…hotte alarumes and continuall fyre… The Battle of Tippermuir (1644)

The quote is from Ruthven concerning the the musketry of the Irish Brigade in the early part of the battle.

This play-through was a disaster for Montrose (and no doubt the king must now be wondering why he recently raised him to Marquis).  Montrose suffered a devastating defeat ending any hope of opening an effective Royalist front in Scotland. Before I go ahead with a (mercifully brief) account I want to first do a bit of analysis of the solo play mechanics I used:

The “End Turn” card added a dynamic that I will likely only use again if there is a constraint on the number of turns (Tippermuir had no such constraint) and even then, much more judiciously. There were eight (five Covenanter and three Royalist) Brigade activation attempt cards and one “End Turn” Card. On three of sixteen occasions it was the first card drawn. No real harm done but on five occasions it was either the second or third card drawn with the heavy majority of the time, only Covenanter brigade cards drawn beforehand. On two occasions ALL FIVE of the Covenanter cards were drawn followed by the “End Turn”. It was almost as if the intervention of Providence on the side of the Covenant, so enthusiastically promised by some of the pre-battle sermons, had come to pass.

Taken together, the Covenanters received a huge advantage in initiative. Adding to this advantage, drawing the Irish Brigade card before “End Turn” was exceedingly rare. To win, the Royalists needed to hold the flanks (they did this fairly well for a time ) while the relatively powerful Irish Brigade quickly smashed the Covenanter center.  This partially happened but not soon enough, particularly given the usual vagaries of activation chit draws factored in.

I had fun doing the game (of course, that is almost a given!) but I’m now going to replay without the added friction of Brigade Cards and the odious End Turn card. I’ll use my old solo method of being “double minded” (that is to saying being fully committed to the side I am at the moment playing) and using the normal (IGOUGO) play sequence.

Tipp-Bat_end 3

Tippermuir: end turn three. Montrose opens with an immediate advance toward the high point of Lamberkien Ridge but the rest of his army is slow to advance. The Covenanters begin advancing on both of the flanks.

Tipp-Bat-4-Kilpont fires

Kilpont’s (and Keppoch to their left) launch flights of arrows at Lord Drummond’s approaching horse followed by a long range musket volley. Little damage is done but the sheer volume of fire manages to disorganize the untried horse.

Although in the thick of the fighting for the hill top on the right, Montrose has received not so much as a scratch as Inchbrackie’s repelled two charges by Scott’s horse. Sir James, however, has been wounded in the shoulder by a pistol ball, “I’ve had worse” he says as he reorganizes his exhausted horse.

Both of the Royalist flanks are now in serious trouble, Kilpont’s and Inchbrackie’s both with double disorganization. Inchbrackie’s fired their only volley repelling the second attack but still remain with the up-slope advantage. To the plus for the Royalists, two thirds of the enemy horse is now “blown” (exhausted), which limits their movement.

Disastrously the Irish Brigade is unmoved, simply standing in ranks and watching the ever increasing grim struggles on their flanks. It is rumored that their vaunted commander, Alisdair MacColla, is crouched behind a shrub overcome by bouts of a virulent dysentery!

Tipp-Bat_mid game - Kilpont drives of Drummond

On the Royalist left, Kilpont leads his exhausted men in routing the remnants of Lord Drummond’s Horse, while the MacDonalds of Keppoch charge the Forfarshire militia.

Tipp-Bat_mid game - Montrose holds Laberkien

Inchbrackie’s nearly spent men now receive a charge from the Clackmannanshire militia. A wounded (the red bead) Col. Scott can be seen on the lower slope trying to rally his horse. In attempting to repeal the onslaught, Montrose has been smacked in the head with the flat of a halberd and will be out of action through the next turn (the yellow bead marker).

In the late stages of the battle both of the Royalist wings have collapsed and are about to be enveloped. Montrose has lost his brigade entirely and has taken personal command of MacDonnell’s Irish Regiment while MacColla, to his left, leads the rest of the Irish in attempting to break the Covenanter regulars in the center:

Tipp-Bat_late game

Lord Tullibardine, proving to be a very active commander, is moving amongst the regulars, urging them to meet the Irish onslaught full on. Lord Kilpont can now be seen on the Royalist left, joining in another charge with the Keppoch MacDonalds.

Tipp-Bat_late game-the battle for the center

A smoke dimmed view during the peak of the fighting looking south toward the Lamberkein high point now occupied by Sir James Scott’s men.

The Irish attack is fierce, routing three Covenanter regiments and Montrose has already pivoted MacDonnell’s to cover their rear. Disaster occurs when Tullibardine, leading the 2nd battalion of Lord Elcho’s Foot, routs Laghtnan’s second battalion!

Tipp-Bat_end game - surge

Lord Tullibardine pierces the ragged Irish line.

It is now a very close run thing, but Tullibardine manages to pivot and charge the first battalion of Laughnan’s (now commanded by MacColla) in the rear. It is too much and they break as well. The Battle is over.

Tipp-Bat_end game - Irish Break

Tullibardine defeats MacColla for the win !

A final note on the rules. FK&P (or FKaP as now seems more popular) continues to impress in the amount of tactical decision making that must be taken each turn and the ease with which play occurs. The Highlander rules work well (and someday I must do one or more essays on how I think they actually fought) but I shall continue to tinker with them for my local use.

As I watched the Atholl men (Inchbrackie’s) try to hold the high ground on Lamberkein I had wished I had some way to allow them to throw rocks! In the historic battle they did just that to repel Scott’s horse! It is a temptation I shall resist, however.

Their one advantage is the charge (preferably down hill). The rules have this charge operate much like a Salvee Charge which is very correct I think. The “Highland” charge is not particularly an idea unique to the Highlands, but the term does captures the Celtic warrior ethos.

At Mulroy I experimented with allowing Highlanders to counter charge and this might be the best implementation. But would they counter charge horse? At Tippermuir, Ruthven says they did and Wishart implies the same. Probably the ability to counter charge foot should be allowed for Highlanders and even horse on a historic scenario basis.

I shall now move on to the replay.


4 thoughts on “…hotte alarumes and continuall fyre… The Battle of Tippermuir (1644)

  1. Thanks for a nice report and some great action shots. Very interesting to read your thoughts on why your solo rules failed to work. I tend to favour playing each side wholeheartedly, although to be honest I’m always gunning for the Parliamentarians!


Comments are closed.