Legio Wargames

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By smacdowall, May 14 2017 10:53AM

On 28 May a group of us will be staging the Battle of Sole Bay which took place 28 May 1672 (old Julian calendar) off the coast of Southwold, Suffolk, England, near where I live. This will be my first foray into naval wargaming.


We have been busy painting up tiny ships to represent the nearly 200 Dutch, English and French ships which took part in the battle at a rough 1:4 ratio. The ships are 1:2400 scale from Tumbling Dice. It fell to me to paint up the French fleet which is being represented by one 2nd rate ship, two 3rd rate and 5 fourth rate ships.


The French Fleet Sails
The French Fleet Sails

It was incredibly fiddly to fit the sails to the masts. I think I must have superglued my fingers together more often than I succeeded in getting the sails firmly attached in the right place and at the right angle. It was a chore I do not really wish to repeat.



A Third Rate Ship of the Line
A Third Rate Ship of the Line

That said, I really enjoyed painting them. By using a series of washes and dry brush techniques they were a fairly quick and simple job and I think they look the business.



The game will take place on 28 May 2017 at the Sailor’s Reading Room in Southwold overlooking Sole Bay where the battle was fought 345 years ago between the Dutch on one side and an Anglo-French fleet on the other. The English fleet was commanded by James Duke of York, later King James II. This battle seems a fitting follow-on from his adventures at the Dunes (see previous blog posts)


It will be open to the public so if you are close by or fancy a bank holiday Sunday in beautiful Southwold then why not drop by. We will be running the action from 11am to 5pm. The Southwold museum will also be open. It has a good exhibition featuring the battle.



By smacdowall, Dec 15 2016 04:59PM

Last weekend saw a return to what we are beginning to call The Wars of James II. Between several of us we now have a good collection of 28mm miniatures spanning 1657-8 campaign in Flanders, when James commanded as the Duke of York, through to the fighting in Ireland when he attempted to regain his throne in the 1690s.


Smaller scale miniatures allow for the spectacle of a big battle with the plenty of room for manoeuvre on a normal sized table. You can do the same in 28mm if you have space for a huge table. Fortunately, thanks to Gary Kitching, we had the space, the miniatures and the enthusiastic players to do this.


Following the True King’s spectacular victory over the Williamites at the Boyne earlier this year, he had to once again defend his divine right of rule at Aughrim. His position was strong with foot formed up in the centre on high ground protected by a boggy stream lined with hedges.


The Williamites massed their horse and best foot on their right flank hoping to force a crossing over a causeway towards a ruined castle and the village of Aughrim. The Jacobites had been expecting the main attack to come on the other flank where the ground was more open. Consequently most of the Jacobite horse were on that flank while the causeway was relatively lightly defended by detachments of commanded musketeers supported by a few squadrons of horse. King James immediately gave orders to transfer several squadrons of his best horse from the right flank to reinforce the left.


The Danish contingent advanced on the Williamite left, forcing back the Irish dragoons who had been sent forward of the boggy stream to delay their advance. The Danes had only intended to feint on that flank but as the Jacobites pulled back they concentrated their forces to push across the boggy ground and close in.


Expected the decisive fighting to take part on the two flanks, the Jacobites thinned out their centre, holding the hedges with relatively inexperienced Irish levies. The better battalions were placed on the ends of the line to support the flanks


Taking advantage of this the English foot surged forward, forced a way across the bog and over the hedges to drive off the Irish defenders. It looked as if they would break through the centre and split the Jacobite army in two. Fortunately King James (who was present on the field after his victory on the Boyne, which was not the case in the historical battle) had drawn off several battalions from his right flank to reinforce the centre.


One of these Jacobite battalions was able to size the opportunity presented by a gap in the enemy line presented when the Danes drew off to the far left wing of the Williamite line. They surged forward to lap the flank of the English and pour a devastating fire into their flank. This, combined with a timely charge by the King’s Lifeguards, not only restored the centre but drove the enemy back over the bog. Now it was the Williamites who had a hole in their centre. The victorious Jacobite battalions could then either swing around to engage the Dutch to their left or march straight through the gap to loot the enemy camp. Naturally they chose the latter option.


The action on the Jacobite left flank was hard fought and confused. The lines broke up with individual units engaging in melees which flowed back and forth with advantage going to the Williamites. For a moment it looked as if the Jacobite left would collapse as the enemy Horse managed to force their way across the causeway. In the nick of time reinforcements arrived which King James had switched from his right flank. These were just enough to stabilise the situation on the left.


The Dutch Guards achieved initial success against the left side of the Jacobite centre, despite the fact that they were held off for several turns by the Irish levies opposing them.


By the time the Dutch broke through King James had been able to re-position his foot guards to intervene. They charged forward full of élan. The Dutch held them for a turn but when Sarsfield’s Horse joined the fray they were thrown back.


The battle was over. There was now no chance for the Williamites to take the position. It had been a very hard fought affair and on several occasions it looked as if William of Orange’s men would break through.


The Jacobite casualties
The Jacobite casualties

The Jacobites suffered very heavy casualties, most of them Irish. All of the Irish battalions had been driven from the field as had half of the dragoons and several squadrons of horse. The Williamite casualties were comparatively light but despite their initial successes, the intervention of King James’ reserves had restored the situation in all sectors and made it impossible for William to dislodge the valiant defenders of the true King and true Religion.


Time to take ship for England!








By smacdowall, Nov 11 2016 03:59PM

I seem to be managing quite a few games of late. Yesterday it was back to the Wars of James Stuart with a most interesting encounter set during the Monmouth rebellion of 1685. Tomorrow it will be back to Ancients (in 6 mil).


Monmouth occupied the village of Philips Norton and was planning on extricating his forces to move on Bath. I played the Royalist forces led by the Duke of Grafton and John Churchill. My intent was to cut off and destroy the rebels before they could withdraw.


Grafton’s Horse. backed up by a detachment of grenadiers and supported by dragoons galloped towards the village, hemmed in by hedges and quite unaware of what would greet them.


The rebels had a detachment of gentry mounted on horseback and a light gun protecting the rear of their column.


The Royalist Horse drove back Monmouth’s local gentry only to find themselves cut off and surrounded. Monmouth’s men rallied and the Royalist cavalry were then cut to pieces.


Monmouth himself took command of his Blue Regiment which held the houses and hedgerows on the outskirts of the village. Unable to deploy, Grafton’s grenadiers fixed bayonets and attempted an assault. Raked by fire on the approach, the grenadiers were cut to pieces as they tried to hack their way into the village.


In the nick of time. John Churchill led the main body of the Royal army up the road to rescue the situation while Grafton dismounted his dragoons and deployed them into a firing line to keep the Rebels occupied while Churchill organised a second assault. Monmouth deployed his Red Regiment off to the flank of the village to counter the Royalist dragoons.


Taking personal command of Kirke’s Lambs (The Queen’s Regiment), Churchill led them against the village. Thanks to the support of Grafton’s dragoons the rebel fire was less effective than it had been against the grenadiers and the light gun made no impression. None-the-less the Royalist foot were forced back after a fierce hand-to-hand combat against men armed with scythes, pitchforks and muskets. A second assault fared no better but while the better trained Royalists were able to re-dress their ranks, the hastily raised rebels were being worn down. Monmouth was wounded and a third assault managed to take the rebel position.



But it was too late. With darkness closing in and the rain getting worse there was no no chance of inflicting a serious defeat on the rebels. Our men had taken horrendous casualties — a regiment of horse and composite battalion of grenadiers had been wiped out. Apart from a few gentlemen of horse the rebels had taken very few casualties and there was nothing more we could do to stop them from making a clean break to advance on Bath


The figures are all from Gary Kitching's 28 mm collection. Most are from Front Rank.




By smacdowall, May 25 2016 01:18PM

Having escaped from his French captors (see previous blog entry) James Stuart will eventually be able to take his place in history as a king almost as bad as his father Charles I.


King James Prepares for Battle.
King James Prepares for Battle.

Be that as it may, last Saturday I took on the role of King James as he sought to overthrow the heretical usurper William at the Boyne.


The Calm Before the Storm
The Calm Before the Storm

The game was set up by Gary Kitching and he cunningly had me deploy the day before, thinking that all I had to do was defend the river crossings to my front. When I showed up on the day he had added several tables to my left making it clear that I would have to re-adjust my deployment. Not least because the Williamites had a large column heading off the find new crossings off to that flank.


The Williamite flanking coloumn sets off
The Williamite flanking coloumn sets off

Unperturbed, I sent off O’Neill’s dragoons off to the left to delay the Williamite march while ordering the Duke of Tyrconnel to lead 2/3rds of his cavalry from my right wing to the left. I resisted the temptation to thin out my centre, hoping that could hold off the Williamite flanking column long enough for me to destroy the expected attack on Oldbridge in the centre.


The Williamite Columns Cross the Boyne
The Williamite Columns Cross the Boyne

It was a good thing I maintained my strength in the centre as the massed Williamite columns poured across the fords in large numbers.


The Jacobite French hold the high ground overlooking the Boyne
The Jacobite French hold the high ground overlooking the Boyne

My men delivered a withering fire and the advancing Williamite battalions faltered.


The clash in the centre
The clash in the centre

Supported by the King’s lifeguards, the Jacobite foot threw the attacking Huguenots back across the Boyne.


The Dutch Blue Guard storm Oldbridge
The Dutch Blue Guard storm Oldbridge

Aided by a cannonade from their heavy batteries the Dutch Blue Guard made it across the river. Despite heavy casualties they drove the defending French from Oldbridge but their success was short-lived. The second line of French counter-attacked and re-took the village.


Irish dragoons hold the fords
Irish dragoons hold the fords

The fords on my right were lightly held by Lord Dongan’s Dragoons backed up by 4 squadrons of cavalry. The dragoons performed valiantly but they lost the firefight and after several devastating volleys they were destroyed.


Crossing the ford
Crossing the ford

With the fords now open on my right the Cutts’ Regiment moves across the ford.


The flank attack begins to stall
The flank attack begins to stall

Meanwhile on my far right flank Tyrconnel has just managed to hold off the Williamites aided by the boggy ground which prevents the latter from deploying into line to make their superior numbers count.


The French capture an English standard
The French capture an English standard

The second line of Williamite foot then attempt to make it across the Boyne. As one of the Williamite commanders remarked "We shall do the same again but with less men." They met a similar fate as the first line. The French Regiment Famechon fighting particluarly valiantly -- capturing one of the Williamite English standards.


King James deployes his reserve
King James deployes his reserve

William’s Dutch Horse swept around Oldbridge riding down the French gunners and routing a unit of French musketeers from the rear of the village


I still had plenty of uncommitted reserves so deployed the Foot Guards, Lifeguards and Reg’t Zurlauben off to the left flank to block the Dutch Horse and to move on to reinforce Tyrconnel. William had not fresh troops left to throw into the fray so the day was won.


The true King would shortly be restored along, no doubt, with the true religion!






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