Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Parliamentary Cuirassiers... Essex, Bedford and Balfour's detachments

Of all the cavalry types deployed in the wars, the cuirassier would have been the most expensive to raise, and as a consequence there weren't very many of them, and even fewer regimental strength groups ..

What was more likely was that maybe a troop within a regular cavalry regiment was equipped as cuirassier, or maybe a detached troop served in it's own right (Kings Lifeguard comes to mind here)..  its entirely possible that officers, professionals, and those who could afford it might have worn full cuirass within a regular cavalry - but there were very few full regiments - in fact the only one I can think of is Haselrige's Lobsters [clicky]....

If I want to deploy cuirassiers then (and who wouldn't? it's like having an ACW project without zouaves, or a Napoleonic project without the Old Guard ), there has to be a bit of a fictional element involved, but in this units case at least, more than a little historical basis in fact...


So as we have read previously [clicky] Sir William Balfour had detached his troop of cuirassiers to serve in Essex's cavalry reserve, also in that ad hoc unit were Essex's own cuirassier troop under the command of Sir Philip Stapleton, Reid also believes that a third troop of cuirassiers, those of Essex's general of horse, Bedford, were also present...  Reid notes that all three troops were large (he calls them "oversized") so that is enough for me to represent a regimental strength cuirassier regiment to serve Parliament as part of the forces present at Edgehill!



So what of their performance at the battle?? Very good I would say... As we have read previously, the Parliamentary horse on the flanks of Essex’s army had been driven off comprehensively, but the cuirassiers in the reserve, remained on the battlefield, in the second line, behind Meldrum’s infantry brigade.


When the Royalist infantry advanced, they charged, and while Sir Nicolas Byron’s brigade held, Feilding’s brigade of Royalist foot was handled roughly (Feilding and two of his colonels, Stradling and Lunsford, were captured, though Fielding was later rescued on the battlefield). Carrying on through the infantry, Balfour’s troopers then overran the Royalist heavy guns, but possessing no nails, they were unable to spike them so instead cut the traces on the guns (stopping them from being moved) and fell back to their position in the second line.



Drawing on the initiative that the cuirassiers had given him, Essex launched another attack on Byron’s Brigade, this time with Robartes’ and Constable’s regiments of foot, supported by the cuirassiers and the foot regiments of the Lord General and Brooke. The attack was successful, and drove it back, breaking up its ranks.



Good result all round..

Peter Pig 15mm figures, painted April 2020

Sources:

https://www.britishbattles.com/english-civil-war/the-battle-of-edgehill/

13 comments:

  1. Can't remember where I saw it now, but the inventories, just before the war, of the trained bands showed quite a stock of "lobster" armour. I suspect the lack of use was also how clumsy it was for an inexperienced cavalryman to use.

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    1. Hi Will.. agreed.. in my reading for this post I read a fair number of sources who said that the bigger issue appeared to be horses. You needed a big horse to carry the weight, so that was one of the limiting factors to the numbers of cuirassiers deployed..

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    2. agreed Steve, the lack of large horse that could do the job on the battlefield was the reason for limited to no actual 'heavy' cavalry on all sides of the War between the Kingdoms, known as English Civil War

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  2. Lovely, lovely, lovely! I'm a big fan of those ECW cuirassiers where you can get away with them. In the Hinchliffe collection I passed on to Rob G which was based on the early war Edgehill period I represented the King's Gentlemen Pensioners as such, given the great individual wealth and the slightly outdated armour which must surely have adorned the walls of the houses. It had been popular during the continental wars so I'm sure there plenty still about.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdmjdDIH32A&t=122s

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    1. Ta Lee... that video was a nice reminder! :o) For the Royalists I am going to inflate the size of the Kings Lifeguard to regimental strength, and make them all cuirassiers - it's a bit more of a leap than this unit but it works for me...

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    2. Hi Steve, that video is also a reminder of our lovely old Golden Retriever clattering around in the background and slurping her water! We lost her shortly afterwards at the grand old age of 15 years :(

      My feeling re cuirassiers was that given there must have been lots of old armour hanging on the walls of the stately homes it would have made sense to wear it...if it still fitted. Certainly it offered additional protection in battle, I recall one of the plates in the old Osprey title showing a father in 3/4 armour and his son in the new 'Swedish' style plus retainer in basic coat and breeches with sword, I always felt that was pretty much spot on.

      Back in my Sealed Knot days there was a Parliamentarian commander who kitted himself out in 3/4 armour which was very shiny and clanky when he walked, he was universally known as RoboCop!

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  3. I’m sure not only can you get away with a small regiment of cuirassiers, you need a regiment of them. As well as the troops at Edgehill, there are Haselrige’s (500 of them according to that quote at the bottom of the Wiki article).

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    1. Nundanket - agreed.. :o) If my rules were troop level rather than regimental I wouldn't have any problems, but then I'd have to figure out how to break down the foot regiment into constituent parts and that way lies madness...

      So here they are, a full regiment of cuirassiers.. in reality, three large troops, so probably not far off full regimental strength anyway.

      Now the comment re. Haselrige however has got me thinking.. I didn't think he was actually present (Cromwell wasn't there either despite the film indicating he was the driving force for the whole battle, and also allowing him to nick Astley's prayer!), but a read around indicates he commanded a troop of horse at Edgehill, but not the lobsters.. they came into being the next year when he served under Waller in the west country..

      "Sir William Waller having received from London [in June 1643] a fresh regiment of five hundred horse, under the command of sir Arthur Haslerigge, which were so prodigiously armed that they were called by the other side the regiment of lobsters, because of their bright iron shells with which they were covered, being perfect curasseers." (Clarendon)

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    2. Yeah, not at Edgehill with the Lobsters. But my thinking was, you could use the ordinary troopers for Essex’s 1642 army, and for Waller’s the following years and have different command stands/cornets accordingly. Assuming they’re based separately.

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    3. I'm with Nundanket here. Very nice, but you really need more. Lots more.


      For the sake of transparency I do not get commission from Peter Pig for encouraging people to buy his goodies.

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  4. Nice additions Steve, and as you say, why not?

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  5. They do look fabulous. One alternative is to try the Thirty Years War when you can have great bucket fulls of cuirassiers!

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