Home Forums Renaissance Battle of Benburb 1646: A Second Refight

This topic contains 11 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Guy Farrish Guy Farrish 1 month, 1 week ago.

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  • #73394
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    And another refight: http://hereticalgaming.blogspot.com/2017/10/battle-of-benburb-1646-redux.html

    Benburb again, this time using Neil Thomas’ Pike and Shot rules from his Wargaming: An Introduction

     

     

    #73399

    OB
    Participant

    Good to see this one played, and twice at that.

    You might be interested to know the Irish cavalry were Lancers in the Spanish fashion rather than Reiter in the Dutch one.

    Badly under equipped with pistols compared to their Planter and Scots opponents they had earlier requested breast plates from their General Eoin Ruadh instead he gave them lances and trained them to charge home.

    OB
    http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/

    #73430
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Ah yes, you are quite right.  I don’t have any lancers yet, so I just went with what I had.  When the Scottish Lancers are re-sculpted by Baccus 6mm I’ll do enough bases for this too.  Any excuse to re-fight it!

    Thanks very much

     

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Whirlwind Whirlwind.
    #73436
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Fascinating difference with rules!

    So; re that close combat/melee duration that ‘can’t be right’!

    I think it probably depends what you are seeking to represent: actual ‘physical contact’ duration should probably be short – pikemen in particular don’t seem to have been as strong or as fit as some of the imaginings of later writers suggest. Battalions that didn’t get a quick win (more in a sec!)  seem to have backed off to shoot at each other a lot (ineffectually): as the Duke of York (later JamesII) said about the infantry fight at Edgehill after the initial contact – ‘for each as if by mutuall consent retired some few paces and they stuck down their coulours, continuing to fire at one another even till night.’

    So unless someone runs before ‘close combat’ between infantry or immediately on contact, infantry close combat probably shouldn’t be very decisive but it isn’t two sets of people stabbing, pushing and clubbing – if that bit didn’t work in the first contact.

    Rules should probably be more accurate if they allow an instant win, such as when Sir Charles Essex’s regiment legged it at the first volley at Edgehill, even before the push of pike , or when Astley’s foot drove off Skippon’s infantry centre at Naseby with a charge that allowed Skippon’s men only one inaccurate volley before contact and then ‘retreat’ or flight depending who you believe. If the quick win doesn’t happen then you probably get an ineffective ‘melee’ that doesn’t involve much actual genuine physical contact, but settling down to close quarter insults and ineffectual shooting until someone’s morale goes, they run out of ammunition or night falls.

    It isn’t exactly clear to me how the infantry fight at Benburb went other than the usual ‘point blank’ volley and ‘falling to’. Hayes McCoy claims an hour or two of fighting – which seems quite a lot if the problem with the Ulster Scots was their fatigue, but he doesn’t suggest why he picks on this time or if he is in fact referring to the whole battle as O’Neill’s main attack didn’t start until sunset.

    As for mounted close combat – short and sharp, yes please. But frontally vs most infantry either with half decent pike or behind walls, hedges, most decent ditches – forget it. You can stand around and ‘freeze’ the infantry but if you charge you should be stuffed. (generally! Don’t ban it though- let people try it and 99 times out of a hundred let them suffer!)

    Thanks again for posting and refiring my interest.

     

    #73453

    OB
    Participant

    It is an interesting one.  Further to Guy’s points.  The Scots were very tired and their infantry and artillery contented them selves with firing at long range.  Their cavalry attempted two charges at opposite ends of the the Irish line.  Both were repulsed.  

    When the Irish advance came they did not return fire until they were within ‘pike length’ and then fell on. IIRC, the Scots  deployment meant their infantry were defeated in detail as there was not enough space for all units to fight at once.

    OB
    http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/

    #73511
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Thanks very much Guy and OB, those are very interesting points.

     

    #73521

    OB
    Participant

    While we are on the subject there is also the Pike issue.  The Irish pikes were said to be longer with a diamond shaped point and the Scots ones shorter with a rounder point.  This apparently gave the Irish an advantage in combat.

    OB
    http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/

    #73528
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Yes, I saw that – the scenario mentioned it as do the DBR lists, IIRC.  Frankly, I didn’t know what to make of it, so ignored it.  Maybe it genuinely did make a difference, but I have no idea how much of a difference that should make.  Likewise, I am fairly sceptical of the idea of having unarmoured lancers in the context of C17 warfare, but not sure how much they should be penalised. Anyone any ideas?

    #73551

    OB
    Participant

    Pike shortening drove Generals mad they were always complaining about it. They knew it could lose a fight.  For the Pike men who had to lug the things about it was a different matter.  They liked to reduce the weight and unwieldiness given the chance.

    At Benburb this doesn’t seem to have been a factor. The Scot’s pike were bought shorter and the Irish one’s were bought first class, modern and full length. You can find the detail in Cassaway and Hayes-McCoy.

    As to unarmoured Lancers. I’ve no doubt the Irish wore whatever armour available whenever they could, but mainly they had none.  The main point was that charging Lancers really upset fire arm cavalry -if you miss they are on you, with greater reach.  Armoured or not it was a different type of engagement.  

    How you might model that without unbalancing a game seems tricky to me.  Phil Barker went for inferior status minus 1 for shorter pike and I guess with Lance V Fire arms if they manage to close they win.  

     

    OB
    http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/

    #73563
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    And this is where it gets ‘orribly messy and contentious in mid-ish 17th century wargaming rules!

    What actually matters enough to be incorporated as a difference (or is cool enough to be included as ‘chrome’)?

    Everybody complained their troops cut down their pike, so were they all doing it? And if they were what difference does it make? I know Hayes McCoy mentions it as a game changer here, but I wonder if it really did mean that much? As for Lancers – if they were that much better over firearm and sword cavalry – how come they were abandoned by the successful armies?

    I suspect we as wargamers cling to minor differences in weaponry as the reason for success and defeat when often success was probably down to training/familiarity with weapons and tactics, morale/bloody mindedness and things like fatigue and sickness. All of which are less easy to read about, quantify and  model than drill book recommendations and official weapons definitions.

    After all, pike numbers fell consistently over the period and this doesn’t seem to have produced a favourable outcome for those who retained pikes in quantity.  Shape of pike head and length probably had less to do with it than the ferocity/determination of those pushing them. (or at least the perceived ferocity).

     

    But I wasn’t there, so it could be that extra foot that counted I suppose.

    #73571

    OB
    Participant

    I’d be broadly in agreement with the thrust of that.  Two things though, discipline in the Army of Ulster was severe and getting sufficient weapons had been a long and difficult task.  Anyone shortening their pike would likely have been hanged.

    Lances were a great way of arming your cavalry if money or armour and weaponry was short. If you had access to pistols, buff coat, pot helmet and maybe breast and back you wouldn’t bother as that assemblage gave more tactical options, including hitting power.  If you had little or none of that Lancers were the answer.  A one trick pony but one that couldn’t be ignored.

    OB
    http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/

    #73581
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Can’t (and don’t wantto) argue with that.

    My only thought was how much difference the length of pike made compared to other factors.

    As for Lancers – undoubtedly –  if you had nothing else, worth a try!

     

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Guy Farrish Guy Farrish. Reason: bracket placement!
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