Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Battle of Shoemaker's Bridge: August 27, 1776

Yesterday I was thrilled to participate in my first-ever virtual tabletop wargame hosted by Jonathan of the outstanding Palouse Wargaming Journal blog, with Darren the Duc de Gobin on the other side of the "table."  Le Duc is the author of the excellent "Wargaming in the Age of Cynics and Amateurs" blog and has been a good "virtual" friend of mine for years and while we have played in a cooperative campaign, and unknowingly faced each other at Germantown in Norm's Germantown Play by Email game, this would be the first time we'd match wits against each other at the miniature wargaming table!

Speaking of wargaming table, Jon's setup did not disappoint! I find myself privileged to have been invited, but more on that later!  

Jon emailed a detailed briefing with Orders of Battle and some perspective of the bigger picture of what is going on in the Battle of Long Island.  I played the American commander and Le Duc played the British commander.

Looking at the American side with the hill and Shoemaker's Farm in the center.  The British must cross the stream and their units are just entering the table.  Heard's Militia Brigade is on the table, as well as the Riflemen and Continental Artillery.

I looked at the victory point conditions (not closely enough as it turns out!) and determined that this battle would be all about the hilltop, Shoemaker's Farm, and the Bridge.  Rather than deploy to cover a wide frontage, Heard's Brigade had ultimate responsibility for the hill initially, and to slow the British down by forcing them to deploy.  THe Riflemen would cover the bridge as best they could to also slow down the British and force them into line.  My Artillery, heroes to a man in this game, would initially attempt to cover the crossing with fire.

It's worth mentioning here the outstanding pre-game briefing which Jon had provided to us which was very clear, unambiguous, and left no question as to what our victory conditions were.  Jon also opened the virtual session with a Q&A to see if we had any additional questions or concerns prior to diving in.  

And dive in we did!  Darren's Brigades rushed the bridge in column and took to the field in a spirited fashion, making good speed for the hill.  Artillery opens fire the first turn and the rifles are shocked to see a foot battalion crossing the bridge in front of them and deploying into line.  This is all made that much more impressive with the fact that Jonathan is in Washington State and Darren is across the Atlantic Ocean!

Contact!  British forces deploy and fight on the American side of the stream.

I was snapping screen shots when I could and here you have Heard's Milita Brigade on the hill looking at Battalion after Battalion of British regulars forming to their front.  Nixon's and Parson's Brigades are moving at the double-quickstep coming up the road but it's a lengthy process.  

My "plan" was for Nixon to eventually "swap out" positions on the hill but Darren arrived at our doorstep so fast that they ended up shoring up the American position to prevent us being flanked on my right.  Parson was initially my "reserve" element and was to guard against Darren trying any sneaky flanking attacks against the hill from the left of the picture.  Parson's men were actually fed into the hilltop fight from the left and thank goodness they were there or this battle only would have lasted 4 turns!

Here, Jon is carrying out our instructions on the tabletop as the fight on the American right heats up and the British push the riflemen back into the field behind.  Note Nixon's Brigade traffic jam on the road with his first 2 Continental infantry units fighting right from the march!

My milita units give an excellent accounting of themselves (as best militia can) at the lead edge of the hill next to the stream while Darren deploys to push them out.  Meanwhile his initial brigade storms the bridge and deploys to assault the artillery and face the new threat of Nixon's Brigade who are coming down the road.

Darren eventually surrounds the hilltop and while Heard's Militia are pushed back the Continental artillery detachment survive volley after volley and even repeated ground assault, each time holding their ground and forcing the British back!  It's the stuff of legends as a detachment of guns holds off some of the best units of the British Army!  Also, worth mentioning here, Darren's dice saving him time and again when it counted!  Numerous units with only 1 hit remaining are able to weather the fire and stay in the game.  (proposed new nickname is "Dice Demon Darren" šŸ˜Š)

Returning to the action, the British eventually seize a toe-hold on the hilltop and push the militia back.  I feed in Continental troops and push 1 British unit off but Darren skillfully puts in fresh units and makes short work of the remainder of Heard's Brigade and elements of Parson's Brigade.  I'm making him pay dearly for every hex he seizes, and at the same time, completely forgetting the victory conditions to exit units from the table!  The Americans are putting up a tough fight, and losing their entire force in the process!
Note the fresh British units coming from the top of the screen.  True to form, the British are gaining the upper hand in the battle, but it's a tough slog!


British storming the creek now and the Guards are pushing their way into my right flank.  Note the Artillery is STILL alive!  Eventually they'd be surrounded in 3 or 4 hexes!

Most of the British force is across the stream now and I'm fighting for my life on the hill.  The fight flank is buckling a bit.  Interesting point here - had i remembered the requirement to get units off the table, I could have funneled a bunch of units off but instead died in place here!  It was a glorious and bloody stand, but it didn't have to happen!  Note the Artillery still alive :)

I think I conceded on turn 9 of 10, realizing my entire force would be trapped.  That said, if it was a campaign, both Darren and I would be up the creek with severely weakened forces so I feel like I gave as good as I got.  Le Duc is a tough opponent and this was a fun, hard-fought engagement.  A seriously great time.

Kudos to Jonathan for crafting an engaging and challenging scenario, and for hosting.  There was much prep work that had to go into developing this scenario and ensuring play went smoothly and I have to say that it did.  Jon's miniatures looked terrific (you all know my penchant for single-based units!) and I have to admit I was really lost in the game.  This had the feel that I was there and I think we owe that in no small part to Jon's hosting skills and preparatory work.  I cannot wait for a re-fight!

 Also, we used the "Fields of Honor" AWI rules which I enjoyed immensely and really need to give another shot.  There were no issues, questions, or finicky problems and the rules played smoothly and in my opinion really brought out the character of the AWI and through the D10s were able to showcase the large variety of units that fought in the AWI.

All in all, an awesome game for a Saturday morning/afternoon/evening [depending on your timezone] and thanks to both Jonathan and Darren!  I cannot wait to play again!

You can read Darren's account and thoughts on the FoH rules from his "the dice rolled 'round the world" [see what he did there?] post here.

16 comments:

  1. I love it! Such a great game, and your commentary outlines the tense nature perfectly. Absolutely right - we were in the thick of it with these rules and Jon's presentation from the start - and it's no surprise how we got lost in the tactical objective - I too was forgetting about funneling units off table.

    The rules are seamless, and I think as part of a larger campaign, the 'way of thinking' about preserving units for future battles would make the overall commander's role a little different, even while sub commanders are scrambling for tactical objectives. This was awesome stuff.

    This would work for any scale of AWI battle, and also larger campaign style multi session games in the AWI or FIW - even SYW and WSS are very do-able.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Couldn't agree more, Darren. Infinitely hackable system. Yesterday's game was great fun. I wished I would have remembered the ultimate objective to get my troops off the hill!

      Delete
    2. Next time, you will remember to pull back badly damaged regiments, I am sure.

      Delete
  2. Having visited both blogs, they give a good overview and the positive gamer experience is clear, sounds like a to. Of fun. Did you end up using the hexes themselves as reference points to guide Jonathan or were you using unit names / identifiers?

    It seems a perfect sized game to work with the camera set-up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Norm in my case I was using hexes. Darren was using unit designations. The game was loads of fun. Jonathan is a great host- extremely organized and patient. The setup was excellent, too. It was as if we were both there with Jon.

      Delete
  3. Great report! You gave me a flashback to my reenacting days (3Rd New York Regiment, Gray coats and Green facings, for my fellow Geeks lol) I've yet to get into AWI in 15mm but, as I did recently pick up a fleet of 15mm ships from that eara....I'm feeling the pull !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don the game was great fun. I highly recommend 15mm AWI. I've been into 15mm AWI since 2004!!!

      Delete
  4. I could just copy and paste my comment on Darren’s blog, but instead I will just say ‘good game!’ and remark on the basing of the figures. They are crackin’!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Jeffers the game was great fun and Jon's minis are outstanding!

      Delete
  5. Steve, thank you for both your complimentary comments on the game and my umpiring. Both sentiments GREATLY appreciated! Excellent overview of the battle.

    You and Darren both took to the scenario and rules with ease and the game moved at a good clip after the first turn. It was fun watching tactics develop as the game wore on and how each of you handled success and adversity. You are a model pair to direct in a remote game. Great fun to umpire. It seemed we were in the same room although thousands of miles apart and on different continents.

    The game witnessed a good ebb and flow. Your artillery battery performed admirably. Darren can get hot with dice, though, while your dice rolling seemed to sputter. Still, this was a close contest. Had you remembered to begin withdrawing damaged units, you may seen a tactical victory. Who knows? We ought to get a rematch onto the schedule.

    When the details of computing combat odds and adjudicating results are moved off of the players' plate, players are able to focus on the bigger picture and tactics of the battle, itself. I think that helps in providing a different (and perhaps) more realistic perspective of battle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great points Jonathan, all we had to do was make decisions and roll dice and it was am absolute blast! The hexes greatly helped make communications regarding moving units easier. You know I'd love to schedule a rematch! I'll also make sure to wear appropriate headgear! :)

      thank you for the prep work you did to set us up for success, as well as your advice during the game.

      Delete
  6. Thanks for the aar, this certainly reads as an interesting game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a good scenario with lots of hard decisions to make. A tough one for the Americans if you dont remember to get your units off the table!

      Delete
  7. Thanks for another perspective on Jon's Tricorne Trio of games; sounds as good as remote gaming can get (which is surprisingly good!)

    ReplyDelete