Actions in the Barley Valley:1685

The header picture shows the Barley Valley looking East toward Cruelton with Monmouth’s line of advance being the Glastonbury Road entering the Northwestern edge in the foreground. 

The valley is that of the River Barley in Wessexshire, which is the only river in the region sufficiently deep and wide to require bridges for crossing. It was the focus of action in Monmouth’s advance on London after his surprising victory on Sedgemoor near the village of Westonzoyland in 1685.

Poetically referred to as Barley Vale (although never by the locals). it blocks the way toward the town of Cruelton which in turn guards the Great East Road to Salisbury and hence to London. A tributary valley, Linnetdale (this time the locals and poets agree) provides a secondary line of defense, making this area a logical barrier to East-West movement in Southwest England.


In the foreground is Barleybridge on the crossing of the Gladstonbury – Bath Road <click to enlarge>

The River Linnet, fordable along its length, flows into the Barley at Linnetsmouth, where the Great East Road crosses the Barley.


The juncture of the Linnet and Barley Rivers at Linnetsmouth on the Yeovil – Cruelton Road. The Royal Dragoons are deployed in the village while a brigade of the Wessexshire militia are positioned on the bluffs above the Linnet. <click to enlarge>

I will, of course, confess that Monmouth did not win at Sedgemoor (in fact, was soundly defeated) nor is there such a place as “Wessexshire” (outside the pages of certain Thomas Hardy novels). I have it wedged between Dorset, Somerset, and Wiltshire and it allows me to make up all sorts of topology (and provide the entire militia organization of Wessexshire). The mesh strips that I am using as roads have since been replaced by more scenic ones from Fat Frank.

The Drover's Rest

The foreground structure is “The Drover’s Rest” at the junction of the Glastonbury – Bath Road and the “Short Gap” Road that crosses the hills to meet the Yeovil – Cruelton Road to the South. “The Drover’s” is one of the possible mustering points for the Wessexshire militia. The local fauna graze serenely on the hillside, under the watchful eye of “Shep” the sheep dog. <click to enlarge>

The wargame table is now the largest That I can reasonably do, 9 x 18 FK&P boxes (4” boxes, so three feet by six feet). This is a rather small area and would scale to about one km by two km.  The advantage of using boxes is the position of troops is somewhat indeterminant allowing the terrain to be selectively compressed. While it may bother purists (or, more precisely, the logical), I can effectively have two overlaid scales, where the strategic scale is as much as four times greater (in this case, four km by eight km)!

The Duke of Monmouth will enter on the Glastonbury Road and will win by exiting his small supply terrain through Cruelton. The game will end on that condition, or the destruction of the train (a Government victory) or in the normal manner using victory points (set to 40% for both sides).

Other than the fun of doing it (and getting  a bunch of new stuff on the table), I want to test some AI ideas for solo play.


A hypothetical deployment of the Goverment forces along the line of the Linnet. The remnants of the two battalion of First Guards of Foot and a composite grenadier battalion hold the center, with a brigade of Wessex milita on each flank. “The Rose of Sharon” is another possible milita mustering point. <click to enlarge>

One may ask what any of this has to do with my raison d’être, wargaming the Celtic Fringe? On the surface nothing, but the West Country has some Celtic flavor to it and both Wales and Cornwall are comfortably inside “The Fringe”. I am also quite interested in the warfare that shaped the future United Kingdoms in the tumultuous c. 17th (and before) including various popular uprisings. This interest includes actions in the nascent over-seas possessions or colonies of North America, Tangier, and India.

BV-Prelim-Center line

A closer look at The First Guard on the line of the Linnet <click to enlarge>

Next, I’ll piece together the probable orders of battle.

7 thoughts on “Actions in the Barley Valley:1685

  1. I smiled to read you actually have a sheep dog in your scene (of course you do) and I enlarged the picture to find him. I enjoy reading your posts but mostly so I can hear the passion of your hobby. I’m so glad you found a way to play in your retirement! You earned it!


  2. Thanks all!

    Simon, I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been entranced with Sedgemoor since reading David Chandlers book. Have been through the Levels on one brief occasion and some idea of the lay of the land. Disadvantage of wargaming a place an ocean away is having to use Google Earth – a lot.

    Bonnie (I think, for some reason you are now anonymous. WordPress changed stuff around and you may now need to follow by email) – yes must have a dog with the sheep! There are also geese, hens, cows, pigs, bunnies and cats! It’s like “Where’s Waldo?” 😀


    • Hi Bill, I’ve got an annotated version of Peter Young’s book- with pictures he took of the 1985 reenactment- I was really lucky to find it. I like the fact that numbers are relatively low so I could do it in some style…


Comments are closed.