Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fort Caroline

Last Summer, we visited Fort Caroline, the Huguenot fort at Jacksonville, Florida. It was quite something to see a sight from the Wars of Religion here in the US.
Although the actual fight here was too one sided to be much of a wargame scenario, the what ifs are intriguing.
Some day I will build this in 15mm and fight it out with Spanish Fury Actions.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Guilford Court House Scenario

This is the scenario for Guilford Court House. It is by Frank Chadwick and I found it on the Volley and Bayonet Yahoo group.

March 15, 1781

Monmouth proved to be the last large-scale battle in the north. The British
no longer had the resources to prosecute an offensive campaign against the
main American armies, but could still launch offensives in the south. The
lower civilian populations south of Virginia dictated smaller field armies,
as there was insufficient local agriculture to support large armies away from
the seacoasts.

Cornwallis moved south as theater commander, and brought with him a number of
picked unit. If the British field armies in the south would be small, they
would also be exceptionally good. In August of 1780, Cornwallis shattered the
main southern American army under Gage at Camden. The remnants of the
American force fled north as Cornwallis took town after town.

But Nathaniel Greene, the commander who replaced Gage, had a keen strategic
sense. Moreover, the destruction of a large force of loyalists at King's
Mountain, North Carolina in October of 1780 convinced Cornwallis to break
off his move north and consolidate his position in South Carolina. Greene
divided his meager army and in January of 1781 the wing under Daniel Morgan
won an important victory at Cowpens over a British detachment under Colonel
Banstre Tarleton.

Throughout February Cornwallis pursued Morgan's detachment with his main
army, chasing him north back into North Carolina. In early March Morgan
joined the main American southern army under Greene at Guilford Courthouse,
and Greene decided to make a fight of it against Cornwallis.

The Armies
The Line Infantry: The British infantry at Guilford Court House was the sort
of army that very young wargamers would put together; it comprised the picked
troops of the army. O'Hara's brigade of Guards was the central striking
force, but the line regiments were every bit as effective, if not quite as
fashionable. The 23rd foot was a fusilier regiment with a proud tradition of
combat. The 33rd foot was Cornwallis's own regiment, probably the best
equipped and most studiously drilled unit in the army. The 71st Highlanders
had lost their 1st Battalion at Cowpens, and so the 2nd Battalion was a unit
with a score to settle. By this time, most Hessian regiments had been
relegated to garrison duty, but the Regiment von Bose was widely held to be
the best of the German troops in the south.

Players will notice that the British at Guilford are rated higher than
British units in the Army list. This is because the army Cornwallis assembled
was anything but typical, and the losses he sustained at the battle were
genuinely irreplaceable.

By comparison, the American infantry was a very mixed bag. The North Carolina
militia had only recently been called up and so were poorly disciplined and
inexperienced. The two brigades of Virginia militia were better; they had
some campaigning experience already and so had begun to settle down as units.

The two regiments of Virginia continentals were comparatively new recruits.
The 4th Virginia had been under arms for about six months, and had spent much
of that time marching back and forth with Greene's army. The 5th Virginia had
only been in existence for three months and had just joined Green.

After the disastrous battle of Camden, the survivors of the two brigades of
Maryland line were consolidated into a single regiment (the 1st) of two
battalions, the 1st and 2nd. Colonel Otha Williams, the commander of the 1st
Maryland Regiment, had overall command. In practice, the two battalions
formed a brigade under Colonel Williams.

By the time of Guilford, the two Maryland battalions were commanded by Lieu
tenant Colonels Gunby and Ford, who on paper commanded the 2nd and 5th
Maryland regiments. This has led some historians to identify the 2nd
battalion as the 5th regiment, and also to suppose that it was inferior to
the 1st Battalion with respect to manpower. In fact there was no difference.
The 2nd Battalion at Guilford Court House was made up of the survivors of the
old 1st Maryland Brigade while the 1st Battalion was the survivors of the old
2nd Maryland Brigade, and both units had absorbed a number of replacements
recently. They were both good, solid units.

The Light Troops: The British light troops were built around the survivors of
Tarleton's Legion. The light infantry had been destroyed at Cowpens although
the light dragoons had managed to escape and served under Colonel Tarleton.
In addition, there was the light company of the Guards Brigade and a company
of Hessian jaegers. These were attached to Webster's brigade on the left.

The Americans had a much stronger force of light troops. "Light Horse Harry"
Lee's Legion was the premier light infantry force in the army, consisting of
a balanced force of light dragoons and light infantry. On the other wing
another "legion" was improvised by combining Colonel Washington's composite
regiment of continental light dragoons with Kirkwood's light infantry
battalion. Kirkwood's battalion comprised his own crack company of Delaware
lights and a single company of Virginia light infantry (the best men of the
4th Virginia), which had already fought under Kirkwood at Cowpens. Each of
these light detachments were reinforced with a battalion of riflemen. These
were state troops, not continentals, but most of them were veterans of
previous actions.

The Artillery: Neither side had a large artillery train; the terrain would
not permit it. But in both cases the guns were well-served by trained and
experienced gunners. The British brought three 3-pounders with them while
Green had four 6-pounders.

The Battlefield
The battlefield, largely wooded, is defined by the trace of the New Garden
Road, as this was the British route of advance on the court house. The first
notable feature was a large clearing, with several fence-enclosed fields,
just east of the Little Horsepen Creek. The other major feature was a second
large clearing near the court house itself. This clearing featured high
ground to the northeast as well as another series of fields, these surrounded
by low stone walls.

The surrounding countryside is almost completely wooded, and was described as
dense with heavy undergrowth. The area around the clearings, on the other
hand, was somewhat more open, in common with many woods in the American east
at the time. The selective harvesting of the woods for firewood meant that
the trees were well-spaced and the ground was all but free of brush wood and
fallen trees. Infantry in the open order favored by both armies in America
had little problem maneuvering through these areas, and their main effect was
on visibility. Once away from the clearings, however, movement became
considerably more difficult for infantry and all but impossible for cavalry.
It is not surprising that the main cavalry action of the battle took place in
the open clearing near the court house.

The Historic Battle
Had Greene deployed his army in a single array, the militia would have been
the obvious weak link. Instead, Greene elected to deploy his army in a series
of layers, each of similar types of troops. The first line would be the
inexperienced North Carolina militia. The rear line would be the two brigades
of continentals, deployed on the high ground northwest of the court house. In
between these two positions would be the intermediary position, occupied by
the Virginia militia. The two bodies of light troops would deploy on the
wings and fall back from line to line as the battle moved east.

At about 1:00 PM on March 15th, the British troops crossed the Little
Horsepen Creek and deployed for battle, with Webster's brigade on the left,
Leslie's brigade on the right, and Ohara's Guards Brigade (less the detached
1st Battalion) in reserve. They advanced immediately against the North
Carolina militia, traded a volley with them, and charged. The two brigades of
militia immediately disintegrated and fled, to play no further part in the

The light troops on the American wings, however, were a different story; both
forces stood their ground. Webster's brigade attacked Washington's force with
its light troops and the 33rd, while Leslie brought forward the 1st Battalion
of the Guards (before this in reserve behind his main line) to deal with
Lee's Legion and Campbell's attached riflemen. Von Bose soon joined this
scrappy little fight, and the two British units, suffering losses as they
advanced, drove Lee back to a hill on the southern end of the battlefield.
Both Lee and the two British battalions would be effectively out of the main
fighting for the rest of the day.

The need to deal with the light troops on the flanks had opened a gap in the
center of the British line and into this gap marched O'Hara's Guards Brigade.
The British continued their advance and soon encountered the Virginia militia
in the woods. Fighting here was particularly difficult as the tangled
undergrowth broke up the British formation considerably, and the fighting
degenerated into a series of small unit actions. The Virginians put up a good
fight, and inflicted a number of casualties, but eventually they were forced
to retreat as well. Unlike the North Carolinians, much of the Virginia
militia fell back in good order and rallied at the Court House as a reserve
for the third line.

The third phase of the battle started when the British emerged from the woods
in the final clearing and began their assault on the American continentals.
The highlanders and Guard Grenadiers were still tangled up with Stevens
Brigade of Virginia militia (which put up a particularly stubborn fight), but
the rest of the British line to the north began forming up for the final

Webster emerged from the woods first, on the British far left, and roughly
opposite the center of the American third line. Webster's men charged up the
hill, with the light companies hitting a regiment of Virginia continentals
and the 33rd assaulting the positions of the 1st Maryland Battalion. But the
continentals held and drove the British back in disorder.

The 2nd Guards Battalion came on line next charged the 2nd Maryland
Battalion, routing it with heavy casualties and thus turning the southern end
of the American line. With no formed units between the British and the
American retreat route, Greene decided to break off the action. He ordered an
immediate withdrawal, first pulling the 4th Virginia out of the line and
designating it the rear guard to cover the withdrawal of the other units.

But even as the Virginia line was pulling back, the 1st Guards were being
hammered from two directions. Washington's continental dragoons had withdrawn
earlier across the American front and formed on the south side of the
clearing. They now charged north, catching the British battalion in flank and
rear, just as the 1st Maryland changed face and charged south, hammering them
from the other side. Only the direct fire of the British light artillery into
the melee allowed the Guards to break free and escape.

By now the 23rd Foot and the Guard Grenadiers were coming on line as well,
and so Greene elected to continue the withdrawal instead of renewing the
fight. Had he continued, he might have won a great victory, but he might
also have suffered a disastrous defeat. Instead he settled for a tactical
draw, knowing that he had gained a tremendous strategic advantage. He had
inflicted crippling losses on the elite of Cornwallis's army, and was able to
withdraw with the continental regiments, which formed the essential hard
core of his army, still intact. Greene had suffered a total of 79 killed and
185 wounded. A further 1,046 men were missing but most of these were militia
men who simply headed home after the battle instead of returning to the army.

Cornwallis, on the other hand, had lost over 500 irreplaceable British
veterans, including over one quarter of the officers in the army. Cornwallis
no longer considered a campaign in the Carolina interior to be profitable and
determined to move his area of operations north, into Virginia. This
decision, the ultimate product of Guilford Court House, would lead Cornwallis
and his army to Yorktown and defeat.

Gaming the Battle
The following notes should make it possible to recreate the Battle of
Guilford Court House.

Scale: This battle is fought using the Battalion Scale as modified for the
American War of Independence. Each roster strength point represents 100 men
or 2 guns. Each inch on the playing surface represents 50 yards of actual
ground. Each game turn is 30 minutes.

Mounting: All troops, except for infantry skirmishers, are mounted on linear

Weaponry: All infantry is musket-armed and all artillery is smoothbore.

Command: Green and Cornwallis are Army Commanders. All other commanders are
Unit Commanders.

Game Length: The first turn of the game is 1:00 PM. The last turn of the game
is 6:30 PM. (The game is a total of 12 turns long.)

Victory: To win, the British player must either reduce both continental
brigades to exhaustion or cut off their retreat route by holding the exit
point of the road which runs north from Guilford Court House. If the British
capture this road exit point after one or both continental brigades have
withdrawn, the British do not meet their victory conditions.

To win, the American player must reduce all three British infantry brigades
to exhaustion and have at least one brigade of continental line not

If both sides achieve their victory conditions, the British win. If neither
side achieves their victory conditions, the game is a draw.

The American player may, at any time, exit some or all of his troops off the
north edge of the table at the point where the road from Guilford Court House
exits the map (provided the troops can physically march to that point and it
is not already held by the British). Troops so exited may not reenter the
table later, but do not count as eliminated for victory purposes.

The Americans and British are deployed as shown on the accompanying map. The
British player moves first.
Although the historical deployments are suggested for the first time players
refight this action, after that the players should feel free to experiment
with alternative deployments. If so, the American player sets up first, but
writes down his initial positions on a photocopy of the scenario map. Only
the troops on the edge of the western clearing (and thus visible to the
British) are placed on the table. The British player then deploys and moves
first. Additional American units are placed on the map as they are

Army Troops
Singleton's Battery (Field Battery) [2x 6-pdr] 1-6
Finley's Battery (Field Battery) [2x 6-pdr] 1-6
Butler's Brigade of North Carolina Militia (No Commander)
Exhaustion = 2
Right Wing (Militia)[300] 3-4
Left Wing (Militia) [200] 2-4
Eaton's Brigade of North Carolina Militia (No Commander)
Exhaustion = 2
Right Wing (Militia)[300] 3-4
Left Wing (Militia) [200] 2-4
Stevens' Brigade of Virginia Militia (Stevens)
Exhaustion = 3
Right Wing (PT, NE)[300] 3-4
Left Wing (PT, NE) [300] 3-4
Lawson's Brigade of Virginia Militia (Lawson)
Exhaustion = 3
Right Wing (PT, NE)[300] 3-4
Left Wing (PT, NE) [300] 3-4
Left Wing Light Troops (Lee)
Exhaustion = 2
Lee's Legion Cavalry (Light Cavalry) [75] 1-5
Lee's Legion Infantry (skirmisher) [82] 1-5
Campbell's Virginia Rifles (sharpshooters) [200] 2-5
Right Wing Light Troops (Washington)
Exhaustion = 2
1st & 3rd Continental Lt Dragoons (Lt Cav) [86] 1-5
Kirkwood's Delaware Light Battalion (skirm) [110] 1-6
Lynch's Virginia Rifles (sharpshooters) [200] 2-5
The Maryland Continental Brigade (Colonel Otho Williams)
Exhaustion = 3
1st Maryland Line (NE) [300] 3-5
2nd Maryland Line (NE) [300] 3-5
The Virginia Continental Brigade (Bde. Gen. Issac Huger)
Exhaustion = 3
4th Virginia Line (NE) [400] 4-4
5th Virginia Line (NE) [400] 4-4

Army Troops
MacLeod's Battery (Light) [3 x 3-pdr] 2-6
North Carolina Loyalists (militia) [130] 2-4
Light Dragoons (Colonel Tarleton)
Exhaustion = 1
Left, Tarleton Legion Dragoons (light cavalry)[90] 1-4
Right, Tarleton Legion Dragoons (light cavalry)[85] 1-4
The Guards Brigade (Brigadier O'Hara)
Exhaustion = 3
2nd Guards Battalion (Shock)[300] 3-6
Guard Grenadiers (Shock)[120] 2-6
Webster's Brigade (Lt. Col. Webster)
Exhaustion = 5
23rd Fusiliers (Shock)[258] 3-6
33rd Foot (Shock)[322] 3-6
Guard Light Company (Skirmisher)[100] 1-6
Hessian Jaegers (sharpshooters)[97] 1-5
Leslie's Brigade (Brigadier Leslie)
Exhaustion = 5
2nd Battalion, 71st (Highland) Foot (Shock)[212] 2-6
Hessian Regiment von Bose (NE)[313] 3-5
1st Guards Battalion (Shock)[300] 3-6