Saturday, November 24, 2018

Vales of Lyndhurst - rule set.

Early stages of the battle.  
Before recounting the action at Aldbury, as the Commonwealth Army of the North drives towards London, it seems here appropriate to run through some 'administrative' matters concerning this campaign.  First of all, I have persuaded myself of the inappropriateness of the 'working title' of the rule set I am using.  It is a kind of hybrid, incorporating ideas from Bob Cordery's grid war games, Memoir '44 (because I don't have Battle Cry or similar), and an idea I had a few years ago about using ordinary D6 dice in lieu of dice with horse, foot, gun etc symbols.  What I wanted was a very fast-play, simple rule set - a 'one brain cell' set, specifically for the Vales of Lyndhurst campaign.  So why not call it the Vales of Lyndhurst: Long Exciting Years - VOLLEY?
Battle between Commonwealth Horse and Royalist foot.
Eleventh Foot take a battering, but the Horse are thrown
Observant readers will have ... erm ... observed, that the figures used for this action are different from those seen in the Clydesdale action of two or three postings back.  Persuaded that the units looked better with more than 4 figures - which was a nod towards R.L. Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, actually - I went for my smaller plastics.  Most of these are Revell and ESCI, with the odd  Airfix figures (notably the Royalist 18th Light Horse) thrown in.    I went for 8-figure foot and 6-figure horse, with 2-figure gun crews.  I do think the appearance is the more pleasing.

Battle between Royalist dragoons and Commonwealth light horse.
Owing to the constricted space available for Commonwealth deployment - about one third of the force remaining off table at that - I looked into the possibility of 'stacking' units.  I allowed this in three instances only:
(1) two foot units in 'line' might be placed in tandem (one behind the other) in a single grid area;
(2) one foot unit may be placed behind one gun unit in a single grid area;
(3) Army (and other) commanders may be 'stacked' with any unit.
The first of these would be regarded a a column.

What could the effects of such stacking be?
1. If two foot units are in column (stacked), only the lead unit may be in close combat.
2. If the column moves in to contact and combat with enemy (i.e. in its own turn) it adds a D6 to its  combat dice allocation.
3. If the column is hit by distant shooting by artillery, or moving into contact with artillery, the hits and results received are applied equally to both units.
4. Except as provided in '3', close combat hits received are applied only to the lead unit; but forced retreats are applied to both.
5. A lead unit voluntarily retreating (after receiving hits) may pass 'through' (really, around) the rear unit in the same grid area to that behind.
6. An Army Commander 'stacked' with a unit adds 1 D6 to the unit's combat dice allocation.

I have to admit, these were fairly ad hoc.  The stacking was intended only for convenience, and the resulting columns intended for manoeuvre, rather than combat.  One likes to take a reasonable approach to completeness, though!
Royalist 2nd Dragoons charge the guns.  
 Off table reinforcements.
These were treated differently for the respective sides. 
The Commonwealth 'off table' reserves being immediately to hand, they could be brought onto the field at any moment of the 'Commander's' choosing.   The median number of units, upon which the unit activation die roll is based, was taken over the whole army.

The Royalist 'off table' reinforcements were held to be approaching the battlefield from some distance away.  Therefore:
1.  The median number of units was taken to be what was on the table to begin with, and would remain so until the reinforcements arrived.
2.  At the beginning of each Royalist turn, a die would be rolled, with a score of '6' required for the arrival of the reinforcements (five 'militia' battalions). [It is no 'spoiler alert' were I to tell you that the militia arrived on Turn 7].
3.  The median would at once increase in accordance with the augmentation in overall strength of the Royalist Army.
Later in the action: a but of a lull has descended, with the
Royalists still holding the line.
I have to admit that I don't think I have the artillery quite right.  The ranges seem to be a bit long; and I'm not sure about doubling the SP combat dice allocation for 'short'  ranges.  Manoeuvring and timing of artillery fire needs more thought.  The jury is still out on this.  What it brings me to, though, is figure, ground and time scales.

The arrival of reinforcements - both sides.
My unit organisations suggest 1 figure to 100 men.  I tend to use a rough (very rough) rule of thumb of 100 artillerymen for 4 guns (which really includes drivers, smithies, farriers and such like ilk, who really wouldn't be actual gun crew, but what would you?). As I have 2 gunners per gun, that suggests the Royalists had 16 cannon available, in two 8-piece batteries (companies).

Infantry battalions are therefore about 800 strong; cavalry regiments, 600.

In the Aldbury battle, the 8,400-strong Royalist army, with 16 cannon, was facing 14,400 Commonwealth troops, with 32 guns, though only 16 of the latter were immediately 'up'.  The Royalists were hoping for the timely arrival of 4,000 militia to redress at least some of the balance.

A certain amount of arcane calculation overlaid with that powerful mathematical technique called 'fudging' indicated a ground scale of a furlong (220 yards: or, very roughly, 200 metres) across the flats of the grid areas..  At 10cm on the table, that indicates a ground scale of 1:2000.

As it is my habit to calculate the time scale from the square root of the ground, this indicates a time scale of 1 turn to represent 45 minutes.  As I am using a unit activated IGoUGo system I feel this should be heavily 'rounded' each player-turn representing a half-hour, or each pair of turns to represent an hour.  Compromises, sure.  But I like to know, when I fudge, just what I am fudging around.

Unit Activation:
I'm starting to wonder about this.  I like the concept as offering a fine means of introducing a fog of war into solo games.  But I am finding that attacks are taking on a piecemeal look.  When I hit, I like to hit hard.  We'll leave this point open for the time being, and see how the action unfolded.

Post-Battle Army Reorganisation:

For the purposes of assessing losses after a battle, each strength-point lost represents 100 men no longer with the colours.  The battle losses are to be recorded accordingly.  After the battle, for each troop type lost, one die would be rolled as follows:
  1. Rolling for infantry, for each 4,5,6 return one infantry SP;
  2. Rolling for cavalry, for each 2,3 return 1 cavalry SP;
  3. Rolling for artillery, for each 1, return 1 artillery SP.
It will be observed that guns have a very good survivability in this rule set, but losses are commensurately hard to replace!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Vales of Lyndhurst - Combat at Aldbury

The Field of Aldbury, looking north up Broad Street Road

From the diary of Sir Edward Anders, Master of Lyndhurst and Prime Minister of England.

23rd July 1725.  ...Welcome news from the south.  Yesterday, Uncle Leopold stopped Bedford and the mercenaries of the King of France on the road up from Hastings at Clydesdale, or some such place.  Ten thousand or more Commonwealth and French came on furiously; Uncle allows that before the day was ended he despaired the outcome. Then, late in the afternoon, with the Round Forest lost and the right flank at its last gasp, the French attacks faded away.

King Louis is some 1100 troops the poorer; and, having sacrificed perhaps 750 of his own, Bedford will begin to baulk at the price of ambition.  Yet our people did not come away unscathed.  Over twelve hundred dead, wounded or missing from an army scarce 7500 strong is a sore sacrifice.  So Uncle Leo's Army will not be marching north at once.  They will be in need of rest and reorganization.  At least Bedford will be in no fitter case.
Looking south down Broad Street Road.  A rather constricted
entry for the Commonwealth Army.
What of Major-General Preston's Northern army?  Son James has joined him with a couple of regiments of horse, and the collected militias and Trained Bands from Lyndhurst, Fordingbridge and Cornwall - 4000 strong - I have sent on after him. They aren't the Regulars we promised, but they will have to do. They should be up in a few days.  God send that they arrive before My Lord Ashley stirs...
Looking west along the lines.  Aldbury Village is in the left
foreground.  The mere in the right foreground is impassible.

As Sir Edward Anders was writing his journal by the light of a couple of candles, Lord Ashley himself paced fretting in his lamp-lit pavilion addressing his commanders, and waving a parchment. The brigade commanders eyed the bedraggled and damp figure standing by the tent-flap.  A message had arrived from the south - from Bedford - then.  

'Ill news, comrades!' fulminated Lord Ashley, 'Bedford has suffered a setback at... let's see... yes... Clydesdale - some village or other maybe fifteen or twenty miles south of London.  Didn't manage to force a passage past the Pretender's army.  However, the way Bedford tells it, the soi-disant Royalists' - he made it sound like an epithet - 'have been badly knocked about.  They won't  be marching north to face us, at any rate.'

'The question we must now address:  should we march south ourselves and take London, or await Bedford's advance?  The army before us is not so strong, but what awaits behind?  Were Bedford and the Seigneur de Chevalier still marching north, I should not hesitate' - none of his Major-Generals so much as cracked an ironic smile, Ashley having hardly moved this last week - 'but we can not hold if the enemy bring his whole power against us. Did we march south now, the enemy would be upon us the sooner.'

The Gloucester Brigade, in and around Aldbury.
'I believe,' drawled a voice near the back of the group, 'it behoves us at once to advance, sweep aside the enemy before us, seize London, lay hands on the pretend King ...'  Lord Ashley recognised the voice of about his most aggressive commander, and thought, not for the first time, that bellicosity sat well upon one surnamed Bullock-Bunce.  'I don't reckon on there being much to concern us behind that young sprig Preston's little band to stop us once we sweep it aside.'  He made it sound so reasonable.  So... easy.

A growl echoed Bullock-Bunce's remarks, the whole group seemed to be in agreement.  This Council of War, thought Ashley, has got out of hand inside the first minute. The Generals, the Colonels, and Captains were all supposed to suggest waiting, prevaricating, procrastinating - wasn't that how it was supposed to go?  Especially after the go-ahead-no-wait-a-bit messages he had been receiving; Lord Ashley had been beginning to wonder about that.  A dissenting vote of one - his own - was not calculated to keep him long in command, especially with Warwick itching for the post.  He noticed Fraser of Warwick eyeing him with an arched eyebrow.  Very well: attack it would be.  And may Warwick and Bullock-Bunce and the rest of 'em rejoice in it.

'Lords and sirs,' he drew himself up, 'We march at dawn!'
Mugglesworth's Brigade, led by 2nd Dragoons, marching towards
Aldbury.  Yet to arrive on the field, Warwick's Brigade,
half the artillery and 2nd Carabineers.
* * *

For the forthcoming battle, I carried out a little bit of a Google Maps search for a likely stretch of country north of London, and found something promising not far south of the London Stansted Airfield.  This I sketched out roughly and transferred to my hex-table.  I would very much liked to have found the source of Barry Taylor's monochrome maps - in my view ideal for this kind of campaigning.

Mappe of the Field of Aldbury.  The rectangles represent
The Armies for the forthcoming Battle of Aldbury comprise:


Commander:  Lord Ashley, Duke of Norfolk *  SP=6
2nd Brigade: Sir Horace Malvoisin, vice Lord Ashley
     - 12th, 13th, 94th, 111th Foot, @ 4SP:  SP=16
     - 12th Light Infantry SP=3
3rd Brigade: Duke of Warwick
     - 14th, 15th, 16th, 95th Foot @4SP:  SP=16
6th Brigade: Major-General Hon. Herbert Mugglesworth
     - 35th, 39th, 40th, 113th Foot @4SP: SP=16
     - 14th Light Infantry SP=3
Cavalry Brigade: Major-General Sir Buttridge Bullock-Bunce
     - 1st Commonwealth Carabineers SP=5
     - 2nd Commonwealth Carabineers SP=5
     - 2nd Dragoon Regiment SP=4
     - Duke of Norfolk's Own Light Dragoons. SP=3
     - 1 Battery 12pr cannon SP=3
     - 3 Batteries, 9pr cannon. @2SP:  SP = 6

Total Units, including Army Commander: 23
Median: 12
Total Strength Points: 86
Exhaustion Point: -29 SP.


Commander: Major-General Preston SP=6
5th (Gloucester) Brigade: Baron Macclesfield
     - 10th, 11th, 33rd, 93rd Foot @4SP: SP=16
 6th (Midlands) Brigade: Sir Anthony Tillier|
     - 32nd, 35th, 36th Foot @4SP: SP=12
Cavalry: Sir Marmaduke Jenks
     - 1st Regiment of Horse SP=5
     - 2nd Dragoons, 3rd Dragoons @4SP:  SP=8
     - 18th Light Horse SP=3
     - 12pr Battery SP=3
     - 9pr Battery SP=2

Total Units, including Army Commander: 14
Median: 7
Strength Points: 55SP
Exhaustion Point: -19SP

Royalist Reinforcements:  Sir James Anders
     - 5 Militia/ Volunteer/ Trained Band battalions @3SP: SP=15
Reinforcement diced for arrival, at beginning of own initiative turn, before unit activation is determined: Roll of 6 required.

Total Units (reinforcements added): 19
Median: 10
Strength Points: 70SP
Exhaustion Point: -24SP.

* * * 

Celebrations celebrated, toasts drunk and finally grinning at each other over a second - or was it a third? - stoup of ale, the Royalist Army commander and his newly arrived friend, Sir James Anders, leaned back on their camp chairs.
'What have you brought us?'  finally asked General Preston.
'Not quite what was promised you,' the grin withdrew from Sir James's face. 'We were supposed to send you over 5000 regulars, mostly drawn from Great Uncle Leopold's army, truth be told.  That isn't going to happen.  Not after the mauling they took at Clydesdale.'
'I was given to understand that Leopold stopped Bedford and the Frenchman cold,' the General kept his tone neutral.  He would show no disappointment, whatever he felt.
'They did,' agreed Sir James,' they did, but Leopold took a battering compassing it.'  He added quickly, 'But I haven't come here altogether empty-handed. There's these two regiments of Horse that escorted me here, of course. Following me on the road there is a body of Trained Bands - militia - about 4000 strong. All musket-armed. Should be with us in a couple of days - tomorrow, I am hoping.'
'I'd rather have the Regulars, by a damned sight,' mused Preston, chin resting on fist, 'But I'd sooner not have nothing...  You will command the Trained bands, of course?'
'Of course' said Sir James.

To be continued -

* Note: Barry Taylor's system of titles seems to have been a convention of his own, and probably quite plausible during the course of an eighty-year interregnum.  Tempting though I find it to change it, I shall be staying with Barry's system.  Although Master of Lyndhurst, Sir Edward Anders seems to be titled as a knight, or possibly baronet, rather than, say, a baron or earl.  Methinks the young King James III might consider elevating Sir Edward to the peerage fairly soon in appreciation of his services.

1806 Campaign... a discovery

Whilst hunting around cyberspace looking for maps suitable for war games campaigns I discovered this gem.  It was an account of a war-gamed 1806 Campaign in Prussia, played, I believe, as a kind of kriegspiel.  There is probably a back story I couldn't find, but the narrative beginning from this link is enthralling:

Pawnderings on Games: 1806 Campaign

I really have nothing to add to this.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Vales of Lyndhurst: Combat at Clydesdale: 2

The armies drawn up for battle.

Royalist defending Smallbrook village.
Upon a July late afternoon, a small group of richly dressed mounted men might have been seen upon the side of the road leading southwest towards Lyndhurst.  The drizzle that had dampened most of the day had passed, and the lowering sun glanced beneath the rim of the overcast to light up the vignette.  There stood the young King, James, the Third of that name, and not long sat upon his uneasy throne; beside him his Prime Minister, Sir Edward Anders, Master of Lyndhurst, and already quietly being styled by friend and enemy alike, if not in his hearing: 'Kingmaker'. The pair stood a little apart from the rest of the officials, Ministers, councillors and court flunkeys who had also made the short journey to this spot.

'I had hoped, Sir Edward, for a larger contingent,' murmured the King, eyeing the five Lyndhurst battalions marching past, some 4000 men less quite a few straggling behind or making the march riding upon the small train of waggons and carts.  Weary though they were after several days' march, dank, dishevelled, dusty and muddy besides, yet the men seemed in good spirits.  Recognising their Master as they passed, and many the King as well from his time at Lyndhurst, they raised a wild cheer, waving in the air almost as many pikes and half-pikes as muskets.  Upon learning that victuals and ale awaited them not much farther ahead, they raised another cheer.

'Long live the King!'  The Master of Lyndhurst's call was echoed two thousand fold - or perhaps just a little less.  A certain amount of cheerful banter passed between the marchers and the Master, as they continued on to their camps and billets, the familiarity of the former skirting close to, but never quite crossing, the bounds of over-familiarity or insolence.  For Sir Edward (Sirreddard) Anders was a popular Master of Lyndhurst.

Confederation troops prepare to advance
'Aye, Your Royal Highness,' replied Sir Edward, 'I fear that, far from a reinforcement, we have here, withal, barely a replacement for our recent losses.'

Sir Edward omitted to mention that, as it was, the manpower of Lyndhurst had been stripped to the bone to supply even this contingent.  The fighting men remaining to his uncle back in Lyndhurst amounted to a few score, and then there were harvests to be got in a bare month away.   Sir Edward didn't dare think about what might happen if that villain and false Duke, Romney, made a serious attack upon his lands.

He cast his mind to the late evening of two days back, when a dust laden traveller had been ushered into his Prime Ministerial office.   A message from brother Leopold, forsooth!  Sir Edward poured with his own hand a bumper of his favourite toddy of mulled wine.  Offering it to the messenger in exchange for the rolled paper he held,  he indicated a chair near the fire, then settled down to read.

There had been a battle all right.  And the news, though not all bad, was certainly not all good.  The French and Confederation Army had received a check, it seemed, but it had cost the Royalists dear.  The march north to face Norfolk's Army was not going happen at once - and might not for several days.  The combat must have been no mere skirmish...
The French push up the road to Benbow.

Hurry up and wait...
When I set up the table, following as closely as I could his original map, a certain battle plan seemed to have been in Barry's mind for the Franco-Confederation Army.  A good two-thirds of the French Army strength was on the Bathurst-Benbow road.  That suggested to me that the French plan was to effect a crossing of the Brewery River - practicable to horse and foot with moderate difficulty if opposed - to carry the Benbow village, and to roll up the Royalist line from the west.

For their part, the Confederation Army under the Duke of Kent would carry out the other half of a double envelopment by seizing or taking the Smallwood village and its surrounding enclosures, capturing the bridge behind it and exploiting on to Clydesdale.  That would place Kent's contingent upon one London road (from Smallwood) and perhaps assist the French to occupying the other (from Clydesdale).  One third of the French army would hold the refused centre.
The first wave of Confederation infantry surges forward.
At about mid-morning, the Chevalier and the Duke ordered forward their respective commands.  As I mentioned earlier for the first turn, the anti-Royalists went first, the two contingents rolling separately for unit activation.  Thereafter, the first-mover in each turn was determined by a dice roll.  Strangely enough, the Royalists 'won' every initiative roll for the entire battle.  For them, it was probably just as well.
My apologies on the under-painted dragoons.  But I wanted
to get this action done.

Very quickly the Confederation Army developed two waves, with half the army advancing, whilst the other half waited.  The Royalist position on this flank was a formidable one, three battalions and two artillery companies holding the village and enclosures, with the light infantry protecting the wooded inner flank, and the Dragoon Guards the open left.  To force this position would be no light undertaking, as the Duke's men were to discover.

The French had rather different difficulties to overcome.  The approach to their immediate objective, Benbow village, was flanked closely by woods, and barred by the Brewery River. This created something of a tangle as the dragoons found themselves leading an advance in country not really to their liking, the artillery waiting for their front to be cleared in order to fire at the enemy across the river, and infantry also looking for an open path to reach the river at all.

Royalist view of the dense French columns.
It was not to be wondered at, then, that the Dragoons elected to charge in columns across the river (as my LBC - 'Lonely Brain Cell' - rule set now stands, it makes no difference what formation horse and foot are in - it was really just the look of the thing.  However, that may change!) , Harcourt taking the bridge, Dauphin splashing straight across the stream.  That meant a reduction in their combat dice.
The first attacks! French dragoons versus British infantry,
Seventh Fusiliers advanced from the village to meet the Harcourt Dragoons at the bridge, where they inflicted 1SP hit and a 'retreat' hit; whilst taking a 'retreat' hit themselves.  Both sides, deciding not (7th Fusiliers),  or simply unable (Harcourt Dragoons), to retreat, took the extra SP hit.  The fight between Dauphin Dragoons and 115th Fusiliers was less bloody, the Dragoons taking a retreat hit only, and with room to do so, fell back.  (A point, here: retreating units can pass through friends, but only if the retreat takes them to an empty grid area.  In this connexion, infantry may retreat two squares for one 'retreat hit' if - and only if - their normal 1-grid-cell retreat is blocked by friends, but there is an open grid-cell beyondMore shall be said of this topic later in the narrative.)
Royalist hit-and-run counter-strike.

On the other wing, apart from effective Royalist gunnery that inflicted some hurt upon 114th Foot, the first close combats were joined as the 1st Light approached the Brook Forest, wherein lurked the light infantry of 6th and 96th Royalist Foot.  Observing the somewhat careless approach of the greencoats, both Royalist battalions charged out and closed with the startled Confederates. The 96th's shooting proved woefully ineffective, the Confederation light infantry inflicting 1 SP and 2 'retreat' hits for no loss, and driving them back into the woods as far as the riverbank.  Sixth Light were tougher: dishing out 2 SP hits, before themselves retiring (1 'retreat hit').  On the whole, though, it had been a very effective 'hit and run' attack by the Royalist light infantry.
Counter-blow by 2nd Dragoon Guards and the Royalist light

The Confederation Horse get the better
of the opening exchanges...
Meanwhile, the 2nd Dragoon Guards nerved themselves to charge the leading Confederation Dragoon regiment.  The combat did not begin well for the Guardsmen, taking an SP hit themselves for no loss to the enemy.  Remaining in the battle (they could have chosen to retreat, having taken the hit), the Guardsmen overcame their earlier setback, and inflict 2SP hits on the enemy before pulling back (a 'retreat' hit)

... but superior training and sheer bloody-mindedness
comes to the aid of the Dragoon Guards!

These setbacks were more exasperating to the Duke's men than depressing. Even the crushing of 114th Foot by gunfire hardly slowed them down. Soon the leading foot battalions, 2nd and 1st Confederate reached the enclosures.  It was the 2nd who struck the Royalist 9pr battery astride the road, where they managed to score a SP hit. But the damage to themselves was the greater - it being no small matter to charge guns frontally.  (Another aside: I was in two minds about how to handle close combats involving cannon.  For one thing, the beaten zone of canister or grape or similar 'shotgun' projectiles would be a dangerous place to be.  On the other hand, though defending themselves with trailspikes and rammers, the gunners could scarcely be a match for regular line infantry who had got fairly in amongst the guns.  Although I didn't use it at the time, I'm thinking that when the foot move into close combat, the cannon double their combat SP as per short ranged fire, but if the foot remain in contact the cannon SP is normal - or possibly even halved - for subsequent combat rounds).

Infantry assault on the Royalist battery astride the road.
Not sure what those 4 green dice were doing there, unless they were
rolled for the gunners...

French attacks on the Royalist right forces the commitment of
5th Foot and 2nd Footguards to help the defence.

The menacing French columns on the Royalist right persuaded Sir Leopold to reinforce that flank.  He had already planned to push 5th Foot into the enclosures across the river to flank any advance by the French straight up the Casebrook Farm road or the Benbow road.  It seemed to him appropriate, too, to commit part of his small reserve, the 2nd Footguards, to that flank as the pressure mounted.
Both sides fell back after this clash, the Horse passing
right through the columns behind.
Before the leading French foot battalions, I Provence and both Rousillon, Harcourt Dragoons made one more bid to take the road bridge.  Seventh Fusiliers were driven back into the village, but forced the Dragoons to break off the fight.  (A further aside to test your patience:  For some reason I had the cavalry retreat two grid-cells whenever they received a 'retreat' hit.  Maybe I was influenced by the situation on the map, but I had worked out what rules I would use before beginning the action. It just seemed right.  As it transpired, the two 'retreat' hits inflicted by 7th Fusiliers implied a 4-grid-area retreat, which, fortuitously enough, was just sufficient to take the dragoons all the way beyond the congested field behind.  I really do like this 'interpenetration' idea for this type of game).
The Confederation Infantry can not buy a hit upon the guns.
At this time, the most of the fighting was still being sustained by the Duke.  But his assaults upon the artillery were stalled.  All day the Confederates simply could not buy a hit on the enemy artillery, whose return fires proved very damaging.  In the first rounds of combat, 2nd Confederate took a SP hit, and 1st Confederate took two; all without inflicting the slightest hurt upon the artillery.  That could not be sustained for very long.
The Dragoon Guards smash a Confederation Horse unit
and are about to ride over the guns (just out of
the picture).
As the Confederation infantry prepared to launch further assaults, the Dragoon Guards declined to remain idle.  The 2nd Guards had already battered one enemy horse unit, the Duke of Kent's Own.  Now the 3rd Guards resolved to measure their prowess against what remained of it.  Fighting back manfully Kent's Own inflicted 'retreat' hit, but were themselves overwhelmed by 2 SP hits and a redundant 'retreat' hit.  For their part, the 2nd Guards charged the sole Confederate battery, which was supporting the infantry assault.  Electing to conserve their strength, the 3rd Guards promptly retired - a mistake as it transpired, for, just after riding over the Confederation's cannon, they found themselves assailed in flank by the remaining mounted unit under the Duke's command, Romney's Horse.

The guns about to be ridden over.
The rude irruption at once reduced the Guardsmen to just 25% of their strength, as a retreat would have had to traverse a grid area adjacent to the unit attacking them. (Here we go again.  I really, really was in two minds about this.  In this action, I forbade such a retreat; the cavalry had to take the SP reduction.  So effective was the Confederation Horse flank attack that that meant 3SP hits right off.  Now, I am not sure why I decided upon matching combat dice with current SP, perhaps it has to do with my 'Memoir '44' style of combat system [see previous postings].  But I also like the idea of allowing retreats into grid-areas adjacent to an enemy, even one already adjacent and in combat with the subject unit, but with the compulsion to halt at once.  Combat is resumed in the next side's turn.  The concept is fixed on the notion of a unit fighting (or trying to fight) its way out of trouble.  It seems to me worth play testing).
2nd Dragoon Guards caught in flank, attempt to fight
their way out.
At any rate, as you can see, in the following Royalist turn, the Guardsmen turned to face their attackers (though it seems to me the option to break off the action could be explored).  This was to be no glory ride:  the two hits were more than enough to scatter the Dragoon Guards.  The Duke's Own had been bloodily avenged.
Royalist right under heavy assault.
On the Royalist right flank, the French Horse having been seen off, the defenders had to face the French infantry.  Now I had decided that a unit in a river grid area fights at 1SP less, so it were better to defend a river crossing from an adjacent clear grid area. This was, of course, tough on the attackers, even though, after some rounds of fighting against horse foot and guns, all the defenders - even the artillery - had taken some loss - 5SP, and only II Rousillon  had so far taken any loss on the French infantry.
A blood letting on the Casebrook stream!  5th Foot take 2 SP
hits; I Rousillon 1 SP hit and 2 'hit or retreat'.
The battle between I Rousillon and 5th Foot proved costly to both sides - and that seemed to become a feature of infantry versus infantry fights.  In attempting to force a crossing, the Rousillon inflicted two SP hits, but took one with a couple of  'retreat' hits, whereupon the battalion fell back to prepare a second attempt.  II Rousillon almost forced a passage when they drove 115th Foot away from the riverbank, but more was also beyond them, as Frenchmen here, too, fell back.
The demise of II Rousillon.
Rather more success attended the assault by I Provence that carried the bridge.  Although receiving a 'retreat hit', the Provencals wiped out 7th Fusiliers' remaining SPs, and surged over to the other bank.  There awaited them, in the village, 8th Fusiliers, who had moved in behind the 7th against just this eventuality.
I Provence vs 7th Fusiliers.
So matters stood on the Royalist right when the Confederation assaults finally petered on their left. Having rallied from their earlier fights, 3rd Dragoon Guards rode into the flank of 2nd Confederate infantry, which unit promptly disintegrated.  The attacks upon the road had also melted away.  Having lost 15 SPs out of 43, the Confederation Army had reached its exhaustion point.  Very soon they put some distance between themselves and the Royalists, and invited the latter to try their luck crossing the gap.  Under strict orders from Sir Leopold Anders himself, the Royalists declined the invitation and contented themselves with resting and counting the cost.  
The Confederation Army draws back, it's offensive strength spent.
To take up the slack, the French commander found himself committing his centre troops, the two Bocard battalions against the Brook Forest; and II Provence straight up the Clydesdale road.  All morning the gun battery astride the road had been engaged in an ineffectual duel with the Royalist 9pr guns across the Brewery River.
French Boccard Infantry attacks Brook Forest

In their haste to close with the light infantry in Brook Forest, II Bocard forged rather ahead of their companion regimental battalion and struck the 96th Light unaided.  Despite the woods being the natural home of the light infantry, the French regulars gave at least as good as they got in the ensuing firefights.  Taking heavy losses themselves, they eventually scattered 6th Light, and, when 96th Light Infantry sought to intervene, had them driven back to the riverbank.  All this before I Bocard had come up.  But the effort had worn down II Bocard to the extent that further effort broke them down.  The remnants scattered over the fields.
Royalist defences already showing signs of strain.
It was becoming clear by this time that the outcome of the main French assault around Benbow would decide the battle, one way or the other.  Eighth Fusiliers found themselves driven into the village, and out the other side.  A counter-attack regained the place, but by this time the resistance of 115th Fusiliers along the Brewery riverbank, and 5th Foot at the Casebrook Stream had been broken by determined French attacks.  The 2nd Footguards marched to the aid of  the Benbow garrison, but not before they were evicted a second time.  A concerted counter-blow by 8th Fusiliers and the Footguards once more restored Benbow into Royalist possession, but the defences were becoming thin: just two battalions and a reduced heavy battery remaining.
Royalist defences looking pretty thin.  The village has changed
hands four times by now (in the excitement, neglected to take

Nor were prospects looking bright in the centre, as I Bocard Infantry took up the duel so well fought by their companion battalion.  True, II Provence had been halted on the road by effective gunfire, but as 96th Light Infantry were bayoneted out of Brook Woods, 4th Foot had to be shifted to their left to contest the passage of the stream.  

Brook Forest lost to the French.
The crisis of the battle seemed to have been reached.  Around Benbow the French had firmly established themselves upon the Royalist side of the river.  Although, after changing hands four times, the village remained in Royalist hands, 2nd Footguards had been driven back, leaving the village and the gun battery for the moment isolated.  Against what remained of the defenders, there still seemed inexhaustible numbers of French infantry ready to press the advantages already gained.  On the point of exhaustion (having lost 25SP out of 74SP), the Royalists awaited the final assault that must surely come.
The French high water mark, and the crisis for the Royalists -
just as the French assaults fade away.

It didn't.  The French attacks suddenly petered out and faded away, as the French infantry fell back across the river.  The battle was over.

What happened?

I was most surprised when a Strength Point count of the French revealed they had taken 22SP loss out of 60SP.  The sight of several reduced, but unbroken, battalions had deceived me into believing that, having plenty of SP still in hand, the French would gradually edge the Royalists out of Benbow, at which point I would probably have counted the action as a Franco-Confederation victory.  West of the Clydesdale road, they had lost only the one battalion, most of the rest more or less damaged.  The Royalists had lost three. 

Of units actually destroyed, routed, scattered, not answering the call to the colours, the losses were:
Royalist: 3 Regular (7th and 115th Fusiliers and 5th Foot), 2 Light battalions, 1 Dragoon Regiment;
Confederation: 1 Regular and 1 Light battalion, 1 Dragoon regiment, 1 battery;
French: 2 Regular battalions (II Rousillon and II Boccard).

The exhaustion of the Royalists and French having occurred in the same turn - the Confederates rather earlier - the action counted as a tactical draw.  The Franco-Confederation march on London had been definitely checked.  But the Royalists themselves had taken too much damage to contemplate an immediate march to relieve the Army of the North.

The crisis of London had not been averted; it was merely in abeyance.

Links to earlier Vales of Lyndhurst postings:
Vales of Lyndhurst continued
Combat at Clydesdale 1