Tally Ho!

Saturday 6 May 2017

Battle of Dunbar, 1650 - sort of...

The Battle

For our second game of Captaines & Calivars we recreated the battle of Dunbar, but with a twist. In the historic battle Cromwell's New Model Army attacked and defeated a Covenanter force under Leslie by focusing their attack on the end of the Scottish line to achieve a local superiority.

For our refight we reversed the forces and so a Parliamentary force defended the heights while a Scottish Royalists force modelled on Montrose attacked them. The setup was similar though with A class Irish troops focused against the left flank of the Parliamentarians and dragoons screening the right. In theory the out-numbered and out-classed Parliamentary forces should struggle unless they can bring their unengaged units to bear.

The Scottish left which outflanks and outnumbers the Parliamentary defenders

Dragoons and Horse trying to delay the Parliamentary left

Irish Brigade and Highlanders ready to attack

Parliamentary left - can they flank the attacking Scots?

Long-shot of the battlefield from the Scottish side

Long-shot from the Parliamentary side 

The battle began with both sides attacking on their left sides with their Horse in an attempt to outflank their opponents, with both sides having a numerical advantage on one of the sides.

Cavalry action on the Parliamentary left

On the opposite side the Scots attack

The Parliamentary cavalry went as expected with their larger force pushing back the smaller Scottish Horse. On the opposite side fortunes were reversed though - despite having an advantage the Scottish failed to break the Parliamentary Horse and were themselves routed with substantial losses. Mostly this was down to some bad luck on the Scottish side and dodgy dice.

Scottish Horse win on their left

Unexpectedly Cromwell routs his opponents 
So the weight of the assault would have to fall to the Irish Brigade and Highlanders if the Scottish were to win a victory. They pressed forward against the Parliamentary forces arrayed on the heights and had some initial success against the first line of defenders. They quickly became bogged-down and found themselves flanked by Parliamentary infantry.      

Irish and Highlanders push uphill

View from the Irish Brigade position

The attack fizzles out
With their cavalry beaten, and the Irish Brigade stalled, it was agreed that Parliament had won a famous victory that reversed history.  


The Verdict

Our second game of Captaines and Calivars was an enjoyable one with no obvious defects in the rules and a good ECW feel to the game. The only change from last time was to award Infantry who stand and fire +1/2 in combat rather than an additional combat dice - this seemed more reasonable.

We also discussed whether or not an ACW version for 15mm might be possible. Certainly for the early war little change from the Napoleonic version would be needed. For the mid and later wars a few issues to look at would be:
  • Rifled muskets were more deadly to massed troops than their smoothbore cousins.
  • Cavalry had ceased to have a shock role and was mostly mounted infantry.
  • Formations were less dense with mass skirmishing more common than before.
  • Combat was rare as one side usually ran unless defending cover.   



  1. Great looking battle, lovely figures!

  2. Mostly Warlord Games plastics with a few odds and sods from the bring & buy. You get lots of options on the sprue and they are pretty easy to convert