HORSE & MUSKET PART 1 (by Sean Chick)


Horse & Musket covers the development of musket warfare from Vienna in 1683 and Sedgemoor in 1685 to Appomattox in 1865 and Königgrätz in 1866. After the American Civil War and the triumph of Prussian tactics at Königgrätz, warfare moved from muzzle loaded weapons to breechloaders. Volume I, titled Dawn of an Era, covers the years 1683-1720, which saw the conversion from pikes and matchlocks to bayonets and flintlocks.  If all goes well there will be five other volumes, each covering the development of linear musket combat.

"The Battle of Königgrätz, July 3, 1866", Christian Sell, Lithograph, 1866. In the central scene, Prussia’s King Wilhelm I pursues the retreating Austrians while accepting the “Hurrahs!” of his victorious foot-soldiers and cavalry. The painting also features specific parts of the battlefield and turning points in the day’s events, including, at the lower right, the cavalry battle that ensued during the Austrians’ panicked flight from the field of battle towards the town of Königgrätz. (Wikipedia)

The first step in the design process was both to pick scenarios and to do enough research to create a game that would be fun but not insult history. The latter is important to me; if a game has no chance of simulating the history, then my patience wears thin. I am not a simulation hound; I understand these are games, but I want to feel like history is possible, yet not scripted.

I could have chosen a more popular period to start off the series, such as the Seven Years’ War, American Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, or American Civil War. It seemed better to start from the beginning so that players following along could see how the tactics changed and the armies also shifted. Britain went from volley fire to reliance on the bayonet, and the overall quality of the French and Austrian armies varied from war to war. I wanted players to see the ebb and flow of the tactics and the fortunes of the individual nations during this period. Another motive was to shine a light on battles that do not fit the Anglo-centric vision of military history, so I chose some battles that are more obscure. 

Battle of Vienna

"Battle of Vienna 1683", Anonymous. Mayhem on the field.

Starting the series with Vienna and Sedgemoor was a bit of risk. Neither battle really fits into the linear tactical paradigm, and yet you can clearly see in both battles that tactics were changing. Sedgemoor in particular showed what fire discipline could achieve, and after the battle the British army took on its more recognizable form. Including both battles was in part because both interest me, in particular Sedgemoor. The Stuart dynasty is the most compelling, if not the more competent, one in English history. Most of my fellow history nerds scoff at my Jacobite leanings, but with the Stuarts there was never a dull moment. 

Killiecrankie armour

Armour worn by Viscount Dundee at Killiecrankie

In shifting to the War of the Grand Alliance I created a wide array of scenarios. I had to discard Steenkerque because of the lack of good maps, which I had no problem with in crafting Fleurus, Neerwinden, and Marsaglia. The latter battle had to be included because it saw the first mass use of the bayonet. Killiecrankie was included because if I did not I would not be a good Jacobite. La Prairie was the toughest to design, but I wanted to have at least one battle in the Americas. I regret I could not craft anything which included Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville. Likely my most controversial decision was replacing my scenario depicting the Boyne with Aughrim. Although important, the Boyne did not doom the Jacobite cause in Ireland. It took on greater significance generations later because Aughrim was closely fought, James II was not present, and the Williamite forces committed atrocities after Aughrim. The Boyne was an easy victory and therefore easier to celebrate. It is also a less interesting battle than the closely-fought contest at Aughrim. The Boyne may come out in a future scenario pack.


"The Battle of Poltava", Denis Martens, oil on canvas, 1726. Commissioned by Peter the Great, it arrived in Russia just after his death so he never viewed the painting.

Moving over to the Great Northern War and War of the Spanish Succession made scenario selection more difficult, as these were long sprawling conflicts that featured some of the biggest personalities of the era: Charles XII, Augustus the Strong, Peter the Great, Marlborough, Villars, and Eugene to name but a few. Narva, Blenheim, and Poltava were included because they were famous battles, and Blenheim in particular makes for a good scenario. Chiari was a late addition once we decided the game’s box art would depict a scene from the opening campaign in Italy. Klissow and Fraustadt are here because of my work on both scenarios for Worthington, and I enjoyed playing both. That said a few are here for more educational reasons. I wanted to draw attention to three battles that were each nearly as important as the much celebrated Blenheim: Turin, Almansa, and Villaviciosa. These battles are largely ignored by Anglo historians because they do not fit the Rule Britannia narrative. Almansa came when the Bourbons were at their lowest point and Villaviciosa secured the Spanish succession in Louis XIV’s favor. Defeat in either battle could have meant the unequivocal defeat of the Bourbon cause. Turin was the most important Grand Alliance victory of the war after Blenheim. It saved Savoy and Italy from Bourbon domination. The follow up invasion of France was a dud, but then again so was Marlborough’s invasion after Malplaquet, the most controversial battle of the war. Malplaquet had to be included since it was the bloodiest European battle of the century. One could go on about who actually won Malplaquet. The Grand Alliance suffered heavy losses, but Mons did fall and Marlborough’s removal from command had more to do with his earlier betrayal of James II than anything else. Yet, the Grand Alliance was slowed down in the aftermath, and France averted disaster. For my part I am undecided, but I feel the battle was in essence a Pyrrhic Bourbon victory. 

I ended the scenario collection with some more indulgence of my Jacobite interests. First was Sheriffmuir, one of the weirdest battles of the era and also the battle that ended the Stuart dynasty’s last great hope for victory. Glen Shiel was included because it is obscure, features the famed Rob Roy, and has the Jacobites using Spanish troops. The battle was part of the War of the Quadruple Alliance, a short and bizarre conflict that saw France, Austria, and Britain team up against Spain.


William Douw Lighthall, 1691
THAT was a brave old epoch,
Our age of chivalry,
When the Briton met the French-man
At the fight of La Prairie;
And the manhood of New England,
And the Netherlanders true
And Mohawks sworn, gave battle
To the Bourbon’s lilied blue. 
That was a brave old governor
Who gathered his array,
And stood to meet, he knew not what,
On that alarming day.
Eight hundred, amid rumors vast
That filled the wild wood’s gloom,
With all New England’s flower of youth,
Fierce for New France’s doom. 
And the brave old half five hundred!
Theirs should in truth be fame;
Borne down the savage Richelieu,
On what emprise they came!
Your hearts are great enough, O few:
Only your numbers fail,—
New France asks more for conquerors
All glorious though your tale. 
It was a brave old battle
That surged around the fort,
When D’Hosta fell in charging,
And ’t was deadly strife and short;
When in the very quarters
They contested face and hand,
And many a goodly fellow
Crimsoned yon La Prairie sand. 
And those were brave old orders
The colonel gave to meet
That forest force with trees entrenched
Opposing the retreat:
“De Calliére’s strength’s behind us,
And in front your Richelieu;
We must go straightforth at them;
There is nothing else to do.” 
And then the brave old story comes,
Of Schuyler and Valrennes,
When “Fight” the British colonel called,
Encouraging his men,
“For the Protestant Religion
And the honor of our King!”—
“Sir, I am here to answer you!”
Valrennes cried, forthstepping. 
Were those not brave old races?
Well, here they still abide;
And yours is one or other,
And the second’s at your side;
So when you hear your brother say,
“Some loyal deed I’ll do,”
Like old Valrennes, be ready with
“I’m here to answer you!”

1 comment

  • I believe it was a wise choice to start the series at the beginning, the more obscure battles are actually of equal interest to me as the more famous conflicts. It’s going to be fun to watch H&M gain momentum with each expansion. I would like to see the Boyne in a future release, if possible. Good Luck!

    Steve Carey

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