Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Debut Action - Basing House

Yesterday was the big day, and we set off early for Basing House, in order to arrive in plenty of time for Keith and Bob to draw powder (I'm not yet licensed to fire.... "licensed to kill", maybe!). We also wanted to have a little drill session before lunch and before getting onto the field of action.

With just the three of us from our regiment attending, the intention was to join the musket block of one of the larger units, and so it was that we found ourselves defending the earthworks atop the hill along with Newcastle's Whitecoats, and Tillier's regt. We also had Rawdon's and Godolphin's as allies in fighting for the King.

Ranged against us...
... were various Royalist regiments acting as Parliament for the event (this was a Royalist training weekend muster, so all Royalist units at this one), chiefly Prince Rupert's bluecoats, and sundry others.

We played to the script...
... fired off a few shots, whilst the pike blocks mashed each other and shoved and huffed and puffed all across the hill top position. We did a bit of hand-to-hand stuff, and then fell back, before we all played dead, allowing the Rebels to repeat history (to a few boos from the crowd, which was encouraging!).

All in all, great fun. And the weather couldn't have been better... any warmer, and it would have made life quite uncomfortable in the woollen coats and breeches.

Now, what did I learn?
From a wargaming perspective, very interesting.
1. Clarity of commands above the noise is essential, and therefore junior officer/ NCO level control is critical, even at this low level action (there were probably only 300 participants).
2. Once it "kicks off", your awareness of what is happening beyond your own unit is VERY limited (apart from the units immediately to your front). At one point, one of our adjacent musket blocks moved away to take up a new position, and I had been so engrossed in what our little block was doing that I didn't even notice till some 10 minutes later.
3. Once in hand-to-hand combat, it really is fog of war, and awareness of the rest of the field, even of your own unit officers, drops to zero.
4. If unit officers and NCOs get embroiled in the hand-to-hand action, they completely lose control of the unit, and understandably their focus zones in to just their individual combat with the person opposite.

and other lessons:
5. There's nothing like fresh air, a warm day, and the smell of black powder, to bring on a healthy ale-thirst!!
6. The SK are a good bunch of guys, everyone is very friendly, and safety and the enjoyment of all participants is paramount.
7. It's a spectacle that can draw a crowd - it interests and informs the public, who are very encouraging and genuinely keen to know more.

And so, to a few pictures..

Above: Keith and Bob unloading from the back of my car - a horse called "Shogun". OK, so it's not like we're real dragoons dismounting before entering the fray!
Below: the queue starts to form for the issue of powder. 
Above: yours truly, during the pre-match warm up/ drill session.
Below; the three of us, posing (ready to loose off a "Swedish salvo") for a passer-by to take pictures... I've switched to a Montero cap for this shot (this picture, courtesy of Keith Foster ).

Roll on next time...