Saturday, November 22, 2014

Planning the Battle of Brandywine - Chadd's Ford

Work has begun on setting up a scenario for giving both Land of the Free and Fields of Honor a trial with 15mm AWI.  In the first game of Land of the Free, the British won a hard fought battle of Bunker Hill in 28mm.  For the 15mm game trials, the follow-up battle chosen is the Battle of Brandywine.  Why Brandywine?  Well, OB showed a variety of troop types and battalion sizes coupled with the opportunity to accommodate more than one scenario.  Terrain and situation is interesting as well.
Brinton's Ford and Brandywine Creek from the NE
To gain background on the battle and sort out the participants and troop dispositions, I have been reading McGuire's Volume I of the Philadelphia Campaign.  Prior to reading McGuire and having only a general idea of the battle flow, my initial plan was to restage Knyphausen's approach from Kennett Square to Chadd's Ford.  In this section of the battlefield, the Brandywine can only be crossed at the two fords: Chadd's or Brinton's.
Brandywine Creek looking north
Historically, Knyphausen's approach to Brandywine Creek from Kennett Square was only a feint.  Once along the banks of the Brandywine, Kynphausen waited for Howe's flanking attack to develop before launching his attacks across the fords.  As Washington drew off Sullivan and Greene from the fords to address the British flanking maneuver, Wayne was left to defend these crossings.  As Kynphausen saw Sullivan and Greene redeploying to the north to counter Howe, Knyphausen struck.

This exercise will explore the results of Knyphasuen attacking rebel positions on the east bank of the Brandywine straight away.  The scenario begins with the initial skirmishes between Maxwell and Knyphausen on the British approach to Chadd's Ford.  Departing from history, Knyphausen, instead of taking up positions on the west bank of the Brandywine and awaiting Howe's flank attack, will press on across the creek and escalate the probe into a multi-brigade engagement.  Maxwell's light infantry will deploy on the west bank of the Brandywine with Greene and Sullivan's divisions drawn up on the east bank in favorable ground.  Maxwell will act as a speed bump to Knyphausen's juggernaut.  Greene deploys covering Chadd's Ford while Sullivan defends Brinton's Ford to the north. 

As Maxwell is pushed back to the creek, Knyphausen presses on to engage the defenders lining the creek rather than awaiting Howe's flanking maneuver to strike home.  By having Knyphausen attack early, the British have a chance to catch the Americans in a pincer while Knyphausen drives on the colonials' line of communications.  As Howe advances from the north, the Americans may be trapped if Knyphausen can cut their retreat. 

Terrain for the battle only uses 6 feet by 6 feet of the game table.  Brandywine Creek runs generally in a north/south direction with Washington's colonials on the east bank and Knyphausen on the west bank of the creek.  Sullivan defends Brinton's Ford while Greene defends Chadd's Ford.
The Battle for Chadd's Ford
Orders of Battle for combatants are drawn from Greg Novak's fine work, The American War of Independence - A Guide to the Armies of the AWI.  With the size differentiation in Land of the Free and the large dispersion of units' manpower, some of the small units will be consolidated into larger units.  Another factor to consider is that LotF prescribes four levels of unit sizes of Tiny, Small, Medium, and Large.  Since most of the battalions (regiments) present on the OB are in the neighborhood of 300 men and the Basic Maneuver Unit (BMU) or LotF Element is the battalion for Brandywine, Brandywine will be fought at the battalion level.  LotF lists battalion level headcounts spanning from 300 men up to 1,000 men.  To me, that represents too much variation to fit into one size category.  With aggregating the very small units into larger units and the German regiments fielding units in excess of 500 men, my initial thought is to categorize BMU size as:
  • Small - Under 150
  • Medium - 150 - 350
  • Large - 350+
This aggregation and categorization also provides the benefit of reducing the number of Elements fielded slightly.  Unit reduction will be especially appreciated during solo play.  Still, a lot of elements for solo play but manageable, I think.  Who knows?  Maybe I will get some assistance?
These details provide both a starting place for scenario development and a useful exercise to occupy my mind while confined to a hotel this week.  Of course, the above is all preliminary and may change before troops are actually set out on the tabletop.

With Kevin cancelling the scheduled colonial game on the 22nd, perhaps, my AWI troops can see action this weekend?  If not this weekend then certainly time should be available over the long Thanksgiving holiday.

The stage is set.

12 comments:

  1. Well-thought out pre-planning for this game, Jonathan. Very impressive - and the figures aren't even o the table yet ;)!

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    1. Very kind comments, Dean! Pre-planning is half the fun, is it not?

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  2. This table is really nice Jonathan, agree with Dean, a very impressive preparation!

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    1. Thank you, Phil! Your constant support is much appreciated.

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  3. Great looking table, Jon. Are the hexes 3" Terrain maker hexes, or what? I don't recall having seen them on your table before...

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    1. Thanks, Peter! The hexes are 5 inches across measured from the vertices. These were handmade by me with help from my oldest son about 20 years ago. The hexes still show up in games but were more prominent in many of the older games. Look at "From the Vault" and you will likely see more.

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  4. looking good and interesting layout and terrain pieces you have Jon, I like the hexes, they will help solve some issues, like facings,frontal,flanks etc..

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    1. Hi Phil! I like the hexes too. Coming from a boardgame background, I guess the hexes are aesthetic to my eye. Some do not care for the look of hexes on a miniatures' table but I think they lend a sense of order to the table.

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  5. Looks like its gonna be a cracker of a game.

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    1. I sure hope so! If not, back to the drawing board to make a few tweaks.

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  6. The table sure looks nice and a great battle to pick. After recently visiting Brandywine I sure do look forward to seeing this played out.

    Christopher

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    1. Thanks, Christopher! I rememember your recent visit to the battle and I hope you enjoy the replay.

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