Saturday, November 13, 2021

Brandywine: Americans on the Attack!

After successfully making it through the Battle of Brandywine in last Saturday's remote game see Brandywine: Knyphausen Attacks!), I presented the scenario to the Tuesday UK group.

Combatants were:
British: Chris and Richard
American: Ian, Graham, and Steve.

While I questioned the brashness of Greene's attack across Chadd's Ford to meet the British head-on in the Saturday game, the American players in the Tuesday game doubled-down and attacked across both fords!  In the Saturday battle, Greene's aggressiveness cost him the battle and his life. Would the same fate await the Americans in the Tuesday battle?

Let's see with a quick overview of the action.
In the distance, Americans line Brandywine Creek.
Maxwell deploys forward of Chadd's Ford.
Sullivan defends Brinton's Ford
Greene defends Chadd's Ford
Vaughn begins skirmishing with Maxwell's light infantry.
Pinned on three sides, the 4th Foot takes heavy casualties.
Grant brings on his brigade to lend weight
 in pushing Maxwell aside.
On the Allied left, Knyphausen orders the heavy
artillery to unlimber on the road.
The two batteries target the American guns
 in the redoubt on the far side of the creek
as Sullivan's men wade the creek.
Quickly, the Americans cross the ford
and fan out to take the high ground.
British dragoons race up to garrison the farm.
While British heavy guns pound the American battery,
counterbattery activities slow the German approach.
The 16th Lt Dragoons are thrown in to thwart
the American advance. 
Ferguson's Rifles engage the enemy at the farm
 in support.  Too late.  The dragoons are scattered.
At Chadd's Ford, with the Redcoats tangled up with
 Maxwell, Greene strikes across Chadd's Ford.
Maxwell's light infantry are giving much
 better than they get.
 Maxwell, with his small command, stops two British
brigades in the their tracks.
  Unbelievable display of cunning and luck. 
Even when attacked by two British regiments,
 Greene's light infantry throw them back down the hill.
Vaughn attacks up the road trying to break the Americans.
Maxwell keeps up an unrelenting harassment
 of the enemy while Greene arrives to
reinforce Maxwell's successes.
Battlefield overview
Maxwell's light infantry are such a nuisance that Grant throws
 five regiments into combat to deal with this meddlesome unit.
Despite heroic efforts, Maxwell's command breaks.
Opposite Brinton's Ford, Ferguson retires as the British
 guns continue pounding the American positions.
  The American guns are destroyed.
Finally reaching Brinton's Ford, the Germans
 form up and attack.
Weakened, Sullivan is forced to vacate the west side
 of the creek. 
As Maxwell's command scatters, Greene attacks.
While Weedon's command is broken in the fighting,
 so is Grant.  Vaughn teeters on breaking as
both the 4th and 23rd scatter.
The British right has no more offensive capability.
Dispositions at battle's end.
Greene controls Chadd's Ford.
Sullivan about to lose Brinton's Ford.
After eight turns of play over about four hours, we called the game due to the late hour.  At that snapshot in time, the Americans firmly hold Chadd's Ford and have a tenuous hold on Brinton's Ford.  With Stirn's command having hardly a scratch and Sullivan's Division showing signs of heavy wear and tear, we conclude that one more turn would see Brinton’s Ford in German hands.  Given that each holds one ford and casualties roughly equal, a draw seems a reasonable assessment. 

This engagement saw a really a hard-fought battle especially on the British right.  Maxwell's tenacity (coupled with some luck) combined with Greene's aggressiveness tore the British right to shreds.  For the British, Grant's Brigade was broken and Vaughn was nearing that point.  For the Americans, Weedon and Maxwell were broken with De Borre wavering.  

My eyes could not believe what they were seeing.  Having envisioned a defensive stance along the banks of Brandywine Creek, the Americans threw caution to the wind and attacked with great gusto.  On the American left, that brashness paid off.  On the American right, these attacks met with less success.  This Battle of Brandywine was an exciting and long fight.  Great fun watching this battle unfold.  Sometimes the best defense is a great offense! 

For battle accounts from two of the participants, please visit,
Patriot Games with that Battle from Hobbiton - Graham (Maxwell then Sullivan)
Battle of Brandywine Creek - Chris (Knyphausen and Stirn)
Thank you to all of the participants. 

Next up on the gaming slate, a return to Matt's table with Rebels & Patriots and the Battle for Fort Washington.


  1. Lovely looking game Jonathan!
    best regards

  2. Another epic game there, with the American defence/offense nearly winning the day in fine style.

    1. This was a large action for a remote session but we made it through. The Americans saw great success at Chadd's Ford. An unexpected turn of events to my expectations.

  3. Nice to see exactly the same game going off in a different direction. I always think it is worth spending a little time with systems and scenarios to get maximum potential from them.

    the foliage on the river banks really sets the table off.

    1. Norm, this is one of the benefits of replaying a scenario. While the historical event was singular, we have a chance to see what might have been other varying situations.

      Another benefit is that the initial effort put in to develop and setup a game is spread across multiple playings.

      The blue creek and green foliage do provide some visual pop.

  4. Another great looking game - I still think the American strategy is flawed though - it does seem like luck/dice played a significant part in their success, and even then, they got a draw - I suspect if you had time, or came back another day, the Allies would eventually prevail, despite getting a pretty bloody nose...

    1. Thank you, Keith!

      On flawed American strategy, I agree with you. My hunch is that protecting the fords and counterattacking when required may win the battle. However, if the strategy is flawed but it works, is it flawed?

      I would enjoy returning to this battle in the future for another playing. If you are interested in volunteering to play the Americans, let me know.

  5. What about playing with the Monday Night Group made you think anyone would sit on the defensive and just let the enemy come on? Good game, challenging scenario for the Patriots. We certainly rode our luck, but letting the British/German forces just to walk across the board and attack at their leisure didn't seem to be a winning strategy.

    1. You are right. You are an aggressive group. I figured with Phil out of commission a defensive strategy might be possible. Wrong again!

      The Americans played a very aggressive game and those risks paid off handsomely. Poor Richard was mauled quite badly and Ian ended up with Muhlenberg's Brigade completely undamaged.

  6. A bit of luck, a lot of chutzpah, a great game! Interesting second take of the game.

    1. I agree on all counts, Joe! It was fun to watch the battle develop.

  7. Certainly a very different outcome from the first game! I agree however that despite appearances, the Americans are very much riding their luck by crossing into the open against better troops. A sound defence along the riverline followed by a counterattack at the right moment seems to me a better proposition but I may just be overcautious…..

    1. Mike, we are in agreement on suitable tactics for the Americans in this situation. We may BOTH be overly cautious. As you can see in these games, the Americans follow the "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" approach.

    2. The game is time limited, and the "Allies" have superior artillery that can blast you off the board. Forcing them to deploy close to their base line really eats into their time to get to the crossings. We suffered on the right as we didn't have anything down the table, like Maxwell's brigade, to pull the same stunt on the Hessians. The river, being only crossable at two hexes, provides a real challenge when trying to counter attack if you leave it late. What it effectively does is create a defile that the superior quality allies can then punch down.

    3. Being artillery inferior is a problem for the Americans, for sure. When I suggest American counterattacks, I am thinking of counterattackng once the Allies have crossed the narrow ford and then smashing the lead regiment at the bridgehead from multiple directions.

      Historically, the Americans lost this battle so the situation ought to be challenging.

  8. Replies
    1. Thanks, Neil! The game lasted longer than I anticipated but we made it through to a conclusion. Almost.

  9. Great looking game, Jonathan. An aggressive tactic is worth trying, at least game will have a drive and bring lot’s of emotions.

    1. Thanks, Dmitry! Yes, aggressive tactics bring a lot of interest and tension into a game.

  10. Interesting tactics by the Americans, my understanding was that they were inferior militia troops defending the ford,do we think they would have been able to act in this manner in reality? Nevertheless an entertaining game and well played by the American commanders and in response to Keith, Napoleon liked lucky commanders!
    Best Iain

    1. Indeed! Not what I expected but then I should expect to be surprised.

      These were not early war militia but primarily Continental regulars. Not quite as good as the British but if used carefully, good enough.

      This was an entertaining game, for sure.

  11. Attacking across a river where only two crossings are available is never easy. I think I would have been much more comfortable in defence and trying to pick off the enemy as they filed across. At least you know where they are going to be coming at you.

    1. Lawrence, we are both on the same side of the creek for this tactical challenge.

  12. I’m with Lawrence on this one, but it was very entertaining to see such aggressive tactics by the American players!

    Also, lucky dice for the win!

    1. Yes, it was fun to watch Maxwell’s cat and mouse against the British Right. Those maneuvers allowed the time and space for Greene to come across and take the fight to the British. Much more exciting than waiting for the British to close on the ford.

      Maxwell fought a cerebral battle keeping the British at bay.

  13. Another great game Jon and I was rather surprised at the American's aggressive stance on their left, although this did pay off as the Die Gods appeared to be on their side.

    IIRC Napoleon (or it could have been Clausewitz) sanctioned against defending all along a river line and the crossings, rather favouring light screening forces to slow the enemy, with a reserve placed to attack the enemy at their weakest when making the crossing. This would have been my favoured option and maybe something to try out at home.

    One last thought. With the losses incurred by both sides, would the Americans have had to retreat given the overall situation, if another Turn or two had been played, assuming that the Anglo-Germans would have had enough strength left to pursue?

    1. Defending a river line rarely ends well for the defender. It seems counter-intuitive, but it tends to pin the defender in position and hand the tactical initiative to the attacker. Effectively the attacker will avoid attacking unless they have all the preconditions for a win. Because of the problems crossing the river it makes it easy for the attacker to disengage and attack elsewhere.

    2. Thanks, Steve. Glad you enjoyed the report. I favor the ploy of counterattacking at the bridgeheads too. This was not the strategy the Americans tested in this battle, though. As you say, maybe a trial for another time.

      The situation at the end of play presented an interesting dilemma for both. The British brigades opposite Chadd's Ford were wrecked while Muhlenberg (under Greene) was still unscathed. At Brinton's Ford, we saw a reversal where Stirn was unscathed and only Smallwood's brigade was combat worthy.

      Strategically, if the Germans crossed at Brinton's Ford, the American LOC would have been threatened and Greene likely would be compelled to withdraw.

    3. Trebian, good points but in our tabletop battles, there is often no "elsewhere" and you are forced into playing the hand dealt.

  14. Great fun! I’m really envious of your permanent set up so that you are able to play the same scenario over and over without the tear down and set up. 😀

    1. The permanent set up allows for great flexibility and perfect for solo play when a game can be out on the table for weeks or months. There are times when the same game on the table for six months, at least.

      Perhaps a permanent table is a luxury but I would not be without it.

  15. Splendid looking refight the Americans certainly aggressive in this one 👍

    1. Thanks! Yes, very aggressive Americans. At Chadd’s Ford, that aggression paid off.

  16. It's nice to see the rebels acting differently. It's a pleasure to follow your reports and how the battle developed.

    1. Seeing players attempt different strategies is a good way to evolve a scenario. Glad you enjoyed the report, Andre!

  17. I love that they attacked. I find that while I can play a defensive game, attacking is always more liberating and fun ;)

    1. Yeah, I enjoyed seeing this action too although not how I would have approached the situation. You know, putting an aggressive player on the battlefield into a defensive position can yield surprises.

    2. I'd like to think I'm not that one dimensional. I have been known to sit another player out before now.

    3. Trebian, my comment was a generalization and not pointed specifically at this situation. As Maxwell, you played the situation brilliantly. Your effective attack allowed Greene to come across Brandywine in strength. Had you fallen back upon the ford, Greene would not have crossed.