Sunday 16 June 2024

Fast Play Pike and Shot - Armies at Edgehill

The first pair of armies are not the greatest fighting forces ever, but they do have some interesting points.  Two different tactical doctrines were used by the opponents Swedish vs Dutch.  Prince Rupert forcing his Uncles army to fight using tactics they didn't really have the training in while Essex stuck with the tried and tested Dutch system.

De Gomme's plan of the Royalist deployment. Parliament's forces are off the top of the plan
(source Royal Collection Trust website)

The Royalist deployment is interesting as it used the four squadron brigade structure (if De Gomme's plan is accurate and there is no reason to think it isn't) which had been tried and abandoned by the Swedes a decade earlier.  This placed one squadron in each brigade to the rear as a reserve of sorts and required some complex drill to bring it forward into action.  As a result up to a quarter of each brigade's manpower may not have been available in the initial attack unless the brigades had time to 'shake their lines out' which in my view wasn't likely.  I take that view due to the Swedes abandoning the four squadron brigade in favour of one with three brigades, which would have been easier to deploy for action and the fact that De Gomme's plan shows just enough space between the front three Brigades to allow the rear two to advance into the line of battle.

 By comparison while he is often considered cautious and conservative in outlook, Essex played to the strengths of his untried army and the experience of his officers.  His brigades deployed in chequerboard formations with gaps in the front line to allow the second line to advance.

The Royalist cavalry were deployed three ranks deep and supported by dragoons for added firepower.  Both wings had a small reserve brigade behind the front line.  This was not a chequerboard formed by individual troops of cavalry but by the larger squadron or regimental formations.

By comparison Parliament's horse where in deeper eight rank formations intended to allow the use of rolling firepower.  Individual squadrons were deployed chequerboard here as well although Ramsey may have abandoned that deployment on his wing and brought the second line up to join the first to minimise the advantage of the longer frontage enjoyed by the Royalist horse.  Like the Royalists they were supported by shot both dragoons and detachments of shot.

It seems that Parliament's forces were better equipped with a higher proportion of musket to pike than the Royalists in the infantry brigades.  I have worked on the basis of Parliament being 2:1 ratio and Royalists being 1:1.  The exception to that is Ballard's Brigade where both Holles' and Ballard's Regiments have detached significant numbers of shot to support the cavalry on their flank these I have reduced the headcount of the main brigade by the number of musketeers deployed as commanded shot and reduced them to a 2:3 ratio.  I have placed a battery of artillery with each army but have not allocated any light guns either to brigades or as stand alone guns, so that is a decision for you to take if you play the game.

The order of battle is drawn from the excellent book Edghill: The Battle Re-Interpreted by Scott, Turton and von Arni.  My version has more information on unit strengths. pike to shot ratios and number of ranks in each formation but I have had to remove this to make the list fit into the blogger format!

Edgehill 23 October 1642
Unit Statistics
Parliament ArmyConfidenceShootingClose Cbt
Dutch formations
Right WingSir William Balfour
Sir William Balfour'sNervous04
Lord General'sNervous04
Col John Browne's DragoonsSteady22
Col James Wardlow's dragoonsSteady22
CentreThe Earl of Essex
Sir John Meldrum's BrigadeSteady45
Col. Charles Essex's BrigadeNervous46
Sir Thomas Ballard's BrigadeSteady46
Sir Philip Stapleton's BrigadecuirassiersSteady05
Left WingSir James Ramsay
Sir James Ramsay'sNervous04
Sandy's & Bedford'sNervous04
Holles Musketeer DetachmentNervous22
Ballard's Musketeer DetachmentSteady22
Field Artillery6 gunsNervous11
Royalist Army
Swedish formations
Right WingPrince Rupert
Prince of WalesSteady05
Stuarts (King's Lifeguard)Keen04
Byron's Brigade (2nd line)Steady05
Usher's Dragoons (Dismounted)3 troopsSteady11
Usher's Dragoons (Mounted)Steady01
CentreSir Jacob Astleyloose 1/4 to reserve
Charles Gerrard's BrigadeSteady35
Richard Fielding's BrigadeSteady36
Henry Wentorth's BrigadeSteady35
Lord Belasyse's BrigadeSteady35
Sir Nicholas Byron's BrigadeSteady35
Left WingLord Wilmot
Digby's Brigade (2nd line)Steady04
Aston's HorseSteady04
Aston's Dragoons (Dismounted)12 TroopsSteady22
Aston's Dragoons (Mounted)Steady02
Field Artillery6 gunsNervous11
The Gentlemen PensionersCuirassiersKeen03

The battlefield

I used the maps in the Edgehill book to create a simplified version of the battlefield.  I’m ignoring the slope of Edgehill itself by starting the action after the Royalists have descended to it’s base.  I have included some hills on Essex’s side of the field and some field boundaries where these had an impact on the fighting.  All of those features are rough ground.

Welcome to the Battle of Edgehill October 23 1642.