A Gordon! A Gordon!

The header picture shows the Gordon horse squadrons about to take the Covenanters in the flank.

This is a replay of the Gardiner Gambit with the Gordons quickly (turn 4) hitting deep into the right flank of the Covenanter army. I did previously not specify if reinforcements (on either side) can immediately charge, yes they can.

I was curious if the Gordons entering the battle early (and deep on the Covenanter’s righflank) could cause the havoc described in several accounts. Below is a single play-through:


The Royalists, joined by O’Cahan’s musketeers on their right, have formed a solid defensive line in front of a hedge on the eastern shoulder of Garlic Hill. The Covenanters are confidently advancing against them from the west.


A flurry of fierce fighting occurs, beginning with Lawer’s horse routing O’Cahan’s. They were in turn routed by very accurate artillery fire. Sir Mungo leads his foot in a fierce attack against the Royalist line but was crushingly defeated, his regiment all but destroyed. This doughty fighter then calmly joined the Lord Chancellor’s Foot, the second veteran foot in his brigade.

The Royalists are making one of their more spirited defenses of Garlic Hill which should help set-up the Gordon attack. Throughout the course of playing the Gardiner Gambit multiple times, Lawer’s horse has performed very well. The great surprise, however, is the number of times the Royalist artillery was used to good effect.


The Irish Regiment covers the withdrawal of Minimore’s Strathaven Foot behind the hedge but are then hotly engaged by Sir Mungo and the on-rushing Lord Chancellor’s Foot. The MacKenzies and The Earl of Lothian’s regulars are coming up on either flank to support the Campbell laird.


Under the heavy assault of two regular regiments, the Irish finally break. A gleeful Sir Mungo takes Alasdair MacColla prisoner.


Sensing victory is within grasp, Sir Mungo now leads The Earl of Lothian’s (his third regimental command of the day), in crossing the hedge and presses on toward Auldearn. He is closely followed by the Lord Chancellor’s. On the left the MacKenzies prepare to attack Minimore’s. At this moment Montrose and the Gordons arrive and quickly engage against the Covenanter right flank.


Lord Gordon’s Horse crash into the flank of the Earl of Finlater’s raw recruits and routs them without breaking stride. On Finlater’s flank is Drummond’s Horse, which seeing their supporting foot flee the field, join the fugitives in escaping the Gordon fury.

The result of the Gordon charge approximates the actual battle, although Drummond’s Horse was on the army’s flank and was apparently ordered to wheel into their infantry rather than to meet the enemy (Drummond was later executed for giving the wrong order, although one source suggests that he – and possibly General Hurry –  was colluding with Montrose.)


Enraged by the capture of their chief and seeing the hated Campbell banner of Sir Mungo, MacColla’s Lifeguard abandons the defense and goes forward, pouring fire into Lothian’s Foot. With Aboyne’s Horse preparing to attack his flank, Sir Mungo leads the Lothians in a charge. His plan is to break the Lifeguard and seize Auldearn. He surges forward three times against MacColla’s picked men but they stand firm each time pushing the Covenanters back.


Meanwhile Hurry leads Hackett’s fresh horse in charging Lord Gordon’s now extended flank and, in turn, routs them. Lord Gordon evades capture and joins Montrose and the Strathbogie regiment.


Hackett’s Horse capitalizes on their success and charge the Strathbogie in the flank. The Gordons hold and Hackett’s becomes exhausted.


Despite the exhortations of Sir Mungo, the Lothians are first checked by the Lifeguard and then overrun by Aboyne’s horse charging their flank. Sir Mungo, although receiving a backsword cut across the face, drops back to rejoin his Campbell brethren in the Lord Chancellor’s Foot.


On the Covenanter left, the MacKenzies charge the Gordons of Strathaven (Minimore’s) but are broken. The Kintale bannermen are the last of the MacKenzie Foot to withdraw.

The Royalists are again beginning to stabilize their line to the west of Auldearn although both sides are near exhaustion.


The momentum of Aboyne’s charge has carried them into the marshy low ground as Lord George Gordon attempts to catch them up. The still furious lifeguard moves into position to use their expert musketry against the remnant of Sir Mungo’s Brigade.


The fire of the Lifeguard breaks the Lord Chancellor’s and a dazed and exhausted Sir Mungo is taken prisoner. He will soon be exchanged for MacColla but his exploits that day will be sung eternally by the bards of Clan Campbell. The battle is over, the Royalists winning decisively.

Clearly, the concentrated and well timed Gordon attack was decisive and gives support to the idea that such an attack actually was carried out. There are, however, still more ways to play the battle based on the varied accounts.


6 thoughts on “A Gordon! A Gordon!

  1. Brilliant. I love the way you use the games to explore and understand what actually happened. Makes fascinating reading.


  2. Thanks, Andrew. As we’ve discussed before there is no substitute for seeing the actual field. The wargame trails do at least help give a feel for how thing might have happened – rather like three dimensional thought experiments. 😀


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