As far as I can see pretty much the entire English Civil War was fought across ridge lines. Living, as I do, quite close to Naseby you can see this really clearly. The English countryside is one long procession of ridge lines.
This is no more true than for the Battle of Cheriton, which was fought between two armies (Hopton v Waller again) across a shallow valley from ridge top to ridge top. Alas the area of the battle has three and a half ridges running in parallel to each other and no one can agree which two ridges it was fought across. So, a fine choice for my next refight using the previously published “Victory Without Squares” rules.
I don’t possess John Adair’s monograph on Cherition, written in the Peter Young style. This may be a blessing because, as far as I can make out, no one else agrees with where he sites the battle. My sources for this refight then were Richard Brooks', “Battlefields of Britain & Ireland” (which I have recommended before), William Seymour's “Battles in Britain” and Wanklyn’s “Decisive battles”. All three have a slightly different interpretation and in the end I went with Wanklyn as the most convincing. This was partly based on physically trying to get the figures on the battlefields suggested. Using Seymour’s suggestion the armies simply don’t fit (the ground scale for my rules is 4” = 250yards, with the frontage of a 1,000 man foot regiment/tercio being about 200 yards, with the same for a 600 man cavalry brigade).
|Royalists to the left, Parliament to the right|
Due to the snow and ice I only had one player, but that did mean I got to play the game (regular readers may be confused here: the Monday Night Group no longer meets on Thursday, it now meets on Monday. How crazy is that?). Phil took the Royalists with an instruction to be aggressive and I took the forces of Parliament with the intention of being Waller-ish.
I started the game a bit further back than you might expect, with the Royalists on the Sutton Sand ridge and the Parliamentarians on the Hinton Ampner ridge. This enables me to put Lisle’s forward outpost of the Royalist army on the Cheriton ridge where some writers put Waller and means that the forces in Cheriton wood are flanking the Royalist advance. As described there is some dead ground in the lee of the hill on which Cheriton wood stands, and this should enable the Royalist foot to engage with the forces in the wood without getting too shot up first.
|Royalists watch Cheriton wood whilst they force the lane.|
The first serious combat was on my left flank as Phil tried to turn me with his aforementioned cavalry. We had two evenly matched lines and attacked each other in waves. The combat ebbed and flowed a bit, but I eventually lost out with both of my units fleeing. My Lord Balfour also came unstuck, being unhorsed and overrun. He was spirited off before I was able to recapture him. I also realised at this point that it was a long time since we last played the game and, simple though they are, I couldn’t remember the rules properly. So things might have turned out differently.
Phil pushed bravely on and got his infantry mostly in the valley for an attack on my position. He also committed to clearing Cheriton wood at last, having brought up an infantry regiment in support. The cavalry on this flank finally lined up and got stuck in to each other in a rather messy melee.
So what did we learn? Well, I think I got the set up right, otherwise the players don't get a lot of choices. I need to think about the dead ground near the wood some more and also the enclosures at the end of the ridges. If I was to run it again.
Which, with so many other battles still to fight, is unlikely.