Home Forums General General The Highland charge.

This topic contains 11 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by Ochoin Ochoin 7 months, 4 weeks ago.

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #106251
    Ochoin
    Ochoin
    Participant

    The Highland charge: I’m not referring to using your Bank of Scotland credit card in some wild, flurry of pre-Christmas spending but to the famous fury of the Highlanders, charging their opponents with drawn dirk, broadsword & targe at the ready or swinging a Lochaber axe. Most famous with the various Jacobite armies, it possibly exists both before & after this period.

    To the case in point, my Covenanter army is allowed a limited number of un-regimented Highland medium infantry, classed as “warriors”. They have substandard ability with shooting but definite advantages in both the Impact & Combat phases of the Field of Glory rules we use. Clearly, Montrose’s forces will contain a lot more & I expect to see these on the table next year. At the moment, my one unit is hardly a battle-winner on their own.

    I think the Highlanders need a ‘Charge Bonus’. No one gets one in FoG but I think they merit a small increment to mirror their ferocity: say 1 Movement Unit added to an existing 4 Movement Units of normal movement? Would such a bonus be justified?

    This concept is clearly dependent on whether the Highland charge is an actual thing. Whisky-soaked myth or as real as the Loch Ness monster (what do you mean? Nessie *is* real!!!)?

     

    donald

    #106253
    Not Connard Sage
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    IIRC ‘Highlanders’ got a bonus in Gush’s old WRG rules.

    Personally, and it’s only opinion, I reckon it would have been a risky tactic against formed pike backed with shooty things.

     

    Then again Killiecrankie, but that was a different sort of fight

     

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

    #106255

    Doug Melville
    Participant

    Well, Spanish sword and bucklermen were used to cope with tercios, backed by shooty things. There’s a lot of received myth about the Highland charge, but there are certainly verifiable accounts of it breaking opposing forces. Of course many folk will claim this was because of poor morale in their opponents and that they ran before contact. This is then exactly the same argument about well disciplined and formed infantry resisting cavalry.. if they broke they weren’t disciplined and formed. The ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy IIRC.

    Hanoverian accounts from Culloden certainly suggest the charge was ferocious, with limbs being chopped off, and ghastly wounds suffered. In my view, it would likely have been more successful had the clans not been standing under artillery fire for an extended period, and on the right, being fired at from flank on the way in.

    There is a danger though in that the trope was about how different these people, were, they could safely be viewed as savages, because that made their extirpation a civic good, and neatly made them ‘other’.  The violence and cruelty afterwards could only be explained by a world-view that saw the Gaeltacht as primitive and barbaric outsiders who must be tamed or destroyed. In such circumstances the legend of their ferocity very neatly parallels the Roman accounts of Gallic or Germanic tribes.

     

    #106257
    Ochoin
    Ochoin
    Participant

    Personally, and it’s only opinion, I reckon it would have been a risky tactic against formed pike backed with shooty things.t

    To be accurate, the Highlanders get a + against the musketeers they charge  in the Impact Phase but evens against pike. In the Combat phase, when they are presumably under the pikes, they get a + against both types of opponents.

    This, BTW, isn’t as complicated as it seems. You just use different coloured dice against the different opponents.

     

    donald

    #106259

    Alan Hamilton
    Participant

    From what I’ve read there is no real justification that the Highlanders were any worse or better than their opponents at shooting muskets.  Many period illustrations and descriptions describe highlanders armed with a brace of dags tucked into their belts.

    To answer your question, yes I think the extra movement is justified and as has been stated the units on the receiving end of the charge should probably take a morale test just before impact – probably about the time that the front ranks of highlanders fire their steel dags and draw their broadswords.

    #106260
    Ochoin
    Ochoin
    Participant

    There is a danger though in that the trope was about how different these people, were, they could safely be viewed as savages, because that made their extirpation a civic good, and neatly made them ‘other’. The violence and cruelty afterwards could only be explained by a world-view that saw the Gaeltacht as primitive and barbaric outsiders who must be tamed or destroyed. In such circumstances the legend of their ferocity very neatly parallels the Roman accounts of Gallic or Germanic tribes.

    A very, very interesting point. I am sure you’re aware of the Lowland phrase “teuchter”, used to describe Highlanders? I gather it means “peasant” & represents an attempt to belittle them.  Billy Connolly did a skit where he has a “teuchter” referring to a bus as a “hoose wi wheels”. Speaking as a person born in Glasgow, I must say it’s pretty rich for a Glaswegian to look down on folk.

    donald

    #106261
    Ochoin
    Ochoin
    Participant

    From what I’ve read there is no real justification that the Highlanders were any worse or better than their opponents at shooting muskets. Many period illustrations and descriptions describe highlanders armed with a brace of dags tucked into their belts. To answer your question, yes I think the extra movement is justified and as has been stated the units on the receiving end of the charge should probably take a morale test just before impact – probably about the time that the front ranks of highlanders fire their steel dags and draw their broadswords.

    Alan, the close range firing of pistols is subsumed in the Impact Phase, hence part of the reason for the +. The Shooting phase in the rules encompasses firing at longer ranges. It is imagined that Highlanders would not all be armed with wheel lock muskets but have older hackbutts & even bows. I think it fair that a unit using such heterogeneous weapons be not as proficient as a unit armed & trained primarily to shoot.

     

    donald

    #106274
    Cerdic
    Cerdic
    Participant

    I always understood that the wild Highlander charge succeeded by destroying the morale of the enemy.

    I saw a documentary when I was a kid all about the 3rd Foot and Mouth…

    #106280
    Cameronian
    Cameronian
    Participant

    I commend to you ‘Celtic Warfare 1595 – 1763, by James Michael Hill.  Discusses the charge at length in several instances.  The author reckons that the Southern Confederates were imbued by the spirit of it, being descended in a lot of cases from immigrant Celts.

    Irregular Wars rules give highlanders +2 in their melee rolls to reflect the impact of a charge and class them as ‘wild’ so don’t suffer movement or melee penalties in rough terrain.  Seems reasonable but personally I’d only give it for intial contact, if the charge didn’t break the enemy then the Highlanders were in trouble.

    To me a teuchter is anyone born north of Milngavie 

     

     

    'The time has come" The walrus said. "To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--Of cabbages--and kings--And why the sea is boiling hot--And whether pigs have wings."

    #106283
    deephorse
    deephorse
    Participant

    There was a Highland Charge in ‘Outlander’, along with a lot of other unsavoury stuff, so it must be a thing.

    Wargamers - successfully driving the fun out of wargaming since 1780

    #106284
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    I’d be a bit dubious about Hill, he suffers quite a bit from Celtic mythomania, and the academic reviews of his book weren’t great.

    I think a lot of the Highlanders reputation stems from an Enlightenment obsession with classifying things (like ‘martial races’) and then the unfortunate arrival hard on its heels of the Romantic movement and brave, doomed Highland heroes in the mists of Celtic twilight. Walter Scott et al.

    If you like the idea of Highlanders being some sort of Celtic superhero give em the bonuses for scary first charge but the evidence doesn’t seem to suggest they were supermen – after all they lost to a bunch of Sassenachs, English and lowland Scot.

     

    (also – sure it was a typo – but there weren’t many wheel lock muskets about anywhere – I doubt they had them or many wheel lock pistols. Matchlocks muskets probably quite a lot, blunt end great for hitting people over the head with!)

     

    #106285
    Ochoin
    Ochoin
    Participant

    (also – sure it was a typo – but there weren’t many wheel lock muskets about anywhere – I doubt they had them or many wheel lock pistols. Matchlocks muskets probably quite a lot, blunt end great for hitting people over the head with!)

     

    Oops! Good catch. I should have written firelock or matchlock.

    Re: Celtic superheroes or any other kind of heroes.

    This probably deserves a thread of its own. I’m certainly wary of designating any unit some kind of  Sharpe’s King’s Own SAS Napoleonic Rifles. Certainly I think many wargames in the past suffered from  having a surfeit of unbeatable Imperial Guard-types. However, history shows that on occasion, unbeatable/unbreakable units existed. I think as wargamers, one of the challenges is determining when, where & how to use such units & armies in what purports to be a game.

    Getting back to the Covenanter & Montrose’s Highlanders, they did seem efficacious at hand to hand combat. Certainly part of this was achieved through the perception of their enemies that they were perhaps extraordinarily formidable when they closed for battle. Intestingly, in the ECW game they featured in a few weeks ago, I talked them up to my opponents who halted their advance & actually wheeled two regiments of P&S to re-enforce the 2 units I was aiming towards.  So 4 units facing one of Highlanders……needless to say they were shot up, then charged in flank & rear after the melee commenced & destroyed. Materially, they achieved little but were instrumental in slowing down the Royalists until night (or Turn 8) fell and a draw was called. I would suggest this was not unlike their real effect in battle. Punching above their weight because of their reputation. A small charge bonus will not make them unbeatable but may enhance their reputation so I think not unreasonable.

     

    donald

     

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.