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I think the spy’s called Edward

July 12, 2013

Last weekend was a games-light weekend, but one that featured something at least as good. At the invitation of some friends, we took a day trip to Chippenham, where the English Civil War Society were staging a battle reenactment along with a bunch of living history bits. The last time I went to an event of this type must have been in the 1970’s, so I was looking forward to seeing what was up.

The very hot and tired combatants rise from the dead to give a general salute.

The very hot and tired combatants rise from the dead to give a general salute.

We arrived with nearly three hours to spare before the battle was scheduled to take place, which gave us plenty of time to have a picnic lunch and talk to people in the living history area. Miss B learned to play the ancient game of Nim, found out about spinning and weaving as well as wood turning on a pole lathe. She was wowed by the working printing press, and got to help the blacksmith forge a steel feather for her to bring home (that was something really special).

The battle itself started quietly, with a commentator setting the scene of the Cavalier forces in retreat, trying to get their valuable artillery pieces to safety while being pursued by the Roundheads. This basically amounted to half a dozen horsemen, followed by a similar number of musketeers in a skirmish line, then a load of poor so-and-sos manually dragging a load of cannon across the field. The cavalry was engaged by a few enemy horse in a slightly unexciting way, and then the Roundheads started arriving and both sides began to deploy for battle.

Over the next hour we saw the numbers of combatants swell to several hundred and heard a great deal of noise, particularly from the twelve-pounder gun on the Roundhead side that shook the ground every time it fired. As someone who has in the past played an occasional wargame it was fascinating to watch the manoeuvring and imagining that the units contained five to ten times the number of soldiers that were actually being fielded, which would have made the manoeuvres make more sense. And I must give credit to those who were with me for putting up with my lengthy ramblings about how the cavalry, musketry and pike units would interact in a sort of rock-paper-scissors game.

Eventually a parlay was called, the rival commanders met and discussed terms before, the talks having failed, the Cavalier army made a beautiful advance across the field to crush the Roundhead forces.

This was definitely a very successful day, and we even managed to avoid being sunburned. Miss B told us that she would like to fire cannons and ride a horse. S and I are so proud.  We would not hesitate to go to another of these events.

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