Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Convoy

A bit of a landmark post this. It's my first Battle Report, so to speak, using only my figures and terrain. The scene is the summer of 1513 in Northern France where the English are besieging Therouanne. A supply column for the English Army is on the move, guarded by troops under the leadership of Sir Rhys ap Thomas. Sir Rhys ap Thomas was a veteran of Bosworth who played an active role in the 1513 campaign leading Border Horse and Welsh cavalry in reconaissance and skirmishes with the French. Unfortunately for the English the redoubtable Pierre Terrail, or Bayard as most of the world knows him, has other ideas about this supply column and has set out to ambush it with his Gendarme company and some supporting light cavalry.

I played the game using a scaled up version of Lion Rampant and Stuart's 1513 army rosters. The scenario is "The Convoy". In this game cavalry units are formed of 12 rather than 6 figures, but still only have 6 "damage points" and infantry units are 6 bases strong but still only have 12 "damage points". Casualties weren't removed during the game until a unit was routed or destroyed. I wanted it to be a real spectacle and look impressive as a larger scale skirmish. The photos are of the actual game, so apologies for any lighting issues and the parts of the room that show up in the background! You also get to see some of my exceptional photo editing with the deployment zones and forces labelled. The height of professionalism I am sure you will agree!

The location Bayard has chosen for his ambush of the English

The field is as above with the English deploying in the top left corner and having to make their way with 3 convoy markers, the large wagons, to the diagonally opposite end of the board. The ambushing French cavalry deploy in the other three corners of the board with the English going first.

The forces are as follows:

The English

Sir Rhys ap Thomas, the English (well Welsh!) Leader and a unit of Demilancers
A unit of Border Horse
A unit of Burgundian Men-at-Arms, more on them later...
2 Units of Garrison Archers
2 Units of Garrison Billmen.

The Garrison Troops represent experienced soldiers, perhaps from noble retinues or part of the Calais Garrison "Crews" as they were called. In this game they marched under the standards of Sir Richard Carew, captain of the Calais Garrison, and Sir Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk. While they personally are not meant to be in the skirmish Carew had 1000 men under his command in this campaign and Brandon 3,200. It is from these contingents that the forces to guard convoy are assumed to have been drawn along with Sir Rhys ap Thomas's horse and a contingent of Maximilian I's Burgundian horsemen who, as will be seen, are keener on getting paid than doing any fighting!

The French

Pierre Terrail, seigneur de Bayard and his Gendarme Company:
2 units on French Gendarmes, one of which includes Bayard
2 units of French Ordonnance Archers armed with Lances

Accompanying Mercenaries
2 Units of Stradiots or Stradiotti
1 Unit of Mounted Crossbowmen, these chaps put in an even poorer performance than the Burgundian men-at-arms!

As you can see the French force is entirely mounted representing Bayard's men and the accompanying mercenaries who have taken the field in an attempt to catch and ambush the slower moving English convoy.

The English Convoy, I chucked the small wagon and pigs in there just to add to the look of it being a supply convoy. They didn't count for anything in the game. The three large wagons represent the convoy markers.

The initial deployment

The above two photos show the initial deployment of the forces. Bayard waits with his Gendarme Company at the end of the table while the Stradiots and Mounted crossbowmen have been sent forward to harass the oncoming English. The English have placed the wagons in the centre protected by the veteran infantry while the cavalry form the "wings" of the convoy. With the units being the size they were I found it impossible to keep to the rule about units being 3" apart so this was not followed. I couldn't have rules stopping the game from looking good!

The best way to follow the action is probably to read the captions under each photo. I have tried to place them in a way which tells the story of the game. It basically started with a disaster for the French as the Mounted Crossbowmen rolled a "blunder" and rode off during the French first turn! Obviously they were unhappy with pay and thought it better to sit this action out.

The English saw this as an opportunity to use a local advantage and crush the outnumbered Stradiots, with the Border Horse riding up to attack them. This was not to be and the skirmishing shots from the Stradiots sent the Border Horsemen reeling back into the English column which effectively destroyed them as a fighting unit. Flushed with success the Stradiots pressed an attack on the advancing column harassing the English archers and Burgundian men-at-arms.

After the Mounted Crossbowmen have ridden off in the first turn the Border Horse lead an attack on the Stradiots in an attempt to wipe them out as they are isolated from the rest of the French force.

The Border Horse are however repulsed by the Stradiots and fall back on the column

The English convoy starts to wind its way forward

The Stradiots push forward harassing the convoy having routed the Border Horse.

The Stradiots cross the hedges to harass the archers.

As the emboldened Stradiots came forward to attack the English the Burgundian men-at-arms launched an attack on them which was successfully evaded by the skirmishing horsemen. The Burgundian horsemen then had a "blunder" result themselves and retreated back moaning over pay and the fact they weren't employed to chase these savages who they had no hope of catching in the field. The English archers, however, held their nerve and the greater power of their warbows was finally successful in driving the Greek and Albanian mercenaries off the field although the horsemens harassing attacks caused casualties.

The Burgundian Heavy Cavalry charge the Stradiots but the Greek and Albanian cavalry evade them and cause casualties to both the Burgundians and the English Archers.

The English archery soon starts to take it's toll on the Balkan horsemen however.

One group of Stradiots is driven off leaving the others to come under a rain of arrows. The Hedges offer little protection.

As the English column is distracted by the engagement with the light horsemen the rest of the French slowly advance to trap them.

The Stradiots continue to be a thorn in the English side, driving back the Burgundian mercenaries with skirmishing attacks.

Bayard looks on from a very safe position at the back of the French lines!

The second group of Stradiots are finally driven off and the English continue their advance into the teeth of the French cavalry.

The French Ordonnance archers (mounted lancers) come under a rain of arrows.

With the Stradiots finally seen off it was time for the English to turn their attention to a much bigger threat; Bayard's Gendarme Company blocking the road ahead. Bayard himself had some awful activation roles so sat right at the end of the table for ages but the rest of his company had managed to move up, tightening the noose around the English column.

Initially it all went the way of the English with the archers inflicting damage on the Ordonnance Cavalry and the Sir Rhys ap Thomas winning the first clash of arms against the better armoured and horsed French Gendarmes. Both units of Ordonnance Archers charged the English bowmen only for both units to be seen off in a heroic defence by the English soldiers.

Sir Rhys ap Thomas leads his Demilancers head on into the French

In the first clash Sir Rhys drives back the Gendarmes despite their heavier armour and horses.

The first cavalry melee

The French Gendarmes are driven back but not without cost to the Demilancers

The first group of French Ordonnance archers charge the English archers. Already weakened by the power of the bows they are driven off.... the second wing of Ordonnance archers charges in only to be sent reeling by a heroic defence from the English Soldiers!

Having regrouped from the first clash the Gendarmes charge Sir Rhys ap Thomas again.

The English luck did not hold and Sir Rhys ap Thomas was unhorsed and left for dead in the second clash with the Gendarmes. The weight of the French cavalry attacks was beginning to tell. With the loss of their leader the English force began to falter. The heroic English archers were finally driven back into the corn fields, loosing one of the English wagons to the French. This loss was followed swiftly by another as the victorious French Gendarmes then charged the English Bill guarding a second wagon and sent them fleeing from the field.

Having spent much of the engagement in his command position (at the back!) Bayard finally rides up to watch his Gendarme Company as they engage with the English

Having seen off two previous charges by the French Cavalry the archers are finally pushed back into the corn fields. One of the Wagons is destroyed by the French.

Having defeated Sir Rhys ap Thomas and his Demilancers the French Gendarmes crash into the English Billmen in an attempt to destroy a second wagon.

With only one wagon left the English falter and Bayards Gendarme company repositions itself in preparation for another attack. The Burgundian men-at-arms, right at the back of the convoy, decide they have had enough and ride off having never engaged in any combat.

As the French regrouped the Burgundian Cavalry decided retreat was now the best option and rode off leaving the English infantry to their fate. The English archers managed to destroy the lead Gendarme unit that had caused such havoc to the English advance but the battle had already been decided. Abandoned by their cavalry the English Billmen and Archers were ridden down by Bayard's Gendarmes and the last wagon was destroyed. Victory went to the French although Bayard would have preferred the ambush to have been less damaging to his Ordonnance Company!

The final group of Billmen is ridden down by Bayard 

I really enjoyed this game and loved how some of the units would simply not do what was asked of them. The French Mounted Crossbowmen rode off in the first turn and the Burgundian men-at-arms similarly did nothing for the rest of the game after a failed charge at the Stradiots seemed to completely demoralise them! As soon as they saw things getting tough for the convoy up ahead they were off. 

Similarly Bayard and his Gendarmes were motionless for the first half of the game, constantly failing activation roles and giving the initiative to the English.This seemed to pay off in the end though as the English had a tough time dealing with the Stradiots harassing their flank and were too strung out along the road to effectively fight off the French cavalry when they did crash into the front of them. Despite some heroic fighting by the English archers the Chivalry of France triumphed.

"The Convoy" makes for an exciting scenario. The depth of the board, playing across it longways, combined with the chaos that failed activation roles can bring in Lion Rampant meant this game swung back and forth and it was hard to see who would win. Initially I thought the French would be destroyed piecemeal and it would be an easy English victory! I am keen to try this one again, possibly an Italian Wars version with the Spanish ambushing the French in a mountain pass in 1502. That could be interesting. Of course a younger Bayard will have to be present to lead Louis XII's forces!

This leaves the archers who earlier saw off the Stradiots. They are left to the mercy of the French cavalry who have destroyed the convoy but with heavier losses than Bayard would have wished to his Gendarme Company.


  1. Great game and report, your Tudors may already outnumber mine in less than a quarter of the time, i salute you !

    A real period feel there, it's just as I imagined it.

  2. Excellent looking game and enjoyable BatRep, Oli! Really pleased to see your fine collection out on the gaming table for a battle. Stradiots were a pain in the backside for some time. Loved your photos and battle retelling. Hope to see this collection out in battle more frequently.

    Well done!

  3. It's always a great pleasure to look at such a wonderful table...a beautiful report!

  4. Absolutely stunning table and figures, Oli! This would look right at home in a fine museum. Amazing to read that Sir Thomas was also at Bosworth - over 20 yrs before! Great to see you are also using Lion Rampant too.

  5. First, congratulations on your first AAR with your gorgeous figures and lovely terrain. It looked to be a fun scenario with victory swaying in the balance. Terrific stuff!

  6. Lovely looking game, scenery and figures and at least the English archers put in a shift, you don't get called the Chevalier without compare sitting at the back!
    Best Iain