Saturday, 3 June 2017

Battle of Brentford Bridge - an ECW AAR

Hi Folks

Last Tuesday (Monday was a bank holiday) the Shed was somewhat light on the player numbers so Mark & I decided to fight the first battle listed in the new Pike & Shotte supplement - the Battle of Brentford Bridge....

heres what wiki says about the battle.....

The Battle of Brentford was a small pitched battle which took place on 12 November 1642, between a detachment of the Royalist army, (predominantly horse with one regiment of Welsh foot) under the command of Prince Rupert and two infantry regiments of Parliamentarians with some horse in support. The result was a victory for the Royalists

After the Battle of Edgehill (23 October) King Charles I captured Banbury (27 October) and was greeted by cheering crowds as he arrived in Oxford on 29 October. Prince Rupert swept down the Thames Valley, capturing Abingdon, Aylesbury and Maidenhead, from where he attempted to capture Windsor though failed due to Parliamentary strength there. After this many officers wanted to open peace negotiations, contrary to Rupert's desire to carry on to London, but the king agreed with the officers and so the Earl of Essex managed to overtake them and reach London with his Parliamentary army by 8 November.

While in Reading Charles decided that the peace talks were inconclusive, and that if he advanced on London it might place him in a better negotiating position. So on 11 November he moved his army closer to London by encamping at Colnbrook and to put further pressure on the Parliamentarians he ordered Prince Rupert to take Brentford

On reaching London the Earl of Essex had not been idle, and had positioned men on the western approaches to London. One force covered the bridge at Kingston upon Thames while another, to the west, barricaded the small town of Brentford which lay on either side of the Thames concentrating their efforts in the proximity of the bridge that connected Old Brentford to New Brentford

On 12 November under cover of an early morning mist Rupert's cavalry and dragoons attacked the two regiments of Parliamentary foot, one under the command of Denzil Holles and the other of Lord Brooke, which were barricaded inside Brentford. The initial attack by the cavaliers on Sir Richard Wynne's house, an outpost west of Brentford held by Holles's regiment, was repulsed.

So a Welsh regiment of foot were ordered into action by Rupert. The combined force successfully captured the outpost and carried forward their attack into Brentford itself. They drove Holles's men over the bridge into the defences manned by Lord Brooke's men. These in turn were driven out of the town into open fields.[5] The fighting continued into late afternoon, before the survivors of Holles's and Brooke's regiments were able to disengage under the protection of John Hampden's infantry brigade, which arrived from Uxbridge to cover their withdrawal. Nevertheless, a large number of Holles's men were drowned while trying to escape their pursuers by swimming across the Thames. The Royalists captured 15 guns and 11 colours and about 500 prisoners,[8] including John Lilburne who was a captain in Brooke's regiment.

Having won the battle the Royalist forces sacked the town. This action encouraged those Londoners who feared for their property to side with the Parliamentarians.[7] On 13 November the main Parliamentary army under the command of Earl of Essex's heavily reinforced with the London trainbands and other London citizenry, assemble as an army of about 24,000 on Chelsea Field and advanced to Turnham Green in the vicinity of the main body of the Royalist army.

At a standoff known as the Battle of Turnham Green, the senior Parliamentarian officers not trusting the training of their forces in a battle of manoeuvre chose not to attack, and the King decided not to press his advance on London by giving battle against a force much larger than his decided, as it was near the end of the campaigning season, to retreat to Oxford where his army could be billeted over the winter.

So we set the table up according to the book and although the scenario didn't state one way another we assumed the river Brent was unfordable (and hence the need for the bridge).

The forces were deployed according to the set up.

It became apparent that the Parliamentarians (Me) had a job on their hands - half of the regiment belonging to Holles was on one side of the bridge in the town and the other half defending Wynn house, Given he was a sole commander of this regiment and could not be in two places at once was somewhat problematic.

The game started with Rupert's(Mark) forces advancing onto the centre. In front of them lay the defended hedgerows of Holles musketeers, cannon and some dragoons.

My tactic was simple - extricate the pikeblock from the forward defences and get it back into the town. The Battalia could afford the losses of the guns and musketeers but if it were to lose just one advance unit it would be broken and therefore unable to defend the fight that might come for the bridge.

As the Cavaliers advanced their Horse broke to the left hoping to cut off any retreat to the bridge. The forward infantry elements surged forward and engaged in a firefight with the defenders

Holles' command rolls just didn't happen - that damn pike block would not move !

The rebels decided to push up some much needed firesupport covering the bridge

By now Rupert's horse was on the move and was soon riding full pelt for the Bridge

The remainder of Holles Battalion in Brentford busied themselves with the defence

The leading elements of the Parliamentarians were now taking serious fire - and the Royalist reserves /Assault force hadn't even arrived

Here they come - four Pikes and loads of musketeers - they surged forward and took on the roundhead vanguard

Within a couple of rounds the defences around Wynn house crumbled and the road towards Brentford was clear

With a loud cheers they mopped up the remnants of the defence around Wynn house and pushed onto the river

However this desperate defence had allowed the brigades of Brookes and Hamden to deploy their forces - nothing was going to come across the bridge

and it didn't - for a few turns Rupert tried to rally his troops and get them to cross the bridge into a hail of lead - it was never going to happen

So here are our thoughts....

1. Rupert must have been incredibly lucky to have forces his way into Brentford - the narrow crossing coupled with matched forces certainly plays into the Parliamentarian hands

2. The only way we can see Rupert winning is 1) a very large dose of luck, 2) getting his cavalry to cut off the escape quickly and then bringings his troops up the road swiftly before the defenders have had a chance to deploy-

2. Had Holles brought up the other half of his brigade over the bridge to counter the attack then it might have been a different story. I did consider taking the fight to the Royalists but I would be giving away my key advantage.

A fun game - interesting to refight an historic action for a change and we look forward to the next scenario

see you all soon

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  1. Interesting I used to live near Brentford and actually did a muster there as part of ECWS. They discovered an ECW cavalry helmet from the river amongst other artefacts.

  2. looks like a great game , whats the next scenario in the book ?

  3. Great game all round. A shame about that stubborn pike block.

  4. Fantastic report and a great looking game. Got to love some ECW.

  5. Interesting report and good looking game.

  6. Good looking game, as usual, and interesting report.

  7. Looks beautiful and fun. Was there no ford in Brentford?

  8. Great game all round. A shame about that stubborn pike block.