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    With specific reference to the ECW (but any comments welcome): who uses them?

    I would imagine any scenario allowing for an attacking/invading side might meet field fortifications from the defending side.

    I’m particularly thinking that my cavalry poor Covenanters might benefit from some carefully placed defensive elements such as redoubts, lines of gabions, chevaux de Frise and pointed stakes (I have all of the these).

    Were such things used overly much in the ECW? In order to be fair, under what circumstances should I be allowed to deploy them? I’m assuming some sort of points cost.




    Brendan Morrissey

    The FoGR rules usually indicate which armies are allowed “field fortifications” (and whether they are portable or fixed).  From memory, the Covenanter army is not one of them – in fact, I don’t think any of the ECW armies are allowed them, probably because they were hardly ever used in that conflict.  I’m sure some of the more widely-read members on here can quote examples that counter this argument, but from memory they were mainly used as part of larger fortifications (eg Basing House).

    This war and the TYW pre-dated the widespread use of “field works” and it’s difficult to think of an occasion, other than where a besieging army was attacked by a relief force, where redoubts were used on the battlefield – not least because of a shortage of “engineers” to site them, plan them out, and supervise their construction.  Gabions might be used around gun positions, but again, mostly in siege operations, rarely on an open field.  C-d-F and pointed stakes are a bit more problematic; they took time, some skill, and a fair bit of material to manufacture, and then had to be lugged around by armies with more pressing problems when it came to baggage (eg senior commanders’ comfy chairs); the alternative was ordering the men to carry them and we all know where that leads…..

    More importantly, whilst armies still had lots of pikes, C-d-F and stakes were mostly redundant; I’ve used “cavalry-light” or “cavalry-poor” armies in FoGR and found that, as long as you deploy tightly and don’t allow them to stray into the “disordered” zones on the flanks, or the back 6″ of your deployment area, anchoring a flank with a decent P&S unit will do that job for you.  Have confidence in your dic….errr…..men, even if they don’t have very much in you!

    Bottom line – agree it in advance with your opponent if you really want to use them, but I would say that they were still something of an anachronism in field operations at this point in history.


    Many ECW field battles were ‘encounter battles’, where neither side particularly had the time (& probably inclination) to build much in the way of fortification on the field. They don’t appear to feature in the accounts that I’m familiar with, where they’d be likely to be mentioned. Viz White Sike Close at Marston Moor, which is probably the nearest to a field fortification that I can recall. Google doesn’t turn up much either. It was different for sieges of course. https://www.vauban.co.uk/


    As with others I think it is rare for actual field battles to have field fortifications but they were more common in smaller actions. Typically these smaller actions featured attacks on garrisons or small forces based in ‘built up’ areas. They are typically small battles that you won’t have heard of unless you are really into ECW or live close to them. The defenders are very outnumbered and occupying some village/town which has little formal defences. So the defence in enhanced with field fortifications – perhaps blocking roads, covering gaps not covered by existing hedges, walls, buildings or terrain, etc.

    Unfortunately I can’t think of any that feature the Scots but Selby, which was an important and quite big battle fought against Newcastle’s Royalists during the Scottish invasion, did. It featured the part of Newcastle’s army which was left behind when the rest went to contest the Scottish advance into England. The part left behind was attacked and defeated by the Northern Parliamentarians in Selby. The Royalists occupied the town which had no formal defences and used barricades, etc, to strengthen the position.

    The ECW scenario books sold by Caliver books often have scenarios featuring art least some – I picked up one of these at random and about 1/3rd of the scenarios have some kind of field fortifications.


    The FoGR rules usually indicate which armies are allowed “field fortifications” (and whether they are portable or fixed).

    Brendan, not being a tournament gamer, I try to follow the rules but I’m not too fussed if I/we modify things. My little group have been tweaking the FoG:A rules for years now.

    However, I take on board all the comments made. If it’s not historical, I would tend to avoid it. But from what Hwiccee writes, maybe some lengths of  sharpened stakes are possible: particularly near a BUA.

    The purpose of such things was, after all, to dissuade Horse. I think advancing infantry would move through them without difficulty.

    RE: battles. I don’t think we’re intending to re-fight historical battles…at least at this stage.  I’m imaging a loosely linked series of games based on the premise of a Royalist invasion of Scotland that is also supported by a Royalist uprising in the Highlands (ie the Covenanters will get thrashed on two fronts!).All 3 armies will be at the 800 point size & I’m not sure I’ll be adding much, if anything, to my two.

    The scenario books might be worth a look.



    Guy Farrish

    The Battle of Newburn -1640 (Bishops Wars though, not strictly the ECW) featured two sconces built by the English to supposedly dominate a river crossing but the Scots sat back on high ground north of the river and shot them up and then attacked and drove the English off. There are lots of sconces in the ECW ‘proper’ although most are near or connected to towns and may count as sieges. The Battle of Lansdown featured a long stone wall as a rallying point for the Parliamentarians but it was not really ‘improved’ and so may not count as field works.

    A German mercenary, Colonel Rosworm, prepared Manchester to withstand Royalist attacks and in the initial, almost pre-siege phase he strung chains at head height to prevent Royalist cavalry making any headway in the town once the earthworks had been breached.

    A search of Historic England’s database for Civil War earthworks or fieldworks reveals quite a few in areas not directly related to towns or known sieges – such as Irby in Linclonshire which was probably an outwork related to operations around Newark.

    The battle of Inverkeithing in 1651 appears to have had some fieldworks – (possibly the ‘trenches’ where the dead were buried).

    This sort of thing used to be under Historic Scotland – replaced by Historic Environment Scotland (WTF is the difference?) but the current search engine does not appear as friendly to use – it may just be me.


    Not Connard Sage

    Wot Etranger said.


    Caltrops, Benjamin. Caltrops. And small holes, breaking horse’s legs, for the use of. Neither take much preparation in the field. Neither are very visual in yer average wargame either.



    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."


    However Caltrops, Benjamin. Caltrops. And small holes, breaking horse’s legs, for the use of. Neither take much preparation in the field. Neither are very visual in yer average wargame either.

    That’s nasty. Medieval minefield.

    I hadn’t thought of this. It changes the whole dynamic of field fortifications. You’d need a map with the holes or caltrops marked on it. A very unpleasant surprise.

    I’ll discuss the possibility with my pals.


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