As mentioned in my previous post, on Friday Julian and I refought the Battle of Antioch - first Crusades 1098 I believe.
The background was that the Crusaders had taken Antioch from the Muslims but when a Muslim army arrived, realizing there was no food in Antioch to sustain them through a siege, they decided to exit the town and give battle. The Muslim army, being true gentlemen, allowed them to plod out of the city and get themselves arranged for battle, rather than attacking them as they straggled out in column of march.....
In the real battle, the Muslims were in total disagreement with each other and as a consequence, as soon as the Crusaders attacked, half of them buggered off. The Crusaders won the real battle quite easily.....how would our refight turn out?
The Muslim forces were in three distinct groups - a small force of militia who had sneaked back into Antioch and reoccupied it as soon as the Crusaders decamped; the main force facing the Crusader army; and a third force to the rear of the Crusaders left flank. The Crusader army was made up of four separate commands plus a group of "pilgrims" on a hill near the gate to Antioch, one of whom claimed to have found the tip of the spear used to pierce the side of Christ at his crucifiction......that's convenient!
Below is the map from the scenario book we used
And here are a few pics of the troops set up, prior to the first move being made. Some of the images are not that great but I left them in anyway - I deleted about 10 that were really terrible.....
Above - a view along the table, from the Antioch end - Crusaders on the left, Muslims on the right. The Muslim force in the Crusaders right rear can be seen in the top left of the photo
The centre of the Muslim army - more mounted archers, a unit of spearmen, and two units of heavy Saracen cavalry.
I have decided not to try to do any maps for this report - the action was so complicated and ebbed and flowed so much during the course of the game, it would be very hard to do these accurately! In essence, the Muslim army struck first from the right rear of the Crusader army, forcing that wing of the army to turn to face the attack. In the very first move, I destroyed a unit of Julian's heavy infantry, reducing his army morale pile of coins from 9 to 7 (I also started the game with 9 coins). The whole Muslim army advanced towards the Crusader line to engage with the mounted archers, with the exception of a couple of units from my right flank who went off to support the forces coming in from the Crusaders rear. Meanwhile, the commander of the Antioch garrison with his heavy cavalry unit emerged from the town to move along the rear of the Crusaders army, causing some consternation!
On the Crusaders first move, their heavy knights, true to form, charged forwards in an effort to catch and destroy the swarms of mounted archers who had been plaguing them with showers of arrows. Fortunately for me, and by pure luck recreating the genuine tactics of these armies, all my light archers managed to evade these charges, drawing the units of knights farther and farther out away from the rest of the Crusader army.
A general view along the table from the Antioch end. The Christian Pilgrims managed to recapture their camp from my cavalry and regain 3 of their coins - at this stage I think it was 7 -4 in my favour
Close up of one of the Muslim commanders
This was a hard fought game in the end - at the half way point, it had all been one way traffic, with the Muslims sitting on the original 9 coins and the Crusaders down to 3 or 4! However, the Crusaders managed to hold on for another hour or so thereafter. There was much frustration on both sides but the Crusaders probably had the worst of things - their knights in particular were great at saving throws after successful Muslim assaults, but when it came to striking back, their card turning was atrocious! On the other hand, I was hovering on the brink of victory for the second half of the game but just could not overcome the Crusaders excellent saving turns - time and again I got hits on an already disrupted unit but they would turn over a 7 or 8 to save themselves from destruction!
The most pleasing thing was that by luck of the card turning, the lighter Arab cavalry army was able to reproduce the type of tactics that helped them succeed against the heavier European armies - massed bowmen who were able to retire in the face of the knights charges but then continue to engage them from another location, then retire AGAIN when charged a second time!