward to Strelsau.....

 As a further aside to the Ruritanian theme  I found this rather spiffing map thanks to the Google elves.

I have no idea who created it ( but thank you)   but the use of a slice of the Czech Republic is jolly useful as it gives a good tie in with the description in The Prisoner of Zenda vis-a-vis the geographical distance between Dresden and Strelsau. The regions I am not sure about but the presence( or so it seems) of Grand Duchies or Papal cities or even free cities within the Ruritanian border might prove a treasure trove for justifying local bellicose posturings. 

I am still unsure whether to stick with the time frame of mid 1700's as per "The Princess Osra" or the latter half of the 19th as per "The Prisoner of Zenda"  and "Rupert of Hentzau"

All to play for...

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Progress....or lack of it.

 There is little to report apart from the arrival of more Heroic and Ross figures this week which I hope to do some skirmish games with. 

Unfortunately we have the builders in, which means all my materials, board, scenery, armies etc have been banished to the 'Man Cave' , which my wife informs me is not for me alone.... hence the mountains of Kilner jars and gardening impedimenta which have been in residence since we moved here four years ago and are now themselves buried under the contents emptied from the garage.

I have designed what I hope is Manor House of correct proportions for ECW skirmishes but it awaits construction. Today I hope to design a small street again for ECW skirmishes.

I am sure I am not alone in being easily distracted by other ventures. Yesterday was spent in re reading the Prisoner of Zenda and searching for clues to produce a map of Ruritania, with the longer term goal of conducting skirmish type encounters caused by the nefarious shenanigans of the day. Spies, assassins, insurrection, kidnaps, anarchists, contested successions, railways, telegraph......phew! I do not know whether to thank Mark of The Man of Tin blog for starting me off on this or curse him for re- igniting my interest which has been latent for 20+ years.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

The repercussions of the Crook's Farm Battle


If either of the commanders had expected acclamation and plaudits from their superiors following their actions at Crook's Farm, they were sadly disappointed.
Sir Josiah, reporting to Senior Commanders in Linden, was given little praise for carrying the war to the enemy, or for the meagre fooddtuffs he had procured for the City. It was pointed out to him that his troops were now busy consuming such victuals  and therefore thanks to his actions was putting the City's supplies in deficit.
Lord Thomas had pointed out to him that if he had not retired from the Field at South Clifton then the foe would not have entered the lands to the West of the River Trout in the first place, and, despite Lord Thomas' blustering and indignant protestations regarding his ejection of an enemy host with but an equal sized force of his own, the Royalist Command in Nottingham 'regretted' his failure to follow up the enemy and either annihilate them as they attempted to ford the River Trout, or harrass them all the way to Linden. 

Both commanders returned to their base areas in high dudgeon, to resupply, re-equip, recruit and soothe the hurts they had received from their superiors. Their subordinate Colonels took their Regiments home with varying amounts of relief, and anticipation of further service.   Whilst they awaited the orders and commissions  of the Higher Command, Lord Thomas and Sir Josiah resolved to entertain the troops that they might call on, with attacks on local adherents to the enemy's cause.

" scarce a  day went by without some alarum or excursion or beating up of quarters"

If I can find some simple skirmish rules to my liking and some suitable cheap figures I might game such an attack with perhaps 20 figures a side. Otherwise it will be an algorithm and Excel Random number in a spreadsheet job. 

Thursday, 6 August 2020

The Battle of Crook's Farm

Battle of Crook’s Farm

Lord Thomas set out his plan and justification for the upcoming ejection (hoped for) of the incursive Parliamentarian force who had , according to the reports he had received , taken Crook’s farm . From here the Puritan aggressors had set about their task of brigandage, theft, arson and possibly rapine .

Lord Thomas admitted that the two opposing forces had exactly the same number of unit, but his proposed nighttime attack would cause havoc amongst the rabble who opposed the King’s Will, delivered by his devoted servant, Lord Thomas.

Consequently Lord Thomas’ force assembled near East Parkham, and by good fortune and excellent intelligence, not to mention overwhelming force, an entire troop of enemy cavalry were ambushed and taken prisoner. Lord Thomas exhorted his commanders to strike whilst the iron was hot as the non return of the troop would put the rebels on warning.

Sir Josiah Letterman was well aware of what the cavalry troop’s non return might presage. Consequently Mudford’s Dragoons were out on Picket to West and North and South and East. He was not prepared to be caught napping or be unprepared for attack from ANY direction.. He knew the troops under his command would be nervous and did his best to reassure them  and got his commanders to stand 2/3rds of their force to during the night in case of attack. The whole force to stand  to at dawn.

All decisions determined by percentage dice or random chance chosen by Exel spreadsheet random number generator

 Lord Thomas encouraged his commanders by pointing out that the enemy were enclosed by hedges and walls Put a cork of cavalry and dragoons into the ‘neck’ of that bottle and the enemy could not get at the Royalists especially when masked by the darkness. Consequently while his Infantry advanced across the open ground towards the farm the Dragoons made their way towards the front of the farm from the Northern road dismounting about 100 yards from the building The cavalry accompanied the Infantry, but they had not gone far before the Western Picket raised the alarm and retired towards the farm as did the other pickets as per standing orders.



Sir Josiah had been hoping that a stout defence could be made but the panic which ensued from the enemy’s advance made him realise that he would be extremely lucky to save any of his command.( NONE of the Parliamentarian units passed a ‘morale’ test ALL scoring below 3 on a 1-6 dice !! ) It took 2 full turns of utter confusion before the Parliamentarian’s got any semblance of order. Col. John Crabbe’s Foot blasted away towards the West and failed to hit anything. Not that the Royalist Foot managed to hit anything in return…. Sir Peter Mullet’s Foot, depleted by 2 companies  escorting booty back to Parliamentarian lines, stayed in the enclosure South of the farm according to Sir Josiah’s original dispositions.

The burning cressets at the farm's main entrance the Royalist dragoons a better chance of causing casualties to Mudford’s Dragoons who opposed them, and the emerging Cavanagh’s cavalry were charged by Sir John Tremble’s Horse in what little light reached that far. Because Cavanagh’s Horse took a long time to deploy, they sustained casualties and bottled up De Preste’s Horse behind them.

A few casualties were suffered by the Foot but Cavanagh’s Horse suffered the most. De Preste managed to get his troopers out and thundered into Sir Thomas’ Raw dragoons who promptly broke and fled. Mudford’s Dragoons were badly mauled and Sir Josiah decided to abandon the farm and get as many men safe away as possible. The Mudford Dragoons mounted up and set off,  following Mullet’s Foot who provided a rearguard, Cavanagh’s Horse broke and fled. De Preste’s Horse squared off against Lord Thomas and Tremble’s tired Regiment of Horse. A few indecisive rounds of combat ensued before both sides decided to call it a night and disengage. Crabbe’s Foot scuttled away towards the River Trout with casualties but in the main intact.

The Royalist Foot smoke stained and shivering peered into the dawn light As Lord Thomas led Trembles Horse towards them. Davis looked at his father who saw his son and grinned.

“ Rejoice, we conquer” , said Lord Thomas.

Sir Josiah was ambivalent to the result. Yes he had been driven off, but no colours had been lost, booty had been taken and the Malignants had been reminded that the Sovereign Rule of Parliament could overturn the Rule of a Sovereign, if only for short periods.

Neither Commander considered what may have happened to Farmer Crook.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Prelude to the Crooks Farm battle

Lord Thomas had expected to be  reprimanded for his failure to carry out his mission to take Dollingham for the King. His ignominious retreat with virtually intact forces had not impressed his superiors. He would not forget their scorn., but as he remarked to his son,  his duty was to his Majesty and not self important popinjays. There would be no centrally funded reinforcements. The artillery that had felt to Lord Thomas as a couple of mobile millstones were to be returned to the artillery park at some point. His friends still gave him their support but perhaps less than before. It would take 3 days until the one cavalry unit he could count on was ready to take the field again;


Sir Josiah Letterman was somewhat mollified and his choler abated. His force had crossed the Trout and, thanks to Mudford’s Dragoons they had taken a walled their base. Sir Josiah was never one to take a chance so he was glad to encamp within an hours march of the River. Within 24 hours local farms started being raided, hay stacks fired, cattle and other livestock taken. There was no sign of their recently defeated enemy but even so, Sir Josiah posted out infantry pickets in a half mile radius whilst the cavalry and dragoons ravaged the countryside. Half the spoils were to be sent to the troops besieging Oldfetter and a quarter of what remained to Linden. The rest fed his contingent. He was relatively pleased with his accomplishments so far.


 Sir Josiah would have been less composed if he had known that his position had been reported to Lord Thomas within 24 hours and that Lord Thomas was already taking steps to evict “ That impertinent scoundrel”. Lord Thomas had something to prove and he was not going to move until he had the advantage and the addition of a Unit of Dragoons, admittedly untested, might well make up for his lack of Horse..


On the second day of occupation It was noticed that the Parliamentarian forces were being observed, the observer fled to the South West. On the third day a troop of horse were tasked to scout an arc from the South West to North West of the farm at a distance to include the Great North Road which linked the King’s stronghold of York to Oldfetter. The patrol did not return that night so pickets were doubled and 1 regiment of Infantry stood to. Sir Josiah pointed out  to his Colonels that, although they were down 1 regiment of infantry , they beaten the Malignants  and pursued them into their own territory, “ We have beaten them  once we shall do so again.”, he assured them.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

The immediate aftermath

The campaign continues with Lord Thomas hoping to get back to Eastspring with the guns, survive the ignominy of his retreat,and rebuild his force. In his view the lack of horse and the ineffectiveness of artillery in encounter battles put him at a disadvantage from the start.  Would his superiors agree though?

Sir Josiah had his own problems. Colonels Cavanagh and De Prest, seemed to have no idea of the role he expected of them. They were of the opinion that the Royalist retreat signified job done and to give an idea of their reluctance to prosecute a pursuit, Lord Thomas and his guns were ( if he but knew it) no longer in danger as the Parluamentarian Horse ambled alongside the Infantry.  Sir Josiah, becoming in mortal danger of a choler, exhorted Colonel Mudford and his Dragoons to follow and harass the enemy, but the Colonel's reply of "On our own? With no support? These are green troops Sir" Sir Josiah thought he detected more of a yellow hue, but bit his tongue as he needed these Dragoons to follow his orders through. Sir George Maltravers Regiment had suffered the most, from Artillery and musketry, and so turned backwards towards Speyford for succor and  reserves.

Monday, 27 July 2020

The battle of South Clifton

Well ... the first encounter has taken place. Ubfortunately the Commanders inexperience was only exceeded by mine. It did not go well. 

Lord Thomas Markham of Foresby had led his mainly raw force, financed and led by his friends and acquaitances, from Eastspring, and across the River Trout South of Forksey. To tempt away beseigers from the strategically important town of Oldfetter.The agreed plan was for him to take and hold the large village of Dollingham. This would disrupt local Parliamentarian recruitment, supply and also threaten the link between besiegers and Linden the shire's only city. His force was 3 Infantry regiments 2 pieces of  Artillery. and a Regiment of horse. Artillery would make fortification of Dollingham easier, but it would slow him down

Sir Josiah Letterman of Spalsby was on a mission too. He was required to lead a strike force on a spoiling attack against the Royalist food sources between Eastspring and Graftsop.He was pleased with his force,  2 regiments of Horse 1 of Dragoons and 3 regiments of Foote. This would give him the chance to hold a secure base whilst causing mayhem for the malignants in the area.

The Parliamentarians formed up on the Southern ridge with the Horse covering the road and the Dragoons on the Right with the intention of outflanking the Royalists from the Farm in front of them.
For their part, the Royalistrank and file put great faith in the Artillery they had brought with them. Those of their leaders who had experience of military action in the Low Countries were  far more apprehensive.

Appalling initiative throws for Parliament, gave Lord Thoresby hope. and when the Roundheads centre Infantry suffered damage from the exalted Artillery. The Parliamentarians advanced ( as best they could... those poor dice rolls.) Lord Thomas was happy to await the enemy and hoped to break the rraw enemy troops by making them face their fate and have to walk toward it

The Royalist right of the Horse and the trained and experience Foresby Regiment of Foot moved to cover the wing and negate the threat of the enemy horse... who seemed content  to just watch what was going on and let their horses graze...

The early successes of the gunners wre not to be replicated  and although the enemy was picking up damage  Lord Thomas could see that the enemy casualties were not having the effect that he had hoped for.. The guns would not be in his care for much longr at this rate. The raw levies were getting more and more erratic. There was a lot of smoke and noise but precious few casualies to force an outcome. In an effort to force the issue , the Royalist horse charged across the fiield  and slammed into the flank of Crabbe's Foot. Regrettably for Lord Thomas the cavalry would have been more effective if they had been armed with stinging nettles. After a round or two the Parliamentarian Horse charged into the rear of the Royalist Horse and after a while, routed them.  However, they Had bought Lord Thomas time, The guns were limbered  and the Thoresby foot escorted the guns away whilst the remaining foot of both sides decided that the gathering twilight made a good excuse to go home. The Parliamentary horse and dragoons had been exhausted by the little work they had done ( the dragoons spent most of their day birdwatching.) so the Royalists skulked away back towards the River Trout and a safe route home.