Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Ripple Field

I set up and played another ECW historical action this evening - the 1643 action at Ripple Field. I used information from Volume 1 of 'De Bellis Civille', a set of ECW scenarios for DBR written by Julian Lander and published back in 1997.

The action saw William Waller defending a hill just north of the village of Ripple against advancing Royalists under Prince Maurice. The order of battle were:

Royalists - Commander, 4 x Trained Horse, 2 x Trained Shot. These start off the board but can enter from Turn 1 along the road from the north, of the squares on either side.

Parliament - 1 x Veteran Horse (Haselrig), 1 x Raw Horse, 1 x Trained Dragoons, 1 x Trained Shot, 1 x Trained Artillery. They also have 1 x Raw Shot which can arrive along the road from the south on the turn on which the Parliament player rolls a 6. The artillery fires at -1 to reflect the fact that it was poorly sited.

(Waller was somewhat outnumbered in this battle and the OOB doesn't really reflect that. If I played it again, I'd probably reduce the Trained Shot in the main Parliament force to Raw to reflect the fact that it's not as large a unit as the Royalist counterparts)

Waller's troops start on the hill facing north, or in the enclosure to the east. I deployed the horse on the left, the shot and artillery in the centre and the dragoons in the field. Note that only the two green fields count as enclosures; the light brown ones are just for show. Haselrig's horse was deployed in reserve.

The Royalist horse led the advance, and swung out wide to their left to work their way around Parliament's flank. If Parliament were forced to take a morale test for losses, they would get a +1 for being in undisputed possession of the hill. If not, then they would get a +1 if they occupied the village of Ripple. A flank move would prevent them falling back to achieve this.

The artillery and dragoons fired on the horse as it advanced across their front. More Royalists appeared; some shot, led by Prince Maurice himself.

Firing broke out along the line, to little effect, as the final Royalist units appeared.

(Actually it's only whilst writing this that I've noticed that one of the Royalist horse never got deployed or, indeed, taken out of the box. So the Royalists fought the whole battle a unit down.)

The Royalist horse on their right launched a series of charges up the hill against its Parliamentarian counterparts, who counterattacked.

At this point, Waller got word that the Earl of Stamford's regiment was marching along the road to Ripple.

After stalling for a turn (random event) the Royalist horse on the left also got into action, attacking the dragoons in the enclosure.

The dragoons came under increasing pressure.

On the other flank Parliament's horse broke ...

... and the Royalists pursued up the hill and swung into the flank of the shot led by Waller.

Both Parliamentarian flanks were now under attack, making a withdrawal much harder.

Haselrig led Parliament's reserve into a counterattack, that shattered the disordered Royalist horse.

The lobsters then charged down off the hill onto Ripple field, where they hit the Royalist shot in the flank. The Royalists had been taking hits steadily from units on the hill ...

.. and broke, leaving Prince Maurice to be captured by Haselrig's men.

Haselrig followed this up with a sweeping advance into the other Royalist shot unit.

Things were now looking desperate for the Royalists, down a horse and shot unit, and with their leader captured, it looked like Parliament would win the day. But on Parliament's right repeated attacks on the dragoons' position in the enclosures had seen them routed.

And as the Royalist horse swung through the enclosures to outflank the artillery position on the hill, Waller panicked, and withdrew his shot unit back towards the village.

(This was a random event, and what a time for it to happen)

Unsupported, the artillery was overrun by the Royalist horse ...

... and it's removal meant that the other group of horse could now swing to the north of the hill and attack Haselrig's troops.

The casualties inflicted on Haselrig's unit were sufficient to take Parliament to its breakpoint. Without possession of the hill, nor of the village (for the reinforcements had never appeared on-table thanks to a lack of spare unit activations), Waller failed the roll, and the remains of his force fled the field.

I've not had a game of the ECW Portable Wargame decided by a random event in such a dramatic fashion before, and it was a fitting end to an interesting, if quick, game. I will certainly be playing this one again, with all of the Royalist units. And, I've also just noticed, a missing hill. But that was never important to the game, so was no loss.


  1. Nice report - just one question about the battle: how come there were no pikemen present, is there any story in that?

    1. According to the DBR scenario it's all horse and commanded shot, plus some dragoons.


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