20/20 Hindsight Re-fight #3 Alesia, Crécy, Boyne

Siege of Alesia 51BC (Just Don’t)

This is the campaign finale where Julius Caesar besieged the revolting Gauls (geddit) at Alesia. The army of Vercingetorix retreats to a hill and the legions build a wall around ‘em – so no food or escaping. And then, when JC was threatened by a relief force of yet more Gauls, he builds a defensive wall around himself. The Gauls attack from within and without but the Romans hold the line and Gaul stays a Roman province.

Well Mr Armchair Corporal is here to save the day…

Er um, well sort of…

Sorry Vercingetorix but you are screwed. Unless you can get off that hilltop before you are built in by Julius, then you need your outside buddies to rescue you. And it is going to take a shed load of Gauls to do it too. And you had a large relief force and it still didn’t help.

Maybe if your reinforcements just piled in for a big ding dong battle straight up instead of giving the Romans time to build counter walls? But the Romans have heaps of Germanic cavalry too so it’s gonna be tough as they can reinforce quickly.

How about getting loads of flammable stuff, buckets of oil or tar-like flammable shit? Make a wall of fire to keeps the Romans at bay while Vercingetorix and co escape? Naah, even amateur hour won’t buy that.

OK you could creep close at night and fill in all those pit traps and ditches in one area? The next day make demonstrations in other areas whilst you hit the targeted zone with everything else. Oh you tried that? Lottsa dead Gauls huh?

Your relief could try to besiege the Romans? Cut their supply lines and raid their food so that they are starving and force them to attack or retreat. But their cavalry is better so it won’t work, and even if it did, sheesh Vercingetorix will be cannibalistic or skeletal by the time the Romans are tightening their belts. Besides the Romans are crap loads better at sieges. And did I mention that Julius is a fricken awesome general? Even Joan of Arc couldn’t relieve this one baby!

Basically don’t hole up at Alesia. Keep on the move, even with their cavalry dogging you the whole way. Link up with the relief force and keep the Romans pursuing you. Then go for the tried and tested way of beating Roman armies: a mega-ambush in a forest (Teutoberg) or on a lake shore (Trasimene). And hope that Julius has a brain fart that day (not bloody likely!).

Heck don’t even bother revolting in the first place. The Romans have aqueducts, sanitation, roads, baths, peace, etc. Bend the knee and enjoy the comforts of civilisation for the next 500 years.

 

Crécy 1346 (Less haste, more win)

The first of 3 epic losses of French knights to English longbowmen in the Hundred Years War. The impetuous French send their Genoese crossbowmen forward but they are shredded by archery. The angry French cavalry ride over the crossbowmen then frontally charge the English lines…. and gallop right into pits, caltrops, arrows, massive casualties and a huge English victory.

First up, sure the English have been having a chevauchée (pillaging+ plundering the French countryside) so they is wicked bad. But riding down your own crossbows is even cuntier- the French deserve to lose! And not giving your own missile troops time get their pavises (huge shields) versus the faster firing longbows- farck!!! And a frontal attack with the Knights? Onto entrenched high ground? Seriously? Are you retarded? Sure whatever, kill yourselves, see if we care.

Rewind –

Ok first up this is (as usual) terrible ground for the French!! The English are uphill, with protected flanks and they have ditches and caltrops! Le sigh. Fight elsewhere for fucks sake. But assuming you persist in this idiocy…

Have a rest – your army is exhausted from marching. Fight tomorrow. Shee-it, the English might even come out of their defended position and attack you!

It has been raining so your crossbow strings are wet and are less effective. Wait until they dry out and let your crossbowmen get their shields from the baggage train. With pavises they’ll weather the arrow storm and get close enough to thin out the English archers. And don’t be nasty buggers and ride over the Genoese when you are ready to charge!!

Meanwhile you have a surplus of cavalry. The English left flank is anchored against the village of Wadicourt. But I reckon you could certainly send a crap load of cavalry that way, ride around the village and “dah dah daaah” hit them in the rear! Ideally you should dismount your frontal cavalry and attack on foot to reduce the effect of the ditches and caltrops – but this is probably a lesson that needs to be learned. So expect the frontal attacks to be a catastrophic sideshow to the crossbows and rear attack.

So shoot ‘em up, then charge the front AND the rear – rocket science? Nup! A lobotomised monkey could run this circus better.

The French really wanna win this – the 100 Years War is about 99 years too long. Victory here should prevent the loss of Calais. Heck – Poiters and Agincourt might not even have happened if at Crécy the French can show a modicum of intelligence (and a smidge of decency). Sure the longbow will whip their butt eventually and knights will give way to infantry based armies, but just charging like a bunch of numpties is soooo… um, medieval!

 

Battle of the Boyne 1690 (RiverdanceDefence)

This fracas sees the Catholic King James leading an amateur Irish army versus the Protestant William Prince of Orange and a professional English/mercenary army in a fight for the English throne. They face off in Ireland over the river Boyne at the ford near Oldbridge. On the morning of the battle, William on the northern bank, sends 1/3 of his troops marching 4km west to another ford at Roughrange. James on the south side mistakenly sends 2/3rds of his army to block them, leaving the Oldbridge ford under -defended. William’s main force wades across under fire at Oldbridge and eventually drives off the Irish.

The odds are seriously terrible for the Irish but could they actually win here? They have an army of peasants with no training and inferior weapons fighting a toe to toe battle vs a larger, well equipped professional army! Jeez, for the love of god, abdicate, try guerrilla style, or defend a proper fortress. At least James has chosen what looks like good ground… Now he just has to defend it by deploying properly!

James only positioned 800 troops at the western ford of Roughrange- what a moron. It’s the other likely place William will cross at. Reinforce them you fucktard! You have got 23000 guys. How about putting a good 3000 at this ford? James has some 12 artillery pieces, so place a couple at Roughrange – it’s better than nothing. Make like you mean to defend. This ford is easy to get to from the northern bank (you did look at a map didn’t you?) but hard to reach from the south. Oh and maybe Neil o Neil, the commander of the western force, might send a rider back to tell you about the seriously bad terrain on the way there? ie. That huge marshy overgrown valley/ravine that stretches for miles!! It might be good to know if re-positioning is required. And while you are at it, start making defences at both fords. Entrench or build a defensible wall a bit back from the water. And ideally make some redoubts for flanking gun batteries overlooking the fords.

Check to see if the river could be crossed at any other locations. The Boyne is really just a fast flowing creek: much of the river in the Drogeda area can be waded at low tide.

Also the entire Jacobite army should ignore any rumours about William being cannonballed the day before. Don’t celebrate and get drunk – get digging!

On the morning of the battle it appears to James that William’s army on the north bank is heading west. Try and scout ‘em: send some guys on horse over the river, use spies, anything! Ok sure, it’s hard to tell what’s happening, so assuming you still fall for it, here’s hoping this time you DON’T send 2/3rds of your army west. Because now you already have 3000 men dug in over there. Maybe you only ‘mildly’ screw up by just sending half of your army…

So that’s 3000 troops to the west at Roughrange, 10000 heading west and 10000 lads holding the eastern ford near Oldbridge… which is four thousand more than were actually there. And leave half your artillery here. Yep split your goddamn army! You still have a river between you so it’s OK for the moment.

That morning there will be a ding dong battle at Roughrange. The Protestants may still carry the ford but it will take them longer and bleed them more. This may even give Jacobite reinforcements time to arrive- there could be a much bigger battle on the high ground above the western ford.

Meanwhile back east at Oldbridge, the main Protestant force will attack as before but will be facing more Jacobite defenders behind cover, with artillery support. The river crossing will be much harder. Any footholds on the south bank will be lashed with canister shot and further pummelled by the excellent Irish cavalry. William’s forces will start crossing the Boyne on a wider front, but James now has 4000 more troops to counter with.

James should hear the fighting back to the east. This time the stupid shit should investigate! Send riders ASAP. If, as in real world, he isn’t engaged then he should send troops back immediately – seriously if he’d done this the reinforcements could have turned up at a very opportune moment. In this reality he’ll probably have to stay and fight for the Roughrange ford and let the Oldbridge ford take care of itself, maybe sparing some cavalry or late arriving infantry.

So now James holds William at both fords and conducts a solid defence. The Jacobites should be inflicting some serious pain. This hindsight re-fight could easily result in an Irish victory: perhaps not decisive but certainly a very bloody nose for William. Note that despite the original loss, the Jacobites actually withdrew effectively with only 2000 dead. Holding firmly in the way I have recommended could result in an even more devastating ass whuppin’ if William presses hard and breaks and catches either Irish wing.

No guarantees from the Armchair. *drops mike, washes hands*

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