Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Aftermath of Gerrards Cross

Warwick, in happier times

After posting the previous 'AAR' of Gerrard's Cross, through captioned photos, I thought I'd give a brief recap of what happened in a more text-friendly manner. The battle turned out as a crashing Lancastrian triumph which put both king & capital back in their hands.

Surprised in a defended position meant that the Yorkist right under Fauconberg was late to the field, and fought its battle largely isolated from the rest. That would've probably been okay with a line of defences protecting the rest of the line, but the Yorkist centre under Trollope switched sides to join the Lancastrians just before the two battle-lines closed on each other. Rather than fight on the defences with his flank being hit by the turncoats, Warwick pulled back and Trollope was crushed between the two Yorkist wings, his command destroyed but he managed at least to slip away...

With that, the advantages of the defended line were lost and Buckingham's men swept over it to engage Warwick in the open. There was a long and protracted combat but Warwick's demoralised men and the half-hearted London levies gradually had the worst of it before breaking. Warwick had also put a river on his left flank and now he was fighting at 45 degrees to his original line, it was a serious risk that if/when his army broke, lots of the men would be trapped between the Lancastrians and the river.

In the event, an astoundingly fortunate number of nobles survived the roll in the rout phase to check on their fate. Warwick himself got clean away, as did Fauconberg, Lord Wenlock (in charge of the London levies) similarly fled without being captured or killed. The Lord Saye & Sele, who had been commanding part of Warwick's host on the extreme left, did best on the actual day of battle but this just put him deeper into the noose when it came to the rout. He was killed off in the confusion of trying to escape. This run of otherwise good escapes is the only thing that saved the battle from being an unmitigated Yorkist disaster. Total losses were about 5,500 on the field itself, of which the Yorkists lost about 4000 - plus another 8,500 that slipped off home in the aftermath, meaning that the Nevilles escape to Calais with only a fragment of their force. One of the principal Yorkist armies has been entirely destroyed.

On the Lancastrian side, it could be that the Earl of Wiltshire has had his day. He was wounded on the field in combat, and also drew a 'happenstance' card which delayed him moving due to dysentery. His 40-year age, plus the illness & wound, makes me minded to 'retire' him from the game. (The fact he's rated 'timorous' and thus weakens every Lancastrian army he appears in is purely coincidental!) Apart from this loss, the Lancastrians have recaptured the king Henvy VI from the abandoned Yorkist camp, reunited him with wife & son, and captured the capital city. London was historically pro-Yorkist, but with Warwick destroyed on their doorstep and fleeing for Calais and exile this very day, it's not like they have much of a choice. The Lancastrian faction once more holds king & court in the sullen capital.

Not that the Yorkists are done yet, of course. There's still Edward to the west in Wales, not to mention the two Northern armies still stalking each other across the Ridings. But that, at least, is for another battlefield to decide. :-)

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