Saturday, May 4, 2013

Conclusion of the Battle



The Confederation Plan of attack on Hipsley farm


The assault to the northern walls of Hipsley farm lasted 20 minutes, the Royalist suffered extremely heavy losses but their morale held together. Despite their good morale General Aubrey had a hard decision to make, when was it the right time to stop the killing of his men; the two battalions joined now only mustered a little over 200 men.
He had a word with the Battalion commanders and both demanded that while the men had good morale and wanted to fight they they should do so, all three commanders knew they couldnt hold for long but for every half hour or so they could hang on it meant less time the Confederation troops had against the main army.
The 3 Confederation battalions broke their morale in trying to batter their way into the farm, the losses were not heavy, the 3 Battalions between only lost 225 men, but perhaps it was the fact that despite them being reorganised each battalion had previously broken and perhaps the mental exhaustion wasn’t as easy to recover from as was the physical exhaustion. Regardless of the why both 3 battalions once more turned tail and ran from the farm, the 12th and 13th battalions didn’t stop running until they reached Icelton farm, the 94th stopped at Rose farm, all three slowly started to reorganise once more.
Lord Ashley had half expected the 3 battalions to fail, that was why he had kept the 39th and 95th Foot back from the main line, these were fresher units and now it was abundently clear the enemy fire from the farm was considerably less he was confident they would take the far,m, he sent the order for them to attack.

The 2 battalions launched themselves at the walls, and like the previous 3 battalions broke themselves against the ramparts, they were forced back, but the Royalist casualties were so heavy now there were not enough men to hold the walls, despite there morale miraculously still holding; General Aubrey decided to ask for honours of war, which the Confederation commander was only to keen to grant (die roll), he allowed the survivors to return to their own lines, bearing standards and arms.
As they did so the confederates moved into the ruins that had once been a large English farming estate. As General Ashley wandered amongst the dead and wounded, he realised it was hard to ignore that his enemy here had been Englishmen and they had fought as he would have expected English soldiers to fight. These two weak Battalions had broken the morale of 5 Battalions, and most likely cost him the battle. The 5 Battalions would recover, but it would take time and that meant he was for another hour or more he was without those 5 precious Battalions.

While the the assault on Hipsley farm had been underway, the opposing artillery batteries on the Confederate left had been engaged in a prolonged counter battery duel.
The result of which was the Confederate 1st heavy battery was routed and the Royalist Medium battery was forced to limber up and retreat., out on the Confederation left flank that left them 1 x 9pdr battery against the 1.50 9pdr Royalist batteries.
On the Confederate Right the 2nd and 3rd batteries began firing on the 33rd Foot in Court Farm, for 25 minutes the Royalist Infantry were subjected to long range artillery fire losing some 45 men in casualties and for a time became quite shaken once again, then as quick as the artillery fire began it ceased and for a few minutes a quiet calm came over the battlefield, the only noise came from the area of Beasley farm as General Audrey and Sir Alexander Clements led the remnants of their two battalions back to the main Royalist line, the men of the 11th Foot welcoming them back with a riotous and resounding cheer.

The time was now 1:45pm and Lord Ashley contemplated his next move, his options were fast disappearing and now with a much depleted army he still faced a Royalist line that included 3 farms which were occupied, that prospect did not cheer him at all. Many of his staff were advising him to withdraw while he was able, move back, join up with Lord Warwick and advance by an alternative route. That was sensible advice, but it meant he had been defeated here and that was something his honour would not allow him to accept. However the decision was taken out of his hands, when a dispatch rider arrived from Maj General Saunders who was out on the Confederation left flank, the Royalists were attacking.

The Royalist attack


General graham had seen an opportunity with the Confederation heavy battery being virtually destroyed and then routed of the field, the Confederates were left with 1 battery and 1 battalion on his side of the stream, on the other side there was only 1 other battalion and 1 cavalry regiment in support, it was time for him to make his move.
First he ordered up the 32nd Foot which was in reserve south of Sweetwater stream, they were to advance and cross the bridge south of Beasley farm. The remaining artillery on the Royalist right would now engage, the last Confederate battery while the 2nd and 3rd dragoons crossed the small stream and prepared to charge the guns or the supporting 40th.
While these units were moving up in support the Royalist 3rd battery engaged the enemy 4th battery in counter battery fire. The fire from both batteries was quite punishing and no doubt would have continued had not the movement of Royalist forces in front of it prompt the battery commander to realise that considering the battering his guns had taken, they would easily be run over by any attackers, so he simply limbered them up and moved them back across the stream. The movement through the stream seriously damaged the a powder as some of the caissons become stuck or over turned.

The Royalist battery considered itself very fortunate that the enemy battery had withdrawn as up to the moment it moved the Royalists were getting the worst of the artillery duel.
The Confederation 40th battalion which had been on the southern bank supporting the artillery also now withdrew. The Confederation 35th Foot which was the next battalion on the southern bank however stayed, as it was in an area covered by hedges they felt reasonably safe from cavalry and were prepared to withstand the charge by any Royalist infantry.
General Graham ordered the 2nd and 3rd dragoons out to his right flank, they were to remain out of musket range but be prepared to charge if any enemy attempted to recross the stream.
Meanwhile the Royalist 32nd foot and 93rd foot swiveled around and headed directly onto the area defended by the 35th Foot.
While these two battalions made their way to engage the 35th, the Royalist 11th Foote that had been in Beasley farm now formed into columns in preparation to move forward as well.

The Royalist battalions succesfully stormed the hedgerows defended by the 35th, the 35th Battalion ceased to exist; however the two Royalist battalions were so badly disorganised they were unable to move forward any further.
Meanwhile they 11th foote formed into line and as the 32nd and 93rd Bns were involved in their melee, the 11th charged the 113th Light Bn defending the woods. The 11th foot was repulsed and withdrew in reasonable order having lost 218 men in the melee, the Confederate 113th LT Bn lost 175 men.

Again a brief pause settled over the field, both commanders realised that their armies now consisted of some very tired and weakened units.
General Graham however was determined he would stay and fight, all he had to do was block the Confederation advance and he was doing just that.
The reality of defeat however had finally dawned on Lord Ashley, he simply was not strong enough to force the enemy out of those accursed farms, indeed he would be lucky if he could hold here. He realised it had been General grahams plan all along to merely block his advance, clearly he was not a risk taker, but for now it had worked in the royalist favour, but Lord Ashley was determined he would be back.
He decided that he would pull all his units back behind the Claudia stream, if the enemy decided to attack then that was well and good; he would accept the challenge. If they did not he would withdraw once it was night.

General Graham realised his army was too weak to attack, so he remained on the defensive for the rest of the day, during the night the Confederate army pulled back into Northampton and dispatch riders were sent to Lord Warwick asking him to come and join Lord Ashley so that they may unite and again attack the Royalists.
For the Royalists it had been a hard fought victory, and an expensive replacing the regular infantry would be a problem, as would replacing the guns and gunners of the artillery.

Statistics of the battle.
Northern Confederation Army

The battle lasted 4.5 hours, starting at 10am, the weather was fine and the ground dry.

The Confederation Army started the day with = 10,500 Infantry, 1,400 cavalry and 5 batteries
It finished the day with = 7187 Infantry, 1400 cavalry and 3.5 Batteries
These figures do not account for returning wounded or missing.

Casualties were:
836 dead, 1003 wounded 946 missing or POW
Losses do not include 1088 which were routers which means most (less 5%) of them will return.


The Royalist Army

The Royalist Army started the day with = 3,500 Infantry, 1,400 cavalry and 1 battery
They were reinforced halfway through the battle with 2,800 Infantry, 1,400 cavalry and 2 batteries
Making a total of 6,300 Infantry, 2,800 Cavalry and 3 batteries.
It finished the day with 3,391 Infantry, 2,800 cavalry and 1.5 Batteries.
These figures do not account for returning wounded or missing.

Casualties were:
978 dead, 1372  wounded and 915 missing or POW.

3 comments:

  1. A tough and gripping encounter: well done the Royalists! Clearly that last counter-attack decided the action. It was a Parliamentary victory otherwise.

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  2. Yes I would tend to agree, the Royalists can claim the laurels, the Parliamentary forces though have walked away in a much better condition than the Royalists. Now the Battle is over I have made some minor adjustments to help prevent every defence of a farm building becoming an "Alamo" in its own right. They will still be tough, but not quite as much.
    Next Battle will be more open and I have already eyed several options as the Parliamentarians continue to test Royalist responses.

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  3. a very fine battle. a long one also. I would also agree that the parliamentarians came out better off than the royalists. However they have yet to retrace their steps through what is now potentially hostile territory! they might still suffer, even come out worse in the long run, due to the battle. But we'll have to see. great work and yes the farms did seem incredible strong, but perhaps it was just the circumstances of that battle, its only natural that later on and in other occasions the farms would be less strong.

    great battle and another rather indecisive battle with the Royalists taking the prise from it... but still nothing conclusive.

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