Benburb: Ballaghkillgevill

The general situation is described in this previous post.

I used the OHW force randomization table to create the Protestant six unit force (as I specified in the scenario) and ended up with four foot, one horse (gallopers) and one dragoon. The table also produced three command pieces (the maximum). Since I had not mentioned command pieces for the Irish I decided to give them three also, one for each unit.

The actual Protestant advanced force probably had some light guns and a bit more commanded shot. The lack of ordinance (because of its slow movement) will likely aid the Protestant cause.


In the distance, where the road exits east toward Benburb, the Irish Commander, MacHugh O’Neill, stands with his infantry reserve. His commanded shot (here styled dragoons) are in place to sweep the road with their fire:

Turn One

Initially led by Lt. Col. William Cunningham, the Protestants caught the Irish still preparing their ambush which gave them much more scope for possible actions, not just simply following the road to Benburb.

Protestant Scouting Commander: We need to clear the way for the foot. Dragoons, into the woods on the ridge line to our front and clear out the Irish overlooking the road. I will lead the horse to the left of the ridge and secure the far end of the road.

Irish Commander: First Dragoons (Knocknacloy Hill, foreground) pivot and fire on their advancing dragoons. Second Dragoons (Ballaghkillvill Woods), position as far forward (in the woods) as possible to bring the road under fire. The foot will hold the road exit:

d_guy: The Irish Commander’s first impulse was to pull both dragoon units back to Ballaughkillgevill Hill (as MacHugh O’Neill did historically) to hold the exit point but this would drastically shorten the battlefield (and time) for the Protestants to gain their victory conditions. His Second Dragoons are in an excellent position to defend and cover the road so he maintained their position. He hoped his powder and shot would hold out and his boys would shoot well.

Turn Two

The main body of the Protestant force now arrive on the scene.

Protestant Overall Commander: Horse continue toward the far hill. Second Brigade, send one foot regiment behind the horse, brigade commander go with them. Second regiment join First brigade and follow us up the road! Dragoons into the woods and occupy the enemy Dragoons.

d_guy: The Protestant Commander had to decide how to bring on his foot. In the end he elected to send most by the faster approach (road) but hedged his bets a bit by sending one regiment on an end run to the left to further stretch the Irish defenses.

Irish Commander: First Dragoons, hold as long as possible. Second Dragoons, fire on enemy foot at earliest opportunity, foot, pivot toward approaching enemy horse.

d_guy: The Irish are shooting very badly!

Turn Three

Protestant Overall Commander: Dragoons, charge home and finish the job! Horse, pivot and move into position to charge the enemy foot. Foot regiment, continue to follow behind the horse. Foot brigade, move as rapidly as possible up the road.

Irish Commander: Hold them, First Dragoons! Foot and Second Dragoons, fire! Drat! Now The Second Dragoons have run out of shot also!

Turn Four

Protestant Overall Commander: Horse, charge! Foot regiment continue your advance. Foot Brigade front, pivot toward woods, move in and fire; center continue on road at maximum speed; rear form reserve. First dragoons, push them hard!

d_guy: the Irish Dragoons have been pushed out of the woods on Knocknacloy Hill (foreground):

Irish Commander: First Dragoons, pivot left and fire into the Prod foot! Second Dragoons, pivot right and charge the enemy foot on the slope of Ballaghhillgevill Hill.  Foot, drive back their horse! Well done, Boyos!

d_guy:  The down-view picture below shows the situation at the end of Turn Four. The Irish positions are within the blue lines. The Irish foot regiment (Ballaghkillvill Hill) has repulsed the Protestant cavalry attack (red arrow). The Irish Commander, MacHugh O’Neill, was wounded in the Melee’ with the Protestant horse.

Turn Five

Protestant Overall Commander: Lead foot, reposition to meet the Irish attack*. Right flank foot, pivot and hold for clear shot at the flanking Irish**.  Left wing foot, pivot and fire on the Boggies from the rear. Dragoons, forget their dragoons, swing down to the road. Horse, charge!! Rear foot, forward and support the horse. We’ve got’em now, Boys!!

d_guy: Certain actions are taken based on requirements of the rules. * If a unit is engaged in melee on a flank/rear and it is NOT also engaged to the front, it may reposition to meet the attack to front or rear. This is not considered a pivot, so the space constraints are not enforced. The Protestant unit is not out of ammo but being actively engaged in a melee it continues in melee. ** Ideally this unit would attack the Irish unit (already in melee to its front) BUT it still has ammo so can only shoot! Since its target is in melee with a friendly unit it may not fire.

Irish Commander (2nd): Don’t give an inch lads!

d_guy: The Protestant horse, again attacking uphill against musket and pike armed foot, was not very effective and again was repulsed with heavy losses. One more casualty and they will be eliminated. They did manage to kill MacHugh O’Niell, a brave, forward fellow, but clearly unlucky. The Irish dragoons on Knocknacloy Hill were destroyed by the Protestant volley.

The situation at the end of turn five is shown below,with the Irish holding only the critical road exit. Somehow the remaining Irish dragoons have managed to hold on against the Protestant Foot and the Irish foot has taken only light casualties:


Turn Six

Protestant Overall Commander: Horse, withdraw; Foot, clear the road. Smartly now!

d_guy: at this point the Irish Commander finds no need to give orders. His entire command is engaged in a  pitched battle on the slopes Ballaghkillvill Hill. Their battle cry of “Tyrone, Tyrone” lifts above the clashing steel! Amazingly, at the end of turn six, the Irish STILL hold their position on the high ground:


Turn Seven

d_guy: against long odds the Irish now actually have a chance for victory. The Irish foot still holds the critical exit point and the Protestants now have only two turns to get three units off the board using the road! The Protestants have overwhelming force but can only bring a small portion to bear. Thanks to the stalwart dragoons tying up the Protestant foot on the Irish left, the foot’s exposed flank remains protected.

Protestant Overall Commander: MOVE THE PAPISTS OFF THE ROAD!!! The rest, close in for a dash!!

d_guy: the Irish dragoons finally  break but the foot still holds! The Protestants no longer have a chance for victory but must now fight hard to prevent a disaster!

Turn Eight

Protestant Over Commander: (frustrated, furious and near speechless) ATTACK BOTH THEIR FLANKS!!

d_guy: The Irish foot, now attacked from three sides, is at last destroyed and on turn nine, four Protestant units exit east via the road. A day late and a dollar short! The Irish victory here may effect the outcome at Benburb since EACH Protestant unit on the field will have to check for exhaustion. Since it was not a major victory they will not have to check to see if they are out of powder as well.

This was a close-run and suprisingly competitive game. The Irish problem with poor shooting and lack of powder was more than made up for by their continued high morale checks and tenacious hand-to-hand fighting.

After much fiddling, side excursions, and general laziness, I have run out of excuses NOT to next fight the Battle of Benburb.