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?

45 comments:

  1. Most interesting indeed, taking the fight to the British certainly surprised me, you Matt? So close to succeeding too. Poor old Percy hors de combat again too. Await game five with further interest.

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    1. Phil, I was hoping to get in a few early licks to slow the British advance. The strategy worked in slowing the advance but my militia suffered brutally from Matt's fire and assault. Few of my militia survived their first contact with the enemy. I hoped to retire the badly damaged units but Matt destroyed them before they had any chance of escape. Matt may have been a little surprised by the initial deployment.

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  2. The next step would seem to be to play the battle again, say 4 times, using the same battle plans but different rules each time......... but maybe not today.

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    1. Don't tempt me, Ross! After today, I think I have played this scenario enough (for now) and time to move on.

      Playing the same scenario under different rules is an enlightening exercise.

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  3. A tense game with both sides fighting hard, I doubt either side took anything for granted. The final act at the farm might have been the decider, but until then …. was it open season! I think these type of scenarios want you to play again and again ….. trying to ‘crack it’.

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    1. Tense and hard-fought, for sure! I thought the final tally would be close but not close enough. Neither of us had much of an army left standing. Most regiments were dead on the field.

      Clearly, I do enjoy replaying scenarios for exactly the reason you state.

      Thanks for your comments, Norm.

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    2. Agree with Norm those are the best kinds of scenarios. Nice work overall Jonathan!

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    3. Thanks for the encouragement, Steve!

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  4. Fantastic action Jon.
    You realise that this scenario is becoming the AWI's own version of the 'Kobayashi Maru'? :)

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    1. 'Kobayashi Maru'? Wow! That reference takes me back a lot of years! Yes, Kobayashi Maru. I like that reference!

      Glad you enjoyed the action.

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  5. So close yet so far! A great game and AAR once again, with the result too close to call until the end, which is good. I can see this sort of scenario forming part of a campaign, as with 4-0 to the British, but at what cost were the victories earned? Ditto the stubborn American defence.

    The scenario reminds me of some of those for the War of 1866 or 1870-71 in Europe, where the French/Austrians have a tough time against the Prusso-German troops, but in campaign terms can give them a bloody enough nose each time to gain important wins when looked at in the grand scheme of things. Something else to ponder at Autumn draws near:)

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    1. "So close, so far." So true!

      Thanks for your comments on the grander scope of battle within context of a campaign. If the British win another fight like this, they may lose the war.

      Are you setting up a fall campaign???

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    2. I hope to be able to get one of my narrative campaigns underway at some point in September Jonathan. Early days yet but I've started mulling over some ideas. The main issue is which period to set it in, with the SYW or SCW/WWII current favourites.

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    3. Sounds interesting. What rules would you use for SCW? Graham’s rules?

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  6. A splendid looking and sounding game Jonathan…

    All the best. Aly

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    1. It was a good game, Aly! So much so, I plan to play it yet again!

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  7. I thought this time was going to be an American win, but perhaps it is just too difficult for them. It will be interesting to see whether Game 5 is any different.

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    1. Lawrence, I hoped for an American too but it just was not to be. Matt was too tough. Maybe I will beat him next time?

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  8. That was a close game, unlucky Jonathan.

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    1. It was close. Luck, I think, was about evenly distributed. Matt did a great job of eliminating my damaged regiments before I could get them out of harm's way.

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  9. Good sounding game,maybe it's just too tough for the militia to hold,still in the wider context another victory like that and the British would lose the war!
    Best Iain

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    1. You may be surprised to see what a well-run American force can accomplish.

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  10. “Remember Percy…remember Percy” the shout went up as the rebel gunners were butchered to a man. A sad and distressing tail.
    A very enjoyable battle Jon, I rarely play the same scenario twice but enjoyed both of these immensely. Percy threw away his carefully written plan the moment he saw the militia at the River. There may have been some gamesmanship by the British capturing the bridge to secure the points. A pleasure to play 👍 I do think the Americans have a chance but that may have to wait for another day 🤔

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    1. I remember Percy! Your Redcoats avenged his death with a handsome victory. Well done!

      Pleased to see that Percy's plans went into the garbage bin once he saw the American deployment. Too bad I could not keep the British on their back feet for long. You played a terrific game and scored a well-earned victory.

      As for playing a scenario multiple times, when I set out a scenario, it really is a rarity NOT to play it more than once.

      Do the Americans have a chance? Wait until you read the Game 5 BatRep.

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  11. Having played this game twice (umpired by Jon using Zoom), I very much like the rules, and it is a fascinating scenario. I may be biased — having been on the winning side as the British first, and then as the Americans the second time.

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    1. Ian! Great to see you dropping in for visit, leaving a comment, and becoming a Follower! Excellent!

      Glad you enjoyed the rules and the games. The scenario poses an interesting challenge to both. Exactly what I want in a game.

      Yes, you were on the winning side in both matches. I wonder if that does bias your impression? Hopefully, you will play the rules (but a new scenario) again?

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  12. What a beautiful game !!!. For us, the game on hexa is a little unusual, but in general, it is quite impressive. Bravo, Jonathan!

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    1. Thank you, Sir! Playing on a hex may be unusual but for remote play, I think it speeds the game up and uncomplicates a number of facets of play.

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  13. Another wonderful game Jon. You surprised me by advancing across the stream - I was expecting line upon line of militia firing once and the retiring, to wear the British down with a galling fire....as many others have noted though, too many victories like this, and the British wont have an army left in the Colonies....which I think kind of sums up pretty succinctly how the actual war went....EG Breeds/Bunker Hill and Guilford Courthouse, to name but two such costly British wins!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the BatRep, Keith! My deployment and first turn activations may have surprised Matt too. Had I little more luck activating more militia off of HOLD orders, the results would have been even better on Turn 1. Had Matt not succeeded in destroying Rebel units before they could withdraw, the battle may have been even closer.

      This was a costly victory for the British and an even more costly defeat for the colonists.

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  14. Good to see another outing of this scenario and another well fought game.

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    1. Indeed! One more trial of this scenario to come.

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  15. As I noted on Matt's blog, wargaming at its best!

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  16. Interesting encounter. Not easy for the Americans as once the river defence line is breached there is no really defensible terrain behind. Maybe the farm is a decent defensive post but the right is pretty exposed. Not much they can do unfortunately.

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    1. Righto, Mike! Not an easy task for the Americans but they do gain points for moving units off table. That is what I hoped to do with badly damaged units in this one but Matt preferred killing them outright rather than allow the units to limp off table damaged.

      Wait until you see what the Americans accomplish in Game 5.

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  17. Another great battle from a wonderful game. I have it setup on my table at home and will be fighting it out this week.

    Lets see if we can do as good as you!

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  18. A very tight game. Thanks for the report. I sympathized with the rebels :)

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  19. A post from James carelessly deleted by me...

    Interesting idea to conduct an aggressive defence Jonathan; I'm a bit advocate of 'best for of defence is attack'. You nearly pulled it off, then it looked like the British left was going to triumph again, but it became a bit of a near bloody-stalemate then a bloody, close victory to the Imperials.
    This has been such an interesting series of games to view and enjoy from afar.
    Regards, James

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    1. Thanks, James! Glad you enjoyed this series. I certainly enjoyed seeing the same battle fought out with different teams of players. Something I will take on again.

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