Sunday, 24 November 2019

Surbiton, 1648 - the Wargame

Having done the background reading and map searching, I had to work out how I was going to approach this game. With both sides only totalling 1000 men my normal troop scale (something like 1:20) would give a very limited game. If I doubled the groundscale and unit frontages I would have limited space on my table which is only 3 feet - 900 yards deep under normal rules but only 450 with the new groundscale. I need a bigger table. But then I realised the distaff side of the household were all out of the way and the living room floor was all mine! It meant crawling around on my knees, and having to be extra careful where I put them, however I would have a space 5 x 8 feet (750 x 1200 yards). Enough space for two small forces to manoeuvre.

Orders of battle
I plumped for the larger end of the estimates given in the article yesterday. So the Royalists had 600 men and the Parliamentarians 500. Arbitrarily I decided the Royalists would be split 50:50 horse and foot, with the foot slightly lighter on shot it being a scratch force. The 300 horse would be in 6 troops of 50.

Parliament would have one small unit of foot, 250 strong with a 2:1 shot to pike ratio. The horse would be in 5 troops of 50, all veteran New Model Army men. Neither side had any guns.

Royalists (Earl of Holland)
6 troops of 50 = 300
1 small regiment of foot = 300

Parliamentarian (Sir Michael Livesey)
5 troops of veteran horse = 250
3 companies of foot = 250.

The game
The Royalists aim was to get a small wagon train and as much of the foot off the table in the direction of Kingston.

Royalist foot heading north along the road preceded by the supply train. The horse form up on the hill ready to intercept any rebel troops.

Close up of the Royalist horse, in 2 squadrons

Royalist foot march along the road to Kingston

The Roundheads in pursuit are passing Talworth (Tolworth)

3 troops of horse (from Ireton's regiment) sweep round to the east of the coulmn

The road ahead is blocked by a broken waggon so the foot have to buy time and form up. To their left a fleeing Royalist troop is pursued over the hill by Parliamentarins.

Swirling cavalry action on the plain. The Royalists have beaten one troop of Roundheads, but are struggling to make their numbers tell against the crack enemy horse. The action ebbed and flowed here. Despite getting the worst of it in terms of 'hits' the Royalists proved quite resilient. The corollary of this is that whilst they did not rout, they suffered more and more base losses. A brave but doomed fight for the King.

The Royalist foot have a choice: resume the march and risk being ridden down by the Roundhead horse or form a 'hedgehog' and hope that their own horse prevail

The Roundhead horse prevail. Left, one troop returns from pursuit to aid their comrades.

Livesey's foot turn to face the remains of a Royalist troop who have chased off one Roundhead troop (who have gone haring off in the direction of Ewell crying 'murther, muther'). Caught in several minds what to do, the Royalists neither evade nor charge. As the Roundheads approach within 100 yeards they open fire and scatter the remaining troopers.

The wagons have successfully escaped. The foot will deploy again and are charged by the small unit on the hill, but successfully beat them off.  The remains of a Royaist troop rally in the distance, no longer being pursued. They will advance to launch a suicidal charge to buy time for the foot to escape.  It is a forelorn hope for Livesey's victorious squadrons and foot are advancing quickly from the south. The Royalist foot would have to surrender - with no friendly horse left it would be a foolhardy sacrifice to fight it out.

So another Roundhead win (in line with history). Sorry JBM. The action was hard fought however, and the Royalists put up a better fight than historically.


  1. Good looking game,a big wide game! Pretty good to get a historical result too!
    Best Iain

  2. Thanks Iain. I wanted to have a bit of room for manouvre. In one of my more crazy moments I wondered if I should do a one-to-two troop scale but there would have been no room for manouvre. 1:5 felt about right.

  3. Sorry matey I must have missed this some how. I'll let you off on the result this time - as long as you eat another five boxes of Ferraro Roche in penance.