SAS Wargames Club

SAS Wargames Club
Welcome to our home on the Web! Well it's brighter and hopefully better than ever before - well it all works - which is better than before. Don't worry despite this new glossy professional feel we're still the same bunch of reprobates looking to play toy soldiers!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Rullion Green - 28th Nov 1666

I'd been planning to put on a game to recreate the first of the Covenanter battles from what was known as the 'Killing Times' for quite a while. It was pure fluke that a slot opened up for the game on the 348th anniversary of the actual battle...

... I took the opportunity to field the armies I'd been teasing the club members with over the past couple years as I had been painting them up - namely a Covenanter Army modeled in 28mm and primarily consisting of Warlord Games figures plus a sprinkling of Perry and Renegade characters. Against them were arrayed Charles II's Scots Army consisting primarily of North Star 1672 (ex Copplestone), Front Rank and some Warlord Games Highlanders -again in 28mm.

I also decided to use the game as an opportunity to trial Sam Mustafa's Maurice rules on the club members, these are unique in that they use cards to drive the action on the tabletop. the general opinion after the game was that the rules worked well and it was worth putting on some more games using the rules stem.

Anyway, enough of that, mre about the battle!

Historical Background
The Battle of Rullion Green is significant as the only battle 1666 Covenanter rebellion, also known as the Pentland Rising. It ends the uprising and results in a further 13 years of violent repression against the Covenanters, known as the ‘Killing Times’ culminating in the battles of Drumclog & Bothwell Bridge(1679).

A Covenanter army under the command of Colonel James Wallace had risen in south-west Scotland and had advanced to Edinburgh to attempt to win support, all the while pursued by a Government army sent after them under Sir Thomas Dalziel. At it’s height the rebel army numbered some 3,000 men, however, as November progressed, the rebels faced constant losses of manpower to desertion. The Government finally caught up to the Covenanters at Rullion Green and defeated them after a stiff fight.

The Covenanters halted at Colinton, south west of the city, on 27 November. However, no support
was forthcoming from Edinburgh, which was raised in alarm against a rumoured Dutch invasion and Wallace's army reluctantly turned from the capital, wishing to retreat to the safety of the west, their staunchest support base. The way west, however, was blocked by Dalziel's army and the insurgent force headed east and then south toward Biggar via the Linton Road, using the line of the Pentland Hills as cover.

Major General William Drummond, who commanded the vanguard of Dalziel's army, had intended to engage the insurgents outside Edinburgh but upon learning of their directional change, he was able to anticipate their new objective. He intercepted the Covenanter force in Glencorse Parish, where Wallace's army had halted at Rullion Green to rest and to wait for stragglers. Having sighted a small forward party of government cavalry, Wallace arranged his infantry on the eastern slope of Turnhouse Hill flanked on either side by troops of horse.

A skirmish with Dalziel's vangaurd occurred to the north-east of Wallace's main position. Repelling this attack, the Covenanters waited on their strong, high ground as Dalziel's full force assembled across the glen. Once Dalziel's vanguard and his main body of cavalry and infantry were united, they forded the Glencorse River and arrayed themselves against the Covenanters at the bottom of Turnhouse Hill. From this position Dalziel attacked Wallace's left three times, only managing to turn the line in the final attempt by pushing forward his full force along the entirety of Wallace's line.

The Covenanters, unable to reinforce their weak right side and thrown into confusion, broke and fled into the night.

The Participants

Sir Thomas Dalziel had a long and illustrious military career behind him by the time of Rullion Green. He accompanied Charles I to La Rochelle in 1628 to aid the Huguenots at the age of 13, fought on the Royalist side through the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in Ulster and was captured at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

He had to flee Scotland in 1654 after being involved in a Highland rising against Cromwell after which a price of 200 guineas was offered for him dead or alive. He went to Russia and saw service for the Tsar of Russia in the Russo-Polish War and against the Turks and the Tartars.

He returned to Scotland on the restoration of Charles II in 1660, becoming Commander-in-Chief of the army in Scotland in 1666 with orders to suppress the Covenanters.

His actions in the wake of the Pentland Rising earned him the sobriquet 'Bluidy Tam'. According to one story, Sir Thomas on one occasion played cards with the Devil and won.

He was replaced as Commander-in-Chief by the Duke of Monmouth in 1679, and despite being reinstated by Charles II, did not appear at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge until after the fighting was over.

In 1681, he was the first Colonel of the Royal Scots Greys Regiment, which was originally constituted as a dragoon regiment.

Colonel James Wallace, commander of the Covenanter forces at Rullion Green, also had a long military career, first serving in the Parliamentarian and then Covenanter armies during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.

He was captured during the Battle of Kilsyth in 1645 while fighting against Montrose and then again at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, where he was serving in the Scottish army of the restored Charles II.

The Pentland Rising brought Wallace out of retirement and after escaping the field of Rullion Green, he went into exile in Holland, where he died in 1678.

Covenanter Forces
C-in-C: Colonel James Wallace
2-in-C: Major Joseph Learmont

2 Troops Dumfries Horse
1 Troop Ayrshire Horse
1 Troop Lanarkshire Horse

1 Regiment of Dumfries Foote
1 Regiment of Renfrewshire Foote
1 Regiment of Ayrshire Foote
1 Regiment of Lanarkshire Foote

1 Frame Gun

5 Fanatics

3 Clergy

The quality of each Troop or Regiment will not become evident until it first becomes engaged with the Royalist forces arrayed against it.

At worst these units will be comparable to Royalist Militia, at best they will be equivalent to Royalist Regulars.

All forces should be deployed on the table top at the start of the game, the Frame gun, once placed cannot be moved, although it may be protected by gabions.

Fanatics are armed with ‘Grenadoes’, one or more may be placed in any or all of the Regiments of Foote, if the enemy comes within 6 inches of the regiment the fanatics in that regiment will immediately rush out and conduct grenade attacks against the enemy unit. After the attack the fanatics are eliminated from the game.

Clergy can be allocated to Regiments of Foote, Troops of Horse or to Commanders / Officers to give them spiritual guidance. Details of which will be revealed once the game begins….

Your aim is to hold on until darkness falls, give the Royal Army a bloody nose and then under cover of that darkness your small army can slip away and fight another day. 2VP for each enemy unit that is broken, 1 VP for each of your own units that survive on the hill until nightfall.

Covenanter Foote should deploy in the darkest shaded fields, horse in the medium shaded fields.Government Forces may only deploy in any of the lightest shaded fields.  All re-enforcements arrive by Crawley Cottages. Shading represents higher, rougher ground. The higher and rougher the more advantageous for Infantry to defend and worst for Horse.

Government Forces

C-in-C: General  ‘Tam’ Dalziel of Binns
2-in-C: Maj-General William Drummond

1 Troop of Life Guards
2 Troops Oxford Horse
2 Troops Lowland Dragoons
1 Militia Troop 

2 Regiments English Foote
1 Regiment Scots Foote
1 Regiment Highland Foote
1 Regiment Scots Militia

1 Scots Gunne
1 English Gunne
1 Marksman

By the grace of his majesty King Charles II, you have been placed in command of his Royal Army in Scotland to suppress this rebellion.

You have been pursuing the rebellious scum for nearly two weeks, your forces strengthening as you go but their leader, one James Wallace, has proved to be a slippery devil.

Finally you have cornered the rebel forces by the small village of  Rullion Green, it is mid-day, to pin the rebels in place you’ve dispatched your vanguard consisting of your Horse & Dragoons, under your second in command William Drummond.

As such you must deploy your Horse & Dragoons on the table-top at the start of the game.

An order of march must be set-up for your Regiments of Foote & Gunnes, as these will arrive during the course of the aftrernoon. All troops will arrive along the Glencourse Road to your rear.

The Marksman is a member of one of your Regiments of Foote, he has the ability of attempting to kill a rebel officer if they come within range, once used he is eliminated.

Hurry, you have limited time, it is late November and light will be fading and the rebels will melt away into the hills, to win you must destroy the rebel force. You gain 3VP for each enemy unit that is broken, plus 1 VP for each Rebel Notable killed or captured.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

But still they come...

“But still they come....”
Steve’s take on HG Wells War of the Worlds
More Photos Here

In 1898 H.G Wells wrote a book that was to bring about a plethora of films, books, records and a stage performance all based on his idea, all of which I hasten to add haven’t done it justice.  The reason I say this is not because they weren’t any good, they all were good in their own way, but all of them have veered away from the books original idea by introducing things that just aren’t in it.  The only film that kept to the story line was Pendragons war of the worlds but this film unfortunately suffered from a lack of budget and hence it was a bit of a B movie.  Still, it’s the nearest I know of that’s kept to the story line unlike all of the others who have failed to do this.

I first came across War of the Worlds whilst at school at the age of 13 after enduring yet another dire English lesson discussing the “merits” of “Cider with Rosy” by sticking needles in my eyes.  Then near the end of the lesson our English teacher allowed us to choose a book from the book or should I say store cupboard which we later found out that we had to read and review.  Like piranhas stripping the flesh from an unfortunate victim everyone bundled into the cupboard and fought tooth and nail to get to the most interesting books before they all disappeared.  Being a rather sluggish piranha having had my fill of “Cider with Rosy” I ended up at the back of the queue.  By the time I got to book cupboard the shelves had been stripped clean much like the bleached carcass of one of those long horned steers that you see in all the best westerns.  I picked my way through the debris lifting dog-eared novels that no hip 1970’s kid would be seen dead with such as “The L shaped room”.  Things were becoming desperate, I couldn’t leave the cupboard empty handed but wait, what was this, H.G Wells, never heard of the bloke.  However, it did have a rather interesting title, “War of the Worlds” and to cap it all the cover had some strange machines making their way through a desolate landscape, this would have to do and it wasn’t long before I found myself captivated by this Mr HG Wells bloke.

Many years later after I’d been wargaming for some time the idea of recreating War of the Worlds as a wargame came to mind.  I decided that my version was to be a purists version and as close to the novel as possible.  If it wasn’t mentioned in the book or if it wasn’t in the context of the period it wouldn’t be included in the game and this included other technologies that Wells wrote about later on such as “Cavorite” in “The first men in the moon”.  There were to be no force fields around the Tripods and they were to be as identical as I could get them in appearance as HG Well description in his book.

To get an idea of the British army at the turn of the 19th century I brought an excellent book called “Scarlett to Khaki, the British army on the eve of the Boer war”.  Written by Lieutenant Colonel James Moncrieff Grierson and first published in 1899 it gives an excellent insight as to how the British army would have fought if a European enemy had landed on British soil.  I also did a fair amount of research on the Royal Garrison Artillery so that I could get some siege and fortress artillery involved.  With this in mind I took a trip to Fort Nelson near Portsmouth and after photographing everything Victorian I brought some of the excellent booklets published by the Palmerston Forts Society.

The late 1890’s was still a very colourful period for the British Army where uniforms were concerned.  The infantry wore the classic red tunic and blue trousers known as the Home service dress, with a dark Blue helmet modelled on the German Pickelhaube known as the Home Service Helmet.

Field and Garrison Artillery wore Blue tunic, trousers and helmet whilst Horse artillery wore the Busby
Heavy cavalry or Dragoons
wore red tunics with blue breeches
Lancers wore Blue tunics with
either blue or red breeches

Hussars wore also Blue tunic with
either blue or red breeches.
Then of course there were the Volunteers and Yeomanry.  Where uniform was concerned by this time the infantry had been brought into line with the Regulars with the majority of them wearing red, but some hangers on still wore the original Grey of the 1850’s.
The Yeomanry tried to emulate their professional cousins by wearing uniforms similar to the cavalry they represented, if not more extravagant.

So all in all I had every expectation that this would be a very colourful period to

wargame.  However, one thing I didn’t take into account was the human players cowardice.  After being soundly beaten by the Martians a couple of times all they wanted to do was to dig in.  So on top of all of the figures I’d already painted, most of which were now redundant, I ended up buying a load of WWI Germans in trenches and painting them up as British, so much for the colour!

To allow for large encounter games and a sense of scale I decided to opt for 6mm figures.  Baccus 1870 Prussians did the trick for the British due to the similarity in uniform.  Trying to find Martian Tripods that matched Wells description of a giant milking stool with a Hood was much harder!  My salvation came from Ground Zero Games in the form of their 25mm scouting Tripods, which are remarkably similar to how Wells imagined them.


Field Artillery
The Field Artillery of the late 1890’s had become very standardised with only 3 inch “De Bange” 15lb Quick Fire guns, 16lb Volunteer RML Artillery and 5.5 inch 50lb Quick Fire Field howitzers.  On the other hand there was a plethora of different types of siege and fortress artillery and it was more a case of trying to fit the fortress and siege artillery around what models were available and this is what I came up with.
 represented by Baccus 1870
Prussian Field Artillery
Royal Field Artillery 3 inch
“De Bange” 15lb

Royal Garrison Moveable Siege armaments

Rifle Muzzle Loading 4.5 inch 40lb 
represented by Pendraken 10mm model
with Baccus Prussian Crew

represented by Pendraken 10mm
model with Baccus Prussian Crew
6 inch 70lb Siege Howitzer

The above model can also represent 6.6 inch 100lb and 8 inch 180lb Howitzers depending upon how mean the Umpire feels!

6 inch 120lb breach loader 30cwt
Howitzer on Ground platform

and in miniature!

In the Pipeline are:
25lb siege guns using
Baccus Prussian Siege gun

9.2 inch 380lb railway gun using
the Irregular Miniatures model

I also made up a couple of other toys to thwart the Martians plans for the domination of planet earth, namely HMS Mars and fort Victoria.

HMS Mars

H.G Wells “Thunderchild” was a torpedo ram based on HMS Polyphemus.  Getting hold of a 1/300 scale Torpedo Ram was nigh on impossible so I opted for something with a little more punch, a Majestic class battleship.

HMS Mars was a real ship and was one of nine ships that made up the 'Majestic' class, the largest class of Battleships ever built.  Designed by Sir William White, they are also considered by many to be the best-looking battleships ever to take to the sea.  Although 'Mars' and her sisters never engaged in action with enemy battleships, they were effective designs. In many ways they were as revolutionary as the 'Dreadnought' was to be, having excellent sea keeping with high freeboard, 12 inch twin guns for main armament on the centreline in turrets, a high speed for the time of 17 knots and adequate armour protection. They were the last ships built to counter the French and would have been an adequate match for any foreign navy.

Launched in 1896 Mars served in the Channel Fleet and Atlantic Fleet 1897–1907 (becoming the first battleship converted to burn fuel oil in 1905–1906 and served in the Home Fleet 1907–1914. She served as a guard ship on the British coast in 1914–1915, then as a mostly disarmed troopship in the Dardanelles campaign 1915–1916 and as a depot ship in home waters 1916–1920 before being sold for scrapping in 1921.
Even getting hold of a 1/300th scale Majestic class battleship was not that easy.  Fortunately the Japanese model kit maker Hasegawa make a model of the Misaka that was built for the Japanese navy by Great Britain and was based on the Majestic design.  Being a slightly later design the only noticeable difference was the funnel configuration with the Misaka having hers in line instead of parallel.

by Steve Cast

After painting her as HMS Mars I have to say she does
look the business on the wargames table.

Fort Victoria
Orignal plans of Fort Gilkicker
... and in miniature.

The real thing....