Monday, 2 March 2009

Battle of Germantown - 4th October 1777

Sorry for the delay regarding new posts but I have recently moved house and have been preparing for the Germantown battle. I have scrath built nearly all of the terrain and trees for the fight and painted all the miniatures myself. Due to the size of the engagement there are one or two units masquerading as something else in the photos but my collection wasnt quite big enough to compensate for everything.

As you may or may not know, I have been playing AWI games for quite a few years now and my preferred set of rules is Eclaireu's fantastic British Grenadier! We have played some smaller and mid sized battles with the rules and found little irregularity and we thought a larger game would allow us to see how the rules played for bigger engagements. We had some reservations with the scenario as depicted in the American War of Independence Scenario's 2 book (also by Eclaireur) but we decided to play it as written.

Below is a brief battle report that suprised us greatly in outcome but was immensely enjoyble.
The battle began, as the scenario dictates with Musgrave and the 40th and Light Infantry battalions reeling backwards after a brief slap with american forces. The fog meant order changes and firefights were at the bare minimum but as the Americans advanced the British formed a semblance of a line and began to pour on the fire. In the confusion a flurry of friendly fire saw one Continental battalion break to the rear and despite some casualties from the elite infantry to their front the remainder stood firm and traded volleys with the light infantry as the 40th dallied on their left flank trying to form a firing line of their own. In the thick fog the continentals poured down the road towards Chew House. A company of detahced skimishers raced ahead of the enemy desperately trying to reach the safety of the stone structure but the fog and enemy harrassment meant that by the time they got there they were heavily disrupted (three DP's). Some have even mentioned that looting might have been in eveidence.
As the Continentals continued to advance through the fog the 1st Light infantry seemed stoic in their defence of the fence line until out of the mist to their right a continental regiment unleashed a furious volley into their flank. This coupled with the firing to their front was too much for them to take and Light Infantry followed closely by the 40th began their retreat. The guns also limbered up and moved on. At Chew house a single battalion peeled off to deal with the threat of the 6 figures firing at them from the windows. This is one area I find the rules a little confusing. Fighting in BUA's (Built Up Areas) is an after thought both in the rules and in scenario. I think the rules for figting in fortifications stand up to scrutiny but it was difficult to see how 6 figures could hold out in Chew house when the rules dictate that normally BUA's can hold one battalion or two battalions dependent on size. We played the rules to the letter and Musgraves men were sent packing out the back (with candleabra's in hand no doubt). Greene's forces now started to emerge on the battlefield and the British line assembled near the camp began to move. agnew moved his forces towards Musgraves retreating men and Howe lead Mathews Guards, Grants men and Greys Brigade towards Greenes attempt to turn their flank. The British formed two lines and advanced straight at McDougals forces but the fog limited actual combat.

On the American right Washingtons men continued in road column to flood on to the battlefield and Greenes forces massed for their first attack with McDougal and Muhlenberg attacking in two waves. As the battlions advanced the British musket line fired and Greenes first casualties ocurred but the Americans weathered the storm and Mcdougal took the 1st Connecticut directly to the 49th. With shrill scream the Continentals charged, the British stood, fired and met the charge, but the sheer ferocity of the Americans bowled the british back and Grant was wounded in the fighting.

Seeing the victory in the centre morale surged through McDougals men and the Continentals vaulted the fences to bear down on the enemy. Casulaties were now mounting up on both sides as the fog began to clear. On the right flank the light infantry fleeing from the tide of Americans broke under the strain and dispersed the gun was abandoned and the 40th and Musgrave with the remnants of his command holed up in one of the small town houses on the main street. The huge battery on the hill now had some targets and began to disrupt the American line as they broke through the trees. On the right the American breakthrough floundered as the British found some backbone and began to fight back. The 1st Connecticut began to take heavy casulaties and was soon reeling. The Britsh recaptured the fence line and a fierce firefight ensued with both sides taking casualties. Charges from both sides had limited success but on the whole while the British stood firm, they took extremely heavy casualties whilst the Americans fled consistently but their preponderence of Brigadiers meant that many rejoined the fight non the worse for wear.

The right flank saw the Guards charge and cause several units to flee. The American guns were taken, but once again the returning units first isolated and then destroyed each British successful counter attack. The Guards, although effectively stopping the American breakthrough, bled to death and eventually retired to the rear with on of two units dispersing and the second well below half strength. The fighting was so fierce on the British right that several British battalions were nearing half strength and Agnew had been shot from the saddle. Muhlenberg men sttod firm and acted as a pivot point fpor Washington as he advanced and eventually the Americans formeda line of troops across the table. Agnew went to aid Musgrave with Grey and again the British formed line. And again the American numbers proved too much and line began to retire. Mclanes cavalry led by Washington himself charged the fleeing british and cut 44th infantry down, dispersing them in the process. He returned to his lines with huge cheers filling his ears. If the left was broken the right was still contested. Weedon's Brigade broke and fled the field and the British began to advance. The Queens Rangers and the Light Infantry With other regiments in support began to slowly push the Americans back as they reverted to a defensive stance. But the casulaties were still mounting. The British were now beginning to think twice when it came to charging the enemy and two or three charges failed to hit home. The previously retreating Americans on the British right had now rallied and returned to the fray almost completely fresh and in good order and Washington had also sent reinforcements across to quell the lack lustre British counter attack. When the battery unlimbered and began to fire Howe ordered the retreat.

Overall the battle was absolute fun. The problem with the scenario is the fact that the fog is not as demoralising for the Yanks as perhaps it should be and the huge amount of brigadiers means that rallying was fairly easy. After discussion we felt a better alternative would be to make the sub divisions of Sullivan etc that was ommitted from the scenario into the command level for the game and to ommit the brigadiers entirely from the game. This makes DP's harder for the Americans to lose adn also limits the amount of leaders around to rally. Having Chew House fall early probably made the game more entertaining in a way but I think that rules for fights in buildings need to be clarified. Finally we found a problem in Brigade morale as their is little distinction in quality in brigade morale when it comes to dispersing. We have now ammended this rule to include a Retire order implementation and also for retreating units to rout instead of disperse. We have said that all militia or levy will disperse if the brigade roll is failed whilst Elite Brigagdes will only retreat or retire. We have also added that Line units and above can self rally and do not need a leader present to do so.
I hope you enjoy the photo's (sorry about the quality).


  1. Excellent report! Sounds like tremendous fun. I think your proposed approach as to command by moving up from Brigade level for the Continentals is probably the best solution to the problem of too many brigadiers. Likewise the suggestions on brigade morale seems reasonable. I would be interested to learn more of how you would frame a scenario for Germantown in constrast to the one provided by Eclaireur.

  2. I think first and foremost would be the disruption of Americans in the fog. I think having a minimum of 1DP on all troops at all times would be fair until the fog clears. This cannot be rallied off even by leaders. The problem the British had was the fact that the Americans were in excellent shape when they came out of the fog. It is also important to use a very large table. We played on a 7' x 12' table and it did not give enough room for manoeuvre. Follow Eclaireurs example by having an "L" shapoed table.

  3. what else can i say U HAVE A GREAT TALENT!

    i do have fun when reading and looking pics.

    Thx for share ...
    Nice to have u back ...

    PS: hope u found peace in your new home =D

  4. Fantastic! Great report and pics. Good to see lots of nice buildings too - it really looks like a township.


  5. Thanks Giles....not quite up to your scale yet but I hope Iam getting there :)

  6. Looking through these again (I guess I officially count as a "junkie" now), I think the scaling of Chew House model is perfect - it is large enough to be imposing but doesn't dominate.

    Quality stuff - how are you getting on with Brandywine :^)


  7. Not started yet :( - Hoping to get my teeth into it over next few weeks. Probably try and play the game at the beginning of July. Of course you are welcome to attend...

  8. Really very nice and your terrain looks great!I can appreciate this as I'm building my own at the moment.