The header picture is a detail from the Roy Military Survey of Scotland, 1747 – 1755 (reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland – under a non-commercial Creative Commons license). The image shows one of the first reasonably accurate maps of the area between Nairn and Auldearn about one hundred years after the battle.
Upper Management has decided that the garage sorting out (mentioned in previous posts) is now extended to the entire house. I am building a couple dozen shelving units which will be used to organize the contents of both the house and garage. It is amazing the amount of totally useless junk we have squirreled away (although I suspect it would be valuable to any small village in the third world – such is our disconnect from reality) – d_guy
Auldearn (9 May, 1645) is generally considered the centerpiece of Monrose’s 1644/45 campaign. Montrose had been pursuing Hurry’s Covenanter army toward Inverness and was in turn being pursued by Baillie’s Army coming north from Dundee. Hurry, after being reinforced by the Inverness garrison and local militia, reversed course and made a night march to attack Montrose at Auldearn. For the first time Montrose was to face a substantial body of well-seasoned regular Covenanter regiments. It was to be a near run thing.
Putting together an accurate picture of the Battle of Auldearn is difficult since the primary accounts vary a good deal and near four hundred years of historical analysis offers a multiple choice test in how to interpret those accounts. My approach has been to read both the primaries and the analysis in parallel and then try to synthesize a scenario that allows for a number of possibilities and is, above all, playable.
I have spent the better part of three years experimenting with various ways to portray the battles of this period; how to organize the armies, what rules to commit to, and what terrain system to employ. With the adoption of the For King and Parliament rules (and exercising them in as many ways as I could think) I believe I’m ready to finally begin the task of producing playable scenarios for the Celtic Fringe (and, yes, I will go back and redo the ones I’ve already done).
Regardless of the rules used, compromises will almost always have to be made to represent the terrain of an historic battle on the table top. For battles in Britain I use Ordnance Survey maps to establish scale and contours:
Now the fun begins. Many 17th century battles were staged on fairly level and open ground (Tippermuir and Inverlochy are examples) to best accommodate the tactical systems then in use. Auldearn is not one of these.
The first task (see the diagram below) is to translate the contour levels into elevation blocks. This means that the contour, already an average, gets averaged a good deal more. I did decided to flatten the surface by combining the 20 and 25 meter contours then adjusting the 30 (light green) and 35 (dark green) meter levels to get the most reasonable fit on the grid.
The small stream (Auldearn Burn) is represented in FK&P as linear rough terrain and as such must follow the edges of each square. This means doing some adjustments to the actual course of the stream but the result is still a pretty fair representation of the actual water course.
All other features are added based on contemporary descriptions and maps, site archeology, tradition and folklore, and specialist analysis. I generally use Stuart Reid’s work as the starting point and modify it if I find another source more convincing.
The village of Auldearn is represented by the church on the higher ground to the north and then a row of houses moving in a straight line through the three boxes to the south. These four squares are “rough/building” in the FK&P rules. Kinnude, a small farm hamlet on the western board edge, is a single “rough/building” square.
Hurry approached Auldearn from the west but his actual route from Inverness is unknown. The location of roads in 1645 is also problematic. The header picture has the Roy Map showing the road approaching from Nairn to the northwest but this was drawn more than one hundred years later. I have gone with a road running north-south through Auldearn (which many think is the original path of the Inverness-Auldearn road) to allow an uninhibited passage through the woods placed on the flanks of Auldearn.
Which ever road Hurry used, it is generally accepted that he moved off-road to place his army in battle array around Kinnudie in order to make a direct assault on the Royalist positions in Auldearn.
The enclosures are variously described as earthen dikes or stone walls but may also have been woven thicket or hedge. Likely they are some combination of these and served various purposes. Because of at least one mention that Garlic Hill ofered some cover for MacColla’s men, I have place a linear obsticle on its eastern slope.
In the above diagram column 12 is shown as low-lying to represent what is now called “Montrose’s Hollow”, which for game purposes is the backline and staging area for the Royalist player. As it can not be seen even from the top of Garlic Hill it would allow for the possibility of hidden movement.
The simple terrain building process I now use is to first lay down a gridded battle mat then build up the elevations with 100mm x 100mm x 12.5mm blocks. The blocks are covered with cloth or gripper mesh and then a gridded fleece is carefully overlaid to cover the entire board. All linear rough terrain is then put in place along the appropriate box edges followed by filling in the surface area terrain (buildings, woods, etc). The road(s) are then added. At this point it can be further dressed up to taste with individual trees, scattered vegetation, and so forth.
The next step is to get the Orders of Battle organized.