June 24, 1314,
English army of 63 units opposed to Scotish army of 18 units
for a battle of complexity 0.79 at Regiment(III) level
on a 2.5 Km/Hex map
for 48 turns of 6 Hours each.
by Mark Stevens submited on 11-02-2006
Rugged-Defense Playing Statistics
The Battle of Bannockburn, 24th June 1314
Forget that rousing scene at the end of the film 'Braveheart'; epic cinema, but very little resemblance to the Battle of Bannockburn. Neither has this game, you may very well conclude, but that's another story.
This scenario is using the XIXth Century database engine. You can download it here
In 1314, with all Scotland in revolt, Stirling Castle, the last significant strategic English possession in Scotland, had agreed to surrender unless it was relieved within a certain time. King Edward II, the weak and unpopular ruler of England, assembled a large force of around 2,000 heavy cavalry and perhaps 25,000 levy infantry and marched to its relief. Advancing up the old Roman road from Falkirk to Stirling, he found his way barred by a far smaller force - 13,000? - under the Scottish King Robert 'the Bruce'. Two reconnaissances in force revealed that the direct route lay across a small bog and a narrow gap through a woody, hilly position, where the Scots were waiting. Although it is not certain whether the English were aware of them, a number of pits ('pottes') had been dug along the front of the Scottish position, possibly strengthened with caltrops and some rudimentary barricades. As this was not suitable ground for medieval cavalry, the decision was taken to lead the army on a lengthy right flank march, where the ground around St. Ninian's Kirk was believed to be firmer and more open.
However in order to get there the English had to cross the Carse, an extensive area of tidal, marshy ground. They failed to complete the manoeuvre as planned, and the entire force spent the night of the 23rd exhausted, knee deep in mud and water, and without food as the baggage train couldn't follow in its path.
On the morning of the 24th the English began advancing through the Carse towards the Scot's encampment which was sited a low ridge of hills, with the knights and their retainers in the lead, followed by the infantry. The intention was presumably to repeat Edward I's success at Falkirk: pin the Scottish spearmen in place by the threat of cavalry charges, thin out their ranks by archery fire and, when enough gaps had appeared, finish the battle with cavalry attacks to break up their formation followed by infantry attacks to do the real killing. Not a bad plan, but dependent upon the pike blocks ('schiltrons') remaining stationary. Instead, almost as soon as the English cavalry advanced, the Scots moved downhill on a broad front, crashing into the knights while they were still in confusion after crossing the swampy ground. Most of their infantry was bunched directly behind the cavalry, while the 2,000 or so archers that did manage to deploy were chased off by the small Scottish cavalry reserve. As the English cavalry fell back they disordered the infantry, and the whole army was pushed steadily backwards by the schiltrons until it broke up in rout. Edward II barely escaped, Stirling surrendered, and the English had suffered their worst ever defeat at the hands of the Scots. The unofficial Scottish national anthem, 'Flower of Scotland', celebrates the victory. Robert the Bruce went on to invade the north of England and even despatched a force to Ireland.
Mark Stevens, February 2006
The game allows for either the Scots or the English to choose whether to follow the original plan, and let the English try to smash their way along the road, or to repeat the historical manoeuvre of outflanking the enemy by marching through the Carse. Depending upon the player's choice, one or other of the starting English forces will be removed from the map at the start of turn two and the PO objectives will be changed accordingly. The Scots start deployed in their original position on the road: if the English move via the Carse they start off stuck in the middle of it, so the Scots will have a few free turns to reposition themselves.
2.1. Victory Points
to gain even a marginal victory, the English need to hold open the road to Falkirk, retain control of Stirling Castle and their own baggage train, and at least hem in the Scots by occupying Bannockburn Village, the entrenchments along the road (hex 5, 18), and St. Ninian's Kirk. These conditions also prevent the Scots from winning simply by huddling around their baggage train. The English plan was to sweep the Scots aside and storm their camp!
The loss of either King will gain 50 VPs for the other side, and the loss of either of the Kings or the two baggage trains will cause a shock penalty of 20% (not cumulative). Given the structure of medieval society, the death of either royal leader would have been crippling - only an overwhelming military victory would have compensated.
Lesser leaders are worth 5 VPs each (three either side)
Sir Philip Mowbray may be allowed to mobilise the garrison of Stirling Castle, but if he marches out there's the obvious danger that the Scots may occupy it for 10 VPs.
The English army had its knights and men-at-arms grouped into ten 'battles', that of the Earl of Gloucester being the largest at around 500. There were some Gascon (an English possession) and German (mercenary) knights. The infantry units had been levied by county or area and varied in size. They would have been a mixture of archers, spearmen and billmen, but Crecy is still a generation away: archery was not yet decisive, and on the day only a small body was able to deploy separately from the main force. There may have been a small group of Scots with the English; in addition a 4,000 strong contingent had been summoned from Ireland, and shipping provided, although it isn't certain that it appeared in time. As a compromise, I've left it guarding the English baggage and the road south.
The Scots were in four great blocks of long spear/pikemen, with the bulk of the nobility dismounted and forming the front ranks. There was a small group of detached archers, and a mounted reserve of 500 picked men-at-arms under the Earl Marshal. To add some flexibility, I've separated the schiltrons into 'front' and 'rear' bodies each, with the dismounted nobles forming a third. If you want to stick to the historical formation, keep each of the three bodies of each of the four formations in one hex. Legend has it that the English morale finally cracked when a great body of camp guards, servants, sutlers, grooms etc. ('ghillies'), appeared from the direction of the Scottish camp waving weapons and makeshift banners; as with the Irish, I've included them in the Scot's order of battle but with lower proficiency than the other troops and with orders (in a PO game) to defend the camp.
In a straight fight based upon pure numbers the English would overwhelm the Scots: I've therefore had to adjust proficiency, supply and readiness levels to simulate the lack of enthusiasm, low morale and general poor leadership of the English army. Nevertheless they should still put up a better show than they did historically.
Destroyed Scots - except for named leaders - may rally (reconstitute) on their camp; the same for the English, except that only the knights are eligible, since the infantry performed so badly.