American War of Independence Campaign - The Story - Part V

Turn 16

Admiral Hood arrived to the east of New York with two 64 gun ship of the line escorting merchantmen containing a battalion of Scots to New York.

In the meantime, Howe considered his options, he felt under pressure to act, and was aware that Washington was camped to the south-east of New York, and no doubt building more fortifications. Howe was very concious of his casualty rate, and desperately wanted to catch Washington in the open.

Please see below shot from Berthier showing the positions of some of the key units at the end of turn 15. I have added markers so you can identify the units. I believe if you click on the picture you will see a full screen.

There was a Spanish squadron at sea off the Chesapeake, it contained the 120 gun vessel, a 74 and a 36 gun frigate. This squadron was under the command of José Solano y Bote, and was in contact with De Grasse, although the time for messages to pass between the two admirals was lengthy.

José Solano y Bote

Washington was content to keep Howe 'bottled' up until the French arrived in the game, he had no idea of the current position of De Grasse, but had been in communication with them. He intended for the French to march north and join him for a decisive battle with the British.

Neither side seem to pay any attention to the south. Cornwallis was staying put - holding the key town of Yorktown, and Washington seemed content to screen any advance that may occur using Nathaniel Greens force which was sat patiently in the town of Washington, between Yorktown and Baltimore.

Green had around 4,000 troops, a mixture of militia, woodsmen (riflemen) and regular troops. Washington was wary of his militia fighting in the open, so was content for Green to stay where he was for the moment. Stragglers from the Brigade ousted from Yorktown by Cornwallis had re-grouped and were keeping a wary eye on the British. There moral was, understandably shaky, and they would likely scatter if Cornwallis approached.

Meanwhile, despite his best efforts, Cornwallis had only managed to recruit a couple of battalions of militia and a squadron of horse from the Loyalist population. These were poor replacements for the troops sailing north to New York.

This was the turn that Howe decided to act. He was going to take his main army south, leaving New York practically defenceless and march to Philadelphia. He was hoping that Graves would arrive with the troops from Yorktown, and they, along with the newly arrived Scots would garrison the city.

He marched out heading south. Meanwhile the French were close to landing in Baltimore.

The campaign was entering a new phase.

Turns 17 - 19

The below map outlines the positions of the key units at the end of turn 19

Rochambeau had arrived in Baltimore and despatched De Grasse to bombard and blockade Yorktown. He sent Voimenil with 600 infantry and cavalry to scout to the north toward Philadelphia, and tried to identify the current status of events in America. He had been at sea and was not up to date on the intelligence picture.

Washington decided to withdraw south, and delay Howe as much as possible. He believed Howe was heading for Philadelphia, but was not sure. He was unaware of the French landing.

Meanwhile, Howe had sent instructions for Graves to ascertain the status of Cornwallis at Yorktown, and to conduct raids with marines, and bombardments at the key ports along the Chesapeake. This was designed to keep Washington off balance and disguise his true intentions.

Turn 20-22 - the final acts

Howe pushed south and was determined to take Philadelphia, he heard rumours that the French were about, but did not believe them. Washington would have to stand and fight to prevent the loss of Philadelphia? The closer he got to the city, the more panic was caused, to the point that Rochambeau (who had left Baltimore and was marching north toward Philadelphia) found himself encountering downtrodden patriots scurrying south to avoid the British army. He still did not know where Washington was, or indeed what his intentions were.

On turn 22 Howe caught Washington in the open - see the battle report for more detail:

AWI campaign - The battle of Surridge Farm

The AWI campaign is still going strong, and a key battle happened on Tuesday evening. Howe caught Washington in open field for the first time, something Howe has been trying to achieve since the first engagements

The battlefield. The British will set up on the end of the table closest to the camera

Washington found himself a few days to the north of Philadelphia, and only had time to build one redoubt. He put his two batteries of guns in this defensive position, and contemplated his plan.

Howe had approaching 8,000 troops, a mixed bag of British and Hessian regiments. He had a brigade of guards and grenadiers - which would play a key role in the events which followed.

Washington was keen to give Howe another bloody nose, similar to that dished out in the previous battle at Cormacks Creek, and determined he would fight. His troops, including a brigade under General LaFayette, formed line, and waited for the British approach.

Washington rallies his troops as the British form up

General Howe about to inspect some Hessian line infantry
From the start, Howe showed his aggressive intent and marched in a broad line toward the American lines.

A Hessian Brigade marches swiftly along the road toward the American centre

Washington outnumbered Howe in cavalry, but neither side managed to get them the room to manoeuvre, this was going to be an infantry battle.

Hessian Jagers move through some heavy woods on the British right flank

General Johann Stim brigade closes in column toward some woods on the British left flank. They are surprised by General Stephens 3,000 militia hiding in the densely wooded area.

Stim was later shot in the stomach, and seriously wounded, played no further part in the battle.

In the centre, 600 Highlanders punch a whole in the American lines

A battalion of British guards enters the fray

They close on the American regulars

Slightly blurred, but more and more weight is brought to bear on the wavering American lines

Stephens militia is pushed back, then routs
The battle was, for the first two hours a hard fought affair, and Washington was pleased with his boys, but suddenly, the American moral collapsed in the centre, and this sent shock waves across the American lines, and it turned into a rout. Washington narrowly avoiding capture, unlike his colleague LaFayette who was captured by some Highlanders.

Howe was aggressive, and kept up his attacking momentum, using his superior troop quality to decisively beat his opponent.

Washington was visibly crushed, and almost surrendered the campaign..........

The End:

The campaign effectively ended at this point, the American main army was crushed and had received a major blow to moral. The French force was too small to stand against the British alone, and after a considerable delay on the part of the umpire, the campaign was closed down.

I for one really enjoyed running the game, and as stated in earlier posts on my blog, I felt it brought about a different wargaming experience on the tabletop, the battles appeared to play out in a more 'realistic' manner. The players were looking for the long game, rather than a one off battle.

Even the battles themselves were unique, they were on occasion odd, and not something you would set up for a one off game.

I have to apologise to Rochambeau, who never got to the table top, but he must take some satisfaction in playing a key role in the flavour provided for the game.

Would I run a campaign again? - absolutely. I will leave for the individual players to decided if they would join in again.

As for the winner - I think it is quite obvious to the reader don't you?



Comments

  1. The winner-That will have been Washington then?

    Happy days! Look forward to the next campaign.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, I thought you did well against the odds - Howe was a bit hesitant which surprised me...pity Rochambeau did not get chance to show his mettle.................but I know someone who will evidence a campaign win.....

    ReplyDelete

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