Friday, 29 June 2012

In The Vale of Tears, 1745

To say that Captain Castagne was unimpressed by Father McCruil's victory at Lochlann's Tower was to compare drizzle to a thunderstorm. He tore up his quarters for two days, and for a week longer he sulked as his sergeants drilled the King's Own Royal Borderers mercilessly, hoping to avoid any repeat performances.

The Captain only brightened up when the Independent Companies under Captain Campbell arrived. With reinforcements to hand, he decided to personally lead an expedition against McCruil – and a certain garrulous peasant had given him just the information he needed...

McCruil and his men were hiding in Caleduin, a small village in the hills. For want of a simpler plan, Castagne decided to catch the rebels in a pincer movement, dividing his forces in an attempt to ensure the enemy's destruction. Would the Scots stay in the village and be surrounded, or would they sally forth to destroy Castagne's expedition piecemeal?

In jealous recognition of his sterling work thus far, Castagne ordered Frost away from his regiment to assist Captain Campbell, keeping Corporal Armstrong to help him with his own unit.
Royalist entries; Jacobites on blinds.

Campbell opened proceedings, moving his column towards the village. Castagne and his firing line were slow to follow – perhaps the captain was reconsidering the wisdom of his piecemeal approach? Eventually, the captain began giving orders, and at a cough from Armstrong, the firing line moved quickly over the open ground towards the village. Their speed was cruelly repaid as a group of Scots appeared from inside one of the houses, running to the wall and opening fire.
Scots appear!

At the sound of gunfire, Campbell – a Flanders veteran – moved his men into line, knowing full well the effect of musketry on a packed column of men. Still without a real target, the Scots marched bravely on, tensely awaiting their own black powder welcome. They swiftly received it, but as they ducked, they realised that these Scots fired no better than their grandmothers.
The lines advance on Caleduin.

Castagne's men returned fire, doing nothing to even upset the defenders. Campbell's independent company had more panache: they advanced to within spitting distance before unloading their muskets at the defenders.
I'm sorry, would you care to repeat that?

The stone wall stopped the greater part of it, but nonetheless the rebels were cowed by the weight of fire that fell upon them. Their return fire did nothing to shake earlier comparisons. Frost restored order to the line and, though unaccustomed to this English sergeant, the Scotsmen did his bidding, reloading their guns in record time.

Much aggrieved by the Jacobite show of defiance, Castagne ordered his men to reload and advance. Once again they moved into the teeth of enemy fire, but the bullets flew wild above their heads. Campbell's men advanced too, firing as they went; they were now almost nose-to-nose with Caleduin's defenders.

Again Castagne slowed down, his vacillation worrying the men almost as much as the chance of being shot. He must have caught wind of this, because all of a sudden he ordered a general advance against the village! The Borderers charged in, but the Scots, fighting with the ferocity of cornered rats, drove them off, killing almost a quarter of those sent in and wounding Castagne himself. Some distance from the walls, he managed to rally his men, and began preparing them for another charge even as Armstrong tended to his wound.
Walls: The great equalisers.

On the other side of the village, Campbell's men were getting the better of their exchange of fire with the defenders. Seeing no better moment, he stormed the walls himself, unaware of his commander's recent failure. The Jacobites again fought bravely, but were no match for their countrymen. Campbell barely avoided being stabbed in the throat, but his opposite number wasn't so lucky – Douglas, the Laird's brave young son, died in the melee. This was all too much for the Jacobites. Already wavering under the disciplined fire of the independent company, the loss of their lord and of the walls sent them into headlong flight, abandoning their friends to whatever fate awaited them.
The redcoats enter Caleduin.

Unfortunately for Campbell's men, there was not even time to breathe before a counter-attack came surging from within the village, flanking his force – and at its head, Father McCruil himself! It was a protracted, bloody fight, but at the end of it, Campbell's few survivors had been forced back, leaving Frost's detachment alone in the village to face the mad priest.
Campbell is forced to retreat.

Relying on the bond made on the march up, Frost pushed his men into order, and gave the command to open fire. By grim luck, and the by the beating Campbell's boys had given them, this was enough to break the spirit of the men threatening him, enough to drive them right off the board.

At this point, the last few Jacobites slunk away, happy to have given Fat George a bloody nose.
The end of play.

Butcher's Bill
Royalists: 11 men, Captain Castagne wounded.
Jacobites: 8 men, Douglas MacDonail killed.

A fun game, which got tenser than I thought it would. Father McCruil escaped again, the wily little beggar! Captain Castagne won't be happy about that, nor about Captain Campbell's professionalism, which rather showed him up. Despite the Independent Company's superior achievements, both detachments took roughly equal casualties, which certainly won't look good back in Edinburgh.
The Jacobite morale turned out to be very fragile. In future, I shall move all my Big Men off blinds as soon as may be. While the ambush against Campbell's men did well, it robbed me of vital Shock-reducing powers. Ah well, you live and learn.
And while loyal men live, the war continues... Long Live the King!

No comments:

Post a Comment