The Battle of The Three Ninnies (Lessie’s Moor)

The portrait of a Parliamentarian officer in the header could easily be that of brigade commander, Colonel Oliver Sterling (NOT one of the three ninnies* ).  By kind permission of the artist, Chris Collingwood, whose lovely and realistic works can be found at his studio site.

*Andrew Brentnall avers that modern historians often refer to the action on Lessie’s Moor as “The Battle of the Three Ninnies” after the three army commanders, Grundy, Pargetter and Prince Philip Fredrick, nephew to the king and one of the clowder of brothers of Prince Rupert of the Rhine. Each brought little knowledge of the art of war and did even less to mitigate their deficiency by seeking advice from the few seasoned veterans present.

A previous post outlines the deployment in more detail but suffice it to say that each general made his own special contribution to complicating the life of a lowly wargamer trying to re-fight the battle.

To briefly state the problems:

Lord Pargetter insisted that the commanded shot and D’arcy’s dragoons, who had accompanied Prince Philip in his dash from Oxford, be placed among the hedges and gardens of Loxley Barrett to secure the Royalist left. Glad to be rid of the “nags and ruffians” who had slowed his advance, Prince Phillip was happy to oblige. He and his brigade of horse took up position on the Royalist right along the Darrington-Borchester Road which offered the open ground necessary to give his cavalry scope. It occurred to neither prince nor lord to assign a capable commander to this detached command!

Pargetter then had Col. David Archer string his brigade of foot (six regiments!) across much of the front creating a command and control nightmare for Col. Archer. The other Col. Archer (Josh) was reasonably placed on the left with his brigade of horse although Pargetter held back his own Lifeguard Regiment (their armor had cost a small fortune and the worthy gentlemen did not want it scratched!)

Captain General Grundy did only marginally better on the Parliamentarian side. His two brigades of foot were placed in the center but Col Sterling’s was wedged between a copse of wood and Fairbrother’s horse brigade with no maneuver room. Col Sterling, a much experienced officer of the continental wars, argued that the Borsetshire Brigade would be better placed in this position. This would allow Sterling to commit his larger and more powerful brigade at the moment of crisis (and keep a watchful eye on the near idiot who served as the senior colonel of the Borsetshire in the bargain!) Grundy would have none of it (the officer in question being his wife’s nephew!) Col. Sterling made a final plea to at least reorganize the brigades but being met with a stony glare, rode off in disgust.

Fairbrother’s brigade of horse was well placed on the right to match the Royalist horse but the powerful horse brigade on the left was milling around with no clear commander and no preparation to debouche from the hedges that hemmed them in.

The pictures are clickable to enlarge.

Move 1


A view from the Royalist side at the end of the first move. While some maneuvering occurred, there were several activation failures, complicated by a less than convenient overall activation sequence.

<I left the small activation cards on the board to give a sense of what play looks like with For King and Parliament. The larger card set with the red and blue symbols is NOT part of the FK&P rules system but a random activation scheme that I often use for solo play. I’ll do a future post on solo adaptations. -d’guy>

Move 2

The fighting begins with the Parliamentarian guns opening fire as the Royalists begin a steady advance:


In the foreground, Sir Robin Fairbrother’s Horse jump the hedge and destroy D’arcy’s unfortunate dragoons. First blood to the Roundheads. Lord Stokes’ Command Shot wheels to fire into their flank.

 <At this point I realized I had joined the ranks of the “Ninnies” and had to unboggle a couple of illegal moves I had made, one on each side. Both dealt with allowing units of different brigades to exchange places in a box – which they can not do. The scenario deployment seems fiendishly designed to offer these sorts of temptations. -d’guy>

Move 3

The Battle slowly evolved with the Royalists beginning to make good progress:


With a general engagement all along the battle front, Lord Stokes’ Musketeers (in the walled garden) coolly dispatch Sir Robin Fairbrother’s Horse, revenging D’arcy’s and ending the threat to the Royalist left

<Although out of command range, Lord Stokes’ drew a card sequence that allowed them to fire three times and with excellent effect – Fairbrother’s managing not a single save – doubt this could be repeated 1 in 100 times! -d’guy>

Move 4 was dominated by many brigades on both sides failing their first or second unit activation creating a decided lull in the fighting.

Move 5

Move five was a swirl of confused fighting, ferocious attacks and equally ferocious stands. Men were cut down in droves with no quarter asked nor given. It was hard to believe that a scant year before these were friends, neighbors and families.

Kenton Archer’s Foot saw off Alderman Grundy’s Foot, their flight causing a ripple effect in the Parliamentarian ranks, disordering both Borchester City and the City Auxiliaries.

Sterling’s Regiment held firmly, however, and drove back the Royalist onslaught to their front. Fairbrother’s Foot stood with them shoulder-to-shoulder, repelling Aldridge’s Foot who left behind the hedger’s apprentice Johnny Phillips, a stout and well-liked fellow (and a favorite of the ladies), brained by the butt of a musket in the melee.

Kenton Archer’s continued to surge forward, driving into the Borchester City but were finally driven back. The City’s stand was costly however, with the popular Capt. Nelson Gabriel receiving a mortal pike thrust while encouraging his own pikemen forward.

Now led by Lord Pargetter in person, Snell’s again crashed into Sterling’s. This staunch regiment continued to valiantly stand, driving back Snell’s with considerable losses which tragically included Lt. Kevin Blockley, the well-known Royalist pamphleteer. Even Lord Pargetter himself was nearly unseated as a musket ball caromed off his helmet! An exhausted Archer’s made another desultory attempt but were easily repelled by Fairbrother’s.

Completely enraged, and his ears ringing from the recent blow, Lord Pargetter managed to urge Snell’s forward a third time and was rewarded by breaking Sterling’s gallant regiment!  Col Sterling, his hat and clothing shredded by musket balls, rode calmly to join one of his remaining regiments, his courageous example stabilizing the Parliamentarian second line.

Lord Pargetter again attempted to press his men forward. “These traitorous wretches are ours, lads!” He bellowed, “at e’m!”, but they had had enough for the moment.

The Royalist Trained Bands of Ambridge and Penny Hassett wait in reserve

With an opportunity to take the Royalist horse on the Parliamentarian left in the flank, Horrobin’s Horse bulked! Viewing the scene through his spy-glass, Captain General Grundy uttered a complex oath known only to Dutch sailors on the East India run and threw the glass to the ground!

Things took a better turn on his right, however, as Sir Rex Fairbrother led his horse against Tregorran’s and drove them from the field. His brother Toby, confused by the smoke and noise, failed to follow up the success.

Borchester City now fired heavy volleys at Kenton Archer’s doing more damage. The Major commanding the City Auxillary, unsure what to do, charged Snell’s…and broke them! On their flank, Archer’s had had enough also and joined the rout!

Lord Pargetter, disaster all around him, took shelter with Kenton Archer’s.  At this point, although not commanding their brigade, Col Sterling strongly suggested to the Lt. Col. of the Borchester Trained Band that they follow behind the City Auxillaries, which they managed to do.

The center must hold

Prince Philip’s lifeguard now took Elliot’s Horse in the flank and destroyed them handily, causing the hapless Horrobin’s Horse to become disrupted!

Switching to the Royalist left, Col Josh Archer, sensing a chance for glory, charged with Fredrick’s Horse into Toby Fairbrother’s wavering command, but the result was without consequence.

<as little action as there was in turn four, turn five more than made up for it. For the first time I was near to the point of reshuffling all the non-activation cards. The use of “Gallant Gentlemen” also increases the narrative properties of the game. A nice feature.  The point totals are dropping rapidly and another move or two and this will likely be finished. It can still go either way, although the Royalists now seem to have a bit of an edge, the events near Lord Pargetter not withstanding -d’guy>


The Battle front from the Royalist side at the end of move 5 showing the depth of their advance in the center and right

Move 6

Horrobin’s and Prince Philip’s Lifeguard fought back and forth but Horrbin’s Horse was destroyed. In the center Col Sterling attempted to rally Fairbother’s Foot but failed. He held them in place, their flank anchored on the Elve’s Copse <which rightly or wrongly I have been treating as dense wood and therefore impassable. Although it is small, the Elves could have placed a warding spell on it IMHO 😀 -d’guy>. Without clear leadership, the Borsetshire Brigade hung back, despite the yelling and gesticulations of an increasingly frustrated Col. Sterling indicating to them to press the attack.

On the Parliamentarian right, Sir Rex’s Horse continued their pursuit into the planted gardens and then attacked Heathcliffe’s Musketeers, who become disrupted but repelled the attack. <Having been checked, the pursuit marker is removed -d’guy>

The fighting in the gardens near Loxley Barrett. Heathcliffe’s musketeers hold the wall against the Parliamentarian cavalry

Sir Rex (actual) joined Toby’s horse and led them into the attack against Fredrick’s but could not budge them. Josh Archer reseized the initiative and counter attacked, this time achieving glory by destroying Toby’s regiment and personally wounding Sir Rex Fairbrother, causing him to be dragged from the field, his foot caught in his stirrup.

Viewed from the Parliamentarian side at the end of turn 6. The battle is still in doubt but the Royalists are pressing

move 7

The Royalist commanded shot on the left fired ineffectual volleys at Sir Rex Fairbrother’s Horse. While the Honorable Fredricks’ Royalist horse continued their mad pursuit toward Borchester.

On the Royalist right, Prince Philip’s Lifeguard pursued the remains of Horrobin’s up the Darrington-Borchester Road and were quickly out of sight. Prince Phillip led Prince Edwards’ across the hedge and into the flank of Tichener’s Dragoons, who had been galling Prince Gustavus’ Horse with effective fire. The Dragoons fought manfully and drove off the attack!

The Prince regrouped and had another go. Although taking casualties and disorganized, the dragoons maintained again!

<This is the sort of thing I expect when I roll buckets of dice! Apparently I do the same with cards! -d’guy>

His horses now blown, Prince Philip sent in Prince Gustavus to finish the job with the dragoons, which the young gentleman did with ease.

In the center, Lord Pargetter took command of the Penny Hassett Trained Band and ordered them to charge the advancing, but depleted, Toby Fairbrother’s Regiment. Penny Hassett, who had already proved their metal by standing fire moments before, crashed into Toby’s Foot and broke them! Col. Sterling received a musket ball full in the chest and pitched backward off his horse. He was carried away by a few of Toby’s retreating soldiers.

Sensing now that bold action would win the day, Lord Pargetter took the Penny Hassett into the shaken City Auxillaries and dispatched them as well! Victory! The Parliamentarians broke and began to rapidly exit the field! Perhaps history has been unkind to Lord Pargetter having shown himself to be a fine fighting general.

A view showing the final positions when the Royalist victory occurred in turn 7

<In the end it was not particularly close. The Royalists still had eight of their original eighteen victory points to give, the Parliamentarians having lost all twenty-one of theirs.

This is a fun set of rules to play for several reasons but to immediately name a few:

I like gridded games. I have never liked fiddling with precise measurements (in a leisure setting anyway). It speeds things up noticeably and can more easily scale a larger battle to a regular table top. 

I love the card decks as a solo player (and I want to remind that the large, random brigade activation cards are NOT part of the rules system but my adaptation). The smaller unit activation cards show you at a glance what the play status of everything is and using the same decks for random results is equally entertaining.

I particularly like the attention that has been paid to the look-and-feel of the period and all the ways narrative potential has been carefully added (much like the best skirmish games).

I plan to next redo Inverlochy (1645) to check the rules against my usual needs and probably another game even further afield to stretch adaptability. -d’guy>

Nigel, Lord Pargetter (in the dented lobster tailed helmet) advances to victory




8 thoughts on “The Battle of The Three Ninnies (Lessie’s Moor)

  1. Thanks! Andrew did his scenario using the characters from “The Archers” (an enormously long running Radio “soap opera”). It is set in the mythical County of Borsetshire of which many detailed maps can be found on-line. With all of this backstory available and already imbedded in the game, the narrative was quite fun to do. Of course the rules and my little guys provided most of the drama.😀


  2. Congratulations, Bill! I may be biased, having written the scenario, but that has to be one of the best AARs I have ever read. You have captured the spirit of Borsetshire perfectly, and I can tell you have a soft spot for Oliver Sterling! I hope it was as much fun as it sounds.



  3. Thanks so much, Andrew and, yes I’m having a good deal of fun with both the rules and the narrative for this scenario.

    Oliver Sterling is to me a prototype of the soon to be New Model Army officer. When I think of him I think of “Black Tom” or Michael Jones in Ireland.

    Using the officer matrix (after he failed save with the ace of spades!) he drew an 8 then a club – so still living and may recover to fight at Marston Moor, we’ll have to see. 😀


  4. Thanks Graham.
    I also like where you are going with your basing.
    Smaller units have much to commend them, particularly since you can get more units on the table faster and then actually play a game 😀


  5. Pingback: FK&P – Thinking About Solo Play | In Red-coat Rags Attired

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