Tuesday 4 September 2018

Home, Huntly and Howard

Last weekend Stuart of Army Royal, http://stuartsworkbench.blogspot.com/, and I engaged in mortal combat once again. This time the setting was the Anglo-Scots border in the Autumn of 1513. We felt that as Stuart's collection is specifically aimed at the English French campaign in the Summer of 1513 and I have slowly been building forces that can be used to put together a Scots army for 1513 this would be a great setting for our games. Using our ever evolving Lion Rampant rules we played three different scenarios all set around James IV's invasion of England in this fateful year. As normal the pictures are of the actual games and I didn't record the action blow by blow but the captions of the photos should give a fairly good indication of the way the games turned out. For all of the games Stuart commanded the English while I played the Scots.

Border Horse from the Kerr Clan ride out to secure the bridge.

 The Fall of Etal Castle

James IV's initial crossing of the Border in 1513 was marked by the taking of some English fortresses, most notably Norham on 29th August but another, smaller fortress, taken was Etal. For our first game we decided to play out a fictional defence of Etal by an English force attempting to delay the Scots advance. Both of us would start with 18-22 points of figures in a Lion Rampant Retinue on the table. These Retinues would race for control of the bridge in the centre. Whoever gained the bridge first would then role a D3. This was the number of turns it would take for their larger 38-42 point Retinue to arrive while the side that didn't reach the bridge first would wait double the turns rolled for their larger force to arrive.

The Scots would gain "Glory" for every unit that left the table at the opposite end, this would mean they could start encircling Etal for a brief siege. The English would gain "Glory" for every Scots unit destroyed. We also used the Honour Special Orders from Pikemans Lament to add another level to the game objectives. The forces were as follows:

The English

The English Garrison's Sortie
1 Unit of Foot Knights (Marmaduke Constable, Retinue Leader)
2 Units of Border Horse
1 Unit of Shire Bow

The English Relief Force
1 Unit of Foot Knights (The Earl of Surrey, Retinue Leader)
1 Unit of Foot Knights (Edmund Howard)
1 Unit of Demilancers (Lord Scrope)
1 Unit of Shire Bill
1 Unit of Shire Bow
1 Unit of Retinue Bill
1 Unit of Retinue Bow
1 Culverin

The Scots

The Scots Scouting Party
2 Units of Border Horse (1 of which was Dand Kerr, Retinue Leader)
2 Units of Highlanders

The Scots Invasion Force
1 Unit of Foot Knights (James IV, King of Scotland, Retinue Leader)
2 Units of Scots Pike
2 Units of Shire Bow
2 Units of Retinue Bill (Borderers)
1 Unit of Highlanders
1 Unit of Demilancers

The Sortie from the Garrison attempt to delay the Scots advance.

James IV leads his invasion force towards Etal Castle.

Things went badly for the English from the start in this game. They failed to get to the bridge first, this wasn't helped by them initially having to negotiate rougher terrain than the Scots. The Garrison's Sortie suffered at the hands of the Highlanders and Border Horse who rapidly pushed them back to the point where only Sir Marmaduke Constable and his Foot Knights remained. He sought cover from the arrows of the Scottish Light Horse and Infantry by getting into the ditch that surrounded Etal. Unfortunately this left him vulnerable to the Highlanders who swiftly attacked and laid him low!

As the Scots main invasion force slowly moved forward under the watchful eyes of their King the castle's relief force arrived atop the hill. The Scots scouts were quickly dispersed by the English reinforcements with only Dand Kerr and a few of his Border Horse riding to safety, enabling them to play a further part in the clash. As the siege train crept forward the English had plenty of time to establish a defensive position while sending their Demilancers forward to disrupt James IV's advance. They were struck by particular bad luck when their Culverin crew decided today was not the day to stand on a hill and fire at an advancing invasion force and promptly fled the field without firing a shot. The Scots were met with opposite fortune as more Highlanders arrived on the field to join the attack.

The Scots Border Horse force the English back.

The aged Marmaduke Constable attempts to shelter in the castles ditch after his ill advised attempt to stall the Scots.

The Scots invasion force moves forward.

English reinforcements arrive in the form of men under another old soldier, Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, his son Edmund Howard and Lord Scrope (We thought Sir Rhys Ap Thomas's Raven Standard was pretty close to that of Lord Scrope for this game!)

The English secure the top of the hill while the Demilancers ride on ahead to disrupt the Scots column.

The Scots are about to reach the river.

Etal Castle with the Scots advancing in front.

Lord Scrope's horsemen cross the bridge in an attempt to disorganise the marching Scots pike.

The Scots approached in a very slow but organised manner. This allowed the Highlanders, Kerr's remaining Border Horse and the Scots Archers to all shoot at the feared English Bowmen at the same time as they crossed the river and advanced up the steep terrain towards the castle. The Scots took casualties from the English arrows but there were enough of them to rout the English Archers. With their Bowmen gone the English Billmen and Foot Knights were forced to abandon their defensive position and attack the now larger Scots host. The Demilancers bravely charged one of the Scots Pike blocks but were defeated. They then engaged in another clash with the Scots armoured Horsemen, causing casualties to the Scots, but they could not stop the advancing army.

On the top of the hill the English faired badly having lost both their Archers and Artillery. A savage melee ensued both in and around the defensive ditch of Etal and the advancing Scots Highlanders and Kerr's remaining Border Horse suffered. For a moment it even looked as if an attempt on James IV's life might be made by the surrounded English but it was not to be. Scottish numbers were just too great and having lost many men the English Foot Knights and Billmen retreated leaving Etal's garrison to surrender.

English Archers valiantly defend the hill top against waves of Highlanders, Islesmen and Borderers.

The two Howards with some of the Earl of Surrey's best troops brace themselves for an assault.

The English Demilancers charge the Scots pike and a brief melee ensues.

The Scots plunge waist deep into the river.

Having lost their archers the English prepare to sell themselves dearly.

Edmund Howard shows similar valour to that shown at Flodden as he stands firm against the Scots tide. They are too numerous however and the English retire leaving the garrison of Etal to their fate.

 Flodden Field; Edmund Howard vs Lord Home and the Earl of Huntly

Our second game was something of an epic. We decided to refight the famous clash at the start of the Battle of Flodden. This involved Lord Home's Borderers and the Earl of Huntly's Lowlanders and Highlanders crashing down the slopes of Branxton Hill into a beleaguered Edmund Howard, the youngest son of the English Army general, the Earl of Surrey. Many of his men fled leaving him and his retinue in a desperate position as they were surrounded by the Borderers and Highlanders. Sir Henry Gray was captured and Christopher Savage was killed. Maurice Berkeley, captain of the Mary George had been sent to stiffen Edmund Howard's ranks with 200 Marines. He too was cut down. Howard had his standard bearer killed and was thrown to the ground three times before the timely intervention of Lord Dacre and his mounted reserve. His Border Horse charged into the melee and John "The Bastard" Heron, who had been one of the protaganists in the escalation of hostilities between England and Scotland, cut his way through to Howard to save him. Howard himself killed Davy Home, Lord Home's brother, in combat.

We thought this would be a great scenario to play through and decided to make the killing or capturing of the various "Characters" in this clash as the way to achieve victory. The battle was fought with Lord Home's troops deploying along the top of a ridge with Edmund Howard in the centre of the table. Neither Huntly or Dacre's Retinues started on the table. As the Scots player I could decide when to activate Huntly's forces who would enter via move activations on the English right flank. As soon as Huntly's men joined the battle the possibility of Dacre joining was then rolled for in subsequent turns. He would arrive from behind Edmund Howard's Retinue first on an 11+ on 2D6, then 9+, then 7+ and so on. Again his Retinue could only enter via move activations.

"Glory" was awarded as normal but each side also gained the following:
The Scots got 5 Glory for killing/capturing Edmund Howard, Christopher Savage, Henry Grey, Maurice Berkeley, Lord Dacre or John "The Bastard" Heron. If Dand Kerr killed John "The Bastard Heron" they got 7 Glory for this (this was to represent the feud between the Kerrs and John Heron).
The English got 5 Glory for killing/capturing Lord Home, Davy Home, the Earl of Huntly and Dand Kerr. They got 7 Glory for safely getting Edmund Howard off the table behind the English lines.

Branxton Hill, 9 September 1513. The English Right Flank under Edmund Howard faces Lord Home and the Earl of Huntly.

After many of the Lancashire and Cheshire levies have fled, being unhappy under the command of a Howard, Edmund Howard is left with a core of Men-at-Arms, including Christopher Savage and Henry Gray, and 200 Marines under Maurice Berkeley, captain of the Mary George.

Home's Borderers, including many members of Clan Kerr, a border famly keen to avenge the death of March Warden Robert Kerr in 1508.

The armies for this Battle were as follows:

The English

Edmund Howard

1 Unit of Foot Knights (Edmund Howard, Retinue Leader)
1 Unit of Foot Knights (Christopher Savage)
1 Unit of Foot Knights (Henry Gray)
1 Unit of Retinue Bill (Maurice Berkeley)
2 Units of Shire Bill
2 Units of Shire Archers
1 Culverin

Lord Dacre

1 Unit of Demilancers (Lord Dacre, Retinue Leader)
1 Unit of Demilancers (John "The Bastard" Heron)
4 Units of Border Horse

The Scots

Lord Alexander Home

1 Unit of Foot Knights (Lord Home, Retinue Leader)
1 Unit of Foot Knights (Davy Home)
1 Unit of Retinue Bill (Dand Kerr and his Borderers with Polearms)
4 Units of Scots Pike
1 Culverin

Alexander Gordon, The Earl of Huntly

1 Unit of Foot Knights (The Earl of Huntly, Retinue Leader)
1 Unit of Scots Pike
6 Units of Highlanders (divided up as 2 Units each of Galloglass, Kern and Redshanks from the Irish lists I am working on)

After an inauspicious start by Home, the Earl of Huntly flanks Edmund Howard's troops with Highlanders and Pikemen from his Gordon Estates.

A fierce melee develops in the centre as the beleaguered English defend themselves on two sides.

This game did not start like the real Flodden at all! Home's troops simply could not get off the hill to attack, some even starting to move backwards as English archery and Artillery started to take its toll. This led Huntly to come crashing in on Edmund Howard's right which distracted Howard's Retinue sufficiently to allow Home's Retinue to move down the hill and also get into the fight. The English Archers and Artillery all fell as the Scots swarmed down the hill but their arrow and firepower had already seriously weakened the brittle Scots Pike. To make matters worse for the Scots, Lord Dacre was quick to arrive on the scene and his Border Horsemen soon started to pick off bands of Gordon Highlanders.

The fighting in the centre of the field was still very close and it looked like it could go either way. The Scots had a success when Lord Home personally defeated Edmund Howard in combat and it seemed Howard's Retinue would collapse. Home's personal retinue was then mauled by Christopher Savage and a body of Foot Knights before Alexander Home himself was bested by Lord Dacre. The Scots had not counted on the ferocity and tenacity of the English Foot Knights and Billmen! Sir Henry Gray fought his way out of a perilous situation as the Gordons surrounded him. The melee swayed back and forth but the Scots Pike units faltered while the Highlanders began to be ridden down by Dacre's Borderers.

The tide had clearly turned. Davy Home and Dand Kerr went down in the fighting and the Scots quickly melted away. The Earl of Huntly managed to make a fighting retreat and escape the field but it was a resounding English victory. Admittedly the loss of Edmund Howard was a big shock but all the other English "Characters" had made it through along with nearly all of Dacre's Retinue while the Scots had lost all of their "Characters" save the Earl of Huntly, and suffered far heavier casualties than the English. There really was a touch of the historical Flodden in this game after all.

A view of the fighting from Branxton Hill. 
Lord Dacre arrives in time to steady the English lines.

It is looking like a close call in the centre of the battlefield.

Lord Home bests Edmund Howard in a challenge! The battle hasn't all gone the way it did historically.

Home is then attacked by Christopher Savage, loosing members of his personal retinue.

Finally Home is challenged by Lord Dacre and felled, again another twist on the real Battle in which Home was one of the few higher ranking Scots nobles to survive.

Things are still looking worrying for the English with Sir Henry Gray about to be overwhelmed by the Gordons.

But the arrival of Dacre's Border Horse is enough to see off the remaining Gordon troops. The Earl of Huntly has escaped the field.

A Sting in the Scottish Tail?

The final game was another fictional encounter, but like Etal Castle was based on something that did happen after Flodden. On the morning after Flodden, 10 September 1513, the Captain in charge of securing the guns, Sir Philip Tilney, was attacked by a body of Scots Border Horse who unsuccessfully attempted to recover their artillery. In our game we had one of the captured Scots guns being removed from a shallow river where it had fallen off it's carriage whilst on the way back across the border. This was mainly because I wanted to use Stuart's excellent model of a gun being recovered on my new river terrain!

We played the "Defending the Indefensible" scenario from Lion Rampant with the gun being the objective that the Scots needed to get into contact with in order to win the game. The forces were as follows (amusingly we both chose exactly the same forces for this game which wasn't planned):

The English

1 Unit of Retinue Bill (Retinue Leader)
1 Unit of Demilancers
2 Units of Shire Bow
2 Units of Border Horse

The Scots

1 Unit of Retinue Bill (Retinue Leader)
1 Unit of Demilancers
2 Units of Shire Bow
2 Units of Border Horse

The English gunners struggle as one of the large Scots guns captured at Flodden has become trapped in a shallow river.

Home and Kerr troops that have survived the battle see this as the perfect opportunity to exact some revenge and take back the valuable artillery piece.

This was a very straightforward game, to be honest it's a scenario that leads to a quick result, but it was also really close. Seeing that the English had not actually positioned a unit around the fallen gun the Scots raced down the hill and towards the river in an attempt to reach it before English troops could move further down the baggage train to aid the defence. Two Units of Scots Border Horse and some more heavily armoured Borderers (Demilancers) hurtled forwards leaving the Scots foot behind. 

The English Archers defending the gun and struggling labourers did a good job of thinning the ranks of the Border Horse but the more heavily armoured horsemen made it into the river. Just as it looked as if they would reach the artillery piece the English Border Horse rode to the rescue and in a bloody skirmish in the shallow water they pushed back the Scots Horse. Having had their Cavalry shot and mauled the Scots Infantry retreated. They weren't going to be recapturing any guns today.

The Kerr Horsemen race forward to take the gun.

So too do some more heavily armoured horsemen from Lord Home's retinue

The Scots nearly reach the gun but English Border Horsemen crash into the river in time to stop them. In combination with their archers they see the Scots off and keep possession of the gun.

Of course after fighting out such dramatic and fierce border clashes we had to refresh ourselves with the obligatory beer or two! These were great scenarios to play through and it was also a real treat to use the new terrain for the games. I am not sure what part of the Early 16th Century we will choose for our next clashes but I have a feeling the Anglo-Scots Border Wars will be something we definitely return to in the future.

Far from the Scottish border the two "Generals" enjoy a few beers!


  1. Wow, magnificent looking games. I gamed this war in 15mm, with my English army facing my own family banner in my Scots opponents. It's a brave man who chooses to build the army of James IV, or maybe just a romantic. You two definitely earned your pints!

    1. Thanks Peter, I have cheated with the building of an army of James IV - every single unit in it so far can also be used for another army - I just swap the banners!

    2. That's not cheating - that's good Scotts frugality!

  2. Excellent games Oli, your collection and terrain were perfectly suited to recreate the bloody borders. I left with so many ideas for my own collection.

    1. The games gave me lots more ideas as well - especially for stuff in the river - but I must focus and spend some time on the 1540s collection. I havent painted anything for 3 weeks either.

  3. Three great scenarios on some lovely terrain. Living near the wall I'm lucky enough to be able to visit the places you mentioned in the scenarios.I like to think the terrain hasnt changed that much well apart from the better tended fields and roads. As for Flodden it is a lovely place to visit and walk. Braxton Hill is a bugger to climb and we did well to get the Scots to come down from its heights. The little church where James was initially laid out was built by my friends ancestors as I often bore him with that fact.What I always liked about Flodden was that it apparently 'upset' Henry when he returned from France having failed to cover himself in glory whilst his Queen was able to lay the Scottish banners at his feet and show him the kings body. God I bet that pee'd him off. Well done and keep them coming as the Border Wars dont seem to get the coverage they deserve.

    1. Cheers Robbie, I am glad you enjoyed them. You are right, I can imagine Henry returning after a couple of sieges and the "Battle" of the Spurs whilst the Earl of Surrey has killed James IV and defeated a major Scots invasion army would annoy him!

  4. Great batrep's Oli, enjoyed the read. The auld Anglo-Scots bashes always produce enjoyable games. Thnx for posting.

    1. Thanks Hendrid - they were really great games and I am sure more will be on the way.

  5. Fabulous images, Oli. Each looking like a diorama worthy of a museum!

    1. Cheers Dean, the new terrain has indeed been a big improvement

  6. Great trio of AARs! The figures,flags and scenery look splendid!
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks Iain, they were fun games and I loved the Flodden theme.

  7. Excellent narratives and exquisite photos, Oli!

    1. Thank you Peter, it's always good to get some games posted on the blog.

  8. Beautiful! I never get tired of seeing your collections on the table. I especially liked the swamped artillery piece vignette.

    1. Cheers Curt - yes we had to use Stuarts swamped gun in the river. I need to think of some similar river pieces to do.