Monday, 25 May 2015

Bemis Heights, 1777

It is sometime since we last had an action from the AWI and Steve set up this scenario from the ill-fated (from a British point of view), Saratoga campaign.  Following the failure at Freeman's Farm, Burgoyne waited and then, against the advice of his officers decided to attack Gates' army again, hoping to break through to Albany, where he expected to join up with Clinton's troops.

The British start the battle with three brigades of infantry, deployed around two redoubts which protect the British right flank.  They are to advance and carry out a "reconnaissance in force", push back any rebel forces they meet and clear the way for a general British advance. To their front and right flank are large areas of woodland, no enemy troops are visible.  With the rebel forces hidden I took the part of Burgoyne and decided that Fraser (on the right) would cover the flank of Von Reisdel's Hessians who were to advance towards the gap in the woodland.  On the left Able's brigade were to cover Von Reisdel's other flank.  I had guns in the redoubts and decided that it would be prudent to post one battalion in each, 'just in case'.

The British prepare to advance
The British advance began and soon Fraser's men were coming under fire from Morgan's brigade in the woods on the British right.  Determined to remove this threat, Fraser redeployed and then advanced a short distance and fired a volley.  This drove back the rebel riflemen, but before the British could enjoy their success, they were attacked in the flank by a fresh rebel brigade.  This had been waiting for just such an opportunity and greatly assisted by a good dice roll giving them 4 actions, they moved out of the woods, formed up and charged.  The battalion on the left of Fraser's line had no chance, caught at a disadvantage before it could change face to meet the attack, it took heavy casualties and fell back in disorder.  Fraser's second battalion did change face and then fired a volley at the rebels.  They were also fired at by Fraser's skirmishers and this caused their advance to falter.  A counter attack by Fraser's men then drove back the rebels.

Caught in flank!
Von Reisdel had been making good progress in the centre.  His jaegers had pushed forward and discovered a third brigade of rebel infantry facing the British left.  However, with Fraser under attack and this new threat discovered Von Reisdel halted his battalions and deployed them in line with his artillery supporting them.  Able's grenadier battalion moved up on Von Reisdel's left and fired volleys at the rebel infantry before them.  Their measured volleys, plus artillery fire from the redoubt on the left, caused the rebel fire to slacken.  The more immediate threat to Von Reisdel was the  rebel brigade which had attacked Fraser.  This now switched it's attention to him and was supported by a further brigade which had marched to the 'sound of the guns'.  For a time the fire of the battalion guns held the rebels back, but ammunition was running low.

Yet more rebels appear
Fraser had once again attacked Morgan and was driving his battalions back, but at some cost, both his battalions were nearing exhaustion.  On the opposite flank Able's grenadiers encouraged by the lack of fire from the woods advanced and then disappeared into the trees.  As they struggled forward they came under fire from rebel infantry and were then charged.  On their flank more rebels appeared and the grenadiers gave way, running back towards their own lines.

The Grenadiers break
Von Reisdel's men saw the grenadiers running back, but had troubles of their own.  Outnumbered three to one, they held the line as long as they could, but if they pushed one rebel unit back another took its place.  Then Von Reisdel's artillery fell silent, all ammunition spent. Ordering the gunners to pull back, he held the line as long as he could before carrying out an orderly retreat back under the guns of the redoubts.

The Hessians outnumbered
Burgoyne's attack had failed.  Two of his brigades were in a bad way and there was now no prospect of breaking through the rebel lines.  However, the rebel forces were in no fit state to counterattack, with three of their four brigades exhausted.  The result was close to that achieved historically and Steve had constructed a nicely balanced scenario, which had given both sides a chance of some sort of victory.


  1. Excellent looking game.
    I always love your commentaries. It's like reading a military history book on the period.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Hard luck - looked like a good game. Better luck to the redcoats next time.

  3. Thanks for your positive comments, they are much appreciated