Sunday, 12 February 2017

Trentown: An AWI scenario

After a long absence Steve's AWI collection featured in this week's battle.  This was a fictional scenario based on Trenton and/or Germantown.  A brigade of Hessians has been billeted in the sleepy settlement of Trentown and a large force of American troops is advancing towards them on three roads.  There are some British troops in the neighbourhood and they have heard whispers of a possible American attack, but the time of their arrival is uncertain.  The Hessian units were represented by markers (including a blank), so the American player did not know exactly where the defending troops were.  American troops were allocated to the roads by their commander, but he was not certain which brigade would arrive when, so uncertainty prevailed.   Here are three views of Trentown before hostilities began

The farm and barn on the northern outskirts of Trentown

From the farmhouse looking south towards Trentown

View from the opposite side of Trentown
A roll of the dice allocated command of the Hessians and British to me, whilst Steve commaned the Americans.  I placed a unit of Fusiliers in the farmhouse and a unit of jaeger in the barn.  The two units of musketeers were in the church and mansion, whilst the grenadiers were in the half timbered house.  All the Hessian units needed to pass a die roll to be 'activated'.  This became easier as the turns progressed and also if shots were fired.

Steve had the initiative and his first brigade, Archers, entered the table and began to advance towards the barn and the half timbered house.  Fortunately for the Hessians, one of the locals was having his morning walk, (around his rabbit snares) and saw the advancing Americans and ran back to the town.  The first building he came to was the Buchanan House, where the Von Dornop's Musketeers were billeted (the building on the left in the photo above).   The colonel was an early riser and immediately ordered his men to arms.  Behind Archer's brigade were Betsrman's and they began to advance straight along the road towards Trentown.  Although he was detained by the colonel of the Von Dornop Musketeers the local eventually roused the grenadiers in the half timbered building across the road.  Their commander decided the best course was to hold the house and ordered preparations for its defence. Von Dornop's Musketeers formed up outside the Buchanan House and advanced to the fence ready to defend the outskirts of Trentown.

Von Dornop's form up
Archer's leading unit, some riflemen, was nearing the barn occupied by the Hessian jaegers.  The jaegers were alert and when they could identify the enemy officers picked them off to such effect that the American skirmishers had to fall back to rally.  Major Steiner, who commanded the jaegers requested that Major Wedel bring up his fusiliers to the right of the barn to fire on the flank of any American units attacking the barn.  They reached their position just in time to fire a volley that sent another of Archer's battalions reeling back to rally.

In the centre, Von Dornop's men had begun to fire at Besterman's leading battalion as it marched up the road, forcing it to deploy into line.  The Hessians were getting the better of the musketry duel until Benedict directed Archer to move one of his Continental battalions to join in the fire on the Hessians.  When Besterman's artillery also joined in the writing was on the wall and with losses increasing the musketeers had to fall back behind the Buchanan House to rally.

Chamberlain's Dragoons
Duggan's infantry
However, it was a case of 'out of the frying pan and into the fire' because Duggan's brigade was advancing up from the south towards Trentown.  Duggan's leading unit, Chamberlain's Dragoons had already moved off the road and eastwards to observe the roads along which any British reinforcements would arrive.  Behind Chamberlain Duggan's infantry had deployed into line and fired a volley into the Hessians.  Von Dornop's men attempted to reply in kind, but  caught at a disadvantage had to fall back again, this time beyond the church.  This was held by the second Hessian musketeer battalion which attempted to drive back Duggan's men with musketry.  Undaunted, the Americans fired a volley and then charged.  The resulting melee was fieerce and prolonged, with no quarter sought or given.  Eventually, the Americans had to fall back, but the Hessians were so shaken by the fight that they too retired to lick their wounds.

Duggan's attack gains momentum
This left the grenadiers as the sole Hessian unit holding Trentown. Doggedly and with great resolve they held off the attempts of Besterman to seize their position.  Archer made another attempt to secure the barn and farm and was successful in forcing the fusiliers to fall back,  However, the jaegers in the barn stood firm and repulsed all attacks; their accurate fire inflicting heavy casualties.
Tha American attack develops
The final American brigade, Clarke's, now arrived from the west and advanced along the road to Trentown.  Able to remain in column because Duggan and Besterman had driven off the msuketeers, it made a rapid advance on Trentown.  It was just as well, because the British reinforcements had begun to arrive.  On the northern road was Courtney's brigade, led by a unit of light dragoons.  To the south Dalrymple led a veteran brigade including a battalion of converged grenadier companies.  Lord Abercorn, the British commander had issued orders for the brigades to advance to the north and south of Trentown respectively and then, with the Hessians holding the centre, attack the flanks of the Americans.

Courtney's men arrive

Clarke's men enter Trentown

Dalrymple set to his task with a will.  Ordering his rifles to harass Chamberlain's dragoons the grenadiers were to lead the attack south of Trentown, straight at Duggan's men.  One volley from the grenadiers drove a unit of militia back in disorder.  With line battalions supporting each flank of the grenadiers, the British  line swept forward.  Duggan galloped up to the battalion which had just recovered from the melee to capture the church.  The tattered ranks faced this new threat and fired two devastating close range volleys.  The grenadiers staggered and then stopped attempting to regain their order.  A third volley sent them reeling backwards.  The gallant Americans had no time to celebrate.  A volley from Fraser's regiment ripped through their thinned ranks and forced them to retreat.  Dalrymple ordered forward his artillery to 'soften up' the rebels before resuming his attack.

Courtney's advance was more circumspect.  His light dragoons observed Chamberlain's men whilst the light troops sniped at them.  The infantry battalions advanced towards the gap between the farm and barn held by Major Steiner and the town of Trentown.  Courtney could see that the Hessian musketeer battalions were struggling to hold their position against Besterman, and with Clarke's men now arriving the Hessian position was perilous.

Chamberlain's men on the move

The destruction of the grenadiers
Chamberlain found himself in an unenviable position.  He had fallen back to reduce casualties from the British skirmishers, but had little freedom of action as he was hemmed in by hedges.  The only escape route took him nearer to Dalrymple's brigade.  With the British light dragoons giving signs that they were readying for an advance towards him Chamberlain ordered a turn to flank and move at best speed to the right.  Ignoring fire from the British skirmishers the Americans galloped along the road.  A gap appeared on their right and they went through it.  To his delight Chamberlain found himself behind the British lines and with a reforming battalion of grenadiers to his front.  Sensing an opportunity he ordered 'Form line' followed by 'Charge!'.  The American cavalry swept forward and caught the British infantry before it could react.  Caught at such a disadvantage the British infantry had no chance and were driven back in rout.  Sweeping on the Americans now overran the British artillery before it could deploy.  Only then did the line battalions sense the threat.  Fraser's attempted to about face, but they too wilted under the sabres of the American dragoons.  In 10 minutes the whole balance of the battle had changed.

Fraser's routed
The British light dragoons had been surprised by the American manoeuvre and although they had pursued their quarry they had arrived too late to prevent the destruction of Dalrymple's attack.  However, they did extract some revenge by charging and defeating the American cavalry, but were driven back by volleys from Duggan's infantry.

Courtney's light infantry fire into the flank of Clarke's men
Clarke's men had pushed through Trentown and were firing on the flank of the rather battered Hessian musketeers.  The British light infantry, released by the movement of the  American cavalry now intervened, firing into the flank of Clarke's leading battalion and forcing it to fall back.  A kind of  stalemate now developed with neither side able to gain the decisive advantage.  Abercorn directed Courtney to support the remaining Hessians in the vicinity of Trentown whilst Dalrymple was to put as much pressure on Duggan as he could.  Benedict ordered Archer and Besterman to concentrate on evicting the grenadiers from Trentown, prior to a general advance between the town and the farm to the north.  Clarke was to push on between the Hessians and Dalrymple whilst Duggan was to hold Dalrymple in place.

Brave as they were, the grenadiers were eventually forced to fall back by the combination of artillery and musketry fire which swept their position.  As they fell back they were hit by musketry from Clarke's men and the retreat became a rout.  The musketeers also broke under the sheer volume of fire directed at them.  Courtney's men tried to hold the line, but with their left flank 'in the air' were shredded by volleys from Clarke's men.  When Dalrymple's last remaining unit broke due to casualties received in its fire fight with Duggan Abercorn ordered the retreat.  The gallant Hessian jaegers and fusiliers fell back in good order, holding Archer's men off.  The remaining Americans were too weary to pursue.


  1. Love this report and pics.
    As always, your narrative reads like a historical reference.
    Great stuff, and looks like a thoroughly enjoyable game.

  2. Lovely, what is the table size and figure scale?

    Nice tight balance as the battle unfolded.

  3. Thanks for the kind comments chaps. The table size was 8x6 and the troops 25mm from various manufacturers. All from Steve's excellent collection