The History Bit
|Picture reproduced from the BCW Project
First Newbury occurred in September 1643 and pitted Essex against the King. The Royalist forces had attempted to besiege Gloucester but were forced to withdraw when a Parliamentary army under Essex marched from London to relieve the defenders. Although denied Gloucester the Royalists realised that a decisive defeat of Essex would leave London virtually defenceless, so they resolved to bring him to battle. A game of cat-and-mouse ensued, including a cavalry action in Cirencester (perhaps the last real excitement the town has seen), culminating in the Royalists getting ahead of Essex and forcing him to fight to secure his route back to London.
The ScenarioThe battlefield of Newbury was dominated by three main features. To the north was an area of lanes and fields representing a closed area unsuitable for cavalry action. To the south was Wash Common, a large open area of high ground. Finally in the centre was Round Hill, a strong defensive position with good fields for fire for artillery. Rupert's cavalry scouted the field before the battle but somehow missed Round Hill and so this was occupied by Essex and proved to be one of the key objectives for both sides during the coming battle.
- The King - CinC
- Left Wing - Prince Rupert; 6 Horse (2 vet)
- Right Wing - Byron (4 Foot)
- Centre - Belasyse / King (2 Horse, 6 Foot)
- Reinforcements (2 Horse, 3 Foot)
- Essex - CinC
- Left Wing - Middleton (2 Horse, 2 Dragoon)
- Right Wing - Stapleton (6 Horse)
- Centre - Skippon / Essex (8 Foot)
Troops defending Round Hill were given soft cover and the artillery overhead fire ranges shortened to 4" as we only had a 4' deep table. Rupert's lifeguards were rated Veterans as are the London Trained Bands.
The Battle - Part I
In the southern part of the battlefield the action began with a general advance by both sides Horse onto Wash Common. The Parliamentary cavalry were the first to crest the rise and so charged (well trotted) headlong into Rupert's troopers.
|Parliamentary Horse on the attack
|The view from Rupert's side
|Stapleton pushes forward
|Rupert commits the Lifeguards
|The combat ebbs in Rupert's favour
In the north there as an initial advance by the Parliamentary Dragoons as they sought to exploit the cover to begin sniping at the Royalist foot deployed in the open beyond the fields. Given their swifter movement the Dragoons established a good position amongst the lane's and hedges, from which they began to ware-down the Royalist foot.
|Deployment in the fields
|The Royalist advance
|The charge goes in
So finally we look to the centre of the field and the battle for Round Hill. This was stoutly defended by a brigade of Foot and three artillery batteries. Some excellent shooting from the Parliamentary foot meant that Round Hill was not seriously threatened in this first part of the game. Indeed the defenders shooting was so effective that the Royalists lost an entire brigade with only limited damage done in return.
|Mind the gap - a Royalist brigade has been routed on the left of the picture
|The doughty defenders