Sunday, 12 July 2015

Hobkirk's Hill, an AWI scenario for Patriots and Loyalists

Steve found this scenario in issue 78 of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, it used the Black Powder rules but he adjusted it for our favourite Patriots and Loyalists ruleset.   Following the battle of Guilford Courthouse, the patriot forces under General Greene turned their attention on the loyalists in Carolina.  Greene camped on Hobkirk's Hill, north of Camden and Lord Rawdon, the commander of the loyalist forces decided to attack.  Taking his available forces he marched through the woods to attack the left wing of Greene's forces.

Lord Rawdon advances through the woods
Both armies are of variable quality.  The Loyalists have one regular unit, (the 63rd regiment), but the bulk are average militia units.  There are two small units of skirmishers a section of Royal artillery and Major Coffins Light Dragoons.  Greene's force has four units of continental infantry but two suffered severely at Guilford Courthouse and the others performed poorly on the day.  The militia units were unreliable but Washington's Dragoons were of good quality.  Greene had an artillery section and had deployed two units of skirmishers forward to warn him of any enemy advance.

Layout of the table
The Loyalists, who are outnumbered, need to strike quickly, rolling up Greene's line before he can redeploy his right wing.  A map of the action and a OOB can be found here.  The dice decreed that I take the part of Lord Rawdon and battle commenced.

At first all went well, the leading 'brigade' under Campbell got three actions and managed to move clear of the woods (these halved movement distances).  Robertson, with the remaining brigade also got three actions and kept pace with the attack.  He (Robertson) decided to move Coffin's Dragoons to the left into a clearing to enable them to manoeuvre more freely.  This caused the skirmishers from Hugar's brigade on Greene's right to seek the shelter of the woods.  Once the loyalist troops left the cover of the woods they came under fire from the patriot artillery.  The first round fired caused one of Campbell's units to fall back to rally.  Greene's left wing skirmishers fell back before Campbell's advance, sniping away at the 63rd but not having any effect.  Greene ordered Washington's Dragoons to move round the hill and attack the loyalist infantry.  This they did, ignoring the skirmishers and charging at the 63rd.  The latter met them with a volley and a steady hedge of bayonets.  Disordered by the volley and unable to make headway against the resolute infantry the dragoons fell back, their losses such that they took no further part in the battle.

The 63rd meet the Washington Dragoons
By now the Royal Artillery had deployed and begun to fire on the Maryland regiments in Williams brigade which formed Greene's left.  The artillery fire began to take effect and some wavering was seen in the patriot ranks.  However, they were still firing volleys at Campbell's men as they plodded forward and a second unit of loyalist militia had to retire to the cover of the woods to rally.  Desperate to maintain the initiative, Rawdon ordered Coffin to charge the enemy on the ridge.  As the dragoons moved forward they came under fire from Hugar's Virginia infantry.  Losses were heavy and the dragoons had to fall back to rally.  This brought them close to Hugar's skirmishers who were still in the woods.  Rawdon galloped across to the dragoons hoping to speed their recovery.  As he rode along the ranks of the dragoons the skirmishers fired and one ball pierced his chest.  Rawdon fell from his horse and was carried from the field by his aides.  Fearing the day lost Coffin took his remaining men back to Camden.

The loyalists near the ridge
Fortunately, Campbell and Robertson were still making progress.  Robertson's men had joined the 63rd and together their volleys drove William's brigade from the ridge.  Greene placed the North Carolina militia on the ridge and rode off to try and rally Williams' brigade.  Hugar had continued to advance along the ridge, but found himself outnumbered by the remaining loyalist forces.  Greene returned after failing to stop Williams men from leaving the field and decided that retreat was the best option.  The loyalists had carried the day, but at heavy cost.

After lunch we ran the scenario again, swopping commands.  Once again the loyalists won but the battle was notable for the cavalry again failing to make any impression.  Washington's dragoons were disordered by musketry and proved unwilling to rally eventually being driven from the field.  Whilst Coffin's dragoons charged a unit of skirmishers who attempted to evade and were caught.  In the ensuing melee, which should have been a formality, some rather extreme dice results ensured that it was the dragoons who were defeated !

A foregone conclusion?
This is a good scenario for small forces and takes a couple of hours.  Although the loyalists won both games the result was close and could have gone to the patriots.

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