Sunday, 4 December 2016

Battlefields in Devon - Battle of Torrington 1646

Very fine illustration of a cavalry trooper of the period armed with a wheel-lock pistol, one
of the five illustrations I bought in Torrington by Chris Collingwood 
It was back in December 2015 that Will and I spent a very rainy, wet afternoon exploring Bovey Tracey and Bovey Heath as we retraced the actions of Oliver Cromwell during the fighting that happened their in January 1646; as the New Model Army lay siege to Royalist controlled Exeter and the two forces skirmished with each other in the Devon winter countryside.

There is a link to that post along with the others in the series below the map of Devon showing the battles covered so far and the subject of this post, the Battle of Torrington, February 16th, 1646.

In the post about the Battle of Bovey Heath, I covered the background to the English Civil War in Devon up to the battle, and the Battle of Torrington occurred soon after in the February as part of the same campaign so if you want to understand the situation leading up to this battle, then I would suggest reading the Bovey Heath post first.


Battlefields in Devon - Battle of Bindon
Battlefields in Devon - Battle of Bovey Heath
Battlefields in Devon - Battle of Lydford
Battlefields in Devon - Battle of Sourton Down

This time my companion back to the English Civil War was Will's elder brother Tom, and the weather we enjoyed on the day was much better than the previous year. That said it was great to be able to picture the area at a similar time of year to when the battle happened three-hundred and seventy years ago.

The journey up from Exmouth took just over an hour and after parking the car in the town centre car park we decided to partake of a tea and mid-morning cake in the themed 1646 cafe close by, before setting off on our four and half mile walk around the town exploring where the fighting happened.

http://www.torrington-1646.co.uk

While enjoying our pre-walk refreshments I noticed some great illustrations of Civil War soldiers by Chris Collingwood done in the early 90's together with a hard back copy of "The Cromwellian Gazeteer" by Peter Gaunt which is an illustrated guide to Britain in the Civil War and Commonwealth. So five cards and a book for just over £12.00, what a nice start to the day.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cromwellian-Gazetteer-Illustrated-Commonwealth-Paperbacks-x/dp/0750900636

The illustrations I bought accompany this post to help capture the look of the combatants on that winters day in 1646.

So following the cavalry clash at Bovey Heath in January, both armies settled back into winter quarters with Sir Thomas Fairfax concentrating on strangling Exeter of any succour from the Royalists in Devon, confident that starvation would force the city to surrender.

Sir Ralph Hopton, General commanding Royalist forces in Devon in 1646
Meanwhile the commander of Royalist forces in the Westcountry, the fifteen year old Prince Charles, together with the real commander, the wiley experienced Lord Ralph Hopton who had led the Royalists in the Westcountry from the start of the war, were focused on raising as many men as they could from the local Royalist sympathisers to prepare for the next stage of the struggle.

Hopton's army had been denuded of veteran soldiers sent north to bolster the King's main army. These men had been lost as the war had turned in favour of Parliament and now outnumbered he was forced to gather in the inexperienced local volunteers to form around the core of veterans he still had with him.

Prince Charles c1642-43 by William Dobson aged 12-13. Nominally in command of the Royalist Army,
the boy was just 15 when he escaped capture at Torrington in 1646
At the end of January, Hopton at Launceston in Cornwall had successfully raised an army of about 7,000 men of whom about half were cavalry. Enthusiastic for the cause but very under-trained and poorly equipped, they were, despite their numbers, a poor match for the New Model Army under Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell.

Sir Thomas Fairfax commanding the New Model Army
Thus Hopton decided on a strategy of discretion over valour, that would buy him time to improve the training and abilities of his force whilst avoiding any serious fighting and perhaps outmanoeuvring his Parliamentary foes at the same time.

He thus opted for a plan to cross the River Tamar from Cornwall into Devon, heading for Barnstaple where he would collect supplies and ammunition.

He would then develop the march into a move around the southern edge of Exmoor to threaten the New Model's rear area, before falling rapidly back to Launceston in response to the New Model likely moving to protect their supply line, thus drawing them away from Exeter and relieving the city.


On the face of it the plan looked like a good one providing his army was mobile enough to avoid interception and pursuit and thus any serious fighting.

However the New Model Army and particularly the cavalry under Cromwell were going to be difficult to outmanoeuvre without being detected at the best of times and Hopton's plan began to unravel on arriving in Torrington on the 9th of February, to discover that Fairfax was already on the march to intercept him rather than moving north east to protect his supply line.

The hunter was now the hunted and it was Hopton who risked being cut off from Cornwall if he advanced any further, thus either forcing him into ignominious retreat before his campaign had really started or a defiant stand in the steep hill top town of Torrington with it medieval walls and to try and cause as much damage to Fairfax's army as possible using favourable terrain.

Choosing to make a stand, Hopton set his men at strengthening the old Parliamentary works left when they had controlled the town in 1642 and building barricades with fire-steps at each and every entrance. The church was commandeered as a supply depot and makeshift prison for captured Parliamentary troops and with houses near the barricades used to billet the troops guarding them, Lord Hopton and Prince Charles took up residence in the Black Horse Inn in the High Street.

Whilst Hopton was busy fortifying Torrington the New Model Army was on the march from Exeter enduring heavy rains that quickly turned the high hedged narrow Devon roads into a quagmire that must have made the march an even worse slog without warmth or shelter.

Both armies were lacking artillery, Hopton because he didn't have any to bring, Fairfax because he realised the terrain prohibited the moving of guns easily and the high banked stone built hedgerows characteristic of Devon minimised the effect of artillery by providing ample cover from such fire to defending troops.

Thus both armies were composed of cavalry and infantry with about half of Hopton's 7,000 men being composed of each type and the 10,000 men of the New Model Army having 2,000 cavalry and about 1,000 dragoons or mounted infantry.

Map illustrating the move to contact on the 6th February 1646 between the two armies
The two armies made first contact, with the rain finally having stopped, at about 2pm on a sunny 16th February near the hamlet of Whitsley Barton on the road to Torrington when opposing cavalry met at the fast flowing stream in the valley below.

The Royalist cavalry fell back about a mile on its supports to halt the Parliamentary advance at Allin's Week on the outskirts of Torrington.


At about 4pm the main Parliamentarian Army came up pushing the Royalist line back towards the town and swinging west towards Hatch Moor and the flatter ground above the steep ravine of the River Torridge that runs to the south west of the town. The advance then came to a halt as Fairfax and his commanders surveyed the Royalist defensive positions in front of the eastern side of the town with infantry lining the thick banked hedgerows that barred their approach to the old medieval wall beyond.

Thus our tour around the battle begins from the focal point, visible to the New Model Army as they prepared to attack the Royalist defensive lines, namely St Micheal and All Angels Church.

Point 1 - St Micheal & All Angels Church 

The church in Torrington makes an excellent point of reference when walking this battle as its new spire acts as a perfect easily seen landmark. It is a replacement for the damage caused to the original  by the explosion that occurred during the battle as Royalist ammunition supplies caught light, practically destroying the building and doing enormous damage to the other town dwellings nearby.

It served as our start and finish point and the repair work carried out after the battle is easily observed in the walls where the newer stone can be seen distinctly from the lower original stonework


Note the lighter stone work directly under the roof showing the post battle repair work 

The Church served as a makeshift prison for captured Parliamentary soldiers and as an ammunition and supplies store.
From the church we set off down New Street and Calf Street, which forms the busy main A386 road through the town from Barnstaple to Bideford. By heading east we were moving out of the town towards the area protected by the medieval wall, its barricades and the forward defence lines occupied by the Royalists on the late afternoon of the 16th February.

Point 2 - Calf Street, Hatchmoor Road - Royalist Front-line



With the light fading as the winter afternoon drew to a close Fairfax was unsure whether to press an attack on an unknown force occupying prepared defences protected by thick hedgerow lined infantry positions. Most of his commanders advised waiting until next morning which was the plan about to be adopted until Cromwell joined the meeting fresh from his reconnaissance of the Royalist positions.

Noticing the raw recruits among the Royalist troops and suspecting Hopton's plan to withdraw under the cover of darkness he forcibly advised an immediate attack which with his colleagues falling silent became the order issued to the troops and the attack began at 6pm.


The Parliamentary line was drawn up some 500 yards from the Royalist positions across the fields straddling Hatchmoor Road. The first attack came from fifty Parliamentary dragoons attempting to move unobserved on to the flank of the Royalist lines, only to be rapidly repulsed as the Royalists reacted quickly to the move and drove them off with devastating volley fire.

Thus with all attempts at finesse being abandoned, the New Model Army advanced along the line initiating fierce fighting as the infantry battled for control of each hedge-line; with Parliamentary numbers gradually forcing the issue in their favour and the Royalist grudgingly giving ground as they fell back in the evening gloom towards the town walls.

The view along Calf Street looking west towards the church as we walk towards the town outskirts
The town proudly presents its history with pertinent reminders of great events three hundred and seventy years ago
The picture below is taken from Point 2 on the battle map plan and is about the centre of the Royalist line looking towards the north high ground from where the New Model dragoons attempted their flank attack.

The thick hedgerows are easily apparent in the open country bordering the town and today as then would present a formidable obstacle to attacking infantry advancing over the fields.


View from Point 2 looking towards the New Model lines 500 yards further on
A 'Roundhead Officer' recorded after the battle that he and his men had fought their way over thirteen hedges during this phase of the battle.

View from Point 2 looking south east with the ground dropping sharply way right of picture towards the river valley 
From the hedgerow lines we walked back along the road into town following the route of the fighting as two armies coalesced around the barricades blocking entry into the town via the medieval wall.

Point 3 - East Street - Royalist Barricades

The old town wall is no longer standing but originally followed the line of East Street that links the two blue crosses on the map above showing the positions of the barricades through it.


With the two armies now locked in deadly struggle the Royalists fell back in good order clambering over the wall and barricades using ladders and pulling them up behind them.

It was 8pm as the fighting developed on the wall and the Royalist musketeers fired their volleys at 40 yards into the ranks of the attackers, leaping down from the fire step to reload being replaced by pikemen using their 16 foot long pikes and much shorter swords to carry on fending off the attackers while they did.

Point 3 and the view north along East Street. The house at the end of the road is where one barricade was set up and the medieval wall followed the road on the right of picture.

At the southern end of East Street with the medieval wall on the left of picture and the junction with Well Street, right of picture
The main focus of the Parliamentary attack was aimed at the Well Street barricade and it was here that a breach was finally made in the defence line when a section of it collapsed and the Royalist defenders were quickly overcome.

The New Model troops quickly reformed on the other side and began a steady advance along Well Street with pikes to the fore. General Hopton was close by when the breach was made and both he and his second in command, Major Webb, had their horses hit by enemy musketry, with Webb's horse being killed on the spot and both officers forced to flee back into town as the defenders gave way.

Looking east along Well Street towards the town centre. The second barricade blocked the street about in between the light blue care (left) and the white care on road (right)
From the site of the barricade in Well Street, Tom and I followed Hopton's retreat route along it as he made his way back to his headquarters in the Black Horse.

Point 4 - Royalist Rout to the Black Horse



Again as we made our way to Point 4 at the Black Horse Inn the references to past events were well signed.


I doubt if Hopton and Webb had time for a quick half when he passed 'The Cavalier'!
On entering the town square in Torrington, the eye is immediately attracted to the old pub in one corner of it, particularly if it is lunch time and you have been wondering about outside for a couple of hours.

Purely in the interests of historical research we decided to check out the snug and refreshments as we surveyed a very important site in the tale of the Battle of Torrington.

The beautiful old 'Black Horse' pub dating back to 1681 and Hopton's HQ during the battle.
When Hopton reached the Black Horse Inn his horse reared up and died on the cobbles outside having finally succumbed to the bullet wound received in the head at the fall of the Well Street barricade.

Quickly leaving on a new horse acquired from its stables he left to rally the Royalist troops now starting to fall back in disorder through the streets with the New Model troops in pursuit.



As the Royalist defence began to collapse, the Parliamentary troops broke through to the High Street at Point 4 and the Black Horse was thoroughly ransacked by them, although they did hand over to Cromwell, Lord Hopton's pay-chest which was quickly put under guard.

The doors which both sides troops entered and left, I would imagine because
of the haste, both Prince Charles and Lord Hopton's bills were left unpaid
May be different brands available but the snug probably hasn't changed much since 1646.
With his army falling into disarray in the night time battle for the town, Tom and I followed Hopton's route to Point 5 on the map below as the Royalist general sought out his cavalry reserve on the western side of town under Sir John Digby.

Point 5 - Hopton sends in Digby's Cavalry Reserve


It was here at the junction of Warren Lane and New Street that Hopton issued orders for Digby to manage a rearguard with his cavalry conducting charges on the pursuing Parliamentarian troops to take the pressure off his own men now desperately trying to get clear of the town under cover of darkness


It was whilst in discussion with Digby that the night was split asunder by a massive explosion in the church as the Royalist powder reserves ignited raining the town in burning debris and molten lead and taking off roofs and blowing in windows.

The Royalist cavalry were able to take advantage of the stunning affect on the attackers the explosion had and charged into town before falling back as the Parliamentary troops regained their composure.

With a little respite gained from the pursuit, Hopton and Digby covered the withdrawal of Royalist troops-in the direction of the Cornish border via the Old Bridge at Point 6 on the map above.

Point 6 - Last Stand at the Old Bridge

I have driven the roads in this area for over thirty years for work and had passed the Old Bridge at Torrington numerous times without ever realising its presence or significance.


Like the re-built church and the Black Horse pub, the Old Bridge is a veteran from the battle and it was across its arches that Hopton and Digby covered the retreat of the Royalist army making their last stand on the east bank before moving off in the darkness.

Tom stands in for Lord Hopton on the Old Bridge
The east bank where Hopton & Digby held off pursuing New Model Cavalry as the Royalist troops made their escape.
A very old bridge now in retirement next to the more modern road bridge close by
From the Old Bridge at Point 6 we then made our way along the east bank of the River Torridge to Point 7 and the bridge at Taddiport that was the main point of retreat for the Royalist troops as Digby's cavalry rearguard drew the attention of the pursuit away from them.

Point 7 - Last to Escape at Taddiport


The Torridge Inn is on the hill side road leading down from the town to the river

The bridge at Taddiport and the road leading away to Royalist Cornwall  and away from the New Model Army now in possession of Torrington

The bridge was rebuilt and widened in the Victorian era and occupies the site of the original
From Taddiport and with the afternoon fading Tom and I headed up the hill back into town building a good appetite with the steep walk.

Having walked the town we both had a really good understanding of how this battle had unfolded and where the main points of action had taken place.

The Black Horse was the highlight with the feel of the place taking the knowledgeable visitor straight back into history and that dangerous night in 1646.

There was one final place we both wanted to see and pay our respects to back at the church.

Point 1 - Last Resting Place of the Fallen

Unmarked and casually walked past by Xmas shoppers is a mound topped with cobblestones next to the church now topped off with trees lining the path.


The mound marks the main burial pit for some of the soldiers killed that night in the battle. It seemed to me rather sad that no formal memorial marked their presence or recorded their sacrafice, and it is easy to overlook the terrible price these great battles cost in mens lives easily forgotten over the centuries.

The struggle for freedom has always demanded the highest price and this anonymous mound near a Devon churchyard is a poignant reminder of that price.

Postscript 
Once over the River Torridge the Royalist troops headed south west back to their base at Launceston and Hopton was able to rally 5,000 of them after the battle, though much dispirited and lacking in arms and accoutrements.

After spiriting away the young Prince Charles to safety and refuge in France, Hopton would surrender his exhausted army to Fairfax in the following March after which, following a short period of imprisonment he was allowed to follow Charles into exile, dying in Brussels in 1652. 

Sources consulted for this post
Battlefield Walks Devon - Rupert Mathews

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Seleukid Empire of Antiochus III, 223-187BC - John D Grainger


Book Review by 'Mr Steve'
This is the middle book of a three part trilogy covering the Rise and Fall of the Seleucid Empire, I read the other two first and left this one until last because Antiochus’ III reign is quite well known, well to me at least, this is because there are quite a lot of surviving Roman documents for this period and he is also involved in two of the big Ancient battles, Raphia and Magnesia. As it happens these two famous battles don’t get a lot of coverage in the book, Magnesia is all over within two pages, Raphia gets slightly more.

What the book really covers is the long reign of perhaps the best of the Seleucid Kings (along with its founder, that is), who not only re-established a crumbling Empire but did something which the majority of the other Kings didn't do, stay alive.

If you have read my previous review of book three, the Fall of the Empire.

http://jjwargames.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/the-fall-of-seleukid-empire-187-75bc-by.html

then the sequence of events are very similar, Antiochus has to first consolidate his throne, then he starts to re-gather all those sections of the empire that have broken away, he also has the ever present problem of the Ptolomies in Egypt who are his main competition for land plus various civil wars and usurpers to put down . All this happens time after time for the Seleucids; if you have managed to solve all these problems and not been assassinated whilst doing so, plus you have avoided getting on
the wrong end of a Parthian lance and you are still in power, then you get to call the A-Team .. Sorry, that should read, you then get the chance to expand the Empire.

Chapter One: The New King's Survival.
Oddly enough Antiochus wasn’t really expected to be King, he was after all only fourth in line but after a combination of the causes mentioned above, including one who fell of his horse, he was suddenly at the age of twenty the last Seleucid standing. As was usual and repeated down the years, the previous regimes senior administrators were more concerned with keeping themselves in power (and thus alive) and so he had to tread very carefully and to slowly ease out his advisors and generals, none of whom wouldn't have been too upset if he too “accidently fell of his horse”

The political in-fighting and scheming helped him and as the various rivals 'do each other in', he slowly manages to remove all of the old order until finally he is secure on his throne, this chapter is quite interesting.

Chapter Two: The Fourth Syrian war.
Now in charge, Antiochus could start on getting the Empire back together; one ever present thorn in every Seleucid’s side was Coele-Syria (roughly, Palestine/ Palmyra, and the bits that connect up from Egypt). This had been constantly fought over by the Seleucids and the Ptolemy’s, both of whom believed it was their core territory. Currently it was in the hands of the Ptolemy’s, along with bits of Lebanon as well.

A small diversion here to explain about Treaty’s, the Successor Kings firmly believed that after all the fighting was over, any Treaty subsequently agreed would then last for the lifetime of one of the participants, (needless to say this would cause a problem when the Romans came on the scene, as they believed a treaty lasted only until the moment it was no longer convenient).

Battle of Raphia by Igor Dziz
As it happened there was a new King as well on the Egyptian throne, Ptolemy IV, who is also quite an interesting person, one of his first actions is to murder his mother, he then arms the Egyptian population in order to defeat Antiochus which subsequently turns out to have been a very bad idea later on and he also builds the largest human powered warship known. (For us Ancient Naval wargamers, a 40!) . With his coming to the throne its all down hill for Ptolemaic Egypt from now on until the day Cleopatra gets her Asps out and Rome takes over.

So with no current treaty in place Antiochus can try to regain Coele Syria, he first has a problem in Asia Minor with his last major rival to deal with but after a brief campaign sufficient for a temporary truce to be agreed, he sets off south. The area is heavily fortified and he struggles to make any progress, eventually he finds a route through and decides to bypass the numerous cities rather than securing them first and instead heads for Egypt to try and force a battle, fortunately coming the other way is Ptolemy and they fight the battle of Raphia, which Antiochus loses. Ptolemy orders numerous Steele /stones to be set up telling everyone what a hero he was.


(See recent Ancient Warfare magazine issue X.2 for Raphia and Steele)
https://www.karwansaraypublishers.com/pw/ancient-warfare/previous-issues/ancient-warfare-x.2/

Battle of Raphia, elephants in action - Artist Unknown
Chapter Three: Akhaios and Attalos
With a Peace treaty now in place with Ptolemy, any further action over Coele Syria was out of the question (see above) so Antiochus turned his attention to Asia Minor instead, the Attalids ruled Pergamum and Akhaios was more of a powerful rebel Seleucid governor who decided that it was good to be called a King. Reasonably secure in his area it would need a major effort to shift him, he even had a try at heading south and going for the big prize when the 4th Syrian war was on but when
his troops got to the southern border and realised what was up, they told him that they were going back home and he should be happy with what he had.

Antiochus rebuilds his army and invades, defeats Akhaios and regains control of this mini breakaway kingdom but unfortunately doesn't then continue and finish off Attalos, instead he retakes any lost cities and is content to just push him back into Pergamum territory and agreeing a treaty, this will come back and bite him later.

Phew, I can see why I stopped doing this, how many more chapters are there….eight!, I'd better speed this up a bit.

Chapter Four: The Expedition to the East
After Coele–Syria the next thing on any Seleucid King's list of things to do was to sort out the Eastern bits of the empire, we are talking modern day Iraq/Iran/ Afghanistan, which is a huge area. At this time the Parthians were only a bit “uppity” so could still be dealt with by a strong show of force. Antiochus did just that, he also appointed new loyal governors in the big cities, accepted the submission of recalcitrant areas, did a little fighting with the more stubborn and then went to see what the Bactrian’s had been up to. Bactria was a really long way from Antioch; it bordered onto India and
had been broken away from the Empire for more than a generation. When Antiochus finally arrived there was some more fighting, heavy at times, but eventually everyone sensibly reached a compromise, as long as he was acknowledged as King, well they could more or less do what they wanted. After all he probably wouldn't ever be coming back so …

You know what its like, you all line up outside, smile and wave until the visitor’s car is out of sight; you then turn to your partner and say “Thank God we will never see them again”

I guess the Bactrian’s thought something similar, but in Greek

After that its a quick pop into India, pick up some more elephants and then set off back home the long way, he deliberately followed the same route as Alexander had done with the added intention of making the propaganda point of ensuring everyone this time didn't die of thirst whilst doing so.

Wargaming Point: maybe Bactrian’s v Seleucids.

Chapter Five: Asia Minor again
Whilst he was away in the East, Antiochus’ governor in Asia Minor had been following orders and gradually expanding outwards into anywhere not under Attalid or Ptolemaic control, then Ptolemy IV meets an unpleasant end thus breaking the Raphia treaty. Antiochus takes this opportunity to come himself into Asia Minor and starts mopping up all of the cities that had been controlled by the Ptolemy’s (mostly along the coast). The Macedonian King Phillip V had the same idea and started to do the same; the two Kings reached an agreement over areas of interest and thus avoided conflict. Still no one bothered to finish off the Attalids in Pergamum.

Chapters Six/Seven: the Fifth Syrian War
Egypt was in real trouble, Ptolemy V , the new King was only six years old so the kingdom was run by various regents, which, similar to the start of Antiochus reign, schemed against each other to the detriment of the Kingdom. It was also now that arming and forming an Egyptian phalanx by Ptolemy IV for the Battle of Raphia was to rebound, a huge revolt started in the south resulting in a breakaway kingdom and over twenty years of fighting. It paralysed the Ptolemaic kingdom until it was finally defeated (The Rosetta stone is from this period).

The Egyptian regents knew that after Antiochus had finished in Asia Minor he would be very quickly heading south so they had already done some preparation in advance by hiring as many mercenaries as they could get their hands on, mostly Greeks from Aitolia.

Antiochus learning from his mistakes in the Fourth Syrian War prepared the ground in advance, he bribed all the key governors beforehand to change sides and those cities he couldn't bribe he captured.

This time the big battle was much further north (Raphia was on the Egyptian border SW of Gaza). The not so well known battle of Panion was a major Seleucid victory and resulted in the complete take over of Coele-Syria. Antiochus then returned to Asia Minor to mop up any remaining Cities and to start expanding further towards the Bosporus.

Chapter Eight: Thrace, Peace and the Romans
This chapter is the build up to Antiochus’ clash with Rome; in it Grainger starts to outline the causes that leads to eventual war although at first everything appears quite normal. By now, Rome had defeated Phillip V in the 2nd Macedonian war and whilst they had left him in power they had however “freed “all of the Greek states and then imposed a political settlement over all of Greece, which half of them liked and the which the other half hated. Unaware of the chaos they had left behind the Romans then went back home.

Antiochus had crossed the Bosporus and was now busy campaigning in Thrace with the intention of re-taking what he considered to be hereditary lands, he rebuilt cities and subdued various tribes. Frankly at this time the Romans didn't care but of course we all know that they reserved the right to change this opinion the minute it didn't suit them. Envoys were sent to discus two small problems, keep away from Rhodes who were Rome’s allies and the status of three small towns in Asia Minor previously held by Phillip and that Antiochus had not yet taken over.

Chapter Nine: The Roman War: Greece
There was a lot of unhappiness around at this time; Rhodes and Pergamum were constantly badgering Rome to attack Antiochus out of fear, one half of Greece didn't like the Roman settlement and badgered Antiochus to join them, the other half did the same with Rome. Everyone wanted war apart from the two main players and yet that’s what happened.


As they would do again some years later with Mithradates VI of Pontus, the Aitolian league pulled Antiochus into a war with Rome over Greece. It’s a relatively short affair as Antiochus only sends 10,000 men who are defeated and withdrawn back to Asia, oddly they initially try and hold the Romans at Thermopylae, the Seleucid Phalanx blunts the Romans frontal attack and so they do exactly what the Persians did and marched around the side, this works again despite everyone knowing the original story.

The Aitolians rapidly agree a temporary truce and the Romans head off to Asia Minor.

Chapter Ten: The Roman War: Asia
The Romans eventually cross into Asia Minor where they are joined by Eumenes II the current King of Pergamum with fresh supplies and troops; meanwhile there is a struggle for control of the seas with the Rhodians joining in with Rome and Hannibal helping out the Seleucids as a temporary admiral. Outnumbered the Seleucids lose all the sea battles and Hannibal is unable to fight his way past the Rhodians to reinforce the main fleet.

Battle of Magnesia
Antiochus has used his time to gather reinforcements and is waiting for the Romans and their allies at Magnesia, interestingly his army is relatively small considering his empire and is nowadays estimated at being slightly less than the Roman army who had around 50,000 men. Well he loses as we know and the Peace Treaty sees him pay a huge fine, strips him of Thrace, Asia Minor, elephants and ships.

Chapter Eleven: Return to the East
Whilst this defeat was bad news it wasn’t terrible, he had only really lost what he had recently regained, everything else was still under control, more annoying perhaps was the permanent loss of a strong recruiting area for the future.

But this is were the book quickly comes to the end, after some time spent settling affairs resulting from the war with Rome, Antiochus decides its time to go back East and to quell signs of possible rebellion, also the old Bactrian king had recently died thus making the treaty null and void. The new king had already started to expand out into areas that he shouldn't have so a sharp reminder perhaps was in order and more importantly a new treaty needed to be put in place.

After leaving Babylon and still heading eastwards, he heard about a Temple containing a lot of treasure, Temples at this time were used not only for offerings but also as a type of bank for the local population. He had done this thing before when he was last out in the East and he decided that whilst the army kept marching he and a few men would make a short diversion to the Temple and make a withdrawal. What he had forgotten was that previously when he had done this he always had the
entire army behind him, one King and a few men cannot stop an angry mob of outraged bank customers. He seized the treasure and then the mob seized him. No one survived, well, apart from the mob that is.

And that’s it; there is no conclusion just footnotes and the Index.

My conclusion:
I enjoyed the book, Grainger does a good job of taking the available information and not only comparing all the versions to decide on what is the most plausible but also gathering together tiny snippets of information from other things like coins, inscriptions, dedications and decrees etc. At first glance some of this may not immediately appear to be relevant but his analysis of names, dates and locations is well done and he can thus put forward a believable case for his assumptions. This has
become very common nowadays and sometimes this leads to wild claims based on a single word, name or archaeological discovery but in this case it’s very well done throughout all three books.

So bar the one dull chapter in Book One this is a good set of books and I enjoyed reading them all.
Pages: 228
Main Text: 195 pages
Priced at £19.99
Best Price I found today was: £13.76 ABE Books

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Talavera 208 - (1809 - 2017) In Support of Combat Stress




July 27th-28th 2017 will be the two-hundred and eighth anniversary of Sir Arthur Wellesley's and the Allied army's victory over Emperor Napoleon's army under King Joseph Bonaparte at the Battle of Talavera, about sixty-five miles south west of Madrid.

The various armies British (red), Spanish (yellow) and French (blue) and their positions approximately June 1809. The armies of Wellesley, Cuesta, Victor, Joseph and Sebastiani would meet in battle at Talavera in July.
The battle was the culmination of the first campaign by Sir Arthur Wellesley against the French in Spain; and proved to be one of Wellesley's most bloodiest victories in the Peninsular War with estimates of over 6,000 British casualties and lost troops, about 1,200 Spanish troops and over 7,000 French. However the Allied forces were left in possession of the field on the evening of the 28th July and Sir Arthur Wellesley would be recognised for the victory and created Viscount Wellington of Talavera.

Talavera 208 is part of a series of wargames, using 18mm Napoleonic figures, designed to chronologically follow the career of Sir Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War that would see his Anglo Portuguese army support the Spanish to drive Napoleon's forces back into France in 1814 and the Emperor's abdication in that year. Elements of that army would also see action in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo that would end the Napoleonic Wars once and for all.

The games played so far have been staged and reported on here at JJ's Wargames starting in March 2013 with the first significant engagement by the great British general at Rolica on August 17th 1808 (see the links below to look back at previous games).

The Talavera game is by far the largest and most complex of games organised to date and will see a series of games designed to recreate the actions fought over the two days of July 1809 brought to a conclusion with the final 'Afternoon Attack Scenario' that forms the centre piece of Talavera 208.

Rolica-1808
Action at Ventosa - Vimeiro 1808
Vimeiro Hill - Vimeiro 1808
Vimeiro-1808
Vimeiro-1808, Game Two
Oporto 1809 -205th Anniversary Game
Oporto-1809 Miniature Wargames Magazine (Directors Cuts)

The first work on specific units for the Battle of Talavera commenced with the planning stage announced in my post in May 2014.

Talavera Plans

The first unit of the German Division was presented soon after with the 1st battalion Hessen-Darmstadt Infantry Regiment Gross- und Erbprinz Nr. Four.

Hesse Darmstadt 1st battalion Gross und Erbprinz

What has followed in the last two and a half years has been a regular addition of units required, outlined in the plan of 2014, together with a series of scenarios that breaks the battle of Talavera down into bite size battles that recreates the fighting that happened over the two days of the battle and culminated in the climax of fighting that occurred on the afternoon of the 28th July 1809.


Map to illustrate the four scenarios
(1. Casa de Salinas, 2. Night Attack, 3. Dawn Attack and 4. Attack on the Pajar Vergara)
It is this afternoon attack by the combined French forces that will be the subject of a series of games designed to play-test the scenario plan, commemorate the 208th anniversary, raise as much money as we can for a very important charity, Combat Stress, and just as importantly have and share the fun.

Talavera Series of Linked Battles

Attack at Casa de Salinas
Casa de Salinas-Talavera

The movement of French troops during their daring night attack on the 27th July 1809

Talavera Night Attack

French artillery bombard the British line as their infantry beat out the 'Pas de Charge' in the 'Dawn Attack' scenario
Talavera Dawn Attack


Steve and Will went at it in the Pajar Vergara scenario

The German Division go 'toe to toe' with Spanish troops around the Pajar de Vergara gun redoubt
Talavera Attack on the Pajar de Vergara

Talavera 208


As regular followers of JJ's will know I like to work projects, it's just how my mind works when it comes to planning, and this game really falls into a project in its own right even though it is part of a greater plan.

The Talavera Afternoon Attack scenario, entitled Talavera 208 will be the major project in 2017 and will bring the larger two and half, soon to be three year Talavera build and play project to a close and the collection it has created will form the core of other Peninsular War Napoleonic projects going forward.

Action outside the Casa de Salinas
This post serves several functions in that it announces what is planned to happen going into 2017, serves as a rallying point for participants and interested parties involved with or supporting Talavera 208 going forward and is a blatant attempt to encourage you, the reader to hit one of the many 



buttons liberally sprinkled throughout this post in a subliminal approach to converting your interest and support into hard cash for an excellent charity that is putting hope and recovery into the lives of those who defend our freedom.

To give you an idea of the size of game envisioned I have listed the orders of battle together with an approximate summary of the numbers of figures that will grace the table.

The plan will see the scenario fought on several occasions and the games summarised and reported here on JJ's in the usual way. The games will explore various options that will challenge our respective commanders to get the best from their forces whilst dealing with the key issues that faced their historical counterparts. It is anticipated that with the size of the two armies involved the players will be committed to play over two days to allow plenty of scope for reaching a conclusion and thus a weekend will be arranged here at JJ's.

Regular updates on progress will continue here on JJ's Wargames and on the other two platforms for keeping followers up to date, JJ's Wargames Facebook page.

JJ's Wargames - Facebook

and on the Just Giving page

Just Giving - Talavera208.


with the first game planned to be played June 2017.

The rules used will be Carnage & Glory II and newcomers to JJ's are encouraged to check out the links and posts here on the blog to find out more about this excellent set of computer moderated rules. Links to posts specific to this project can be found by using the labels along the top of the page under the blog banner.




Carnage and Glory II

Carnage & Glory II have been used in all the scenarios too date and tick all the boxes in terms of granularity of detail whilst giving a fun game to play.

All the players involved will be doing their bit for charity as well as having fun and will have the opportunity to own a photo book as a keepsake of what I hope will be a very special set of games that will live long in the memory.

The following orders of battle and the accompanying map show the units that will be involved in the action that featured on the left and centre of the allied line as the French commanders made their grand attack to break the will of the Anglo-Spanish troops to resist.

The statistics that follow each unit show the quality rating from A to D (A being a higher quality in terms of training and morale) with a + or - variation, the number of men in the unit and, for artillery the guns available. Most cavalry regiments are divided into two, approximately two squadron units titled A or B.

At the time of writing the forces remaining to be completed are the the seven Spanish infantry battalions under General Bassecourt, a Spanish horse artillery battery, half a French horse battery, four French limber teams and a dozen French, British and Spanish general officer stands including King Joseph, Marshal Jourdan and Marshal Victor. In addition I will put together some rear area cameo stands with supply wagons, artillery ammunition wagons etc. to complete the look of the battle when it is staged.

All the units completed to date are easily found by clicking on the tabs at the top of this page under 'British Napoleonic', French Napoleonic' and so on for other nationalities you might be interested in. If you are interested in how the units are  painted or based then just clink on the 'Tutorials' label in the side column. All the manufacturers of the figures and flags should be highlighted in the details about the units, if not please drop me a line in the message box at the top of the page, and I will tell you after you have donated to......


The additional pieces and their completion should take us through the first half of 2017 with the first game planned to take place in June 2017.

Talavera 208 

Orders of Battle



 Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley
 Lawson's Brigade C 145/ 6-3pdr
 Sillery's Brigade C 153/ 4-6pdr[Med] + 2-How.
 Eliott's Brigade C 151/ 4-6pdr[Med] + 2-How.
 Rettberg's Brigade C 144/ 4-6pdr[Med] + 2-How.
 Heyse's Brigade C 149/ 4-6pdr[Med] + 2-How.
-
Brigadier General George Murray
Lieutenant General William Payne

BG Henry Fane at the head of his brigade of Heavy Dragoons (3rd Dragoon Guards, 4th Dragoons)
-
Brigadier General Henry Fane
3rd Dragoon Guards A C+ 255
3rd Dragoon Guards B C+ 273
4th Dragoons A C 279
4th Dragoons B C 271
-
Brigadier General Stapleton Cotton
14th Light Dragoons A C 240
14th Light Dragoons B C 229
16th Light Dragoons A C 253
16th Light Dragoons B C 271
-
Brigadier General George Anson
23rd Light Dragoons A C 229
23rd Light Dragoons B C 224
1st Light Dragoons KGL A C+ 220
1st Light Dragoons KGL B C+ 228
-
2/83rd County of Dublin Regiment of Foot  "Fitch's Grenadiers" -  part of BG Alan Cameron's brigade
Lieutenant General John Coape Sherbrooke
-
Brigadier General Henry Campbell
1/2nd Coldstream Guards C+ 873
1/3rd Scots Guards C+ 917
H.Campbell's Bde. Light Bn. B- 255
-
Brigadier General Alan Cameron
1/61st Foot C 700
2/83rd Foot C- 481
Cameron's Bde. Light Bn. C 183
-
Brigadier General Ernest Baron Langwerth
1st KGL Line Battalion C 544
2nd KGL Line Battalion C 610
Langwerth's Bde. Light Bn. C+ 234
-
Brigadier General Sigismund Baron Low
5th KGL Line Battalion C 549
7th KGL Line Battalion C 501
Low's Bde. Light Bn. C+ 117
-
Major General Rowland Hill
-
2nd Battalion 48th Northamptonshire Regiment of Foot (The Heroes of Talavera)
Brigadier General Christopher Tilson
1/3rd Foot C+ 671
2/48th Foot C- 510
2/66th Foot C- 473
Tilson's Bde. Light Bn. C+ 237
-
Brigadier General Richard Stewart
29th Foot C+ 538
1/48th Foot C 726
1st Battalion of Detachments C- 548
Stuart's Bde. Light Bn. C+ 202
-
Major General Alexander Randoll Mackenzie
2/24th Foot C- 708
2/31st Foot C- 660
1/45th Foot C+ 680
Mackenzie's Bde. Light Bn. C 228
-
Colonel Rufane Donkin
2/87th Foot C- 539
1/88th Foot C 539
5/60th Rifles B- 220
Donkin's Bde. Light Bn. C+ 175
-
Brigadier General Alexander Campbell
2/7th Foot C- 388
2/53rd Foot C- 483
A. Campbell's Bde. Light Bn. C 161
-
Colonel James Kemmis
1/40th Foot C+ 670
97th Foot C+ 452
2nd Battalion of Detachments C- 562
Kemmis' Bde. Light Bn. C+ 244
-
Active Strengths:
16578 Bayonets
2972 Sabres
742 Artillerists
30 Cannon
20292 Total of all arms
44 Standards present
-
Approximately 670 Model Figures



General Gregorio de La Cuesta
1st Battery D+ 148/ 6-12pdr[Med]
5th Battery D+ 101/ 4-4pdr
-
General Portago leads his division and the El Rey Cavalry regiment
Major General Marques de Portago
1st Bn. Badajoz Regiment D- 571
2nd Bn. Badajoz Regiment D- 557
2nd Cazadores de Antequera D- 557
Imperial de Toledo D- 792
Provincial de Badajoz Militia D 577
Provincial de Guadix Militia D 562
El Rey Cavalry Regt A D 229
El Rey Cavalry Regt B D 231
-
Spanish Pavia Dragoon Regiment - attached to General Albuquerque's 2nd Cavalry Division
Lieutenant General Duke of Albuquerque
Carabinieros Reales A D 116
Infante A D 222
Infante B D 226
Alcantara A D 226
Alcantara B D 229
Pavia Dragoons A D 235
Pavia Dragoons B D 230
Almanza Dragoons A D 218
Almanza Dragoons B D 234
1st & 2nd Hussars of Estremadura A D- 233
1st & 2nd Hussars of Estremadura B D- 234
-
Major General Luis Alejandro Bassecourt
1st Bn. Real Marina D+ 572
2nd Bn. Real Marina D+ 583
3rd Africa Line D+ 884
1st Murcia Line D+ 602
2nd Murcia Line D+ 642
1st Reyna Line D+ 705
Provincial de Siguenza D 621
-
Active Strengths:
8225 Bayonets
2637 Sabres
249 Artillerists
10 Cannon
11111 Total of all arms
13 Standards present
-
Approximately 330 Model Figures



 King Joseph Bonaparte
Marechal d'Empire Jourdan
General de Division Alexandre-Antoine se Senarmont
-
Marshal Victor heads up the mighty French I Corps d'Armee
Marechal d'Empire Claude-Victor Perrin
6/8me Artillerie a Pied C 193/ 6-8pdr + 2-How.
2/6me Artillerie a Cheval B- 156/ 4-6pdr[Light] + 2-How.
-
General de Division Francois Amable Ruffin
4/8me Artillerie a Pied C+ 209/ 6-8pdr + 2-How.
-
General de Brigade Claude-Marie Meunier
1/9me Regiment de Legere C 467
2/9me Regiment de Legere C 497
3/9me Regiment de Legere C- 491
1/24me Regiment de Ligne C 472
2/24me Regiment de Ligne C 471
3/24me Regiment de Ligne C- 497
9me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 308
24me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 308
-
General de Brigade Pierre Barrois
1/96me Regiment de Ligne. C 513
2/96me Regiment de Ligne. C 507
3/96me Regiment de Ligne. C- 476
96me Regt. Voltiguer Bn. C 288
-
General de Division Pierre- Bellon Lapisse
1/8me Artillerie a Pied C 195/ 6-8pdr + 2-How.
-
General de Brigade Jean Bartholomew R Laplanne
1/16me Regiment de Legere C 589
 2/16me Regiment de Legere C 598
3/16me Regiment de Legere C- 470
 1/45me Regiment de Ligne C 455
2/45me Regiment de Ligne C 482
3/45me Regiment de Ligne C- 459
16me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 285
45me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 285
-
Colonel Phillipon leads the three battalions of the 54me Regiment de Ligne
General de Brigade Jean Baptiste Solignac
1/8me Regiment de Ligne C 496
2/8me Regiment de Ligne C 471
3/8me Regiment de Ligne C- 460
1/54me Regiment de Ligne C 474
2/54me Regiment de Ligne C 486
3/54me Regiment de Ligne C- 489
8me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 291
54me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 290
-
 General de Division Eugene Villatte
2/8me Artillerie a Pied C+ 198/ 6-8pdr + 2-How.
-
General de Brigade Baron Louis-Victorin Cassagne
1/27me Regiment de Legere C 424
2/27me Regiment de Legere C 409
3/27me Regiment de Legere C- 428
1/63me Regiment de Ligne C 432
2/63me Regiment de Ligne C 411
3/63me Regiment de Ligne C- 422
27me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 261
63me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 261
-
General de Brigade Jacques Puthod
1/94me Regiment de Ligne C 414
2/94me Regiment de Ligne C 434
3/94me Regiment de Ligne C- 441
1/95me Regiment de Ligne C 447
2/95me Regiment de Ligne C 447
3/95me Regiment de Ligne C- 419
94me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 251
95me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 250
-
General de Brigade Louis Carriere, Baron Beaumont
1/3me Artillerie a Cheval B- 144/ 4-6pdr[Light] + 2-How.
2me Regiment de Hussards A C 228
2me Regiment de Hussards B C 243
5me Regt. Chasseur a Cheval A C 259
5me Regt. Chasseur a Cheval B C 255
-
 General de Division Horace-Comte Sebastiani
12/7me Artillerie a Pied C+ 201/ 6-8pdr + 2-How.

Oberst Potocki leads the Grand Duchy of Warsaw 4th Infantry Regiment 
-
General de Brigade Baron Jean Pierre-Antoine Rey
5/7me Artillerie a Pied C+ 198/ 6-8pdr + 2-How.
1/28me Regiment de Ligne C 568
2/28me Regiment de Ligne C 582
3/28me Regiment de Ligne C- 580
1/32me Regiment de Ligne C 546
2/32me Regiment de Ligne C 574
3/32me Regiment de Ligne C- 540
28me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 345
32me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 345
-
General de Brigade Louis Liger-Belair
1/58me Regiment de Ligne C 549
2/58me Regiment de Ligne C 551
3/58me Regiment de Ligne C- 585
1/75me Regiment de Ligne C 575
2/75me Regiment de Ligne C 559
3/75me Regiment de Ligne C- 579
58me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 346
75me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. C 345
-
General de Division Baron Jean-Francois Leval
-
Oberst Heinrich Freiherr von Porbeck
III Fuss Batterien Steinmetz C 190/ 6-4pdr + 2-How.
I.von Harrant Nr.4 (Baden) C- 376
II.von Harrant Nr.4 (Baden) C- 367
I.Nassau IR Nr.2 C- 360
II.Nassau IR Nr.2 C- 386
Porbeck's Voltigeur Bn. C- 317
-
Generalmajor David-Hendrik Chasse
3m3 Artillerie a Cheval Trip C 147/ 4-6pdr[Light] + 2-How.
I/2me Regiment Linie C- 393
2/4me Regiment Linie C- 378
Chasse's Voltigeur Bn. C- 154
-
General de Brigade Balthazard-Grandjean
III. Fuss. Batterien Venator C 96/ 4-4pdr
1/Gross und Erbprinz Nr 4 C- 398
2/Gross und Erbprinz Nr 4 C- 371
Rheinbund Bttn von Frankfort C- 391
Grandjean's Voltigeur Bn. C- 225
-
Oberst Feliks Potocki
I. IR Nr 4 (Polish) C 761
II. IR Nr 4 (Polish) C 782
Potocki's Voltigeur Bn. C 260
-
Colonel Ormancey leads his Light Cavalry brigade consisting of the Westphalian Light Horse regiment and the
Vistula Legion Lancer regiment
General de Brigade Antoine Christophe Merlin
Colonel Jean Baptiste Alexandre Strolz
10me Regt. Chasseur a Cheval C 327
26me Regt. Chasseur a Cheval C 216
Colonel Francois-Leon Ormancey
1st Vistula Legion Lancers A C 224
1st Vistula Legion Lancers B C 206
Westplalian Light Horse C 210
-
General de Division Marie Victor-Latour Maubourg
2/5me Artillerie a Cheval B- 145/ 4-6pdr[Light] + 2-How.
-
Colonel Paul Dermoncourt
1e Regiment de Dragons C 280
2me Regiment de Dragons C 280
-
General de Brigade Louis Joseph Cavrois
4me Regiment de Dragons C 284
9me Regiment de Dragons C 276
-
General de Brigade Ignace Laurant Oullenbourg
14me Regiment de Dragons C 271
26me Regiment de Dragons C 273
-
Active Strengths:
32614 Bayonets
3832 Sabres
2072 Artillerists
84 Cannon
38518 Total of all arms
26 Standards present
-
Approximately 1,284 Model Figures

Hot action during the dawn attack on the Cerro de Medellin
Map of the positions on the afternoon of the 28th July 1809
The game is modelled to a ground scale of one inch equating to fifty paces or thirty eight yards, approximately four feet to the mile, thus we have just over two by one miles of the battlefield presented on the table with the units that featured on the day of battle.

As you can see with over 2,000 figures on the table the game should provide a feast for the eye and as well as recording the fun here on JJ's I am looking to firm up a plan to take the game out to shows and provide an opportunity for others to see the collection close up.

The field of battle seen from the Pajar redoubt (left centre) looking north towards the little farm of Valdefuentes
Once the game has been thoroughly play tested, I am looking to make the Talavera collection of scenarios with all the play suggestions and rule adaptations for Carnage & Glory or your preferred set of rules available in a suitable presentation format to anyone mad enough to want to attempt something similar or simply play parts of the two day battle as demonstrated here on the blog.


JJ's Wargames is dedicated to celebrating the passion for our hobby, historical wargaming, and the great activities associated with it of modelling, painting, reading, exploring the great outdoors and the social side with the opportunity to make long lasting friendships sharing that passion.

When pulling Talavera 208 together it seemed to me to be a great and unique opportunity to use it as a vehicle to express in a practical way the value of those aspects of the hobby in support of the men and women who put themselves in harms way to defend the freedom that allow us the time and space to indulge that passion. 

Thus I have decided to dedicate Talavera 208 to support the great work done by the charity, Combat Stress, in support of our modern day veterans, the successors to those that stood in the line in July 1809.

Combat Stress is the UK's leading veterans' mental health charity and I hadn't realized has been around for much longer than I had first thought; being founded in 1919 as the Ex-Servicemen's Welfare Society straight after the First World War.

They have been at the forefront of the change in attitude towards recognising and treating mental health conditions affecting ex-servicemen and women and today support thousands of veterans aged 18 to 97 providing a vital lifeline for these men, women and their families.

Their residential and community treatment programmes support veterans with PTSD, anxiety and depression. They also work in partnership with other organisations to support the welfare of veterans in the community.

Their services are not routinely available through the National Health Service directly or elsewhere and everything they do is free of charge to the veteran, but that work and support cannot be provided without the support of people like you and me.

So please, let's show what our hobby is all about and even if you are not involved in the hobby but like what we are doing with Talavera 208 and would like to support our efforts then please express your support by making a donation to Combat Stress via the "Just Giving" site linked to the project.


In addition, if you can help by raising the profile of Talavera 208 on other blogs, forums and social media, that can only add to making it even more successful for those we seek to support.

So here's looking forward to Talavera 208 and my thanks in anticipation of your support.

JJ