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.
The River Linnet, fordable along its length, flows into the Barley at Linnetsmouth, where the Great East Road crosses the Barley.
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 The mesh strips that I am using as roads have since been replaced by more scenic ones from Fat Frank.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 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.
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.
Next, I’ll piece together the probable orders of battle.