This Saturday I had the good fortune to be up at Micks for a re fight of the Battle of Flodden. Rather apt with it being the 500th anniversary of a battle in which the last British Monarch, James IV, was killed in battle.
- To tell you plaine, twelve thousand were slaine,
- that to the fight did stand;
- And many prisoners tooke that day,
- the best in all Scotland.
- That day made many a fatherlesse childe,
- and many a widow poore;
- And many a Scottish gay Lady,
- sate weeping in her bowre
Now before we got down to a re fight of the battle we decided to take a drive and follow the flank march the the English undertook to get themselves between the Scots and Scotland. I was always intrigued about why the Scots never seemed to react to this flank march. Now I can get an insight into why. When the English army left Millfield 2-3 days before the battle the direction they took would of had them heading toward Berwick Upon Tweed, now this is not an unrealistic proposition for the Scots to believe. However it was the 'Bastard' Heron who had informed Surrey of a way to get behind the Scots army and not have to attack them on Flodden hill. When you follow this route you quickly loose sight of Flodden Hill, right up to the point where the English begin to form up opposite Branxton Hill which the Scots had now positioned themselves upon.
This is rather a bold move by Surrey and Heron, they have a smaller army and to be caught on the march would have been devastating. But Heron and his men were locals, they new the terrain and were able to successfully get the English into position ready to give battle after a 14 mile march, quite a feat.
And so to the re fight. I was given the command of the English while Dave and Neal took control of the Scots. We decided to set up in as near to the correct positions as possible as we wanted to test Micks rules for simulating the melee at the foot of Branxton hill where the Scots Pike became disordered and at the mercy of the English Bill. Also Mick did mention that in two previous re fights he did with others the Scots did not attack down the slope and had always won. I needed to reverse that.
At the foot of Branxton hill is a stream which on the actual day was quite boggy, it was this that did for the Scots pike. The Pike was a formidable weapon on good ground. To simulate the effects of the bog, the Scots Pike would become disordered trying to cross and loose the support of its rear ranks in any melee.
The game began with a quick artillery duel before the Highlanders on the Scots left quickly advance towards the English right flank. As on the actual day the Scots got the better of the English continually forcing them back before eventually overwhelming them despite the loss of the Lord Huntly.
In the centre the first Scottish Pike block advance down the slope, but were met by the English bill who forced them back. The second and then 3rd Pike blocks also dashed down the slope and again the English bill forced them back. Now the disordering effects of the terrain would effect the English if they tried to pres their advantage. This allowed the Scots Pike to reform.
It was at this point that things really started to go wrong for the English. Even though alot of damage had been inflicted on the Scots centre, it was still intact and back on the ridge. The right flank was capitulating under pressure from the Highlanders and now the rightmost Scots Pike block had crossed the stream and had managed to re order itself before Stanley, who was late to the battle could stop them. The Scots pressed their numerical advantage and soon Stanley was fleeing the field. The Scots now turned to deal with the English centre, an attritional battle that the English could not win due to lack of numbers. So a victory again for the Scots.
After the battle we had a quick review and the only issue I had was that when the Scots pike crossed the stream and got disordered I attacked, as the results had the Scots recoil back up the hill. In the Scots turn they reordered, now why would they come back down the hill. The only solution I could come up with was if the Pike is in disorder with a linear obstacle they should not have recoiled, but instead taken extra damage. This reflecting the carnage that the English bill caused. This wouldn't have saved my flanks, but may have made the game a closer affair. All in all a great game.