Sunday, 17 November 2019

Raising the Clans - the Scottish dimension to the Brexite campaign

Real life meant that Dave and I had an enforced break before we were able to resume our narrative Brexite campaign, with the action moving North of the border, with Bonnie Prince Charlie trying to raise the clans.

Background Fluff
Against the advice of Marshal Saxe, the Prince had decided that he wanted to land in Scotland to try and raise the Clans in support of his claim to the thrown. This meant that the invading forces would need to be split, thus potentially weakening their campaign. Marshal Saxe could not send the Prince without support, so detached the Royal Ecosse, the Wild Geese and a unit of Dragoons to aid the Prince in his endeavours.

His reception was somehwat lukewarm, but he did manage to garner enough support to make a march on Edinburgh. General Cope, aware that the Prince had landed and of his intention to march on the capital, sent troops to try and delay the advance of the Jacobites. He chose a small outpost, Ruthven Barracks, known locally for its excellent pies and victuals, run by one Mrs Miggins with the barrack grounds. The 3rd Foot & Mouth were the local militia stationed there and expected support would reach them soon.

The Bonnie Wee Laddie needed a victory to help convince the Clans to rise in his support, so plans were drawn up to take this important staging post on the road to Edinburgh. It would also provide the troops with much needed food (the French were tired of wild haggis and neeps & tatties) and also improve their lines of communication.

Scenario Details
The scenario was based upon 'Attack on a Prepared Position' from 'Scenarios for all Ages' by Grant & Asquith. I tweaked it slightly to include the barracks, but little else was changed.

British OOB
Brigade Commander - Dependable 
1 Light Infantry unit - Independent
1 Militia Unit - Inferior
2 Line Infantry units - Standard 
1 Dragoon Unit - Standard
1 x Light Artillery - Standard

Jacobite OOB
Bonnie Prince Charlie - Dithering CinC
Lord Ranald McDonald - Dithering (commander of the Highland Clans)
French commanders - Dependable
2 x Highland Clans - as per the HoW '45 rules
2 x French units (Royal Ecosse & Wild Geese) - Superior 
4 x Line infantry Units - Standard 
1 x French Dragoons - Standard
1 x Light Artillery - Standard 

The British deployed first, with them forming a line centred upon the barracks, where they could be fortified by Mrs Miggins pies. The artillery was on the hill just off the centre to thr right, supported by the Dragoons, with the Light Infantry in the woods to the front of the right flank.
The Jacobites took the left flank, with the French in line of march along the road. All units started the game off board.

An overview of the table, with the British on the right.

The French in line-of march ready to come on.

The British positions, with the famous 'M' on the hill denoting Mrs Miggins meat pies.

Turn 1
The French got off to the worse start possible, with a failed command roll leaving them blocking the whole road. However the Dragoons and Highlanders moved on, whilst the British looked on in amusement.

The end of Turn 1.

The 3rd Foot & Mouth look on whilst munching on their pies.

The Dragoons observe the advance of the Highlanders.

Turn 2
The French finally arrive and move on as fast as they can, whilst the Highlanders fail to advance, only moving sideways due to a Poor command roll. The British Dragoons move to the flank whilst their Light Infantry push forward in the woods to meet the threat from the French Dragoons.

The end of Turn 2.

The French arrive.

The Light Infantry advance to threaten the French Dragoons.

Turn 3
The French continue their advance, with some units forming into line. The Jacobites also advance, but the British Light Infantry fail to be able to move forward and a unit of British troops push forward on the left of the barracks.

The end of Turn 3.

The French start to deploy.

The artillery looks on but does not have the range to hit the French troops.

The Jacobites advance towards the woods.

Turn 4
The French continue to form line from their line of march, but it is a slow job to do this. The Highlanders close in on the woods, but the British Light Infantry manage to fire first, causing hits on the Highlanders, who miss when they return the compliment. Next turn they will have to charge.

The end of Turn 4.

The British line has pushed slightly forward of the barracks.

A view of the Highlanders as they close with the British Light infantry.

The French advance continues as the head of the column forms line.

Turn 5
The British Light infantry manage to retreat through the woods, this avoiding the Highland charge. The Highlanders advance as do the French, with units from both sides exchanging fire.

The end of Turn 5.

The British cause hits on the leading French troops.

The Light Infantry retreat.

The artillery still out of range.

Turn 6
The British Light infantry continue to fall back, this time to protect the light gun. The Highlanders advance, but are hampered by their Dithering commander. As the French continue to advance, fire from the British forces one unit to fall back to reform.

The end of Turn 6.

The British gain the first advantage, but still face a formidable array of troops.

The refused British right flank.

A view from the French position.

Turn 7
The French refuse to move, making life hard for other units to advance at a critical juncture, whilst the Highlanders fall back through the woods to avoid fire from the British light infantry. Both sides cavalry play at Mexican stand off. The Line infantry on boths sides continue to exchange fire, with a British unit forced to fall back and reform.

The end of Turn 7.

The French, poised to advance en mass, are unable to do so.

The British line forced to fall back and reform, are lucky that the French failed to take advantage of their position.

Both sides observe each other whilst the action goes on elsewhere.

Turn 8
Yet again the French fail to move, with the Royal Ecosse and the Wild Geese struggling to get forward through the inert mass. The French artillery is able to fire on the barracks, casuing one hit on the 3rd Foot & Mouth.

The end of Turn 8.

The calm before the storm?

Both British flanks are slowly being forced back.

Turn 9
Unbelievably the French failed to move, this being the third Turn in a row! As the Royal Ecosse and Wild Geese tried to prosecute the attack, they had little effect and allowed the British to move troops back to the left flank of the barracks.

The end of Turn 9.

The British are simply awaiting the attacks to come in, praying for dusk to fall to possibly save them.

Turn 10
At last the French move and as the lines close, both sides exchange shots, hitting each other but unable to deliver a decisive blow.

The end of Turn 10.

As the French mass, the British infantry on the left flank are once again forced back to reform by the weight of French fire.

A view from the French lines.

Turn 11 
The French move forward as dusk falls, but time has run out for them to inflict a decisive blow to the British troops.

The end of Turn 11.

The British line begin to buckle from the threat on both flanks.

The British defenders look on nervously at the mass of French troops.

The French finally ready to attack, but as dusk falls, they are unable to do so.

End of Game
With one Turn to go it was obvious that the French and Jacobites were not going to be able to defeat the British troops in and around the barracks. So as dusk fell, we agreed that the British were able to safely withdraw their troops, leaving the French hoping that their were some meat pies to sate their hunger...

Post Game Thoughts
Well yet another game where the French simply could not get going. In frustration Dave changed his command die, which helped, but too late to make a difference. His luck must surely change, but hopefully not not just yet! It was great to get the campaign restarted and the rules served up a nice game once again. So always, a few thoughts on the game:
  • For most of this campaign, the Light infantry and cavalry have been the ones mostly engaged in determining the outcome of a battle; this time it fell to the Line infantry. Having read the books on Horace St Paul's diaries from the SYW, it is interesting to note that the sort of battles we've had, were often fought with Grenzers, Grenadiers, Hussars and sometimes artillery, against the advancing Prussian troops. So in a sense our games have so far conformed to this, which is rather nice.
  • Both of us were careful not to over commit our troops, as we were very aware that we are in a campaign, and a loss at an early point might not be replaced. This is true for the French Dragoons, Royal Ecosse and Wild Geese, who if lost will certainly not be replaced. 
  • For small battles like this we've found that the Light artillery work best, as they are not too powerful and with limited range. So in this game if the British had had say a medium gun, then they might have been able to inflict too much damage before the French had been able to close.
  • I tweaked the rules for the '45 from the HoW site slightly for our campaign, mainly by giving the French battalions guns. I forgot to make the other troops Lowlanders as I had forgotten to read rules thoroughly enough. Mea culpa.
  • The Highlanders were hampered by having their leadership roll come up as a Ditherer, as at certain points they would have been able to catch the British Light Infantry with a Highland charge. Post game I decided that Lord Ranald McDonald has imply been sitting on the fence so to speak, awating to see the outcome of the battle. With a Jacobite 'victory', he has now sided with Bonnie Prince Charlie, so will be rated as Dependable in future battles.
  • The French and Jacobites will be hindered for the entire campaign as we both agreed that the Bonnie Laddie should be rated Dithering, given his historical performance, or lack of, during the '45. This does add a bit of uncertainty for those times when an Admirable or Inspiring roll comes up. You also have to make sure to protect the Prince as you cannot afford to let him fall to a stray cannonball, as the rising would collapse like a souffle taken out of the over too soon.
  • We've taken to viewing the table from the other side of the hill as it were during our games as we take 'photos. This does give you a very different outlook on how the actions are developing.
  • We had fun as we always do. Lately I've been reading a few books by Featherstone and one thing that comes through is it was as much about having fun as winning the game way back then. One thing that struck me when reading comments other gamers had made about the late Stuart Asquith was that he had brought fun back into wargaming via his articles in Practical Wargamer and other publications. I think this is something we should all try to achieve in our games: winning is nice but having a fun and enjoyable game is much, much more improtant.
Time to get my thinking hat on for what the next scenario might be for our narrative campaign. So it will be  a case of looking at a variety of books to see what fits and what will give a nice challenge to both players. I also need to get some more units painted, as real life has prevented me from getting anything done for the past month or so. so until next time...


  1. Nice account and a perfect sized game. Agree about the fun element. One thing that hasn't changed in your 6 week break is that the Brexite Campaign lives on :-)

    1. Thanks Norm and as mentioned on your Blog, around 12 units a side gives a nice mid-week game in a few hours. Anything bigger really needs a weekend game, which is not much of an option these days. Hopefully our Brexite campaign has a few more twists and turns before it reaches its natural conclusion.

  2. Steve, I always enjoy your HoW battle reports. The French stymied once again by command rolls. Unbelievable. I may have considered changing dice as well.

    It never is all about winning or losing. It is how you play the game and having an enjoyable session with friends. Some things do not change.

    1. Really glad you enjoy them Jonathan. Even my wife was laughing in the background as the die Gods abandoned the French. I'm sure this will come back to bite me as they change their favours!

  3. I enjoyed reading your battle report.

    Take care