Thursday, 7 June 2012

Lochlann's Tower House, 1745

The Earl MacDonail lay feverish in his sickbed, recovering from wounds of ball and blade. For a man of his years, it might prove fatal. The English redcoats had brought him down in a needless skirmish at Glencrae, down in the dirt among the bodies of his faithful retainers.

The man who had brought him to his sorry state, Father McCruil, the Bonny Prince's own representative to the clan MacDonail, had fled that same fight in terror, leading almost a dozen of the Earl's men with him.

As his reputation suffered, so did that of the Prince. Determined to hush the whispers of his cowardice, he took the Earl's pious son Douglas into his confidence, and left for the hills with two dozen men in tow.

Captain Castagne had been most disturbed by his sergeant's report of bandits at Glencrae, and had moved a company of men forward to safeguard the town and its inhabitants. There the innocent villagers had insisted that they wanted no part of this King Across The Water and had stridently declared their hands to be clean of the recent skirmish. The news that these were not bandits but traitors brought new life to Castagne's deliberations, and he began daily sending patrols out to find where these traitors might be hiding.

Laird Lochlann had been dead four centuries, and his tower house had suffered in his absence. It was but a ruin now, its approaches covered by woods and by crofters' fields. But here McCruil laid his ambush, and here he was redeemed.
McCruil reached the tower under blinds, surprising the English.
The English advanced foolishly, ambling into the open without knowledge of their enemy's presence.
The English advance in open order.
Their first inkling was when McCruil led his men screaming from the ruins of the tower. There was a brutal melee where several fell on both sides, including the leader of the English patrol, shot dead by a bullet from Older Angus. Though McCruil's men suffered greatly, the English nerve broke at their highland wails and ran from the field to warn Castagne back at the village.
62.5% casualties don't always mean defeat!
Seeing, or rather hearing McCruil's success, young Douglas lead his men from the fields. There were Englishmen shooting from the woods, and with his father's honour on his lips he charged. There among the oaks there was blood, and there were bullets.
The English retreat and the Highlanders hold the field.
The English retreated, keeping up a ragged fire, but it was no good. The Scots were faster than they, and with a cry of “Remember Glencoe!”, fell upon them and killed all but the man wearing a sash, who Douglas let go to warn his fellows that the highlands had risen against them.

It was a true Scots victory that day. No doubt Lochlann's bones slept soundly that night.

This was Barbarossa's first game of Sharp Practice, and he thoroughly enjoyed it, despite a gallant loss. His best Big Man died in the first incredibly bloody mêlée of the game, from then on it was a slow but guaranteed defeat. He bled the Scots well, but it was no good in the end.

Man of the Match goes to Father McCruil for redeeming his atrocious behaviour at Glencoe and heartening his men with his leadership in the ruins.

Incidentally, this month's Wargames Illustrated 296 is largely concerned with the Rising of '45. It's the first one I've bought in years!

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