Sunday, March 8, 2015

Flags for Balfour of Burleigh's Regiment

"Every land is a homeland for the courageous man"

Below are the flags used for Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Regiment. They were made in photoshop and can be printed for use with your own armies.

The sheet above is Burleigh's colonel's color, and the sheet below is a company color. Both are based on a set of black flags captured by Cromwell's army at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. They are described by Payne Fisher and tentatively identified as Burleigh's on the basis of the motto and device used on the Colonel's color.

The key evidence that these colors were carried by Burleigh's Regt is the use of the Balfour motto, "OMNE SOLUM FORTI PATRIA" and the "maiden" device. I made a quick search on the interwebs, but I cannot find any independent verification that the Lords of Burleigh ever used this particular maiden device. However, I did find that the mermaid is a common device, and given the colors had been damaged, perhaps the image or the desrcription has been misinterpreted over the years.

A quick google search indicates that the version of the mermaid associated with Burleigh is shown above, in which the maid is shown arms up on both sides (as in the maiden device) but is holding a snake and a swan or goose head. I think it looks quite similar to the "Maiden" device described by Fisher. 

The latin Balfour motto, "OMNE SOLUM FORTI PATRIA", is written in red on the gold scroll work. It translates as "Every land is a homeland for the courageous man", and is a quotation from Roman poet Ovid (43BC to 17AD); a verse from book I, line 493 of "Fasti" (Festivals).

The second motto on the colonels color is gold in color and is the standard post-1650 covenanter inscription, "COVENANT FOR RELIGION KING AND KINGDOMES". Most regimental colors captured at Dunbar bore this version of the motto, and that makes these flags anachronistic for 1644. 

The other peculiarity of this set of colors is the choice of a black field. While black fields are used in company colors, the use of black on a colonels color is highly unusual, the convention at the time being a white field. 

An example of a reproduction black ensign is shown below. This was provided by Martin Scott, a follower of this blog, and native of Auldearn, who is a member of the Sealed Knot and a re-enactor in Sir Arthur Erskine's Regiment of Foot, another regiment with black ensigns. Erskine's Regt was raised in 1643 and served in Leven's army at Marston Moor. The motto used pre-dates the 1650 standard.

The use of black is also unusual given the recruiting area in Fife. Most Fife regiments raised at this time adopted a yellow field with white saltire for company colors. Given these departures from the norms I have assumed (as did Reid) that Burleigh would have used a similar scheme for the regiment raised in 1644, albeit with a more archaic covenanter motto.

This is my third set of flags prepared for a covenanter regiment, the first being Campbell of Lawers' Regt (which I made for Roy's first painted unit - Roy decided to hand draw and paint the rest of his flags on foil), the second was the Earl of Sutherland's Regt.

The flags can be printed out and used as is, but I like to re-paint over the printed design using the three layer method, to get the hand-painted look. The end-product can be seen in the photos.

The main references used for these flags are...

  • "Scots Armies of the C17th. II: Scots Regiments and Colours, 1647-51" by Stuart Reid (Partizan Press)
  • "The English Emblematic Tradition (3): Emblematic Flag Devices of the English Civil Wars, 1642-1660" by Alan R. Young (Ed.) (University of Toronto Press)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Regiment

"...the garrison [Burleigh's Regt] ware the last that stood in the maine battell, and, being miserablie rent and torne, they, like bold and well trained souldioures, make there retreat in order, and too boldly resolves to march south, by crossing the [River] Die"
Gordon of Ruthven on the retreat of Burleigh's regiment at Justice Mills

This covenanter regiment was not present at the Battle of Auldearn, but fought at the Battle of Justice Mills, just outside Aberdeen on 13th September 1644. The regiment had been installed as the government garrison of Aberdeen, to defend town from the Royalist threat posed by Huntly, but also to prevent the town going over to the Royalist cause. Aberdeen had sided with the Royalists against the covenanters in 1640 (when the covenanters were led by Montrose).

Lord Robert Balfour of Burleigh and Lord David Wemyss of Elcho, a couple of Fife notables, jointly raised this regiment in April 1644 in Fife, at the order of the Scottish government (the Estates) for anti-insurgency duty at home against Royalist trouble makers such as Huntly. The regiment spent May 1644 harrying Huntly's lands in the northeast of Scotland before settling in as garrison of Aberdeen, and some outlying castles, in June 1644.


Burleigh and Elcho were both energetic supporters of the covenanting government, and both were aspiring military men. Neither would prove successful in command of government armies and by September 1644 both men had been roundly defeated by Montrose and his Royalist army.

In August 1644, Lord Elcho left Aberdeen to raise further Fife levies for government service, probably in response to news of MacColla's Royalist landing on the Scottish west coast in July. Lord Elcho assumed command of the government army which marched out to meet Montrose and MacColla at Tippermuir on 1st September 1644.

Elcho's army was quickly defeated and destroyed, and the Burgh of Perth was captured and looted. Elcho escaped to fight again another day at Kilsyth under Baillie, but will never command an army again. However, Montrose moved quickly north intending to join with Huntly's forces in the Northeast and arrived with his army at Justice Mills, outside Aberdeen on 12th September 1644.

On the morning of 13th September 1644, Montrose sent a messenger into the city with a summons to surrender in the name of the King's lieutenant. Burleigh commanding the forces in Aberdeen refused the summons and then inexplicably marched his force out of the defended city to take position on top of a steep embankment above the How Burn (Holborn) and the Justice Mill watermill.

Several primary sources report a strange incident which occurs at the end of the parley. As Montrose's messengers were leaving the city, an Irish drummer in the party was shot and killed by someone in the covenanter army, perhaps from Burleigh's regiment. This murder enraged the Irish forces under Montrose and anger over this incident is thought to be the cause of the reported savagery of the Irish in the aftermath of the battle.

Burleigh has been heavily criticized for the decision to give battle outside the city, resulting in the bloody and decisive defeat of the Aberdeenshire army, and to the ferocious sack of Aberdeen city. Ironically, his inept handling of this encounter and the ensuing carnage, destruction and loss of life far more seriously damaged Montrose's cause in Scotland. Stories of catholic irish depravity in the rout of the Aberdeen army and the 3-day sack of the city spread widely though Scotland and undoubtedly swayed many potential Royalist sympathizers against Montrose and the King.

The regiment, commanded by Lt Col Charles Arnot, was positioned on the left of the covenanter battle line and faced McDonnell's Irish regiment on the Royalist right. After cavalry battles on the left and right of the lines, the Aberdeen City Militia in the centre of the government engaged in a short but fierce firefight with Laghtnan's Regt. Laghtnan's Irish then charged up the embankment and put the Aberdeen city part-timers to rout, chasing them back towards the town.

With the government army collapsing around them, Burleigh's Regt retain discipline, and try to march off the field in good order. They were spotted leaving by MacColla, who led 400 Irish, likely McDonnell's Regt, to attack and slaughter the retreating regiment.

The regiment was not completely destroyed however and, reconstituted with fresh Fife conscripts, made a similarly doomed appearance at the Battle Alford in July 1645, as part of Baillie's Government Army. Furgol further suggests that the remnants of the regiment were with Elcho and the ill-fated Fife brigade at the Battle of Kilsyth in August 1645.

As well-drilled and equipped lowland regulars I have modeled Burleigh's Regt as typical covenanter infantry. Figures are mostly Perry ECW Scots, with a few armored pikemen from the Perry English ECW range for variety.

The regiment was well billeted in Aberdeen in the months before the battle. There were even accusations of corruption and fraud against the regiment for dodgy expense claims and abuse of the billeting order while in garrison.

As such I imagined this regiment as having been spared the rigors of campaign and equipment, uniforms and flags are painted clean, bright and well maintained. I have added a few blue, red and brown coats and breeks, just to break up the hodden grey.

The regiment numbered at least 500 at Aberdeen, so at 1:10 figure:men scale this regiment is a little small, so I may add a couple of extra stands of pike and shot later.  Being "standard issue" covenanter infantry, this unit could be fielded as any government unit (with an optional change of command stand to get flags right).

As with all my other units, bases are mostly 40mm square, 3mm MDF from Litko. They are textured with wood filler and sand, painted and dry-brushed, and decorated with static grass, grass tufts and heather. Heather is made using dark green clump foliage sprinkled with purple flock.

I originally bought these models to use as Buchanan's Regt, but Roy took care of that unit. I then considered using them for the Earl of Sutherland's Regt, but later decided to portray Sutherland using highland regulars. Having no longer any need for these for the Auldearn OOB, I decided to paint them up as Burleigh's Regt because (1) I would like to refight Justice Mills at some point and (2) I loved Burleigh's black flags.

The flags include both a Colonel's colour and a single company color, and are unusual in that they are both black. Black company colors were not unknown, but Colonel's colors of the time were typically white. The flag designs are based on records of flags captured at Dunbar in 1651and identified as the colors of a later regiment raised by Burleigh in Fife.

It is assumed that similar colours were used by Burleigh's earlier regiment in 1644-45, and this is to some extent supported by the use of archaic text inscriptions on the colonels color of a type typical of the 1640's before the text was standardized 1650.

I will provide more information about the flags in a separate blog post. Next units up for me will be two LARGE units of Gordon Horse, and I will share a WIP soon. Also looking forward to getting a game in on the new boards with Roy next Friday.

"...the garrison ware the last that stood in the maine battell, and, being miserablie rent and torne, they, like bold and well trained souldioures, make there retreat in order, and too boldly resolves to march south, by crossing the Die;...

 ...but the major generall [MacColla], perceaveing there designe, takes furth foure hundreth Irishes, and following them so rudly, falls in amongst them, as few or none escaped."
Gordon of Ruthven on the retreat and destruction of Burleigh's regiment at Justice Mills

Monday, March 2, 2015

Auldearn - Coming to WSS May Edition

Yesterday we took the photos to accompany our article on Auldearn.

It was the first time we had the table out, buildings and trees on, and all the figures out.

Really, it was the end of 7 years hard work.

The photos below are a taster - taken on the phone, with the main ones on the camera going to the magazine.

We never played it as a game - more just moved the troops to record what happened .

I think we nailed the scales on the terrain, which proved to be confining for the convenanters as they were sucked in towards the village.

We get to play it in two weeks - getting a rest from glue and paint just now.

Terrain V - Auldearn Village

Auldearn village and Kirk.  Buildings are light-weight extruded foam models originally produced by Hudson and Allen (now sold by Vatican Enterprises), mounted on thin sheets of MDF (1/8" thick) with Rendra plastic wattle fences. 

Auldearn Kirk is a (heavy) resin model originally manufactured by PMC Terrain/Games and called "Medieval Church". I picked this up on Ebay back in 2007 from seller "sellthatstuffboy" who was then acting as a manufaturer/re-seller for the PMC range.The kirk yard is decorated with plastic Renedra gravestones.