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The Battle of Wakefield: Yorkshire, England 30 December 1460» Forums » Sessions

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Rich Post
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The Duke of York leads his three battles of 8-9,000 men toward the Lancastrian forces on the opposite side of the field about 1000 yards away. The Lancastrian army slightly outnumbers York but reinforcements are on the way. As the Yorkists advance the troops of Salisbury and Neville angle right to extend the line of battle, Salisbury ending in the center and Neville on the extreme right of the line. Waiting on the opposite side the Lancastrians right, led by Henry Percy, Duke of Northumberland, is firmly anchored on the River Calder and the center of the line holds the only other significant terrain feature, a ridge line. The left of the Lancastrian line is open to attack from a flanking foe, but Beaufort, Duke of Somerset has decided that he came make a long enough stand on this line that reinforcements will arrive before he is flanked. Just a bit of time would allow James Butler, Earl of Wiltshire and John Clifford, Baron de Clifford to join him and thus reinforced he would massively outnumber the Duke of York. The Duke of York makes the opposite calculation. If he can scatter Beaufort first before the reinforcements arrive he may have a chance at victory.

As the Yorkist line moves forward and extends to the right Salisbury and Neville’s battles fall slightly behind the battle of the Duke of York. For this reason, the first blow falls on the Lancastrians right near the river against the troops of Henry Percy, Duke of Northumberland. The two sides trade blows but the line holds firm. Disordered and retreat results affect both armies but neither side is ready to break. The Earl of Salisbury’s men are the next to make contact. They hit the center of the Lancastrian line along the ridge between the troops of Percy and Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. After the initial shock Salisbury’s men are severely disordered and pushed back. The men of Sir Thomas Neville on the Yorkist right are still trundling towards the line of battle when Beaufort sees a chance to outflank Neville and that by doing so he can bring his greater numbers to bear. Beaufort orders the very left of his line forward to circle around Neville’s right and hit them in the flank. Neville’s tiny battle maneuvers to accept the blow. His mounted Men-at-Arms charge and break the momentum of Beaufort’s infantry. Neville follows up with fire from his longbows and a shock attack by the infantry. Beaufort’s left is forced to fall back taking several losses as it does so.

Meanwhile on the left of the York line the Duke of York continues to trade blows with Percy. No real advantage is gained until the Duke and then Salisbury hit Percy’s left in succession and some of Percy’s troops retire from the field in disorder. The Duke of York and some infantry gain a foothold on the ridge in the process from where they can now see the standard of Percy, the Duke of Northumberland. York can also see to his right that Neville has Beaufort’s left on the run. Despite the disorder along some of his own line he can feel victory almost within his grasp. He just needs a little more time. Percy knows that he needs to make a stand and push York back down the ridge if his line is to hold. He rushes to lead a group of good order infantry in an attack on York’s tenuous position on the ridge. Holding his sword in the air amid fluttering standards and putting himself in the lead his infantry move toward York’s men like steady rolling thunder. The dogged but tired Yorkist troops steady themselves for the attack but can’t handle the blow. Despite York’s calls to hold firm Percy’s infantry sweep the Yorkist infantry and the Duke of York with them back down the ridge. To Percy’s rear a mass of Lancastrian men gathered around his standard could see this sudden reversal of fortune and let out a mighty cry. Their spirit roused by Percy’s bravery they reinforce the Lancastrian front line. Thus bolstered this line would never break.

At this point in the battle most of the losses are on the Lancastrian side. They’ve lost six infantry units to the Yorkists one. Three Lancastrian troops had retired but those have just been rallied thanks to Percy’s counterattack. Disordered troops are about equal on both sides.

Just as York fled down the hill Neville’s attack on the right began to pick up steam. Isolating Beaufort’s units and hitting them in the flank and rear with combined arms attacks of Longbows, Men-at-Arms and infantry Neville’s men began to pick off Beaufort’s units one at a time edging ever closer to Beaufort’s standard. The Lancastrian left is in danger of disintegrating.

Taking stock, the Duke of York realizes he must reorganize the left of his line and get Salisbury more involved in the battle. Salisbury’s troops have had little impact despite their tactically advantageous position in the line at the seam between Percy’s and Beaufort’s troops. If Salisbury could now join his troops in the attack on Beaufort’s position he could do so with great effect as Beaufort has begun to slide troops to his left to fend off Neville.

Just at this point in the battle far to the York rear a dark mass began to take shape in the woods near the Sandal castle. First in a trickle and then in a torrent several thousand troops poured forth onto the field. The Earl of Wiltshire had arrived to save Beaufort.

Neville continued his attack, while Salisbury prepared for an attack on Beaufort’s right. Nothing seemingly could stop the tide of Neville’s attack. Beaufort futilely screamed as his men fell back from the field. Where could they make a stand? Salisbury made his attack just at this moment.

In the meantime, York was attempting to fend off a new attack from Percy’s reinvigorated battle with largely disordered and unhorsed troops when Wiltshire approached his rear. York had no place to rally his troops and little space in which to maneuver. A flurry of arrows from Wiltshire’s longbows put some of York’s infantry to flight as Wiltshire’s mounted Men-at-Arms pounded forward.

On the right Neville rolled on just as Salisbury’s troops pushed forward and hit Beaufort’s right. But they could gain no ground against the staunch Lancastrian men who held despite the chaos to their left and thus Salisbury and his men rolled back the way they came. Could Beaufort still hold on?

Back on the left York’s longbowmen turned to meet their Wiltshire counterparts but their fire had no effect. The fresh Wiltshire longbows fired in return and caused disorder among their foes. York could now see the whole course of events now depended on his ability to save his own part of the line. Taking his last mounted Men-at-Arms, in fury he charged the Wiltshire longbows. Once again, the Wiltshire arrows found their mark and the momentum of the charge dissipated as the Men-at-Arms were unhorsed. But the attack continued forward with the Duke of York leading the flower of Yorkist nobility against the Lancastrian longbowmen. The unhorsed Men-at-Arms floundered disordered, exhausted and demoralized with no time to reform to fend off a charge by the Earl of Wiltshire and his knights. Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York and the scant remaining Men-at-Arms could barely raise their weapons in defense as the Wiltshire men rode them down and trampled them where they stood. The Duke of York was dead. The charge of Wiltshire continued onward scattering additional York infantry. An unknown soldier tried to rally York’s remaining troops but they too were massacred in place.

At the same time Thomas Neville’s troops had scattered all but a few of Beaufort’s infantry and now triumphantly captured their standard as well. But it was for naught because a shudder rolled through the York lines at the realization that the Duke of York was dead and fresh Lancastrian infantry by the hundreds were now bearing down on them. Nothing Sir Neville could do would save the day. The morale of the York army was broken. First by the dozen and then by the hundreds they began their flight to safety. The field and the day belonged to the House of Lancaster, the Duke of Northumberland, the Earl of Wiltshire, King Henry and Queen Margaret.

Whenever I try to write an AAR I gain more respect for those that do so on a regular basis. It’s the AAR’s that keep me coming back to this hobby and I appreciate the work of those who write them. This is my modest contribution. Consider it my Christmas present to the hobby. Hope you enjoy and Merry Christmas!
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Ralph Shelton
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Nice, AAR!

Sounds like the Yorkists were close to victory when the Lancastrian reinforcements showed up and overwhelmed them.
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Steve Carey
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Nice write-up, fun game!
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