The Battle for Ballamoy – Ireland, November 1641

The Scenario rules for this engagement can be found here.

It had rained steadily the night before and while not a deluge the roads and plowed fields are muddy.The morning fog quickly dissapated once the sun was fully up and the day promised to be clear and cool with the bright autumn sun chasing  away the lingering clouds. (All of this thanks to a roll of three on the weather die.)

Balleyeasca Weather

Yellow markers indicate that the road is sufficiently muddy to slow up movement a bit, but since the road still provides the quickest means out of Ballamoy and on to safety it will continue to be used. Of more concern are the surrounding fields – the orange marker (on the field in the distance) indicates that movement through them will be substantially slower than normal for combat pieces and virtually impossible for non-combatants. Traveling in small groups and caring heavy burdens, the civilians will have little choice but to use the road.

Balleyeasca the battle begins

Plowed fields normally cause a one stick step down in movement. With some mud it is two steps, so combat pieces can move only one piece length per action and non-combatants not at all. Even more constricting, Caerbannog bog now extends into the low area to the east of Church Hill.

The Irish won the initiative in the first two turns but failed to achieve three actions either time. They were very close (2 actions both times, but the third die too far out to be improved by O’Niell’s leadership value). So far the insurgents are honoring O’Donnell’s request to wait for his arrival.

The Civilian pieces are clustering onto the road and those in Ballamoy are now moving. Even with the mud the evacuation seems to be going well. The Protestant militia tried a modest one action each turn, failing on the first turn but succeeding in turn two. With the civilians moving well, Babbington is pulling back his forces toward Ballamoy and drawing them into a shorter line. Sir Hex has had his own company hold their position until the last of the civilians are past.

Balleyeasca end of turn 2

The above photo shows the elevation line (edge effect) of Church Hill marked in red to emphasize that Babbington’s company is in an up-slope position relative to the road. He has no knowledge of the imminent arrival of Irish reinforcements (or even if help is on the way from Derry), but with Caerbannog Bog now covering his left flank (thanks to the recent rain) he is somewhat more comfortable that he can cover the withdrawal of his forward elements. He is also increasingly thankful that the insurgents are showing no inclination to advance. By the end of turn three, however, the situation has rapidly changed.

Balleyeasca End Turn 3

Winning the initiative yet again, the Irish succeeded in activating with three actions and immediately attacked.  O’Niell’s St. Patrick’s company (the only one with firearms) runs toward Mandeville’s militia, fires a devastating volley and quickly closes to contact. Mandeville’s defensive volley is ragged and ineffective. In the initial melee the Irish push the Protestant militia back, killing some and further disrupting the rest.

On the insurgent’s right, St. Brendan’s (with no firearms) runs pell-mell into Fortesque’s with sufficient force to gain a charge bonus. The Protestant defensive volley is even less effective than Mandeville’s,  being fired way too early in the Irish charge. Fotesque’s militia does, however, give a better account of itself in the close fighting than Mandeville’s  – generally holding their ground and inflicting damage on the enemy.

St. Columba’s has come up in support of St Brendan’s while St Bridget’s swings into position to take Fortesque’s in the flank. This is followed by the Protestants again failing to activate! A now very concerned Sir Hexham is considering allowing each of his companies to act independently (to get away from the disastrous all-or-nothing activation rolls ) but this would risk even further fragmenting his command.

Balleyeasca end of turn 4

In turn four O’Donnell’s insurgents arrive and (by card draw) he decides to take his entire force to secure the church before sweeping around the Protestant left flank to then seize Balleyeasca (his principal objective). Perhaps he saw that O’Niell would soon clear the Protestant defenders from the road and that his own force would get bogged down behind O’Niell’s men. As O’Donnell rapidly swept up Church Hill, the two forward Protestant companies stiffened their resolve and managed to hold their own against the Irish onslaught. In fact Fortesque not only managed to withstand the attacks from two directions but even lead a brief counter sortie!

Captain Driscoll, commanding the relief, has the full confidence of the governor of Derry and has been given orders to use his force as Driscoll sees proper (card draw). Driscoll is mildly surprised that the streams are not flooded (die roll) – which may or may not work to his advantage. Hearing musket fire beyond the village he tries for thee actions and succeeds. Good soldier that he is he leads his men rapidly forward.

Babbington, seeing the arrival of the second Irish force to his left and that for the moment his lads are checking the Irish attack on the right,  withdrew further up the slope of Church Hill so he could effectively cover both flanks. He is still unaware that the Derry Relief Force has crossed Ballamoy Bridge and are hurrying toward the fighting.

In the course of the next few turns O’Niell’s Catholic insurgents have managed to break both Mandeville’s and Fortesque’s Protestant militia who had been blocking the road into Ballamoy. The Protestant holding action has, however, bought critical time for the civilians (most of them families of the defenders) to make excellent progress toward safety. As the civilians near the bridge they encounter Captain Driscoll’s relief force and cheer them wildly. Although slowed up by the civilians, Driscoll brings his force in good order into Ballamoy.

Balleyeasca end of turn 7

Above is a photo of the situation at the end of turn seven. O’Donnell’s insurgents have taken the church and are reforming to advance down into the village. O’Niell has some of his force disrupted but is slowly getting the rest reorganized to continue the attack. His only fresh unit, St Columba’s, passes through the carnage picking up Protestant muskets here and there (although finding precious little powder and shot).

With the Civilians well clear, Babbington finally manages to get his company down into Ballamoy and is pleased to see Driscoll with part of the Derry garrison also arriving. Driscoll rapidly has his men take up defensive firing positions and gets a quick appreciation of the situation from Sir Hexham. Babbington’s men are not as quick to get organized in the defense as the newly arriving regulars, but this being their first day as real soldiers, they haven’t done badly.

As both sides prepare to continue the fight this seems a natural place to post this account of the battle thus far.

2 thoughts on “The Battle for Ballamoy – Ireland, November 1641

  1. Interesting to see how the different elements are managed in the game. It’s supposed to rain all week here. I’d like to roll the die again in hopes of better weather, please.

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  2. Yup – and now a probably hurricane strike (Joaquin).
    As always thanks for the comment. This game was to test how different types of essentially irregular, poorly armed infantry ( Foot) would function. Still need to do more substantial testing on cavalry (Horse) and artillery (Guns) which you haven’t had a chance for “hand-on” play.

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