Saturday, August 28, 2021

Defense of Shoemaker's Bridge

The action at Shoemaker's Bridge is up for one last replay.  This time the Monday Night UK Group (which plays on Tuesday!) is set for an encore game.  Rather than umpiring three players in the first game (see: Shoemaker's Bridge: Game 1), I had seven players participate in this game.  Quite a fistful of players for a remote game.  No worries since there were seven brigades on the OB.  Each player could command a meaningful and independent brigade.  Still, managing and coordinating seven players in a remote game is a challenge.

How did the battle unfold?  Please continue reading to find out!

General Heard deploys his brigade and the independent units of Rifles and artillery as seen above.  The artillery is deployed in the rear covering the bridge.  The rifles and one militia regiment set up on the American right, likewise, covering the bridge while the two remaining militia regiments position themselves on and around Shoemaker's Hill.  All are given Hold orders enabling them to react to British movements on Turn 1.  
React the Americans do.  As the British begin reaching the battlefield on their approach to the bridge,  Heard snaps into action.  The Rifles quickly cross the stream and let loose a volley into the arriving Redcoats.  Militia situated at the bottom of the hill along the stream climb back onto the heights before contact with the enemy. 
First contact on the British left near the farmhouse
The riflemen are driven off with casualties but their bold move forces the Redcoats to bunch up around the bridge. This concentration of force makes an easy target for both militia and guns. One of Jones' regiments scatters in these opening salvos.  Brushing aside these Rebels may not be so easy as expected.
Or will it?  The Redcoats wade across the stream all along the front with one regiment scaling the heights to contest Shoemaker's Farm almost immediately.  Lord Percy, Matthews, and the two guard regiments swing wide around the Rebel left in an attempt to pressure Shoemaker's Farm from two directions.  American reinforcements can be seen hurrying toward the front. Will they reach the front in time?
The answer to that question is unknown.  The Redcoats, having crossed the stream in strength, are driving the Rebels back on the American right.  Pigott's men advance and fight into the fields deep into the American right.  Percy and Matthews drive deep on the Rebel left.  Smith's Brigade is preparing to assault the heights.  This rapid advance is beginning to show shades of battles' past.

Pigott and Jones are thrown back
But the American defense shows signs of stiffening as reinforcements spin off to the left and right to contest these British probes. On the Rebel right, Jones and Pigott's commands are driven back from the fields as Heard and elements of Nixon's Brigade pushes forward.  The British suffer heavy casualties as they are thrown out of the field.  On the American left, skirmishes erupt as Parsons’ Brigade interrupts Percy and Matthew's thrust.
In the center, Smith prepares to assault the heights in force having gained a foothold on the lower slopes near the bridge.  The American defense appears to be stiffening.
Smith's assault goes in as his command climbs the heights.  The Rebels are driven back swiftly but casualties are high.  Matthews throws in one of the Guard regiments in the assault upon Shoemaker's Farm.  For now, the militia in the farm hold but for how long?
Jones goes in again on the left
The Rebels counterattack!  On the left, Jones' Brigade suffers greatly as his command takes withering casualties as the Rebels press forward.  In the center, Nixon goes on the attack in hopes of stopping the British advance.  Parsons, on the Rebel left, forms up to contest Percy's planned encirclement of the heights.
Smith storms Shoemaker's Farm and the militia are ejected.  Both suffer great loss.  Lead elements of Smith's command descend the heights flushed with success.  Can the Americans hold?  
While Parsons holds the Guards at bay on the left and Heard dispatches the remaining Redcoats on the American right, Nixon turns the tide in the fight for the heights.  
With the situation at the bridge under control, Nixon can turn his attention elsewhere.  In their possibly over-extended positions on the hill, the Redcoats are flanked by elements of Nixon's Brigade.
Softened by artillery and then assaulted from the rear, the Redcoats waver and then break.  In a matter of minutes, Smith's command is in tatters.  Smith must now figure a way out of this vise.  With Parsons pinning the Guard, no relief is in reach.  While Smith still holds the farm, his remaining brigade is either dead on the field or trapped.
The Redcoats are pinned!
With the British left destroyed and only remnants of Smith's Brigade clinging to the Shoemaker Farm, Lord Percy orders the Guard to retire from the field.  The Rebels have held the field and prevented the encirclement of their army outside of Brooklyn.  Hurrah!

Well!  Finally, the Americans taste victory in the fifth replay of this battle.  This was a hard-fought scrap that the Rebels could have lost once again.  A well-played game by the Rebel commanders.  This American victory with provide another interesting piece of evidence to a battle retrospective.

How about the Butcher's Bill and Victory Point totals?
Butcher's Bill
Battle Losses: British lost 8 regiments of infantry and three generals (!) to the American's loss of 7 regiments of infantry and one general.
Victory Points: British 20. Americans 34.

I declare this a decisive tactical American victory.  The Rebels have blunted the planned British flanking maneuver upon Brooklyn.

Ian, Graham, and Phil, you demonstrated how to win an American victory in this scenario and save Fort Brooklyn.  Decisively too!  Well done!  

For the British players of Will, Steve, Chris, and Richard, you fought valiantly and I thought I would witness another in a long string of British victories.  Alas, the Rebels live to fight on.

For a player's perspective of the battle, see Graham's account at,

Great fun in umpiring this very large, player count remote game.  Thanks to all!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The British Are Coming!

After umpiring three battles of Shoemaker's Bridge, Matt agreed to replay the battle allowing me to command the American defenders.  Watching the progression of the prior three games, I thought the defenders might have opportunities to spoil the British juggernaut.  Resisting assaults from hardened Redcoats against many untrained militia is a tough task but I figured the Americans were not without options.  This, then, is an account of that battle.

Heard's Brigade opts for a forward deployment to challenge the British crossing.  The Continental Rifles are deployed on the American right with the guns positioned on the hill to the rear.  From their vantage point, the guns should be able to cover the bridge in support. 

All four of Heard's militia line the banks of the stream between the bridge and Shoemaker's Hill. All militia have carefully loaded muskets and are placed on HOLD orders to react to British initial movements.

As lead elements of the British column reach the battlefield, Heard springs into action. The rifles cross the stream and threaten the British left while Heard's brigade wades across the stream. The Americans will take the fight to the British!

The militia unload their muskets into the Redcoats but few casualties are suffered.  Can Heard get more than one volley out of his militiamen before they retire?

With word of Nixon's Brigade on the way, Heard prepares his speed bump at the stream.  The Redcoats are coming on thick.  Dense formations are prepared to brush the rebels away with cold steel.

Give 'em cold steel!

That is exactly what the Redcoats do!  The Rifles are overrun and one militia is scattered.  The long British columns continue their march to the bridge.
"Disperse ye damn rebels!"
As lead elements of American reinforcements reach Shoemaker's Hill, Heard's militia fall back across the stream.  Have the militia bought enough time to establish a defense? 
The Redcoats storm across the stream but not without cost.  One regiment takes heavy casualties and balks at crossing the stream.  No fear!  Two British Guard regiments push their way across in the face of the enemy.
Two more American regiments are scattered as the British charge home.  This engagement may be over before it gets started!  Nixon's Brigade is hurrying to stop the British advance as Parson's Brigade reaches the field.
As the British struggle across the stream and brush, the American defense begins to form upon the heights at Shoemaker's Farm.  Heard's militia continue putting up a good fight at the base of the hill and on covering the American left. 
Action looking from the south
The battle is not completely one-sided, though.  The 1st Guards are destroyed while a second regiment takes heavy casualties while scaling the heights.  The American defense is beginning to stiffen!  Unfortunately, a third militia regiment from Heard's Brigade is scattered.
British advance on the left
With Rebel lines forming up on the heights, British march into a hail of lead.  Two British regiments are destroyed in the advance including the 2nd Guard Regiment.  Lord Percy is killed!
Seeing the carnage to their front, three British regiments linger in the dead ground below the American positions.  The "dead" ground takes on a new meaning.
While the British assault upon the hill has stalled, the Redcoats attack the Rebel right.  Even though reinforced by the timely arrival of support from a regiment of Continentals, can the militia hold the field?
View of battle from south
Redcoats charge into the field
In the field on the American right, the Redcoats charge home and the rebels are evicted from the field.  On The American left, two British regiments assault Shoemaker's Farm and its militia defenders. 
The Redcoats seize the farm!  The Rebels launch a vigorous counterattack.  On the American left, the position has collapsed as militia are streaming toward the rear.  The Rebel guns on the hill, turn to face their new threat. 
Rebels counterattack!
With seemingly little effort, the guns at the farm are overpowered and captured.  The American right has truly been turned and the Rebel line of retreat is in peril.
Fighting hard to retake Shoemaker's Farm proves fruitless.  The stalwart British fail to be evicted as the battle winds down.  In a daring maneuver to retake the bridge, the Rebels are thwarted by the timely return of interlopers.

The battle ends.

Casualties on both sides were very heavy.  Of the four games played, Game 4 definitely witnessed the most bloodshed.  What about the Butcher's Bill?
Butcher's Bill
The British lost six regiments and two officers to the American's eight regiments.  That is a very high body count.  What about Victory Point tally?

For Victory Points, the count was British 28 to American 22.  Another convincing tactical British victory.  Congratulations to Matt for a second win at this battle!  With four games in the books and a final fifth game later today, I plan a retrospective on lessons learned in this battle.

Could the Rebels have pulled out a victory?  It was close, very close.  By holding either the gun hill or Shoemaker's Farm and retaking the bridge, the Americans would have gained a tactical victory by one point.  Close but no cigar.

Thanks again to Matt for a riveting game.  Perhaps I will get him next time?

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Back to the Brushes

With August seeing much activity at the gaming table, preparing for games, and writing about games, I finally produce my second completed unit for the month.  Not much productivity on the painting front but the gaming front has been chock full.  A handful of units is nearing completion by month's end (hopefully) including a unit of skirmishers that I had not intended to push into the painting queue.  Long story, that...  

Off the painting desk today is a 23 figure unit of French SYW 18mm infantry.  Regiment is Normandie and figures are Blue Moon musketeers led by a Eureka Miniatures mounted officer.  Flags are from Not by Appointment.  With several bags of Old Glory 15mm SYW French hitting the mailbox this week, I expect to see a regular stream of French in the months ahead.  Now, if I can only exhibit a little focus.

Gaming is still going strong with three gaming sessions this week.  The weekly Tuesday game saw a return to the Jacobite Rebellion in which my Jacobites were soundly thrashed including the loss of our CinC.  He may think twice about deciding to attach to my hard charging cavalry next time.  Friday saw a F2F CCA session with Kevin wherein my Romans defeated Kevin's Carthaginians at Ilipa three games to none; all in splendid 6mm. Finally, Sunday sees yet a fourth remote replay of Shoemaker's Bridge when Matt leads the British against my defending Rebels.  Having watched the battle play out three times before, I am anxious to take command for myself.  I pray my plan is a cunning one.  Looking forward to this match up a lot.

Shoemaker's Bridge will not go quietly, though.  I am hosting the scenario yet one more time for the remote Tuesday UK group.  Looking forward to that too although after five playings, it may be time to retire the scenario, for now.  

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Fourth Time A Charm?

British attack at Shoemaker's Bridge
I began putting my thoughts together in preparation to a start of a retrospective on the three, recent remote games of Shoemaker's Bridge and the three British victories.  Before drifting off too deep into thought, I wondered about the lessons learned.

By watching play unfold in the games and simply taking the role of umpire and figure-mover, can I form valid opinions and insights based upon these passive activities?  What lessons did I learn by watching? Doubts began to creep into my thoughts.  A better and more balanced retrospective would include my perspective from that of a player. 

Those doubts are over.  Matt has taken up my challenge to replay the scenario.  He will be reprising his victorious role as Lord Percy in command of the British column while I take command of the Rebels attempting to slow the British advance upon Brooklyn.  Should be fun and insightful.  Will the Rebels be able to slow Matt's British juggernaut?  That remote game is scheduled for this weekend.

Besides the weekend game with Matt, two more games are on the gaming docket this week.  One game today with the Graham's UK group and a F2F game on Thursday.  Busy week on the gaming front, again.

On cycling the Palouse, mileage continues at a good pace but wildfires and heat are making cycling less enjoyable.  Over the last three weeks, the Palouse has been enveloped in a thick smoke as wildfires burn all around.  Smoke passing through the area from fires afar, tend to pool in the area when the wind calms.  Air quality has been poor of late with AQI frequently measuring in the 200-300 range.  Many outdoor activities are canceled under these conditions.  I may be feeling some of the effects of these smoky conditions.

Despite this, the GoPro captured the following photos while cycling on days I could see the sun.

These last two photos are not what a cyclist wants to face on the road.  Yeah, it was unnerving to see the sportscar pull out around the truck and into my lane to pass. Even more unnerving when that Green Demon whizzed passed me with only a few feet gap between us.  Thank God and the Highway District for wide shoulders! Yikes!

I lived to ride another day.  Time for Tuesday's game.