Tuesday 28 May 2024

"1745 and all that.."

 A Jacobite Project.

Following on from my thoughts last year we begin the 1745 campaign, based on the board game "The 45" for the campaign elements, but with battles fought on the table.

The game begins with Bonnie Prince Charlie, aka The Young Pretender aka The Italian Dwarf aka the son of the rightful king of Great Britain aka "Not another bloody wannabee-Sun King Stuart" etc. etc. trying to land on (ideally) mainland ("Continent cut off due to fog") Britain.

The game rules themselves allow for a VERY swift end - i.e. Charlie being intercepted by the Royal Navy - which kinds defeats the point of a solo exercise, but fair's fair.. As it happens, while the ships carrying troops etc. are "bounced back"  into the Atlantic after a clash with the Royal Naval presence off the NW of Scotland, but Charlie, in a privateer, manages to land at Ullapool.

Raising the Clans, he pushes down south east, ignoring the Government garrison at Inverness (all of the Government-held forts, and their penny packet garrisons, 
above the Highland line are "sat on", but otherwise ignored for the first few months).

His supports manage to evade interception, landing at Glenfinnan.

Over the next month, while the Government army in Britain does nothing, the Royal Navy build up a fleets in the north west to interdict any movement between the Isles and the Scots mainland and to stop reinforcements reaching the west of Scotland. The Government troops in garrisons up the Great Glen and elsewhere in the Highlands are contained, and make no sallies. In fact fear/inertia seems to have gripped the authorities in Scotland itself - to our advantage.

Charlie marches to Perth, having raised all the North West Clans and the the Clans in the North East by raising the Standard and declaring himself king – rallying nearly all the clans to his side and a considerable number of Lowlanders. 

He then takes Stirling Castle - but at a cost. In the North Inverness falls to the rebels, but again, the attackers lose heavily.

Meanwhile, in The Low Counties, King George II is feeling decisive – and moves to deploy his Dutch allies before their Convention with the French prevents their use. Despite opposition by his Council of War he decides to lead the army himself. He lands at Dunbar.

Charlie himself pulls back to Perth, while Murray confronts George near Dunbar. While the Jacobites dither over whether to attack the Government troops at Dunbar, King George loses his nerve, and pulls back over the border to Alnwick, and Government reinforcements landed at Newcastle.

At Stirling there is a Council of War among the Jacobites. Cromarty and Athol are dispatched North to collect troops and take highland clans which have suffered losses "home" to recruit.

Charlie marches on Carlisle, and takes it – but again his forces loose heavily. He Declares his kingship again while south of the border, to raise more men, then moves to Edinburgh and declares himself there, garnering more troops. George moves north and the two armies face off, only a few miles apart, near Falkirk, but neither want a fight.

Murray, with half the army, marches deeper into England, getting as far as Manchester. 

Charlie moves back to Carlisle, then moves to the English north east coast to Declare and raise more support. Newcastle is taken and left with a garrison of Jacobite locals.

Meanwhile, Wade has left London and is heading North to link up with reinforcements under Albermarle landed at Scarborough. More Government regiments recruit in the Midlands and elsewhere, while i
n Holland British troops begin to build up in considerable numbers, but are impotent while awaiting transport. 

George now moves through Edinburgh, and on to Glasgow and the west coast of the Lowlands, intending to meet with troops from Ireland - who never arrive due to transport difficulties. 

The Jacobite engineer, Grant avoids the Government blockade, leaves Flanders and lands at Grimsby, hoping to meet up with Murray in the Midlands. While Wade sits inactive, the two Jacobite forces meet up near Manchester.

More government reinforcements arrive from Holland at Scarborough, and w
ith increasing numbers of Government units ahead of him, north of him and flanking him, Murray loses his nerve, and, following a Council of War, begins moving northwards.

Charlie swings south to meet up with Murray. There is now a large mixed force under his direct command. It is imperative he uses this before the Government reinforcements from the Low Countries and Ireland arrive. With Murray's force in tow he rushes north to seek King George' army.

King George's own Council of War also sees the need to force a fight, while the Dutch are still in the game, before serious French intervention and before the reinforced Highland regiments, currently recruiting and making good their earlier losses in the town assaults, concentrate and move south of the Highland Line.

[Technical Notes: How are all the decisions being made made, you might ask...

Well, I am "playing" Murray. However, when there is a serious decision to be made by the Jacobites (e.g. when an army is exposed to threat, when a potential battle is imminent, when a major change of direction is called for) I use my "Council of War"* protocols using a deck of playing cards. Options are explored and "voted on". Murray cannot dictate what will happen.

Charlie himself CAN dictate to the army under his charge - unless reined-in by a strong Council decision - and is himself a "wild card", controlled by dice.

(*See https://denyers.blogspot.com/2018/05/technical-interlude-council-what-council.html  )

Detached Leaders make their own decisions via ad hoc dice decisions (likelihood allocated to each alternative, based on Leader Character, orders - i.e. my wishes, some random elements - then a dice throw).

The AI leader decisions work in a similar way; Councils of War for large forces with multiple leaders, individual decision throws for individuals. Granny Wade is limited as per the game rules; only being able to move at all if a test is made.

The Government army pushes southwards to Carlisle, hoping to reach the port at Whitehaven and meet the reinforcements from Ireland. He by-passes the Jacobite garrison in Carlisle but then is told of the Jacobite army heading up the north road towards him. He holds a Council of War, and it is decided to close the north road, and give battle on a ground of his choosing, rather than be trapped against the Cumbrian coast.

The Jacobite army moves to within striking distance. With numbers roughly equal, and after taking Councils of War, both sides are looking for a fight. 

[Technical Note: All I have to do now is decide where the battle will take place. As George is static it seems reasonable that he will look for a good field and wait.

I here revert to my "find a battlefield" process; looking at the local topography on online "elevation websites, finding old maps online, "travelling" by Google Earth etc

A few kilometers south of Carlisle the old Roman road passes the hamlet of Low Hesket (aka War Hesketh), east of where the River Petterill cuts through some low hills. The road climbs a rise linked to nearby Barrock Fell (aka Great Barwick?); the highest local feature and a good viewpoint.

The rise north of the hamlet looks like a good place to site an army to block the road. The rising ground and the fell itself command the road, with a gill and (according to old maps) scrubby land fronting the fell itself and a wooded gill valley protecting part of the rise frontage. I note from news stories that the hamlet is subject to flooding in heavy rain, so there may be damp or boggy ground here too; all good to slow or funnel a Highland charge. The high fell guards the east flank of any force positioned on the rise, the steep-sided wooded valley of the Petteril the west. There is water, timber for fires and dry camping grounds nearby for an army - and a local manor house (and a possible period coaching inn) for the nobs to sleep in.

In my mind this is a good spot for the Government forces to wait. The Jacobite army, marching to Carlisle from the south and actually seeking battle, could well be tempted to risk an assault at a disadvantage here; not least because the alternatives would be:

1) To backtrack south - barely an option given timescales, the enemy reinforcements due from the Continent and Ireland, and the unknown quantity that is Wade and his army (last known to be at Lincoln, and possibly picking up militia units being raised in the Midlands). 

2) To try to cross the River Petterill to by-pass the enemy on the west via the bridge at Southwaite (dodgy in the face of the enemy) and heading to Carlisle west of the Petterill on the local tracks (slower going than the Highroad) seems fraught with potential problems. Given that the enemy could take advantage of any attempt to cross the river and cause problems here, PLUS move at better speed up the high road to Carlisle anyway, this course of action seems inadvisable.

3) To move east, to the local northbound road by the River Eden. But with this comes the risk of being headed off, and stopped at the high ground dominating that route (there are tracks for the fell to facilitate this), or being pushed up against the River Eden, it's gorge and the bridge (and castle) at Armatwaite.

What also has to be borne in mind by the Jacobites is that this is possibly the last chance to actually defeat the King himself in open battle. As soon as Cumberland returns from the continent (something only a game move or two away) the King will likely head for London and leave him in command. Can the Jacobites afford to miss this opportunity..? The HUGE fillip to the cause that defeating the King in person - let alone the chance that George might be killed or captured - cannot be ignored...

So... The Battle of Carlisle, 1745, it is..... Watch this space......

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