Monday, 12 October 2020

Battle of Northampton - 28mm Wargame - Part 1

Hi Folks

Welcome back to the ongoing series of War of the Roses refights using the Never Mind the Billhooks rules recently released. 

Following the engagements at St Albans & Blore Heath we now turn our attention to the third battle at Northampton. For the observant amongst you I have chosen not to refight the non-event at Ludford Bridge but you never know maybe we will return to this in the future.

As per the last two reports this post is in two parts, the first deals with the background, orders of battle and specific scenario rules. The second will focus on the refight of the battle.

In addition I had to custom build the defences for this game and how they were constructed is at the end of this post.

 

Background

The Battle of Northampton was fought on 10 July 1460 just outside the walled city of Northampton alongside the river Nene. An army of nobles lead by the Duke of Buckingham fought for King Henry VI (Lancastrian) versus the armies of the Earl of March, Edward Plantagenet and the Earl of Warwick.

It is believed that this was the first battle in England to feature artillery.

Earlier in June Warwick, his father Salisbury and March returned from their short exile in Burgundy and landed in Kent. From here they marched to London gathering loyal troops on their way. Entering London Salisbury laid siege to the Tower of London whilst Warwick and March headed North to confront the Kings forces.

The Kings troops based ion Coventry advanced south to block Warwick’s way at Northampton.

The Kings forces took up a defensive position near Delapre Abbey. There are two schools of fought as to where these fortifications were built. The first suggest that they covered a bend in the river, the second suggests that they alongside the river. Sensible battle strategy would suggest the latter as fighting with your backs to river was not particularly sensible.

The defending Lancastrian army dug in behind a stake covered rampart and prepared artillery positions. Their forces were estimated at around 6000 men.

The Yorkist army was somewhat stronger (around 9-10,000 men) and formed into three battles under the command of March, Warwick and Lord Fauconberg (Warwick’s uncle).

As per previous battles the leaders went to parley, the Yorkists demanding that the King be handed. The Lancastrian commander, the Duke of Buckingham, replied "The Earl of Warwick shall not come to the King's presence and if he comes he shall die.

This was the last time in the war of the Roses that the forces parleyed before battle.

With no sign of a truce the Papal Legate attached to the Yorkist cause excommunicated the entire Lancastrian army (the reasons why are outlined below) and whilst this momentous event sunk in to the defenders minds the Yorkists attacked.

Heavy rain made the Lancastrian guns ineffective and although the going was heavy the Yorkists finally reached the barricades. Struggling to surmount these a break finally came when the forces of Lord Grey defected and helped the Earl March’s forces into the encampment. With Yorkists now running amok inside the defences the Lancastrians routed.

Henry VI was captured once again and his Lancastrian leaders were all killed in the brutal melee.

 

 

Weather

It would appear that the weather had a significant affect on the battle. Firstly based on the report I read the ground was particularly heavy going and the river Nene was swollen.

Secondly it apparently rained on the day of the battle and as such both the archers and artillery found the conditions extremely tough.

With regards to the heavy ground all troops will move no faster than 4” in a command order and any troop moving twice will find itself in disarray. Moving once does not give a disarray token.

Add to the card deck a weather card.

The day will start off raining (persistent).  Each time the weather card is drawn and roll a d6 and consult the Weather Track.

Condition

Affect

Dry

All Bows & Artillery fire with full effect

Light Rain/Drizzle

All Bows fire with full effect

Artillery misfires if a one is rolled

Persistent Rain

Bows are reduced to 12”range and only 6’s hit.

Artillery may not fire

Heavy Rain

No units may fire

 

On a die roll of 1-2 move the track upwards, 3-4 the weather stays the same, on a 5-6 move the track downwards.

For example the first turn the card is drawn a 1 is rolled. The weather now reverts to a light drizzle. Immediately after card is drawn effects come into play.

The second time the card is drawn a 3 is rolled – the weather stays the same. Etc.

 

Excommunication

Warwick had brought with him from London a papal legate. The Papacy was quite keen to see Henry VI removed from power so England could resume its war with France. Whilst France was tied up fighting the English it prevented them from conquest further south in Italy.

Somehow Warwick contrived to have the entire Lancastrian Army excommunicated at Northampton. This would have been a significant factor when it came to the morale of the Kings forces. As a result of this excommunication the Lancastrian army will lose 1d6 morale tokens at the start of the game. These are NOT given to the Yorkists but just removed from play. The excommunication ceremony was performed at St Eleanor's Cross overlooking the battlefield.

 

Grey’s Treachery

The turning point of the real battle was the treachery of Grey. He stood his forces down when approached by the Earl of March’s forces. Indeed reports suggest that his men aided the Yorkists to cross the barricades and then flood into the camp.

Grey (and under his command Catsby) are positioned on the right flank of the camp. It would appear from a write up of the battle on the British Battles website that Warwick had been is secret negotiations with Grey and as such expected him to defect. However he probably could not be certain.

 (source: https://www.britishbattles.com/wars-of-the-roses/battle-of-northampton/)

To reflect this in the game I propose that Grey & Catsby’s command cards are excluded from the playing deck until the Yorkist forces actually reach the barricades. At which point in time they are then shuffled in for the following turn.

When either of these cards is drawn a dice is rolled on a 4,5,6 the forces of Grey (and Catsby) declare for the Yorkists.

On a 1-3 they have decided that their loyalties now lie with the King.

Both sides can influence this die roll by…

-2 if already attacked by Yorkists (remember they cannot move until activated)

-1 for if Lancastrian CNC is within 12” of Grey (exclude Grey & Catsby)

+1 if either March/Warwick within 12” of Grey

-1 for each two white tokens held by Lancastrians (round up)

+1 for each two red tokens held by Yorkists (round up)

 

Example:

The Earl of March reaches the barricades and is within 12” of Grey, unfortunately Buckingham is 16” away. At this point in the battle the Yorkists have lost 5 white tokens and the Lancastrians two red tokens.

The dice is rolled by the player commanding Grey, The die is modified by +1 for March, and a further +1 for tokens held. It is then modified by -3 for the white tokens held by the Lancastrians. The final dice roll is modified by -1.

A four is rolled once modified it becomes a three and Grey decides that as the battle appears to be going the Kings way he will fight for the crown.

 

The impact of treachery

Should Grey remain allied to the King all of his troops take one disarray token (afterall they were expecting to turn coat) but forward going they fight on the Kings side.

However should Grey switch allegiance to the Yorkists each unit must make a morale test at -1 immediately. Those deciding to depart leave the field.

 

 

The Battlefield

The Battle ground itself was relatively flat and in areas particularly boggy thanks to the heavy rain and proximity to the river. The key feature of the battle are the defensive fortifications of the Lancastrians. To support this game I have built 12ft of ramparts and have incorporated these into the defensive gun positions built for my ECW games

The barricades themselves are in fact a combination of ditches and earthen ramparts perhaps topped and faced with stakes. It is suggested that the Lancastrians wanted to recreate the events that destroyed the English army at Castillion earlier in the hundreds year war. In effect, they wanted to use their sizeable artillery train and archers from a defensive position. The weather or another reason caused the guns not to fire. It has been suggested that the captain of Henry's artillery was assassinated only a few days earlier and his absence might have had an impact on the guns. Personally I think the weather must have been the major factor as surely there would have been others within the train to mix the powder. Indeed the wet conditions may well have made mixing impossible. 

The barricades will cause any unit to cross them one disarray token and all units defending the barricades have their armour raised by one factor.


 Deployment

The first map is a proposed view of the battle - with Grey on the Left Lancastrian Wing





The second map shows the encampment with its back to the river. We will however use this deployment.




 

 

 

 

The Table 

With the deployment settled I could set up the table. Looking from the River Nene we can see the Lancastrian defences. The Abbey can be seen in the far distance.

My Zulu War tents were pressed into action for the encampment. Must get some gaily coloured medieval ones !



Looking across the battlefield.


Across to the defences - the gun emplacements were built for my ECW games



A view from the Abbey with Eleanor's Cross bottom left. I know it should not be a celtic cross.






 

The Orders of Battle

 

Lancastrian – 6,000 men

Deployment

Commander

Forces

Number of Figures

Number of Units

Points

 

Henry V1

1 x MAA (veteran)

12

1

27

 

Buckingham (CnC)

2 x Men at Arms (Vet)

24

2

52

 

Beaumont

2 x Bill

2 x Bow

48

4

48

 

Thorpe

2 x Bow

24

2

24

 

Lucy

2 x bow

24

2

24

 

Shrewsbury

1 x Men at Arms

1 x Bow

24

2

36

 

Northumberland

2 x Bill

2 x Bow

48

4

24

 

Grey

1 x Men at Arms

1 x Bow

24

2

36

 

Catsby

2 x Bill

2 x Bow

48

4

24

 

Artillery

4 x light artillery

12

4

36

 

Total

 

288

27

331

 

Ratio

 

1 fig = 21men

 

 

 

Yorkist – 10,000 men

Deployment

Commander

Forces

Number of Figures

Number of Units

Points

 

Warwick (CnC) - Hero

2 x Men at Arms (Vet)

1 X Bow

36

3

66

 

Abergavenny

2 x Bill

1 x Bow

36

3

36

 

Scrope

2 x Bill

2 x Bow

48

4

48

 

Say & Sele

1 x Bill

2 x Bow

48

3

36

 

March (Hero)

2 x Men at Arms (Vet)

1 X Bow

36

3

66

 

Essex

2 x Bill

2 x Bow

48

4

48

 

Cromwell

2 x Bill

2 x Bow

48

4

48

 

Kent (Fauconberg)

2 x Men at Arms

24

2

48

 

Stanley

2 x Bill

2 x Bow

48

4

48

 

Hastings

2 x Bill

2 x Bow

48

4

48

 

 

 

468

34

492

 

 

 

1 fig = 21men

1.26

1.48

 

 

Estimates for Lancastrian forces vary from 6000 to 10000 men whereas Yorkists are believed to have had between 10000 to 15000 men. To keep things simple I have elected that both sides will start with the lower of these two numbers.

Both sides enjoy a figure ratio of around 1/30 and the points are almost exactly 50% bigger for the Yorkists.

The Battlefield defences

To bring this game to life I had to spend the weekend building the Lancastrian defences. I rushed these so they are not as perfect as I would have liked.

Starting off with hardboard I cut out a rough lay out


I then glued down some polystyrene sheets and shaped these using a hot foam cutter


Once the fixing glue had dried these were coated in interior filler


Once dry they were coated in pva and sand. Once again I waited for them to dry and then painted brown


With the base coat dry they were drybrushed up with a lighter brown


Finally I could then add static grass.


Sitting atop the ramparts are some home made Cheval de Frises (medieval barb wire). These were made from a variety of long sticks (namely chop sticks) drilled through and skewers glued through.


the battle report can be found HERE .




18 comments:

  1. Lovely opening post. What my eye caught was in your excommunication paragraph, where you talk about tokens NOT being given to the enemy, by implication Meaning that tokens are given to the enemy.

    I thought that I had got my head around this. In my first game, I handed tokens over to the the other side (i.e. to add to theirs) as per the suggested wording in the rules, but found that with a lot of too and fro of losses, armies would diminish, but each side still had enough tokens to always ‘pay their debt’ even up to the point of the armies absolutely crashing with casualties.

    Since then, I have assumed that lost tokens are handed back to ‘the bank’ and not to the other person’s pot and that way army destruction happens around the 50% mark depending upon the presence of skirmish / artillery and daunted units still alive and well.

    have I got this wrong?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Norm, ref tokens for excommunication. The Lancastrians will lose 1d6 tokens and hand to the 'bank' - in otherwords they will break sooner. During the game we pass tokens to the other side - they cannot use them but rather keep a tally of what is left and how quickly the enemy might break. Hope that is clear. All of our games have shown armies breaking around the 50% mark. Cheers

      Delete
    2. Ah thanks, that is my own conclusion, I think the wording in the rules could be tighter on the point. Thanks.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for a comprehensive guide to how you went aobut setting up the battle. I look forward to the game itself and I imagine it will be tough to assualt those field defences. Weather and treachery add a nice level of uncertainty to this game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Steve - hope there is not too much uncertainty

      Delete
  3. The battle situation looks so interesting as presented. With possibility of treachery and a variable effect of excommunication, this battle could have much in replayability. Handsome table too. I look forward to battle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you- battle report will be up post game

      Delete
  4. Looks amazing! I always admire how much work you put into preparing the table for the game. Enjoy your game! I like the weather condition generator and I am stealing it for my games.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Excellent research Eric, this is shaping up to be a very interesting scenario with the possibility of artillery and treachery occurring and the moral effect of excommunication. Looking forward to the battle. Cheers Greg

    ReplyDelete
  6. Eric
    Excellent as usual, in terms of Greys treachery did he fight or just help the Yorkists over the defences ? I think I would be tempted not to let him fight but for his troops to help Yorkist over unit for unit . Either way this is going to be another really good game

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The battle report will reveal what happened...;-)

      Delete
  7. It's shaping up to be a classic encounter. I like the defenses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a classic - check out the battle report when it gets published.

      Delete
  8. I am here to give my testimony about Dr Ose  who helped me in my life, i want to inform the public how i was cured from (HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS) by dr Ose spiritual, i visited different hospital but they gave me list of drugs like Famvir, Zovirax, and Valtrex which is very expensive to treat the symptoms and never cured me. I was browsing through the Internet searching for remedy on HERPES and i saw comment of people talking about how dr Ose spiritual cured them. when i contacted him he gave me hope and send a Herbal medicine to me that i took and it seriously worked for me, my HERPES result came out negative. I am so happy as i am sharing this testimony. My advice to you all who thinks that their is no cure for herpes that is Not true just contact him and get cure from dr Ose spirirtual healing spell cure of all kinds of sickness you may have. penis enlargement
    Remember delay in treatment leads to death email him @ {oseremenspelltemple@gmail.com} whatsapp  +234813 648 2342 
    https://www.facebook.com/Dr-odion-spell-temple-110513923938220/ 

    ReplyDelete