Monday, 4 October 2021

Battle of Tewkesbury - a 28mm Wargame - part 1

 Good Morning Folks

Cannot believe that it is now October ! As the evenings draw in and the temperature drops the use of the shed starts to diminish but there is a real sense of purpose within my gaming group to complete our ramble through the Wars of the Roses battles before we get to winter. Tonight we are going to refight the penultimate game in our plan - the Battle of Tewkesbury. As before this post is going to be a 2 parter with the action report following later this week.

Tonight's set up



By chance I visited Tewkesbury in the summer with Mrs Shed. It is an interesting place and the Abbey is a stunning building. They have clearly embraced the historic significance of this place as many of the approaching roads are festooned with flags of the known combatants some 500 plus years ago.



Just outside the town is the only part of the battlefield not developed. This was bloody meadow the site of the Lancastrian rout.



Blood Meadow - Summer of 2021



Background

Yorkists on left facing the Lancastrian forces

The Battle of Tewkesbury was fought on May 4th 1471.

Formed into three battles the Lancastrians took up a defensive position a mile south of the town of Tewkesbury. To their rear were the Rivers Avon and the Severn. Tewkesbury Abbey was just behind the Lancastrian centre. The Lancastrian position was characterised by hedges, woods, embankments and 'evil lanes' 

The Lancastrian right flank was commanded by the Duke of Somerset, the centre by Lord Wenlock and the left by the Earl of Devon. The deposed King, Henry VI's son, Prince Edward (not the King Edward) was present on the field within the centre battle of Wenlock's.

Like the Lancastrians King Edwards forces were arrayed in three battles. He commanded the centre whilst his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester fought on his left and Lord Stanley to the right. Both sides numbered around 6000 men. 

To the left of Edwards position was a thickly weooded hill on which the King placed 200 mounted spears. Their orders were to protect his flank and to harry the enemy when possible.

As the Yorkists moved towards the Lancastrian position, they found that the ground was so broken up by woods, ditches, and embankments that it was difficult to attack in any sort of order. However, the Yorkist archers and artillery showered the Lancastrians with arrows and shot. 

Either to escape the cannonade and volleys of archery or because he saw an opportunity to outflank King Edward's isolated battle, the Duke of Somerset led at least part of his men via some of the "evil lanes" to attack Edward's in the centre. Although taken by surprise, Edward's men resisted stoutly, beating back Somerset's attack among the hedges and banks. At the vital moment, the 200 spearmen Edward had earlier posted in the woods far out on the left attacked Somerset from his own right flank and rear, as Gloucester's battle also joined in the fighting.

Somerset's battle was routed, and his surviving troops tried to escape across the Severn. Most were cut down as they fled. The long meadow astride the Colnbrook leading down to the river is known to this day as "Bloody Meadow". Somerset galloped up to Wenlock, commanding the centre, and demanded to know why Wenlock had failed to support him. According to legend (recounted in Edward Hall's chronicle, written several years afterwards though from first-hand accounts), he did not wait for an answer but dashed out Wenlock's brains with a battleaxe before seeking sanctuary in the Abbey.

 As its morale collapsed, the rest of the Lancastrian army tried to flee, but the Swilgate became a deadly barrier. Many who succeeded in crossing it converged on a mill south of the town of Tewkesbury and a weir in the town itself, where there were crossings over the Avon. Here, too, many drowned or were killed by their pursuers.

Among the leading Lancastrians who died on the field were Somerset's younger brother John Beaufort, Marquess of Dorset, and the Earl of Devon. The Prince of Wales was found in a grove by some of Clarence's men. He was summarily executed, despite pleading for his life to Clarence, who had sworn allegiance to him in France barely a year before.

Many of the other Lancastrian nobles and knights sought sanctuary in Tewkesbury Abbey. King Edward attended prayers in the Abbey shortly after the battle. He granted permission for the Prince of Wales and others slain in the battle to be buried within the Abbey or elsewhere in the town without being quartered as traitors as was customary. However, two days after the battle, Somerset and other leaders were dragged out of the Abbey and ordered by Gloucester and the Duke of Norfolk to be put to death after perfunctory trials.[20] Among them were Hugh Courtenay, cousin of the Earls of Devon, and Sir John Langstrother, the prior of the military order of St. John.

The Abbey was not officially a sanctuary. It had to be reconsecrated a month after the battle, following the violence done within its precincts.


Gaming Tewkesbury

Winning the Game

Either side will win the game if they break the enemy or kill King Edward, or Lord Wenlock (aka Prince Edward)

There are a few features in the game that require details

1. All of Edwards artillery is placed on the left flank under the command of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. It was this superiority that forced Somerset to advance and push towards the centre to avoid the guns.

2. Edward has placed a single unit of Light horse in the woods on his left flank. These troops are hidden and may not be shot at until they exit the woods. 

3. The hedges will add disarray every time these are crossed

The 200 spears hidden in the woods



Orders of Battle

Both sides were estimated to have around 6000 men with the Yorkists outnumbering the Lancastrians in both archers and artillery. 

As such the forces in unit counts are comparable but the Yorkists field more guns, have one extra archer unit and a greater number of men at arms. I reckon King Edward could call up[on more retainers.

There is some discussion that the Lancastrian army fielded French mercenaries so their forces include a number of pike replacing bills and archers. The commands are taken directly from the Pole Axed source books.

As we will be playing Never Mind the Billhooks all commanders bar Edward are rated as standard. Edward has heroic status. 

King Edwards retinue



Lancastrian – est 6000 men


Leader

Units

#units

#figures

Sir Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (BC)

1 x Sk Archers

1 x Men at Arms

2

 

Sir John Beaufort, Marquis of Dorset

2 x Pike

 

2

 

Sir Hugh Courtenay of Boconnoc

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir Gervais Clifton of Wilfords

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir John Wenlock/Prince of wales (BC)

1 x Sk Archers

2 x Men at Arms

2

 

Sir John Langestrother

2 x Pike

 

2

 

Sir John Lewkenor of Goringe

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir John Delves

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir Nicholas Hervey

 

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir John Courtenay, Earl of Devon (BC)

1 x Sk Archers

1 x Men at Arms

2

 

Sire Walter Courtenay of Exeter

2 x Pike

 

2

 

Sir Seintclere Pomeroy

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir Thomas Fulford

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir Edmund Hampden of Beckley

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Artillery

1 Gun

1

 

 

 

29

 

The Lancastrian Army




 Yorkist – est 6000 men

Leader

Units

#units

#figures

Edward 1V (BC)

1 x Sk Archers

2 x Men at Arms

3

 

Sir Fulke Bouchier, Lord Bouchier

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir Walter Blount, Lord Mountjoy

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Thomas Fizalan of Arundel, Lord Maltrevers

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester BC

1 x Sk Archers

2 x Men at Arms

3

 

Sir John Howard

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir Walter Devereux, Baron Ferrers

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir William Hastings, Lord Hastings (BC)

1 x Sk Archers

1 x Men at Arms

2

 

Sir John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir Edmund Grey, Earl of Kent

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir Henry Grey, Lord Codnor

1 x Bill

1 x Bow

2

 

Sir Maurice Berkeley of Beverstone

1 x Light Cavalry

1

 

Artillery

Guns (with Gloucester)

3

 

Total

 

29

 



Awaiting Orders

So as mentioned the game is being fought tonight - full report in the next few days

See you soon

 

Battle Report here





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