Fishguard 1797 Scenario No.1: Ambush at Carnwnda, 23-24 February

This, the first of our hypothetical scenarios, starts with the historical situation of the evening of 23rd February: Lord Cawdor, determined to attack the enemy position at Carnwnda despite the gathering darkness, is rashly advancing in a straggling column, up the steep and narrow lane from Goodwick.  In reality, Captain Nisbett’s scouts sniffed out the ambush that the French grenadiers had set for them, allowing Cawdor to safely withdraw to Fishguard.  However, our scenario diverges from history as the French grenadiers successfully mount their ambush on the head of Cawdor’s column…

Scenario No.1 (Part 1): The French Ambush

Deploy the troops roughly as shown on the map.  The table should measure approximately 5×6 feet when using 28mm figures.  The French occupy the crown of Carnwnda, with ‘refused’ wings on either side.  Some companies may be held back as reserves – perhaps occupying Llanwnda village.  The grenadiers are deployed forward at the hedge-line and may form an independent formation commanded by one of the ADCs.

The British meanwhile, must be deployed in column of march along the narrow, hedged lane from Bwlch-y-Rhos to Carngowil, though skirmishers may be deployed out on the flanks, as shown on the map.  The order of march may be decided by the British player, though the Fishguard & Newport volunteers must be deployed at the rear of the column (except for the skirmishers, which may be deployed on the flanks of the column’s head) and the Royal Navy guns will be off-table at this stage.  Any troops that can’t be fitted onto the table will be brought on at the rear of the column when space allows.  The leading formed unit of the column MUST be deployed with the head of the column on the T-junction, immediately in front of the French grenadiers’ ambush and within close range of both grenadier companies.

The French will automatically have the initiative in this scenario, which effectively starts with the French Firing Phase, as the Grenadiers ambush the head of the column.

The orders of battle are as detailed in the recent articles on the French and British Forces at Fishguard.  However, the Loyal Haverfordwest Volunteers will not be present at the start of this scenario and Henry Whiteside’s Solva & St David’s Volunteers may appear as a Random Event (see below).

The British player must roll a D6 to determine which unit is forming the head of the column:
1-3: Yeomanry
4-5: Cardiganshire Militia
6: Pembroke Volunteers

Neither side may declare charges in Turn 1.

The French Grenadiers will have an additional +1 bonus for firing at the head of the column in Turn 1.  This simulates the shock and surprise effect of the ambush, as well as a volley of grenades lobbed from behind the hedge.  The grenadiers will continue to have the Grenade special rules for the duration of the scenario, as detailed in the order of battle notes.

No long-range firing is permitted due to the gathering darkness and charges may only be declared on targets within 6 inches.

Part 1 of this scenario will end at the end of Turn 4.  Both sides will then withdraw to lick their wounds for the night.  The French Grenadiers will pull back to the safety of the main position at Carnwnda (though they may leave a skirmish line at the hedgerow), while the British will retire to Carngowil.

Scenario No.1 (Part 2): The British Attack

This part of the scenario assumes that Lord Cawdor, his pride hurt by the previous evening’s ambush, has not fallen back to Fishguard and is determined to carry out a deliberate, dawn attack on the Carnwnda position and drive the invaders into the sea, no matter the cost!  Alternatively, the British player may opt to retire to Fishguard, in which case go straight to Scenario No.2b.

The British player may deploy his forces, minus the previous evening’s casualties, anywhere south of line A-B, in any formation.  His objective is to destroy all enemy units or drive them off the slopes of Carnwnda and from Llanwnda village.  The naval guns have by now managed to negotiate the narrow lanes and are deployed, ready to fire.

At the start of each turn, the British player should roll a D6: On a roll of 6 the Loyal Haverfordwest Volunteers will arrive at Bwlch-y-Rhos.

The French are deployed as before on Carnwnda, minus the previous evening’s casualties.  However, the Grenadiers have been withdrawn to the main position.  A skirmish screen may remain in position along the hedge-line.  The French objective is to hold their ground at all costs and retain possession of the Carnwnda Heights and Llanwnda village.

Any units that were dispersed during the previous evening’s fighting may be returned to the table at 50% of their original strength.  Units that were routed off table may return at the strength they were at when they left the table.

Part 2 of the scenario lasts for 20 turns or until the British victory conditions have been met or until the British player concedes the field to the French player.  If the British player concedes or the end of Turn 20 is reached, all routing or retreating British units are immediately dispersed and the game progresses to Scenario No.2b: The French Attack.

Optional Random Events

If any unmodified double is rolled during a player’s Initiative roll, that player should roll again and refer to the tables below to see what happens next.  Each random event may only occur once.

Henry Whiteside’s Solva & St David’s Volunteers get stuck in!

French Random Events Table

Die Roll – Event

 1 – A stash of booze is discovered!  A French unit occupying a building will immediately suffer 3 DPs (these become casualties over 3 DPs).  If more than one unit is occupying a building, dice to see which is affected.  Ignore if no units are occupying buildings.

2 – A horse is captured!  Roll again: Evens means that poor Dobbin becomes Viande Chevaline, while Odds means that one lucky French officer (of the player’s choice) may move at normal mounted officer rate.

3 – The French grenadiers have run out of grenades and no longer gain that benefit.

4 – One skirmisher unit has been set upon by angry local civilians!  The unit suffers 1 DP or casualty.

5 – A local Baptist preacher and Republican sympathizer gives you information on the British strength and movements.  You automatically win the initiative for this turn.

6 – By a stroke of luck, your men have managed to recover 4pdr battalion guns from the boat which sank at Carregwastad.  Roll again: 1-4 = 1 gun and 5-6 = 2 guns.  The artillery arrive anywhere on the French table edge and must be manhandled forward.  If the artillery arrives on Day 1 it may start Day 2 deployed anywhere within the French deployment area.

British Random Events Table

Die Roll – Event

 1 – Lt Col Knox has fallen out with Lord Cawdor again!  His brigade immediately reverts to ‘Hold’ orders.  The British player may not attempt to change his orders again until the following turn.

2 – View Haloo!”  Proving their mettle as upper-class twits, the Yeomanry will launch a charge against the nearest enemy unit during the Charge Phase.  If no unit is within charge range, they will move a full move directly toward the nearest enemy.

3 – This is how we did it in America” – Thomas Nisbett’s skirmishers become 2nd Line and may roll one Skirmish die per two figures instead of one die per three figures.

4 – “Who will come with me to fight the French?!” – Henry Whiteside’s Solva and St Davids Volunteers appear as reinforcements.  They will arrive on the left-hand table edge in Scenario No.1 or on the French table edge in Scenario No.2.  If they arrive early in the campaign and survive, they may then be attached to Cawdor’s main army for the subsequent battles.

5 – The remaining 8 figures from the Newport Division of the Fishguard & Newport Volunteer Infantry arrive as reinforcements (at Bwlch-y-Rhos in Scenario No.1 or at Fishguard Fort in Scenario No.2).  They may be added to the strength of the Newport Division (when they reach its location) or may function as a separate skirmisher unit.

6 – ‘Jemima Fawr!’ – Jemima Nicholas will arrive on table at Bwlch-y-Rhos in Scenario No.1 or in the centre of Fishguard in Scenario No.2.  She will then move at skirmisher speed.  Upon contact with any French skirmisher unit, she will immediately take 1 full skirmisher base prisoner and will march them back to her starting location.  She will then return during the following turn to do it again!  Like a senior officer, she may not be directly targeted, though may fall victim to a Double-Six, as for officers.


Posted in 28mm Figures, Fishguard 1797, Games, Napoleonic Wars, Scenarios | Leave a comment

British Forces at Fishguard, 1797 (Part 2)

This is the second part of my article on the rag-tag British ‘army’ that faced the French invasion at Fishguard in February 1797.  In Part 1, I covered the order of battle and the main British commanders.  Today we’ll take a look at each unit involved, as well as the civilians who armed themselves to defend their homes from the French, including my namesake, the redoubtable ‘Jemima Fawr’ herself.

The Castlemartin Troop, Pembroke Yeomanry Cavalry

The Pembroke Regiment of Gentlemen Yeomanry Cavalry was formed in 1794 by Richard Philipps; Lord Milford and Lord Lieutenant for Haverfordwest and Pembrokeshire. The Pembroke Yeomanry at the time comprised two troops (each of roughly forty men) of light dragoons; one troop (the Dungleddy Troop) based at Picton Castle, under the direct command of Lord Milford and the other (the Castlemartin Troop) based in the south-west of the county, at Stackpole Court, under the command of John Campell, Lord Cawdor. This organisation remained essentially unchanged in 1797, though Lord Milford suffered from gout and as a consequence, field command fell to Lord Cawdor.

When the invasion alarm was raised in February 1797, Lord Milford at once sent word to Cawdor to march with all haste and to assume command of the Pembroke Volunteer Infantry and the detachment of the Cardiganshire Militia guarding Pembroke Prison, and to bring the combined force at once to Haverfordwest. By sheer luck, Cawdor’s Castlemartin Troop was already formed and ready to march to Haverfordwest for a funeral that was to have been held there the following day and as a result, the Castlemartin Troop, along with the Pembroke Volunteers and Cardiganshire Militia, were in Haverfordwest by dawn of the 23rd. History does not record what happened to the Dungleddy Troop – a likely explanation is that they were perhaps used as gallopers to spread the news of the French invasion?  Or perhaps they were simply late?

Uniform for the Pembroke Yeomanry was the same that of the Light Dragoon regiments of the regular Army, being a short, dark blue ‘dolman’ jacket, with white breeches and a crested ‘Tarleton’ helmet. The dolman had pale buff facings with white lace (silver lace for officers). The helmet had a black turban, wound with silver chains, and a white-over-red plume on the left side.

The regimental guidon was, made of pale blue silk, with embroidery in silver wire.  This is curious, as guidons would typically be of the regimental facing colour (in this case pale buff).  Nevertheless, this is confirmed by a surviving Castlemartin Troop guidon which was issued in 1803.  The main device was the Prince of Wales’ Feathers, with ‘Loyal Pembroke’ in a handwritten script, split either side of the central feather and ‘YEOMNRY’ (spelled wrong!) immediately below the feathers.  At the bottom, a crimson-coloured oval, edged in silver, displays the Troop title ‘CASTLE/MARTIN’ (split into two words).The Pembroke Yeomanry was belatedly given the battle honour ‘Fishguard 1797’ by Queen Victoria in 1853 and it remains the only battle honour awarded to the British Army for an action on the British mainland. They are still in existence today, as 224 (Pembroke Yeomanry) Squadron, Royal Logistics Corps (Volunteer) of the Territorial Army, based at Haverfordwest.

The Yeomanry models were heavily converted by Mr Small from Perry Miniatures’ plastic French Hussar figures. They were painted by Jemima Fawr.  Somewhat annoyingly for us, Perry Miniatures have since brought out a set of plastic British Light Dragoons.


The Cardiganshire Militia

The Cardiganshire Militia, like all County Militia Regiments in Britain, was raised from men who were conscripted by holding a ballot for all eligible men in each parish. Drafted men would then serve with the Militia for five years. In peace-time, this was not too onerous, as the Militia would only be called up for a few weeks training in each year. However, in wartime the Militia was permanently mobilised and Militia would often find themselves posted for years to far-flung corners of the country (though Parliament was never permitted to send the Militia overseas – not even to Ireland).

Consequently, Militia service was generally hated and men did all they could to avoid being drafted. However, it was perfectly legal for men to nominate a substitute to serve in their place and quite large sums of money were often paid in order to persuade someone to act as a substitute. Tribunals were also held for those with extreme mitigating circumstances, such as where a draftee was the primary bread-winner in a family or where the draftee held an essential trade in the community. Thankfully, the size of each County Militia Regiment was based on the population and taxable income of the county, and as Cardiganshire (like Pembrokeshire) at the time was sparsely-populated and dirt-poor, the regiment was only 120 men strong (12% the size of a regular Regiment of Foot).

The Cardiganshire Militia in February 1796 had only just returned from two years of garrison duty in Northumberland, where they had been sent to maintain public order following repeated corn-riots. They proved to be enormously popular with the local population and enjoyed a very pleasant and uneventful tour before returning to Cardiganshire.

Upon their return, 20 men were sent to the regimental depot at Aberystwyth, where they were to train the new Militia draft, as well as the 250 or so new ‘Supplementary Militia’ men who had just been raised following Pitt’s Supplementary Militia Act of 1796. The regimental headquarters meanwhile went to Haverfordwest, while the remaining 100 men, under the command of Lieutenant-Adjutant Edward Cole, were sent to Golden Prison in Pembroke, where they would be responsible for guarding French and Spanish prisoners of war, as well as for mounting anti-smuggling patrols around the coast. When the invasion alert came, Lt Coles’ detachment was relieved by a detachment of the Pembrokeshire Supplementary Militia, allowing the Cardiganshire Militia to march north with Lord Cawdor’s column.

The uniform of the Cardiganshire Militia was rather old-fashioned for the time, being of the 1768 Pattern, modified with standing collars and hooks and eyes to allow the lapels to be fastened across the chest. Headgear was a cocked hat, edged in white lace and possibly augmented with white-over-red hackles or plumes. The red coats were faced with ‘garter blue’ and singly-spaced buttonhole-lace. Officers’ metalwork was silver. The Regimental Colour is recorded as being of garter blue silk, with the arms of the Lord Lieutenant for Cardiganshire (who at the time was Wilmot Vaughan, Earl of Lisburne and whose arms are shown here). The King’s Colour was the usual Union Flag (note the lack of a red saltire at this time) and while the central device is not known, the usual pattern was a ‘Union Wreath’ surrounding the regimental title, as shown here. We also added small Prince of Wales’ Feathers device above the wreath, as this is shown on a surviving 1804 colour for the ‘Haverfordwest Fuzileers Militia’.
We decided to depict the drummer in a blue coat after seeing a surviving blue drummer’s coat for the Carmarthenshire Militia in the Royal Welsh Regiment Museum at Cardiff Castle. The drummers of blue-faced regiments would normally have heavily-laced red coats instead of ‘reversed’ colours, but Militia regiments did occasionally make up their own dress regulations (such as the Carmarthenshire example).

Unlike their comrades in the Pembroke Yeomanry, the Cardiganshire Militia did not receive the battle honour ‘Fishguard 1797’ from Queen Victoria in 1853. This was due to a technicality: they had been converted to a ‘Rifles’ regiment in 1811 and as such did not carry Colours. Battle honours were only awarded to regiments that had Colours on which to embroider them.

These are metal American War of Independence figures by The Foundry, painted by Jemima Fawr.

The Pembroke Volunteer Infantry

The Pembroke Volunteer Infantry had originally been formed in 1780, during the American War of Independence. Lieutenant Colonel John Colby had raised the corps in order to provide light infantry support for his own regiment of Pembrokeshire Militia. This was no doubt prompted by a number of successful American privateer raids on the British coast, including a raid on Fishguard in 1779. The Pembroke Volunteers were disbanded at the end of that war in 1783, but were resurrected again in 1794, due a renewed threat of invasion – this time by Revolutionary France.

Service in the Volunteer corps was fairly popular, as six months’ good service with the Volunteers exempted a man from the Militia Ballot. As a result, some Volunteer corps became little more than badly-disciplined bands of armed draft-dodgers, though the Pembroke Volunteers, with the direct association to the Pembroke Militia and Colby’s good leadership, seem to have been better than most.

In 1797 the Pembroke Volunteers numbered 120 men, under the command of Captain James Ackland of Llanion House. We know that they were once again trained as light infantry and when the invasion alarm came, we know that they met up with Lord Cawdor’s column at Pembroke Ferry and joined the march north to Fishguard. Unfortunately, we know almost nothing else about them and despite our best efforts, we have been completely unable to discover any more details regarding the Pembroke Volunteer Infantry.

The lack of information makes modeling the Pembroke Volunteers somewhat difficult, as we don’t know anything about their uniforms or flags. However, given their close association to Colby and the Pembrokeshire Militia, we have given them the Pembrokeshire Militia distinctions of bright blue facings, with gold officers’ metalwork. The Colours again, are entirely conjectural, though are based on the colours carried by other Welsh Volunteer corps, which invariably featured the Prince of Wales’ Feathers and the regimental title somewhere in the design.

The models are metal ‘Wellington in India’ figures by Redoubt Miniatures and were painted by Jemima Fawr.

The Fishguard & Newport Volunteer Infantry

The Fishguard & Newport Volunteer Infantry, commanded by the young Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knox, had been raised in 1793. In 1797 they numbered some 270 men, grouped into two ‘divisions’, each of two companies – one division each for the towns of Fishguard and Newport. As such, this was one of the largest Volunteer corps in the country and seems to have thrived under Knox’s leadership, despite the politics and subsequent scandal.

A soldier of the Pembrokeshire Fencibles

Note that most accounts wrongly describe these men as ‘Fencibles’ and it must be emphasised that they were ‘Volunteers’ and not ‘Fencibles’. Fencibles were full-time, regular troops, raised for service within the British Isles. Volunteers were raised under an entirely different Act of Parliament and were part-timers who served within their own locality. The only Pembrokeshire Fencible unit was the Pembrokeshire Regiment of Fencible Light Dragoons, which at this time was engaged in Ireland. Despite what most accounts claim, no Fencible regiments were directly involved in the Fishguard invasion. Even Cawdor himself described the Volunteers as ‘Fencibles’, but it should be remembered that he was not a professional soldier and may simply have been unaware of the difference.

It should also be noted that the Fishguard & Newport Volunteers were a formed regiment of smart, red-coated soldiers, armed with muskets and bayonets and virtually indistinguishable from the regular Army. They were not the pitchfork-armed mob of civilians depicted in popular myth (and on Pembrokeshire County Council’s Fishguard webpage)! There certainly were armed civilians at Fishguard, but they were not the Volunteers, who were soldiers, not civilians!

The uniform of the Fishguard & Newport Volunteers was described as a ‘striped’ (i.e. laced) cut-down coat, worn with a slouched hat, turned up on the left with a leek allegedly worn as a plume and a white strip of cloth bearing the Prince of Wales’ motto ‘Ich Dien’ (German for ‘I Serve’) worn in front of the black cockade. An officer’s uniform in the Pembrokeshire Museum Service collection, is scarlet, with white collar and cuffs, silver buttons and lace, red waistcoat and light infantry details. We have used Perry Miniatures metal figures to represent the Volunteers. As the leek-plume seems somewhat fanciful, we have conjecturally given them ‘leek-like’ green-and-white plumes.

No colours are recorded, though it was typical for Volunteer corps to carry colours, so we have conjecturally given colours to each division. The King’s Colour (the Union Flag) is of the regulation pattern, with the wreathed regimental title in the centre and surmounted by the Prince of Wales’ Feathers. The Regimental Colour would normally be in the regimental ‘facing’ colour (i.e. the coat-lining, which shows at collar, cuffs and lapels), but regiments with white, red or black facings always carried a red St George’s cross on a white field, as shown here.

These are metal American War of Independence figures by Perry Miniatures, painted by Jemima Fawr.

The Royal Navy and Revenue Service

After the Fishguard & Newport Volunteer Infantry, the next military units to react were those of the Royal Navy and Revenue Service in Milford Haven and Haverfordwest. The Revenue Cutter ‘Diligence’, commanded by Lieutenant William Dobbins, had been pursued by Castagnier’s flotilla, but had managed to evade pursuit in the dangerous reefs around St David’s Head. Racing to Milford Haven, Dobbins managed to raise the alarm, spurring Captain Stephen Longcroft (Regulating Captain of Milford Haven & Haverfordwest) into action. While messengers were sent out to raise the alarm, Longcroft ordered the crew of the cutter ‘Speedwell’ to dismount their guns (eight long naval 9-pounders – the same type seen today at Fishguard Fort) and to load them into commandeered hay-carts. The crews of a number of small naval vessels, as well as the local Royal Navy press-gangs were then formed into an armed column of some 140 men and ordered to march immediately for Haverfordwest.

Upon arrival at Haverfordwest, five of the guns were ordered to be mounted on the bastions of Haverfordwest Castle, while the remaining three guns and the bulk of the sailors joined Lord Cawdor’s march north to Fishguard. The majority of these men would have been hardened veterans from the long wars against France and Spain and would have experienced fighting on land, as well as shipboard actions. These tough men were unquestionably the most effective troops available to Lord Cawdor. In the photo above we see an officer supervising the dismounting of the guns. Note that the sailors would also take timber and tackle ashore to establish good firing-platforms for their naval guns.

These figures were heavily converted by Mr Small from plastic Perry Miniatures American Civil War figures, as well as Victrix plastic French Napoleonic infantry. The guns are metal models by Redoubt Miniatures.

The Loyal Haverfordwest Volunteers

While a great multitude of armed civilians were making their own way to Fishguard in unofficial ‘Volunteer’ units, some did so on an official basis as official Volunteer Regiments, officially constituted at very short notice and with officers formally commissioned by their county Lords Lieutenant (the King’s representative in each county, who was responsible for commissioning Militia, Volunteer, Fencible and Yeomanry officers within the county).

One such unit was the Loyal Haverfordwest Volunteer Infantry, which was hastily formed on the 23rd February and followed Cawdor’s column to Fishguard. Accounts vary, but the unit had approximately 200 men, organised into three companies. Major Joshua Roch, a wealthy Pembrokeshire landowner, was commissioned to command the unit, while William Bowen, George Roch and Richard Foley were appointed to command the companies.

We know absolutely nothing more about the unit, but can safely say that this was no orderly, uniformed militia! Some men were ex-Army and may have worn their old uniforms, while others may have been issued with uniforms taken from the Pembrokeshire Militia and Royal Navy depots in the town, as well as the Cardiganshire Militia Regimental Headquarters, which was also present. The majority however, would have undoubtedly worn civilian clothes, perhaps with a fieldsign such as a strip of cloth worn on the arm or around the hat.

We opted for the Canadian ‘Sedentary Militia’ figures for the War of 1812 by Knuckleduster Miniatures, painting the officers and NCOs in Pembrokeshire Militia colours of red coats faced bright blue, with gold metalwork for officers. The flag is a simple bedsheet on a pikestaff, painted with the patriotic slogan ‘Ein Duw, Ein Gwlad, Ein Brenin’ (Our God, Our Country, Our King’), which was actually used on the colours of the Cowbridge Volunteers of the period.

Jemima Nicholas (‘Jemima Fawr’) & Friends

Jemima Nicholas was a six-foot tall, 19-stone cobbler from Fishguard. She was known locally as ‘Jemima Fawr’, which is usually translated into the romantic and heroic ‘Great Jemima’, but it could equally be taken to mean ‘Big Jemima’. Aged 41 when the French landed, she was already well-known for breaking up bar-fights in the town, so it was no surprise to anyone when she went out with her hay-fork and came back with twelve drunken French prisoners, who she locked in St Mary’s Church, before heading out to find more!

While this story is almost certainly true, there are lots more legends surrounding Jemima and the local womenfolk generally. In particular, it is often said that Jemima organised the women into an armed militia and, in their fashionable tall stovepipe hats, red woollen shawls and white aprons, marched round and round the hill behind what is now Fishguard High School, in order to fool the French (observing from Carnwnda, across the valley), that they were British Army ‘Redcoats’. However, there is no actual evidence that this ever took place and there are quite a few actual pieces of evidence that go towards disproving this legend. For one, Lord Cawdor actually ordered his aide, Captain William Davies, to manoeuvre the troops in order to give a false impression of strength, so it is entirely likely that the actions of Captain Davies have been misattributed to Jemima.

Secondly, the British Army did not wear stovepipe hats until 1800 at the earliest, so the theory that the Welsh ladies’ headgear resembled Army headgear is not true for 1797. Third, the French didn’t consider surrender until after they had been engaged by Lord Cawdor’s column. Fourth, Lord Cawdor recorded that he was most surprised, to see a body of around 400 armed women at the French surrender parade; so while they were certainly present at the surrender, his surprise would tend to indicate that this was the first time he’d seen or heard of the ‘Welsh Amazons’.

Whatever the truth of the legend, it’s impossible for us to do this project without including Welsh ladies, so Mr Small has modeled a selection of Pembrokeshire ‘Ladies’ and their menfolk doing unspeakable things to Frenchmen with pitchforks, rakes, axes, clubs, rocks, cleavers, scythes and chamber-pots… Much as our wives do to us, in fact…


Posted in 28mm Figures, Fishguard 1797, Napoleonic Wars, Scenarios | 3 Comments

British Forces at Fishguard, 1797 (Part 1)

This is the British order of battle, as organised for a wargame using ‘British Grenadier!’ rules, at a ratio of 1:5 (1 figure representing 5 men). The troop quality ratings also conform to ‘British Grenadier!’, where ‘Elite’ is the best rating, followed by ‘Line’, ‘2nd Line’, ‘Militia’ and ‘Levy’. Generals are rated ‘Good’, ‘Average’ and ‘Poor’.

British Order of Battle

C-in-C: Lieutenant Colonel John Campbell, Lord Cawdor, Pembroke Yeomanry Cavalry [Average]

ADC: Captain William Lloyd Davies (ex 38th Foot)
ADC: Captain, The Honourable William Edwardes (Pembrokeshire Militia)

Directly Under Lord Cawdor’s Command
Castlemartin Troop, Pembroke Yeomanry Cavalry – Major Dudley Ackland 9 Figures      Militia

Fishguard and Newport Volunteer Infantry – Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knox [Average]
Fishguard Division – Captain Essex Bowen                                           20 Figures     Militia
Newport Division – Major William Bowen                                             12 Figures     Militia
Skirmishers – Captain Thomas Nisbett (ex 5th Foot)                           8 Figures      Militia

Militia & Volunteers – Lieutenant Colonel John Colby, Pembrokeshire Militia [Average]
Cardiganshire Militia – Lieutenant-Adjutant Edward L Cole             20 Figures     2nd Line
Pembroke Volunteer Infantry – Captain James Ackland                     20 Figures     Militia
Local Volunteer Auxiliaries                                                                          18 Figures     Levy

Royal Naval Party – Captain Stephen Longcroft [Average]
Royal Navy Crews & Press-Gangs – Lieutenant William Dobbins      20 Figures     Line
Royal Navy Skirmishers – Lieutenant Hopkins                                      6 Figures        Line
Royal Navy Artillery (9 pdrs) – Lieutenant Meakes                               2 Guns            Line

Solva & St David’s Volunteers (Optional) – Mr Henry Whiteside [Poor]
Solva Volunteers (Skirmishers)                                                                   6 Figures       Militia
St David’s Volunteers (Skirmishers)                                                           6 Figures       Militia

Loyal Haverfordwest Volunteer Infantry – Major Joshua Roch [Poor]
Company of Captain William Bowen                                                          16 Figures     Levy
Company of Captain George Roch                                                               16 Figures     Levy
Company of Captain-Lieutenant Richard Foley (Skirmishers)              12 Figures    Militia


1. While the full list of officers is known for each contingent present, in some cases it is not recorded exactly which sub-unit they commanded.  I have therefore arbitrarily assigned them to units for a bit of ‘local colour’ in the game.

2. The actual organisation of the Fishguard & Newport Volunteers was four companies – two each from Fishguard and Newport, with a total strength of 270 men (54 figures).  However, Newport only managed to immediately muster enough men for one company (most of the men being from isolated hill farms who probably hadn’t heard the news), while other men had to be detached to various tasks such as spreading the alarm, scouting and garrisoning Fishguard Fort. Nevertheless, most of the remainder drifted in as news spread, so increase the Newport Division to 20 figures by the start of play on 24th February.

3. The Newport Division of the Fishguard and Newport Volunteers may alternatively be deployed as additional skirmishers.

4. Due to the strong antipathy existing between Cawdor and Knox, apply a -1 modifier whenever Lord Cawdor attempts to change Knox’s orders. However, Knox will not suffer a penalty when attempting to change his own brigade orders.

5. The Cardiganshire Militia are the most experienced line infantry unit present. Although the description of ‘Militia’ suggests part-time soldiers, these men had actually served as (conscripted) full-time soldiers for several years. Therefore, this is the only unit that may claim the ‘British in Line’ firing and mêlée bonuses.

6. It is noted in several accounts that although they were not regular infantry, the Royal Navy men present were all tough veterans of innumerable naval engagements and were probably the best men in Lord Cawdor’s force. Consequently, only the Naval Infantry may operate in Open Order.

7. The naval 9 pdrs have the range of 12 pdrs in ‘British Grenadier’, but the grapeshot firepower effect of 6 pdrs.  Due to their naval gun-carriages and hay-cart transports, they are moved as 12 pdrs and may not be manhandled.

8. Mr Henry Whiteside was a fascinating character – a maker of musical instruments from Liverpool, he had won a competition held by Trinity House to design an offshore lighthouse for the Smalls Rocks (a dangerous reef, 20 miles out into St George’s Channel, between Pembrokeshire and Ireland).  Whiteside then became the first man to successfully send a message in a bottle when he and his party became stranded while building the lighthouse in 1776!  Whiteside and the Volunteers are included here merely to add a bit of fun to the scenario and can be left out if desired.

9. Although we only include two ADCs here for game purposes, there were three other ADCs in the historical order of the battle – Captain Joseph Adams of the Castlemartin Troop of the Pembroke Yeomanry and Captains Owen Philipps and John Philipps of the Dungleddy Troop of the Pembroke Yeomanry.  Lieutenant Colonel James, Commanding Officer of the Cardiganshire Militia also turned up at some point and was present at the signing of the surrender document.

10. The unit of ‘Local Volunteer Auxiliaries’ represents the eighty or so armed men that Cawdor recorded as joining the column during its march to Fishguard.  This unit could also include the fearsome armed Welsh women of legend!

11. The Loyal Haverfordwest Volunteer Infantry were unit of approximately 200 volunteers, frantically formed in that town during the panic of 22nd-23rd February.  We know from the diary of a volunteer that they marched for Fishguard a day behind Cawdor’s column, so can be added to Cawdor’s order of battle from the start of play on 24th February.

The British Commanders

Lieutenant Colonel John Campbell, 1st Baron Cawdor

John Campbell of Stackpole Court was aged 43 when the French landed in 1797. The richest and best-known of Pembrokeshire landowners, he had extensive estates in Scotland, Cardiganshire and south Pembrokeshire and had served as the Member of Parliament for Nairnshire and Cardiganshire before being raised to the Peerage in 1796 as the ‘1st Baron Cawdor of Castlemartin in the County of Pembroke’.

The energetic Lord Cawdor was indefatigable in his efforts to improve his estates and succeeded in turning south Pembrokeshire into a model of agricultural efficiency – a legacy that still survives today. He even had a hand in creating the famous ‘Welsh Black’ breed of cattle. Perhaps surprisingly, he had no real experience as a military commander. He had not served in the Army or Royal Navy and his only military experience was gained through the Pembroke Yeomanry; to which he was appointed, as Officer Commanding the Castlemartin Troop, in 1794.

Nevertheless, his social rank seemed to trump virtually any military rank when the French invaded. Upon arrival with his column at Lord Milford’s headquarters in the Castle Inn, Haverfordwest, Cawdor found himself outranked by at least three other officers – Lord Milford, Lieutenant Colonel Colby of the Militia and Captain Longcroft of the Royal Navy. Nevertheless, Lord Milford granted Cawdor the brevet rank of Lieutenant Colonel and appointed him as commander of all military forces in the county.

However, there was a deep enmity between Cawdor and Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knox of the Fishguard & Newport Volunteer Infantry. The feud went back some years: Knox’s father, William Knox, was a wealthy and powerful man, having been Under-Secretary of State for the American Colonies 1770-82, and was a powerful supporter for the raising of Yeomanry and Volunteers within Pembrokeshire in 1793-94. However, in a piece of classic nepotism, Knox then attempted to appoint his son Thomas to command the Pembrokeshire Yeomanry, but was strongly opposed by the county’s ‘Old Money’. The bad feeling this created led to a schism in the embryonic regiment, resulting in John Campbell (soon to be appointed Lord Cawdor) forming the Pembroke Yeomanry from the county’s disgruntled gentlemen and Knox ending up with the ‘consolation prize’ of the Fishguard & Newport Volunteers.

This feud bubbled over during the Fishguard campaign, when Knox attempted to ‘pull rank’ on Cawdor. However he was slapped down and Cawdor unfairly accused Knox of cowardice in the face of the enemy. This matter eventually resulted in a duel between the two men a few months later, followed by a political scandal over the affair and the resignation of Knox.

Our model of Cawdor was converted by Mr Small from a Perry Miniatures plastic French Hussar figure and painted by Jemima Fawr. Somewhat annoyingly, the Perries have since brought out perfectly suitable plastic British Light Dragoon figures.

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knox, Commanding Officer of The Fishguard & Newport Volunteer Infantry

In 1794, the young Pembrokeshire gentleman Thomas Knox, still in his twenties and with no regular military experience, was appointed as Lieutenant Colonel of the newly-raised Fishguard & Newport Volunteer Infantry. As discussed above, the bad-feeling among Pembrokeshire ‘Society’ caused by this appointment was to have serious and long-lasting repercussions in 1797. Nevertheless, under Knox’s command, the Fishguard & Newport Volunteers became one of the largest volunteer units in Wales and were generally well-regarded.

When invasion came in 1797, the young Lieutenant Colonel Knox was not found wanting; most of his regiment swiftly answered the call and were soon out, scouting the French positions. However, Knox made the fatal error of boasting to the visiting Lieutenant Colonel Colby that his regiment would attack the French at dawn. Colby advised caution, but Knox was insistent that he would attack. It therefore came as a great shock in the morning, when Knox discovered that he was outnumbered at odds of 8 to 1! With his tail between his legs, Knox abandoned Fishguard to its fate and withdrew down the turnpike road to Treffgarne, where Lord Cawdor greeted him with the utmost contempt (even though this move had actually been in accordance with Colby’s advice and was a sound military move).

After the French surrender, dark rumours of Knox’s ‘cowardice’ began to spread, eventually forcing Knox’s resignation as Commanding Officer. Knox and Cawdor even ‘fought’ a duel over the matter, though both men appear to have survived unscathed ad there is no record of what actually transpired at the ‘duel’.

I used the Wellington figure from Redoubt’s ‘Wellington in India’ range for Knox. The figure is modelled with a chivalric sash, but I filed it flat to make a cross-belt. The uniform for this regiment is only known from a single surviving officer’s coat and a rather vague eye-witness’ description, so this figure is fairly conjectural, though it adheres to the known details – white facings and silver metal. The musician’s uniform is also conjectural, though the white coat, red breeches and red waistcoat represent the regulation uniform for a regiment with white facings.

Lieutenant Colonel John Colby, Commanding Officer of the Pembrokeshire Militia

When the French invasion came in 1797, the Pembrokeshire Militia was stationed in Norfolk, manning the Landguard Fort, near Harwich (ironically defending that stretch of coast against French invasion). However, Lieutenant Colonel John Colby, the highly-respected and long-serving Commanding Officer of the Pembrokeshire Militia, had recently returned to Haverfordwest in order to supervise the training of the Supplementary Militia (an additional draft of militia which had been raised following Pitt’s Supplementary Militia Act of 1796).

As soon as the alarm was raised, Colby realised that his newly-raised Supplementary Militia were not remotely ready to face the enemy in battle. At once and without orders, he dispatched the Pembrokeshire Supplementary Militia to relieve the Cardiganshire Militia at Golden Prison. In so doing, he freed the most experienced infantry in the county to join the fight against the French invaders.

Having taken this decisive action, Colby and his aide, the Honourable Captain William Edwardes, mounted their horses and galloped through the darkness to Fishguard. Thankfully avoiding French marauders, they arrived at Fishguard Fort and then met with Lieutenant Colonel Knox and advised him that if he faced a superior force, he should retire toward Haverfordwest, in order to meet the force that would be marching from there. Following this conference, Colby and Edwardes then galloped back to Haverfordwest, arriving back at Lord Milford’s headquarters at the Castle Inn at 5am, just as Cawdor’s forces were arriving from Pembroke.

One of the great questions of the events of 1797 is why Lord Milford did not appoint this extremely experienced and talented officer (by far the most experienced senior officer present) to command the column instead of Cawdor.

The Honourable Captain William Edwardes was the 19 year-old son and heir of Lord William Edwardes, 1st Baron Kensington and MP for Haverfordwest. The younger Edwardes was renowned for being a boorish drunk since his early teens, but nevertheless succeeded his father as 2nd Baron Kensington in 1801 and became a somewhat unpopular MP in 1802, before being supplanted as MP by General Sir Thomas Picton.

The models used for Colby and Edwardes are metal figures by Redoubt Miniatures, painted by Jemima Fawr. They wear the Pembrokeshire Militia uniform of scarlet coat, bright blue facings and gold buttons, epaulettes and lace.

Captain Stephen Longcroft RN, Regulating Captain for Haverfordwest & Milford Haven

Although there was no large-scale Royal Navy presence in Milford Haven and Haverfordwest in 1797, naval vessels would regularly call for replenishment of food, water and ammunition. Additionally, armed Revenue Service cutters, who operated closely with the Navy, were constantly patrolling the smuggler-infested waters around Pembrokeshire and were based in Milford Haven. The Royal Navy also had the right to use ‘Press-Gangs’, who would prowl the inns of coastal towns, looking for sailors who would then be ‘pressed’ into the Royal Navy. All this naval activity required a naval senior officer to co-ordinate and command the naval personnel in the county, as well as to liaise with the civil authorities and local Army units. These senior officers assigned to ports were known as ‘Regulating Captains’; there were two such Regulating Captains in south Wales – one covering Milford Haven and Haverfordwest and the other based in Swansea.

Captain Stephen Longcroft RN was the Regulating Captain for Haverfordwest and Milford Haven. As the most senior regular military officer in the county, he played a pivotal part in the story and was directly responsible for mobilising a considerable force of infantry and artillery from naval crews and press-gangs.

Our model of Captain Longroft was heavily converted by Mr Small from a Perry Miniatures plastic French Hussar figure. The other sailor figures were converted from Perry Miniatures plastic American Civil War figures. All were painted by Mr Small.

Captain William Lloyd Davies, ex-38th Foot, Aide-de-Camp to Lord Cawdor

Captain William Lloyd Davies was commissioned into the 38th Foot in 1775 and served in the American War of Independence, including the Battle of Bunker Hill and many other major engagements. Having long-since left the Army and retired to his estate at Cwm House, in the village of Llangynog, near Carmarthen, he was nevertheless still in the Army Reserve as a ‘Half-Pay Captain’.

When the alarm came, Captain Davies was on the spot in Haverfordwest and immediately volunteered his services to the assembling force. As the only combat veteran on his staff, Cawdor greatly valued Captain Davies’ sound military advice and even asked him to deploy the force at Fishguard so as to convince the French that they faced a superior force; which Cawdor recorded that “he did to great effect”.

It seems highly probable therefore, that Captain Davies’ actions were the original germ of truth that grew into the legend of Jemima Nicholas and the Welsh women ‘marching round the hill’ to fool the French that they were faced by a superior force of Redcoats.

Our model of Captain Davies is a metal figure by Redoubt Miniatures, painted by Jemima Fawr. The uniform of scarlet coat, with yellow facings and silver buttons, epaulettes and lace, is that of the 38th Foot. However, it is possible that Captain Davies was simply dressed in civilian clothes.

Captain Thomas Nisbett, ex-5th Foot, Commanding the Fishguard Volunteers’ Scouts

Another unsung hero of 1797 was Captain Thomas Nisbett. Nisbett was a ‘Half-Pay’ (i.e. retired reservist) light infantry officer with the 5th Regiment of Foot. A veteran of the American War of Independence, it is said that he was in Fishguard awaiting passage to Ireland when the invasion alarm came on the night of 21st February 1797. Nisbett immediately offered his services to Lt Col Knox of the Fishguard & Newport Volunteers and clearly impressed the young colonel, as Knox immediately placed him in command of the Volunteers’ scouts.

Within a few hours, Nisbett had established a screen of scouts between the French landing-site and the town of Fishguard and quickly succeeded in accurately identifying the strength of the invading force. Nisbett’s biggest success however, was in successfully sniffing out an attempted ambush by the French grenadiers on the evening of the 22nd. Had Nisbett not detected the ambush, Cawdor’s column, advancing rashly in the gathering dark along the narrow, high-hedged Trefwrgi Lane, would have been slaughtered by close-range fire and hand-grenades.

It seems that Nisbett never did find passage to Ireland. After the invasion he was put in charge of recovering discarded French weapons and ammunition and also conducted various visiting bigwigs around the scene of the invasion and finally settled in the area.

Nisbett is a metal figure by The Foundry, painted in the uniform of the 5th Foot – red coat with ‘gosling green’ (a horrible light greenish-khaki) and silver metalwork. This depiction is conjectural, as like Captain Davies, he was probably actually in civilian clothes on the day. The Fishguard & Newport Volunteer Infantry are American War of Independence metal figures by Perry Miniatures. All painted by Jemima Fawr.

In Part 2 we will take a detailed look at each British unit engaged at Fishguard, as well as ‘Jemima Fawr’ and her friends…

Posted in 28mm Figures, Fishguard 1797, Napoleonic Wars, Scenarios | Leave a comment

French Forces at Fishguard, 1797

This is the French order of battle, as organised for a wargame using ‘British Grenadier!’ rules, at a ratio of 1:5 (1 figure representing 5 men). The troop quality ratings also conform to ‘British Grenadier!’, where ‘Elite’ is the best rating, followed by ‘Line’, ‘2nd Line’, ‘Militia’ and ‘Levy’. Generals are rated ‘Good’, ‘Average’ and ‘Poor’.

La Seconde Légion des Francs (‘La Légion Noire’)

C-in-C: Chef de Brigade William S Tate [Poor]

ADC: Lieutenant Française L’Hanhard
ADC: Lieutenant Nicolaus Faucon

1er Bataillon, 2e Légion des Francs – Chef de Bataillon Jacques-Phillippe Le Brun [Good]
1er Compagnie des Chasseurs – Capitaine Auguste Marie Didier            20 Figures     Militia
2e Compagnie des Chasseurs – Capitaine Pierre Bertrand                        20 Figures     Militia
3e Compagnie des Chasseurs – Capitaine Louis Garde                              20 Figures     Levy
4e Compagnie des Chasseurs – Capitaine Nicolas Tyrell                           20 Figures     Levy
5e Compagnie des Chasseurs – Capitaine Pierre Paul Gilsero                  20 Figures     Levy
Compagnie des Grenadiers – Capitaine Jacques Eustache                        20 Figures     2nd Line

2e Bataillon, 2e Légion des Francs – Chef de Bataillon Jean-Joseph Larose [Average]
1er Compagnie des Chasseurs – Capitaine Robert Morrison                     20 Figures     Militia
2e Compagnie des Chasseurs – Capitaine Louis Verneueil                        20 Figures     Militia
3e Compagnie des Chasseurs – Capitaine Francois Gambart Larnelle    20 Figures     Levy
4e Compagnie des Chasseurs – Capitaine Jean Baptiste Charmerlot       20 Figures     Levy
5e Compagnie des Chasseurs – Capitaine Charles August Tanerel           20 Figures     Levy
Compagnie des Grenadiers – Lieutenant Barry St Leger                            20 Figures     2nd Line


1. As Tate does not speak any French, apply an additional -1 modifier when Tate attempts to change orders. If Tate dispatches both of his ADCs/translators to command units, this becomes a -2 modifier.

2. Many men had already disappeared into the countryside, so roll a die for each company before the game starts and deduct the resultant number from the starting strength. ‘Levy’ companies roll a D10 (count ‘0’ as 10), while ‘Militia’ companies roll a D6. The Grenadier companies, despite some light loot-and-pillage upon landing, managed to maintain their cohesion as fighting units.

3. The French had no horses present and the locals were very quick in getting their valuable livestock out of harm’s way. The French senior officers and ADCs will therefore only move at the speed of evading infantry – 3 D6.

4. The 1er Chasseur Company and the Grenadier Company in each battalion may be deployed as skirmishers. They may also be deployed in Open Order. The rest lack the training to operate effectively as light infantry.

5. Lieutenant Barry St Leger of the Grenadiers recorded that the Grenadier Companies were well-supplied with large numbers of grenades and had them primed and ready for the planned ambush of Cawdor’s column. In British Grenadier terms, grenades will tip a drawn mêlée in the French Grenadiers’ favour and will also convey the Grenadiers with a +1 mêlée bonus in their first defensive mêlée only.

6. While the full list of company commanders is known, in many cases it is not recorded exactly which company they commanded (the only ones identified are Eustache and St Leger, both of whom were grenadier officers). I have therefore arbitrarily assigned them to units.

7. Regular French light infantry regiments of the period were organised with nine Chasseur (centre) companies and one Carabinier (élite) company per battalion. However, we know from copies of Tate’s own roll of officers that there were only six companies in each battalion and that the élite companies were referred to as ‘Grenadiers’.

Optional Reinforcements

1. While it is recorded that Tate did not take artillery on his expedition in order to increase his mobility, divers have recently discovered a ship’s boat at Carregwastad Point that was loaded with 4 pounder field guns (one such gun had already washed up on the shore nearby and guards the front porch of a local farm). As a ‘what-if’, Tate may therefore add a single 4 pdr battalion gun (2nd Line) to each of his battalions, though these may only be manhandled due to the lack of horseflesh.

2. As discussed, Pembrokeshire was one of the most impoverished counties in the country and corn-riots were a common occurrence right across west Wales. The French had also brought 1,900 muskets and sets of equipment with them with which to arm a local uprising. In the event, fear of the French invaders outweighed any sense of social injustice, but the possibility of insurrection is an intriguing one. Indeed, the riots reached crisis point only three years later due to export of corn and profiteering when local people were starving. A report to Lord Portland in 1800 declared that a mass uprising was imminent and that the locals were only waiting for French troops to land! A full-scale insurrection did indeed erupt in the county during the 1830s and 1840s, in the form of the ‘Rebecca Riots’, which quickly spread to all corners of Wales. It might therefore be interesting to add a few 16-20 figure units of local volunteers (Levy or Militia) to the French force. This might be far more likely if the French win their first engagement.

Chef de Brigade William S Tate, en Commandant de Le Seconde Légion des Francs

William S Tate was born in Wexford, Ireland, sometime around 1737. He emigrated to America with his family, who settled near Charleston, South Carolina. However, Tate’s parents were killed in a raid by Indians, who were operating as partisans for the British in one of their innumerable American wars against the French, Dutch and Spanish and this sowed the seeds of Tate’s violent hatred of the British.

When the American War of Independence broke out in 1775, Tate, now aged approximately 38, was commissioned as an officer of the rebel South Carolina Continental Artillery. However, Charleston fell to the British and he was captured, undoubtedly becoming in the process, even less enamoured by the British. However, he was soon exchanged for a captured British officer and he served as a Captain in the rebel Continental Army until the end of the war in 1783.

Marrying in 1787, he became a relatively successful land speculator, but became embroiled in a scandal regarding the embezzlement of US public funds and his company collapsed as a consequence. In 1793, with the French Revolution now in full swing, he made an even more unwise decision, when he decided to help the French launch a raid from US ports, against British possessions in Florida. However, the US Government had no interest in re-igniting a war with Britain and ordered the arrest of all involved in the plot. Tate fled to France and became fully signed up for the French Revolutionary cause.

So it was that in 1797, aged approximately 60, William S Tate was appointed as Colonel of La Seconde Légion des Francs and with the brevet rank of Chef de Brigade, was placed in command of the expedition to Wales.

Our model of Tate was heavily converted, using epoxy putty, by Martin Small from a plastic figure by Victrix. The infantrymen in the background are also plastic Victrix figures, built and converted by Mr Small. The officers, drummer and standard-bearer surrounding Tate are metal figures by Eureka Miniatures. All were painted by Jemima Fawr.

Chef de Bataillon Jacques-Phillippe Le Brun, en Commandant de la 1er Bataillon, 2e Légion des Francs

Chef de Bataillon Jacques-Phillippe Le Brun was an interesting character; an aristocrat, he held the hereditary title of Le Baron de Rochemure and had served as an officer in the Royal Army of France. He had even fought against the Revolution as an officer in the Duke of Condé’s army and again at Quiberon Bay, during the Vendée Rebellion. Consequently, it is not clear as to what exactly had motivated him to join the Revolutionary cause and the ‘Black Legion’. Maybe he was serving incognito? Or maybe he was given ‘an offer he couldn’t refuse’ by the Republicans? Strange as it may seem, it was not all that unusual to find former aristocrats and Royal Army officers serving in the Republican French forces. Indeed, Napoleon Bonaparte himself had been raised to the nobility and had served as an officer in the Royal Army.

However, it does seem that Le Brun’s heart was not really with the Republican cause. At Fishguard he was instrumental in persuading Tate to surrender and once Tate had decided upon that course of action, Le Brun was sent to make contact with the British forces at Fishguard and was present when the surrender document was finally signed.

Nevertheless, he was regarded by his captors as probably the most competent officer present in Tate’s force and was the only Frenchman present among the four officers taken to London for questioning (the others being the American Tate and the Irishmen, Captain Robert Morrison and Lieutenant Barry St Leger).

Our model of Le Brun is a metal French Revolutionary artillery officer figure by Eureka Miniatures. His aide is a metal French artillery crewman figure, also by Eureka Miniatures. Both were painted by Jemima Fawr. The Black Legionnaires in the background are plastic Victrix figures, assembled and painted (and converted in some cases), by Mr Small.

La Seconde Légion des Francs (‘La Légion Noire’)

La Seconde Légion des Francs (i.e. ‘The Second Free Legion’, aka ‘The Black Legion’), commanded by the Irish-American Chef de Brigade William S Tate, comprised some 1,200-1,400 men, organised into two battalions, each of five Chasseur Companies and one Grenadier Company. Chasseurs (‘Hunters’) were light infantry, while Grenadiers were traditionally the best, toughest and tallest men in a regiment.

The majority of the Legion’s recruits were conscripted scum and jail-scrapings, along with former Vendéean monarchist rebels. However, around 600 were half-decent Revolutionary volunteers, including some idealistic Irish republicans and 200 of these men undoubtedly served in the two Grenadier companies (distinguished by their red epaulettes and plumes). The Grenadiers seem to have been the most effective forces available to Tate and he formed them into a small elite ‘battalion’, which very nearly succeeded in ambushing Lord Cawdor’s British column in the narrow lanes of the Pencaer. However, despite this one bright spot in their record, the Legion was badly demoralised, starving and poorly-led when it landed at Carregwastad and surrendered at virtually the first sign of organised military opposition. It is interesting to speculate what might have happened, had the French landed with well-trained troops, or at least troops who had been fed.

Both the 1er and 2e Légion des Francs were issued with British uniforms that had been captured from Vendéean rebels at Quiberon Bay and were then modified for French Republican use. The original uniforms were short-tailed red coats (some sources show lapels, suggesting cut-down infantry coats, while other sources show short-tailed, single-breasted ‘roundabouts’), mainly with sky-blue facings. These were then apparently re-cut to French light infantry style, with the red being re-dyed black. The dyeing process had mixed results, with the coats of French prisoners also being described variously as ‘brown’ or ‘rust’ by witnesses.

One unidentified witness described the uniform of the prisoners taken at Fishguard to be a black-brown coat, faced blue, with a blue waistcoat and black pantaloons. This is the only description that gives any indication as to the colour of facings or smallclothes. Headgear was described as being casquettes, which typically means leather caps or helmets.

The 1er Légion des Francs, which fought in Ireland, certainly retained the sky-blue facings of the original coats (lapels were black, piped sky-blue). 19th Century French sources also describe sky-blue breeches and red or sky-blue waistcoats. Headgear was the ‘Chapeau Henri IV’; being a hat cocked on the left-side only, with a falling horsehair plume (red, black and green all being recorded as plume colours. Some sources also show red and/or green fringed epaulettes.Another witness described the prisoners’ headgear as a leather cap, with a falling black horsehair mane combed down at one side. However, it is not inconceivable that cocked hats were also worn. The grenadiers would undoubtedly have worn red epaulettes, though it was not unusual for any company to wear red epaulettes in this period. Red grenadier epaulettes are depicted in Crowdy’s Osprey plate of a chasseur from the 2e Légion. Green plumes and epaulettes may have been worn by the chasseur companies and these are shown in 19th Century depictions of the 1er Légion.

Edward Laws’ account from 1888 describes the French as being equipped with ‘redundant cavalry helmets’ and black leather belts and equipment. However, 19th Century French sources show hats (cocked and slouched) and white belts.

Yet another account describes how the French soldiers stole striped ‘ticking’ from the bedding of farmhouses and made overall trousers from the stolen material.

Flags are not described in detail, though ‘some flags bearing the Liberty Tree’ device are described by a witness as being among the captured arms and equipment. A ‘tricolour’ is also mentioned being raised above the rocks of Carnwnda. We have therefore opted for the American-style ‘Liberty Tree’ device described by the witness and copied from American Revolution designs, along with the French translation of the American Revolutionary slogan ‘Liberty or Death’.

Tate was described by Colonel Dering of the Fencibles as wearing ‘a long, blue coat, faced scarlet, with blue pantaloons, white waistcoat and a cocked hat with national cockade’.

It is highly unlikely that the Legion’s Grenadiers wore traditional full-dress bearskin caps, but we’ve depicted them with such headgear simply in order to break up the monotony!Given the brown coats, Liberty Tree flags and general uncertainty about the uniforms, you could happily use American Continentals to represent the French at Fishguard. American troops in light infantry caps would be especially suitable. If you want to paint this unit from scratch, the Perry Saratoga British might be useful for troops in leather caps, while AWI British infantry in slouch hats would be very suitable for troops dressed in the style of the 1er Légion. However, we have used the excellent Victrix plastic 1804 French Infantry figures with some converted 1815 Perry plastic figures, though you could also use Foundry, Eureka, Brigade Models, Dixon or Trent Revolutionary Wars French.

Most of the figure-building and all of the conversion was done by the talented hand of Mr Small, while the painting was split 50/50 between Mr Small and Jemima Fawr.


Posted in 28mm Figures, Fishguard 1797, Napoleonic Wars, Scenarios | Leave a comment

The Battle That Never Was – Fishguard 1797

The ‘Battle’ of Fishguard
And the Repulse of the Last Invasion of Great Britain
22-25 February 1797

A Scenario for ‘British Grenadier!’ by Mr Small & Jemima Fawr

Tate, safe behind Llanwnda rocks,
Was not afraid of Colonel Knox.
Knox, safe behind the turnpike gate,
Was not afraid of Colonel Tate.
– Popular traditional Pembrokeshire verse


Of all the many and glorious battle honours of the British Army, only one was ever awarded for an action conducted on British soil, and that honour was only bestowed on one regiment.  The regiment was the Pembroke Yeomanry and the battle honour was ‘Fishguard 1797’.  Queen Victoria granted the honour to the regiment in 1853 for having repulsed the last invasion of Britain (by a Republican French army).  This battle honour is also notable for the fact that it is unquestionably the most bizarre British battle honour ever awarded, as there was no actual battle!

However, the events surrounding the battle honour are unquestionably interesting; not least because they might form a superb basis for a historical comedy novel.  Nevertheless, the honour was well-deserved, in that the ‘Battle’ of Fishguard was won by swift and decisive action on the part of the local militia forces, determined belligerence by the local population and sheer nerve and masterful bluff on the part of the senior British officers, in the face of what were quite considerable odds arrayed against them.

As proud Pembrokeshire men, the authors take the view that if Pembrokeshire has to have a war, this is exactly the sort of war that Pembrokeshire ought to be good at: slightly shambolic, quaintly old-fashioned, people turning up late or not at all, plenty of alcohol, rampant xenophobia (though there would have been far more violence if the invaders had been from North Wales), stubborn belligerence and terrifying, matriarchal women who excel at applied violence… It’s enough to bring a proud, patriotic tear to our collective eye.

Nevertheless, the events of 1797 had every possibility of getting very nasty indeed and it is only through a few quirks of fate that events played out in such a bloodless manner.  Consequently, there is plenty of scope for ‘what-if’ and the resultant possibilities are eminently wargameable.  Additionally, given the small scale of the ‘battle’, the small size of the units involved and the very broken nature of the terrain, we believe that British Grenadier!, which was originally designed for fighting the battles of the American War of Independence, is an ideal set of rules to use to recreate the events of 1797.

Given the tiny size of units here, added to the desire to represent all the various contingents and personalities, we have opted for a 1:5 figure-to-man ratio (so 20 figures represents 100 men) and a 1:1.5 ratio for artillery (where 2 models represent 3 guns).

Please note that this series of articles is an expanded and amended version of the article that appears in the British Grenadier! Scenario Book #3. We have done a lot more research since writing the original article for the scenario book.

Historical Background

For the uninitiated, Fishguard is a port-town situated on the north coast of the county of Pembrokeshire, which forms a remote, rugged and beautiful peninsular in the far south-west corner of Wales.  The port nestles in a sheltered bay in the lee of the rocky Pencaer peninsular and has throughout its history been used as a sheltered embarkation point for crossing to Ireland.

18th Century Pembrokeshire (known as ‘Little England Beyond Wales’) was one of the most impoverished counties in Great Britain and Ireland, where ‘corn-riots’ were sadly commonplace.  Existing in ‘splendid isolation’, the county was frequently cut off from the rest of Britain in winter by flooding of the major rivers on the eastern approaches and as a consequence, the county was considered somewhat remote and ‘backward’.  Fishguard was even considered remote and backward by Pembrokeshire standards!  In 1807, when the town of Carmarthen, 35 miles to the east, was enjoying cobbled streets and gas lighting, one diarist reported that Fishguard was ‘notable only because it was so badly built’.  He went on to say that the town still had dung-hills in the streets.

Fishguard in 1797, as seen from Fishguard Fort

Fishguard was briefly lifted from obscurity in 1779, when war arrived unexpectedly in the form of the American privateer Black Prince, which captured a merchantman in the bay and demanded ransom from the town.  Having bombarded the town, the Black Prince was eventually driven off by accurate fire from a local smuggler using his own cannon, which was hidden with his boat in a nearby cave.  The total lack of official opposition to the raid embarrassed the town fathers sufficiently that a fort was soon built on land donated by one Gwynne Vaughan (who would become the fort’s commander) and funded by the Lord Lieutenant for Pembrokeshire.  The stone-built fort was fan-shaped and mounted eight 9-pounder guns, crewed by three invalided Royal Artillery gunners supported by local volunteers.  The fort would become the headquarters for Thomas Knox’s Fishguard and Newport Volunteer Infantry and would play a decisive role in the events of 1797.

By 1794 the War of the First Coalition against Revolutionary France was not going well for Britain.  The French Republican forces had proven themselves to be better organised than expected and not quite the pushover the old powers of Europe were anticipating.  British forces were quagmired in Flanders, while Britain’s allies had been repulsed by the French and were starting to look to their own affairs, leaving Britain increasingly isolated and threatened with invasion.  Indeed, French privateers had already conducted at least one successful raid on mainland Great Britain and a lot more were to be expected.  This greatly concerned the British government, who realised that a rapid expansion of British military forces was urgently needed and additional militia forces would be required.  The existing Militia and Fencible regiments were already fully mobilised and committed to relieving regular Army units so that they could be deployed abroad.  This meant that many counties were entirely undefended, as their militias were serving well away from their homes; often defending major ports and naval bases in the south and east.  The Lords Lieutenant (i.e. the Crown’s representative in each county) were consulted and the response was very enthusiastic – all over the country, new ‘Volunteer Corps’ and ‘Gentlemen Yeomanry’ were soon appearing as patriots answered the call.  There was an added incentive for volunteers, as service with a volunteer corps meant that the volunteer’s name would be removed from the parish ballot that conscripted men for service in the ‘regular’ Militia.

Wolf Tone

In 1796, the invasion that Britain feared and had been preparing for began to take shape as French privateers decimated British merchant shipping and humiliated the over-stretched Royal Navy.  The ‘Directory’ then governing Revolutionary France was planning a 15,000-man invasion of Ireland, which would support a general uprising by the Society of United Irishmen.  The architect of this plan was one Theobald Wolf Tone, a founding member of the Society, who had lobbied hard in Paris for official French support.  Finally he had that support and General Lazarre Hoche, commanding l’Armée des Côtes de l’Océan was ordered to provide the troops.  Hoche was fanatically anti-British, having seen their hand behind the recent Vendée Rebellion, and had already been planning raids against the British mainland.  His plans were therefore adopted as diversionary operations for the main operation against Ireland.

Hoche’s first diversionary plan involved the transportation of 5,000 men on flat barges, up the North Sea to Newcastle, where there was thought to be considerable sympathy for the Republican cause.  The second diversionary force, with 1,500 men, would sail to the Bristol Channel, land and burn Bristol (then Britain’s second city), then cross the Bristol Channel and land near Cardiff, where the embarked force would raise insurrection among the dispossessed Celtic masses before marching north, burning Chester and Liverpool along the way.  The plans were nothing if not ambitious!

Lazarre Hoche

Wolf Tone’s Ireland flotilla of fifteen ships of the line and numerous smaller vessels, set sail from Brest on 16th December 1796.  While mid-winter was considered as a good time to mount an invasion is anyone’s guess.  Inevitably, the weather deteriorated rapidly and the fleet only just managed to make its rendezvous at Bantry Bay on 21st December.  However, they were by now in the teeth of a gale – even the British fleet defending Ireland, who knew the local waters intimately, had decided to put into the shelter of Cork harbour.  The conditions were definitely not good for an invasion!  The invasion flotilla was then driven out into the Atlantic by the easterly gale and was scattered.  To Wolf Tone’s disgust, the fleet returned to Brest one month after setting out.

Nevertheless, the diversionary raids continued: The Newcastle flotilla, carrying General Quantin’s La Légion Franche set sail as planned, but the unseaworthy barges were totally unsuited to the conditions found in the North Sea and the flotilla was forced into Dunkirk, where the troops mutinied, putting an undignified end to that expedition!

The Bristol-bound flotilla meanwhile, set sail from Camaret on 18th February 1797.  Commanded by Commodore Jean Joseph Castagnier, who had distinguished himself at Dunkirk in 1792, the squadron consisted of France’s two most modern frigates; the 40-gun Résistance and her sister-ship Vengeance, the 44-gun frigate Indefatigable (which was a cut-down 64-gun ship of the line), the 22-gun corvette Constance and the 14-gun lugger Vautour.  The embarked troops consisted of La Seconde Légion des Francs (also known as La Légion Noire due to the colour of their coats), comprising some 1,400 men and commanded by Chef de Brigade William S Tate.

William S Tate, as Commanding Officer of La Légion Noire, actually held the substantive rank of Colonel.  However, he held the brevet rank of Chef de Brigade due to this independent mission.  Tate, a 70 year-old, Irish-born native of South Carolina, had served as an officer in the Continental Artillery during the American War of Independence, but had been disgraced following accusations of embezzlement of Army funds and a subsequent court-martial.  Later he was involved in a plot by French privateers to raid British settlements from bases in the USA.  This plot was broken up by the US administration and Tate then exiled himself to France, where he signed up along with a number of Irish adventurers, to the Revolutionary cause.  However, Tate had one major disadvantage in commanding a force of Frenchmen… he didn’t speak a word of French.

The 2e Légion des Francs meanwhile was a motley bunch of criminals, deserters, prisoners of war, rebel turncoats and other assorted reprobates, leavened by a number of American and Irish adventurers and some 400 French revolutionary volunteers.  Half of the volunteers were probably massed in the Legion’s two grenadier companies, who are recorded as being about the only credible fighting forces present.  The turncoat Vendéean rebels known as ‘Chouans’ (‘Owls’), numbered around 200.  The rest were various assorted scum and it is recorded that many of the latter group were embarked in chains – indeed, some were taken prisoner at Fishguard still wearing shackles and chains!  It is most notable that in Hoche’s lengthy and detailed orders to Tate (which had been translated by Wolf Tone, as neither Hoche nor Tate spoke each other’s language), Hoche seems to presume that the Legion comprised the finest troops in France and not the worst gang of ill-disciplined scum ever to have worn uniform!

Tate and the Black Legion

Castagnier’s squadron, flying Russian colours, entered the Bristol Channel on the morning of 19th February, having sunk a cutter that came too close.  However, progress up the Channel became increasingly difficult as a stiff easterly wind blew up, just as it had done during the Bantry Bay operation.  Nearing Ilfracombe, they captured and then sank two more vessels.  Now the alarm was raised.  The Militia was called out in North Devon and they rushed to the scene, fearing an invasion.  A cutter meanwhile, landed in Swansea and reported the French squadron to the Royal Navy Regulating Captain there, who swiftly called out the local Volunteers and sent dispatches to his colleagues in Bristol, Plymouth and Milford Haven, alerting them of the danger.  Castagnier meanwhile, had given up in his attempts to sail up to Bristol and the winds also ruled out landing at Cardiff as planned.  Castagnier suggested Swansea Bay as an alternative landing site, but Tate insisted on Hoche’s alternative plan, which was to land on Cardigan Bay, in West Wales.

On the 22nd, Castagnier’s squadron was spotted passing St David’s Head by one Mr Williams of Trelethin, an old sailor who wasn’t fooled for one minute by the British colours that Castagnier’s ships were now flying.  He knew they were French (as, apparently, did Mrs Williams)!  Servants were sent galloping to raise the alarm at St David’s and Solva, while Mr Williams and some men tracked the flotilla along the coast.  Meanwhile, the Revenue cutter Diligence (14 Guns), Captained by Lt William Dobbins, was being pursued by Castagnier around St David’s Head.  In a valiant effort to evade pursuit, Dobbins took his ship across the lethally-dangerous reefs known as ‘The Bitches’ between St David’s Head and Ramsey Island, to avoid the French.  Castagnier then broke off the pursuit and sailed on into Cardigan Bay.  Dobbins then took the Diligence into Milford Haven to raise the alarm.  He was later awarded a presentation sword by the Customs Board in recognition of his bravery.

By 2pm on the 22nd the squadron was anchored off the wild and remote Carregwastad Point, just to the east of Strumble Head and out of sight of Fishguard town.  The Vautour, flying British colours, sailed into Fishguard Bay to reconnoitre the planned landing site at Goodwick Sands.  However, the gunners at Fishguard Fort were not fooled by the friendly colours (having possibly been alerted by Mr Williams’ message) and they immediately fired a blank round to alert the local Volunteers.  Alarmed, the Vautour immediately turned about and sailed back to the squadron’s anchorage; they weren’t to know that the fort held only sixteen powder charges and three rounds of ammunition!

With Fishguard Bay seemingly defended by the fort, Tate and Castagnier decided to land directly from their anchorage at Carregwastad Point.  The 200ft cliffs there were steep and difficult, but the weather was now unseasonably calm and mild, so landing would be relatively easy, despite the difficult terrain.  So as darkness fell on 22nd February 1797, the last invasion of Britain began.

In remarkably quick time, the Legion was ashore with some 1,200 to 1,400 men (sources vary), 2 women and a great store of supplies, including muskets and equipment for another 1,900 men who would be raised from local volunteers.  However, things were already unraveling for Tate; even the Grenadiers, theoretically the most disciplined men in the force, were soon engaged in looting the church and village of Llanwnda.  The rest of the Legion meanwhile, having been on starvation rations while at sea, went on an orgy of pillaging.  Any hope of winning the local, ‘oppressed’ population to their side was lost forever.  There were at least two rapes and two murders as the local farms were looted, though the local population had already started fighting back; one soldier was knocked senseless by a chair-leg swung by an indignant farmer, while another Frenchman was tipped head-first down a well by an angry farm-maid!  An atrocity was also committed on a grandfather clock at Brestgarn Farm, when a French soldier shot it, mistaking the click of its mechanism to be the cocking of a firelock!  Things only got even more out of hand when the Frenchmen discovered large stores of wine, which had been salvaged from a wrecked Portuguese coaster some weeks before and hidden away from the Customs men by the local population.  Before long, any shreds of discipline had vanished as Tate’s men went on one of the largest alcoholic binges in Welsh history.

One of the locals shows her displeasure at French looting!

Alarm and panic was now spreading rapidly through the countryside.  The locals (particularly the wealthier locals) fled for the relatively safety of the county’s towns, while farmers drove their livestock away from the ravening hordes of Frenchmen, thus denying Tate the horses he needed.  At Tregwynt, a large farmhouse only a few miles west of the French landing, young militia officers were attending a dance when a breathless Volunteer arrived at the door to declare “The French are landing at Pencaer!”.  Immediate panic and pandemonium reigned as the officers’ wives and families were sent on their way, while men barricaded the entrances and loaded all the available firearms.  One of the officers present was Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knox, the young commander of the Fishguard and Newport Volunteer Infantry; he called for his horse and set out for his headquarters at Fishguard Fort.  Taking the coastal route, he saw the ships lying at anchor offshore, but assumed them to be friendly and saw no sign of Frenchmen – he was lucky not to be captured.  As he passed along Goodwick Sands, he met Ensign David Bowen hurrying in the opposite direction with 70 men, fully armed and ready to fight.  Knox ordered them to return to Fishguard Fort and hurried there himself, where he found the rest of his men starting to assemble, along with a retired light infantry officer on half-pay, by the name of Thomas Nisbett, formerly of the 5th Regiment of Foot.  Captain Nisbett was awaiting passage to Ireland, but was pleased to offer his services to Knox.  Knox immediately took him on-strength and placed him in command of the scouts – a fortuitous decision.

In the south of the county, word of the invasion was spreading like wildfire.  The arrival of the cutter Diligence at Milford Haven stirred up a hornet’s nest as dispatches sped north to Haverfordwest and east to the Lord Lieutenant for Pembrokeshire & Haverfordwest, Richard Philipps, Lord Milford at Picton Castle.  Upon receipt of this report, Lord Milford instantly sent orders to John Campbell, Lord Cawdor, commander of the Pembroke Yeomanry, at Stackpole Court.

Captain Stephen Longcroft meanwhile, the Royal Navy Regulating Captain for the ports of Haverfordwest and Milford Haven, was already taking steps to fight the invasion: he ordered the crew of the revenue cutter Speedwell to dismount their guns.  Eight 9-pounder guns and their naval carriages were dismounted from the Speedwell, which were then loaded into hay-carts and taken to Haverfordwest.  The lugger Valiant meanwhile, was dispatched to fetch aid from Admiral Kingsmill and the fleet at Cork.  Upon arrival at

Captain Stephen Longcroft RN

Haverfordwest, five of the guns, with a detachment of sailors, were positioned in the old Civil War fortifications around the town’s ruined castle.  The remaining three guns (still in their carts) and the crews of Speedwell and Diligence were then joined by the local naval press-gangs and the whole Royal Navy contingent, under the command of Captain Longcroft, prepared to join the march to Fishguard.

At Stackpole Court, Lord Milford’s orders arrived at 11pm on the 22nd: ‘To the Commanding Officer of the Loyal Pembroke Yeomanry Cavalry – These are to direct you on Receipt hereof or as soon as you may be to march the men under your command to Haverfordwest.’ By sheer luck, Lord Cawdor’s own Castlemartin Troop of the Pembroke Yeomanry Cavalry was already assembled at Stackpole Court with full kit, ready to march to Haverfordwest for a funeral that was to be held on the 23rd.  Lord Cawdor set out immediately, meeting Lieutenant Edward Cole’s company of the Cardiganshire Militia at Pembroke and collecting Captain James Ackland’s company of the Pembroke Volunteer Infantry at Pembroke Ferry.  There were now some 400 men marching to Knox’s aid.

John Campbell, 1st Baron Cawdor

At Haverfordwest, the town’s mayor and Lieutenant Colonel John Colby of the Pembrokeshire Militia had established a headquarters and ‘Defence Committee’ at the Castle Inn, in an attempt to co-ordinate the response to the invasion.  In order to ascertain the exact military situation (or maybe to escape the machinations of the Committee) Colby and his aide, Captain Edwardes, galloped through the pitch darkness, the fifteen miles to Fishguard Fort.  Upon arrival at the fort, Colby witnessed the reassuring sight of Major William Bowen’s Newport Division of the Fishguard & Newport Volunteers, marching in to reinforce the garrison.  Upon finding Knox, Colby was assured by the young Colonel that the French force numbered no more than a few hundred and that with his full regiment, Knox would attack the French position at first light on the 23rd.  Colby was not so easily convinced and counseled caution, recommending that Knox retire towards Haverfordwest to meet the relief column that would be marching up the turnpike road.  Nevertheless, Knox was determined and Colby and Edwardes took their leave of him just after midnight, arriving back at the Castle Inn, Haverfordwest just after dawn.

Captain Longcroft and Lord Milford were also now at the Castle Inn and had sent orders and dispatches flying to all corners of the country.  Lord Cawdor’s column also arrived in the early morning and there was a brief conference as the chain of command was established.  Despite being the senior officer present, the gouty Lord Milford declined command and instead appointed Lord Cawdor due to his youth, dynamism and interest in military affairs.  Lieutenant Colonel Colby and Captain Longcroft were actually far more senior to Cawdor, though both deferred to Cawdor’s command.  With the chain of command decided, the column marched north to meet the French.

With daybreak, Knox marched his regiment out of the fort and began to form his men for the planned attack – 190 Volunteers out of Knox’s full strength of 270 had mustered thus far.  The growing light also brought a flurry of fresh reports from the indefatigable Captain Nisbett and his chain of scouts.  To Knox’s utter horror, Nisbett reported a total French strength of 1,400 men landed at Carregwastad, with at least 600 of them having taken up strong positions on the rocky heights of Carnwnda and Carn Gelli.  Knox now realised the full scale of his situation: he was outnumbered by odds of around 8:1!  Knox was now faced with a dilemma: to attack would be heroic but suicidal, but the alternative was to retreat, which would expose the town and population of Fishguard to French attack.  Having already declared his intention to attack to Colby, he would also now lose face by retreating.  Nevertheless, Colby’s advice was sound and Nisbett’s intelligence was reliable.  With this in mind, Knox finally decided that discretion was the better part of valour. He ordered the fort’s guns to be spiked (something the three disgusted professional gunners at the fort actually refused to do) and marched his regiment south to meet the relief force, leaving Fishguard to the mercy of the French.

‘Jemima Fawr’ and friends bring in a prisoner

The French meanwhile were already feeling the wrath of the local populace who, having scattered during the initial panic, were now starting to get angry and get armed!  In the fishing village of Solva, a famous lighthouse engineer by the name of Henry Whiteside raised a small band of volunteers from armed sailors and, after borrowing a horse, led his brave little band to fight the French.  Another party of volunteers similarly set out from the tiny City of St David’s, having first earned the ire of the Dean by melting down the cathedral roof’s lead to make musket-balls.  Nearing Carn Gelli, Whiteside’s men encountered a group of Frenchmen who fired at them without effect.  The ‘Solva Volunteers’ then returned fire, killing one, wounding two and setting the rest to flight.  It is said that Tate, watching from the peak of Carn Gelli as Whiteside’s volunteers skirmished aggressively with his men, realised at that point that the Welsh were definitely not ripe for Revolution!  Near Carnwnda, two local men attacked a group of looters and were successful in killing one, but both were then killed by the other French looters.  Numerous other skirmishes were taking place all over the area, with soldiers and civilians alike being wounded and a number of Frenchmen being captured by indignant locals.  None was more indignant than one Jemima Nicholas, a formidable 41 year-old cobbler from Fishguard, who went out with her pitchfork and brought in twelve prisoners before going back out to find more!

To add to Tate’s problems, Castagnier’s squadron, having fulfilled its orders to land Tate’s force on British soil, weighed anchor and set sail for Dublin in accordance with its orders, which were to interdict British reinforcements heading for Ireland (these orders assumed that the Bantry Bay landings had been successful, which they had not).  In this mission Castagnier successfully intercepted a fleet of 12 transports, taking 400 prisoners.  However, the squadron ran into trouble on the journey home, suffering severe damage during a storm and then being intercepted by the British frigates La Nymphe and St. Fiorenzo.  After a sharp battle, the Résistance and the Constance were taken as prizes by the British and were towed into Plymouth.  The Résistance in Royal Navy service was renamed HMS Fisgard (‘Fisgard’ being the original, Norse spelling of Fishguard).

Lord Cawdor’s column, proceeding north from Haverfordwest, encountered Knox’s retiring force at Treffgarne at around mid-day on the 23rd.  Knox in the meantime, had been vindicated in his decision to retreat, as a dispatch had been since received from Lord Milford, ordering Knox to retire toward Haverfordwest, to meet the relief force.  However, there was no love lost between the two commanders and Knox, being militarily senior to Cawdor, was firmly of the opinion that he should be in command of the expedition.  In retort, Cawdor made cutting remarks regarding Knox’s retreat and the discussion began to get ugly (so ugly that it resulted in a duel some months later).  However, Colby and Longcroft made it quite clear to Knox that Cawdor was in command and Knox grudgingly submitted himself to Cawdor’s authority.  Nevertheless, Cawdor managed to get in the final insult, ordering Knox’s regiment to fall in at the rear of the column.  The column now numbered 594 men: the French still outnumbered them by more than 2:1.

Lt Col Colby deploys the column to face the French

The first French troops were encountered at 5pm; a detachment of Yeomanry spotted them breaking into the summer house at Manorowen House, some 2 miles south of the French position at Llanwnda.  Shots were exchanged, though no casualties were suffered by either side and the French troops escaped to warn Tate of the approaching column.  Tate had by now gathered the bulk of his forces on the steep, rocky hilltop of Carnwnda, which stands just to the south of Llanwnda village and dominates the surrounding landscape.  Despite the gathering darkness, Cawdor was determined to put an immediate attack in against the invader and his column continued winding its way up narrow lanes, past the village of Goodwick, to Carnwnda.As darkness fell, Tate, now fully aware of the approaching danger, ordered the 200 men of his two grenadier companies forward to a hedge-line that bordered the road from Goodwick and afforded an excellent ambush position.  According to the account of Irish Grenadier Lieutenant Barry St Leger, the 200 men waited behind the hedgerow, grenades in hand, ready to pour death into the British column.  However, the light infantry veteran Captain Thomas Nisbett was earning his half-pay on this night; operating well-forward with the scouts, he sniffed out the grenadiers’ ambush and quickly warned the column of the danger ahead.  The French grenadiers, having realised that their ambush had been discovered, fell back in an orderly manner to the safety of the rocky heights of Carn Gelli, firing rolling platoon volleys into the darkness to discourage pursuit.  Lord Cawdor was already having difficulty in bringing the naval guns on their hay carts, up the narrow lanes to Carnwnda and the warning of ambush prompted him to call off the attack.  The British force made its way instead to Fishguard and formed up in battle order on the heights to the south of the town, facing across the valley toward the French positions.

The situation was now unravelling for Tate.  A precipitous British attack on his strong position on Carnwnda might have brought about a French victory, but now he was faced with the prospect of having to break out of his bridgehead; a task that now seemed impossible, given the ill-discipline of his men.  His officers were also now on the verge of mutiny and were demanding that terms for surrender be sought from the British.  At 8pm on the 23rd, Tate’s second-in-command, Chef de Bataillon Le Brun, set out for Fishguard to seek terms from Lord Cawdor.

In a piece of masterful bluff, Lord Cawdor contemptuously refused to accept Tate’s suggested terms, telling Le Brun that the British forces arrayed at Fishguard were superior to Tate’s own forces and that nothing short of unconditional surrender would be acceptable.  This of course, was far from the truth: Cawdor was outnumbered by more than 2:1, with little hope of rapid reinforcement, and the quality of his troops, exhausted by a hard force-march on the 23rd, was in many cases, little better than the French!

Legend records that hundreds of local women, wearing the Welsh fashion of red woollen shawl and tall, brimmed stovepipe hat, were organised by Cawdor into marching back and forth, giving the impression from a distance of massed British infantry.  However, this is almost certainly myth.  Nevertheless, Cawdor did record that around 400 women turned out to fight the French, having armed themselves with various weapons.  However, this seems to have happened after the French surrender.

Whatever the truth of the ‘Welsh Warrior Women’ legend, a thoroughly demoralised Tate submitted to Cawdor’s terms and the articles of surrender were signed on the 24th at Cawdor’s headquarters in the Royal Oak Inn at Fishguard.  Had he not surrendered Tate’s problems would only have increased, as by now around 5,000 troops were on the move to oppose him: Lieutenant General James Rooke, commander of the Severn District and Bristol Garrison, was already sailing to take control of the situation, while Volunteers were marching from Cardigan, Towyn, Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil.  The Carmarthenshire Yeomanry Cavalry were already less than a single day’s march away.  Most remarkably, the New Romney Fencible Light Dragoons had marched the 61 miles from Worcester to Llandovery in only 15 hours and were only a few days’ march away and the Staffordshire Militia were a day or two behind them.  The garrison of Bristol meanwhile, consisting of the Royal Buckinghamshire Militia, the Suffolk Provisional Cavalry and the 13th (1st Somerset) Regiment of Foot, was readying itself to sail to Pembrokeshire.  As the word spread further across the country, an unrecorded multitude of Volunteers, Militia, Fencibles and simple civilians took up arms and rushed to the scene.

Armed civilians rush to meet the invaders

On the 25th Tate’s entire force was marched down to Goodwick Sands, where they paraded in front of Cawdor’s force, which had now (according to the diary of one witness) been reinforced by approximately 40,000 spectators and 2,000 armed locals.  There, the Légion Noire laid down their arms.  The Last Invasion of Great Britain was ended.

The French surrender on Goodwick Sands


In Military Terms the expedition was pure comic opera and had achieved nothing, while diverting French military resources and squandering nearly two-thousand men and two ships.  However, the consequences for the Government in London were not at all funny.  The news that French troops were ashore on the British mainland caused a run on the banks.  Gold was already short, mainly because so much had been exported to subsidise Britain’s allies, or spent on importing grain after the bad harvest of 1795-96, and the Bank of England was forced to suspend the convertibility of its notes and also issued the first £1 note as a cheaper replacement for coinage. This ‘temporary’ measure lasted until 1821 and the £1 note stayed in use until the 1980s!

Ironically, the same people of Pembrokeshire who had stood fast for King & Country against the invader in 1797 were in open insurrection some four decades later, as the ‘Rebecca Riots’ erupted in the county and spread like wildfire across Wales.  The Pembroke Yeomanry were once again in action then – this time against their own people.  Nevertheless, the memory of 1797 runs deep in Pembrokeshire, even though it is now remembered largely as the time the Welsh matriarchs single-handedly scared off the French!  In 1997, on the occasion of the 200th Anniversary of the invasion, Colonel Tate once again handed over his sword on Goodwick Sands; only this time, the Colonel Tate in question was the direct descendant of the unfortunate Chef de Brigade, was wearing the uniform of the US Army and was entirely happy to be there!

In the next instalments we will take a closer look at the military units and personages involved, as well as their uniforms and what models we used to recreate  them on the tabletop.  We will also post a number of wargame scenarios based on the events of 1797, as well as some ideas for fighting the invasion as a wider campaign across Wales.

Posted in 28mm Figures, Fishguard 1797, Games, Napoleonic Wars, Scenarios | Leave a comment

A Very British Civil War 1938: Royalist Units in Pembrokeshire

The Loyal West Carmarthenshire Greenjackets (who refer to themselves as ‘The Chosen Men’) are a light infantry unit raised chiefly from Loyalist land-owners and estate workers in western Carmarthenshire. Partly welsh-speaking, the unit is tasked with patrolling the eastern end of the Landsker Marches; in an arc stretching around the north and east sides of the vital railway-junction at Whitland. In contrast to the similarly-roled Loyal Landsker Legion, the Greenjackets have built up a reputation based on military expertise – fieldcraft, toughness and marksmanship – rather than sheer brutality and fear. Consequently, they have built up an extensive network of informants and listening-posts, based mainly on the power of Mams, Nans, aunties and other little Welsh old ladies, who know all and see all and are always keen to share all with a nice, polite young man who is willing to stop for a cup of tea and a Welsh-cake… for several hours (and who will sell their own grandchildren for a pound of Twining’s)…

Their Commanding Officer, Lt Col Howard ‘Honker’ Foley DSO MC DFC is a colourful character, who was commissioned into the Rifle Brigade in WW1, before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps, with whom he served in the Balkans Campaign. His career continued after WW1 and he served with the RAF on the North-West Frontier, in Afghanistan, the Levant and Arabia, before finally resigning his Commission and returning to his estate at Llanboidy. However, adventure beckoned once more and he was soon flying casualty-evacuation missions for the French Foreign Legion in West Africa before further adventures in Canada and Kenya. With the approach of war, he formed a highly efficient LDV Militia in the Llanboidy area, which eventually became the Greenjackets. However, the Welsh Nationalists refused to accept their neutrality as an LDV and their belligerence forced the Greenjackets to side with the King. The figures are Musketeer/Footsore Miniatures Royal Irish Constabulary Auxiliaries, plus a few dismounted Yeomanry Cavalry figures:

The Loyal Landsker Legion is a highly-mobile and well-armed mounted infantry unit with partial mechanisation, having been formed by the Narberth land-owner and former Indian Army cavalry officer, Banister Templeton in reaction to raids and banditry by Welsh Nationalists. The unit is raised chiefly from Welsh-speaking Loyalists living in the ‘Landsker’ border area of central Pembrokeshire and is tasked with patrolling the Landsker Marches and keeping the railway and the main A40 road free from Welsh Nationalist interference. The Legion is well-known for its bottle-green uniforms with grass-green facings, which were deliberately chosen as a way of blending in when on ‘external’ operations north of the Landsker (bottle-green being a popular uniform colour among Welsh Nationalist factions). However, their terrifying reputation for brutality has earned them fear and hatred in equal measure from the Welsh-speaking peoples north of the Landsker, as well as admiration from the BUF Blackshirts. The figures are Musketeer Miniatures Yeomanry/BUF Cavalry:

The King’s Dragoon Guards: The Royalist enclave of Pembrokeshire was firmly at the back of the queue for reinforcements and after the loss of all the deep-water ports on the Milford Haven Waterway, the supply situation became even more critical. Nevertheless, some reinforcements did get through, including ‘C’ Squadron of the King’s Dragoon Guards. Their Vickers Mk VIb Light Tanks were small and light enough to be loaded onto coastal craft and unloaded at the small harbours in Tenby and Saundersfoot. The models here are by Warlord Games, with crew by Empress Miniatures:

 The ‘English Mistery’, so enthusiastically supported by Baron de Loutson and his friends, was a curious mix of fascism, ultra-Royalism, nostalgia and historical revisionism, which sought a return to feudalism and an agrarian economy. Consequently, instead of a military band to enthuse his forces, the Baron formed a Morris Side. The terrifying spectacle of the Carew & Cresselly Morris regularly provoked fear and revulsion in friend and foe alike and resulted in legislation from all sides (with varying degrees of severity) and the story of the post-war Morris Trials is well known.

The King’s enemies accused the Morris-men of abusing the Laws of Armed Conflict, in that they blurred the line between combatants and the traditionally non-combatant status of military musicians. Indeed, many Morris Sides, with their proficient use of Whiffling-Sticks, were employed during the war as close-assault troops. Figures by Woodbine Miniatures:

Even though they were on his own side, Viscount Tenby was finally forced to act and imposed strict restrictions, with severe penalties for infraction, on the length of time that Morris could be perpetrated:

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, VBCW Royalist | 2 Comments

A Very British Civil War 1938: The Army of the Bishopric of St David’s

The Bishop of St David’s, the Right Reverend Islwyn Davies, in concert with Viscount St David’s and Major General Sir Ivor Picton, had been preparing for war for some time and had slowly been establishing politically-reliable Local Defence Volunteer militia units in the north and west of Pembrokeshire. The outbreak of open insurrection in the south of the county (following the Castle Hill Massacre at Pembroke) gave the Bishop the perfect opportunity to declare for the Anglican League and to open up a third front in the county against Viscount Tenby and the forces of the King.

Here we see the Bishop, together with his personal standard-bearer and his Private Under-Secretary, Lady Gladys Emmanuel Picton. Although never a military man, the Bishop had a weakness for military pageantry and uniform and insisted that his personal Guards and headquarters staff wear his personal livery. The Bishop and standard-bearer are by Musketeer Miniatures, while Lady Gladys is a special figure by Hinterland Miniatures – all sculpted by Paul Hicks:

Anglican League Forces in Pembrokeshire

General Headquarters, Anglican League Forces of the Bishop of St David’s
Major General, Sir Gwilym Ivor Picton KCB DSO

The Bishop of St David’s Corps of Guards – Colonel John Picton, Viscount St David’s
The Bishop of St David’s Squadron of Horseguards – Major, The Hon. Jestyn Picton
The Bishop of St David’s Company of Footguards – Major Samuel Harries, 5th Bart.

St David’s Infantry Brigade – Brigadier Sir Evan Davies Jones, 1st Bart. LL
Roch Castle Fencibles – Lt Col, The Hon. James de Walter
City of St David’s Volunteer Fencibles – Lt Col, The Reverend Nigel Griffin
Solva Volunteer Fencibles – Lt Col, The Reverend Matthew Thomas MC
Pembrokeshire Constabulary Volunteers – Chief Constable, Sir Max Bevan
Lord St David’s Horse – Major John Harding-Jervois
St David’s Armoured Corps (The Lord Lieutenant’s Own) – Major Iwan Davies
St Justinian’s Rocket Troop – Captain Sidney Mortimer
St David’s Engineer Field Company

Major General Gwilym Ivor Picton KCB DSO is the septuagenarian younger brother (second of five) of Viscount St David’s and uncle of the Fascist Baron Kylsant.  Born in 1867, He was commissioned into the British Army in 1881, then into the Indian Army in 1883.  He fought in numerous campaigns, winning the DSO during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.  He retired from the regular Army in 1903 and joined the Pembroke Yeomanry, serving as Commanding Officer from 1908-1912.

Upon outbreak of the Great War, he served in the War Office before being appointed as Brigadier-General to command 115 Brigade.  Appointed GOC 38th (Welsh) Division and took the division to France, before being recalled briefly to Whitehall to serve on the Ministry for Munitions.  Returning to France, he led the 38th Division in action at the Somme, before returning home due to ‘ill health’. Nevertheless, he was ennobled as a KCB in November 1917.  During this time he also served as Liberal MP for Southampton from 1906-1922. As the most senior and most experienced military officer serving in the Bishopric, he was naturally given overall military command of the army. Figures by Great War Miniatures, with standard bearer by Musketeer/Footsore Miniatures:

Sir Evan Davies Jones, 1st Baronet, Lord Lieutenant of Pembrokeshire.  Sir Evan is a much-respected civil engineer from Fishguard and was Liberal MP for Pembrokeshire 1918-1922.  He served in the Great War as a Major in the Royal Engineers and has proved himself to be an energetic and competent field commander off the Bishopric’s 1st Infantry Brigade. Here we see the Brigadier catching up with the latest Pembrokeshire news in the Western Telegraph… Figures by Great War Miniatures:

Headquarters group of the City of St David’s Volunteer Fencibles.  Figures by Musketeer/Footsore Miniatures:

Commanded by Major Samuel Harries, 5th Baronet, formerly of the Welsh Guards, the Bishop of St David’s Company of Foot Guards were raised chiefly from former members of the Welsh Guards, which had been disbanded for reasons of political unreliability. As was his wont, the Bishop insisted on dressing them in anachronistic ‘Ruritanian’ uniforms, as well as insisting on hairstyles more suited to the 18th Century (including powdered wigs, halberds and breeches with stockings for ceremonial occasions). Nevertheless, despite their frankly ridiculous appearance, they were undoubtedly tough fighters, with hand-to-hand skills honed by numerous bar-fights with giggling troops in the taverns of the City of St David’s. Figures are by Empress Miniatures:

Here we see the Chaplain of the St David’s Fencibles; the Reverend Huw ‘Thou Shalt Not Commit Bestiality’ George MC. The origins of his nickname are something of a mystery… Figure by Musketeer/Footsore Miniatures:

St Justinian’s GPO Rocket Battery was formed from postmen belonging to the Ramsey Island Rocket-Mail service. Following a successful trial delivering mail by rocket from the mainland to the Isle of Skye, the GPO established a similar rocket-mail service at the hamlet of St Justinian’s, to carry post to Ramsey Island. Their rockets are normally hollow and designed to carry post, but with the outbreak of war, their rockets were adapted (thanks to the St Justinian’s lifeboatmen) to carry explosive charges, developed from lifeboat maroons. Models by Empress Miniatures:

The Bishopric of St David’s acquired a few armoured vehicles by various means. Here we see a Vickers T15 Light Tank belonging to the Armoured Troop of Lord St David’s Horse. This vehicle had originally formed part of a delivery for the Royal Belgian Army, but had been diverted to the Anglican League. Tank by Warlord Games and commander by Empress Miniatures:

The Vickers tank is seen here operating in concert with a Schneider Halftracked Armoured Car. AFV models by Warlord Games and figures by Empress Miniatures:

A Lancia Armoured Tender. Model by Empress Miniatures:

Despite these attempts at mechanisation, much of the Bishop’s army still rides horses. Here we see Lord St David’s Squadron of Horse. Models by Musketeer/Footsore Miniatures:

Lord St David’s Horse have seen considerable combat, including this spirited action against an outbreak of Morris, which was ruthlessly suppressed (and rightly so):

Following the Bishop’s declaration for the Anglican League, he had a surprising reinforcement in the form of the legendary Great War air ace, Wg Cdr ‘Taffy’ Jones DSO MC DFC & Bar MM RAF. Wg Cdr Jones and a number of disgruntled brother officers purloined a number of RAF machines from RAF Stormy-Down and flew them to St David’s, to join the Bishop’s cause against the King. Painted in the Bishop’s colours of black and sulphur yellow, Taffy Jones’ rebel squadron soon became known as the ‘Wasps’. The aircraft is an Airfix 1/48th Hawker Fury and the pilot is a metal figure by Copplestone Castings:

Wg Cdr Jones is also rumoured to have taken part in a special operation while attached to the US Army Air Corps. These photos have recently been released (thanks to Gareth Beamish):

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, VBCW Anglican League | Leave a comment

A Very British Civil War 1938: The Battle of Crundale

Following the collapse of central government authority in Pembrokeshire, the county rapidly fragmented and became factionalised.  The King’s faction, backed by Mosely’s Fascists and most of the ‘old money’, held on to the central belt and the lucrative anthracite mining industry.  The remnants of the deposed democratic government meanwhile withdrew to the south-west and north-west of the county – those in the south-west declared for the ‘Lord Protector’ Prince Albert, while those in the north-west aligned themselves with the Anglican League and the charismatic Bishop of St David’s.  Milford Haven and Neyland meanwhile collapsed into an anarchic milieu of socialist, communist and anarchist politics, eventually gelling as the ‘People’s Socialist Soviet Republic of Milford & Neyland’.  To the north and east, various Welsh Nationalist factions vied for dominance, while isolated communities formed defence militias and sought alliances to protect themselves from the twin threats of banditry and foraging armies.

Of all the factions in Pembrokeshire, the King’s faction, led by Lord Tenby (son of Lloyd George and MP for Pembrokeshire at the time of the dissolution of government), was undoubtedly the strongest.  However, it was surrounded by enemies, held a long and narrow corridor of land and struggled to maintain communications between the garrison towns of Haverfordwest, Clarbeston Road, Whitland, Narberth, Saundersfoot and Tenby.  The railway was particularly vulnerable and was constantly patrolled by elements of the ‘Landsker Frontier Force’ Brigade.

However, in the late summer of 1938, a Royalist military supply train carrying weapons, vehicles, ammunition and fuel, broke down near Crundale, in the valley of the Western Cleddau, a few miles north of Haverfordwest.  The Bishop of St David’s spies were quick to report this fact and the Roch Castle Fencibles were soon marching from their positions near Camrose, with the intention of capturing the train and recovering this vital military materiel.  However, the ‘Sir Thomas Picton’ Independent Cohort of the BUF’s XIII Legion were also racing to the scene…

Arriving simultaneously at both ends of Crundale village, the two sides raced to establish dominating positions.  The Anglicans set up a Vickers MG at the northern exit of the village:

Nevertheless, the BUF’s 1st Platoon takes the centre of the village first, while the bewildered village Bobby attempts to keep the peace.  A local St John’s Ambulance Cadet also appears, eager to try out his skills:
The rest of the BUF force moves to take up positions east of the village:
More Anglican League troops appear on the northern outskirts of the village.  They quickly beat the Fascists back from the centre of the village:
As skirmishing starts in the village, a platoon of Anglican League militia and a platoon of Albertine regulars (The Duchess of York’s Own Highlanders of Canada) march across country to reach Crundale Bridge:
The Roch Castle Fencibles’ headquarters moves up to the front line:
Having reached their first objective – the road from Crundale to the bridge, the BUF suddenly find themselves in a dire predicament as their left-hand unit routs the field after only light casualties! The centre of the BUF position finds itself outflanked and under heavy fire:
The Anglican League troops pour fire into the Fascists’ exposed flank:
As casualties mount in the BUF ranks, the Anglican League force advances:
Led by an old campaigner, the Anglican League takes Crundale house by house:
The Anglican League MG Platoon continues to pour on supporting fire:
The Anglican League commander orders a general attack:
As casualties start to mount, the BUF’s resolve begins to waver:
A BUF detachment at Crundale Bridge attempts to stem the tide, but is grenaded into submission by the Highlanders:
With BUF resistance at the bridge eliminated, the Highlanders push on to their final objective:
With casualties rapidly becoming catastrophic, the BUF commander reluctantly orders a general withdrawal:
The surviving Fascists leg it back to Haverfordwest:
The victorious Anglican League troops cross the bridge and capture the abandoned train.  In addition to the piles of weaponry, ammunition and fuel, they also capture four trucks, a car and a Carden-Loyd Carrier with which to haul it away:
The Anglican League commander transmits the good news back to St David’s:

Game Notes:

The game was played at the Wargames Association of South Pembrokeshire, using ‘A World Aflame’ rules (which to be honest, we thought were awful…).

Figures from my own collection, being mostly by Musketeer Miniatures (now Footsore Miniatures), with a few by Muttonchop Miniatures (available from Empress Miniatures).

Model buildings and railway by Mr Small, with other scenery by Skippy Broughton.

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Games | Leave a comment

A Very British Civil War 1938: The Slebech Castle Cadet Corps

Lady Aisling Keir’s Slebech Castle Finishing School for Young Ladies was established on the Slebech estate in 1936, thanks to the patronage of her friends the Baron and Baroness de Loutson. Lady Aisling is a dispossessed Irish royalist, an ardent supporter of King Edward VIII and a supporter of de Loutson’s ‘English Mistery’ ideals. While a proud Irishwoman, she is a committed opponent of Celtic Nationalism.

Lady Aisling has found no difficulty in persuading similarly-minded reactionaries to send their daughters to her new boarding school. There, they learn essential life-skills for the Young Lady in 1938 Britain: endurance-marching, fieldcraft, mechanical engineering, horsewomanship and skill-at-arms.

All young ladies enrolled in the school are required to be members of the school Cadet Corps, which is elegantly uniformed in surplus uniforms of the former Imperial German Husaren-Regiment ‘von Lützen’, supplemented by long skirts, befitting of a young lady. The uniforms were supplied by the Baron de Loutson’s Bavarian cousin, the Freiherr von Lützen, who has also been most generous in providing arms, ammunition and additional training. The Cadet Corps includes a Hussar Squadron, a Foot-Hussar Company, an Armoured Troop and a Horse Artillery Troop, plus service-support elements such as Medical and Music Detachments.

Viscount Tenby, impressed by the high degree of training competence displayed by the Cadet Corps (or perhaps persuaded by the charms of Baroness de Loutson) consented to supply the Cadets with a small number of armoured reconnaissance vehicles, to provide close support to the cavalry.


The ‘English Mistery’, so enthusiastically supported by Baron and Baroness de Loutson, is a curious mix of fascism, ultra-Royalism, nostalgia and historical revisionism, which seeks a return to feudalism, an agrarian economy and breeding a ‘pure line’ of new Britons through arranged marriage and eugenics. Baron de Loutson’s contingent, of which the Cadets are a part, forms a large part of the Royalist forces in South Pembrokeshire.




These remarkable figures were sculpted by Paul Hicks for Hinterland Miniatures and painted by me.  The tankette is an Italian CV-33 by Empress Miniatures, while the armoured car is a Morris CS9 by Warlord Games.

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, VBCW Royalist | Leave a comment

A Very British Civil War 1938: Baron Kylsant, Marcher-Lord of Narberth

BUF Storm-Commander Owen Erasmus Picton, 2nd Baron Kylsant & Marcher-Lord of Narberth was the son of Owen Cosby Picton, 1st Baron Kylsant.  The 1st Baron, once a celebrated politician and shipping tycoon, had famously been disgraced and jailed in 1933 following an embezzlement scandal.

With his father in Wormwood Scrubs, the embittered Owen Erasmus Picton had drifted towards radical politics and particularly toward Mosely’s brand of fascism.  Becoming 2nd Baron Kylsant with the death of his father in 1937, he was now the most senior aristocrat within the BUF leadership and was just the man for the job when a Pembrokeshire BUF Cohort was proposed.  Proving himself an able and ruthless commander as leader of the ‘Sir Thomas Picton’ Cohort in operations against Welsh Nationalists, he was soon appointed as commander of the Landsker Frontier Force, with overall responsibility for combating Welsh Nationalist incursions across into Loyalist territory.

Here we see him with his personal standard, featuring the grey lion rampant of the Picton family crest:

Baron Kylsant is a 28mm Empress Miniatures figure, while the standard-bearer is a BUF standard-bearer Musketeer Miniaures (both sculpted by the super-talented Paul Hicks)

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, VBCW Royalist | Leave a comment