Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In the Shadows of History: Battle of Newtown, 31st July 1689. Part Three

Scenario Construction
The scenario offers some excellent wargaming potential. The troops on both sides will be overwhelmingly classed as inexperienced. The force sizes are small and the battlefield is not typical.
I have created a basic scenario with three additional options. All are listed below;

  1. The battle fought as per history
  2. The return of the routed Jacobite Horse later in the battle
  3. The battle fought with both forces at full strength from the outset
  4. The cavalry clash fought separately and having an influence on the troops available for the subsequent main engagement.
Jacobite Foot attacking (unit now somewhere in Oklahoma!)
To provide additional variety, the scenario can be played either as a regimental sized action or as a company level engagement. I use Beneath the Lily Banners for both levels of game but 1644 is a rule set which also suits the game type well. Any rules which you are comfortable with will fit but I strongly recommend you follow the scenario specific guidelines later in the article to prevent a very quick and one sided experience. If BLB is used at regimental level then the game will be rather small and over in a couple of hours. The rules however allow small actions like this to be fought at company level. In this case the game would be quite large and may take four to five hours. I have listed the orbats for both scales of game. These can be adapted for any rule set you prefer.

Figure to Man Ratios
Beneath the Lily Banners uses a 1:35 figure to man ratio at regimental level. In the rules I suggest an alternative of 1:5 for company level actions but for this scenario I would recommend 1:10 be taken as the norm. This is mainly due to historical evidence pointing towards oversized troops, squadrons and regiments being present at the battle. It thus makes the rule mechanisms easy to transpose. In the larger scale action a 6 figure cavalry squadron would equate to 210 men. This ties in nicely with Sapherson’s estimate of largish dragoon troops numbering 60-70 all ranks. Three troops being the standard subdivision of a squadron at this time makes the arithmetic quite neat. At the company level the 6 figure wargaming cavalry squadron would be the equivalent of 60 men which is close to the oversize troop structure mentioned in sources.

Foot regiments in BLB are normally composed of three 6 figure stands. In the large action figure to man ratio this would equate to 630 men – considerably lower than the 920 man regiments we are assuming to be present at Newtown but typical of field  battalion strengths throughout the Wars of 1688-1697. One way round this is to ignore the anomaly! A second is to give the Jacobites all five foot regiments named in the website orbat source I mention at the end of the section on Notes on the Jacobite Force later in the article.  Another way would be to form two twelve man (two 2 x 6 figure stands) commanded shot units and attach them to the Jacobite army. This takes care of the cumulative 870 ‘surplus headcount’ across the three large foot regiments. The Protestant Army I have dealt with differently as I believe enough corroborative evidence exists to allow them three foot regiments of average strength for the period and theatre. In gaming terms that means three BLB infantry battalions each of three 6 figure stands, the central stand being armed with pike.

With regard to infantry strengths in the company level scenario, an infantry company was composed in theory of 70 men. In Ireland at that time between one in six and one in two men could have a pike dependent on how well or poorly equipped the unit was.  Using the 1:10 figure to man ratio previously suggested infantry companies would muster a meagre 7 figures. Not only would this be very brittle and difficult to manage in gaming terms but it would look unattractive on the table. I recommend the following solution. Combine the companies in each battalion into sub divisions of three companies. Each subdivision of three companies will be represented by three figure bases each of six figures. The companies can be assumed to have massed their pikes in the centre and placed a wing of shot either side in the standard way a pike and shot unit would deploy. Four of these subdivisions would make a regiment and can operate semi independently on the table. The final ‘company’ should be musket armed (one six figure stand) and be attached to the Colonel or operate independently. Effectively a battalion of figures under the normal BLB organisation becomes three companies for the company level game. The orbat is laid out using this logic. With 1644 the units can simply be constructed using the appropriate number of figures.

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