Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Battle of Trenton 1776 : American War Independence

The next battle in our ongoing campaign is Trenton which took place on the 25/26th December 1776. Unlike our campaign the Americans had been doing badly and Trenton although a fairly small engagement was a huge moral boost. Famously Washington took a huge risk crossing the Delaware river in difficult icy conditions. Then set up a quite complex battle plan splitting his force to attack the unsuspecting Hessians encamped in the town of Trenton. The plan was the Hessians would be drunk from celebrating the festive season so caught off guard. In fact the weather was so poor nobody expected an attack. Significantly outnumbered the Hessians initially put up a stiff defence but when the escape route across the Assunpink Creek  was cut off they surrendered. There is plenty of info on the battle including some splendid maps including the period one below

There are also some good explanatory maps of the action
and here is Trenton scaled down for our table measuring about 4’6” by 6’ I have squeezed in the essential features the two American brigades will enter as shown

The challenge in the battle is getting the balance of objectives, it is too easy for the Hessians to just run off rather than stand and fight we played with a number of scenarios specific rules.
1. Greene’s brigade would enter turn one, but Sullivan would have to test at minus 3 from turn 2 onwards this represents their historical delay.
2. There are two hessian and one dismounted dragoon skirmish units, which had been posted as lookouts on the three main roads. We randomly rolled a D6 and they would be placed on the road 6” back as it happens I rolled three 3’s so they were placed 18” back towards the town.
3. Whilst the skirmishers could activate first turn the hessian infantry and the hessian cannon, would each have to take a decreasing D6 test before their activation. This represents their shock at being caught out by the bold American attack.
4. The Petty Run would act as difficult terrain so slow units down.
5. No units would have first fire rule, the Americans powder was damp after the crossing and the Hessians were caught by surprise.
6. objective wise the game would end when the Hessians were down to one third three smaller bridges if captured would give a minor victory for the Americans but they would need to fight through to the Assunpink bridge to claim a major victory.

As most of you know the British while attacking in previous battles have struggled where the odds have been less than 2 to1 so of course the Americans are roughly 2 to 1 (what could possibly go wrong !) so on to the action Christmas Day 1776
All quiet in Trenton, the weather is bad no attack expected !
The three Hessian regiment and artillery are located on the two main streets but fail to activate turn one. (Note to anybody with a mathematical mind please calculate the chances when rolling a D6 and being able to roll one lower than that required to activate for 5 turns in a row ! It simply shouldn’t be possible but that is exactly what the Hessian Artillery did !)
Meanwhile Greene’s brigade enters the table and opens fire on the outpost pushing them back 
Greene sends a number of troops to outflank the town.
Sullivan’s command is delayed and only his skirmishers arrive on turn two.
The Hessians on King Street have activated and formed up, finally a chance to give the Americans a taste of lead !
Skirmishers exchange fire on the river road
Despite the cold the Americans fan out quickly to assault the town from several directions
The Rall Grenadiers have activated and are moving to block the river road
The rest of Sullivan’s command arrives, but they are restricted by the Creek
Hessians in the town open up volley fire and send the skirmishers back
Greene advances with his artillery trying to get it into a best position
Sullivan held at the bridge but for how long
Things are already tight for the Hessians the cannon is continuing to fail to activate and the Lossberg Regiment on Queens street almost unbelieveably fails to activate FIVE yes FIVE turns in a row, they only needed a six !
Meanwhile somehow the Americans roll a double 6 and an additional infantry units lost in the snow perhaps arrives on the edge of the town 
Despite its impending doom the cannon crew stubbornly refuse to wake up, perhaps they had been drinking 
Sullivan is pushing along river road
American artillery finally opens up and the first Knyphausen regiment flees. bad to worse !
Finally when activation is automatic the hessian cannon is moved out of the church yard. My memory has blank out this disaster but I am not sure the cannon actually fired a shot before the crew had been shot from all sides.
The Americans are now pushing into the town
The Rall grenadiers have had little to do so far but they continue to block the road
At this point there is a tiny chance they could break out so they charge Sullivan lead unit. He very narrowly escapes death but then the Hessian fail their morale check and are forced to pull back.
The next turn they are hammered by Sullivan’s troops and the Hessians are left with only one unit.
Americans are swarming into the town
From all directions
If there were more Hessians they would be in trouble
But the last unit has chosen to flee across the Assunpink
The Americans celebrate a good victory, if not total victory as they didn’t manage to capture the Assunpink bridge when the game ended.

A splendid game and battle which rather too closely reflected the historical events. Despite the obvious disappointing result for the Hessians it was great fun. What went wrong ? I actually think the balance of 2 to 1 was about right. And the special rules felt appropriate. However, the Hessian activation and morale rolls were literally the worst you could possibly imagine. The cannon and the Lossberg regiment failing to activate for 5 turns really unbalanced our balanced scenario. Of course it isn’t really designed as a scenario where the Hessians will survive more can they hold on. I failed so many tests I lost count 😀

So that brings to a close 1776. I am hoping to pull together a little video if I get a chance over Christmas.

Thanks for looking 👍

Friday, 3 December 2021

A new project begins ……

Well we all need a new project don’t we ? , as a number of my projects have reached the scale where they are slowing down I felt it was time to kick off with something new. This certainly wasn’t a rash decision as I have been pondering for many months what direction I might go. Of course this could be quite a long post about other future projects which I have in mind and which one day may come to fruition but as a few of you will know I quite enjoy holding these projects in my head, sometimes for many years, I’ll occasionally write or jot down a few notes and then come back to them a long time later. But I try to avoid too much formality in my hobby so the list normally stays in my head.

Anyway a long winded introduction to my new project the Peninsular War which I have chosen to do in 28mm. The first unit finally got to the painting desk.

The 47th Ligne Regiment 
Here they are in attack column the figures are Warlord the flag Victrix, I’m not a button counter but feel these are good enough for me, the good thing is they are no harder to paint than AWI 

Thought I might just expand on a few questions I have had to answer myself before starting this project. Why Napoleonic ? Well like so many it is my first love and was my introduction to the hobby, my original Airfix collection does very occasionally get some table time which is quite nostalgic but slightly frustrating as it never quite gives the spectacle or the sense of battle I am looking for. Why 28 mm ? This is a tough question these days with so many scales and options I can definitely see myself collecting Naps in a smaller scale in the future but for the Peninsular campaign I feel I have a chance in 28 mm of achieving the scale I am looking for. Perhaps the biggest push has been my success at the AWI in about 2 years I have collected and painted enough figures for both sides for a sizeable battle. I like the feel of the 24 man units and as the initial stages of the Peninsular develops it will allow smaller skirmish scale battles. My plan will be to field skirmishers on individual bases which can be ranked up if needed. Ideal for the 95th ! This means I know I won’t have to wait too long before seeing some action even if larger battles take a bit longer, the 24 man units break down easily for larger battles as well. Why the Peninsular ? you shouldn’t really need to ask this question should you ? I guess variety, colour, terrain….yes I plan some new buildings but of course a small factor is it builds on my Al Andalus collection. Why Warlord ? Having answered in my head the questions above I spent a lot of time looking at figure options. Having Perry in AWI and ACW it was an obvious option and some of these will find their way into the collection. But in the end I plumbed for the Warlord starter armies which I was able to purchase at a ridiculously cheap cost. With the addition of some skirmishers ? I’m getting a box of the 95th for Christmas, gives me a good starting point. Those sharp eyed will have spotted a box of cavalry from the show a couple of weeks ago 🙂 perhaps the most fun is allowing me some time to research nonsense like plume colours and flags such a lot of fun and options for me to mess things up 😀!!!!!

Anyway enough of my ramblings this project will bumble along in the background 👍

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Prussian Wied Fusiliers and Battleground Show

A busy start to the week at work but I have managed to finish off the next SYW regiment

The Wied Fusiliers they seem to have a very characteristic red/bronze hat which you can’t quite see in the picture, but they are a nice sculpts, when I bought a big box of Pendraken Prussians it included several different sculpts and I quite like these ones advancing 
As noted in the previous post I attended the Battleground Show at the weekend. Putting on a small participation game with Vikings versus Muslim in Al Andalus. The picture shows the set up for each game, I thing I played the scenario six times on the day. All seemed to enjoy the experience, what was nice was I was able to link it to the new Lion Rampant supplement A Viking in the sun. I also had a number of lengthy conversation with people about the book, my terrain seems to create some interest and lots of people came to take photos or pass comment, so a good day. I sadly didn’t get a chance to really look at any other games.
I did rush around and grab some stuff really just to support a couple of traders, picking up a few bits and bobs as above.
The craters is really lazy as I should have made them but they were a very reasonable price from Ironclad Miniatures and really easy to paint up, so we will see these soon on a battlefield. In hindsight I’m not sure about the grass now so that might get scrapped off ?

Thanks as always for looking 👍

Friday, 19 November 2021

Fieseler Storch 1/48 scale

Like most of us do I suspect I had a random thought after the last Sealion game about some better objectives in battles. I randomly spent several days thinking about blown up tanks, bunkers etc…. I also thought a downed German officer in his ‘Storch’ might be rather cool, having been blown away with the price of a suitable model I had to wait a couple of weeks then this one came up 👍

This was almost a reasonable price at about £20. 
I don’t have too much patience for models like this really, and the kit was a little too complex for my liking with lots of delicate struts to be placed in the cockpit area ! I just left them out after all it is an objective, it took the paint pretty well as I only painted it with a brush, for a change even the transfers weren’t too hard to fix, total effort about 6 hours over 4 evenings
Anyway despite my fumbling fingers it came out ok and here it is with the officers discussing how they should escape, I’m sure we will see this in a Sealion game soon
Finally I haven’t shared many landscapes recently mainly due to inclement weather and indoor cycling , but I got out today on a blustery and part way up my chosen route this memorial to two local Shepards from the 1890’s any photos taken later when I enter the cloud cover were not as colourful !

Monday, 15 November 2021

Battle for Fort Washington 1776

For our next virtual battle, tracking through the history of the American war of independence we have the battle for Fort Washington. 16th November 1776. One of the great joys of this project is learning more about the AWI especially about these smaller less well know battles. Once again I will only provide a shortened history if you are interested in more search the web. Anyway having fought the indecisive battle of White Plains the American forces were encamped on the heights at Fort Washington over looking the Hudson River. Suggestions were made to evacuate the fort but these went unheeded, general Howe perhaps remembering the outcome at Bunker Hill decided to go ‘full on’ to take the fort. The complex planned assault would take place from three directions with a fourth feint attack as well.

Despite being a smaller scale battle there is plenty of information and some useful maps. However, it is perhaps a difficult battle to gain a balanced scenario as the Americans were very significantly outnumbered and pretty much on the back foot.

A very nice period picture of the Battlefield from the north
There are several nice old maps of the battle and I suspect the full battle would make an interesting and larger battle given space and troops, you could even include elements for the British ships which were engaged in the battle
However, given my space and collection limitations I focussed our battle mainly around the Hessian assault under Knyphausen and the flank assault under Mathew/Howe. 
This converted into the battlefield above before the troops were set up. This would give an interesting battle for both sides, the Americans would be spread out and face the choice of pulling back to the fort to defend or picking off the advancing troops as they attempted to close. We decided that victory for the British/Hessian forces would be eliminating over 2/3 of the Americans or getting into the fort.
The Hessian forces prepare for the assault, here they are using Dyckmams Bridge but historically they were taken I believe over by boat.
Margret Corbin with her husband on the heights with Maryland and Virginia Riflemen
Gen Magaw in the Fort with Bucks County Militia
The Americans also have a number of small skirmish units amongst the defensive works and some Pennsylvania Volunteers on Laurel Hill. The only other scenario detail of real worth is the British contingent will only arrive on a random die roll, to represent them being delayed by the tide historically. As we have seen in previous battles attacking can be tough so the allies have about a 3 to 2 advantage in numbers. Would this be enough ?
The Hessian jägers immediately open up with a volley and cheer as the first rebel unit is forced to pull back
The rest of the Hessians fan out
A second volley from the jägers …hoorah 
The Maryland Riflemen look on with grim determination they may prove a tougher nut to crack
Hessian grenadiers are now pushing upto the first defence 
The rest of Knyphausen’s command is pushing up the valley towards the south
After turn three the British would roll to test for arrival and luckily they came in turn five, they immediately push their skirmishers forward who start to fire at the Pennsylvania Volunteers 
Battle now widespread and the allies are making good progress
Then suddenly the British have a dreadful turn, failing to activate and their assault on Laurel hill stalls allowing the rebels to bring up some additional defenders
The Maryland Riflemen have pushed forward feeling the moment has come to take the battle to the Germans
But still progress is being made even if the Germans are getting slowed down
Margret Corbin (you’ll have to google it) fires another blast, the American artillery on the ridge is very effective
A sense now the german attack is stalling but hopefully the British are now starting to get moving 
The light infantry blast away at short range
Finally the allied cannon is able to open up to some effect driving the Maryland regiment back
A glimpse of hope the British grenadiers easily push through the earthworks
The hessians now waiting for their moment to renew the assault
Driving the skirmishers back 
But Magaw has lined up his Regiment across the ditch and the grenadiers are exposed
The British combined light infantry somehow manages to fail to chase the American skirmishers away
The Americans have started to pull back and the allied gun falls quiet
The final nail in the British coffin, a tremendous first fire volley into the Grenadiers over the road/ditch. In one turn the British grenadiers are decimated 
We called the battle here, the allies just don’t have enough fire power to push forward the assault and the Americans have started pulling back to the main fort defences. The Americans win, which in this case means they have enough time to evacuate the bulk of their forces rather than surrender them which is what happened historically.

Once again a very fun battle, a couple of key turning points when the British stalled early on and then when the British grenadiers were wiped out. We discussed the balance of the scenario and came to the conclusion that on average the attacker needs a 2 to 1 ratio rather than the 3 to 2. It would be fun to play this one again with that extra balance ? Of course we won’t be implementing this balance until after Trenton ! I do think Fort Washington would make an excellent larger battle as long as the victory conditions for the Americans are achievable. Buying time to escape.

Thanks as always for taking the time to scroll through 👍