Lay of the Land: Inverlochy 1645

After several weeks of working on a variety of unrelated projects (and several trips to actually wargame with other human beings) I am back to working on my prime project.

I have wargamed Inverlochy several times (two of which are documented in this blog) but I wanted to rework the board a bit for scenario writing. It is not greatly changed from my recent experiments using For King & Parliament but I had used a more stylized terrain and it was not properly scaled to a 9 x 12 grid.


The Battle of Inverlochy: a view to the south with the Covenanters to the right and Royalists to the left. The slight elevations are shaded for emphasis.

As with every other battle that I have scaled, I use as the base the current Ordinance Survey (OS) maps.  The 18th c. Roy Military Maps of Scotland are always interesting to look at but often don’t give the precise detail needed for scaling. In the case of Inverlochy, however, they show the ground before the railroad arrived (which caused a significant cut near and through the hill labeled above as Torn Na Farie. It shows the hill relative to the castle and probably gives a more accurate battlefield than my previous endeavors.

Using the Roy map overlaid to the OS I made a few slight changes to the terrain layout:

1. The hill is now closer to the castle. I had a comment passed on from a resident of the area which mentioned that it was his understanding that the Covenanter right flank was anchored on the hill. This adjustment would now more or less agree with that comment.

2. The castle is now correctly placed on a slight rise with the rise continuing to the east as shown in the Roy map.

3. The Roy map also indicates a small burn flowing south from the general area in which the Royalists formed up and on into the River Nevis. It is unnamed and it’s presence is not mentioned in any accounts, but I have added it for interest and given it, quite arbitrarily, a local name.


The Battle of Inverlochy: a view to the west with a probable deployment of the Covenanter army in the foreground.

Argyll’s regiment, as such, may not have been a fully organized presence but likely they are the “pryme men” mentioned by Ruthven and are all or part of the veterans of this regiment. My reading of the sources suggest they were the second line behind the levies and not the first as many suggest. The Covenanter camp along the baseline will be treated as rough ground.


The Battle of Inverlochy: a view to the north. The castle (also refered to as “Inverlochy House”) was already several hundred years old and in poor repair. The representation I am using is in better repair and has higher towers.


The Battle of Inverlochy: a view to the west with a likely Royalist deployment in the foreground. As MacColla Commanded the right I have added in a small unit to represent his lifeguard. As I have mentioned several times, this is a rather amorphous collection of friends, followers and fighters likely without anything approaching an administrative existence.

Some notes on building the scenario.

1) While Inverlochy is still a battle of the Scottish Civil War with Royalist and Covenanter sides properly demarcated, its primary dynamic is the ongoing struggle between Clan Donald and Clan Campbell. In fact in the heroic Celtic poetry Montrose is hardly mentioned (if at all). The extended rules for Highlanders (particularly pursuit) will likely need to be in full force to capture the flavor of the moment.

2) Some consideration needs to be given to the condition of the Royalist army. They had forced marched through difficult winter terrain and had arrived during both tired and hungry during the late evening of the previous day. They wanted the battle to begin and end quickly. At this writing I have placed the Royalist reserve to the east of the small burn which will cause a very slight road bump in activating them to move forward. Possibly placing the entire Royalist army to the east of the burn will end up being sufficient penalty.

3) Montrose had achieved strategic surprise but the sporadic skirmishing throughout the night had blunted the tactical surprise. The Covenanters are pinned in by water on three sides and the castle does not offer much of a refuge. Likely a generous apportionment of “untried” markers will be useful to capture their likely state of mind.

4) This is a very straight forward battle with little subtlety or maneuver. Probably it’s most interesting feature is its Highland character and the unabashed enmity between the sides. I will probably set break points for both sides at around 50%.


8 thoughts on “Lay of the Land: Inverlochy 1645

  1. Nice guillame my interest on this one as a game is that the irish volleyed and then charged the highlanders , in most wargames the highlanders get this massive bonus whereas the irish routed them in the melee


    • Hi Steve, I’ve enjoyed your several comments and assume you are continuing to work with FK&P as well looking for adaptations for the Williamite Wars?

      I have said before that I think FK&P has pretty close to “just right” rules for Highlanders, they are capable of one big push and but also receive suitable disadvantages. The extended rules I use are essential behavioral; they like working from the high ground (and get a bonus if attacking down hill) and in many scenarios may counter-charge (even horse!) and are subject to mandatory pursuit.

      One point about Inverlochy, as you describe, the Irish fired a volley at close range and charged (many with targets and swords as Ruthven reports) immediately breaking the Covenanter flanks. Those flanks were mainly lowland foot, however. Montrose’s Highlanders charged the center which was comprised of most of Argyll’s Highlanders. Likely Montrose’s Highlanders used the same single volley approach as the Irish on the flanks (and received a volley in return). The breaking of the Covenanter right, then left, then center are reported as discrete, sequential events, but one has the impression it was all over fairly quickly (maybe 😉 ).


  2. Nice to see another great piece on this rarely gamed period. The table looks great and I really like the castle. Look forward to seeing how this turned out as a game.


    • Thanks as always, Steve. I wish I were more inclined to modeling and I would build an accurate representation of the castle. For wargaming purposes what I have will have to serve the trick. 🙂


  3. I am amazed as always at the amount of research and scholarship your “game” requires. It is truly a passion. I’m glad you enjoy it so much!


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