The Battle of Guilford Courthouse - part 1

I took this Battle from a set of wargames rules I have for Age of Reason warfare. Strangely the rules are called " Age of Reason " - click here for ruleset website

The battle took place at around noon on 15th March 1781 and was a pre-cursor to the British surrender at Yorktown later that same year.

I chose the battle because it is eminently playable as a solo battle (my secret wargaming friend was unavailable to fight this one).

I used a set of computer moderated rules called " Carnage and Glory II " - click here for the website (perhaps that is why he was unavailable?).

Me and my secret wargaming friend seem to have endless debates about the use of computer moderated rules for wargaming, I see that they have a use for certain games, for example a large battle, and certainly for naval wargames where you would have to role numerous dice for aiming, hits, penetration of armour and damage.

My secret wargaming friend (when in a good mood) will concede these points, but always reverts back to " I miss the rolling of dice "...............

I also like the rolling of dice, and use a number of rule sets that I believe give me the flavour of the period, balancing that against being able to finish a game in an evening.

I do not think it should be a case of one or the other, more of mix and match..............

Anyway, back to the wargame. This was the first time I have used these rules, so I was also play testing them.

I like them.


The starting positions and map - taken from the Age of Reason scenario book.


My version of Guilford Courthouse - Ah come on, use your imagination!


The actual wargames table

The initial order of battle - Carnage and Glory does this for you once you have inputted the required data.

What you see below are the Commanders and commands, the unit name (the numbers in brackets identifies the unit on the table), the number of casualties, the actual number of troops. Read the letters like your old school reports:
A+ = Excellent troop quality
E = Very poor troop quality indeed

and finally, the current formation. You can add the firearm/weapon and other details if you wish, or indeed simplify the whole report.

British

Army Charles, Earl Cornwallis
[ 101] Lieutenant General Charles, Earl Cornwallis - Active B+

Brigade Webster
[ 102] Lieutenant General Webster - Active B
[ 101] 2nd Guards 0/ 300 B Formed Three Rank Line
[ 102] 23rd Foot 0/ 225 B- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 103] 33rd Foot 0/ 300 B- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 104] Jaegers 0/ 150 C Formed Open Order

Brigade Leslie
[ 103] Lieutenant General Leslie - Active B
[ 105] Foot Artillery Battery 0/ 200 [ 8] C- Formed Deployed
[ 106] 71st Highlanders 0/ 300 B- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 107] Von Bose Regiment 0/ 300 C- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 108] 1st Guards 0/ 300 B Formed Three Rank Line
[ 109] Tarletons Cavalry 0/ 200 C- Formed Two Rank Line

Strengths:
losses/active
0/ 1875 Bayonets
0/ 200 Sabres
0/ 200 Artillerists
0/ 8 Cannon

0/ 2275 Total of all arms
6 Standards present

American

Army Nathaniel Greene
[ 201] Major General Nathaniel Greene - Active B+

Brigade Butler
[ 202] Brigadier General Butler - Active B-
[ 208] Light Infantry 0/ 300 C- Formed Open Order
[ 209] Washingtons Cavalry 0/ 150 C- Formed Two Rank Line
[ 210] 1st North Carolina Militia 0/ 375 E+ Formed Open Order
[ 211] 2nd Artillery Battery 0/ 200 [ 8] C- Formed Deployed
[ 212] 2nd North Carolina Militia 0/ 300 D- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 213] 3rd North Carolina Militia 0/ 300 D Formed Three Rank Line
[ 214] Virginia Rifles 0/ 375 D+ Formed Open Order

Brigade Lawson
[ 203] Brigadier General Lawson - Active B
[ 206] 1st Virginia Militia 0/ 400 E+ Formed Three Rank Line
[ 207] 2nd Virginia Militia 0/ 400 E+ Formed Three Rank Line

Brigade Huger
[ 204] Brigadier General Huger - Active B+
[ 201] 2nd Maryland Continentals 0/ 375 [ 1] C- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 202] 1st Maryland Continentals 0/ 375 C- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 203] 1st Artillery Battery 0/ 200 [ 8] C- Formed Deployed
[ 204] 4th Virgiinia Continentals 0/ 375 C- Formed Three Rank Line
[ 205] 3rd Virginia Continentals 0/ 375 C- Formed Three Rank Line

Strengths:
losses/active
0/ 3950 Bayonets
0/ 150 Sabres
0/ 400 Artillerists
0/ 17 Cannon

0/ 4500 Total of all arms
10 Standards present

You will no doubt note that both sides have been given far more artillery than was actually present at the battle - this is an error, I seemed to have added howitzers to the units during the set up phase - goes to show that play testing is always necessary! (Doh).

Each turn represents 15 minutes of actual time. One thing I have learned is that fatigue and moral are major factors in this rule set. You have to think about this during the battle, and quickly prevents (even the most competent unit) from charging around the battle field 'willy nilly'.

Now, being a solo wargame, I had to come up with how the American units would respond to events, and also a fair way of maneuvering the British. I decided that the American commander had ordered each of the three defence lines to hold their positions, firing on the nearest enemy unit that was a direct threat to them.

The CinC of the Americans was deemed unable to see large parts of the battlefield so would not directly intervene unless a message was received. Any intervention would then be subject of a dice role (for old time sakes!!!).

Any requests for support would be made using the Carnage and Glory order system.

The British system was similar, except that each Brigade was given initial attack orders, and these could only be modified using the orders system.

I have to say this worked really well, for example, the American first line commander Major General BUTLER found his command under a vicious assault by the veteran British troops and his flanks quickly began to crumble. This was within the first fifteen minutes of the battle.

He requested urgent support and sent a despatch rider to Nathaniel GREENE. In the meantime, BUTLER rode from one unit to another in a desperate attempt to keep their moral up.

The dispatch rider arrived an hour and a quarter later at the American Army HQ. GREENE (after a dice role) decided not to reinforce BUTLER.

This was a fortuitous dice role, because any despatched unit would have found itself isolated, by this time the complete front line had collapsed and BUTLER found himself prisoner of the British.

Washingtons Cavalry facing up to the Elite 33rd Regiment of foot

So, this part describes, broadly the concept and rules. Part two will describe the actual events of the battle.



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