Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Shelton Railway Cutting, 1863

After being denied a victory at Hackett's Farm, then mauled at Gettysburg, Hardtack is feeling a bit dejected.  Enough of all this defending and getting buffeted about - next time he's going to attack!  

Unfortunate, then, that the next game would be the railway cutting...
In late 1863, Hardtack brings his division up and discovers a Rebel force defending the line of a railway embankment - a formidable position, and one he intends to assault immediately, with extreme violence.  Victory or defeat is an irrelevance by now: he wants prestige, glory - epic renown!

Dodging a wood near his setup zone, Hardtack moves up in column.

The waiting Rebels
The Confederates have a veritable grand-battery of artillery present!  Hardtack has virtually nothing, so there's no chance of sitting back for a fight - it's a straight-out rush to close the distance as soon as possible.  

The terrain in front is painfully open - only a small hillock for cover
As the columns move up at the quickstep, the Rebels reveal they have heavy rifles and start banging away at the columns - Hardtack is a distant, but dense, target.  

Much like the man himself.
The plan is to march in column across the enemy front, get behind the cover of the hill, left-turn into line, and then move forward in one compact mass to strike the enemy line with repeated charges.  
However, long-range fire was not part of the plan.
Things go quite painfully slowly, with a constant drain on Union units as casualties slowly mount - and they're not even in position yet!

"I knew I should've done their parades under live fire..."
Finally, the Union line is ready and begins moving forward - largely side-stepping the guns now, but the Rebel infantry are ready and waiting.

Oh, it's all going wrong - but at least, hopefully, in an epic manner!
Almost there - regiments are losing bases every turn to this ridiculous artillery fire - shame that Hardtack is learning all the problems of attacking (concentrating your force, using covering terrain to stop line-of-sight) in 1863, rather than 1861 when everybody had far less artillery to point out mistakes with!

Critical musket range - almost in charge range!
At the crucial moment: disaster strikes!  Some slack-jawed yokel with Secessionist sympathies has tipped off the Confederates to all the good advantages of the ground, and the Federals run straight into a killing-zone.  [Or, to put it in games-terms, I held two cards which would allow me to make a move-and-a-half, plus fire and charge.  Enough to give me a crucial edge over the last few yards - or would've been, if the Confederates hadn't played 'Southern Sympathizers' and removed them from my hand, right before contact!]

Shelter, at long last!  Some welcome defilade behind the embankment.
Musketry fire breaks out, with each side shooting over the railway-line. Finally, some Rebels are dying! 

To make things even worse, the insufferably smug Col. Mottram leaps up onto the tracks for all manner of heroic posturing - and somehow doesn't get shot down.  Hardtack can't catch a break, today.
Violent work - the old 122nd NY is wiped out altogether, the survivors pelting off to the rear.  The heroic Col. Ganderpoke is among those dead on the field.  

Oh, it's all just too horrible!

The subject of many a Lithograph, no doubt (Symbolism, anyone?)
Robbed of his chance to charge, Hardtack can only watch as the Confederates duly pile on the misery by doing so themselves!

"Don't you know playing on railway lines can be dangerous?"
The chance of repulsing the attack briefly flickers up, but although the 1/11th Massachusetts veterans do their bit, and so do the 13th Delaware cavalry, the colored recruits of the 154th New York have clearly been put through too much for one day - they are pushed back by the Confederates after a close fight.  

Still, they do gain a hero in their Colonel, so at least that's something.
It's over, and the result is a terrible, terrible defeat.  Hardtack's division has been mauled, and undeniably given a first-rate whipping on the battlefield.  

Hardtack never thought he'd look back on the Gettysburg wheat-field nostalgically...
Back, then, to camp for the winter.  Although he took a lot of losses, he actually doesn't lose any regiments wholesale - although the survivors are largely a more sober, circumspect bunch, unsurprisingly.  Two new large regiments, the 70th New York and the 57th Pennsylvania, are attached to his division to help bolster it.  Also, at long last, he gets two sections of Parrotts which give him a (solitary) full-strength battery of guns.  Hardtack is also moved enough by the experience of covering open ground to hire a Scouting expert, to try and give him some more information on future battlefields.  Following in the footsteps of Colonel Mottram, another glory-hunting Hero colonel gets himself transferred into Hardtack's division, to head up a regiment.  At least Hardtack's command has a reputation as a fighting force, to be attracting all these fire-eaters.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Barbarossa Campaign - a Win, and a Loss

I once posted before about 'The Barbarossa Campaign' solo game, by Victory Point Games.  Marvelous stuff, so I've been giving it a bit of an airing recently and made some loose notes about two games with it.  One saw my invasion of the USSR crash down to defeat in the smoking ruins of Berlin; while the second game turned out in an Axis triumph all the way to the hinterland beyond the Volga.  So, with these two different outcomes, how did it come about?

I decided each time to try and pursue - for the sake of curiosity - the alternate strategic mode of exploitation, which would have meant Germany making a much more concerted effort to utilise (i.e. plunder) the economic resources of occupied Russia, as opposed to the lawless chaos they actually took place.


The Axis invasion ploughed through the western Soviet Union, although a-historically slowly when compared to the real thing - Moscow is safely deep in the Soviet rear by Winter of the year, and there is even a minor disaster when Armour losses have climbed so steeply I'm forced to temporarily abandon my 'exploitation' economic focus in favour of rebuilding panzers to get my offensive force back up to scratch.  Even so, I've had a good broad-front advance, and all portions of the line are well advanced for further thrusts next year.

This year curiously goes far better than the previous.  Soviet losses mount with yet more encirclements, and I'm even able to switch back to 'exploitation' by the Autumn - having restored my Armour strength to a decent level.  Leningrad is under siege, Ukraine is occupied, and then the big achievement comes in the winter - Moscow itself is captured, a full year after the historical German assault on it failed.  The initiative is flowing strongly my way!  Another war-shaping occurrence takes place when the 'Grozny Event' randomly pops up - German high command has prioritized the capture of the Caucasus oilfields, which means I could get a victory-clinching bonanza of initiative-points.  Next year must clearly be focused on holding Moscow while I attack in the South.

In the springtime mud, I can't do any big blitzes so I knock off a few front-line targets at each end of the line.  Sevastopol is taken, and - by freak chance - so is Leningrad.  I'm even pressing on towards Archangel, and it begins to feel like I'm overseeing a Soviet collapse!  However, a surge in the Allied industrial production snuffs out all this optimistic feeling pretty swiftly: before I know it my lead has slipped away and suddenly we've got 'contested initiative' - the Soviets will be increasingly active with their counter-attacks, from now on.   This proves to be a disaster for me, as my attempts to expand into the Caucasus are repeatedly frustrated.  Every time I begin to advance south-east out of the Don bend, Soviet counter-attacks threaten to cut off masses of troops gathered there.  I spend the year fighting see-saw battles around the Don and Donets rivers, cutting my way out of encirclements and similarly failing to keep Russians 'in the bag'.  By the end of the year I've even lost Rostov, the gateway to the Caucasus.  Even up in the (relatively) quiet northern sector, although I'm still holding Moscow it's now at the tip of an increasingly precarious salient.  Suddenly, things aren't looking too good at all!

 With Soviet armour now reaching top-class quality, I'm soon in serious trouble.  I counter-attack in the south, retaking Rostov and the Crimea.  In response, a Red Army offensive explodes in the north; I'm forced to finally concede Moscow is untenable, and relinquish my year-long occupation.  I finally stabilize the front from Leningrad to Smolensk, but the initiative has now sunk down to 'Soviet Initiative' - no more 'blitz' attacks possible from me.  Seeing the writing on the wall, I switch my economic focus to 'Defenses', hoping to buy time and cling on to what I've got.  

The war seems lost, but clearly nobody told my allies: with truly abysmal timing, the random event 'Axis Allies Fully Commit' turns up.  Rumania, Hungary etc. all now decide to abandon sanity and lash themselves to the sinking ship - smart move, guys!  With hard battling in the south, I manage to hold both Kharkov & Rostov through the summer.  Things begin to disintegrate in the north, as Smolensk falls and then even Minsk is lost.  I take advantage of a hare-brained 'Propaganda Offensive' event to counter-attack at Minsk with the Gross Deutschland unit, retaking it to boost notional morale (clearly the symbolism of Minsk being captured really meant a lot back on the home front, somehow!)  Problem is however, that the Soviets are growing ludicrously powerful.  By shifting my weight north, both Kharkov and Rostov are lost, followed by Sevastopol in the winter.  I try to put together a line on the Dnepr river, only for a Soviet Guards Tank unit to blast right through it.  I fortify Minsk and Kiev as my two anchor-points for the front line which now runs Leningrad-Minsk-Odessa.  Initiative sinks down to 'Axis Collapse', which sounds about right historically speaking, although we are still inside Russia rather than in Poland - I'm doing better in terms of occupied territory, at least.

With pretty much nothing left to lose, Hitler busies himself with 'OKH Purges' - clearly the chance to settle scores with internal enemies is a greater priority than the Red Army.  The logic of this swiftly becomes obvious as the Spring offensives batter away all the remains of the line.  Both the fortresses of Kiev and Minsk are taken, Odessa is lost, and Leningrad is isolated up with the Finns as the Soviets plow west to take Riga.  The extended front-line is clearly too much to hold at this stage in the game, and Soviet advances accelerate all the time.  Summer sees Poland change hands with Konigsberg stormed, Warsaw encircled, my last Panzer force trapped in Eastern Poland, and Rumania's oil-fields cut off.  At this stage the game comes to an end, with me clinging on around Berlin and Vienna.  It is totaled up as a 'Soviet Minor Victory'.


1941 Summer
Things leap of to a flying start as I begin with the 'Lebensraum' event card - a bonus Panzer unit to add to my reserves, right from the off!  Clearly a bit more serious pre-invasion planning has taken place, which suits me.  I launch my big invasion, encircling enemy armies and taking cities.  Brest-Litovsk, Kiev & Riga all fall, and Minsk only holds out by pure chance.  Frustratingly, despite all the advantages, I don't get enough initiative-points to bag myself a valuable victory point.

1941 Autumn
Another stroke of luck - I get to upgrade a Panzer unit to an SS Panzer, which gives me much greater attacking power.  It promptly tears off, single-handedly taking Eastern Ukraine by blazing all the way from Kiev to Kharkov.  Such a precarious salient looks certain to be cut off, but incredibly the Soviet counterattacks fail - far luckier than I deserve!  Soviet attacks in the north prove more difficult to handle however, as I encircle a pocket around Minsk only for the Red Army to cut a way back to them, and they even isolate a Panzer unit in the woods south of Leningrad.  Things look precarious, and the imminent winter is likely to see Soviet attacks prove even more dangerous.

1941 Winter
Proof that there is no advantage like being up against a fool: the 'Soviet Purges' random event turns up - Stalin paralyses his high-command through the winter, sacking and arresting commanders he doesn't like the look of, which buys me a critical break from counter-attacks.  I manage to rescue my isolated Panzer corps, complete the encirclement around Minsk to belatedly take the city, and generally shore up my front line.  This has bee a far luckier turn of events than I've got any right to!

1942 Spring
A lucky 1941 has been a big help, but let's not fool around: Soviet industrial power will simply grow and grow, so I'll ultimately lose unless I win it this year by knockout - taking Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad.  The spring mud means no dramatic moves at first, so I expand slightly in the south to take Rostov and the fortress at Sevastopol.  The front-line has a strange 'bulge' shape, as many cities on the flanks still hold out while in the centre I'm deep into the Soviet Union.  

1942 Summer
More beneficial events - SS Infantry become available, increasing my city-taking potential.  I also get the 'Ukrainian Separatists' event, which just goes totally wrong - they are eliminated in their first attack, completely wasting the potential bonus.  I push on to take Smolensk on the way to Moscow, and Tallinn falls on the northern Baltic flank to tighten the screw on Leningrad.  My southern advance now occupies the bend of the Don river, just shy of Stalingrad.  All this impressive advance stuff does come at the cost of ignoring various other sites - the majority of the Black Sea coast is made up of Soviet enclaves, particularly Odessa, which the Romanians seem completely unable to reduce.  

1942 Autumn
The Soviets can't catch a break - their 'Soviet Workmanship' event slows down their Industrial development, but their first ever Guards unit does appear in Moscow.  Odessa finally falls, Moscow is assaulted, along with Voronezh.  All the major objectives are in range of being attacked next turn.

1942 Winter
The 'Operational Pause' event brings in the Gross Deutschland unit, so I now have a wealth of special units to attack the cities.  Leningrad falls, then Moscow, along with Voronezh and finally Stalingrad itself!  I build fortified hedgehogs on them, which hold out against the Soviet counterattacks, and then that's it.  Soviet defeat, and a collapse of organised resistance.

I was, as you'll see, quite ridiculously lucky in my card draws and random events.  The Soviets never got good attacks that let them begin building up Guards and Tank units; my own invasion got a streak of bonus attacking units to drive it, and I managed to succeed in all my crucial attacks.  I don't think the 'exploitation' economic strategy made much of a difference in Game 2, as it was victory by lucky knockout.  Game 1 seems to indicate that it could at least have led to a war fought for longer, far deeper in Russia.  One other interesting point to note is that I couldn't get any victory points saved up in either game, which means that if I hadn't taken all the key cities, I would likely have come unglued and collapsed pretty swiftly.  

Interesting reminder that despite all the talk you often get in the history books that the Nazi invasion of the USSR was ultimately doomed to fail, 'should have' and 'probably' don't translate into 'certainly'.  With a lot more good fortune for the Axis side, and a far less active defence from the Soviets, and things could have been very much worse for the world.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Wheatfield, Gettysburg, 2nd July 1863

At the end of January - yes, I know, what with all the WOTR stuff it's taken me ages! - the Falkirk Club (FDWC) held a big Sunday bash for the Longstreet Campaign.  The result was a day-long multi-player fight, where we decided to add a bit of historical relativity by modelling on the second day at Gettysburg - four Union players holding Sickles' Salient around the Peach Orchard and the Wheat Field, against five attacking Rebels.

A massive, L-Shaped table required!

Looking north up the Emmitsburg Road - the Peach Orchard on the right; and the Sherfy Farm just visible opposite, among general farmland.
Hardtack himself took his place in the line, and was assigned the Wheatfield itself!  Somehow, it was pretty much inevitable that he'd wind up here, what with an artillery train the size of his.

Looking east along the Millerstown (Wheatfield) Road - more farmland, the small Stony Hill, then the Wheatfield itself along with Rose Woods next to it.
The multiplayer game did create one strange aspect - having to consider neighbouring brigades, and not just contracting your front to help yourself out, and leaving a friend's flank up in the air.  Definitely a bit of a mental adjustment from the one-on-one games fought before now!

HArdtack sets up in the Wheatfield and faces off against the Rebels emerging from Rose Woods.  Further back, other Federal brigades defend the road.

More Federals defending the Peach Orchard
The battle started off pretty badly for Hardtack, as the Rebels opposite him threw most of their weight at the end of his line, striking the two weak regiments - the 8th New Jersey and the 27th Pennsylvania - on the end of the line.  

The biggest disaster came on the right-flank of the Wheatfield however, as it turned out that the Rebels had assembled an artillery battery along the edge of Rose Woods - incredibly, it was even bigger than Hardtack's!  The massed cannon swiftly began pounding away at each other, but the Union guns were slowly hammered flat all through the day.
The Artillery batteries face off - it's like a duel, but far bigger!

Confederates take the Stony Hill objective out-house.
The Rebel line kept on moving forward in the field, while the Union kept falling back to deny them a 'killer' charge.  The constant drain of skirmishing fire weakened both sides, but the tide was undeniably pro-Confederate.
Hardtack's left gets hit by Tweng's brigade on the left, fighting back through the field.

The 8NJ and 27PA steadily give ground, with their neighbouring units falling back to maintain the line.

Elsewhere, Rebels break into the Peach Orchard

Lunch-break!  The Union line still holds, but now dented into all sorts of strange shapes - and there's a lot of Grey on the table!

Violent clashes neighbouring Hardtack's force as Schimmelfennig resists Bee's brigade. 

More Peach-Orchard combat.

More Rebels!  An extra brigade marches on.

Hardtack is almost losing the Wheatfield now, having given ground all the way back to the objective marker.

As above, but the 27PA gets pushed back in the middle of the line

A large panorama of the Peach Orchard, with the two fighting lines swaying back and forth.
Hardtack's veterans were finally compelled to relinquish their hold on the Wheat-field, but only after about ten turns of fall-backs and delays.  The Rebs finally charged in with 'Cold Steel' to rout the 27PA and 8NJ - battered out of existence, they fought down to the last!
The end!  the 8NJ and 27PA get forced out the field with heavy losses.  

Another 'big' view of the Peach Orchard from the south.
The break limit for Hardtack had definitely been reached, but the larger game meant that overall the game kept running - giving him time for a last-minute bit of destruction.  The 122NY regiment, under the command of the hero Col. Thucydides Ganderpoke, could now swing round and counter-charge the exhausted rebels - he duly did so, throwing them back temporarily and regaining the objective marker, but he was now isolated in a sea of Grey.  It was only going to be a forlorn hope, but it saved a bit of pride for the new-frantic Hardtack, at any rate!  
Hardtack is defeated, but the larger game runs on - his remaining regiments turn and engage the bunched Rebels.

The 122NY gets a charge in, routing an exhausted Rebel regiment and momentarily re-capturing the Wheatfield objective.  Nice, but it's all just ego-soothing by this point!
Unsurprisingly, the 122NY got hit from front and flank, so all six bases fled - about four hundred men.  A wise move, but a pretty poor show after two or three other regiments in the area have fought it out to the last. Let's just be grateful that the newspaper-men will only care about the heroic bit at the start...
The 122NY gets the predictable counter-attack that routs it.  Still, that's an Epic Point in the bag, and right now I'll take all I can get!

Battery B is cut down by flanking rebels - yet more guns lost!

The end of the day.  Barring the Colored 45th MA regiment that sat out on the flank, there's not much left that's recognisable from Hardtack's old Brigade.  

Hardtack: "The map's that way up?"
It's over then, and Hardtack has been beaten - not just beaten, but his division has been trashed and blasted out of all recognizable shape!  His vast artillery-train of experienced gunners: gone. Prestigious old regiments like the 8th New Jersey or the 83rd Ohio: gone.  It's enough to make his little lead heart skip a beat.  Of the entire force it was the veterans in the filed that took most of the losses - the only relatively decent-shaped regiment is the 45th Massachusetts Colored infantry, who sat out on the flank for most of the day, covering the neighbouring division's flank.  

So, back to camp and to re-shape his force.  Only a lone battery with a single gun-section of Light Rifles has been salvaged.  The Delaware cavalry have at least toughened up to veteran status, thanks to their energetic charging on the far flank.  Most other 'old' regiments are ground down to nubs - 3 or 4 bases, basically.  HQ sends fresh drafts of reinforcements, attaching the 31st Vermont regiment, and then also the 154th New York Colored Infantry Regiment - combined with the survivors of the 45th MA, this means Hardtack's division is a remarkably mixed force - predominantly white troops, but not far off a 50:50 split.  Given that Hardtack is a crusty old pre-war army man and not an Abolitionist (he lacks the character card, although it would aid him greatly) this probably means a few teething troubles integrating them all - at least for a while.  Not that he has much choice, however.  Lee's army may have lost at Gettysburg ultimately, but the war still goes on!

Oh, and fate has one last cruel trick to play on him - the 154th NY arrives with, of all things, a ready-attached Hero (courtesy of a campaign card).  Its Colonel Elijah Mottram, possibly the smuggest and most irritating man in the Union army, whose sole purpose is to irritate Hardtack.  Presumably it'll be off to the front again before long, just so Hardtack can get some peace and quiet.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Battle of Baunton, 1461

The battle of Baunton, 6th March, 1461

The peaceful fields of Baunton, with the river Churn flowing by

The original deployment, Lancastrians facing North and Yorkists facing South

The armies assembled!

The Lancastrian horde

Buckingham's men in the foreground, along with Prince Edward's troops in front

Yorkists - Salisbury's numerous right-flank Ward
Turn 1
Things start with a general advance on the Lancastrian side, as Henry Beaufort pushes on aggressively with his men on the left flank, and the cavalry in the centre begin to trot forwards.  On the Lancastrian right however, all is still.  Some confusion, or a mix-up over signals, perhaps?  Somerset casts some worried glances to his right, wondering what could be wrong, as messengers gallop frantically off to bring news.

The initial moves

The full tabletop, seen from the east
Turn 2

On the Yorkist side, the battle-line moves forward to finish deploying along the ridge-line in the centre and slightly beyond on the flanks.  The movement forward by Salisbury cuts the range to Beaufort’s oncoming horde, and an archery exchange swiftly breaks out.  Casualties begin to climb, and one of the early notables to fall is the Lancastrian Lord Moleyns.  Frustrated at watching the cavalry manoeuver to deploy between Eldon Wood and Wiggold Copse, Somerset determines to set off himself for the mysteriously inert right wing, and find out what the hold-up is!

First advances

Turn 3
The battle continues to develop in this lop-sided way as the conflict develops west-to-east along the line.  The archery fire continues on the Lancastrian left, with the Yorkists’ numerous archers taking a deadly toll – now William Tailboys of Kyme becomes yet another captain to be randomly struck down by an ill-fated arrow, threatening the whole advance.  Beaufort has now lost two of the four captains he was relying on, through pure chance in the arrow-storm.  In the centre, the cavalry mass continues to mill around between the two woods and deploying very slowly, absent any direction.  The man who should be providing this – army commander, the Duke of Somerset – is currently on the Lancastrian right, investigating trouble.   Buckingham seems full of excuses for delays, and intent on foot-dragging – plus he seems to find a curious way of dragging every conversation round to the post of Chancellor of England.  Somerset could be forgiven a surge of frustration: here they are on the very field of battle, with the noise of his own son’s ward already engaged in the distance, and here’s Buckingham choosing this moment to start negotiating over his rewards for not just dropping out!  Still, not all Lancastrians on the right wing are so calculating: the front rank is mostly lords and retainers of Prince Edward (who is bloodthirsty as only an 8-year-old boy can be) under the command of the hard-nosed Andrew Trollope, who eagerly take their cue from Somerset to begin advancing.  

Beaufort's advance hit by the arrow-storm

Lancastrian cavalry prepares to charge in the centre

Turn 4
he first combats begin!  The Lancastrian left under Henry Beaufort strikes the Yorkist line and desperate fighting erupts.  The Yorkists are numerous but unable to bring all their numbers to bear thanks to a bend in the river Churn; while the Lancastrians are somewhat scattered and attacking piecemeal, due to Beaufort’s eagerness to get them into combat and out of the arrow-storm.  Initially things seem to be going well, as the Yorkist Baron William Bonville is cut down with a mortal wound amidst the struggle.  On the Lancastrian right Trollope continues to press on at a fast pace and pulls roughly level with the rest of the army, but Buckingham is dawdling in the rear.  Finally, Somerset’s efforts at persuasion bring rewards – in return for the Chancellorship of England, Buckingham is once again confirmed as 100% Lancastrian and agrees to join in.  Somerset can only hope that his delays haven’t proved fatal!

Beaufort's attack goes in on the Yorkist right

Turn 5
The Lancastrian left has inflicted much destruction, but it swiftly becomes obvious that the more numerous Yorkists are able to sustain the fight.  Lancastrians begin to edge back, and then disaster strikes – Ranulph Dacre, Baron of Gilisland is nearly swamped, his men rout and he is himself killed in the chaos that becomes a general panic.  Beaufort has to pull the remaining fighters back to stabilise his line, and fall back onto his reserve – the slow-moving Scottish mercenary contingent which is slowly working its way up to Baunton.

In the centre, the cavalry have finally assembled themselves into a line for a charge.  The delay has gone on for so long however, that Edward of York on the ridge in front of them has cycled his spearmen into the rear and brought his own household troops to the front, so he can begin firing with his longbows on the inviting target.  They duly do so, sending riders tumbling out of the saddles as the line continues to mill around helplessly.  Elsewhere, the Yorkists in front of the Lancastrian right have moved forward as far as the Welsh Way Road, where Trollope is determined to engage them.  To the rear all the Lancastrian host is now in motion, promising to finally bring to bear all the strength it has against the Yorkist centre and left.

Initial attacks repelled on the Left and Centre of the Lancastrian line

The tabletop version of the above

Trollope advances on the Lancastrian right

Cavalry charges in the centre

Beaufort pulls back to his Scots mercenaries, on the left

Turn 6
Beaufort’s battered survivors fall back on the Lancastrian second line, and Salisbury is practically inert in his efforts to pursue.  Congested rear ranks and disordered front ones all combine to mean he cannot interfere as Beaufort swiftly withdraws.  Fighting persists in isolation, with Baron Ralph Greystoke's and Bonville's men still grappling with each other even as the rest of the field gives way.  In the centre the slaughter of the mounted knights continues, as the Lancastrian horse struggles to make headway through the Yorkist fire.  On the Lancastrian right however, Trollope has clearly determined on victory or death.  Charging forward, he strikes the Yorkist line and shatters his opponents.  Captain John Fogge of Ashford is swept away and cut down in the rout, while Trollope’s men press onward towards the retinue of the Duke of Norfolk – their next target.

Trollope slams into Ashford, cutting down half his men!

Slaughter in the centre, as Irish kerns are ridden down

The situation - Trollope pushes on the Yorkist left, while the Lancastrian centre approaches

Turn 7
Slowly, Salisbury finally gets the large Yorkist right to begin shuffling forward and begin building some momentum.  Baron Greystoke’s last Lancastrians flee and are slaughtered, the last remainder of the Lancastrian attack finally gone.  Beaufort now prepares his survivors and the Scots to hold out, with the Lancastrian left now undeniably on the defensive.  In the centre the cavalry forges on through the mud and up the slope, pounding into the Yorkist line.  John Neville, Baron Raby is wounded and captured against York’s own household troops, but Thomas de Scales manages to charge home against some of the Irish levies watching York’s flank.  The unarmoured kerns are slaughtered and pay a heavy price, but incredibly manage to hold their ground – at least long enough to let the Burgundian pikemen in reserve force their way to the front and repel the cavalry.  The chaos of the mounted attack and the high Irish casualties break up the pike formation however, so even though they triumph as expected, they do so at a disproportionately high cost to themselves when gaps appear in their line and horsemen charge within.  On the Lancastrian right, Trollope drives onward into the Yorkists.  James Touchet, 5th Lord Audley fights at his side, and manages to kill Thomas Parr of Kendal, routing yet more of Rutland’s men and leaving only the second line of Norfolk to oppose them, slightly back and up on the ridge-line.

The battlefield, viewed from the West

Turn 8
Relative peace descends on the west of the field, with both sides collecting themselves.  In the centre, the mounted attack is spent – shattered by high casualties in close combat or whittled away by the longbow fire on approach.  The terribly few survivors retreat back by Eldon Wood, as Somerset leads on his infantry to try and maintain the pressure on the battered Yorkist centre.  On the right, Trollope rushes ahead towards Norfolk, before pausing to unleash a point-blank volley of arrows into his men.  One arrow catches the Duke himself and kills him, leaving his appalled followers to face Trollope charging in – there really appears to be no stopping this bloodthirsty man! 

Cavalry battles in the Centre

Prince Edward's men, led by Trollope, advance on

Turn 9
Salisbury tries to force his advance, sending a group ahead under the leadership of Edward Neville, Baron Abergavenny, to engage the Lancastrians between Baunton village and Eldon Wood.  Abergavenny throws himself at the Scots under Walldingham, but the over-eager advance proves no more successful for the Yorkists than when the Lancastrians tried it!  His exhausted followers cannot break the Scots spear-wall, and rout when pressed – Neville being cut down with his fleeing men.  Beaufort leads from the front, inspiring the best out of his remaining troops.  Beyond this, the rest of the field experiences a moment of relative peace – across the Lancastrian centre and right, troops gather and brace themselves for the renewed assaults that are imminent as the lines pull ever closer together, arrows flying ceaselessly back and forth.    

The Cavalry repulsed and spent - the infantry struggles up.

The battlefield.  In foreground, Beaufort holds off the Yorkists

Turn 10
Robert Ogle and Baron Southwick arrive in Salisbury’s ever-thickening line, battering against Beaufort’s exhausted survivors.  Somerset in the centre is trying to press more of his infantry forward, but due to the wreckage of the cavalry and the restricting woods to either side of him, they keep on struggling on piecemeal.  On the right however, there is only good news for the Lancastrians – Trollope’s men have crested the hilltop, the first Lancastrians to do so.  Alongside him is Henry Fitzhugh, with Buckingham’s men following on behind and not even managing to become engaged yet (although Lord Audley contrives to get himself killed by an archer.)  Rutland looks well and truly doomed, as he tries to rally the now-dead Norfolk’s followers.  

Scots at Baunton village are pressed by numerous Yorkists

Heavy attacks in the centre, and each side advances on its right-wing.

Turn 11
The Scots continue to hold out on the Lancastrian left, despite mounting losses on both sides.  Pretty much only the personal interventions of Beaufort himself are keeping the Lancastrians going.  In the centre, Somerset’s men attack up the ridge and are repulsed, but not without heavy losses on both sides – and Somerset ultimately has more strength to draw on, to say nothing of it being better quality (many of York’s troops are Irish levies and irregulars, around a core of his household retinue.)  On the right, Trollope’s hard fighting pays off as Norfolk’s men are finally routed and swept away.  Amongst the losses comes a great prize – Rutland, younger brother of the pretender himself, is taken prisoner!  Alongside Trollope comes yet more Lancastrians under Henry Fitzhugh, who charges in against Yorkist Baron Montagu’s men.  Both armies now seem to be in the condition of having their left-wing on the very brink of collapse.     

In the foreground, Trollope reaches the hilltop

Turn 12
Beaufort throws in yet more heroics to try and hold off the masses of Yorkist troops now closing in on him, and it can’t be done.  The last of his retinue is routed and the man himself is wounded, taken as prisoner on the field.  Only a tiny nugget of Scottish mercenaries still persist in the fight against Ogle’s men, while some levies of Longbowmen still infest Eldon Wood.  Besides this however, the Lancastrian left-wing has effectively been destroyed.  In the centre, Somerset’s attacks persist against the stubbornly unmoving –but ever thinner - Yorkist line.  There is an alarming moment when some household troops under Tudor break and run, against all the odds, but yet more of Somerset’s blue and white-liveried troops press ahead.  On the right, Trollope’s exhausted men are driven onwards once more, turning around the Yorkist battle-line which has been left leaderless by Rutland’s loss.  Fitzhugh adds to the scale of the success when he routs Montagu’s men.  Some of York’s flank-troops under John Dynham of Care-Dynham now mark the end of the main line, down below the ridge at the crossroads between the Fosse Way and the Welsh Way – who now have Lancastrians deep in their left-rear, further up the slope from them!    The only reserves he has to hand are the Irish levies backing up his own line (heavily engaged to the front) and a single unit of levied archers under Howard, the remains of their left-flank.

The Lancastrian left and centre - the right-wing is just visible on the top-right of the picture

Turn 13
The Scots slowly give ground, pressed back by the far greater numbers of Yorkists.  Somerset presses on with yet more charges on the York centre, which are yet again held off.  All attention is on the right however, where Trollope pushes his remaining men on to rout the levies under Lord John Howard – surely, after routing two lines of retinue troops, mere levies will be no challenge?  Amazingly, it is not to be!  Trollope himself is killed in the thick of the fighting by freak chance, and then his remaining band of followers duly rout.  A grim end to a spectacular run of success by the Lancastrians, but surely just a temporary setback - Howard’s levies have been shredded by the combat, and even with Trollope’s spearhead gone, many more Lancastrians are flooding up the ridge.

Beaufort leads the Scots in a last-stand

Trollope is killed in the sanguinary fight with Howard's levies
Turn 14
The Climax of the battle!  It’s clear to both sides that the conflict in the centre will be decisive, so Salisbury begins to try and move some of his reserves eastwards to help out York.  Walter Devereux, Baron Ferrers attempts to flush out the annoying obstacle of the Lancastrian levies in Eldon Wood, but the bowmen prove surprisingly effective as they fire out of the trees – Ferrers takes heavy losses and falls back, thoroughly chastened by the experience.  What will become of the York centre if they cannot switch reinforcements to it?  The problem is then removed, almost as soon as it was revealed: Lord Mauley’s command of Scots are routed after a hard battle and the collapse spreads panic down the Lancastrian line – Ralph Grey of Heaton’s levies in Eldon Wood begin to panic and stream to the rear, and by the time he has stabilised them they are out of the protective trees.  Only a tiny collection of 50 or 60 men around the Scots captain Lord Walldingham are still holding out, before being swamped.  
In the centre, Somerset puts himself at the head of Richard Wydville, Earl Rivers’ men and charges headlong into York’s household troops under Baron Edward Cobham, who manage to hold out but they remain locked in combat.  Besides them charges John Skydmore of Kentchurch, who strikes Baron Fitz-Warine at full-speed and nearly sweeps his men away.  Fitz-Warine himself falls in the combat and the unit seems certain to run, dooming the entire Yorkist centre.  Only Edward of York himself saves the day, leading from the very front where the fight is thickest – miraculously, he comes out of it alive and unwounded.  The line holds, but barely.

Edward has also made another dangerously risky move – he has turned his supporting Irish levies to face the Lancastrian right, leaving his centre in genuine peril of collapse.  He has no choice however, as Howard’s levies are now being cut down by Fitzhugh’s archers and Buckingham’s men draw in ever closer.

The Lancastrian right - the levies rout out of Eldon Wood

Somerset leads Wydville's men from the front!

Turn 15
Walldingham and his Scots die-hards are finally killed and swept away, when Herbert is joined by Southwick on the flank.  Only Heaton’s spooked levies behind Eldon Wood are now left, so Salisbury turns his remaining men in his second-line to the East, to help York’s centre – Eldon Wood now taken as Irish kerns sweep forward to seize the woodland and prevent the Lancastrians re-occupying it.  Every last Yorkist unit in reserve, however battered and tired, is being flung forward into the centre – even the beleaguered Burgundian pikemen are pressing ahead once more, seeking a chance to finish off the remnants of the Lancastrian cavalry.  Rivers and Somerset continue to strain against Cobham’s household men up the hill, but they prove immovable despite ever-rising losses.  On the right, Howard’s levies rout off the field under relentless archery fire from Fitzhugh’s troops, once more opening the Yorkist rear to the Lancastrians.  The flank of York’s line under Care-Dynham is now attacked by Dudley, but Dudley himself is killed and his men flee the field.  Care-Dynham’s men are now presenting a persistent problem to the Lancastrians – as Buckingham goes ever-deeper into the Yorkist position, then Care-Dynham becomes increasingly a blockage between the Lancastrian Centre and Right.

The last Scots die-hards are eliminated

The Lancastrian right encircles the Yorkist rear - Care-Dynham visible in the fore-ground, the nearly isolated York flank.

The centre - Yorkist reinforcements rush in from the north of Eldon wood

Both sides need to get reinforcements from a victorious flank into the critical centre, as the lines pivot

Turn 16
Herbert and his men are held at bay by Heaton’s levies, who once more put up an unexpectedly destructive show of archery.  Most movement from Salisbury is now north of Eldon Wood, rushing to join the fight in the centre – commands under Ferrers, Ruthyn, and even more of the Burgundian pikes are flooding into the gap between Eldon and the ridge.  Somerset knows it’s make-or-break time: leading from the front, he leads once last charge from Rivers’ men at the exhausted remains of Cobham’s troops, and finally succeeds!  York’s household men break and are overrun, and finally the Lancastrian centre has climbed the ridge – final victory is in sight!  Has it come too late, however?

Buckingham, on the ridge that was once the Yorkist left-flank

Somerset in the centre, at the moment of rupturing the Yorkist line that has resisted him for so long.

Turn 17
As Somerset surveys the wreckage of the Yorkist centre from the ridge-line, he tries to rally his disorganised and exhausted troops.  Too late however, as the Irish levies under Baron John Scrope pass through the remains of Fitz-warine’s old command and swiftly wheel around, falling on their flank.  Pushed beyond endurance and too disorganised to turn and face the flank attack, his followers begin to run and are cut down by the fleet-footed Irish.  When the latest slaughter is over, Somerset himself is among the dead – cut down on the bloody slope where he came so close to success…

The news spreads fast down the line, even to the Lancastrians on the right who believe themselves on the brink of triumph.  Buckingham’s men have been confronted with more of York’s Irish levies, and have taken cruel advantage of their lack of ranged weapons – Roger Vaughan of Tretower’s spearmen have been shredded, with more than half their number mown down by the Lancastrian longbowmen.  However, with news of Somerset’s death, this moment of final triumph now becomes but the last vengeful strike before defeat.

Rivers and Somerset flanked, and killed, by Irish levies.

Turn 18
The collapse is on!  The Yorkist reinforcements are rushing into the centre, being led – improbably – by the Burgundian pikemen who have wound up by accident at the forefront.  The only slender chance of avoiding a collapse in the Lancastrian centre would be for Buckingham to rapidly transfer some of his strength to shore the centre up.  There is a problem with this however – Care-Dynham’s band of retinue troops is squarely in the way.  If they can be swiftly cut down, there may be a chance to salvage something.  Fitzhugh is on the ridge above him, so he turns and charges downhill into his flank.  He hits hard, but is just too weakened by long combat to rout him.  Care-Dynham manages to resist, turns, and counter-attacks – only for the demoralized Lancastrians to break.  The battle is over, and the final strokes come from the Burgundians who roll over Baron Lionel Welles’ exhausted troops and signal a general collapse in the Lancastrian centre.  Henry VI flees the field, and Buckingham senses it’s time to be somewhere else – he begins to withdraw his force back along the Welsh Way.  

The Lancastrian rout begins

The Burgundian pikes break through the Lancastrian centre, with Henry VI watching on, uncomprehendingly

The battlefield at the end - far emptier than at the start!

The Yorkists have their Triumph!

Edward Plantagenet, Duke of York (and soon to be King Edward IV) victorious!

Buckingham, with the last Lancastrian force in being, retreats!

On top of Ragged Hedge Covert, Henry VI  watches the slaughter all day long - before being whisked away to flee for France and exile!