Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Raiders from the sea - Third battle on the Scottish coast

The scottish king is leading his troops this time. This time he swears the raider scum will be thrown back to the water! He overlooks his soldiers from the right flank, marvelling at all the pikes gleaming in the morning sun. A wide front of schiltrons spans the center of his army. On the left flank a small contingent of peasant skirmishers is up on the hills, next to the snow-covered scottish camp.

War ululations are heard all over the viking army! The raiders are screaming of pillage and loot, their blood hot with promises of victory today. The swordsmen, axemen and berserkers are spread in a line, and a single unit of archers is in the centre. Slowly the whole army starts moving forward.

Ever drawing closer, the two armies are measuring each other, maneuvering here and there to gain a tactical advantage.

The sea brings a morning, chilly breeze while the scottish king is fearlessly marching onwards. Opposite him and his guards, the viking archers are approaching.

"Redeploy"! shout the scots and they form a wedge of schiltrons in front of their king. Their massive spears are placed in front of the scottish army in a murderous steel porcupine, challenging the vikings to charge.

The norsemen don't hesitate and charge! The whole viking lines rush forward and attack the schiltrons.

The pikemen's line holds true and the vikings are pushed back. The scots are feeling more confident now that they halted the raiders' momentum. A unit of pikes moves to the right to chase down the archers.

First blood! The viking berserkers open a gap in the center of the scotsmen, while the scottish knights cut down a unit of viking swordsemen on the right flank. The odds are even again and all hangs in the balance.

The battle rages on. The Scots' center is wide open but the scottish knights may start steamrolling the right viking flank. On the left, the norsemen have committed three units of swordsmen to fight the skirmishing peasants. Will they pay for it?

The chaos increases: the scottish king is pushed back by a decisive unit of vikings who are not willing to let the knights start an onslaught. Behind the king more vikings are still slugging it out with the psiloi, while in the centre the Scots are holding firm.

Often decisiveness is not enough! The knights cut down the vikings with lance and sword and the norsemen's flank opens widely. The vikings on the snowy hills are slowly surrounding the highlanders.

Lightning strikes twice and the tables turn completely! The desperate vikings on the hill manage to disperse the brave highlander psiloi. On the other flank, the schiltrons break under the constant pressure by the vikings. The scottish shores are bathed in blood and the bodies of the fallen are all over the battlefield.

Honouring the dead... Casualties tend to pile up for both these armies when they meet on the battlefield. This was a rather straighforward bout, with both sides gaining the advantage at some point. The pikes cannot sustain a firm resistance for really long, since the numerical superiority of the blades always threatens to encircle them. In this case the scottish 'killer' knights managed to break the viking flank and could take the blades on by one. In the end though time was against them and the vikings managed to kill enough men to grasp victory.

Even though the vikings have gained the upper hand in the campaign, the price is constantly paid in blood by both sides. By now the vikings have a foothold in scottish territory. Next battle is the final one in this epic tetralogy*.

*A (not-so) similar struggle to fellow blogger Ermokratis', a devoted cyclist and history enthusiast, who always manages impressive feats of cycling hundreds of kms!