Friday, 5 April 2013

Black Powder Prestonpans - First engagement of the '45

We didn't manage to fit in a CWC game at the Defenders last night as Ian's car was on the blink.  Did, however, manage to get in on a Jacobite vs British Government game for Black Powder, based on the Battle of Prestonpans, the first major engagement of the '45.

We used Will's plastic figures from Strelets (Jacobites) and Airfix (AWI figures doubling up as an earlier generation).  We drew lots for sides with me taking on the Jacobites and Frank the Government forces.  I had three brigades of clansmen, on the right flank three clans led by a commander with ability 7, the right flank again with three clans and a leader with ability 8, and two clans in the centre (reserve) under the leadership of the overall commander, Bonny Prince Charlie himself.  The Government forces facing me had their backs to an impassable wall (the boundary of the local manorial estate).  They deployed 5 infantry regiments in line, with two units of dragoons on each flank and an unreliable unit of loyal highlanders in woodland on my right flank.  Two government commanders, each rated an 8, were present.  Opposite my left flank, a battery of artiillery crewed by naval personnel was also deployed.  The forces were initially drawn up such that the Highlanders couldn't charge home in the first move and they had initiative and moved first.

Or rather they didn't.  I ordered each formation in turn to advance to just outside musket range of the government lines and all three commands failed to move - a sign of things to come!!  The government troops were even more reluctant and equally did nothing in the first turn.  We waived pleasantly to each other.  In turn 2 my forces again failed to move.  For his part, the government troops tried to move a unit of dragoons to screen the flank of his artillery - and failed, and tried to move his unreliable hbighlanders to the edge of the woods, again without success.

At last, in turn 3, I managed to motivate my left flank clansmen to advance to just outside musket range, but within artillery range.  The rest of my forces were taking root.  The government forces got their dragoons to screen the artillery and straightened their lines to face the clansmen.  Ineffective artillerty fire bounced over the heads of my left flank clansmen.  Turn 4 saw my right and centre units advance to form a line, still outside musket range.

In turn 5 my left flank clansmen charged the government lines, contacting the artillery battery and an adjacent infantry unit.  The artillery was swept away, but fighting between clan and government infantry was fierce, but the infantry stood firm.  The government response was for the melee to continue, with two dragoon units charging home into the fray.  These melees were also inconclusive, both sides trading hits, but standing firm.  In turn 6, the melees continued an my left, with Bonny Prince Charlies clans blundering and charging the centre of the government line, but failing to make contact.  On the left flank, a dragoon unit was swept away, and the infantry unit pushed back almost to the wall.  The government response was to concentrate fire on the centre clans, causing numerous hits.  The surviving dragoons on my left swept away a clan, but the infantry held.

For turn 7, my right flank clans blundered and retired to the edge of the table, where they sat out the rest of the game.  On the left, my unengaged clan fired on the surviving dragoon unit, which broke and fled, killing the attached commander, but the poor quality government infantry actually pushed my ferocious clansmen back, breaking them.  The government line then charged home into my centre clans, which held for this turn at least.  Turn 8 saw the end, the right flank clans did nothing, the left flank clan did nothing and, in the centre, Bonny Prince Charlies clans broke and fled carrying the CinC with them and ending any effective Jacobite action in the game.

The right flank clans would have been able to retire in reasonable order, although the two units of surviving government dragoons would have been harrassing them.  The surviving left flank clan would have melted away into the hills to the south.  While the Jacobite cause may not have been finished, it would certainly have been massively damaged, with little chance of the chain of events which led the Jacobites to Derby and back to Culloden, although Charles Stuart would have done his best to raise more support.  For the government troops, the way to Edinburgh was open and they would have relieved the beseiged garrison there.

All in all a very enjoyable game, lots of fun and period flavour.  I based my command style on a cross between Mel Gibson and Russ Abbott (I used to live in the same street as Russ), although I didn't have the ginger wig, blue face or 6 pack of Special Brew, but did my best nonetheless.  The game was finely balanced throughout - at first I thought the charge on the left flank was going to sweep the field, but some resolute use of the dragoons and infantry stalled any gains there.  The blunder on my right flank sealed the end as it left the CinC's command exposed and isolated.  I have to say this was one of the most fun games I've had with Black Powder, helped no end by Will acting as a very competent umpire and fount of all knowledge.  A big thanks to Will for setting it up and for allowing us to use his brand new Jacobites.  Pictures of his Jacobite troops, along with loads of 20mm plastic goodness, can be seen on his web site:

Thanks for looking.

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