Monday 24 November 2008

3rd Grenadier Battalion

For some time I had wanted to paint up a second unit of British grenadiers for larger games. At 1:20, a unit of 20 figures will suffice for most engagements in the "British Grenadier!" scenarios (e.g. 16 for Bemis Heights, 20 for Bunker Hill and La Vigie, 14 for Eutaw Springs etc). However, if you want to be able to put on the larger battles with your own resources you need a lot more: Brandywine requires two battalions of 24 figures, Monmouth two of 32 figures each, and Long Island needs all four battalions, 20 figures for each of the 1st and 2nd Battalions and 16 figures for each of the other two. This looks like a huge number of troops, but is only 8 figures more than what you need for Monmouth. For our Long Island game I needed to provide the 1st, 3rd and 4th Battalions. I already had the 1st (see here, which at some stage I will increase from 24 to 32 figures) and the 3rd and 4th, being 16 figures each, would neatly combine to form a second 32-figure unit.

The 3rd Battalion comprised companies from the following regiments: 15th, 28th, 33rd, 37th, 46th, 54th and 57th. These companies are represented by 4 figures for the 15th (i.e. the command stand) and 2 figures for each of the others. Usually one can expect a grenadier battalion to feature lots of different facings colours, but that is not the case here because all the regiments save the 33rd and 54th had (broadly) yellow facings. I differentiated between the various regiments by painting the lace differently and using two shades of yellow for the facings. The 28th and 57th seem to have a darker, more orangey shade of yellow, and for those regiments I used the Foundry "Ochre 4" palette. For the other regiments I used the Foundry "Yellow 2" palette. The figures are all Perry. I chose "charging" poses because they seemed suitable for what I expected the battalion to be getting up to at Long Island and also because the 4th Battalion is similarly posed.

16 figures. Painted October 2008.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Hessian artillery

These are the two Perry Hesse-Cassel 4-pounders and crews. Apparently Hesse-Cassel's entire artillery corps was sent to America, most of it recruited specifically for the war, and the corps amounted to three companies. According to Mollo, each company consisted of 5 officers, 14 NCOs, 3 drummers and 129 gunners. The artillery corps was engaged throughout the war.

I admit to finding these a bit tricky to paint. The colours of guns caused the first problems - "mid-blue" seemed to be the general consensus as to the wood colour, following the colour used by the Prussian army. I used Foundry's "Deep Blue 20B" as the base, with highlights of "Deep Blue 20C" and "Sky Blue 21A" and "21B". The colour is pretty much what I wanted, although I have no idea if it is correct; but it is certainly a darker blue than the colours I use for British artillery. I painted the breeches of the artillerymen with the standard Foundry "Buff" palette and then realised that the end result did not have that "straw" colour which is appropriate for many Hessian troops. But I found that applying a final highlight of Foundry "Yellow 2C" over the buff colours actually worked quite well - so there is an answer to Hessian "straw" that doesn't even require mixing! The red facings are sometimes described as being more "crimson" than "scarlet", but I used my standard red colours of GW "Red Gore", "Blood Red" and "Blazing Orange."

8 figures and 2 guns. Painted September 2008.

Thursday 13 November 2008

Von Lossberg Fusilier Regiment

Lossberg's regiment arrived in the first division of Hessian troops. Although the regiment suffered particularly from desertion on the journey from America, Lossberger diaries indicate that the troops were relatively eager to teach the colonists a lesson for having rebelled against their rightful King. I have noted before the age of some of the more senior Hessian commanders, but Atwood uses Lossberg to show that whilst the presence of veterans in the ranks no doubt brought much needed experience, it was not just the high command who were "long in the tooth": of the regiment's 35 NCOs, 16 were over forty and 10 over fifty.

The regiment fought at Long Island, White Plains and Fort Washington. It distinguished itself in the attack on Chatterton's Hill at White Plains, earning the admiration of Cornwallis. However, the regiment was stationed in Trenton when Washington attacked at the end of 1776. The survivors of Trenton were placed into the Combined Battalion that was formed of those soldiers who had escaped capture, and which was present at Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth. In 1780 the regiment was renamed Alt-Lossberg and transferred to Canada.

This regiment should not be confused with Mirbach's regiment, which was renamed Jung-Lossberg's in 1780. I made this mistake and a few weeks before the Long Island gamje realised I had bought the wrong set of GMB flags. Consequently the troops fought under the wrong colours at the Long Island game, but in the photos they have the correct ones (the two flags in the GMB pack are identical for some reason). This is an attractive regiment to model - you have the neat fusilier caps and nice orange facings. Like most Hessian regiments, it appears as a unit of 24 figures in most of the "British Grenadier!" scenarios. I chose charging figures simply because the last unit of fusiliers I painted was in the marching pose. I find it quite difficult to photograph charging figures satisfactorily, so please excuse the rather crappy pics.

24 figures. Painted September 2008. Flags by GMB.

Friday 7 November 2008

Long Island, 27 August 1776

I've found a way around Blogger's tinkering with photo uploads and so finally here is a report of last weekend's "British Grenadier!" mega-game. Many of the photos have already appeared on the web, but there are a couple of new ones . In all, we played 18 turns over some 10 hours. Apologies for the length of this post and feel free to skip to the end to see who won!

Long Island was the largest battle of the AWI and one of the best chances the British had to inflict upon Washington's army the kind of decisive defeat that may have ended the war. The British attack featured the wide flanking march that General Howe liked to use (cf also at Brandywine the following year), which aimed to catch the Americans in the flank whilst their front was pinned by another assault. The table, shown above at the start of the game, had the Brooklyn Lines at one end, with the left flank of the American position stretching down the Jamaica Road. The marshland of Gowanus Creek can be seen at the far end of the table to the right of the Brooklyn Lines. The lines themselves were specially made for the game by Martin Small. Eclaireur knocked up some nifty painted plasticard sections to represent the coastline and water. Below are a couple of early shots of Clinton's brigades beginning to advance.

Long Island is a fairly one-sided game as the British, with an overwhelming superiority in both numbers and calibre of troops, can't really lose. Therefore, for the purposes of this scenario, and to make it interesting for the American players, the victory conditions required the British to actually storm the Brooklyn Lines: to win, the British had to have at least 3 battalions in the lines by the end of the game. This assault on the lines themselves is something that Howe refused to do on the day - whether he was doing his "gentleman thing" and giving Washington the chance to surrender, or was wary of the casualties that might arise from a frontal assault given his experience at Bunker Hill the year before, we don't know. But the purpose of this scenario was to see whether the Brits could do it and storm the lines without incurring disproportionate casualties as they did at Bunker Hill. So there were two sectors to the battle - the frontal assault led by the Hessian general von Heister and the flank assault led by Clinton. Von Heister had a brigade of Hessians and two brigades of British line (under the commands of Grant and Agnew). Clinton had much of the army's elite, namely Cornwallis' brigade of the 71st (in 3 battalions) and 33rd, together with light infantry and dragoons under the command of Brigadier Leslie (I took this brigade and the role of Clinton). The American army was a jumble of militia, Continentals and state troops, inferior in quality in theory but full of pluck, as the Brits were to discover.

There were some minor alterations to the historical orbats. The 4th grenadier battalion and one of the reserve brigades were detached from Clinton's command and given to the British centre (a shrewd move as it happened). The Americans had the benefit of additional brigades behind the Brooklyn Lines, which quickly moved out to bolster the lines of defence.

The first encounter was between von Heister's units (commanded by Jerry Taylor) and the American positions directly in front of the Brooklyn lines. The fighting was fierce and Brigadier Grant (Ally Morrison) was captured early on when his horse bolted straight into the Yank lines. The Hessians slowly made ground but took fairly heavy casualties. Meantime, Clinton's flanking attack quickly stalled due to poor dice rolling (i.e. accumulating "disruption points") and general congestion on the one road into Brooklyn. Clinton's reserve units never saw combat for the entire duration of the game, as they remained stuck behind the forward elements and couldn't get themselves into position. Clinton's attack was held up by an incredible rearguard defence by the Connecticut militia, which saw off numerous charges by the 71st and 33rd, one battalion of the former actually routing off the field. Cornwallis himself was hit and spent one turn off the field.

Von Heister's slow success in pushing back the Americans was not matched by Clinton and the American units blocking the road to Brooklyn soon found themselves with Von Heister's lead units to their rear. The situation became very messy and confused and one wonders whether the Americans' success on their left actually put them in a worse position strategically- instead of slowly contracting their line, the Americans found forward units surrounded or receiving fire from different directions. Von Heister was racing his regiments forward as fast and aggressively as he could, with the result that a couple of battalions reached the Brooklyn Lines whilst American units were still engaged in the passes.

The Connecticut militia continued to withstand attacks by Cornwallis' finest (despite being largely cut off and having seen the rest of its brigade destroyed) . Eventually, in the second turn of the second day, a charge by the 17th Light Dragoons routed them and succeeded where the 71st had failed. This was my only moment of personal glory, when in the post-charge melee Martin Small rolled a double-six for the militia only for me to then roll the same for the 17th (so winning the melee thanks to the modifiers). In true "Scots Greys" style, the dragoons failed to rally and kept on charging into the American units behind the militia, which were already taking flanking fire from the British Guards brigade, now moving into position on the heights overlooking Brooklyn. The 17th charged on and their success resulted in the American brigade in the area collapsing and so freed up the entire left wing for Clinton to finally move forward. By this point, the American units in von Heister's sector were retreating back to the Brooklyn lines, with British regiments hot on their heels. The first British units to assault the lines were quickly thrown out. A second attack by the units on Vaughan's grenadiers brigades was initially more sucessful, but ultimately the grenadiers also had to withdraw. In the meantime, the British had concentrated their artillery into a grand battery that was pumelling the Brooklyn Lines.

By this point, some 8 British battalions were poised to assault the lines and "time" was called. It seemed clear that the British would be able to satisfy their victory conditions and the game was concluded. The final reckoning was a victory for the British. British losses were about 1740, which would normally be about 500-600 dead and the rest wounded/missing.

American losses were twice that and using the same ratio were about 1300 dead and 2640 wounded/missing. Had the British continued storming the Brooklyn Lines the casualties would have been more even, but large numbers of American prisoners would have been taken. The Connecticut militia had held up the British flanking attack long enough for some American units to escape back to Brooklyn when they would otherwise have been caught in the British pincer, and had managed to rout a British battalion in the process. Would Howe have won the war in 1776 had he assaulted the Brooklyn lines? We will never know for sure, but maybe....

Some further random shots of the battle are below. People sometimes accuse "British Grenadier!" of being a slow and frustrating set to use. Certainly disruptions points slow down a brigade's ability to attack, but that's why they are there - you have to think hard and plan your attacks. We took on the largest battle of the war, involving some 60 battalions and reached a conclusion in about 10 hours of play. That ain't bad!

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Blogger problems!

As readers will have seen from the previous post, there is something wrong with the Blogger images upload mechanism. No matter what instructions you feed into the window, the images just appear full size. I have tried uploading pics direct from my pc, but that is not an ideal solution because they go to mega-size when you click on them; I could resize them manually, I suppose, but it would take ages. Given that it seems that loads of other bloggers are experiencing the same problem, for the moment I will sit this out and hope that Blogger fix the problem shortly....

In the meantime, above is a mega-sized photo from last weekend's Long Island mega-sized game. I have posted various pics on the internet already; see here for some on the "British Grenadier!" forum. I have a battle report to post as soon as the images situation is resolved. The game was great fun, with hundreds of figures on the table and some surprising and exciting turns of events. It was very good to put some faces to names ("hi" to Simon, Pat, Clive, Dave and Paul) and everyone seemed to have a good time. Problems with Blogger and an excess of work have resulted in a backlog of posts on the units I painted up for Long Island - the Von Lossberg fusiliers, Hessian artillery, British light infantry and grenadiers (x 2) and more artillery are all waiting to be posted. I have also begun work on a box of Perry plastic Napoleonic infantry (like everyone else, I imagine), as a short break from AWI. Then I want to finish off the Saratoga British, do a couple more Hessian regiments, some northern militia and the 17th Light Dragoons.