In the Shadows of History: Battle of Newtown, 31st July 1689. Part Four

Note on Unit Strengths, Composition and Orders of Battle.

The Orders of Battle are somewhat conjectural and are my own work. I have been able to discover only one source of names for the regiments present at the battle which although useful, threw up several anomalies which make its provenance somewhat questionable.  When in doubt, I chose to base units on typical compositions of forces in the field during the conflict. For the company level scenario I have cut the Protestant foot regiments down to 10 companies each to keep the ratio of troops proportional to the Jacobite units. An alternative was to reduce the number of figures per company which is easy to do if your collection is singly based or you re-fight the battle using 1644. If you have a multi based collection like my own and are using a rule system which shoots by  ‘firing groups’ like Beneath the Lily Banners, then to keep the firing groups (of 6 in this case) intact it is easier to remove a number of entire groups to keep the ratios right and the rule mechanisms working. A final alternative would be to deploy all of the companies but treat each base of figures as representing 4 or 5 figures to begin with regardless of how many actual figures are on the stand. This way attrition will remove firing groups at a quicker rate.

It is likely that most troops of both armies dressed like these Warfare Miniatures
Notes on the Jacobites
Sapherson states that Montcashel’s force consisted of a dragoon regiment, some horse and three regiments of foot – about 5,000 men. He also states that in the initial contact of the two vanguards Berry scattered thirteen troops of dragoons under Hamilton. This is curious and potentially contradictory in itself. Elsewhere in the organisation section of his book Sapherson lists as part of the Jacobite Army six dragoon regiments and mentions two others. On paper they should have either six or eight troops each, although one has 11 troop captains listed in its roster. Another is cited as having twelve troops present at the Boyne. He concludes that units may have fielded more than their established number of troops. All of this is logical but the battle evidence offered goes beyond even these potential estimates of over strength units.

 One could deduce that there were actually less than thirteen troops ‘scattered’ at Lisnaskea (and that someone somewhere over time has exaggerated the Jacobite strength) or, that there was one regiment which had at least thirteen troops (possible but not probable) or, that there was more than one dragoon regiment represented in Montcashel’s force or, that some of the mounted troops in the engagement where in fact Horse and not dragoons. Working from official establishments of the time a troop of dragoons would at full strength be roughly 60-70 officers and men. Thirteen troops could then field 780-910 men, possibly more if a lot of volunteers were available. Sapherson concludes that some Jacobite dragoon regiments may have fielded as many as 800 men each in the early stages of the war. These numbers should not be dismissed but must be treated with caution as figures presented in the same book for Williamite dragoon regiments in the same period of the conflict produce average troop strengths of 56 all ranks and 403 all ranks in a regiment.

Before dealing with the Horse the infantry deserve some scrutiny. The Irish regiments of James were built on the English model; thirteen companies each of 60 to 70 men plus a regimental staff giving on paper between 790 - 920men per regiment. If Montcashel had three regiments of this size, that makes between 2,370 and 2,760 foot. It is possible that the regiments were bigger if the oversize dragoon regiments can be taken as an indicator of Jacobite enthusiasm for the cause but actual strengths listed for identified units elsewhere in the book rarely if ever reach these levels. The average for battalions in the field is between 600 and 650 far less than my minimum stated  theoretical  establishment figure of 790 above .

If we add together the dragoon total of 910 with the foot total of 2,760 we get 3,760. There were some light guns which with crews, wagons and transports may have amounted to 100 men maximum. This force is described by one source as a ‘Flying camp’ the implication being that it was travelling light. If we assume little in the way of wains and hangers on, that leaves us either 240 Horse if the approximate 4,000 figure is to be believed or 1,240 Horse if the 5,000 is accepted. I prefer to go with the lower strength for the Jacobites for two reasons. Firstly, winners write history and it would be in the interests of any cause to create the impression that their own smaller force defeated a vastly superior enemy. Secondly, if the Jacobites did in fact have 910 dragoons and roughly 1,200 horse then up 50% of their force would appear to have been mounted. Even by the norms of the period, where cavalry were much more numerous, this figure seems high.

I offer this analysis not as a study in pedantry but to allow gamers to draw their own conclusions about the composition of Montcashel’s force whilst still offering my own OoB for those disinclined to reach for calculator and reference book.

I have chosen to give Montcashel a regiment of Horse and use as justification the fact that Horse and Dragoons are cited in every source and that Sapherson’s indefinable ‘some horse’ could be anything from a troop to a regiment.

The only source I could find which actually named the Jacobite regiments present was a website belonging to a Jacobite re enactment group based in Virginia. They have a detailed order of battle for the armies of both sides in Ireland during the period 1688-91. Not only are the regiments listed but also the engagements known for each unit. This is very useful but creates more problems for those who like clarity. The site lists the following Jacobite foot regiments as being present at Newtown: Viscount Montcashel’s, Fielding’s, O’Bryan’s, Richard Butler’s and Dillon’s. What is curious about this is the site also states that all of these regiments entered French service on April 18th 1689. The Battle of Newtown took place on July 31st 1689. It is possible that the regiments stayed together in Ireland for months after being officially transferred but this seems rather anomalous. Students of the period will recognise that these five named regiments are those promised by King James II as the nucleus of an Irish Brigade for the French Army in exchange for the French units that Louis XIV sent to Ireland to strengthen the Jacobite army. They are the core of the body which has passed into folklore as the ‘Wild Geese’. The orbat listed is extensive and covers the entire Jacobite army in a 30 month period of campaigning but nowhere does it mention any dragoon or horse regiments present at Newtown thus directly contradicting Sapherson’s assertion of force composition stated earlier. For these reasons and because of the emphasis placed by all accounts on the prominence of cavalry during the entire battle I dismissed this orbat from a Jacobite perspective for my own gaming but have included it in the orbats section for those looking for an alternative. As a final note if all five foot regiments were present and in the numbers prescribed by regulations, the total would be somewhere in the range 3,950 to 4,550. Add to that 13 troops of dragoons and we are getting nearer 6,000 men excluding any horse and artillery present. As a short footnote to the above paragraph the link included seems to no longer be live. Perhaps you can find these chaps in the web at a new address. I didn't try alas!

Civilian clothes were likely to predominate in both armies although the Jacobites were reckoned to have at least some red coated men. Distinguishing friend from foe may have been down to the simple field signs of a green sprig for Williamites and a scrap of white paper or cloth for Jacobites. This unit is drawn from Dixon Miniatures Sedgemoor range. In both shots of this post I have perhaps been too generous by providing the soldiers with bayonets!