With Rodger returning to command the cavalry (much to the chagrin of Etienne De Garde), Stockwood decided to consolidate the mercenary army and prepared to make a stand. Rodger's time away had obviously impacted the lad in some mysterious way, for he took his command seriously and made efforts to win the men's confidence and trust.
Stockwood deployed his line near the mercenary camp, flanked by a river and the forest beyond. The infantry took advantage of the cover offered by the rough ground while Rodger prepared the mounted men-at-arms to counter-charge, as per his uncle's orders.
Before long, the entire Milanese army was spotted cresting the hills to the south.
The Milanese army led by General Francesco Prosciutto.
Stockwood ordered the infantry forward. His plan was to increase the threat of the archers, and hopefully, to cause the Italian general to split his cavalry line.
Prosciutto reformed his line in response to Stockwood's deployment. The infantry was ordered around the flanks while the cavalry held the centre.
A view of the field just moments before engagement.
Skirmishing broke out in the center of the field, with the Breton javelinmen sending the Italian crossbowmen to flight.
The mercenary crossbowmen held the Italians back on the flank as well. Things were already looking dour for the Milanese.
When the Italian skirmishers started breaking up and fleeing, Stockwood tightened the infantry line and ordered repeated volleys of arrows fired towards the left-most cavalry flank.
The first unit of heavy cavalry (led by none other than Giovanni the Black himself) failed to reach the mercenary line before suffering serious disorder from the hail of arrows.
Meanwhile, in a surprising display of self-control, Rodger held the mercenary horse in position until the last moment (i.e. on opportunity) and counter-charged the right-most cavalry flank.
Rodger found himself in melee with Prosciutto and his household, and even managed to hold the line during the bloodiest of the fighting (He even rolled box cars during an initiative roll and escalated to the dizzying heights of a Fair general)
As the rest of Giovanni's flank charged towards the archers, confusion and disorder caused the line to break, and mercenary arrows caused numerous fatal wounds. (Chris needed to roll a "2" or better to reach my line - he rolled at "1." Oh well - JET)
Stockwood ordered all archers within earshot to fall back, and with his men, seized the initiative and charged into the disordered knights.
By this time, Rodger and Beauregard's men were crushing Prosciutto's line, while Etienne and his knights broke the remainder of the Italian's right flank.
Within minutes of the cavalry engagement, the mercenary men-at-arms, with the help of the veteran archers, had broken the Milanese army. Stockwood was even more pleased when he found that Rodger and his knights had captured the Milanese general Francesco Prosciutto.
Chris emailed me this little account of the post-battle drama the morning after our game. I think it provides an entertaining note to end on, so I'll leave it there until next time.
From the Annales Milanorum:
...And when his ransom was paid and he was returned to the city, Gen. Prosciutto was approached to lead a delegation to the mercenaries in order to broker a cessation of hostilities. The general angrily responded, citing that the Englishman had, during Prosciutto's captivity, at various times mocked him before the assembled soldiery and also urinated on his favourite clothes (looted from the Milanese camp), evacuated his nostrils in the general`s shirt and fondled his genitalia (although scholars disagree on the validity of this last claim). He is quoted as having said: "We have no peace while he hold my favourite hat hostage eh? No! Not while my haberdashery sit in chains!"...
...Following the destruction of the Milanese army, his holiness pope Benedict the twit forthwith published the bull 'Supplicato' (called 'Capitulato' by his critics) in which he begged Stockwood not to bring his army south of the Po river. As the area around Milan was already south of the Po, Stockwood wrote a letter to pope Benedict suggesting that "His holiness poke his head back up the arse in which it has been kept ere now..."
Thanks for reading,