ECW reading list

  • 'By the Sword Divided', John Adair, (Century Publishing)
  • 'Decisive Battles of the English Civil War', Malcolm Wanklyn, (Pen & Sword)
  • 'Sir Ralph Hopton's Narrative', ed C.E.H. Chadwyck Healey, (Somerset Record Society)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

“The King has the better cause, but the Parliament has the better men” (Richard Baxter)

And so to horse! In Mr Harrison's 'Victory Without Quarter' rules, cavalry should be based in squadrons of two bases, with each base containing three figures, thus, "Horse units may be fielded in regiments of two to four squadrons". Whilst I might have difficulties with his choice of the 'squadron' designation, preferring the term 'troop', the idea of several units being gathered into a single regiment is one that I heartily agree with.

It is my opinion that a regiment of Horse, whilst recorded as that of, say, Sir Ralph Hopton, would have in reality been composed of many different units, or 'troops', raised by local magnates, both great and small, in a given area, grouped together, or adopted, by a person whose name and title added prestige to the following. And following his successes in Cornwall, Hopton was a name that held much prestige and royal favour. (The subject of uniforms and identities is one that I find of great interest and one that I will, no doubt return to)

If this was in fact how things worked, the issue of uniforms (coat colours), obscure enough in relation to foot regiments, would become almost impossible when related to the cavalry, where troops raised would be financed by the 'raisee' for whom, I would think, arms and mounts would be more of a priority than uniform requirements. Attempting to pin down coat colours for foot regiments is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack, but I have never seen any reference to any uniform worn by Horse.

As a result of my, possibly addled, thinking, I shall be adopting a totally un-uniformed style for my Horse figures. Coats, where visible beneath 'buff coat' or armour, will be of various colours possibly augmented by ribbons or sashes of a regimental colour, no doubt favouring the regimental standard.

For Hopton's I shall be using a red, probably from the field of his coat of arms. However, I shall use this colour sparingly for the above reasons, and since I have no idea of the numbers that made up this regiment, commanded by Lord Digby (not Rupert's number one fan), I shall be starting with two 'squadrons', troops, to be increased as necessary. With this in mind, I await the arrival of my first batch of recruits from Bicorne Miniatures.

In the meantime here is the finished Hopton command base;

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Ralph Hopton - Baron Hopton of Stratton.

Ralph Hopton (1596-1691), the son of Robert Hopton of Witham, Somerset, he appears to have been educated at Lincoln College, Oxford, and to have served in the army of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, in the early campaigns of the 'Thirty Years' War. In 1642 he was lieutenant-colonel of a regiment raised in England to serve in Mansfield's army. King Charles I, at his coronation, made Hopton a knight of the Bath (Order of the Bath). In the political troubles which preceded the outbreak of the Civil War, Hopton, as member of parliament successively for Bath, Somerset and Wells, at first opposed the royal policy, but after Strafford's attainder (for which he voted) he gradually became an ardent supporter of Charles, and at the beginning of the conflict he was made lieutenant-general under the Marquess of Hertford in the west.

His first achievement was to rally Cornwall to the royal cause by indicting the enemy before the grand jury of the county as disturbers of the peace, and had the posse comitatus called out to expel them; his next, to carry the war from there into Devon. In May 1643 he defeated the Parliamentarian forces in the West Country at Stratton, enabling him to overrun Devon and link up with reinforcements under Prince Maurice. On the 5th July their combined forces clashed indecisively with Sir William Waller at Lansdowne. Hopton was severely wounded there by the explosion of a powder-wagon and soon afterwards he was besieged in Devizes by Waller; he defended himself until relieved by the royalist victory at Roundway Down on 13 July. He was soon afterwards created Baron Hopton of Stratton. These successes in the west enabled the Royalist's to expand their control across southern England as far as the western fringes in late 1643, but a counter-attack led by Waller forced Hopton to fall back on Winchester. Hopton was reinforced by a force under the Earl of Forth, but on the 29 March 1644 he was defeated by Waller at Cheriton and again forced to retreat. After this he served in the western campaign under Charles' own command, and towards the end of the war, after Goring had left England, he succeeded to the command of the royal army. Hopton was defeated at Torrington on 16 February 1646 and surrendered to Thomas Fairfax. (Wikipedia)

To accompany the above, here are a couple of WIP photos of the said gentleman. The figures are Warlord metals, with a their Essex figure used to represent Hopton, so not only has he had a change of identity, but also one of allegiance.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

‘As faultless a person as I ever knew man’ (Clarendon)

Hmmn, what is it they say about the best laid plans? Somewhere at the end of May, my great plan went to blazes. A burst of family illness meant that I spent the majority of the next few monthe either travelling, or preparing to travel, as a result my plan fell to pieces.
However, finally Strodes Regiment of Foote is completed, and photographs have been taken. Bad photographs admittedly, but for the moment they will have to suffice.

So, with two foot regiments completed, one royalist and one parliamentarian, I think I shall now turn to the 'Horse' (cavalry) and have a stab at Hopton's own Regiment of Horse, commanded by Lord Digby (one of King Charles' favourites). But next the man, Sir Ralph Hopton, himself.