Friday, May 2, 2008

Prestonpans Wargame

The open moor at Prestonpans - site of the first battle of the Forty Five

The plaid painting blitz of the last three weeks has come to an end and now it is time to let the metal lads settle the issue of the Jacobite restoration on the field of battle. It is hard to believe, but I have assembled a force of 63 infantry, 6 cavalry and 4 artillery crew plus two senior mounted officers. We will fight the first battle of the campaign tomorrow, using a scenario that is loosely based on the battle of Prestonpans.

I have set up the game table, as shown above, and you can see that the terrain is fairly open. The picture doesn't show the rise in the terrain in the middle of the table, but this is where the Government forces will deploy. The terrain is rather stark and Old School, but we are here to play test the rules for the Forty Five and I did not want to clutter the field with obstacles and impediments. Hence the simplified terrain.

I am considering having the Jacobites dice to see where they enter the table; either that, or allow them to deploy after the Government troops are set up. This represents the Jacobites' greater maneuverability as they marched around the redcoat flank several times, seeking a more favorable starting position for their eventual attack.

Jacobite Order of Battle for BAR Rules (231 figures)

Lord George Murray's Brigade:
Appin Stewarts (30) - Poor
Frasers (30) - Poor
Camerons (45) - Poor

Earl of Talisker's Brigade:
Clanranald Regiment (30) - Poor
MacDonnell of Glengarry (30) - Poor
MacDonnell of Keppoch (25) - Poor

Prince Charles Stuart's Reserve:
Royal Ecossais (30) - Trained
Lifeguard (5) - Poor
Strathallen's Light Horse (6) - Poor

Government Forces - Lt. Gen. Sir John Cope (217 figures)

Colonel Lascelles Brigade
44th Foot (45) - Poor
46th Foot (45) - Poor
60th Foot (45) - Poor
27th Foot (30) - Trained
2 x 3 pound artillery (8) - Poor

Brigadier Mosteyn's Brigade
10th Dragoons (12) - Poor
15th Dragoons (12) - Poor
11th Dragoons (10) - Poor
6th Dragoons (10) - Poor

There is, of course, no Earl of Talisker. This is a fictional character that I have made up for our Jacobite campaign. He is a laird from the Isle of Skye, home of the whiskey that bears his family name. Likewise, some of the units such as the Prince's Lifeguard (Lord Elco's) and the Royal Ecossais were not at Prestonpans, but we are using them in our stylized version of the battle. Afterall, if I am going to take the time to paint them, then you can be sure that they are going to show up for the battle. The two MacDonnell regiments are actually ECW Scots infantry being pressed into service, while the kilted Black Watch is standing in for the Camerons and the Clanranald regiment. The Royal Ecossais are actually some blue coated American provincials with Royal Ecossais standard bearers painted just for this game. Eventually, we expect to have the actual forces painted for future games.

I don't believe that any of the Government regiments in our OB were actually at the real battle. They just happen to be the British redcoat regiments that we have available for the game.

We are using some minor tweaks to our standard Batailles de l'Ancien Regime ("BAR") rules. The Jacobites will roll a D6 before each melee and the die roll pips determine the amount of modifiers to the melee bonuses. So I hope that I roll a lot of sixes. Since virtually every unit is rated poor, units on both sides will have to test morale whenever an enemy closes within ten inches of them. That could prove interesting if two opponents meet and both elect to run away! We will also use limited small arms ammo chits for the Jacobites in order to encourage them to go in with the sword rather than engaging in a fire fight with the Government troops.

The other interesting thing about this game is that all of the units will be either 30 or 45 figures, rather than our standard 60 figure regiments. This will provide more maneuvering room on my 6 by 12 feet table and probably have some unforeseen effects on the fire dyamics.

This should be interesting and I'm looking forward to the game.


  1. Jim,

    It looks like a very interesting scenario. I await seeing what happens given the overall poor rating of the lads engaged! This should indeed make for some interesting events.

    By the way, is the Earl of Talisker the young 21 year old brother, or the 30 year old elder?

    Best wishes for a grand engagement,


  2. I look forward to the pictures and accounts of the battle.

    -- Jeff

  3. It looks very promising. I'm looking forward to the full account of the engagement.

  4. Jim
    A most interesting post! I like the mechanisms you will employ during the game as add ons to BAR. The set up looks great and I await with bated breath the first news/pictures of your game!
    Have a great Saturday one and all!

  5. Can't wait to enjoy the AAR next week: cheers!

  6. DAF

    About 5 companies of the 44th WERE at Prestonpans under the command of Halkett of Braddock fame. There were over on the right flank. Of course at the time they were the 55th, IIRC the colonel was Charles Lee's father.

    Good luck with the rest of your Jacobite efforts!


    Thomas Mante