The site has a collection with references for modeling, but also includes colorschemes used with the Dutch air forces. Most of the time showing the different variants and deliveries used. It has been very helpfull for me.
Last year I have done a lot of reading and searching on the battle of Scherpenzeel and the days leading to this battle. For this moment, I will skip the political landscape, and focus on the scenario I think is most plausible at the moment.
The battle of Scherpenzeel was part of the Sticht (Utrecht) Civil war in 1481-1483. It took place in the beginning of this period. It started with a conflict between cities and the Bischop, which was the ruler of the province.
Around September an army contingent from Holland visited Wijk bij Duurstede, the city where the Bishop, David van Burgundy, housed. After some festivities there were plans made to pillage the country around Amersfoort, which was one of the revolting cities.
One of the sources speak about a 4-day trip. They started at Wijk bij Duurstede, and went north over the road in direction of Amersfoort. The army was build up:
Jean van Salazar (Biscay noble, leading the army)
34 Biscay crossbowmen (Well trained, as the number is very specific, a force to be reckoned with)
Around 50 man on horse back (Unclear if the bowman are included)
300 other armed man under Jean van Salazar
300 knights from the army of David of Burgundy
300 men at arms from the army of David of Burgundy
The total army was around 1000 man. It is unclear if the Bishop himself joined the raid, or had his troops lend to Jean.
I expect that they went to “Huis ter Eem” a small castle, defending the river Eem. It is located close to Amersfoort. The house was besieged around September 1481, and destroyed by a canon. It is unclear if this was done before or after the raid around Amersfoort. The raid was either a counter action, or the reason why the house got besieged, as it might have happened after the raid.
But as you can see from the map, the distance from Wijk bij Duurstede to Amersfoort is around 37 km. Which is a long day of marching, but I think is feasible. The distance back and forth is certainly to long, to do in a single day, making the 4 day raid plausible. The army had to stay somewhere during the knight, and the castle was owned by the Bishop.
The raiding happened to the north of Amersfoort, in the direction of Hoevelaken.
Raiding and burning houses will take some time, therefore I expect that they had to move to a next castle. I am not certain which castle this would have been, but there are multiple castles located just to the east of Amersfoort.
The next day I expect that they are planning to return to Wijk bij Duurstede. Multiple sources are stating that they pillaged up to 1500 animals, cows, sheeps and pigs. This is a very large number, and would not move quickly. Also costing a lot of manpower to guide. Therefore the people of Amersfoort, gathered in an army, hoping to pay back for raiding the countryside. The mayor of the city gathered around 400 man at arms. Unclear what experience they would have, but probably consisted out of some knights and the city militia.
Near Scherpenzeel both forces met. Numerical the two forces differ a lot, 400 man for the Amersfoorters and 1000 man for the Bishops army. But because of the booty, the forces which are capable to fight, will probably more in the range of 400 against 600.
Still the battle was lost by the Amersfoorters. Somewhere between 100 and 200 people got killed, and another 100-200 were taken hostage. This had a large impact on the city defense of Amersfoort, and they called Utrecht to send some troops, as almost all men had died or where in hostage.
The location of the battle was near the village of Scherpenzeel. Hence the name of the battle. The village was located next to the road to Wijk bij Duurstede. I expect that the battle took place here, because there is a river running close by, and the road was going through a fordable place. This would make some kind of bottle neck, slowing the forces down. Resulting in the Amerfoorters catching up with the Bishops forces.
A battle will take some time, and expect that the Bishop forces would have taken some rest. Scherpenzeel does have a small castle, but it is unclear on which side this was, and a lot of damage was done to the village. As the taxes was allowed to be not paid for the next three year, due to the damage.
Geography of the battlefield
In the map included I have used the same geographical historical background, only projecting some extra information on top. The reason to use this, is to make an assumption how the route of travel would have been. Peat areas would have been swampy and diffcult to travel, especially with 1000 man and 1500 animals. Also river crossings will steer in a certain direction. That is the reason how I ended up in the current route as drawn.
In the future I hope to look more detailed into this, to investigate were the battle around Scherpenzeel took place. In the village itself, or close to the ford, or maybe somewhere to the north of Scherpenzeel, as that is the most dry area. There is only one mention of terrain data on the battlefield mentioned in the sources I have read. That is of a large hedge, either used to cover one flank or the rear of the Amersfoorters.
Next I hope to create some wargaming scenario using the above story. This so I can play it, parallel to the further research on the historical accounts, as I now mostly have used second hand sources.
I hope to play the scenario using the Sword&Spear rules, and 2mm figures. So I have to create some army lists, and starting conditions. Probably I will create multiple scenarios, to check if the troop strengths can be made more competitive if needed.
In this post I hope to provide a quick overview of the history of the Dutch landscape.
The Netherlands before the Roman occupation was partly sand and partly a marchy, swampy peat landscape. The southeastern parts (in light yellow and ochre) is higher and mostly consist of sands. The west and north is mostly covered in peat (reddish brown) with some swampy areas and streams (light blue and light green). Historical there is not much known on this area. There are some hunter gatherer communities, as found from archeological digs. But there is not much recorded on what actually happened.
During the roman occupation, or annexation, the cultivation of the land was started. They dried out the peat areas, to create farmland and to obtain fuel. this started around the bigger streams and rivers. As these were used as way of transport. And where the ancients highways. Most roman forts are found next to the rivers. The drying can be seen in the peat areas which are getting smaller.
Up until the medieval times, the cultivation continued and the large peat areas were getting smaller. The additional effect was, that the land was getting lower. When peat dries, it will shrink. Also it will start to rot, reducing the height level of the land. This is important in the next few ages, as it will increase the risk when a flood happens.
After multiple floods (between 1000-1200 AD) the sea has reclaimed some lands. The zuiderzee (southern sea, nowadays mostly called Ijselmeer) has increased in size, and the northwestern part of the Netherlands is a lot smaller. To reclaim the land of the sea multiple projects are started to make polders. This will continue the next centuries, with hightpoint around the 17th century. But also the modern day Flevoland has been reclaimed from the Ijsselmeer, as shown in the above map, with the projected contours.
The next step will be to focus on the Gelderse vallei again. Located in the middle, just below the Ijselmeer. Some large peat areas are still present, providing some economical interest.
Quite recently I have been listening some podcast about the Dutch history. This quite interesting with a lot of information, and gives a quick overview of how the swamp land had grown into the Netherlands.
First to start with a disclaimer. I am quite new to wargaming, and have not played a lot of games. So probably I will overlook a lot of rules and concepts. But I will try to write some summary I could find right now.
In general wargames don’t bother to much with civilians. I have read a couple of recent wargames battle reports and most did not feature any civilians. When they do participate I could identify a couple of reasons:
Think about farmers defending their crops against raiding and stealing cattle. Most of the time not part of any team, but acting like some kind of military units with low capabilities. The actual live and living of these civilians is most of the time not considerd, and wont have impact on the story or campaign. This is mostly used in medieval or more ancient battles and sometimes in fantasy or sci-fi adventures.
( Negative or Positive) modifier
It is not good to have civilian casualties, but they are only some negative modifier to the end score. Often seen in ww2 air war games, were you try to recreate bombing of a city, were missed bombs (which have civilian causalities) generate negative points. But is might also be used in modern urban warfare. But it might also be used impacting morale, as the civilians are liking your side more or less.
Those refugee streams can clog up roads, or make moving around more difficult. It just act the same way as terrain feature, impacting your military forces. They might be moving around as a walking forest is which you only see in fantasy setting, so refugees make up a more believable story, in historical setting.
Unexpected military unit
This is mostly used in modern irregular wars, were mobs of civilians are either blocking your road, or suddenly turning back on you and showing itself as military unit.
Starting the research I had expected that there would be not much ways to involve civilians in wargames, but multiple different ways have been discovered. The only one missing, which would make sense from human rights perspective, is a direct head on head wargame, civilians against a militairy power, where the civilians do not use weapons, but score by avoiding casualties. I haven’t found a system what uses these kind of mechanics yet. Maybe I have to create my own.
Now looking back at the original question:
Can wargame rules include human rights violations, and still teach us a lesson, while telling the (his)story?
I don’t think the mechanisms above tells something about human rights violations. They do take civilians in account, and can create good (his)stories. But don’t teach us about human rights violations.
For this I have to search futher or create my own. From computer games I want to highlight two examples, which takes some civilian live into account. The first is “This war of mine”, which is a game where you play as civilian in a warzone, and try to survive in your house. You are searching for supplies and encounter thereby other people, were you can steal their supplies or fight them. The emotional aspect has some place here, as it feels not good to steal from an elderly couple. But if you don’t get the supply, one of your characters die. The second game is “Conflict Zone” were two parties battle, but the resources are civilians. For the “good” side, you try to save as many refugees as possible, for the “bad” side, you don’t care, but need to indoctrinate as many civilians as possible.
Maybe these games can be a good inspiration for finding a solution. Hope to expand this research in the future.
In my research on the Battle of Scherpenzeel and the Stichtse oorlog from 1481, I have recently digged into the topic of geography. If you want to wargame this war, you need terrain, and it would be nice to know how it would have looked. Because this already quite long ago more than 500 years, it is quite complex and difficult to determine. Therefore some basic research is needed, and probably some estimated guesses.
I have not written before on the battle of Scherpenzeel, but I hope this post (and the following with similar topic) will give a good bit of background information, to place the different events and actions on the map. My primary research will focus on the Battle of Scherpenzeel. Later on I will also dig into other area’s, but that will require new research.
Scherpenzeel is one of the villages in the Gelderse Vallei. Translated the valley of Gelre. Gelre the is the province or region. To start off, the modern day map of Scherpenzeel and surroundings. Also showing some other important places from this battle.
When looking to this map, and thinking of the Battle of Scherpenzeel, there are a couple of places which will become important for this battle
Wijk bij Duurstede, the place were the Burgundian troops departed
Area between Bunschoten and Hoevelaken, the place where they started raiding.
Amersfoort, the origin of the Amersfoort Army
Scherpenzeel, the place which did give the name to the battle.
Don’t forget that the Army did march between those points, so the routes become important to.
The next map will show why this area is called the Gelderse Vallei. This is the modern day height map of the area. In green the heigh, the darker the color the higher the area is. The red line is still showing the province border, and Scherpenzeel is laying in the middle. To the left you see the dark area which is called the Utrechtse Heuvelrug (Utrecht Hill ridge) On the right side the large higher plains are the Veluwe area.
In the northern end of the map you can see two different colors. The reddish color, which is Flecoland. This is reclaimed land, and is below sea level. This did not exist before the 1950’s. The pink areas are polders, next to the river Eem. These areas where the place which were raided before the battle of Scherpenzeel. Part of the research will be, when these polders were actually dried up, and what the impact was on the landscape.
In the next post on geography I hope to focus more on the history of the Dutch landscape in general, and the influence of humans on this. After that I will focus on what the landscape of the Gelderse Vallei consisted off. Laying the bases to make an estimated guess on the map of those days.
A while ago this book was part of an discount of ebooks bij Pen and Sword. I bought and downloaded it, hoping to have some 15th century warfare stories inside. So I would have a better period feel for the 15th century projects. I am not really interested in the Italian wars, but it is part of Europe, and even in that period soldiers (and mercenaries) could already travel for long distances. So these soldiers could also fight in the other wars closer to the Netherlands.
The book itself does tell the story of Italian warfare, diving into the political aspects. Also the intrigues and conflicting city states. Naming a lot of companies and there commanders. It does occasionally describe some battles but only in general matters, focusing on the outcome and impact on the development of the mercenaries systems, and rise and fall of the different companies.
The book did focus on a different subject than I was interested in, and did not include the detailed descriptions on tactics and fights with mercenary groups I hoped for. If interested in the Renaissance Italian wars, this book is probably better suited, but cannot tell how well this is compared to other books. Probably not a very helpful review for others.
After reading the books on the Ethiopian history and air force actions, I hope to create multiple campaigns. Trying to simulate the different wars and operations. I think I will play most of these campaigns in solo mode. Testing out the Missle threat Solo rules and the Missle threat mercenary air campaign. I have divided the history in the following operations:
United Nations Operation in the Congo (1960-1964)
Eritrean war of independence (1961-1991)
Ogaden war, Ethiopia-Somali (1978)
DERG period (1978-1988)
Badme war, Ethiopia-Eritrean (1998-2001)
For most of these periods there were a lot of engagements, but most are not described with a lot of details. Therefore for gaming purposes I will simplify these eras, and create some kind of alternate-history. This enables to use a campaign system and generate some raids and air clashes, from tables.
At this moment I don’t have any planes yet. Therefore more detailed plans will be made when I acquire them. A big inspiration will come from the Cuba Libre! blog. This was one of the reasons with the air wargaming, and also lead me to Lacquered coffins and Missile threat rules. Please check out his work, especially his Phantoms over Havana series.
They do have a nice collection on Napoleonic wargame scenarios for Grande Armee. One of the scenarios is appealing, and hope I can convert it to the 2-by-2 wargame rules we are using. The Scenario is called The Battle of Three Roads, and is a hypothetical alternative history, were Napoleon did not attack Wellington at Waterloo, but started a maneuvering war threatening the supply line and the left flank. Trying to defeat the enemy in detail. (Original scenario)
It is not possible to use all the terrain rules and reinforcement rules as written, but the map and the forces are possible to use. I have colored the map, and made it square, to fit my purposes. And also added some towns, to complete the terrain.
For the forces, I have to look on what I have available. I do have some pontoon bridging models in my stack, so probably need to finish them quickly, as engineering platoon. For the rest I need to check the available forces, and find some way to create labels.
Hopefully we can play this scenario at the end of July.
To look deeper into human rights in war, I have looked to the internationally general accepted rules. Please be aware that this is a quite modern creation, which was first negotiated after world war 2, and updated several times.
1. The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations. To give effect to this protection, the following rules, which are additional to other applicable rules of international law, shall be observed in all circumstances.
4. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are:
(a) those which are not directed at a specific military objective;
… 5. Among others, the following types of attacks are to be considered as indiscriminate:
(a) an attack by bombardment by any methods or means which treats as a single military objective a number of clearly separated and distinct military objectives located in a city, town, village or other area containing a similar concentration of civilians or civilian objects; and … 6. Attacks against the civilian population or civilians by way of reprisals are prohibited.
Some parts of article 51 of Protocol I, Convention of Geneva Source: ICRC
Looking at these rules, it is easy to find violations on these rules. Only looking at the world war 2 all sides did make use of these kind of attacks. Think on the Luftwaffe bombing on London, Rotterdam and other cities. But also widely used on allied side, bombing German cities and the American nuclear bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.But even in modern times, it is still happening. Think about some Israeli attacks, US drone and anti terrorist attacks in the middle east. US shoot down of Iran civilian airplane in 1988 (Iran Air Flight 655). And before mentioned wars of Ethiopia.
In modern times these violations are often overlooked or other wise dismissed by the actors. Or research on these items otherwise blocked or hindered. A good example is the research on the downing of flight MH17 in Ukrainian. Were both sides blame each other, and Russia actively hindering the research and spreading a lot of disinformation. In my research I have read trough some international court cases of Eritrea and Ethiopia, on the Badme war. And it is quite difficult to determine what is actually a civilian or military target.
As example, there was a new Electricity plant in Eritrea. It was bombed by Ethiopia. Is this a tactical target and military objective as it powers the military air base? Or civilian as it is the power source for the whole city, and the civilian side of the air base? May the people suffer because the military have a base close by, and do have mobile power plants in case others are brought down. It was a very confusing case. In this case the power plant was considered military valuable, and therefore a legitimate target. But it did increase the suffering of the inhabitants of the city, and reduced the first aid capabilities to the city, because no civilian planes could land on the airfield anymore.
It has learned me a lot of new insights. War is always dirty, even if the good guy is fighting it. And people will suffer, both when it is a violation against human rights and when it officially is not. Next research case will be civilians in war games.
A little week of holidays past, to take a good rest. I did not spend anything at wargaming. But last saturday I visited the Dutch Air Force Open days, at Volkol Airbase, and took some pictures of Dutch planes.
But there where also some guest from other countries.
Some new inspiration to go ahead with Cold war Dutch air force.