Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Assaulting a fortified position – Castillon.

The scenario, Battle of Castillon 1453, was drafted in December, but after the posting of Formigny 1450 last month, I decided to postpone this and present Gavere instead. This actually worked well as the last issue of Slingshot had an eight-page article by Nick Harbud covering Castillon complete with an analysis of troop strength, camp size and suggestions for play using four known rules sets, DBA3 however was not one of them. Hopefully, this will be shortly corrected. A quick summary of the battle of Castillon can be found here    (link).

To use DBA3 for the Battle of Castillon there are a number of issues that need addressing, such as the size of the French camp, the terrain, the composition of both armies, the deployment of the English army, close combat around fortifications, the arrival of the Breton contingent and lastly, the artillery.  

Size of the French camp.

Depending on the source, the size of the camp varies between 700 yards x 300 yards to 500m x 200m; the larger size may be the actual perimeter which follows the hill’s irregular shape. From the photo, even the smaller size of 8BW x 3BW gives adequate room for deployment and this will be used for the tests. 

Attention is given to one camp constructed south of the Lidoire, but if one considers the number of logs required to palisade the camp, these could equally have come from the right bank of the Lidoire, thus creating a secondary site for support troops. Sources do record people and animals seeking refuge across the Lidoire. 



Size of the French forces.

Referencing the historical representation on page 14, the French Ordonnance (IV/82a) represents approximately 4050- 4800 troops, just short of the often quoted 7,000. The difference may well represent other bodies intended for siege work? Two horde (7Hd) would reach a total of 7000. 

Size of the English forces.

The English list (IV/62d) represents 5750 – 6900 troops, however, not all were present at the opening of the battle as the Gascon contingent arrived after the battle had commenced. 

Tentative list for test purposes; 1 x John Talbot (4Bd), 1 x men-at-arms (4Bd), 2 x mtd-4Lb, 3 x longbowmen (4Lb), 1 x billmen (4Bd) and the Gascon infantry of 3 x 4Cb, 1 x Ps begin their march from the board edge. 

Deployment

There are some options to be considered; 1) the French deploy first as defenders and the English march on to the field, 2) the French deploy first followed by the English deployment, 3) the English deploy, then the French as they see the English approach and can make adjustments. 

Note: There is a French video of the battlefield showing the French position as seen from the English perspective. With a little imagination one could visualise the palisade, but troops behind them would be shielded from observation.

Palisades

Shooting at or in close combat with defenders of a forts or city, these add a factor of +4 and camps a +2. The interior of a camp is considered good going, however the French position is atop a hill; its crest line should be defined as this will be crucial during the game. Palisades should reduce movement to 1BW when crossing.


Artillery

The rule suggestions mentioned in the Slingshot article called for a reduction of artillery shooting factors and the inclusion of distance shooting for culverines or handgunners (Ps in DBA3). If one considers the placement of artillery in a camp to be treated the same manner as a fort or city (CF 2), the reduction is accounted for. 

The arrival of the Gascon contingent.

Following the action at the priory of St. Lorent on the morning of 17 July, Talbot rested his troops. Learning of the French retreat, Talbot approaches the French camp from the south. The English deploy 6BW from the French camp leaving the Gascon contingent start at the board edge. 

The arrival of the Breton contingent.

Messengers would be dispatched to reach Montauban and the Breton cavalry at first sight of the English approach. A die cast or card draw to could be used for the arrival of the Breton contingent. 





Thursday, 11 February 2021

Just A Test – The Teutonic Order

 I recently finished 10 elements of German infantry as these would be needed to develop a few scenarios from the Thirteen Years War, between the Teutonic Order and Poland. Flags will be painted soon, but as the Polish were complete, I decided to run a few test games with these two. The terrain of Northern Poland, where most of the battles took place, is relatively flat but dominated by woods and marsh.   

Game one.

Both forces adopted a horn formation with lighter cavalry positioned in advance of their heavier counterparts. Infantry of both sides were held in reserve; the Polish being centrally located while the Order formed two groups also centrally positioned. Although Poland was defending, they launched an aggressive assault on the Order’s left flank. The speed and effectiveness of the Polish and Lithuanian columns became critical forcing the reserve infantry to be ordered to restore the situation. The momentum created by the Poles was unrelenting and earned them a decisive victory, 9-2.


Game two.

As defender, the Teutons changed their deployment placing equal number of infantry on both wings with a strong cavalry centre. With the light horse in support, German auxiliary troops secured both the wood on the left and the swamp on the right. Deployment of the Polish forces remained unchanged. Taking the offensive, the Teutons moved their infantry wings and centre in unison confident that any Polish threat to either flank would be kept in check. The expected breakthrough of the Polish centre however met stiff resistance sending Teutonic knights to fall back and regroup. The Polish light horse on the right, having remained idle for an hour, suddenly sprang into action to appear directly behind the Teuton centre. Caught off guard with enemy to rear and in front, a hail storm of bullets and crossbow bolts, the Teutons were hastened off the field serving the Polish another victory, 8-2.



Game three.

Again defending, the Teutonic Order deployed in deeper formations with both flanks protected by woods and marsh. The majority of the German infantry formed the left wing, the cavalry in centre leaving the right wing to be protected by a mix group of foot and mounted crossbow. The Polish deployed in their scorpion deployment with the Lithuanians forming the left horn and Polish the right. The town militia and wagons were held in reserve behind the centre.

A brisk skirmish on the Polish right announced the start of battle which quickly escalated to a general action as both sides committed more troops. Equal casualties were suffered by both that a brief respite was ordered to regroup. The battle now shifted to the centre as the Teutonic cavalry advanced on the Polish centre. Polish cavalry opened their line to allow the town militia and wagons to move through. This move halted the Teutonic advance as new orders were given to German crossbowmen to clear the way before resuming their attack. This delay was quickly snapped up as the Polish left wing resumed their attack catching the Teutons off balance. Adding to the Teutonic misery, fire from the town militia and wagons outmatched those created by Teuton crossbows. A harder fought battle but another Polish victory, 8-5.


Game three developed into a better match as casualties were even for both sides after an hour of battle (four turns, 3-3). The Teutonic assault on the Polish centre lost momentum to the effective defense by the town militia and war wagons. Further practice is required and this will be done later this month. 





Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Battle of Seckenheim, June 1462

The battle at Seckenheim was one of a number recorded during the Bavarian War of 1459-63, but this particular one decided the fate of the ‘Mainzer Stiftsfehde (Mainz Feud) which began over the succession to the seat as archbishop of Mainz. The victory earned for Frederick I, Count of the Palatine, not only territorial concessions and ransoms, but secured his position as elector.

Background

In 1459, two candidates were vying for the vacated throne of the archbishop of Mainz and by a small majority, the position was won by Dieter von Isenburg over Adolph II of Nassau. As archbishop, Dieter joined the growing anti-Palatinate alliance disputing Frederick I dubious seizure of the position as Prince Elector of the Palatine. This led both sides seeking battle and on the field at Pfeddersheim, this ended in disaster for the anti-Palatinate alliance and the loss of the archbishop of Mainz for Dieter von Isenburg. That position would now be filled by Adolph II of Nassau, yet in an attempt to turn his fortune around and reclaim his position, Dieter sought the help of Frederick I offering lands as an incentive and lucrative income sources.

Angered by this, Pope Pius II had both Dieter von Isenburg and Frederick I excommunicated in early 1462. Adding to this, the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III, declared war on the elector and the former archbishop. Other nobles, not wishing to let an opportunity slip by formed a coalition in support of the emperor and pope, these were Ulrich V, Count of Württemberg, Louis I, Count of Palatine-Zweibrücken, Charles I, Margrave of Baden-Baden and George of Baden, the Bishop of Metz.

Marshalling their forces to invade the Palatine, the coalition quickly mustered 6 – 8,000 men in June. Invading the lands between the Rhine and the Neckar Rivers, they laid waste to the region as they marched onward to Heidelberg, the Elector’s capital. Learning that Frederick I was out of the country, they would continue their destruction before marching on the capital. The information however, proved a ruse by Frederick serving to catch the coalition forces dispersed.

On the morning of the 30th, Frederick I found the coalition army away from their fortified camp at St. Leon and skirting between marauding bands and their fortified camp, Frederick I reached a position near Neckarhausen. Deploying his cavalry in echelon and positioning his infantry in nearby woods he awaited the arrival of the enemy.

Seeing Palatine troops deployed, the coalition forces quickly formed two lines of crossbow-armed cavalry interspersed with heavy cavalry. After some skirmishing, both cavalry forces charged each other, During the ensuing cavalry battle, Frederick’s infantry emerged from the woods to encircle the coalition troops. Only 300 cavalry were able to break through the encirclement, but well over 400 nobles and their retinue were captured and notably three of the coalition leaders, Charles I, Margrave of Baden-Baden, Ulrich V, Count of Württemberg, and George of Baden, the Bishop of Metz, earning Frederick I generous ransoms and an end to the hostilities.

Battlefield

From the map you will note the area is heavily wooded and oat fields abound between the villages of Grenzhof, Edingen, and Neckar-hausen.  The road, Speyerer Strasse from Ladenburg runs north to south and should be placed close to the board edge. The Neckar River (waterway) need not be placed if using the smaller game board.

Map: Förderverein historisches Seckenheim – Schlachtbei Seckenheim

The opposing forces.

Both forces use the Medieval German list of IV/13c with some changes. Sources give the coalition forces 6 – 8,000, however, most of the infantry are pillaging near their fortified camp at St. Leon with all the cavalry to engage in similar activity further west..

Charles I, Margrave of Baden-Baden is in command and each element of knights should represent one of the four nobles. The recommended deeper formation of knights (6Kn) should be replaced with an element of 3Kn and Cv.

The Palatinate cavalry were still out-numbered by the coalition forces but do have Swiss mercenaries and peasants hidden in the wood. Composition of each force will be posted next with test results.

MainzDiocesan Feud (Wiki)

Battle ofSeckenheim (Wiki)

Schlacht bei Seckenheim (German)




Tuesday, 26 January 2021

The Battle of Gavere – the refight

 All three tests used the standard DBA3 lists for Low Countries IV/57c and Early Burgundian IV/76, but doubled the number of elements for each single command. Readers are referred to blog post of 14 October 2019 for details of the double size command. Four (7Hd) are substituted for Low Countries pikemen (4Pk) to represent the recent additions to the rebel army. 

The Battle of Gavere – 1453

Game one followed the flow of the actual battle beginning with an artillery bombardment before pike columns set off toward the Burgundian line. In response, Burgundian archers and crossbowmen moved forward and disrupted their line, but this did not deter the rebels any. Burgundian success against the rebel right was matched by and equal success on the opposite flank leaving the rebel centre to deal the decisive blow. A tightly fought battle lasting eleven turns resulting in a victory for Ghent (8+3Hd - 10).

Game two, replaced the artillery bombardment with a rapid assault by the rebel pike columns. The Burgundians. deployed in a similar manner as before, were scrambling to repel the pike columns, some managed to reach the Burgundian reserve formations. Hidden from view, the Burgundian cavalry did charge the rebel left creating casualties, but not enough to stem the tide battle. The Flemings fought like Swiss earning a 3 – 8 victory.


Game three, but for the repositioning of the artillery both armies retained their standard deployment. Both Burgundian wings advance while shooting effectively breaking up the orderly march of the rebel pike columns.

The veteran Flemish were undeterred and continued their advance leaving the militia pike to redress their line.

This resulted in the central division closing on the Burgundian line first to cut down crossbowmen and artillerymen, on the Burgundian left however, a hail storm of crossbow bolts sent rebel units recoiling seeking relief. At this moment, the Burgundian cavalry made a timely appearance.

Rolling up the rebel left wing with effect, the Burgundian cavalry set their eyes on the rebel centre. At the Burgundian centre, the situation became critical as Philip committed his guard to hold off repeated attacks by rebel pike columns. This proved frustrating as repeated counter attacks had little effect.


Both sides suffered greatly, but the Burgundian centre held. Further afield, shoots were heard signalling a rebel resurgence on the right as pike columns crash into the Burgundian crossbowmen, sending them recoiling. Failing to break the Burgundian line, the pikemen were now spent. The rebel left now gone and both centre and right exhausted, troops began leaving the field and hopefully reach the walls of Ghent (8+Hd – 6).

Comments

In reality, all three games were evenly matched, yet an overdose of confidence undermined Burgundian success in game one, grim determination to win no matter what the cost delivered a second victory for the rebels and lastly, developing a workman like approach served the Burgundians well to earn their victory.

History records the fight lasted two hours before the powder kegs behind rebel position were accidentally set off. The enormous eruption sent rebel troops into a panic which the Burgundians took advantage off and escorted the rebels off the field. It seems unlikely that such an event should occur in every game, but players may wish to add this as an event card or die cast.   


Sunday, 24 January 2021

Lithuanian III/18

The Lithuanian are ready for use consisting of four heavy cavalry, six light horse and two foot archer elements. An order with Legio Heroica was placed recently to add more light horse and foot archers, but for the moment these will do nicely for the planned historical scenarios. 

The heavy cavalry are a mix of Legio Heroica bow and lance armed figures with diverse shields from Essex. Shields are described in Ian Heath’s Armies of the Middle Ages, vol.2 as mostly red colour and I realise many modern representations have emblems painted on them, but decided against this as there would be a good number of banners to identify them as Lithuanian. The light horse are bow armed Turcoman figures with fur caps added with Milliput.

The flags like others made are interchangeable, so elements may crop up elsewhere as allies or morph into another army as the collection is meant for the later part of the 15th century. The description of flags is difficult to find, but the Columns of Gediminas and the Vytis are the most seen. Vytis, usually depicted with a sword, but a manuscript dated 1422 shows him with a spear which looked better. Despite the repetition of flags and banners in red colour, the different shapes should add some variety to their general appearance.




Thursday, 21 January 2021

Battle of Gavere – 1453

The revolt of Ghent in 1449 would reach its final act on the field of Gavere on 23 July 1543. Sources give both Burgundian and rebel forces an equal strength of 30,000, but at the end of the day, the Burgundians held the field sending the rebel army in full retreat. Days later, Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy arrived before the walls of Ghent to receive the city’s capitulation.  

Background

In 1447, Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, began a series measures to reduce the authority of the town council of Ghent. These included taxes to be levied on salt and flour, both of which would be collected by ducal officials. Not long after, other Flemish cities were included in the taxation programme and in retaliation town councils with the support of their guilds called for a general strike.

Leading the revolt, the city of Ghent raised troops throughout the county of Vlaanderen, yet not all towns were in favour of the strike. Those cities offering resistance were plundered. A few such towns, as Dender, Aalst and Geraardsbergen offered stiffer resistance and were placed under siege by the army of Ghent. Less successful were the castles of Poeke, Schendelbeke and Gavere which were captured and garrisoned. Seeing the rebellion quickly gaining support throughout Flanders and fearing a similar action developing in his border provinces, King Charles VII of France attempted to negotiate a truce for the two parties. Ghent refused the offer.

In June of 1453, Philip began his military campaign in earnest by sending his fleet, based at Sluis, up the River Scheldt to secure Antwerp. In the south, the main army would march from Lille and begin recapturing rebel held towns before approaching Ghent. Towns fell in rapid succession and by July, Gavere castle became the final bastion before approaching the city of Ghent. The rebels however had other plans.

Battlefield

The polder fields between Semmerzake and Gavere with the Schelde River bordering the battlefield’s northern and western side was the scene of the battle. The town of Gavere is behind the Burgundian position and from here the ground gently rises toward Semmerzake and Vurste. Behind the Burgundian line is a depression through which the Leebeek, a tributary of the Schelde, served to hide the Burgundian right. The castle and village of Gavere played no part in the actual battle and need not be placed on the battlefield, however, woods do line both sides of the Schelde River and the Leebeek.

Map of the battlefield: De Slag Bij Gavere, Antoine de Smet, deel 2, page 11.

The Opposing Forces

Sources give equal numbers for both armies and some quote a low of 16,000 to a high of 30,000 men, 20,000 being most likely. The rebel army left Ghent with 16,000 men and gathered additional troops along the route.

The Burgundian army, mostly recruited from Artesie, Picardy and Burgundy numbered 14,000, were under the command of Thibaut de Neufchatel, Marshal of Burgundy and Jean de Croy, Lord of Chimay. Additional pioneers and artillery personnel would bring the total to 20,000. This also include the Low Country crossbowmen and pikemen from cities and towns still loyal to Philip the Good. Considering the larger numbers that fought, our test games will use doubled the number of elements for each army.

Edit (26-01-2020)

Photos show the layout of terrain features for the battle. A low hill is positioned near the centreline with the road to the right of the rebel deployment leading to Semmerzake and the second to Gavere. Scatter material mark the weide and woods on the rebel right, treat them as rough ground. The Leebeek and screeding trees should leave enough space for the fourth division to deploy in. Technically, their position is on the edge of the wood and movement is 1BW when exiting.

A minor oversight, the board is 80cm x 80cm and for the double size commands should have been 120cm x 80cm. In the end both sides scored a victory, but one can only speculate if the extra room would have benefited the Burgundian player in the first two games. I am still pleased with the results. 

View from the rebel position. 


The Leebeek shielded by wood. 



References

Route You, Battlefield of Gavere. 

Door het strijdveld van de Slag bij Gavere -Wandelroute | RouteYou

Gavere 1453, Feiten en Verhalen 

Microsoft Word - Slag bij Gavere 1453 feiten en verhalen.doc

De Slag Bij Gavere, Antoine de Smet

https://www.gavere.be/sites/default/files/atoms/files/boek_slag_bij_gavere_deel_1.pdf

https://www.gavere.be/sites/default/files/atoms/files/boek_slag_bij_gavere_deel_2.pdf

Communal Armies in the County of Flanders, Carl de Roo, Slingshot 201 p.20-22.




Friday, 15 January 2021

Normandy 1450 - the raid, the ambush and battle

With the exception of the Social Wars of Rome, peasant rebellions receive little attention by ancient and medieval rule sets. Reading the events preceding the Battle of Formigny fuelled the recreation of several light-hearted contests to the table between an English foraging party and the local peasantry. The smallest command possible in BBDBA is six elements, therefore the English foragers would consist of a mix of mounted and foot troops. The French resistance, I adapted the Lurker rule in HOTT for the first two sets with a third meeting, as open battle.

The raid

English scouts galloped past the village intent on herding the grazing livestock north of it while mounted archers sealed the southern approach to the village. Following behind, English infantry marched directly on the village. The sudden appearance sent the few remaining villagers sprinting toward the woods. English revelry came to a halt when armed peasants catching the archers as they were dismounting. Peasants armed with bow moved out of the wood, but their arrows proved ineffective. Unbothered by the loss of the mounted archers, the raid was quickly executed leaving the peasantry powerless to contest it as they dared not move into range of English bows.


The Ambush

Elsewhere in Normandy, English scouts and mounted archers formed a vanguard of a supply convoy as news circulated of armed bands of peasantry were about. The column reached a section of the road flanked on either side with hedge lined fields and woods. The first sound of alarm came when the vanguard came under attack. Thick hedges blocked visibility and alarm further heightened with the sound of battle at the tail of the column. The action did not last long and the few English survivors fled leaving all their gathered plunder behind.



The Battle

A few peasant bands, led by firebrands, were bold enough to meet small parties of English inviting them to open battle. One such act of lunacy deployed a low ridge flanked by woods. Eager to repay the compliment, the English moved into line. Arrows rained on the peasant bands but their line did not waver prompting to English line to move forward. English scouts had encircled the enemy position to help the billmen cut through the peasants. With little understanding of tactics, peasants hurled themselves at the English archers forcing uncommitted English to join the hand-to-hand battle. This mis-calculation  cost the English dearly as half their number became casualties sending the survivors scurrying off the field.