Wednesday, 16 February 2011

English Civil War - Garrisons in the West Midlands

I have mentioned in previous posts about the highly complex political nature of the West Midlands during the English Civil War. The following list of local combatants (which can be easily found through any internet search) helps illustrate this point.

These commanders were all based within roughly a 10 mile radius of each other. If you are familiar with the places mentioned below, you will quickly realise just how complicated the region’s politics must have been, not just in terms of military but also personal allegiance. Even these garrisons were never really secure, for instance Rushall Hall was taken and subsequently lost by the Royalists whilst under the command of Prince Rupert.

The above map is actually to scale, the green box being approx 14miles sq.

The following list is by no means exhaustive.

Sir Thomas Leveson at Dudley Castle.

Colonel Lane at Bentley Hall, Walsall. 0.5 mile north west of Junction10 M6. Lane helped Charles II in his escape after the battle of Worcester.

George Hawe at Caldmore, Walsall. Caldmore is pronounced locally as 'karma'. Why? I have no idea.

William Hopkins at Oakeswell Hall, Wednesbury – the Hall was later the home of Jacob Epstein’s wife/muse Kathleen Garman.

Sir Thomas Holte at Aston Hall. North Birmingham. Located yards away from Aston Villa F.C.'s ground, Villa Park

Sir Richard Leigh at Rushall Hall (1.5 miles north of Walsall).

Edward Dudley at the Greenhouse, Tipton (site of the Battle of Tipton Green, 12th June 1644). The house has long gone but its location was in the region of Mad O'Rourkes Pie Factory pub on Hurst Lane.

Simon Montford at Bescot Hall, Walsall (Junction 9 M6, opposite IKEA furniture store)

Thomas Parkes at Willingsworth Hall (half a mile to the west of Wednesbury)

Colonel John "Tinker" Fox (from Walsall but he commanded the garrison at Edgbaston House, Birmingham). Fox was such an irritant to the Royalists that he became their bogyman. It was later rumoured that he had even been the executioner of Charles I.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Warlord Games ECW Cavalry Modifications - Part 6 of 6

Whenever a figure is shown wielding a sword obviously they would not have another sword still in their scabbard (at least I don’t think they carried spares). On some of the model types the hilt is cleverly hidden by the sash. Where this is not the case you need to carefully cut away the sword hilt from the side of the model. I mention this because once I had finished all painting the figures I noticed I had made this very same mistake (twice!) and naturally they were both in the most inaccessible place possible. After removing the offending articles I could finally say that I had completed the regiment.
Troopers Albert and Ernest
In a similar manner where a figure is shown holding a pistol I removed the pistol grip that protrudes from the top of holster and hollowed out the plastic with a hand drill to improve the overall look. And just to show off I also hollowed out the mouth of the trumpet.
Trumpeter Horatio Horn
Last, and definitely least, by far the easiest addition is to simply glue a feather taken from the infantry box set onto the hat of a rider. This very quickly adds just a little bit more variety to the figures.
Captain Thomas Plume
Captain Thomas Plume

Monday, 14 February 2011

Warlord Games ECW Cavalry Modifications - Part 5 of 6

Major Harvey Cummerbund
For the figure shown above Greenstuff was again used to create a sash. It proved to be pretty easy to make. Normally I quickly mock up any modeling using Bluetack, then I can divide it into two in order to give me a good idea how much of the separate blue and yellow component parts of Greenstuff I’ll actually need. I’ve found this method helps prevent me from wasting too much of the modelling material as I usually wildly overestimate how much to use, a little really does go a long way.

The folds and creases were made with a sculpting tool and a metal scribing tool (or a good old fashioned wooden toothpick will do). If it does go wrong (and I can guarantee it will go wrong if I’m doing it) you can quickly pull the stuff away and start again.

The other figure on the base was one of two models that I initially forgot to remove the sword hilt from.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Warlord Games ECW Cavalry Modifications - Part 4 of 6

Cornet Marmaduke Hood
Perhaps the most iconic and easily recognised object associated with the ECW is the lobsterpot helmet. Often linked with the Parliamentarian Ironsides, or Roundheads, this style of helmet would have been worn by both sides.

As there are plenty of spare helmet parts in the Warlord Games box I thought I could depict a couple of troopers with their visor/faceguard raised. This was easier said than done. Taking two helmet components from the sprue, with the first I removed the visor and on the second I carefully cut away the main body leaving just the visor. This proved to be the trickiest operation as the vertical plastic bars are quite fragile. It was then just a matter of gluing the two parts together at an appropriate open angle.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Warlord Games ECW Cavalry Modifications - Part 3 of 6

Major Maxwell Silver
As the Warlord Games box set provides a warhammer on each figure sprue I used one to help depict one figure carrying a proper side arm. This involved removing the sword and filing away the hilt detail. A small hole was then drilled through the cleaned up hand. The warhammer staff was cut into two and the points sharpened so that they could be located and fixed back into the hole on the right hand. I used exactly the same method to make the one armed command figure even more distinctive.

This next alteration on the same figure is so cunningly subtle I’d forgotten I’d made it until it came to write this post. Supplied in the box set is an older style continental type helmet with a single nasal bar (also called a Zischagge or 'Dutch' pot). I simply cut the bar from in front of the face and glued it on top the helmet to give the impression that the user had adjusted the bar by pushing it upwards. It actually proved quite tricky to achieve and, unlike the other faceguard mentioned previously, I honestly don’t think it was worth the effort.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Warlord Games ECW Cavalry Modifications - Part 2 of 6

Captain Lieutenant Herman De Munster
This foolhardy figure is the result of another request but this time it was for a bare headed figure. Greenstuff was used to initially build up the correct shape of the head. Once this part had cured the hair was added ensuring that it covered the lower part of the moulded helmet and blended into the rest of the hairline. I think he looks a bit like the main lead from the 60’s TV show ‘The Munsters’.
Herman De Munster
Herman De Munster
Note the removal of the pistol handle from the holster. The hole was created using a hand drill and a scalpel.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Warlord Games ECW Cavalry Modifications - Part 1 of 6

Or "The joy of plastic in six easy installments!".

With these next few short posts I thought I would describe in more detail the various modifications and alternations made to the recently completed Warlord Games plastic ECW cavalry figures.

As I’ve stated previously the possibilities of tweaking and modifying plastic figures is almost endless. If you have the time and inclination with the various combinations of headwear and weapons I’m quite sure you could make every individual miniature unique.

The majority of these changes were made at the request of my brother who kept on coming up with numerous ‘useful’ suggestions such as “Why don’t you try to make one that looks like he’s been injured.” and “Could you make another one without a hat?” etc.
Lieutenant-Colonel Eduard Van Verloren Wapen
First up is the one-armed figure inspired by another fascinating character from the period, Sir Henry Bard 1st Viscount Bellomont and a former Governor of Worcester. At the Battle of Cheriton Down, March 1644, Bard lost an arm (or more precisely lost the use of one unspecified arm). He recovered from this serious injury and went on to fight alongside Colonel Leveson and Colonel Bagot at the Battle of Naseby, June 1645.

After initial reservations about the realism of this approach I realised that mounted archers throughout the ages had been able to ride hands free and still managed to loose off arrows on the hoof. A friend (a horsey type) confirmed it is possible for an experienced rider to control a horse using a combination of just your legs, voice and body weight. I reasoned to myself that removing the right sword arm would have left the figure looking distinctly passive. Therefore I decided to make things awkward for myself and remove the figure’s left arm along with the hand meant to be holding the reins, leaving the right arm to carry a weapon. The left arm was cut away above the elbow and the upturned sleeve was remodeled with Greenstuff.
Lieutenant-Colonel Eduard Van Verloren Wapen
Note also the raised faceguard on the lobsterpot helmet; I’ll go into more detail about this in a following post.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Colonel Leveson’s Posse – Part 3 of 3

Regiment of Horse engages Regiment of Foot
The manuscript know as the British Museum Harleian Ms 911 provides us with a snapshot of ‘The Royalist Horse “before Leicester” - 30th May 1645’. It lists the men and numbers of the seven regiments of horse that made up Colonel Thomas Howard’s Brigade.

Colonel Thomas Howard’s Regiment of Horse - 80 men
Colonel Samuel Sandy, Governor of Worcester - 150 men
Colonel Thomas Leveson, Governor of Dudley Castle - 150 men
Colonel Richard Bagot, Governor of Lichfield - 200 men
Sir Robert Byron’s Regiment of Horse - 100 men
Sir Henry Bard, Governor of Campden House
Commanded by Lt Col Walker - 100 men
Colonel Robert Worthen (also spelt as Werdon/Warden)
previously known as Colonel's Morrowes Horse - 100 men

Total 880

Of obvious interest here is the mention of Colonel Leveson’s Regiment of Horse. Unusually for the ECW I have been able to supply my three boxes of Warlord Games cavalry (36 figures) with at least two historically appropriate cornets/flags for the Colonel’s regiment. Flags were normally recorded (sketched or painted) after being captured. However an officer in the Royalist army, a certain Captain Richard Symonds of the King's Lifeguard of Horse, made notes of numerous heraldic flags and cornets he saw on Royalist banners whilst on his travels. Symonds noted that,
“Col. Leveson’s Regiment of Horse had three cornets belonging to Dudley Castle.”
He goes on to describe the cornets as:
"Sable, an ostrich Or, holding in its mouth a sword proper, 
standing on a scroll the motto ‘Hoc Nutrior’"
"Vert, with a charge somewhat like a sun in splendour"
"A scroll with the letters SA.-SA."
At a recent show my brother managed to spot a set from Venner's Emporium that features one of these recorded cornets, the one with the sword swallowing golden ostrich. My brother had also recently purchased an ex-library book, Blandford Colour Series: Military Flags of the World 1618-1900 by Terence Wise and Guido Rosignoli. This book illustrates the `sun in splendour` on a green (vert) background standard and describes the other two standards (the ostrich and the ‘S.A-S.A’ scroll). Using a standard CAD package I’ve been able to draw a version of this flag which I hope looks suitable. I also tried to paint the appropriate trumpeter's flag to match the standard.

In the next few posts I will go into more detail with regard to the models themselves.

'An Illustrated Chronicle of the Castle and Barony of Dudley 1070 - 1757'. Author: John Hemingway. ISBN 978-0-9553438-0-3. Highly recommended if you can find a copy. Available from the Friends of Dudley Castle (a link to their website is on the home page). The book contains numerous interesting accounts of Dudley castle and its inhabitants including events during the first siege in 1644, from which Leveson was absent.

Royalist War Effort, 1642-1646. Author: Ronald Hutton. ISBN: 978-0-415-30540-2

Roman Catholic Royalists Offiers in the North Midlands 1642-1646.1 - Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, Fall 2003 Vol. 6, Issue 2. Author: Martyn Bennett, Nottingham Trent University

“Tinker’ Fox and the Politics of Garrison Warfare in the West Midlands, 1643-50. Author: Andrew Hopper, University of York

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Colonel Leveson’s Posse – Part 2 of 3

Lieutenant Colonel Walter Giffard
Lieutenant Colonel John Beaumont
During the first siege of Dudley in June 1644 Leveson himself was absent. He had been promoted to Colonel earlier in May and had joined Prince Rupert to campaign in the north which would culminate at the fateful Battle of Marston Moor, 2nd July 1644. Lieutenant Colonel John Beaumont held the castle in Leveson’s absence when Parliament’s Lord Denbigh arrived at the castle armed with the ‘Stafford Great Piece’ a 32lb demi-cannon, the ordinance having been previously employed as a whipping post. The Parliamentarians were driven away from their siege lines by a relieving force from Worcester under Lord Wilmot (the future Earl of Rochester). This largely cavalry action on 12th June 1644 was later called the Battle of Tipton Green.

Colonel Leveson’s Regiments of Horse and Foot took part in a number of significant engagements including:
Hopton Heath - March 1643
Siege of Aston Hall - December 1643
Newark - March 1644
Marston Moor - July 1644
Naseby - June 1645

It was the defeat at Naseby, where Leveson’s troops fought side by side with Bagot’s, of the last real effective field Royalist army that left garrisons such as Dudley isolated and at risk from attack. It enabled Parliament to spend the rest of 1645 and 1646 destroying any remnant Royalist forces and garrisons, signaling the end of any real hope that the King could hold on to the midlands.
"Charge lads, they're gaining on us!"
Leveson remained in command of Dudley castle until 13th May 1646 when he and the garrison of 340 officers and men finally surrendered after a second siege to local Parliamentary forces under the command of Sir William Brereton. He was provided with an armed escort on leaving Dudley. This may have been for his own safety as he was that unpopular with the local population. He had antagonised the locals with a combination of imposing heavy local taxes and demolishing a large portion of the town including a church before the sieges had started. He wasn’t very popular back in his hometown of Wolverhampton either. His soldiers had damaged St Peter’s church when they had been lodged there a few years previously.

The Catholic faith played a strong role in Leveson’s life and also his regiments. Martyn Bennett states in his very interesting study ‘Roman Catholic Royalists Offiers in the North Midlands 1642-1646, that “The regiment of Foot was clearly a base for the expression of Catholic loyalty.” The lieutenant colonels, majors and captains were all local to Staffordshire area, “Many were from the Roman Catholic enclave of south Staffordshire.” As much as 20% of the local population may have been Catholic. This area had even become known as Roma Parva or Little Rome. To emphasise this point, back in 1605 the famous last stand of the Gun Powder Plot took place in Holbeche House, Kingswinford, 5 miles west of the castle. The Catholic conspirators thought, tragically wrong as it turned out, they could stir up open rebellion from within this area. Later, after the Battle of Worcester in 1651, Captains William Careless and Thomas Giffard, who had both served under Colonel Leveson, used local Catholic safe houses to aid Charles II’s escape to safety on the continent.
A quick ‘interesting’ (and now seemingly ironic) fact to amuse your mates down the pub: the world’s oldest excavated condoms were discovered in a keep latrine at Dudley castle during digs back in the 1980's. They are thought to date from this ECW siege, the latrine had been sealed by material from the slighting.

After his estate was sequestrated for recusancy, (even though this was against the terms of his surrender) Leveson travelled once more to France into exile where he joined the household of Prince de Conti. He died in Bordeaux, 8th September 1652.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Colonel Leveson’s Posse – Part 1 of 3

Or "Colonel Leveson's Regiment of Horse"
 Colonel Thomas Leveson
With the brief statement, “Colonel Thomas Leveson was the Governor of Dudley castle during the English Civil War.” this Royalist cavalry officer is often relegated to a brief footnote in history. However, a little research soon reveals a lot more about this fascinating character.

Although baptised an Anglican in Wolverhampton, 18th Oct 1615, Leveson was from a Roman Catholic family and was to remain an openly devout Catholic for the rest of his life, which in itself marks him out as being unusual.

During the period now referred to as the English Civil War (ECW) Leveson was to prove to be a key figure in the complex political and military events that occurred in the midlands and further a field.

The region of the west midlands was split roughly equally between the two opposing forces. Along side Tutbury castle (under the control of Sir Henry Hastings), the cathedral city of Lichfield (Colonel Bagot) and Dudley castle (Colonel Leveson) formed a strong line of Royalist resistance in an area that was often disputed and fought over. For example, the nearby industrial town of Birmingham (it became a city in 1889) was a major supplier of weapons (swords, pikes and armour etc.) to Parliament and therefore came under regular attacks from Royalist forces. One such raid on Birmingham was famously recorded in the portrait of Prince Rupert.

In 1642 the Staffordshire gentry, fearing a Catholic uprising, prompted a local armourer, a certain John Tanner, to confiscate Leveson’s weapons and equipment which had been sent to him for repair. Leveson thrashed the armourer about the head with a stick and promptly fled to France leaving his wife to her own fate. Being a professional soldier it is thought that Leveson fought on the continent and gained experience in the latest warfare techniques and tactics. On Leveson’s return, King Charles appointed him High Sheriff of Staffordshire in January 1644 and sent a letter to the same Staffordshire gentry instructing them to now regard Leveson as their protector, which I imagine didn’t go down too well!
Col. Leveson's Regiment of Horse
If you were curious were this particular blog post title comes from; when King Charles appointed Leveson High Sheriff this gave him the ancient power, during an emergency, to call up able bodied men to assist him. The well known term comes from the Latin phrase “Posse Comitatus” basically meaning "armed group/power of the county”. For me, it re-enforces the impression at that time the area really must have resembled the Wild West (midlands).

Leveson had failed to keep hold his home town of Wolverhampton when Parliament’s Lord Brooke marched into the county in February 1643. Fortunately for the Royalist colonel he had already managed to take control of Dudley Castle and in July 1643 Leveson was confirmed as the military governor of the well sited and impressive fortress. Leveson attacked and then set up satellite garrison outposts in nearby large houses at Chillington, Lapley and Patshull; all the north, north-west of Dudley.
Richard Astley
Christopher Heveningham
Late in December 1643 Leveson sent a force of 40 musketeers to reinforce the Jacobean manor house Aston Hall, Birmingham, home of the Royalist Holte family, just before it was attacked by Parliamentarian forces. A large oak banister in the south-east stairwell still bears the brutal evidence of the power of the Parliamentarian cannon shot. The area/hall later gave its name to the famous football club Aston Villa. To complete the Royalist connection Prince William, the future king of England, is a long time Villa fan. A quick 'interesting fact' for our American cousins: Washington Irving, author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which he wrote whilst living in Birmingham, based his novel "Bracebridge Hall" on Aston Hall.

Colonel General Sir Henry (Lord Loughborough) Hastings’s army had been established in early 1643 and he held parts of the county of Staffordshire for the King. Hastings came under the command of the Earl of Newcastle although it appears that Leveson preferred to align himself to Prince Rupert rather than Newcastle.

Whenever it suited him, Leveson argued the fact that the parish of Dudley formed a tiny island of Worcestershire within the county of Staffordshire and therefore he didn’t have to answer to Hastings (even more confusingly, priests attached to the castle itself did not answer to the bishop of Worcester but were traditionally linked to the diocese of Lichfield, yes back in Staffordshire!).

Leveson even used his friendship with Prince Rupert to influence the King in matters where he (frequently) clashed with the governor of Lichfield, Colonel Richard Bagot. One member of the Bagot family, the Protestant Royalist deputy governor of Lichfield, Hervey Bagot, even referred to the (fellow Royalist) Dudley garrison as comprising of “heathenish cavaliers” although the source of the comment was the Parliamentarian ‘Kingdoms Weekly Intelligencer’.

Royalist soldiers were sent out from the garrisoned towns and cities to collect taxes and often clashed with Parliament forces from Stafford and Tamworth. Leveson’s men sometimes even came into conflict with Bagot’s troops doing the same which didn’t improve their relationship. The castle garrison even collected tax from as far away as Hatherton which is just west of Cannock and around 15 miles north of Dudley itself. The Parliamentarian press soon referred to Hastings, Bagot and Leveson as the “Rob-Carriers” from their ‘tax collecting’ methods.