Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Battle of Bosworth - Deployment and OOB

Bosworth - Possible Deployments for Richard's Army


Even though the location of the battle is now known there is still no certainty about how the forces were deployed. Richard was coming from the NE, and Henry from the SW. Most of the finds (cannon and handgun balls) have been found around the area of Fen Hole Marsh, in a rough lozenge running SW and NE from the marsh - so we know the troops fought around here.

Foard and Curry's Bosworth 1485: Battlefield Revisited gives Richard deployments as either A (facing W) or B (facing SE). Their preference is for A as although B is anchored on its R flank by the Fowlismere lake (just off the table to the N), it probably doesn't give Richard enough room to deploy his battles - although it does keep his guns on the low ground where the ball can bounce further.

Mike Ingram's Battle Story:Bosworth 1485 suggests C (facing S) where Richard is stopped from taking the ridge by Stanley's men already there, and so goes past the marsh and then swing S to face Henry. Since as mentioned Mike provides a better overall battle narrative than Foard and Curry I'm going to go with Mike's option.

Size and Composition

For battles of this period we tend to have no accurate records of troop numbers and orbats. Indeed for Bosworth and other battles estimates can vary by as much as x2 to x6! Generally current estimates are a lot lower than the figures that were historically taken as correct, and Bosworth is no exception. Both books agree that the rough strengths were around:

  • Henry Tudor: 5500 (including about 1000 French, plus some Scots, and loads of Welsh)
  • Stanley: 1500
  • Richard: 8500
These are down even on some of the first estimates I was looking at a year ago, so I have more than enough figures in hand at 1 unit = 500 men (15500 men total, 31 units in total).

In terms of composition the following is my reading of the two sources:
  • Men-at-arms: About 1 in 5 units, with Richard having more than Henry, but about the same as Henry+Stanley. Some of them must have been mounted so that Richard could make his charge (and cry "My horse, my horse" etc).
  • Billmen: A good number on both sides
  • Archers: More proportionally on Henry's side, but even so possibly he has less than Richard given his smaller army
  • Cross-Bow: On both sides, and dominant weapon of Henry's French contingent
  • Hand Gunners: Some on both sides, a lot of the archaeological evidence is handgun shot. More on Richard's side than Henry.
  • Spearmen: A lot on both sides. Henry had Welsh and Scots levies, Richard put his more uncertain troops (more Levies) with Northumberland in the Rear Battle.
  • Pike: It sounds like the French contingent on Henry's side may have had Pike to support the cross-bows
  • Hobilars: There was some Scottish horse on Henry's side
  • Artillery: Large calibre guns on both sides, and good archaeological finds of cannon balls.
Several statements (even in the same book) seem contradictory, so rather than spend forever trying to be "right" it's best to just make a sensible choice that balances historical record and gameability and go for it!

Order of Battle

Given the numbers and composition notes above, and a rough 1 unit = 500 men, in the end I decided to go with:

  • Henry Tudor
    • Van (De Vere)
      • 1 x Bill
      • 3 x Longbow
      • 1 x Spear
    • Main (Henry)
      • 1 x MMAA
      • 1 x DMAA
      • 1 x Bill
      • 1 x Longbow
    • Left Flank (French)
      • 1 x Crossbow
      • 1 x Pike
      • 1 x Spear (Scots)
      • 1 x Hobilar (Scots)
  • Stanley
    • 1 x DMAA
    • 1 x Bill
    • 1 x Longbow
  • Richard
    • Van (Norfolk)
      • 1 x DMAA
      • 1 x Bill
      • 3 x Longbow
      • 2 x Crossbow
      • 1 x Hand-gun
    • Main (Richard)
      • 1 x MMAA
      • 1 x DMAA
      • 2 x Bill
      • 2 x Longbow
    • Rear (Northumberland)
      • 1 x Bill
      • 2 x Spear
Both sides have 2 guns.

For comparison there are some other wargaming OOBs at:

Special Rules

The final piece is some special rules for what happens to Northumberland (who did not get involved in reality) and Staley (who did, on Henry's side). Daffy Doug in the TMP thread above had some nice rules which I've developed as follows:

Northumberland - Richard cannot call him forward until at least one unit of Richard's Main battle is engaged in melee. When Richard does call him forward Northumberland must role 4+ on D6 to join Richard, else he leaves the field. DM of +1 for each of Henry's units eliminated, and -1 for each of Richard's eliminated. Always leaves on a natural roll of 1 and always joins on a natural roll of 6.
Stanleys - Neither side can call him forward until at least one unit of Richard and Henry's Main battles are engaged in melee (not necessarily with each other). When called forward Stanley must roll D6 and modifies with a DM of +1 for each of Richard's units eliminated, and -1 for each of Henry's eliminated. DM+1 if Northumberland has left the field, -2 if he's joined Richard.

Joins Richard on a natural roll of 1 and joins Henry on a natural roll of 6. Otherwise for the modified roll:
  • 1 or less: Joins Richard
  • 2, 3 or 4: Stays put, may test again next turn
  • 5 or more: Joins Henry
All these rolls must be made the beginning of the calling side's command phase.

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