the Battle of Glen Tilt 1644: The Battle Fought

The header photo shows the climax of the fighting on the braes above the River Tilt

Inchbrackie’s Scots force has no particular reason to come off the high ground thus ceding the initiative to MacColla. While his prowess as a warrior is universally acclaimed, his tactical abilities as a soldier are often maligned. I think this is largely due to the situations in which he finds himself (often not of his own making) where speed and aggression, rather than subtlety, are the clear tactical choice.

MacColla needs to end this encounter quickly and decisively. He clearly out-guns his opponent and his troops are better disciplined so the initial choice is to get into musket range as quickly as possible.

<All the following photos may be enlarged by clicking>

The initial deployment is reprised. The Scots with white labels and the Irish with black.
The Irish begin moving up the steep slope taking more time than MacColla would like. His attack plan is to send MacDonnell and O’Cahan forward to deal with the enemy musket and pikes, while Lagtanan’s larger regiment advances to guard his left flank from the more mobile highlanders placed slightly above Inchbrackie’s front line.
As the Irish struggle up the slope, the Robertsons and Stewarts send forward their archers to harass Laghtnan.
A closeup view of the Scottish archers loosing their arrows at the approaching Irish. As annoying as their arrows are they cause little damage.
As the Irish come into extreme musket range, Inchbrackie fires first. The disciplined Irish ignore the fire and return a devastating volley which drops near a hundred of the Atholl and Badenoch men. This single volley may have won the battle for MacColla.
In the foreground, despite losses to the Irish defensive fire, the Robertsons charge home into Laghtnan’s Irish. Seeing the Stewarts moving wide to attack his flank, Major Laghtnan has refused his leftmost musket sleeve to deal with that threat.
While causing significant casualties among the Irish, they continue to stand and the Robertsons are a spent force. The Stewarts, however, are about to hit Laghtnan’s flank with a hammer blow.
On the Irish right Inchbrackie determines that the Irish musketry will quickly finish him and decides to charge MacDonnell’s and O’Cahan’s relying on his pike advantage to carry the day.
The hurried Irish defensive fire was ineffective and the Scots pikes begin causing more Irish casualties. The Irish infantry finally manages to get “passed the points” (of the pikes) and in hard fighting breaks the Scots. The Stewarts break off their imminent attack and flee with the rest of Inchbrackie’s forces.
The Scots have broken and are rapidly scattering to higher ground. All told they have lost (killed and wounded) nearly a thousand men, most notably Lt. Col. Ewan MacPherson, commander of the Badenoch militia. The Irish casualties were relatively light, no more than one hundred and fifty, but any hope of opening a Royalist front in Scotland is gone.

This game could, I think, be played using standard FK&P rules but using my more granular tactical rules seemed to accomplish my goals of adding a near skirmish feel to the many small battles on the Celtic Fringe.

I believe I’ll move on and play out the Battle of Alford (1645) next to see how larger forces (with cavalry included) work. First, I need to rebase the necessary units.