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The Dykes of Keltham, 1645


The English Civil War, Very Civile Actions, 28mm

This was one of those big, spur of the moment pretty games. We’d promised ourselves an English Civil War game, and two gamers (Dave Imrie and Jack Glanville) wanted to use their Covenanters. The rather threadbare scenario we concocted involved a vital supply column, bringing much-needed powder up to the siege lines at Newark, on the far side of the River Trent.ecw-oct-09-01 Those who know the area please forgive our liberties with geography here. The way forward was along a lane, leading past Keltham Farm to the bridge over the river – an area of high-walled hedges known as the Dykes of Keltham – the ideal place for an ambush. Word reached the garrison that the Royalists were attempting to attack the wagons, and a brigade of Coventanters was dispatched to escort the wagons along this last difficult mile. The scene was set for an encounter battle, fought in close terrain.ecw-oct-09-11We played the game on a 11×4 table, with the River Trent dividing the battlefield into two parts. The siege part on the far side of the river was essentially a sideshow – the Parliamentarian and Covenanter gunners hadn’t the powder to batter the defences, and the Royalist commander didn’t sally out. The main fighting therefore took place to the west, beyond the bridge.ecw-oct-09-14The wagons began plodding down the lane, escorted by a company of Parliamentarian dragoons. The Royalists appeared through the fields to the south, and then the Covenanters showed up, dribbling on a unit at a time from the north.ecw-oct-09-03Inevitably, the wagons were held up at Keltham Farm, while the two sides fought it out. The battle took just over two hours to game, and the fighting ebbed and flow several times. The Royalist foot reached the lane, blocking the way for the wagons, but the Covenanters firing on them through the hedges couldn’t really budge them.ecw-oct-09-13The Parliamentarian dragoons had more luck, repulsing an attempt by their mounted Royalist counterparts to capture the wagons by riding round everyone’s flank. Then the two cavalry units lined up – Dougie Trial’s Royalist horse (pictured at the top) clashed with Jack Glanville’s Covenant lancers, and the Scots were driven from the field. This effectively blocked the way to the bridge.ecw-oct-09-10In the centre of the table though, things weren’t going so well for the Royalists. While the two sides were locked in battle, fighting it out over and through the hedgerows, another regiment of Covenanting foot worked its way onto the lane at Keltham Farm. Its pike block then slammed into the Royalist shot and drove them back in disorder, exposing the flank of the Royalist pikes, who were soon fighting for their lives, with Scots on two sides.ecw-oct-09-09At that point we ran out of time, but it was clear that while the Covenanters had cleared Keltham Dykes the Royalist horse still commanded the river meadows beyond. The game was therefore declared a draw, although technically the Royalists did stop the wagons getting through.ecw-oct-09-16

 

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