Friday, 8 June 2018

Battle for Maidstone 1744

After an excessively long pause we managed to arrange the next battle in the 1744 campaign.
For those that need reminding this is based on the proposed invasion of England by the French in order to put the Young Pretender on the throne.

As a recap prior to sailing the decision was made that Charles would sail to Scotland  in order to raise the Highland clans, he took with him a squadron of dragoons and two battalions of foot.

Marshall Saxe sailed from France without issue and chose to land at Sittingbourne, British dragoons were patrolling al roads from London and the British CinC Ligonier had called up the Southern Militia and what regulars he had were marching on London.

The disembarkation of the French took time and for some unknown reason the unloading of the artillery was left until last, in the meantime Saxe had dispatched some French dragoons and the German brigade to scout towards Maidstone. The French scouts encountered British dragoons and were roughly handled, likewise the Germans encountered a brigade of British Infantry and dragoons. Their lack of artillery support told in the following engagement when they were forced to retreat after effectively losing one battalion of infantry and two squadrons of Dragoons.

So after much reorganisation Saxe at the head of 11 Battalions of infantry, a regiment and half of cavalry and the Fusiliers de Morliere advanced on Maidstone, Saxe was pleased that he had crossed the River Medway without opposition but as his army approached the town it was to see the small British army deployed behind a stream and along a low ridge to the east of the town. There was only one option - attack.

The rules used were Honours of War - whilst not my rules of choice ( that being The Wargame by Charles Grant) they were the rules used by the English commander and being host I went with that :)

The first trauma that the French were to suffer was that with the exception of the commander of the French Brigade all the other infantry commanders were dithering!! This did not bode well

Ligonier and Saxe were rated as 'Dashing'!

British Dragoons had pushed forward and fortified a small farm close to the French lines ( they were to prove a major thorn for most of the day)
The French infantry on the left of the line were ordered to advance on the village and to eject the dragoons occupying the area.
The weekend German brigade and the lights were instructed to attack the farm and force the dragoons out, the Irish Brigade and the Swiss Brigade were ordered to cross the stream and force the British left.

The Swiss with their two batteries initially made extremely slow progress - declining to advance for the first few bounds, in the mean time the two regiments of Irish and the Italian foot advanced steadily over the stream, their battery began to engage in counter battery fire with British guns on the ridge

The Germans in the centre and the light Infantry were getting roughly handled by the dragoons who were being supported by two British guns on the ridge.

:Likewise the French brigade made slow progress to the village where a second unit of dragoons had now arrived and dismounted to occupy the buildings.

Around lunch time a regiment of Guard infantry, a Militia regiment and a regiment of Household cavalry ( sub'd by my Scots greys)  arrived in the British Centre.

The French brigade had sustained some heavy casualties in trying to close on the village, likewise the Germans had been forced to retreat one regiment and the lights due to casualties. Ligonier ordered the household cavalry forward seeing that a number of French units were wavering.

As the Household cavalry advanced down the lane their CO saw to their right the French infantry withdrawing from the village - he ordered his men to deploy and prepare to charge.

The French dragoons had advanced and then failed a command move to move forward and threaten the British cavalry.

It has to be said that what happened in the next bound couldn't have been scripted and was one of unmitigated disaster.  On the French left the Household cavalry charged a unit of wavering French infantry who had turned to face them - the French fired a volley and unseated a few riders but the Superior cavalry hit home and decimated the French infantry, breaking them and pursuing.

On the French right the Swiss and Irish had positioned themselves ready to charge the British line they had sustained some casualties but there was a good chance if they could charge home at least one British unit would break, both brigade commanders faltered and refused to move, the British facing the Irish regiments poured everything the had into them and broke both Irish regiments, likewise the lead Swiss regiment also broke.

French bad luck didn't stop there, Marshall Saxe had moved to the centre to push the Germans forward only to be struck by British shot and wounded - falling from his horse Saxe would play no further part in the battle.

Little more can be said after that, the French infantry on the left managed to break the Household cavalry but only after they had ridden down a battery of guns, the Italians in the centre were forced to retreat after three British batteries were targeted upon them.

As Saxe was escorted from the field and his commanders sought to cover their retreat little were they to know that off the port of Sittingbourne British ships and transports had been spotted.

A great and thoroughly enjoyable game even if the French almost seemed incapable of getting their act together.


  1. It ''twas a bad day for the Parlez Vous(s)

  2. Excellent write up Graham.
    HOW isn't the best simulation set of rules, but the officer's characteristics bit does give a commander a headache from time to time - sounds like it was your turn to suffer it!

  3. A beautiful looking game and interesting report, thank you. I find, when organising a game using HoW, that I prefer to balance out the commander characteristics myself rather than leave it to dice rolls as they can make or break a game.

    1. Chris
      We did consider that and decided to leave it to chance. The French had a number of opportunities to succeed but it makes for a good narrative especially when 3/4 of the army fails in one bound!

  4. Great looking game as expected from you. Good to finally prise a cup of tea out of your fingers yesterday and to see those wonderful musketeers in the flesh.We have given up on HOW at the moment simply because of the artillery rules and the constant need to rally. I still like the officer characteristics though so probably will give them another go sometime.

    1. Robbie, your normally never still long enough to buy a drink for!
      Yup good to chat. I only use HOW because the lads at the club play it, however we have tweaked the artillery rules, as to the rally rules I think they work ok, in this particular game there were only a couple of rallies after falling back and the one time Saxe moved forward to take hits off to keep an attack going he was wounded 😀
      I still prefer The Wargame and there will be another battle report using them, after the 19th June when John Rich and Simon Miller are attending for a game.

  5. living in Kent and having spent a few years working in Maidstone the title caught my attention! excellent and very readable battle report beats many others , great terrain and 'what if' scenario ....glad to see our gallic chums suitably 'drubbed'