Sunday, 8 November 2020

The 5th Century in Britannia: Part 3.

 Once again the following article is my personal interpretation of events as a wargamer. Information of the battle site of Maisbeli I found online and in a book written by Ilka Sylvanne.

The original position of the actual town on rising ground to the east of  Mexborough is my own supposition.

In the early months of 462AD, Hengist, leader of the Germanic tribes in Loegyr, knew of Vortigerns demise. He was also very aware of the capable Warlord leading the Walisch, and the soldiers that he led, well trained and well armed.

With that information in mind Hengist had sent out a message for all his Warriors to march North of the river Don and the Humber Estuary. The warriors were to gather at Petuaria ( modern day Brough ).

In May of 462AD, Ambrosius, leaving Uthyr to command the Reserve in Dumnonia, assembles the field army at Deva ( modern Chester ) and starts the five day march to the Don river. He is accompanied by Eldol, the Dux of Gloucester and Gorlois, the Dux of Dumnonia, each with their personal Retinue.

Camping at Manucium ( Manchester ) and Navio ( Brough-on-Noe), Ambrosius leads his army toward the Don. He knows that a major part of Hengists army will be somewhere in the area.

Meanwhile, Hengist has been told by Scouts that the Roman Army is marching East. He also knows the road Ambrosius will be following through the Pennines so decides to try an ambush. This is a place called Maisbelli ( said to be modern day Mexborough).

After a three day march Hengist reaches the area first and deploys his troops. Ambrosius gets wind of the attempted ambush but still marches on. Both sides camp near the intended battlefield. On the eve of battle both opposing Warlords know what is at stake. 

Neither side can back down, the loss of prestige would be to great. It was victory or death!.

The Roman Field Army; 5,400 (54 points).

Ambrosius @ 2 points.

Eldol, Dux of  Glevum (Gloucester )@ 1 point.

1 stand of Glevum Militia archers @ 1point.

Gorlois, Dux of Dumnonia @ 1 point.

I stand of Dumnonian Light Archers @ 1point.

4 stands of Light Roman Cavalry ( spears and javalins ) @ 2 points = 8 points.

12 stands of Auxilliary Infantry @ 2 points = 24 points.

4 stands of Light Infantry Archers @ 1 point = 4 points.

4 stands of Regular Infantry @ 3 points = 12 points.

Note; I use the word Roman to describe the Amorican army as their tactics and equipment were Romanic in origin.

Hengist,s Army; 4,000 ( 40 points ).

Hengist and his Jutes; 1,500 ( 15 points).

Hengist @ 1 point.

6 stands of Warrior Infantry @ 2 points = 12  points.

2 stands of Light Archer Infantry @ 1 point = 2 points.

Octa,s Saxons; 1,300 ( 13 points).

Octa @ 1 point. 

5 stands of Warrior Infantry @ 2 points = 10 point.

2 stands of Light Archer Infantry @ 1 point = 2 points.

Ebissa,s Angles; 1,200 ( 12 points).

5 stands of Warrior Infantry @ 2 points = 10 points.

1 stand of Light Archer Infantry @ 1 point.

Here are the armies laid out for battle;

I've portrayed Eldol and Gorlois as dismounted and representing them and their respective bodyguards but these leaders may well have been on horses.

Here is a map of the battlefield ( conjectural);

Notes for Solo play;

● The Romans retain the Initiative Point for the entire battle.The Romans win any tied results.

● Throw die for each side to see which side is moved first. The entire army can be moved.

● Throw dice for each side to see who fires first. The entire army can fire if able to do so.

● combat is simultaneous.

● The town of Conisborough ( Cunungeburg ? ) cannot be entered.

● Any stands in the Warband army forced off the table will be counted as casualties.

● The game is played for eight Game-Turns.

For a 2 player game;

● The game can be played is normal. However the Romans still retain the initative point for the game.

● The game is played for eight Game-Turns.

● The winner will be the player who looses the least number of stands.

Conjectural notes.

While looking up the details of the area and playing out the battle, something didn't seem quite right. It has been said that the battle was hard fought. As the Roman troops gained the upper hand Hengist retreated to Conisborough near where the castle stands to make his final rally.

The field of battle ( Maisbeli) has recently been identified as Mexborough. Looking on Googlemaps the information says that its a 50 minute walk from Mexborough across the river Don to Conisborough.

After fighting for some time would the men have enough stamina for say, a 25 minute run across a river of unknown depth and turn to face the enemy?, especially if they were chased by Cavalry. Also any troops fleeing a battle would take the route they had previously marched over, in this case the North-east.

I fought the first battle on flat ground. It was a walkover for the Romans. However having looked at the area there is a hill to the East of Mexborough where the River Dearne runs into the Don.

 I do not know if this hill is natural or a waste heap from a former mine in the area. It's shape certainly looks like it could have had a stockaded town on the top. I restated the battle with the hill, giving the Warband army the higher ground.

I reset the battle with the hill to the East and positioned Hengists army in front on the slope. This time, even with the Romans having the Iniative Point throughout the battle it was a much harder contest. Hengist did not enter the town. The gates may well have been locked so he made his last stand there allowing the rest of the remaining warriors including Octa and Ebissa to get away. 

This is just my theory, but you never know ? - - -.

The battle was played out on a 3 foot by 2 foot board. ( 90cm x 60cm )

The figures are from Hat Industries with a few from Miliart and Newline designs. The flat hills are by Brian at Essex Miniatures. The tall hill and stockade sections are scratchbuilt. The trees are by various manufacturers.

The river and track sections are made from thin cardboard. The figure bases are from picture framing cardboard. The round 40mm mdf  bases are from Minibits. The tree bases marking out the wooded area are from S and A Scenics. The two houses are either Peter Pig or Hovels.


At the end of the battle Gorlois entered into close combat with Hengist and captured him. After the battle it was decided in council that Hengist was sentenced to death. He was beheaded and Ambrosius gave Hengist full pagan rights in his burial.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

The Battle of Ooderen :The Spanish Netherlands, June 31st 1703

The details of this clash of arms are a bit sparse in English sources, so this is my interpretation of the events leading up to this battle. Some of the details could be wrong.

 This battle was one of many in what is known as The Malburian Wars or The War of the Spanish Succession. The British and Dutch were fighting the French. Louis the 14th had sent his army North, to invade the Spanish Netherlands, which roughly equates to the country of Belgium in present times.

The Dutch government had sent their army South  into the Netherlands to try and forestall the French army in its advance. The British General, The Duke of Marlborough had warned General Obdam the Dutch General not to advance to far.

Obdam disregarded the Dukes advise wanting to show that the Dutch did not need the British to give them instructions. At this time the country of Holland was known as The United Provinces.

The French C-in-C, the Duc De Boufflers was no fool and as the Dutch army advanced saw an opportunity to surround it. At Eckeren this manoeuvre came about.

Realising what was happening, Obdam with his army tried to fight his way out of the encirclement. First, he directed an attack against Eckeren  but the French forced the Dutch to retreat. Next, he directed an attack against against Hoevenen, but this was not pushed home.

Hoevenen was where the majority of the French Cavalry was stationed. The area consisted of open country. The Dutch Generals realised that their mainly infantry army would be cut to pieces if caught in open country in marching column.

The Dutch Army was camped in enclosed territory ideal for defense but they were surrounded on three sides with their backs to the Scheldt river ( pro: Skeld ).

The Dutch Commander knew there was only one thing he could do; he deserted!!.

Disguising himself as a French Officer, Obdam went South, leaving his Officers and the army in a dire situation. Luckily for the Dutch troops, the second in command, General Slangenburg was made of sterner stuff,.

He realised that the only way out was through Ooderen. When the Scheldt river was at low ebb, the polder (a very large drainage gully ) near the village would be passable.

Even at low tide the drainage ditch and the dike further east would be an obstacle for cavalry so would provide some defence should the Duc De Merode become aware of the Dutch manouvres.

Having decided on a plan General Slangenburg and his fellow General Friesham got the army moving.

The Army of The United Provinces ( Holland)

8,500 foot ( inc; Generals and Artillery) = 8.5 points x  4 = 34 points.

1,500 Horse= 1.5 x 4= 6 points.

1 General ( Slangenburg) @ 2points.

1 General (Friesham) @ 1 point.

3 stands of Cavalry @ 2 points = 6 points.

3 stands of Light artillery @ 1 point = 3points.

2 stands of Grenadier infantry @ 4 points =8 points.

10 stands of Line Infantry @ 2 points = 20 points.

The French "Division" at Ooderen.

9,500 Foot = 9.5 x 4 = 38 points ( inc Generals and Artillery ).

2000 Horse = 2 points x 4 = 8 points.

1 General ( the Duc De Villaroi ) @ 1 point.

2 stands of Heavy Field Guns @ 2points = 4 points.

8 stands of Line Infantry @ 3 points = 24 points.

1 stand of Dismounted Dragoons @ 1 point.

2 Stands of Grenadier Infantry @ 4 points = 8 points.

4 stands of Cavalry @ 2 points = 8 points.

Here is a map of the battle;

The battlefield;


The Dutch get the Initiative Point on every  Game-Turn. This is for their bravery born out of desperation and for the French not expecting the Dutch to attack!.

Any stands being forced into the water West of the village bridge will be lost. This was the flood plain of the Scheldt so very deep and soft mud. The left side of the board from the Dutch base edge is river so stands will be lost if they are forced to retire off that side.

Any Dutch stands retiring over the dike will be lost ( they would eventually be caught by the French troops to the East).

The polder East of the Bridge is treated as a river that under the rules can be crossed with penalties.

The winner of the battle after 8 Game-Turns will be the side with the least number of stands lost and/or the Dutch have stands on the bridge at the village. The Dutch have only one way to go. That is North.

The other parts of The French Army didn't take part in the battle. I'm surmising that either Generals Boufflers and Merode assumed that General Villeroi could defeat the Dutch ,or, the acoustics of the area muffled the sound of the battle.

General De Bedmar,s Spanish " Division" was at Wilmarsdonk to the South, but he did not move. I'm assuming that he also thought that Generals Villaroi and Merode would be able to stop the Dutch escaping.

For completeness, here is my interpretation of the remainder of the Franco/ Spanish Army;

The French "Division" at Hoevenen

6,500 horse = 6.5 points x 4 = 26 points.

1 General ( Merode) @ 1 point.

8 stands of Cavalry @ 3 points = 24 points.

1 stand of Mounted Dragoons @ 1 point.

The French "Division " at Eckeren.

11,000 Foot ( inc: Generals and Artillery)= 11 points x 4 = 44 points.

2,000 Horse = 2 points x 4 = 8 points.

1 General, C-in-C ( Boufflers) @1 point.

1 stand of Heavy Artillery @ 2points.

3 stands of Light Artillery @ 1 point = 3 points.

2 stands of Grenadier Infantry @ 4 points = 8 points.

10 stands of Line Infantry @ 3 points = 30 points.

4 stands of Cavalry @ 2 points = 8 points.

The Spanish "Division" at Wilmarsdonk.

8,500 Foot ( inc: Artillery and Generals = 8.5 points x 4 = 34 points. 

1,500 Horse = 1.5 x 4 = 6 points.

1 General ( De Bedmar) @ 1 point.

2 stands of Grenadier Infantry @ 4 points = 8 points.

7 stands of Line Infantry @ 3 points = 21 points.

4 stands of Light Artillery @ 1 point = 4 points.

3 stands of Cavalry @ 2 points = 6 points.


I set this battle up on a 2 foot (60cm) x 2 foot (60cm) board as there seem to be very little manoeuvring space according to one Period map I have seen.

The figures are mostly Miniature Figurines with some from Peter Pig and Essex Miniatures. They represent the middle 18th century rather than the earlier Malburian era.

The buildings are from Total Battle Miniatures. The bridge at the village is scratchbuilt, as are the dike sections. The rivers and roads are thin card.

The bases of the figures are made from picture framing card and the round 40mm mdf  bases are from Minibits