Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hastinge in Ireland - Part the First: A Messenger of War

King Edward was clear if not abrupt in his letter to Hastinge, 'Destroy the midges that swarm at our borders in Ireland, take thyself into the land of Ui Neill and come back with land and glory, care not for their tiny bites.  If you do fall afoul of their stings, there will be no reward for you to return to."

A thinly veiled threat alluded to the impatience Edward felt with the troublesome Irish, but with his main gave settled on the Scots, it would fall to the likes of Hastinge as his deputy to enact his wrath.

It was already understood by Hastinge that the forces of the Irish were dispersed and irregular, but of great number:

The Irish of Seamus O'Reagan - spot the deliberate mistake

And so it was that he would set off at first with numbers of his best men, Those knights who could provide strong horses, but not so many as their loss would weaken the whole, and both dismounted men at arms and infantry were raised to the cause.

The English - mostly old men, though Hastinge would not admit it
And so Hastinge began to enact his plans against the Irish.  Unbeknownst to him, Father Magnus of the border village of Bawnboy got word of the intended action through some of his parishioners, recruited to Hastinge's cause.  Magnus working as missionary to the free Irish over the border - far from the pagans that Edward and Hastinge portrayed to their men - decided to go to them with a warning of the attack to come.  He left his home and travelled the camp of Seamus.

Father Magnus
 Speaking his truth unto Seamus, the chieftain was raised to a fury and a grave fear, that the English may come upon him and his allies unaware; quickly Seamus arrayed a host of men to escort Magnus to his own king with news of the threat, as it was travelling back through Bawnboy.  At which time the scouting party of one of Hastinges detachments spotted them.  And so an encirclement began.

Seamus is to the North, with the English West and East
O'Reagan needed to get his men - entirely on foot - to the south, and could at least count on one of the few better packed trails in the marshy land he called home to follow.  It led through open farmland, heath and sparse woods to the village of Bawnboy and beyond, should he get this far he could send runners ahead to warn his king of his arrival, and stand a chance of making it before nightfall.  Bawnboy itself seemed too small to hold all his men in safety for the night.

But as he began to approach, the Eyes of Welsh bowmen watched his every move. The Irish made slow progress, sensing danger.

Spearmen dash for the village.
Hastinge's welsh scouts acted with initiative, the bowmen believing they could pick off the enemy from a distance whilst their Spear blocked the route through the village.  Meanwhile, to the west, Deputies for Hastinge, led by Guillame the Rash advanced hurriedly.

Irish skirmishers hurled a welcome of javelins
 The Irish seemed in a state of confusion, their lord and his armoured host were far to the rear with Magnus in their company, before them wild Irish rushed this way and that diverted by sight of the English.

Welsh spears enter the village
 Irish Kern's rushed the Welsh in the village, who formed a shield wall to receive them.  Blades bit Hastinge's men, but not so hard as the break the line, whilst spear-points extorted a severe price for the thin gruel the Irish tasted.  With heavy losses the Irish fell like autumn leaves, and the few survivors ran in panic.

 But little different was the experience of Guillame's men at arms, attempting to bring the Irish to battle, their skirmishers deftly avoiding attack.  A sharp fight broke out between the Kerns and the knights, which the men of armour won well enough, but the losses of several separate engagements were already telling upon them, with wounded and dead left on the field.

 Bill and glaive armed sergeants came up to support Guillame, but when the last of his companions fell to a well aimed spear, he lost heart in his cause and was away.  Such cowardice was seen by all, and short would his tenure in command remain.

Pardon his French
 Rather the Welsh wing of Guillame's troops tried to uphold Hastinge's honour, advancing on the remaining Kerns of the force.  Their bowmen moving to a ruined farmhouse in the village awaiting a chance to strike at Seamus himself.

Spear & shield worked last time, but wasn't our formation better then?
 O'Reagan by now had slogged in heavy armour halfway across the fields, with his pious charge in tow.  Only now did his men come into the range of English spite, and a harrying rain of arrows blighted their advance.
Probably handy to have a priest for last rites at least...
 But his light infantry made use of all their skills, dispensing with the English cleavers around the village.  Soon only the Welsh bowmen and a rearguard of men at arms on foot were left to stop Seamus, and the situation looked bleak for the English.

 Irishmen began to encircle the knights.

 But they used their armour well, and were not swayed by the presence of the enemy.  They were fortunate to draw them out into open ground, and were able to drive the Irish back, allowing the bowmen time to withdraw from the now untenable village.

 But soon there were more javelins and more infantry than the men at arms were willing to face, and they too withdrew the field.  By this point it was impossible for the Welsh to stop the progress of O'Reagan, and so they too left the field.

Time to go boyo's
Victory on this day at least, would go to the Irish; and doubtless there would be no swift defeat of them now their king would be aware of the action against him.

Both sides would lick their wounds from this first encounter, and each arguably had learnt much, the English old guard seemed soft from years living amongst the Irish rather than time on campaign, and Hastinge vowed to recruit more fresh troops from his Welsh homelands.  Whilst the Irish gained a healthy respect for the might of armoured infantry, but also knew that their lightest troops could take the fight to the enemy on any ground.  But it was clear at this time that Hastinge would do all he could to keep the news from his lord of how the campaign had opened.


In terms of Glory, The Irish gained 5 points for completing the mission, but lost 2 points from unfulfilled boasts  - as my leader scarpered mid battle, they were unable to challenge or defeat him in a duel!  The English gained one point by defeating an Irish force before it lost any of it's own, but failed in it's other two boasts, and so ended up in a deficit of points.  At the end of part one of the campaign therefore the results are:

Ireland: 3     England: -1

Oh dear.

1 comment:

  1. Great AAR, really enjoyed it. What were the units used for the Irish, Fierce foot?