Steve and I thought it would be interesting to run the "Storming of Leeds" scenario again, but this time use the WAB ECW rules and see how they worked with the small units involved. All the forces and terrain were identical to those used for the game a fortnight ago using the 1644 rules. One significant difference was that the Parliamentarian dragoons were deployed as skirmishers, as were one unit of Royalist dragoons.
The Parliamentarian forces south of the river were first into action, the dragoons firing at the defenders of the barricade whilst the clubmen formed up ready to charge across the bridge. I decided that it would be better to replace the dragoons at the barricade with my small infantry reserve, (which had some pikemen) and therefore began to move them forward. Meanwhile my artillery was attempting to find the range to inflict some damage on the clubmen. [The WAB rules require you to estimate the range and then roll an "artillery dice" to determine the actual point of impact, followed by a second roll to determine the 'bounce']. In the end it was the third round from the gun which hit and the clubmen had to take a test. Although raw, they did have the advantage of being able to count extra ranks and this enabled them to pass the morale test.
Supported by fire from the Parliamentarian musketeers and dragoons the first unit of clubmen surged across the bridge. There was no fire from the barricade as the Royalist infantry had only just taken up their positions, but the field gun did fire and a round of hail shot swept across the clubmen. Undaunted they charged the barricade, but could make no impression against the pikemen. Pulling back to regroup they were hit by another round from the gun and also suffered casualties from the musketeers. This proved too much and they routed back across the bridge, their movement unsettling the dragoons and musketeers who also fell back. For the moment, the bridge was safe.
Nearer the river the Royalist defenders were also stretched to the limit. They had managed to hold the skirmishing dragoons in check, but the introduction of Fairfax's musketeers dramatically altered the balance of forces. Fairfax's first volley inflicted crippling losses on the defending dragoons and although they stood their ground, their fire was too weak to slow the advance of the parliamentarian musketeers. This is the view of the western defences as we halted proceedings for lunch.
When we resumed Fairfax ordered the Liversedge clubmen to charge the Royalist infantry behind the hedge. Ignoring the cavalry to their flank they did so and pushed back the Royalists again. Savile ordered the cavalry to charge and they failed to do so. The Liversedge clubmen moved forward again and once again charged the Royalists, pushing them out of the enclosure and into the streets of Leeds. This had the advantage of removing the cavalry threat to their flank. The Royalist horse did manage to advance and take up a position threatening the flank of any further Parliamentarian cavalry crossing the defences.
The Birstell clubmen were charged by Royalist infantry and beat them off. Rallying, the Royalists charged again and this time it was the clubmen who were defeated. Scattering before the pikemen they quickly crossed the defences and made for their own lines. This allowed the Royalists to move further forward and take on Fairfax's musketeers. The musketeers had little chance of withstanding the pikes and were soon joining the clubmen outside the defences. However, this second advance had moved the Royalists too far from their supports and the Parliamentary cavalry swept down on their flank and cut them down. The sight of the destruction of this unit panicked the Royalists nearby and three units of musketeers/ dragoons took to their heels. Presented with such an opportunity the Parliamentary cavalry wasted no time in riding down the hapless Royalists.
The scenario played out close to the historical facts. The WAB ECW rules enabled the clubmen to stand up to morale tests better and they fared better in the melees, mostly due to their large size. Artillery was much more of a lottery than in the 1644 rules. The use of dragoons as skirmishers enabled the Parliamentarian clubmen to get closer before they came under fire and this too helped them prevail in the ensuing melee.
7th April, Bletchley
10 hours ago