Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Battle of the Brandywine, part 2

The second night of our Brandywine scenario began with a renewed British push towards the fords over the river.  Grey, the British brigade commander, had taken quite heavy casualties, but they had been concentrated on just two units, so he felt confident he could make progress.  His opposite number, Smallwood, (misnamed Sullivan in the previous post) was struggling to keep his brigade on the field because the loss of an infantry unit and the casualties inflicted by the British artillery had forced all his units to fall back to reform at least once.

Smallwood's men holding the line

As the British advanced their left hand unit strayed out of supporting distance as it struggled across the hedges lining the lane towards the fords.  When the infantry crossed the second hedge and reordered their ranks they were subjected to sniping fire from the a unit of riflemen.  In no time officers began to be wounded and the British line infantry had to fall back across the lane to reform.  Bouyed by this success and the support arriving from De Borre's brigade, Smallwood concentrated his fire on the leading British battalion.  Grey, seeing that this particular battalion had suffered heavy casualties decided to pass his supporting battalions through it.  The new leading battalion was reforming following this manoeuvre when it was hit by two volleys from the Americans and forced to fall back to reform.  This uncovered the British artillery which repaid the complement and fired at the leading American unit.  Seeing the effect of the shot on their ranks the American infantry broke and made for the rear.  It took all of Smallwood's efforts to rally them.  The brigade was then hit by further infantry volleys and the whole brigade moved to the rear and took no further part in the action.

On the opposite flank Agnew was still making slow progress towards the meeting house.  Hoping to outflank the American defensive line he ordered the skirmishing light companies to move round to their left, cross the lane and then fire in support of the British line.  The skirmishers carried out their manoeuvres and began shooting at the Americans covering the meeting house.  However, the delays in getting into position had enabled militia from Scott's brigade to come to the aid of Woodford's line and the skirmishers found themselves under fire from the militia, who had taken up a position in the woods to the skirmishers left.  In no time at all the British light troops were forced to fall back and reform due to their losses. Fortunately, Agnew's artillery was now in position and it's fire was sufficient to check any attempt by Woodfood's men to advance.

Agnew's brigade advances
Agnew now ordered his brigade to advance and the line moved forward, up to the lane and engaged in a prolonged musketry duel with Woodford's brigade. To Woodford's left, Conway's brigade was still trying to make progress towards the crossroads.  His lead battalion advanced one again up the lane, but again was forced back by fire from the Hessian artillery. 

Conway's men advance again

The defenders of the meeting house grounds also now came under fire from the Hessian jaegers and the rest of Von Donop's Hessian brigade mas moving up to support Agnew's right flank.

In the centre, Matthew's elite brigade had reached the lane running from the meeting house to the river, but progress was slowed by the concentrated fire of Conway's and Maxwell's artillery.  The leading grenadier battalion was forced back by the losses it sustained from the guns.  Maxwell's militia also added their fire and stalled the British advance.  However, when Matthew's artillery deployed it soon found the range and forced back Maxwell's infantry.

The fire from Agnew's brigade had driven off Woodford's supporting artillery and now two battalions concentrated their fire on his leading line battalion.  Heavy losses forced it to fallback behind Scott's line and this left the riflemen in the meeting house grounds unsupported.  Agnew's men surged across the lane and drove back the Americans with a bayonet charge

Agnew captures the meeting house grounds
On the banks of the Brandywine De Borre's brigade was beginning to wilt under the fire from Grey's battalions.  The militia units had done their best but with losses mounting they began to edge backwards.  The sight of the riflemen covering their right falling back behind the crest of the hill proved too much.  Although the riflemen were under command, the sight of comrades 'retreating' caused De Borre's men to rout and this uncovered the Brandywine fords.

Grey could now swing round and threaten Maxwell's left flank, which in turn would put increased pressure on the remainder of the American line.  Maxwell had just received a messenger from his artillery commander to say that the guns had run out of ammunition.  With this news Maxwell sent an aide to General Washington to advise him that his (Maxwell's) brigade would hold as long as it could, but the whole flank of the the American army was shattered.  Washington therefore gave the order for a withdrawal, with Conway and Scott fighting a delaying action, covering the brigades of Maxwell and Woodford.

The battle ended quicker than Steve and I anticipated. A flurry of unfortunate die rolls precipitated brigade morale checks on Smallwood and De Borre, which made Grey's advance easier.  Also Conway really struggled to reform his units (poor dice again).  However, this was a most enjoyable game and we are beginning to appreciate the subtleties of the Patriot and Loyalist rules.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent report sir and the pictures in part 2 are even better. I must also seek out these rules.

    Your text reads like a historical document at times. A pleasure to read.

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    1. Thank you very much for your comments Duc

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