Home Forums Renaissance How good was Rupert?

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  • #100110

    So, how good was Rupert of the Rhine as a general?

    My pals & I are having a desultory conversation on the quality of generalship in the ECW. To be honest, none of us are more than mere tyros so I open this up to the cognoscenti here.

    Now this topic has wargaming implications. In “Field of Glory: Renaissance” the rules provide a blunt but reasonably effective system for army leadership.

    Each army is allowed 3-4 generals. They are graded as “Great Commanders”, “Field Commanders” (reasonably talented generals) & “Troop Commanders” who are either a bit ineffectual or new to the game.. The chief difference is in command radius, which in practice means the former can influence more units than the latter. This can have a profound influence on the game. You “buy” your leaders via points but in the FoG: Ancients game, we always tried to reflect some historical reality.

    Clearly, a Gustavus Adolphus or a Cromwell could be rated “Great Commanders”. Is Rupert in this class? I have figures for Rupert & King Charles (clearly a “Troop Commander”) and 2 other generic leaders who can be graded to allow for the general competence of the Royalist army. A “Great Commander” would be a boon for an attacking army such as the Royalists.

    What do you think?

     

    donald

    #100112
    Brendan Morrissey
    Participant

    Donald,

    Like you, I am not hugely well-read on 17th Century European warfare (I know much more about the early Tudor army, and the 1690s period).  FWIW, however, here are my thoughts:

    Personally, I wouldn’t rate any ECW general – whether from England, Scotland or Ireland – as a “Great Commander”; a GC is more than just a well-known face, he is someone who was renowned at the time and highly respected by his men (Sir Bevil Grenville would be such a character – after his death, his Cornish foot went home, rather than serve under another, even Sir Ralph Hopton).  I don’t know enough about Gustavus, although he does seem to have been well liked by his troops, but Cromwell certainly was not, especially by the Levellers, and the anti-Regicides in his own army.  He wasn’t responsible for creating the New Model, albeit he was part of the successful team that did; nor did he win stunning victories against numerically superior, or high-quality opposition, as Marlborough and Wellington did.  He was simply at the better end of a fairly narrow scale.  Similarly, Montrose was a poorish general with charisma, who was lucky enough to come up mostly against armies and/or commanders who were even worse, both in terms of ability and personality.

    As regards Prince Rupert, I would regard Hopton or Newcastle as better commanders.  He was too rash, and did not understand that what applied on the Continent, did not necessarily apply in England.  He seems to have been a better naval commander than a land-based one, IMO.

    To reflect their positions as army commanders, I would allow ECW C-in-Cs to be “Field Commanders” but nothing more, which is what I tend to do in both competitions and friendlies.  The more limited control range of an FC compared to a GC, also reflects the relatively immature command methods of the time and place, and the relatively low-quality armies, and forces players to at least consider keeping their army deployment compact (and bijoux, if necessary – but watch out for the sunken bath).

    Across all the six books of FoGR army lists, there are a few forces whose army notes include a proscription on having a GC during a particular period, or for a particular campaign; given that no ECW army is allowed to have heavy artillery, I cannot see why GCs are equally not allowed for that conflict.

    BvW

    #100122
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    I suppose it depends on what scale we are judging ‘Great Commander’ status – all time or 17th century.

    Gustavus a yes for 17th century – open to question for all time, despite the US military’s love affair with him.

    Cromwell – a solid no for all time but a possible, with caveats for 17th century.

    Rupert – not on an all time list but possible for 17th century. I probably wouldn’t rate him as great – a bit too impetuous, wound everyone else up because he thought he knew it all, but on a relative scale probably the best of a poor Royalist bunch.

    On a purely gratuitous note, Fairfax would be the best of the ECW army commanders by far – Cromwell coat-tailed on him, and Ollie’s political abilities overshadowed Fairfax’s monumental achievements after the first Civil War was over.

    #100129
    Etranger
    Participant

    I’d also vote for Black Tom Fairfax as being the best of the ECW generals & the only one who might qualify as a truly great commander. The New
    Model Army was largely his creation & the foundation of the ‘modern’ British army (IMHO). He also largely stayed away from the more political aspects of the war.

    Rupert was a talented but erratic commander. The prolonged Parliamentary attempts to blacken him through propaganda suggest that they were concerned about his abilities. He was a fascinating character, a renaissance man, one of the Founders of the Royal Society, general, admiral, first Governor of the still extant Hudson’s Bay Company, artist and scientist. Charles Spencer (of all people!) wrote an interesting biography of him, which gives a flavour of the man. https://www.orionbooks.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9780753824016.0.

    Cromwell was a decent enough general, but he was lucky (or showed good judgement) in the choices of Fairfax and Skippon to lead the New Model Army.

    #100130
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier

     

    (without the trailing .0 which confused my browser – poor thing!)

    #100150

    Thank you for your interesting thoughts. The bio on Rupert looks to be a ‘must’.

    The dog thing is fascinating. A “hunting” poodle? And one that could catch bullets aimed at Rupert in its teeth?

    Although the RSPCA might disagree, taking the mutt into battle was a great concept.

     

    donald

    #100152
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Think:

    Not:

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Guy Farrish.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Guy Farrish.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Guy Farrish.
    #100154
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Poodles were bred as retrievers of waterfowl. Their tight coats are water resistant and insulating.

    Boy wasn’t a miniature or toy abomination, he was a working dog.

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

    #100161
    Etranger
    Participant

    Yes, a standard poodle, so a medium sized dog. Gets his own wiki page. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_(dog)

    Baron Brendan – are you aware of Ruperts connection to the Howes of AWI fame?

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Etranger.
    #100179

    Jeez, that is the ugliest horse I’ve ever seen. If the real thing looked anything like that, it’s no wonder the Parliamentarians thought Rupert  was in league with Satan.

    donald

    #100186
    MartinR
    Participant

    I tend to view Rupert as more like Murat. You don’t want him running an army, but you do want him commanding a wing of cavalry.

    So, combat, morale and activatact bonuses for the unit(s) he is with, rather than a massive command zone. That hell dog is worth a +1 at least.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #100195

    I tend to view Rupert as more like Murat. You don’t want him running an army, but you do want him commanding a wing of cavalry. So, combat, morale and activatact bonuses for the unit(s) he is with, rather than a massive command zone. That hell dog is worth a +1 at least.

    Matin, all commanders in FoG:R get exactly the same combat, morale (ie rallying ability) & activation (ie increase chances of doing complex moves) abilities. And any commander can influence any (non-Allied. if you have allies) unit.

    The only difference is command radius (Great Commander:12 inches, Field Commander: 8″, Troop Commander: 4″) which of course puts limits on their effectiveness.

     

    I said it was a “blunt” mechanism……but works quite well.

    Rupert will be a Field Commander, then, & it would be wise to station him with cavalry as they are more spread out than infantry, so a larger CR is useful.

     

    donald

    #100212
    Etranger
    Participant

    Worth remembering that he was only in his early 20’s at the time, a hot headed young man.

    #100230

    Worth remembering that he was only in his early 20’s at the time, a hot headed young man.

    And he must have been traumatized by what happened to his dad.

    I think I will buy that bio you recommended.

     

    donald

    #100232
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Worth remembering that he was only in his early 20’s at the time, a hot headed young man.

     

    And already a veteran of the European wars.

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

    #100254
    Brendan Morrissey
    Participant

    Baron Brendan – are you aware of Ruperts connection to the Howes of AWI fame?

    His sister was the mother of George I, one of whose mistresses was supposed to be George, Richard and William’s grandmother (I think).

    If not, then no – do tell!!!

    (He was 6’4″ as a teenager, which is a connection to me…….)

    #100257
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Baron Brendan – are you aware of Ruperts connection to the Howes of AWI fame?

    Nooooo – do tell!!!

    Rupert’s daughter married into the Howe family, but the Emmanuel Scrope Howe she married was not the Emmanuel Scrope Howe who was the father of William Howe.  🙂

     

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

    #100264
    Etranger
    Participant

    His daughter, Ruperta, married into the Howe family. Her husband, himself a general, was the great uncle of General & Admiral Howe. (and the uncle of ES Howe above)


    https://www.geni.com/people/Ruperta-of-Palatinate-Simmern-Lady-Howe/6000000000307194467 https://www.geni.com/people/Lt-Gen-Emanuel-Scrope-Howe/6000000000307222323

    https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/656673/ruperta-howe-wife-of-emanuel-scrope-howe-natural-daughter-of-prince-rupert-by

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Etranger.
    #100275
    Norm S
    Participant

    I don’t really know anything of the period, other than the stereo-typing of the period that Rupert was a dashing cavalry commander, but prone to pursuing off the field (Edgehill I think). If that is close to reality, could he be given one rating (higher) as a cavalry wing commander and another rating (lower) if he performs another command role?  and once he has charged successfully, perhaps his command rating could drop for several turns as he loses temporary control of his cavalry.

    #100284
    Brendan Morrissey
    Participant

    …..and once he has charged successfully, perhaps his command rating could drop for several turns as he loses temporary control of his cavalry.

    FoGR rules handle this already by forcing horse rated as “Cavaliers” to pursue (off the table if need be) until the enemy unit they are chasing is wiped out, irrespective of who is commanding them.

    #102175
    Ian Bailey
    Participant

    An interesting debate! Here’s my “twopenworth”!

    Strategically I would suggest Rupert was one of the better ECW commanders – take for example his relief of Newark, and later York, where he outmanoeuvred and out thought experienced opponents. His performance, in the campaign movements here, I would argue borders on the brilliant.

    Tactically I would suggest his performance is far less encouraging. He was the main general on the field at Marston Moor and Naseby which were disasters for the Royalist cause. His command of the Royalst horse at Edgehill was one of his greater achievements but, at the same battle, his insistence on the raw Royalist foot needlessly adopting the complex Swedish Brigade formation led to their relatively poor performance and saved the day for the Parliamentarians. He also does not seem to have been a “team player” (witness the arguments pre Edgehill and Marston Moor and the splitting of the King’s main field army pre Naseby).  What you can praise him for is his inspiration in adopting the tactics that gave the “Oxford Horse” their superiority on the field in 1642/43.

    In short, a very mixed bag. Personally I think most wargamers over rate him on the basis most of us like a “dashing charismatic general”.  Don’t know much about Murat but maybe he shares some common ground with Jeb Stuart in the ACW?

    As for Cromwell, I would argue he is not a battlefield genius by contemporary European standards but I would certainly rate him above most of his ECW contemporaries and, in particular,  praise his knack of  selecting and trusting the right subordinates. He had that ability to build around him a strong team that could perform well when required and to motivate his men to perform well e.g. the performance of the “Ironsides” in the Eastern Association, his wing at Naseby and then his command at Preston, Dunbar and Worcester (all three of which were emphatic, war winning victories). The main blot in his copybook is 2nd Newbury but then in fairness, his troops had just marched down from Yorkshire and had dysentery. I can “give him” that one?

    If I had to choose which one I’d want on my side I’d choose Cromwell.

    Sadly I have no knowledge of Fields of Glory but hope these opinions are of some help?

     

     

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Ian Bailey.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Ian Bailey.
    #102189

    Nice to see you join the debate, Ian.

    In FoG, the main difference in the 3 categories of general (Army, Field & Troop) is the command radius.

    I think I’ve been persuaded to make Prince Ruptured a Field Commander & his three subordinates will be of Troop standard.

    My Parliamentary forces won’t get a Cromwell at all but I think he may well be, in FoG terms, an Army grade commander. I’m not sure who I’ll draft to lead them but they will only be a small army, used in alliance with my larger Covenant army, for larger games. Only two generals in total, I think.

    I’m keen to have “His Nebs”, Archibald Campbell lead the Covenanters (who’ll get 4 generals ion total) but again, I’m not sure. Campbell’s ability to lead troops might only rate as “Troop Commander”. Who else is up in the air.

    Some more research to do.

     

    donald

    #102437
    Brendan Morrissey
    Participant

    Likewise – welcome to the debate, Ian.  Interesting point about Cromwell and his team – hadn’t thought about him like that, so thanks for putting that up for discussion.

    I employ “Great Commanders” in charge of my external competition ECW armies, but only because you are at a distinct disadvantage if you don’t; that said, I don’t use them in friendlies as I think it’s ahistorical.  Our club – Wessex Wargames Society – is currently running an “Average Joes” tournament – all units are average or poor, but you can have one minimum size superior unit if it’s compulsory – and I did argue, unsuccessfully, that Great Commanders were against the spirit of the theme.  This year was Italian Wars, last year was Elizabethan, but next year we’re going to extend it and allow players to fight each other with any armies they agree to, provided they match in time.

    #102446

    Putting history aside for a moment and looking merely at the game aspect, the prime challenge for wargamers has been handling an army with a range of troops and commanders. Mostly average, with some poor & few superior requires a fair amount of tactical skill…….& probably isn’t all that ahistorical with many armies.

     

    donald

     

    (Still no “Boy”, unfortunately. Dogs in scale are the wrong breed & something like the correct breed is too big.)

    #102452
    Etranger
    Participant

    Have a look at the German RR figure manufacturers, or Irregular. Some larger “15 mm” figures may also suit.

    #102467
    Radar
    Participant

    Try http://www.minibits.net/animals/20mm-animals/

    Looks like it could easily be altered to become a ‘war poodle’™

     

    #102470

    Try http://www.minibits.net/animals/20mm-animals/ Looks like it could easily be altered to become a ‘war poodle’™

     

    Possible. Thanks.

     

    donald

    #102471
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    (Still no “Boy”, unfortunately. Dogs in scale are the wrong breed & something like the correct breed is too big.)

     

    Look to OO & HO railway models, especially Preiser and Noch.

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

    #103021
    Devon Start
    Participant

    Donald, Like you, I am not hugely well-read on 17th Century European warfare (I know much more about the early Tudor army, and the 1690s period). FWIW, however, here are my thoughts: Personally, I wouldn’t rate any ECW general – whether from England, Scotland or Ireland – as a “Great Commander”; a GC is more than just a well-known face, he is someone who was renowned at the time and highly respected by his men\. As regards Prince Rupert, I would regard Hopton or Newcastle as better commanders. He was too rash, and did not understand that what applied on the Continent, did not necessarily apply in England. \/quote]

    Well first in regards to the UK generals.. compared to a continental general of the same time they wouldnt be great commanders, but within the context of their own war some would indeed be “great” commanders. even if they really werent that good(does that make sense.. you might be the prettiest turd in the punch bowl sort of thing)

    as for rupert, i disagree.. He was rash, and thats about where it ends. He was a much better general than english counterparts. (Hence everyone saying Boy, his dog, was a demonic familiar ect.) he really did know how place troops and what was needed. He wasnt very good at working with others and that constantly caused him trouble.

    as for what applied on the continent and what didnt in europe.. do you know what thats about? becuase when i explain that to you, youre going to see why that is irrelevant and your selling the man short. it was about the cruelty to civlians and raiding. the war in europe was particularly harsh, scorched earth tactics ect.. things you generally dont want to do when its your own country you are fighting in.. it was only that. Everything else he would have to teach them would have been an improvement over what they were already doing.

    two things show this. 1 in his first battle he runs off chasing the enemy cavalry and isnt about to really help finish the job. He is rash.. this doenst keep happening though.. but keep in mind he is like 20 years old and has been at war in some way for like 6 years already(i think he was 14 for his war) this also explains why he is rude to his colleagues. hes just young

    2 he wanted to charge on london, the kind said no lets wait and that allowed london to build up its trained bands ect and the parlimentarians to fortify there. Had he been given the go ahead to attack london that might have been better.

    point is he was good at what he did

    #103027

    Devon, thanks for your input. You raise several good points.

    I’ve been doing further thinking on the subject of ‘Great Commanders’ and I wonder if the certain generals might be moved between ‘Field Commander’ & “Great Commander’ in my games, depending on the scenario or even, perhaps, on a dice roll?

    Even Napoleon & Hannibal had their off-days & it seems to me that Rupert, for example, could be very good but also commit blunders on occasion.

    In FoG;R, the addition of a ‘Great Commander’ to an army is not by any means a game winner. The differences between Troop – Field- and Great Commanders is more subtle than that.

     

    donald

    #103059
    Radar
    Participant

    Devon, thanks for your input. You raise several good points.

    I’ve been doing further thinking on the subject of ‘Great Commanders’ and I wonder if the certain generals might be moved between ‘Field Commander’ & “Great Commander’ in my games, depending on the scenario or even, perhaps, on a dice roll?

    Even Napoleon & Hannibal had their off-days & it seems to me that Rupert, for example, could be very good but also commit blunders on occasion.

    In FoG;R, the addition of a ‘Great Commander’ to an army is not by any means a game winner. The differences between Troop – Field- and Great Commanders is more subtle than that.

    donald

    Certainly makes sense. If you consider the York march: Rupert’s clever tactics, particularly as he approached York; then, compare it with his misinterpretation of Charles’s letter which led him to venture straight out of York to Marston. The former was good+, the latter was reckless. Can he really be castigated for misinterpreting the letter? Possibly not, but surely as the commander on the ground he should have used his brain.

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