Battle of the Dunes (Dunkirk) - 14th June 1658


French Marshal Turenne directs his men at The Battle of The Dunes

The Battle of the Dunes, it could be argued, was a conflict in three separate wars, the Franco-Spanish War of 1635-1659, the Anglo-Spanish War of 1654-1660, and to some it is a European extension to the English Civil Wars as both armies fielded large amounts of British troops, with the Royalists fighting with the Spanish and the New Model Army fighting with the French. It was a truly international affair and therefore a battle well worth looking further in to and replaying.


Oliver Cromwell had made an alliance with the French King Louis XIV in 1655. He was concerned that the heir apparent Charles II and his younger brother James were in the Spanish Netherlands trying to gather support, both financial and material, to invade England and resume the English Civil Wars to win back the throne after their father Charles I had been executed by Parliament in 1649. By forging an alliance with Louis he aimed to support French hostilities with Spain sufficiently to stretch their resources to a point that they couldn't assist Charles and James in their plans to invade England.


In 1657 Cromwell sent 6,000 men of the New Model army to France, landing at Boulogne they bolstered the local French commander's force; Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Viscount of Turenne and Marshal of France. With his reinforced army Turenne took Gravelines and Mardyck (now an outlying suburb of Dunkirk) with ease and then in 1658 began to lay siege to the port of Dunkirk with further support from Cromwell in the form of an English fleet to blockade the port by sea.


In response, the younger Captain-General of the Spanish Army of Flanders, Don Juan of Austria, mobilised his army which was in Brussels, and against the advice of older and more experienced commanders, marched to Dunkirk in order to relieve the siege. He approached the port with an army roughly the same size as that of Turenne, and with a multi-national force that was similar too. The main point of difference was command; Turenne was an experienced, wise veteran of war, while Don Juan was an impetuous 29 year old, accompanied by two sub generals, Conde, the Marquis of Caracena and James Duke of York (future King James II), both of whom had been part of Louis XIV's service before being reluctantly drawn to the other side after Louis' treaty with Oliver Cromwell.


As the two armies formed up on the morning of the 14th June 1658 on the coastline outside Dunkirk you can see that there were several tests of loyalty and of future position at stake.



Suggested initial set up for the Battle of the Dunes

ORDERS OF BATTLE - using a 1:20 figure scale


FRENCH ARMY

Marshal Turenne - Commander in Chief - Veteran, Elite, Superb Tactician, Inspiring Leader

Sir William Lockhart - Sub-Commander - Veteran, Reliable, Stubborn. Inspiring Leader

From left to right

Lockhart's Cavalry (500 men) - 25 figures - Close order cavalry, medium armour, veteran, well trained, stubborn, sword, pistols

3 x Units of French Cavalry (3 x 500 men) - 3 x 25 figures - Open order cavalry, medium armour, veteran, well trained, impetuous. sword. pistols

Front Line

Alsop's Regiment of Foot (800 men) - 40 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, well trained, stubborn, musket/pike

Clarke's Regiment of Foot (600 men) - 30 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, well trained, stubborn, musket/pike

Cochrane's Regiment of Foot (800 men) - 40 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, well trained, stubborn, musket/pike

Lillington's Regiment of Foot (600 men) - 30 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, well trained, stubborn, musket/pike

Morgan's Regiment of Foot (800 men) - 40 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, well trained, stubborn, musket/pike

Reynold's Regiment of Foot (600 men) - 30 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, well trained, stubborn, musket/pike

Second Line

Scottish Bodyguard Regiment of Foot (400 men) - 20 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, elite, veteran, stubborn, musket/pike

Douglas's Regiment of Foot (600 men) - 30 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, elite, stubborn, musket/pike

Dillon's Regiment of Foot (600 men) - 30 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, well trained, stubborn, musket/pike

French Huguenot Regiment of Foot (800 men) - 40 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, well trained, reliable, musket/pike

4 x Units of French Cavalry (4 x 500 men) - 4 x 25 figures - Open order cavalry, medium armour, veteran, well trained, impetuous. sword. pistols


SPANISH ARMY

Don Juan of Austria - Commander in Chief - Inexperienced, Rash, Impetuous, Over Confident

Conde - Sub-Commander - Experienced, Veteran, Tactician, Inspiring

James, Duke of York - Sub-Commander - Inexperienced, Cautious, Inspiring

From left to right

4 x Units of Spanish Infantry (4 x 1,500 men) 4 x 75 figures 4/5 muskets 1/5 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, trained, steady, muskets/pikes

Duke of York's Front Line

Duke of Gloucester Regiment of Foot (500 men) - 25 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, well trained, loyal, musket/pike

Willoughby's Regiment of Foot (500 men) - 25 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, well trained, loyal, musket/pike

Ormonds Regiment of Foot (500 men) - 25 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, well trained, loyal, musket/pike

Second Line

The Foot Guards Regiment of Foot (250 men) - 12 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, elite, musket/pike

Lord Muskerry's Regiment of Foot (250 men) - 12 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, veteran, elite, musket/pike

Main Infantry body left to right both front & rear ranks ranks

2 x German Infantry Regiment of Foot (2 x 360 men) - 2 x 18 figures 4/5 muskets 1/5 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, experienced, steady, musket/pike

3 x Walloon Infantry Regiment of Foot (3 x 300 men) - 3 x 16 figures 2/3 muskets 1/3 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, experienced, steady, musket/pike

2 x Scottish Regiment of Foot (2 x 360 men) - 2 x 18 figures 4/5 muskets 1/5 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, experienced, steady, musket/pike

2 x Irish Regiment of Foot (500 men) - 25 figures 1/2 muskets 1/2 pike - Close order infantry, no armour, experienced, trained, impetuous, musket/pike

Right Flank (Conde)

2 x French Regiment of Foot (350 men) - 17 figures 4/5 muskets 1/5 pike - Close order infantry, light armour, experienced, trained, steady, musket/pike

Cavalry at rear

6 x French Cavalry Units (6 x 500 men) 6 x 25 figures - Close order cavalry, medium armour, experienced, trained, impetuous, sword, pistols


A panoramic view of the battle with Dunkirk in the distance


THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

The battle opened at 8am with the experienced Turenne using one of the most effective tactics when it works, turning a flank. Lockhart's infantry were given the objective of capturing the sandhill opposite them, which was occupied by 6,000 Spanish infantry. So steep was the slope that Lockhart ordered his men to rest for two minutes at the bottom before attempting to scale the hill. When they did start, they climbed in pairs, each man assisting the other man then visa versa, until they reached the summit. There they faced a massive Spanish force, but they quickly grouped and stoically advanced to the attack, steadily pushing back the Spanish by pure determination. The Duke of York tried to relieve the Spanish with his own counter attack supported by cavalry, but French and New Model cavalry swept forward and routed the English Royalists as well as the Spanish infantry. The pressure now fell on the centre, and soon the German and Walloon infantry cracked and began to run, and each time a Spanish unit fled the French increased the pressure on the remaining units. Eventually only the great Conde and his Catholic French units remained until under threat of complete encirclement they left the field. Turenne's cavalry pursued the Spanish army relentlessly, while the infantry returned to the siege of Dunkirk which would fall ten days later and be given to England as reward for it's efforts.


WARGAMING THE BATTLE

Considering how popular both the English Civil War and Thirty Years War are to game, most gamers should be able to find the figures for this battle quite easily. It is by no means a foregone conclusion, as with all games the "Dice Gods" can really upset the best laid plans, and it is certainly an interesting game with the different nationalities and subtle differences coming into play.

For those not sure about it in miniature figures, there is an excellent hexmap game that covers this battle in our online store by VaeVictis - With Honour and Panache
















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