Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Battle of Whipton Cross - Wars of the Roses

It is a common misconception that the far south west was a quiet backwater during the Wars of the Roses when one considers where the major clashes happened. The battle of Whipton Cross, a hamlet just outside of the City of Exeter must rank as one of the major clashes of this dynastic struggle between the Houses of Lancaster and York.

The Devon Wargames Group have a tradition of pulling together an annual Xmas game to include all club members, and this years event was our fictitious Wars of the Roses clash, where all members were asked to contribute at least one unit of troops and align themselves with one house or the other. The rules chosen to run our big game was Peter Pigs "Bloody Barons", and yesterday saw the two forces fight it out on a three table battle set up with hundreds of colourful troops flying banners for the various factions.

The Lancastrian left with the village of Whipton bottom left
The Centre table
The Lancastrian right - the quiet sector!!
The tables were set up as illustrated and with no apology from the author, captioned from the point of view of the Lancastrian House whom God has favoured.

"An army marches on its stomach"
As with all major campaigns it is really important to make sure your forces are well provisioned, and with the festive season well under way, a good supply of nibbles and mince pies were made readily available to commanders throughout the days battle.

Whilst the terrain was arranged the various troops of each faction were organised into Household, Retinue and Levy contingents, with the die rolls made to determine late arrivals on the field.

The commanders set up their respective forces and then the skulduggery and double dealing was sorted out. Bloody Barons has a set up procedure where the commanders can spend points on various aspects that might influence a Wars of the Roses campaign such as bribery, spying, route of march, supplies etc. depending on what priority the commander gives to these various aspects may give his forces an advantage over the enemy.

Well it seemed that the Yorkists were on their game as my commander none other than the Earl of Warwick found himself away from the field of battle when it all "kicked off". In addition several of our units who were ordered to take up strong defensive positions were led to the wrong parts of the field and found themselves out of position. Oh the fickle Gods of War!!

The forces arrayed on the left
With the forces set up, the battle swung into action. The Lancastrian plan was to hold the wings and smash the centre. The Yorkists went for holding their right, contest the centre and destroy the Lancastrian fores on their left at Whipton Cross moving to support the fight for the centre.

The centre set up
The clash in the centre when it came was fierce and bloody with the advantage swinging one way to the other, but eventually with gaps appearing in the Lancastian line the Yorkist pressure started to take control.

The hard pressed Lancastrian right - they shall not pass!!
Whilst both forces merely skirmished and scowled on the Lancastrian left, Warwick on the right faced an onslaught of Yorkists keen to take advantage of his troops poor dispositions and his apparent absence from the field. However as their forces closed on the Lancastrians they were met by a hail of well place arrows and crossbow bolts severely mauling the lead units.
As his forces were one by one overwhelmed, Warwick finally appeared receiving a roar of approval from his remaining troops. With defeat staring the Lancastrians in the face, honour demanded one final effort of resistance. 

The Yorkists prepare to assault Whipton Cross
The gallant Lancastian garrison of Whipton - Warwick's retinue with mercenary crossbows in support 
Warwick and his Household troops
Gaps start to appear in the Lancastrian centre as the Yorkists close
Desperate defence around Whipton as the Yorkist seek to crush all resistance
With threats of disloyalty and treachery breaking out across the front - we had a simple die roll to test to see if any commander wished to change sides at this point in the battle - Warwick seized the initiative leading his mercenary pikemen in one last desperate attack to dispute the crossing of the Whipton Brook by lead elements of the Yorkist left as they turned to support their comrades in the centre.
Warwick places himself in the front rank as he leads a crashing charge by his mercenary pikes which smash the leading Yorkists as they attempt to cross the Whipton brook.
The fighting here became desperate and bloody as men struggled in the slippery muddy brook to maintain their footing whilst trying to kill the man in front. Warwick plunged into the mass of enemy bill men cutting a swathe through them with battle axe in hand until the Yorkists had had enough and broke in rout to the safety of their side of the brook.

This was but a minor glorious interlude in what turned into a crushing victory for the House of York. Lancastrian resistance in the South West was at end. The field would be left to Henry Tudor to contest, but that as they say is another story.

The day was a great feast of wargaming. Bloody Barons gave a good account of itself when used to run a large club game with over 12 players on three tables attempting to stay in sync with each other as the battle evolved. The club really did itself proud with all members making a contribution to the days fun and our big game provided an excellent close to our games for 2012. We are all looking forward to going bigger and better in 2013.

A happy and safe Christmas to all .


  1. I really enjoyed the report over my Sunday morning coffee. A really nice account with great pictures, thank you. Joe from DAWGS.

  2. Cheers Joe, glad you enjoyed the report

  3. Looks like a grand game. Did anyone get close-ups? I'd love to get a look at the figs.

  4. Hi Fireymonkeyboy.

    Thankyou, we certainly had a good time

    The pre set up shots were as close up as I got. There were lots of cameras about yesterday so some of the guys may post some additionals.

  5. This looks like a fun day, fancy some "push and prod pike" gaming myself, Burgundians always tickled my fancy. Keep the posts coming, be cool,