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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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The Battle of Witham Hill, 1643

The English Civil War, For King & Parliament, 28mm

The two Seans wanted an English Civil War game this week, but we kept it small as time was short. As there were three of us, then two had to be on one side. Both Seans opted for the Royalists, I prefer the Parliamentarians, so that was easily sorted. We played the game on a 6×4 foot table, dominated by Witham Hill, a few miles to the south-east of Grantham. A small Parliamentarian army – part of the Eastern Association – was advancing into Rutland when it was cornered by a larger Royalist army. So, it took up a defensive position at Witham-on-the-Hill, and awaited  the onslaught. In this one my Parliamentarian force was commanded by General Crawford, who had two  regiments of foot (Crawford’s and Montagu’s), supported by two regiments of horse (Fleetwood’s and Manchester’s). The foot lined the hill, while the cavalry led by Col. Sidney were grouped on the right flank. For their part the Royalists, all from the Northern Army lined up opposite them, just east of the road. the two Seans had three regiments of foot (Newcastle’s, Byron’s and Langdale’s), supported by three regiments of horse (Lucas’, Carnaby’s and Howard’s).As the sides were uneven, we made a Parliamentarian foot regiment veteran (Crawford’s bluecoats),  and a Royalist horse and foot raw (Howard’s and Langdale’s). Inevitably, we started with a cavalry clash. Two Royalist regiments charged the Parliamentarian’s, which, being “Dutch style” horse, met them at the halt, firing pistols as the enemy closed in. Surprisingly, it worked quite well, and Lucas’ Royalist horse were disordered. Still, Lucas’s troopers charged their pistols as they closed in, and managed to score a hit on the enemy. For some reason Carnaby’s horse was tucked in behind Lucas’, so they didn’t get to fight. That meant that the Parliamentarian horse fought Lucas’ in the next round, and scored another hit on it. That meant it broke and fled the field. First strike to Parliament. Buoyed up by this the two Parliamentarian regiments tried to advance, but Carnaby’s counter-charged, and another melee erupted. This time though, the Royalists didn’t achieve  anything, but in turn suffered a hit. Then, Fleetwoods on the right flank charged in, and routed Carnaby’s horse. It was an impressive start! By then the action had switched to the hill. After a hesitant start the Royalist line advanced, with Langdale’s redcoats going around a small copse to hit the flank of Montagu’s, while Byron’s hit them frontally. Newcastle’s foot were on the left-hand end of the Royalist line, facing Crawford’s bluecoats on the hill.  Strangely though, it didn’t come to “push of pike” – just a heavy firefight. In the exchanges, both sides took casualties, but for some reason the Royalist numbers didn’t really count for much. After a couple of turns of this firefight, both Parliamentarian regiments were disordered, but so too were the two Royalist whitecoat regiments – in Byron’s case carrying two hits. One more and they’d break. Meanwhile the Parliamentarian cavalry had rallied from their disorder, and resumed their advance, determined to wipe out Howard’s Royalist horse – the last on the field. Instead, both sides charged, countercharged  – and achieved absolutely nothing. So, with everyone’s three “Dash” markers expended, both sides were unable to charge again. Their bolt had been shot.In the end though, that last Parliamentarian push wasn’t needed. Instead, up on the hill the musketeers of Crawford’s bluecoats scored another hit on Byron’s  whitecoats, and the Royalist regiment fled the field. That meant the two Seans were put of Victory tokens. Both sides had seven for this game, and you lose two for each cavalry unit (three for the larger Parliamentarian ones), and three for a regiment of foot. the Seans had lost seven, so they ‘had to quit the field. So, the game ended in a Parliamentarian victory – huzzah! All in all it was a fun little game, even for the Seans, and it a surprisingly evenly balanced  scrap too.


11 Responses “The Battle of Witham Hill, 1643”

  1. SEAN 2
    19th March 2023 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks, Angus. Another good game and excellent write up. Very enjoyable.

    • 19th March 2023 at 10:51 pm

      Indeed! Pretty period too…

  2. Roy Bumpsteed
    20th March 2023 at 8:08 am

    Huzzah! another victory for the “good old cause”and near to where to I was rambling on Wednesday.

    • 20th March 2023 at 8:20 am

      I’m afraid Roy, that the terrain was dictated not by the shape of my polystyrene hill than the real topography! Still, there were clashes near Grantham around that time, so it seemed like a good fit..plus I remember the terrain when speeding through it in the train. I
      As for the good old cause – absolutely! Sean 2 was a Royalist reenactor in the SK, while I was a Parliamentarian gunner in the ECWS. So,there’s rivalry!

      • Roy Bumpsteed
        20th March 2023 at 10:32 am

        I was a sergeant of musket in the Earl of Essex Regiment SK and many moons ago a pikeman with Fairfax in the pre ECWS Roundhead association.A point of interest on my Wednesday walk the walk leader claimed that Marston Hall North West of Grantham was the venue of the first civil war skirmish for Cromwell who burnt down part of the old hall
        on the 23rd April 1642.I took issue on this as either the date must be wrong or it is a complete fabrication!

        • 20th March 2023 at 10:44 am

          Probably the latter, Roy, especially as it would have predated Edgehill. The skirmishing there though, according to my Atlas of the ECW, places them a year later, at the time of the small Ancaster Heath clash. I, for my sins, was in Colquhouns, while Sean 2, in his SA days, was in Lisle’s.

          • Roy Bumpsteed
            20th March 2023 at 12:24 pm

            if its not made up by the manor house for purposes of promoting the hotel I would favour the Belton skirmish May 1643 I remember reading about Cromwell chasing the Royalists as far as Barkston and syston which are within a couple of miles of Marston

  3. Ian Hedley
    25th March 2023 at 6:13 am

    Can I ask what you thought of the rules, as your ‘write up’ certainly leads one to believe that they ‘could have done better’ as rules?

    • 25th March 2023 at 7:52 am

      No Ian, I really like them. They work smoothly, and give a good result.
      Sorry if I gave a different impression. I’ve tried a few ECW rules over the years, and these ones are the best of them. They’re very good at capturing the feel of the period.

  4. John Ashton
    25th June 2024 at 2:51 am

    Read your article on Witham Hill and noticed the comments on the rules. What rules do you use ? We have a small group here in the far south that have been using Forlorn Hope for a few years and are still finding disparities in them.

    • 25th June 2024 at 6:57 am

      We use “For King & Parliament”. It’s a square-based system, and used playing cards instead of dice (except we’ve opted for MDF playing card counters instead). We really like it, as it’s both fast and fun to play.

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