Sunday, 7 June 2009

2mm English Civil War

With the anniversary of the Battle of Naseby almost upon us, I wanted to take the opportunity to have a look at re-creating the Royalist army that fought there using 2mm miniatures. To my mind, the English Civil War/ Renaissance is one of the historical periods best served by the teeny-tiny men from Irregular, in that the majority of the sculpts are well defined, and accurately capture the formations and 'feel' of the period. I've always been fascinated by the widely published print by Streeter that illustrated the battle in Joshua Sprigge's "Anglia Rediviva" of 1647, and the formations depicted there are echoed well by the available 2mm miniatures.

See a version here:

In my opening picture above, you can see the Royalist right wing of cavalry under Rupert shown en masse in my scale of choice; (remember, all photos on this blog are clickable for a larger, Macro view) you'll note that I'm using three RBG16 or 18 blocks to show a 'Troop' of Horse, so two troops to a 50x30mm base, as a rule, unless depicting large or composite, brigaded units, where you will see three troops on a 60x30mm base. Top left, you can see Rupert's Lifeguard of Horse, as well as the 8 troops of his Regiment, then those of Prince Maurice and then the Queen's Regiment of Horse, finally in the rear rank, the two regiments of the Earl of Northampton, as well as Sir William Vaughn's Regiment.

As I discussed in a previous post, in order to maximise the 'mass' effect of this smallest scale, I tend to put together various blocks on a base to represent the whole, rather than employing the ready made Pike and Shot blocks that are available; not that there is anything wrong with these, apart from their footprint on the ground being rather small. Highlights from Irregular's range include the Royalist and Parliamentarian Horse, the mounted  and dismounted Dragoons, and the various blocks of pike. I favour the stand-alone RBG9 Swiss/Landsknecht block, which represents a good solid bunch of pikemen, and comes in two variants, one with colours to the fore, pikes ordered vertical, and the other with the pikes ported, leaning forward somewhat, with the colours visible amongst the body of the pikeheads.

I had initially invested in this range to do a re-creation of the Battle of Cheriton in 1644, with a base per regiment for both sides. This turned out to be quite an undertaking, particularly given the amount of cavalry that Waller had available on the day. What was quite an interesting challenge was how to represent the various types of units, given that by this stage of the war, the typical 2:1 Shot to Pike ratio units so beloved of wargamers were getting to be more the exception than the rule, especially in the Royalist camp. 
There was a trend to use groups of commanded shot, or weak garrison units that fielded fewer and fewer pikes. (In this, I'm following the well researched views of Stuart Reid in his excellent "Gunpowder Triumphant" from the Partizan Press) This meant fielding small, medium and large sized pike/shot regiments, as well as other mixed units, such as forlorn hopes, etc, equipped with only muskets.

As I'm sure that anyone familiar with the period will know, accurate information about the coat/uniform colours and also the various regimental flags is very scarce, and often what is available is conflicting, or comes from making wide assumptions. See this current discussion over on TMP:

This can all be a bit frustrating if you want to be as accurate as historically possible when painting your units, but does have the positive side effect that it allows you to field generic regiments at this scale that can do double duty; a blue coat regiment with red colour might be Hopton's or Waller's, a red coated regiment might do just as well as a Royalist Oxford regiment as for a unit of the Parliamentarian New Model Army.

There are, of course, exceptions to this; the distinctive colours attributed to Prince Rupert's Regiment of Foot, or the well documented ones of the London Trained Bands, but on the whole, you can come up with a representative army of the time that gives you lots of options with regard to either political persuasion or theatre of conflict.

With this in mind, I'm looking, with a bit of re-organisation and  some small additions, to have a go at putting together King Charles' army at Naseby - wishing to do this at a relatively large figure to man ratio, so I can only afford to do one side as yet!

The first step, of course, is to pin down an accurate order of battle, so in various posts over the coming week, I'l be looking in depth at a number of sources, and coming up with an idea of how to build the formations using 2mm minis.

Hopefully, this should all lead up to a suitably 'eye candy' heavy posting with lots of pics of those 2mm men in action - keep checking back for updates!


  1. This all looks great. I sold my 2mm ACW years ago, having put together a First Bull Run set, and have not ventured back to 2mm since. I am now very tempted to try ECW in 2mm after seeing this lot. Yes, I am easily led!

  2. wow, look at all the men, it sooo cool.


  3. What rules do you use for these guys? I haven't come across many 40x80 based rules. I'm working on my own armies for this period and not sure to go with mini (20x30) or maxi (60x30) versions.

  4. Excellent stuff - much better impression of numbers than my 2mm TYW collection ( for which I used the standalone Irregular casting and have wished ever since I'd gone for a "more figures" approach! Highly unlikely to ever rebase them now though.

    What you've done here is really inspirational - maybe it's time for another 2mm pike and shot collection...

  5. Hello all, and as always, thanks for the kind comments, it's great to have your feedback and know that I can in some small way encourage people to initiate or expand more 2mm scale projects.

    If you're looking for armies that really look like armies on the tabletop, then these little guys just can't be beat, but then I know that I'm mostly preaching to the converted here!

    Sam, I use some home-brew rules that are put together on the bones of a few others available on both the free-wargames rules website and in the files section of the 2mm Yahoo Group; if I were you, I'd go with bases as big as possible, seems counter-intuitive when using small scale miniatures, but gives loads of visual 'oomph', and I feel allows a more realistic depiction of the historical units and their ground-scale.

    Coopdevil, have to doff my hat to you Sirrah, it was your article on those TYW armies that first inspired me to have a go at the ECW in the way that I have here, so kudos to you from an eager disciple - standing on the shoulders of giants!

    Cheers, SteelonSand.