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"Representing War of the Roses Units on the Battle Field" Topic

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Mithmee05 Jun 2019 5:08 p.m. PST

Now we know that the units consisted of Armored Knights/Men on foot and horse, Mounted Men-at-Arms (Light Cavalry), Billmen, Dismounted Men-at-Arms, Archers with either Bows or Crossbows.

But the units were also fielded by Lords and Knights still so the men started the battle off with their Lord.

So the real units were a mish-mash groupings of the above.


Sir Walter Strickland, knight of Westmorland and retainer of the Earl of Salisbury was required to raise "74 Horsed and harnessed men, 69 mounted bowmen, 76 dismounted billmen with 71 foot archers" A quite incredible 290 fighting men!

Given that the Lord/Knight would have a few others we will round this 290 up to an even 300.

Also what is the scale/ratio of figure to men?


20-1 – One figure = 20 men so the above unit would have 15 figures that are roughly broken out evenly between the types.

30-1 – One figure = 30 men so an unit of 10 figures.

Now historically archers would have been the most common with some armies having up to 50% or more of their forces being archers, who would of had only a limited amount of arrows/bolts.

I do not see where most Lords would have given up the men that they brought to the field over to another Lords.

So the units that fought in these battles would have been a mish/mash of the above.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP05 Jun 2019 5:47 p.m. PST

Well, Mithmee, if you've already decided on the answer, be content. If not, I think you'll find that troops were levied in a similar fashion for most of the armies of the Hundred Years War, and I've yet to hear anyone claim they fought in such contingents in France. For one thing, there was a huge range of contingent sizes. For another, if army commanders needed and used mounted men, they needed them in mounted units.

I've never found any document describing the tactical organization of a WOTR army at a lower level than a division into Vaward, Main and Rearward, with perhaps a "clump of spears" for a reserve. In the absence of information, I frankly admit I'm guessing.

If you find any information on tactical formations--not levied contingents, but depth, frontage or how bills, bows and dismounted men at arms were formed and how they interacted--please let the rest of us know.

Mithmee07 Jun 2019 11:31 a.m. PST

That just it I haven't decided yet.

Getting actual information on Realistic Order of Battles from back then is not an easy task.

The other issue is the ratio of figure to number of men.

Many of the battles saw under 10,000 men per side and only Towton had large numbers 25-30+ thousands per side.

But with the number of dead ranging around 28,000 it would have been harder to field this many in the later battles.

Warspite131 Dec 2019 7:52 p.m. PST

You may find my later post useful:

TMP link


MajorB02 Jan 2020 2:43 p.m. PST

and only Towton had large numbers 25-30+ thousands per side.

And even those figures are now questionable…

Warspite103 Jan 2020 3:55 a.m. PST


I have often wondered how the bodies were counted given that the more affluent dead might be removed almost immediately while the clerks and heralds might count the same bodies or piles of bodies two or three times by mistake. Cutting off one ear might be used as a body count but this is tedious and goes against the Christian idea of burying the whole body. [Side bar: one of the especial terrors in being hanged, drawn and quartered was that your body ended up in different places and made your Resurrection questionable].

Nearly all the figures for the numbers of people taking part are questionable until at least the 17th century when muster rolls and pay rolls might survive. Even then, just being on the pay roll does not mean the man was actually there. Doing my family tree (as a Londoner) I was tickled to discover someone with my very unusual surname was at Antietam and Gettysburg with the 23rd Pennsylvania, Birney's Zoaves. It was later pointed out to me that just because the unit was there does not mean that HE was there. He could have been sick, on leave or on detachment.

The short version of this is that, generally speaking, we have to guesstimate both the number of troops taking part and the resulting casualties. The best record we may have on the latter is the number of dead TITLED people as their wills, property transactions and/or attainders for treason are recorded.

There is a lot of such paperwork after Towton – a LOT of it – which suggests that there was a very high butchers' bill to pay. I don't think that the suggested death toll is correct, as I mentioned on another thread, my ex-GF had a forensics degree and we once calculated how much bone mass would be left from the alleged '28,000 dead'. It would be a considerable lump in the landscape… so where is it?


Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP04 Jan 2020 7:00 p.m. PST

When I was making scenarios for Hail Caesar I'd take the # of Men believed to be at the battle, come up with a "basic unit" which might be 500 men = 24 figures, 12 =250, 48 minis = 1000.

This would usually render games with between 12-15 units per side.

For 2020 I'm thinking of trying Kings of War historical. So for most of my historical scenarios, a 10 man unit would be 500 real men, a 20 mini unit would be 1,000 men etc.

That should work for all the battles except for maybe Towton.

redcoat05 Jul 2021 2:09 p.m. PST

I have no specialist knowledge on the Wars of the Roses, but I do find it spectacularly difficult to believe that the leaders of the two armies could organise daily rations for up to 30,000 men per side. In a place like Yorkshire. In winter.

Warspite130 Jul 2021 8:12 a.m. PST

You are assuming that rations were organised.
All WOTR campaigns were short and one reason for that may have been providing food. It is probable that some basic food was provided by commanders in the form of bread or biscuit or was purchased. It is also likely that the men either found or stole food along the way.

In France the English would scavenge for food but in England this would be discouraged and it is noted that Henry V also discouraged it in France, or at least in those areas where he wanted to court popularity.


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