Wednesday, 21 October 2020

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

The details of this clash of arms is 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 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


Sunday, 11 October 2020

The 5th Century in Brittannia : Part 2. Hengist, Horsa and Ambrosius

Once again this is my personal interpretation as a wargamer of events as presented by the historians.

454AD started like most recent years within the Western Roman Empire. Various tribal Elders steeled themselves and their followers for more trouble to come. Everything was in turmoil. The only constant was Aetius, the powerful Roman Warlord, keeping the balance of power in the West after his victory over Atilla at the Catellaunian Fields.

That all came to an end in September of this year when  Aetius was assassinated by a rival jealous of his success. This paved the way for more bloodshed as various Germanic leaders fought for territorial control in Gaul, Hispania and Himlingoje.

The situation in Britannia having been relatively quiet was also about to change. Hengist, leader of the Gewissi ( Jutes) was deep in thought during the Winter of 454. He realised that, with Aetius now dead, he could make a bid for power and wealth in the country.

There was no one who could stop him. The Britons (or "Wallisch) were to divided and to weak. The Wallisch Council in Londene had never ever paid them enough to make up for the Jutish blood shed in their defence.

In early 455AD Hengist and his Brother Horsa made their move. Taking to their ships with their followers, they sailed  North up the East coast in groups. The main group sailed along the Humber and down the river Don. 

Note 28-10-20:
I don’t know if the River Don was navigable by boat it’s entire length at that time. It is possible that Hengist and his warriors had to walk part of the way.

 The one commodity that will bring money lies at Derwent. Not Gold but something  the the Romans prized for the manufacture of their weapons and armour: Lead!. Other groups land at Holderness above the Humber Estuary. From these points, they fan out to raid villages, and smaller settlements.

 The Gewissi have been sailing the rivers and coastline for ten years fighting the Frankish Pirates, The Picts and Scots. They know where they are going.

When the Nobles realise what is happening they are at a loss as to the solution. The only one with the power and influence is Vortigern. He is detested by the Romanised members of the Council for his Scots-Irish background and for employing the Gewissi.

He uses the situation to his advantage. In return for the Council declaring Vortigern as Pendragon ( High King ). Vortigerns son Vortimer is declared as Warleader and he along with his brother Catigern gather 1,500 Picts and Scots-Irish Federated troops  ( using their Fathers connection) with which to oppose the Gewissi.

The first battle takes place at Derwent between Vortimers 1,500 men and the 700 men of Hengists Warband.  (This village is now below water at Ladybower Reservoir)

The Battle of Derwent: Spring 455 AD.

Scots-Irish and Pict Army; 1,500 = 15 points x 2 =30 points.

Vortimer @1 point.
Catigern @ 1 point.
12 stands of Warriors @ 2points = 24 points.
2 stands of Light Cavalry @ 2 points = 4 points.

The Jutes ( Gewissi); 700 = 7 points x 2 = 14 points.

Hengist @ 1 point.
Horsa @ 1 point.
5 stands of Warriors @ 2 points = 10 points.
2 stands of Light Archers @ 1 point = 2 points.

Here is a map of the battlefield ( conjecteral) ;

● The Jutes get the Initiative Point every Game-Turn.
● The Jutes move first on every Game-Turn.
● The winner after 8 Game-Turns is the Player with the lowest number of stands lost.
● The Jutes win if they still have 4 stands remaining at the end of the game.
● The river Derwent can only be crossed via the bridge. Any stands entering the river will be lost.
● The hills to the North cannot be entered. The battlefield can only be exited via the East, West or South. The River Don is to the East of the battlefield.

In the historical and hard fought battle, Hengist is beaten and he and his men are pursued back to his ships on the Don

From there he, and his men sail back to Thanet. Having beaten Hengist, part of  Vortimers Army go against other groups of Gewissi in Holderness and drive them back to their ships.

It takes three days sailing for Hengist and all his men to reach Thanet. He knows that Vortimer will come after him. He has fifteen days to prepare his remaining force and he knows he will be outnumbered.

Realising where they would go, Vortimer and Catigern gather up their Army and march the 250 miles South-East toward Thanet, receiving supplies in London on the way. Vortimer looses men on the march due to straggling, wounds and desertion. Some of the warriors are not prepared to be away from their villages in Rheged, Gwynedd and Powys.

Fifteen days later, two opposing battle lines faced each other at a fording point on the River Medway at Episford ( modern Aylesford).

 Hengist had been told by his Scouts that the Walisch Army is not as large as he thought it would be. Hengist takes a gamble and leads his men out for battle.

Hengist and his Jutes ( Gewissi) 700 = 7 points x 2 = 14 points.

Hengist @1 point.
Horsa @ 1 point.
5 stands of Warrior infantry @ 2 points = 10 points.
2 stands of Light Archer skirmishes @ 1 point = 2 points.

Vortimer and his Scots-Irish 800 = 8 points x 2 = 16 points.

Vortimer @ 1 point.
Catigern @ 1 point.
4 stands of Warrior Infantry @ 2 points = 8 points.
2 stands of Light Archer Skirmishers @ 1 point = 2 points.
2 stands of Light Cavalry. @ 2 points = 4 points. 

The Scots-Irish get the Initiative Point every Game-Turn.
The Scots-Irish move first on every Game-Turn.
The Scots-Irish fire first on every Game-Turn.
After 8 Game-Turns the side loosing the least number of stands is the winner.


Once again Vortimer and Catigern go on the attack and, after a stiff fight drove the Gewissi back. This time the Gewissi (Jutes) were harried back to Thanet.

Hengist and his remaining men were given no time to make a stand. They had to take to their ships to save their lives. During the course of this protracted skirmish, Vortimer and Horsa lost their lives.

With the Jutes now banished from Britannia, the remainder of the Picts and Scots-Irish army under Catigern is encamped near London. Vortigern is now undisputed master of the round table Council of Britannia. 

But Hengist wants revenge. Not only for being beaten by Vortigerns army, but also for the death of his brother.

In the following year 456AD, Hengist returns to Thanet. This time he is accompanied by his two sons Octa and Ebissa alongside 4,000 battle hardened Jutes, Angles and Saxons in 40 ships. In Gaul the Saxons are gradually being forced out of their new territory by the Franks. 
This time Hengist is determined to stay, so spends the rest of the year consolidating his position.

Vortigern needs time to assemble his Army that has scattered back to their various settlements, he has no forces large enough to face Hengist immediately.
To add to his problems Vortigern hears rumours of an army being assembled in Amorica in order to come to Britannia.

457AD finds both opposing armies once again  assembled for battle on the ford at Aylesford.

Hengists Army: 4,000 (40 points).

Hengists Jutes; 1,500.

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.

Octa @ 1 point.
5 stands of Warrior Infantry @ 2 points = 10 points.
2 stands of Light Archer Skirmishers @ 1 point = 2 points.

Ebbisa and the Angles; 1,200.

Ebissa @ 1 point.
5 stands of Warrior infantry @ 2 points = 10 points.
1 stand of Light Archer infantry @ 1 point.

Catigern,s Army;

The Scot-Irish;
Catigern @ 1 point.
8 stands of Warrior Infantry = 2 points = 16 points.
1 stand of Light Infantry Archers = 1 point.

The Picts;
Pascent @ 1 point.
2 stands of Light Cavalry @ 2 points = 4 points.
7 stands of Light  Infantry skirmishers @ 1 point = 7 points.

Note; The Medway river can only be crossed via the Fording point.
●Both sides will throw a D12 at the start of each Game-Turn to decide which side has the Iniative and moves first.
●The battle will last for 8 Game-Turns.
● The winner of the game is the side will the lower number of stands lost.

In the historical battle, Catigern,s army is defeated,

Note; 11-11-20. It is said that Catigern died at this 2nd battle of Aylesford and is buried there.

Vortigern now knew for sure that an Amorican army would arrive eventually. Therefore he decides to attempt peace talks with Hengist hoping he can use the Germanic troops as Federates.

Hengist arranges a Banquet for Vortigern and 300 Wallisch nobles. The Gemanic warriors called everyone in Britannia " Wallisch" meaning "foreigners".However this time Hengist wants nothing less than absolute power. As Bretwalda,or Warlord, Hengist has to award his followers with gifts and lands that he has promised them.

To that end he ensures that each British Noble has a warrior sitting next to him. Each warrior is armed with a concealed knife. At a given signal, Hengist's men kill virtually all the Britons. Vortigern is taken hostage. In exchange for his life and eventual release he gives Hengist Eastsex, Southsex and Middlesex, along with Londene, Wincestre, Lindum and Eboricum. Arbeia on the Eastern end of Hadrians wall is also given to Hengist. 

Saxons, Jutes and Angles now spread out across Lloegyr taking slaves and land. The remaining Romano-Britons are in full retreat. Most head toward Dumnonia and the Southern coast of Powys around the Severn Estuary. Some of the Picts retreat Northward toward Bana on the Wall along with the Scots Irish. 

Vortigern, now totally discredited  by his actions retreats to his fortress of Dinas Emrys in Northern Gwynedd along with 1,000  Pictish and Scots-Irish warriors of his personal guard.
Note; Vortigern,s remaining  son, Pascent is not heard of at this point. I am surmising that he went either to Ireland or North into Western Caledonia.

By 458AD British Nobles with their followers are arriving in Amorica ( Brittany) with stories of the disaster unfolding in Lloegyr. Aldwyr, the High King of Amorica decided it was time to act. He chooses Ambrosius and his brother Uthyr the two remaining sons of Constantine the 3rd as Commanders of the Army. Both had been trained in Roman military matters and both had gained experience in fighting the Franks and Alans.

In the Spring of 459AD Ambrosius and his brother Uthyr land at Totnes in Dumnonia along with 8,300 regular troops. The Romano-Britons in the area gather to the standards. 

The first mission for Ambrosius is to capture the Usurper Vortigern. He takes half the army North into Gwynedd to attack Vortigerns fortress ( Dinas Emrys). Using siege techniques and fire missiles the fortress is destroyed. Vortigern dies during the attack everyone assuming he has died in the flames.

From then on and during 460AD, Ambrosius takes his army through Gwynedd and Powys driving out the Scots-Irish settlers. By the end of that year after a successful campaign Ambrosius is declared Pendragon (Warlord) of Britannia, at Woodchestre (near modern Stroud in Gloucestershire.)

In 461AD Ambrosius and his brother Uthyr start planning operations against the Gemanic invaders.

Army of Ambrosius; 8,500.

The Field Army; 5,200

Ambrosius @ 2 points.
Eldol ( Dux of Gloucester)  @ 1 point.
Gorlois  ( Dux of Dumnonia )@ 1 point.

4 stands of Light cavalry @ 2 points = 8 points.
4 stands of Regular Infantry @ 3 points = 12 points.
12 stands of Auxilliary Infantry @ 2 points = 24 points.
4 stands of Light Archers @ 1 point = 4 points.

Reserve in Dumnonia; 3,300.
Uthyr @ 1 point.

4 stands of Light Cavalry @ 2 points = 8 points.
8 stands of Auxilliary Infantry @ 2 points = 16 points.
4 stands of Light Archers @ 1 point = 4 points.
4 stands of Light Ballista Field Artillery @ 1 point = 4 points.

The Roman Cavalry I use at this point in the history do not have body armour and ride unarmoured horses.

Although all Regular infantry in this era were known as Peditum, I use the words " Regular" and " Auxilliary" to separate those troops wearing mail body armour and those without, this being the latter.

Nearly all the soldiers are Hat Industries. The wagons,mules and civilians are from the Ceaser Miniatures Roman Train boxes. The Eagles are scratch built. 

The regular infantry standing behind the Generals are Newline Designs Roman Infantry. The boat crew are Emhar Viking crew.
The ship's are scratchbuilt. The buildings are from Hovels and Peter Pig.
The square bases are picture frame cardboard. The round 40mm mdf bases are from Minibits.