Building the Auldearn Scenario : The Orders of Battle

Beginning with this scenario I want to try to put in more options that will allow play to be conducted in multiple ways but still use the same basic Orders of Battle. I’ll try to make them as accurate as possible but there are a few gaps in the historic record so some license is required. Hopefully the end product will be fairly balanced and fun to play.


The Irish (Brigade)

By the time of Auldearn MacColla’s Irish Brigade was substantially diminished from the force that had landed at Mingary the year before. Hard campaigning, four battles and multiple skirmishes (as well as desertions) had weakened it. Still, in this particular theater, they remained a force the Covenanters dreaded.

Because the Battle of Auldearn can be reconstructed in several ways, I want to give some flexibility in how MacColla’s brigade can be structured. Both structures provide for MacColla, his lifeguard (as commanded shot), and a second commanded shot battalion (Manus O’Cahan’s) to be the core (representing 6 VP). Four additional VP can the be added by selecting either two more commanded shot (Laghtnan’s and MacDonnell’s) OR a Musket & Pike regiment and a field gun:

Auld_Royalist Irish

MacColla’s Irish Brigade (with variations). All the Irish units are classed as veteran. The field gun is a pickup affair that would not have been at all practiced and is, therefore, classed as Raw. The lifeguard would have included picked men from the Irish Brigade and from MacColla’s kinsmen from the Western Isles.

Many wargamers in this period like the Irish portrayed as Musket and Pike (my preference is to portray them as musketeers with some short pikes and a few shield and buckler men thrown in), so I wanted to allow for that possibility. Since an M&P regiment is 3VP, the field gun adds in the fourth point. Wishart mentions that Montrose placed his cannon in the enclosures behind (west side) of Auldearn so an argument can be made for its inclusion. There is, however, no mention of it actually in use in any of the accounts I have found of the battle.

The Gordons (Brigade)

When Lord George Gordon, son and heir to The Marquis of Huntley, switched to Montrose in early 1645, the character of the Royalist army shifted. With the addition of his younger brother, Viscount Aboyne, the Gordon’s were once again committed to the Royalist side (although the youngest brother, Lewis, was still stubbornly with the Covenanters).

The figure Reid uses for the Gordon Horse (600) may be a tad high. I think he may be including the 400 dragooners mentioned by Spaulding. My reading is that this force was being used to protect the Gordon lands and protect against Hurry’s foragers (while doing some of their own). They may also have been part of the force following Hurry as he retreated toward Inverness. In any event, the accounts of the battle mention smaller numbers for the Gordon Horse actually in the fight.

Lord Gordon split his horse into two squadrons, giving command of the second squadron to his brother, Viscount Aboyne. They were apparently well-equipped (pistols and carbines) but they went in without pause, using only their swords. For this reason I am making both units “Swedish” Horse and assuming they were better mounted than the typical Scottish cavalry. They were regulars and certainly seasoned as well.

Auld_Royalist Gordons

The Gordons: on the left are the two squadrons of Gordon Horse (Lord Gordon’s and Viscount Aboyne’s). On the Right are the two Gordon foot regiments (Strathbogie and Strathavan). Lord Gordon commands this mixed brigade as a colonel. Montrose, as the Commanding General, is not initially assigned to a brigade this time but is shown with the Strathbogie regiment which he may have lead in the final attacks.

William of Minimore’s (Strathaven) Regiment was newly raised (or reorganized) but probably contained a good number of seasoned men who had fought at Fyvie. I am setting them as Seasoned but with an “untried” marker. They are considered regulars and as such are musket and pike, but I did toy with making them a Raw commanded shot unit AND a Seasoned (small) Highlander (retinue) unit. This might better match the descriptions of some of the fighting.

The Strathbogie Regiment is also set as Seasoned (and not Veteran as is sometimes done). Several companies were at Fyvie where they fired a couple of volleys and decamped, leaving Montrose’s center threatened. Perhaps remembering this, Montrose wished to keep a close eye on them.

The Royalist Command Structure

All three Royalist officers are “gallant” which seems excessive but all three were known as officers who led from the front (Even to the point of recklessness). MacColla and Gordon are both functioning as brigade colonels which does reduce their command range.

James Graham, Marquis of Montrose – Cmd. Gen. [4 VP]
| The Irish Brigade (Col. Alisdair MacColla – 2 VP). [10 VP]
| The Gordon Brigade (Col. George, Lord Gordon – 2VP) [12 VP]

Army Total VP – 26 – 50% breakpoint 13

When the final (composite) scenario is designed I will add in one or two gallant gentlemen to represent some of the individual warriors present with MacColla’s Lifeguard.


Sir John Hurry was a competent soldier and a good strategist. He did have a problem picking a side. He had served on the continent, returned to Scotland as a Covenanter Officer in the 2nd Bishops’s War. He Fought first for Parliament and later the Royalists, serving both sides with distinction and earning a knighthood from the King. After Marston Moor he switched back to Parliament, then transferred back to the Covenanters as a Major General. He would later go on to support the “Engagers” (the portion of Covenanters who supported Charles (II) after Charles I’s execution). He finally ended up as Montrose’s second in command at Carbisdale (1650), a position that would ultimately get him executed for treason by the Covenanting government.

He had carefully retreated toward Inverness allowing Montrose to stay in contact (but just out of reach). This brought Montrose out of the Gordon lands and into the less friendly area of the North. There are very good arguments for making Hurry a “gallant” officer but I chose not to do so.

The organization is somewhat arbitrary since we don’t know how Hurry had actually organized the army (which would have been done during the night march to Auldearn). I tried to provide a reasonable structure based on descriptions of the battle.

Sir Mungo Campell of Lawer’s Brigade

Sir Mungo appears to have been the one leading the heaviest assaults on the Royalist positions and I’ve put him commanding a brigade. He was killed in action leading his troops and has been made “Gallant” for that reason. He was the commander of the Inverness Garrison and had led out his own regiment and elements of Buchanan’s to join General Hurry. His regiment and that of his kinsman, the Earl of Loudon (the Lord Chancellor), are rated as Veteran. His third regiment, the Earl of Lothian’s, is set as Seasoned (but could just as easily be considered Veteran as well). Lawer’s own small unit of horse is also attached to this brigade.

Auld_Covenant Lawers

Sir Mungo Campell’s Brigade has the three toughest Covenanter foot regiments with a gallant and capable leader.


George MacKenzie, Lord Seaforth’s Brigade

MacKenzie was one of the great magnates of the North. He had served as a Covenanter general in the Bishops’s Wars but had certain Royalist leanings. He carefully threaded the needle between the two sides, even pledging loyalty to the King and Montrose, but with the war now on his doorstep he was reluctantly forced to join Hurry. He has his own militia battalion plus musketeers from Buchanan’s regulars garrisoned at Inverness. The Earl of Finlater’s regiment are also regulars but with less than a month’s experience they are judged as both Raw and Untried.

Auld_Covenant Seaforth

Lord Seaforth’s Brigade. The Mackinzie’s are a Highland Fencible (milita) regiment and seem to have included a fair number of bowmen. They are going to have TWO attached bows (local rules) for this reason.


The Reserve

The reserve consists of Sutherland’s (unofficered) brigade of foot and attached horse and Hurry’s cavalry reserve.

The Sutherland brigade is comprised of two militia foot (Earl of Sutherland’s and the northern levies) plus Drummond’s Horse (which have been made lancers to add variety). All three units are Raw and Untried. Hurry is also functioning as the brigade commander of the reserve horse (Sir James Halket’s) which is classed as Seasoned.

Auld_Covenant Sutherland & Hurry

The Covenanter Command Structure

Sir John Hurry – Cmd. Gen. [6 VP]
| Lawer’s Brigade (Col. Mungo Campbell – 2 VP) [10 VP]
| Seaforth’s Brigade (Col. The Earl of Seaforth – 2 VP) [10 VP]
| Sutherland Brigade (-) [7 VP]
| Reserve Brigade (Sir John Hurry) [2 VP]

Army Total VP – 35 – 50% breakpoint 18

When I design the composite scenario I will probably add one or two gallant gentlemen to represent the warriors who made their last stand defending the MacKenzie banner (the “banner-men of Kintail”).

One or more of the three Highland Fencible units (Seaforth, Sutherland, Northern Levies) might, optionally, be portrayed as Highlanders (clan levy).

Close Quarters

I have elsewhere mentioned the “Auldearn Problem”, the need to change the ground (and possibly figure per man) scale during a game to give a more detailed picture of certain types of fighting such as that which occurred in the enclosures and buildings of Auldearn. I have successfully experimented with using both a tactical and grand tactical scale simultaneously but have not yet experimented with drilling down a level to impose more tactical detail, which I’ll call the “Close Quarters” level.

Until those experiments happen, an existing mechanism in the KF&P rules can be used to accomplish some of what I hope to do. The essential problem is being able to disperse a unit over more than one box and the “Straddle” mechanism gives a useful beginning to the solution:

Auld_setup - split 1

Using the Straddle rule, O’Cahan’s Commanded Shot can be deployed in two boxes simultaneously. This is a simple, first step solution (and likely all that is required for most scenarios).

Auld_setup - split 2

If units are made up of several separate bases they could be separated out to give a better representation of the straddle over two boxes.

It may be possible to work out a way to spread a unit over multiple boxes and then use tighter ground scale (a box could be quartered for example) and the individual figure pieces doubled. An area of the game board (in this case the four built-up boxes comprising the village of Auldearn and all adjacent boxes) could be designated as having the tighter scale and all units in or entering would operate in that scale. Clearly a different time scale would need to be used as well (perhaps two turns inside the designated area would occur for a single turn outside.)

Once I have explored the various Auldearn scenarios and come up with a composite, I will likely return and explore “close quarter” possibilities.