Ballamoy – 1641 – The Initial Deployment

The Protestant forces have been standing on their arms since shortly before midnight. The countryside is alive with activity as settlers come in from isolated farms and cottages, driving herds and leading their wagons packed with as many possessions as they can carry. As the night mist begins to lift, a single beam of sunlight explodes upon the small village like the fiery sword of an avenging angel.  In the distance a vast cry shatters the early morning silence as the Catholic raiders begin their advance!

As the first rays of the sun penetrate the morning mist the Catholic raiding force advances on Balleyeasca

The Catholic (or Irish) left is a group of about two hundred lightly armed insurgents from the countryside to the south of Balleyeasca. A few are veterans of Spanish service including their leader, “Captain” Liam O’Neill, late a corporal in His Most Catholic Majesty’s forces in the Low Countries. They are organized in four “companies” of about fifty men each with O’Niell commanding the St. Patrick’s company ( the only one with firearms). Whether motivated by a chance for plunder, revenge, religious fervor or all three, it is too early to judge. They are, however, very knowledgable of the town and its inhabitants.

Balleyeasca - force deployment - south

Coming to their assistance on the right flank are several proto-companies of Irish foot formed around family groups in the region – O’Donnells, O’Niells, and MacSweenys. They are slightly better armed than the other insurgent group (although similarly weak in firearms) and a bit more disciplined. Their leader is Capt. Rory O’Donnell (who is actually leading the MacSweenys!). He also is a man of some military experience, having resigned his commission in the Polish army to participate in the initial October 23 insurgency. Well-liked and respected, his relations command both the other companies. This force will not arrive until later ( indicated by the turn 4 marker next to the wing commander). All told, the Catholic force on the right wing has about 150 men.

O’Donnell has sent a message ahead to O’Niell requesting that he delay his attack until O’Donnell comes up. It is doubtful the hot-headed O’Niell will comply!

Defensively, the Anglo/Scots have three companies of hastily trained militia commanded by Sir Hexham Babbington. These companies are each commanded by local gentry and their retainers with Sir Hex himself commanding the Babbington company. Because civilians are still straggling in from the hinterlands, Sir Hex has been forced to forward deploy two of his companies (Fortescue and Mandeville) to cover them. He holds his own company near the entrance to Ballamoy as a reserve. With a force of only slightly over 150, the Anglo/Scots are outnumbered but somewhat better armed than the insurgents. The civilians, their cattle and cartage (all marked in the photos by red stars) are  objectives to be seized by the insurgents and how well they are protected will go a long way to determining the success of the raid.

Ballamoy (below) is in a welter of confusion as possessions are gathered and carts loaded. it will be sometime (the turn 2 marker) before the civilians will be able to begin to move. If this delay is not shortly broken, arriving settlers will only add to the confusion!

Balleyeasca - start village evacuation

Sir Hex is a close friend of the governor of Derry and his urgent appeals for aid have found a sympathetic response. While only a company of musketeers (about fifty men) could be spared from the increasingly beleaguered city, their discipline and fire power might be sufficient to turn the rebel tide in Ballamoy.
Balleyeasca - Anglo-Scot relief force

Commanded by Captain Robert Driscoll, a Protestant son of a Catholic family, the Derry garrison company is even now making a forced march to Ballamoy but is still miles away (note the turn 4 marker next to the command piece). Noted for both his professionalism and reforming zeal, Driscoll leads his men forward with only minimal rest.

The Order of Battle sheets (a future scenario notes) can be found at the  Ballamoy 1641 page.



2 thoughts on “Ballamoy – 1641 – The Initial Deployment

  1. Thanks for sharing the information about how the battle is shaping up. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. The information about the inhabitants of the surrounding area is important to the battle but makes it seem more real to those of us who are watching to see what will happen next. When I taught fifth grade American history, I tried to help my students see how the events impacted the everyday lives of ordinary people and asked them to put themselves into the events to imagine how they would have responded. You are doing this for your followers. Thanks!


  2. Bonnie, Thanks for your usual thoughtful and encouraging comment! Narrative history is a great way to study and in wargaming circles we talk about the “game narrative” which is often much more important than measuring, die rolling, and even winning or losing!
    For the moment I am waiting for fall-color lichen to show up to complete the transformation of Balleyesca to late Autumn. The life of an Obsessive/Compulsive is fraught with challenges! 🙂


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