Thursday, 29 October 2015

Fisticuffs at Finchley Common - an Honours of War '45 Rebellion AAR

Following on from the victory at Carlisle, it seems that the Jacobites had stopped their infighting at Derby, listened to the 'Bonnie Wee Laddie' and had started their advance on London. Good King George had prepared for this eventuality and whilst the Duke of Cumberland was assembling his forces elsewhere, moved out of London to Finchley Common and arrayed his troops ready to meet the young upstart.

Hanoverian Forces
George II C-in-C - Dependable
Guards Brigade with attached artillery - Superior and Dependable 
Tower Hamlets London Trained Bands - Inferior and Dithering
Brigade of Dragoons - Standard and Dependable

Jacobite Forces
Charles Stuart the Young Pretender C-in-C - Dithering
Highlander Brigade - Standard and Dependable
Highlander Brigade - Standard and Dependable
Lowlanders Brigade - Inferior and Dithering
French Brigade - Standard and Dependable
Baggots Hussars - Inferior and Dependable
Scenario Details
For King George II, he simply had to stop the Jacobites from reaching London and not get killed in the process. For the Jacobites, get to London and remove that Hanoverian usurper.

The Hanoverian troops could deploy any where they saw fit, up to roughly the half-way point of the table.  The Jacobites deployed along the opposing table edge.

The Hanoverians deployed their Guards across the London road, with the cavalry Brigade on the hill. King George II was kept back in reserve with the Trained Bands until he saw how the Jacobites would deploy and move towards London.

Turn 1
In true Jacobite style, the Lowlanders rolled a Poor and promptly started crabbing across the table. Apparently this was planned (yeah right it was) by Dave to allow his French Brigade to advance past them. As the Highlanders moved forward the Trained Bands moved onto the battlefield and deployed towards the Hanoverian right flank, with King George II in tow.

The Hanoverian Trained Bands march out as the Jacobites and their Allies advance forward in true Linear style.

Turn 2
It was the Highlanders turn to roll Poor commands and then crab about the table. The poor Guards Brigade were getting somewhat dizzy at the unusual tactics once again being shown by the Jacobites. As the Lowlanders caught up with the French of the Jacobite left flank, the Hanoverian cavalry brigade moved off the hill to make way for the Trained Bands, who chose to make a cautious advance.

The Guards brigade refuse their right flank as the Highlanders dance about rather than advancing forward.
'Moses parts the Red Sea', or that's what it felt like as the Jacobite flanks parted company.
The Trained Bands ready to move onto the hill to meet the Lowlanders and the French.
The Guards wait patiently as their artillery causes hits on the Highlanders and Jacobite cavalry.

Turn 3
A turn in which both sides had some Poor command rolls. The Highlander right flank refused to advance, leaving their compatriots to move into the centre, with Baggots Hussars whizzing down the right flank to the edge of the woods. As the Lowlanders became entangled with the French, due to the latters poor command roll, the Trained Bands moved onto the hill. The Hanoverian Dragoons moved off towards their left flank to meet the threat from the Jacobite cavalry. 

The battle lines of the Jacobites start to become somewhat fragmented.

Turn 4
The Jacobite Highlanders finally get their act together and advance towards the Guards brigade astride the London road. The Lowlanders and French start to become disentangled, but this allows the Trained Bands to deploy nicely across the hill as they do so. As Baggots Hussars probe around the wood, the Dragoons move towards them as quickly as they can.

The battle starts to take shape, as the Hanoverian flanks are slightly refused due to the Jacobite threat.
A firefight develops, with the Guards causing 3 hits on the highlanders but take 1 in return.
The Highlanders close in but are at risk from the Guards attached artillery.

Turn 5
Battle is well and truly joined as the Highlanders charge in, but suffer from closing fire and the Hanoverian artillery. In the melee, a Highlander units is destroyed but manages to force a Guards unit back to reform itself. The Highlander commander was killed, with his replacement a Ditherer rather than Dependable. Not what they really wanted. Elsewhere the French advance with Baggots Hussars evading the Hanoverian Dragoons charge.

The battle breaks up in the centre but the flanks are still under threat.
Two Hanoverian units are forced back as a result of Jacobite and French firing, resulting in them having to reform before being able to rejoin the fray.
The Highlanders have been taking a beating from the Guards brigade, with their centre and right flank severely disrupted.

Turn 6
The Trained Bands roll a Feeble command, resulting in them having to retire in the face of the enemy due to so many of their units already hainvg hits on them. The French and Lowlanders advance to take advantage of this tactical retreat. As the Dragoons retreat to support the centre and right flank, Baggots Hussars charge them in the flank. In a prolonged melee, Baggots Hussars come off worse and are destroyed. In the rally phase, one of the Trained Bands retreats off the table as they are unable to fall back far enough to reform.

The Highlanders in the centre fall back to try to reform at a safe distance. The Hanoverian right flank is under severe pressure and tries to stabilise itself as best it can.
Baggots Hussars charge in but come off worse, despite attacking the Dragoons in the flank.

Turn 7
The Highlanders charge in to try and put pressure on the Guards brigade, but come off very much the worse, with them retreating more or less en masse in an attempt to reform at a safe distance once again. The Trained Bands come under severe pressure as the French managed to flank them. An isolated Trained Band unit is caught in the flank but French fire, resulting in it being destroyed. As King George was close by, a stray musket ball hits him, killing him stone dead!!!

The (Hanoverian) King is dead, long live the (Stuart) King!
The moment that the campaign swung decisively in favour of the Jacobites. Despite the Highlanders having been driven off, the loss of the King and the Trained Bands hands victory to 'Bonnie Prince Charlie', who can hardly believe his luck.

Post Game Thoughts 
Well another cracking game of Honours of War and one that ended is such a dramatic and memorable fashion! It has certainly opened up a whole new set of possibilities for our narrative driven campaign, but more of that later. So as always a few post game musings;
  • This game really showed up the difference between Superior and Inferior troops. The Highlanders really struggled to make any impact on the Guards brigade, whilst the Trained Bands had a tough time against the French. 
  • Light Cavalry are very useful for slowing down attacking troops due to their ability to evade close combat.
  • The Dragoons suffered from being unable to get to grips with Baggots Hussars. My aim was to try and destroy them and then get around the Highlanders flank to threaten them if they were reforming etc. A lack of width and the evade ability of the Hussars prevented this from happening.
  • Inferior troops really suffer when they have to start reforming or when the Brigade has to retreat due to a Feeble command roll. Your whole flank can suddenly buckle as it did in this game. 
The Campaign Moving Forward
As the game finished quite late, Dave and I only had a brief moment to discuss future possibilites, but broadly some of the options might be:
  •  The North and parts of Wales rises up in support of the Jacobites, now that they see that they have killed the Hanoverian King.
  • Scotland might move over to supporting the Jacobites en masse.
  • The French seeing a suprising success for their Allies, commit more troops to support the new King, resulting in the War of the British succession'.
  • The Duke of Cumberland still has a sizeable and experienced army massing in the East of England and with him being the Hanoverian heir, is unlikely to give up his claim lightly. Civil war is a distinct possibility given the natural distrust of a Catholic King in large parts of Britain.
  • The American Colonies, fearful of a Catholic Monarch, send over troops to support the Duke of Cumberland.
So as you can see, plenty of options that can be explored. I'm sure we can come up with a few more but the above will give plenty of opportunities for the campaign to develop in lots of interesting ways.


  1. Interesting campaign that you have going there. But if King George II is dead then surely the next line would have been poor old Frederick Prince of Wales with an infant George (the not yet IIIrd) as a spare. Sweet William would still have a couple of bodies to climb over to ascend the throne. Have you thought about adding in possible scenarios involving the Dutch and Hessian auxiliary corps that were shipped over during the '45?

    Some of your alternative futures possibilities also look interesting. I recall reading a novel some years back in which Wolfe lost at Quebec and a number of highland officers taken prisoner who went over the Jacobites as Bonnie Prince Charlie who 4had been summoned to Virginia in order to set up a Jacobite state in the New World. Beastly old Butcher Billie then lead a Hanoverian army over that got soundly trounced. Perfect nonsense of course but a diverting tale fringing on 'imagination' frippery.

    1. I'm glad that you're finding it interesting Thomas:). Thanks for pointing out the line of succession as basically I was lazy this morning and plumped for the Duke of Cumberland as that fitted in with our campaign. Possibly the next game will involve the Dutch and Hessian troops, which will certainly make things interesting.

      The future possibilities are the fun part for Dave and I. Take the French involvement in this scenario. Obviously they did not land in reality but without them it would have been a bit too one sided for the Hanoverians. Post game we thought that a Brigade of French was too much and will reduce it to just an independent unit to help bolster the Jacobites when we replay it next week.

      In the future we may 'publish' our campaign for those that want to give it a go. Afterall it has been a lot of fun and you can take the bare bones of the real campaign and then tweak things to suit. As long as you have some fun, that's all that matters.

    2. Well the French were there, albeit later in the campaign and did good service so it is not too long a stretch. I know also there were fears of a French landings in the south (as there were in SYW and AWI) hence need for auxiliaries, mobilising militia etc. Duffy's fat book of the '45 is quite good on that sort of thing IIRC. I have yet to see his new book on the rising but from the publisher's blurb he advances some different views of Charles Edward and the Jacobite manifesto.

      I will await further developments of the campaign with interest. It has given me food for thought as well as enjoyment reading the AARs. Looking forward to the release of Honours of War.

    3. We've been using Stuart Reid's '1745, A Military History of the Last Jacobite Rising' as our main source of information. I must say it is an excellent book and has all the information that a wargamer needs. I'm sure Duffy will add plenty more detail, but Reid's book is perfect for our current needs.

      I'm sure we will see more French involvement soon, which is perfectly plausible as there were several invasion scares whilst the Jacobites were still at Carlisle IIRC.

      Dave is much more au fait with all of this and must take all the credit for coming up with the scenarios and campaign. I've been adding my two penneth here and there as required. It's a period I knew very little about and at first glance didn't seem too promising for a campaign. However it has turned out to be great fun, despite my continued poor performance on the batlle field (even my son said last night that "am I losing to Dave again!"). Reid's book has got me hooked and I can see this continuing for sometime yet. I really need to paint up some troops that can come over from the Americas to help out old Blighty!

    4. Steve

      Stuart Reid's 1745 book is an excellent place to start, Duffy in 'The '45' praises it as being the first book to look at the rebellion from a military point of view. I can remember when the only reasonable thing on the '45 was Tomasson and Buist's Battles of the '45.

      Of course there is a lot more in Duffy's book plus he has published on the Hessian forces brought over in 45 and a new almost revisionist history of the rebellion.

      By the way anything you paint up that might be from the Americas could also double up as some of the volunteer regiments raised in England to fight the rebellion. Some of the Yorkshire Blues actually got into action at Falkirk, though it sounds as if London will fall before then!

      As to the losing business it is not entirely unfamiliar to me, dice throwing seems perfectly random until something crucial depends on the outcome and the result seems invariably disappointing. Keep up the good work, looking forward to further reports.

    5. I've got to dig out my AWI figures to see if they will bo ok for this. Although not a perfect match, I'm sure they will be fine for Dave and I. Purists may be driven into a state of apoplexy by this...

      I may get Duffy's book to get a better overall view of the period, plus look at some of my other history books to see if they may be of use. Certainly it is proving to be very interesting so far.

  2. Nice game Steve. I 'd just like to reassure future purchasers of the rules that moving sideways on a 'poor' command roll isn't compulsory!

    In move 6, where a unit retreated off the table and was counted as done for, maybe the rule allowing retreating units to halt at the table edge could have been employed - but I may have misread the situation.

    Old George was a bit unlucky - but I guess that's wargaming for you!

    1. I think Dave has rolled so many 'Poor' commands this campaign, that he feels the need to do something with his troops, other than just sit there. It is certainly entertaining from where I sit;).

      The unit in question was already pretty close to the table edge and it felt right that they retreated off the table given the nature of the battle at that point. In other situations we have halted them at the edge as you say.

      Old George was unlucky in having me in command! Still next week will be a re-match so let's see how that goes...

  3. Really enjoying these campaign reports Steve, look forward to hearing how the campaign progresses. Might have to invest in a copy of the rules when they come out along with some history books on the period.


    1. Glad you're enjoying our campaign Richard. It won't come as a suprise that the rules come highly recommended. The latest issue of Miniature Wargames (391) has a review by Dave. Reid's book is excellent and I got my copy for a £2.81inc p&p from Amazon.

    2. Already got Reid's book on order :-)

    3. I'm sure you'll be happy with your purchase.

  4. The king is dead, long live the King.... This is turning into a cracker.... Plenty of options to expand out to other troops Steve thanks for posting.

    1. It certainly is a cracker Stu now that the rightful King is dead! The chance to field other troops is creating lots of possibilities for us which is great:).