Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Battle of Hubbardton 1777 with Two Flags - One Nation!

 I've been shopping around for a good set of rules for my upcoming Germantown 1777 MEGAGAME in December.  Having considered a bunch of open and hex-based games, I had an idea about testing Norm's outstanding "Two Flags One Nation" ACW rules, but for AWI instead.  

I spoke to Norm about some of my ideas for moving TFON back about 90 years and Norm offered excellent guidance and thoughts for keeping TFON in relatively intact and unmodified status.

Since this would be a test game, I decided to focus on one of my old favorites from the Saratoga Campaign - the Battle of Hubbardton!  I have been to the site of this classic AWI rear-guard action countless times, having attended Military College about an hour from the site of the battle, Hubbardton offers a battlefield enthusiast and history nerd the opportunity to spy all aspects of the battle from the same vantage point.  And with really only about 7 units participating in the direct action, a perfect chance to put TFON through its American Revolutionary War paces!

Looking towards Monument Hill, the Lights are formed and awaiting the order to advance.  Behind them are the Grenadiers and 24th Foot marching down the "Old Military Road" from Ticonderoga.

Setting the Stage!

The Battle starts following an initial skirmish between Continental pickets and British lights, which alerted the main Continental force encamped on Monument Hill.  By the time the British advanced guard under Brigadier Simon Fraser reaches the base of the hill and the clearing in the valley, the Continentals were formed up and awaiting their advance.  The Continentals consist of 2 solid line units - the 11th Massachussets Infantry and the 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, both under veteran commanders Colonel Ebenezer Francis and Colonel Nathan Hale.  The third element is a force of Green Mountain Boys under grizzled and veteran commander, Seth Warner.

The British advanced guard is charged with maintaining contact with the Americans retreating from Ticonderoga, and consists of crack units of converged Grenadiers and converged Lights, the 24th Foot (South Wales Borderers), Canadian Riflemen, Jaegers, and Brunswick Dragoons (wearing heavy iron-shod boots and with no horses).   The Hessians will arrive halfway through the battle as reinforcements and Baron Von Riedesel will accompany them!

The Battle is Joined! 

Turn 1 No Random Events



Turn one the Lights begin at the base of Monument Hill deployed in line and advance to skirmish with the 2nd New Hampshire.  The Grenadiers and 24th march down the "Old Military Road" to Castleton to the sound of the battle and reach the base of the hill.  BG Fraser is the "Division Commander" stand.  Major Acland, commanding the Grenadiers, is the Brigade Commander.

24th Foot marches behind the Grenadier Battalion along the Old Military Road to "Ti"

The 2nd New Hampshire fires and scores 2 hits on the Veteran Light-Bobs, who pass their capability test.  

The 2nd New Hampshire (upper right - blue colors) lower muskets and fire on the Lights!

Turn 2 No Random Events

The Lights deliver covering fire against the 2nd New Hampshire, who are occupying a stone wall and I'm counting that as cover for them.  Only 1 hit is achieved.  The Grenadiers and 24th form lines and advance.  The plan is to simultaneously give a volley, a "halloo" and a bayonet charge against the Americans with the 24th on the left, lights in center, and Grenadiers on the right by turn 4.

Converged Grenadier Battalion moves up behind the Lights - who must move to their left into the wooded copse

The 24th Foot positions itself at the base of the hill!  Things are about to get very dicey for them.

The Green Mountain Boys under Warner fire into the 24th, while teh 2nd New Hampshire keeps up a steady fire against the Lights.  The Lights ALMOST fail their capability test if it wasnt for Fraser keeping them in the fight.  This is NOT the pushover the British thought it was going to be.  

The 24th Foot falls back in the face of withering fire from Warners band of Vermonter ruffians, failing their capability test.  Major Acland or General Fraser will have to ride over to offer the seasoned troops encouragement.

Turn 3 British "Up and At 'em Boys Lads!"

Fraser, seeing the 24th Foot fall back, rides over to stem the tide of men flowing back to the road.  Major Acland, relieved, rides back to his Grenadiers, eager to jump into action against the Americans.  The Lights take their position in the central woods, and overall it seems as if the assault can start soon.  The 24th with Fraser's presence, rallies and reforms at the base of the hill.  The men's pride has been dented and Fraser urges them forward to reclaim as he calls it "the King's hill." 

The 2nd New Hampshire pours fire into the Grenadiers now and forces them back!  They fail their Capability Test, even with Major Acland present.  A musket ball singes the small hairs on the back of  Acland's neck but doesn't hit the Major (rolled a "10" on the leader casualty test).

Turn 4 British Have Confused Orders!  

The British Light Battalion is moved back 1 square behind the wooded copse, their commander misinterpreting a courier's order from Fraser, who sees the Lights leaving the woods in good order.  

Light bobs moved back.  Grenadiers have 6 hits already!

Fraser curses under his breath but maintains his composure.  The green-cladded men to his front look like militia.  "The 24th will charge, Colonel.  Please deliver that position for me immediately"  The 24th Foot's commander nods and barks "CHARGE BAYONETS!"  The men of the 24th, eager for payback against the Green Mountain Boys, lower their muskets menacingly and there is no doubt as to their intention.  Warner spies the disorderly and loosely formed redboats lower their muskets and pleads with his men to stand and lay on the fire.

The 24th passes their capability test as do the Green Mountain Boys.  The men advance up the steep slope in the tall, waving grass at a doubled pace, their NCOs having a hard time keeping them together.  Contact is joined at less than a murderous 25 yards as the British can make out individual stones and shrubs masking the Continental positions.  Smoke from muskets is heavy in the air but a calm morning wind is pushing it east.  The 24th fires and charges in - which is too much for the Green Mountain Boys.  They run for their fall-back position, already having been identified by Colonel Warner the night before.  The Continentals know exactly why they are here - not to win the fight, but to slow down the British and give Saint Clair's men time to reorganize the Army.  The Vermont militia men leave their dead and dying on the hill in order to keep their force together.  A woods and fenceline is the next position and the men run right for it.  As the 24th carry the hill, the're greeting with militia men, men wearing dark blue, and light blue coats running everywhere.  the 24th can scarcely be called a regiment and the officers know they must reform.

24th carries the position!  Both they and the Green Mountain Boys are disordered. The 11th Mass will pull back off the hill with the 2nd New Hampshire anchoring the American position.

Seeing the Green Mountain Boys fall back, Colonel Francis orders the 11th Mass to pull back to the fenceline and the 2nd New Hampshire to remain and cover them.

Turn 5 No Random Events

The 24th's victory in gaining the position from the GMB puts them out of contact (out of command and control) with any couriers or the commander and all they can do is watch as the GMB reform on the opposite side of the hill.  They note the blue coated 11th Mass marching orderly down the opposite slope to a small farm.

Simon Fraser moves to join the 24th atop the west side of Monument Hill and the Grenadiers advance back up the slope, their unit taking the majority of the 2nd New Hampshire's vicious fire, they would end up evaporating as a military unit this turn.

Grenadiers evaporate after having clawed their way back up to the line under heavy fire.

I went on to play another 6 turns of Two Flags - One Nation (or maybe, Thirteen Flags - One Nation? haha) with the Hessians arriving almost the same turn the Lights quit the field as well.  Some notable things happened during the game.  General Fraser was killed trying to rally the light battalion, about 4 months before his actual death at Saratoga.

The death of General Fraser
The Hessians flanked the American positions, just as at the real battle.  The arrival of the Hessians signaled the start to the Americans that they should pull back - their mission having been achieved.  To be honest, I didn't think hard about the victory or end game conditions, I just wanted to test the game and the feel of the game out in a setting taking place 100 years before the rules were published for.

View from the Continental position just at the Selleck Farm where the Continental line fell back to.  Note the 24th Foot on Monument Hill with the Hessians behind coming up.

Seth Warner was pleased with the performance of his men today.  It doesn't mean they'd actually be paid, but they acquitted themselves well.

Baron Von Riedesel urging his men forward through heavily wooded and hilly terrain.  The Hessian arrival made a crucial difference in the real battle and in this one.

Thoughts

Long post, I know - but I'm making up for my absence of late1  Right off the bat I have to say that TFON is not lacking in period feel or excitement.  It worked perfectly well for an AWI battle and the engagements between the Regiments really come alive.  The action unfolded exactly as I had read about and this game really made me sense the frustration of the British and the desperation of the Americans.  Here are some more thoughts and analysis if using TFON (thirteen flags!) for an AWI battle as big as Germantown.

Playing with Squares

Should be pretty simple but I ran into some issues with supports, retreating, facing, and attacks.  I'll have to work this out a bit more if I'm going to play one a gridded/squared table.

Should charges be allowed diagonally?  Or only through the face of a square?  Shooting attacks are allowed diagonally.

If I am a charger, allowed to move 2 open spaces to make contact, may I move into 1 space diagonally, change facing 90 degrees so as to face an enemy square, and then charge?  Or would that constitute 2 moves over 2 turns?

Morale & Troop Quality

The morale rules are subtle, but critical, and unit status and morale must be managed by the commander.  At no point in this game did I feel like I was trying to stuff an AWI Soldier into an ACW pair of pants!  The morale rules definitely supported that.  I should have used "elite" optional rule for units to give the Grenadiers and Lights some more of an advantage (in real life the Grenadiers were handled roughly by the 2nd New Hampshire who clubbed their loaded muskets and feigned surrender, just to unleash a volley at murderously close range).  They fought back with a vengeance, eventually driving the 2nd off.  Otherwise the morale and troop quality was perfect.

Brigade Cohesion

I did not use the Brigade Cohesion rules but I probably should have.  That said, with the Close Combat rules, they are probably some of the most involved in the rules and so for a large, multi player game, I wonder if they'd be too much for about 4 or 5 guys to use during a game.  Also with smaller brigades of 2 regiments each, would they be too significant?

Weapons and Fighting

The shooting and melee rules were perfect.  For Germantown, I'd need a way to represent "small" units and that is in the TFON rules already I just didn't use it this time, but every AWI battle has skirmish type units lingering on the flanks or patrolling (think Queens Rangers, Loyalist Bands, Jaeger detachments, etc).

Events Table

I had alot of fun with this.  While I used the generic events table from the TFON rules, I was brainstorming up some of my favorite AWI quotes and moments and propose the following:

2: Clubbed Muskets!  American unit may move 1 space and fire

3: We can hear the Hessian bastards singing!  British player selects an American unit to take a capability test as if it was fired upon.

4: Flying Column - a unit in column may move 1 extra space regardless of terrain

5: Charge your Firelocks!  Unit may reroll a missed shooting die this turn

6 through 8 No Event

9: Forward! Forward my brave fusiliers!  British receive +2 to Charge Test

10: For Shame!  For Shame, Light Infantry!  I never saw you retreat before!  British lights may rally off 1 HC 

11: Oh Fatal Ambition!  One side's Division Commander mortally wounded & removed from play

12: So they'll remember us!  Continental unit receive a +2 to Charge Test

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed fighting the battle and posting.  As an update - I am literally 1 Continental unit away from completing the AWI project once and for all!  A project that started in 2004 will finally have the block checked!  Hopefully you will see that unit, and my entire Continental Army and British Armies soon!  Huzzah!

26 comments:

  1. Lovely looking game and certainly full of action. Can't wait to see both armies all arrayed for inspection as it were.

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    1. Thank you, Steve! As soon as I get the last bits of paint slapped on these "damn rebels" and flock we'll be good to go.

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  2. Wow - what a battle - and what a fine set of rules for re-skinning to the AWI.
    These sound admirable for Germantown. Would the use of hexes make things smoother for a larger battle perhaps?
    Really like the way cohesion works here. Germantown would be epic with these rules I think.

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    1. Glad you liked the battle, Darren. I like rules where you can have a good game with a few units or alot of units. TFON really gives you that. I have a 6 x 4 hexmat but I can never get the terrain just right with the hexes. Germantown has a bunch of hills so I feel the squares will be better.

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  3. Steve, thanks for putting this up, I am pleased the way that it has turned out, helped along by the visuals of your lovely table and figures. ...... going back up to read it again now :-)

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    1. Cheers Norm I hope you enjoy it! I had a wonderful time playing and you were spot-on about playing the rules as-is. They worked very well.

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    2. Steve, enjoyed by second (and third) browse. with regards to some of your closing thoughts, I feel that Brigade cohesion is worth including, though in this small game, treating each side as a single brigade for those purposes might be the way to go. Bigger games can have wings as brigades etc.

      The Elite rule would have been useful, it is quite gentle and it is of course possible that the ‘bank of 2 dice’ don’t deliver any improvement on the initial roll anyway.

      Really liked your Random Event quotes and flavour. Anyway, thanks for all the effort that went in behind the scene to get this to the table and AAR’d, very enjoyable and lovely sized scenario.

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    3. Thanks for your reply and thoughts, Norm. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of TFON for Germantown. The random events quoted all come from specific people, or events as they happened which makes it all the more satisfying :)

      I think I will end up using brigade cohesion as well as the elite and small unit rules. Bravo sir, you saved the day for the Christmas megagame again!!!

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    4. Your custom random events would work equally well with FoH too.

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  4. Good looking game, Steve! Game photos and narrative very enjoyable. Great job! "Thirteen Flags - One Nation," I like that!

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    1. Thank you Jonathan! Your QRS came in quite handy for this game! Hey, if you use 13, the acronym of the game doesn't change!
      FOH is up next - stay tuned!

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    2. Good to see the QRS was helpful. Hubbardton is not a battle I have fought although I have researched it. Looking forward to FoH. Will you be using Hubbardton again?

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    3. Jonathan I think I will probably because it's already set up!

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    4. That is an excellent reason to refight Hubbardton!

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    5. I think so, Jonathan. Should be fun and I think very fast.

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  5. Looks like a fun game. But I can't help wondering. Why did you go to an ACW set rather than one of the many sets specifically for AWI? I see it not so much the difference in weapons, but rather the myriad types of troops in AWI, where in ACW there is effectively no difference between troops (except maybe how many times they've "seen the elephant").

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    1. Hi Pan,
      The ACW set in question has some very universal features which apply across the Horse and Musket era, and has the added bonus that I'm familiar with them!

      The TFON rules have contingencies for elite units, small units, veteran units, green units, and units armed with rifles. Between those various differentiations I was able to distinguish between lights, grenadiers, regulars and militia in this game and it worked fairly well. The one extra consideration that could be made is in regard to light detachments. That could be the only thing missing. Norm's intention was to make a universal set of rules with period tweaks to cover ACW, AWI, and Napoleonic.

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    2. Thanks. I understand the allure of "mechanics you know and like".
      I've never heard of TFON. How would you compare them to, say, Fire and Fury? I game with a guy who uses F&F's mechanics for everything from
      Eastern Renaissance to WWI. And they work, too.

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    3. I went to the TRON link in your post. Now I understand. The hex based WWII ruleset we discussed a couple weeks ago. Now I notice the flocked discs on your table. I suppose they represent the corners of hexes?

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    4. I was going to refer you to the site :) I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Norms rules as they are extremely well thought out and play very smoothly. I actually played this with squares vrs hexes and so the flocked discs represent the corners of squares.

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  6. Nice AAR! I enjoyed the pics and the descriptions.

    Great that you’re so close to completing the AWI genre for good! It’s always a great accomplishment yo have all the troops that you will need. 😀

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    1. Thanks Stew! I was just happy with the fact that I will have a project DONE!! Like a project since 2004!

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  7. Wow. That events table is really biased towards the British.

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    1. Hey StuRat, I dont think its "really biased." Look at it this way:

      2 events are favorable American events
      3 events are favorable British events
      3 are "no event"
      3 events are random, meaning they could affect either the British or the Americans.

      So the British have one more favorable action than the Continentals do.

      Also worth mentioning that for Norm's TFON, the events table changes based on the battle so you can change it to suit your tastes. I wanted to work all of these various quotes into the game!

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  8. The odds of rolling them are why I said biased.

    The American events are on 2 & 12, so 2 chances in 36 to get one.

    British events are on 3,9 & 10, so 9 chances in 36 to get one.

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    1. Ok, but the scenario stipulations will not have the game going longer than maybe 12 turns? You roll 1 per turn (both players don't roll) s that's 12 events rolls. The game could I suppose last to 15 turns. Still.

      I can live with it.

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