Saturday, 25 August 2012

Freeman's Farm 1777

To be fair the game was more 'based on' rather than an accurate representation of the battle of Freeman's Farm. The aim was to try out the Black Powder rules with Steve's AWI collection.  Each army consisted of three brigades; Eccles, Moriarty and Thynne being the British commanders and Tempest, Shore and Sheridan the Americans.  Commanding generals were Frazer Stewart (British) and Arnold Benedict (American).  The objective for both sides was to take and hold Freeman's Farm.

Things got off to a slow start, particularly for Stewart, whose brigadiers had great difficulty getting their battalions moving.  This allowed Shore to get one battalion of Continental infantry into Freeman's Farm along with a light gun in support.  However, bad staff work (ie high dice) meant that the rest of the brigade were still on the baseline.  Benedict intervened and managed to get one unit of riflemen to move forward into a field behinf the farm, but the rest of the brigade remained rooted to the spot.  On the American left, Tempest had moved a unit of riflemen into a wood and had plans to seize the hill to the left of Freeman's Farm. The first unit of infantry stepped forward to the foot of the slope, but the rest of the brigade stayed put.  Sheridan, on the right did secure a hill with a unit of infantry and supported it with cavalry and artillery.  He also began to move forward towards the woods covering the British left.  The opposing brigadier, Thynne, responded by moving forward his light infantry and his elite companies.

Perhaps stung into action by the American moves the British bestirred themselves, but not too much, that wouldn't be British.  Eccles quickly advanced a battalion onto the hill Tempest's troops were approaching.  Disregarding the American artillery supporting Tempest's men, the British formed into column of attack and charged home.  The American volley failed to stop the British and without any infantry support the continental infantry were soon back where they started and the British held the hill.  However, the British now had a unit 'out on a limb' and it became the target for fire from several of Tempest's units.

In the centre Moriarty had ordered the Hessian grenadiers forward to support their jaegers, but after crossing a hedge, the grenadiers' progress slowed, perhaps because they couldn't understand their orders? (actually bad movement dice again).  However, Stewart intervened and two battalions of British regulars moved towards Freeman's Farm.  Still lacking support, Shore's men stood their ground and a fierce struggle developed.  The advantage swung back and forth, but eventually the Americans' morale broke and they fell back ceding the Farm, minus the barn, (garrisoned by riflemen).
Those riflemen held off British attacks and Shore responded by sending forward units to retake the  farm.  These were countered by a battalion of converged grenadiers, who expected to prevail against the  Americans.  The dice decided otherwise and another prolonged struggle began.  To the left of the British grenadiers the Hessian grenadiers found themselves fighting desperately to hold back a flank attack sent through the woods by Shore.

On the American right Sheridan's men were finding it difficult to hold their ground once Thynne managed to get organised. They were saved by the inability of Thynne to move his artillery forward; the front line units kept becoming disorganised by the American's fire and were unable to redeploy to create the necessary space.  However, the combined elite companies did move forward and attacked the militia supporting Sheridan's gun.  This move did expose their flank to the American cavalry, but again staff work broke down and the order to charge never arrived (or perhaps the cavalry had been standing in the same position so long they had taken root?).  Against the odds the militia held, even though their supports did not move forward and the units to their left fell back.

It was on the British right where the action was decided.  Eccles had moved his men forward (with the exception of some rather reluctant cavalry) and one battalion was pushing back the riflemen in the wood.  A second attacked Tempest's artillery whilst the other two conducted a long range musketry duel with Tempest's continetal infantry. Goaded by the fire one of the units charged their British opponents but were met by concentrated artillery fire in addition to a close range volley.  The heavy losses stopped them in their tracks and a second volley ensured that the few men who survived moved swiftly to rear and off the field. (they routed).  Almost at the same time the riflemen were pushed out of the woods and then charged.  They too fled the field.  The artillery was overun by the British and Tempest's last remaining unit fell back due to losses from the British musketry

With his left shattered and the farm lost all Benedict could do was try and salvage what he could from his army and leave the field to the British.

As a first run through the rules seemed to work reasonably well.  There were a few occasions where the full rules were referred to, but generally we managed with the quick play sheets.  The movement rules did hamper the initial advance on both sides; but then again you cannot expect a battle to work like clockwork can you?  Once the combatants got within close range (12") the initiative rule meant that decisive action could take place.  Some of the units did seem 'brittle', but a re-reading of the rules later did show that we treated them more harshly than we should.     


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