Grant's Assault at Long Island
27th August 1776
This scenario for our AWI rules variant, "Times That Try Men's Souls" , adapted from Too Fat Lardies ACW rules
'They Couldn't Hit an Elephant'. Its is another one I shamelessly adapted from scenario book three of the
excellent Partizan Press scenario books for British Grenadier. We have been tinkering with the rules lately and
had taken on board some suggestions made as a result of the Newport AWI game we fought at the Wessex
Wargames Society, Southampton back in June 2011.
The action is set in 1776 with the British invasion of New York. The scenario deals with the left flank pinning
attack on the Gowanus Heights, during the Battle of Long Island, made by British General James Grant.
In a previous game we had fought the central pinning action featuring General Leopold von Heister's Hessian
Division. Nige took command of the forces of the Crown with myself commanding the rebels.
Table set up is shown below and the action was fought on a 4' x 4' table.
The Americans, commanded by General Israel Putnam (Inexperienced) are tasked with defending the Gowanus Heights. These were
formidable, being densely wooded in places, and a natural defence line. The American right flank is protected to an extent by the marshes
surrounding the Gowanus Creek. Victory could only be achieved if the enemy were forced to retreat after suffering 50% of their units to be
permanently defeated/destroyed/captured or routed. However, the Americans could claim a draw if they managed to hold the heights for two
hours (12 turns) and then managed to withdraw the majority of their force in good order back to the Brooklyn lines.
Initially the rebel force on table consisted of a brigade under General William Alexander, 'Lord Stirling' (Inexperienced/Inspirational). Stirling's
force, though heavily outnumbered by the enemy, was composed of arguably two of the best regiments in the Continental Army, namely
Smallwood's Marylanders (5 bases - Trained/Resolute) and Haslet's Delware Regiment (4 bases - Trained/Resolute). Other elements weren't
quite so impressive, Atlee's Pennsylvania Musket Battalion (3 bases - Trained), Pennsylvania Militia (4 bases - Green) Berkshire County Rifles
(2 bases - Green, rifle-armed marksmen, skirmishers) and a two gun section of 6pdrs (Trained). Stirling's force was deployed as a blind on the
heights between the Flatbush and Narrows roads, respectively. Putnam's blind deployed on the heights to Stirling's left. I included a dummy
blind for the Americans which was deployed on the road leading to the main American force manning the Brooklyn lines. Stirling could
possibly look to receiving reinforcements from the Brookyln lines in the shape of 1st Continental (Rifle) Regiment from turn 6, and General
Samuel Parson's (Inexperienced) brigade from turn 8.
In 'Times That Try Mens Souls' each unit is given a rating for their experience and class; Veteran (Battle hardened), Trained (Trained with
some experience)or Green (Largely untrained, little if any experience). Furthermore each unit may also be given a characteristic; Resolute
(Determined, hard fighters), Aggressive (Troops with extra elan, e.g think British Grenadiers) or Cautious (Troops less inclined to take risks).
TTTMS, as with all Too Fat Lardies rules uses a card activation system and is at its core all about Command and Control. This is largely by
accepting that there will what von Clausewitz calls 'friction' and fog of war. Each command is activated when its card is drawn. Each
command, usually brigade sized, has a Commander who rolls for an average dice for command PIPs. It is most unlikely that a Commander will
be have enough PIPs to do everything he wishes once his troops contact the enemy. Essentially it is a case of prioritising and managing
assets. Some gamers like IGOUGO systems where they can micro manage their troops and see all of their own and their opponents forces.
Personally, I prefer something which gives historical plausible results.
Commanders can be rated as Poor (DAv -1) , Inexperienced (DAv), Professional (DAv +1) or Gifted (DAv +2). Commanders too can also be
given a characteristic. Cautious, Bold or Inspirational all of which can make it either more likely, or less likely for their command to be
activated. Inspirational commanders can take advantage of their card being drawn to inspire their troops ONCE in a game to go above and
beyond the call of duty. For example, rally a unit from any morale status back to normal, or lead a unit into decisive combat, the unit counting
a +2 for the General's attachment.
General Grant's (Poor) initial force consisted of both his own brigade, and the brigade of General James Agnew (Professional). Each brigade
was composed of four regiments of British regulars (each 3 bases - Trained, Zeal) and a four-gun battery of 6pdrs (Veteran). Grant was to
deploy his blind next to the Narrows Road, with Agnew supporting his right flank up to the Flatbush Road. Although Grant was nominally in
command of the entire force, I decided to add General Leopold von Heister (Cautious/Professional). His inclusion was quite important to the
scenario's viability. It would allow the British to use him make attempts to spot American blinds and also allow him to attempt to rally up any
regiments which had been routed, or even change Agnew's orders. More importantly I included him to hopefully negate to an extent the effect
of the Cautious/Poor card being drawn and its impact upon Grant who would be severely hamstrung. Von Heister however, had to remain
within 8" of the corner as he was commanding three brigades of Hessians off-table on the British right flank. This made his inclusion
important but would ensure he couldn't play too active and unhistorical role.
Grant's force might also receive substantial reinforcements, from the rear, in the form of the 2nd Converged Grenadiers (4 bases - Veteran,
Aggressive/Resolute) and 42nd Regiment of Foot (two units of 3 bases - Trained) arriving from turn 6. These units could be attached to either
or both brigades but until spotted would have their own blind. In addition General Werner von Mirbach's Hessian Brigade of three large
regiments (5 bases - Cautious/Trained/Close Order) and a four gun battery of 4pdrs (Trained) might arrive on the Gowanus heights from turn
12 having bested their American foes off-table. Finally arriving on the Bedford road entry point were elements of General Charles Cornwallis's
flanking force, A Converged Grenadier battalion (3 bases - Veteran, Aggressive/Resolute) and three battalions of 71st Regiment of Foot (each 3
bases, Trained, Zeal).
It was therefore a case of hanging on as long as possible and hoping that Mirbach, and particularly Cornwallis, would be delayed long enough
to escape. The British either had to push their assault or pin and hope that reinforcements would roll up the enemy flank.
So, on to the action....
The nature of the terrain meant that from their raised vantage position the Americans quickly spotted Grant, Agnew and von Heister. I had
included a card for 'British Grand Tactical Bonus'.
This allows one unspotted British blind per turn a bonus move, as long as its units stayed on a blind and did not fire on enter into combat.
This is primarily used in our variant early on in 1775/76 to reflect British superiority and might also be used for Cornwallis's small, highly
professional, force later on in the war.
Stirling's blind, though mostly in heavy woods, was also spotted early when Nige rolled a double six. Two of Stirling's regiments were
permitted to cover their frontage with hasty fortifications, conveying a terrain advantage in decisive combat and soft cover in distance
shooting. Smallwood's Marylanders were on the crest line in a clearing, their left protected by rifled armed skirmishers of the Bedford County
Militia in the trees. Haslet's Delaware Regiment were in reserve. Putnam was spotted easily too, but I wisely kept my dummy blind out of view
and manoeuvred it to the left flank of Stirling, but carefully behind the crest, to protect the flank with defensive posturing and threat.
Commands are deployed initially as Blinds, essentially a rectangle of card 8" width x 4" depth. This represents the general location of a
command and allows a way of representing, albeit abstract, fog of war, and uncertainty that sorth that has hampered commanders through
history. Each commander on table, or blind he is represented by, can make one spot per turn. When the necessary score is achieved or
exceeded then the actual units the blind represents are placed on the table. Keeping a force on blinds is important as it is a better way of co-
ordinating disparate commands, and therefore spotting an enemy force on blinds is important to disrupt it and make it less flexible.
Atlee's Regiment was deployed behind an earthwork protecting the Narrows Road. The two-gun 6pdr section was attached as battalion guns
hopefully to aid and bolster the defence. The guns add an extra +1 to the units distance shooting but the guns are abandoned and the crew
base removed if the unit it is attached to is routed.
Interestingly the Cautious/Poor card had very little effect upon the forces of the Crown with it either not being drawn, or it coming after von
Heister's or Grant's card being drawn.
In TTTMS if the Cautious/Poor card is drawn before a command whose General is rated as being such, then he may not direct his troops fully.
He is restricted to only firing and rallying troops if Cautious, or only firing if rated as Poor. Furthermore artillery batteries of a Cautious/Poor
commander may only fire directly straight ahead.
The British steadily and purposefully plodded forward whilst their artillery scored notable successes against Smallwood's Marylanders even
though at extreme range. Nige was rolling very well. Grant was perhaps a move ahead of Agnew who was slightly in echelon to his right. His
lead regiment was fired at by rebel riflemen from the trees and armed with shorter range muskets were unable to reply.
Nigel was rolling very well indeed. Desultory musketry broke out when Grant's Brigade began to penetrate the woods and begin to climb the
Generally, to move infantry units in line abreast and within 1" of each other costs 1 PIP. However, once the line is broken up, or in difficult
terrain then it can cost 1 PIP per unit.
Atlee's regiment had the worst of it, when faced by two units of redcoats it began to waver. Before they could rally and reorganise back to
normal status the 'Tea Break' card kept coming up before their command card and so they quickly became Defeated, and then Routed,
abandoning their brace of 6 pdrs to the enemy.
TTTMS uses five basic unit states Normal, Wavering, Defeated, Rout and Pursuit, plus Disordered and Surprised. Normal state is the only
state in which all a commander's orders will be obeyed. Troops usually can rally up from one status per turn for example from Defeated to
Wavering. Units are penalised in varying degrees for Wavering and being Defeated. When a unit has lost 50% or more of its starting strength
then it is deemed to be Permanently Defeated and may not be rallied back to normal, and will retreat if within cannister or small arms range, or
if fired upon and is basically spent. Disordered and Surprised are temporary conditions in response to terrain or hidden threats.
Now it was Nigel's turn to suffer 'friction'. Grant's command card failed to be drawn and activated. Obviously surprised by their success, or
unable to see properly because of the smoke and trees Grant's regiments failed to capitalise on their success and press their advantage.
Turn 6 arrived and Nigel rolled the necessary 5 or 6 required per unit for his reinforcements to arrive. A small blind was placed behind
Agnew's, and Grant's, commands.
To indicate the turn number a ‘Turn or Blank' card is added and the number of times it is drawn is counted, not the number of turns the ‘Tea
Break’ card is drawn. As a result, a bound can be of variable length and time can seem to fly or almost stand still.
Fortunately, for me the 1st Continental (Rifle) regiment also arrived, and was able to multiple move round to where Atlee's Regiment had fled to
shore up the flank, the enemy being hidden by the rising ground and trees.
For two or three bounds now 'Tea Break' came up almost as the first card drawn resulting in a lull in the action.
At 'Tea Break' all the cards are returned to the pile and the pack is shuffled prior to the next turn. Any command whose card has not been
drawn can fire at troops within cannister range, or small arms range. Only troops rated as Aggressive, and then only if on attack orders and
within 8" of the enemy, or units in rout, can move without their command's card activating.
With turn 8 arriving Parson's blind arrived on table but von Heister managed to spot it as it crested the Gowanus Heights to support Stirling.
Aware now that Mirbach and the British flanking force was on its way, Parsons decided to lead with two battalions of Connecticut Levies
(each 4 bases - Green/Cautious) and keep his two Continental regiments (3 and 4 bases Trained/Cautious) in reserve ready. Agnew's artillery,
firing at extreme range, proved to be particularly effective at targeting the militia and wavering them.
1st Continental (Rifle) Regiment managed to reoccupy the hasty fortifications left vacant by Atlee's regiment, who managed to rally in the rear.
After a lull of several turns the British suddenly exploded with fury when Smallwood's Marylanders were charged by a British regiment.
One of the recent additions to the rules has been a +1 for a British unit attacking with extra elan, a willingness to have at them with the
bayonet, but not as aggressive as the 'Aggressive' rating of British Grenadiers and Converged Light Battalions. To give it a contemporary
twist we decided to call this 'Zeal' in homage to Matthew Spring's excellent book on the AWI 'With Zeal and Bayonets Only".
All units in TTTMS are a allotted a numerical combat value. To resolve decisive combat, units are placed in frontal base-to-base contact with
one another, and various modifiers are added taking into account support, terrain etc. The combat value total is then achieved and the two
unit's totals compared. The side with the advantage, or side attacking if the totals are the same, rolls a D6 and adds this score. The difference
between the totals is then cross referenced on a combat resolution table, which gives casualties that either one, or both sides suffer and any
any outcome moves that need to be made as a direct result.
When their uphill position and hasty fortifications were taken into account, along the casualties inflicted by the British artillery, the British only
had a +1 difference in combat value total. This means that in all likelihood the combat would degenerate into a firefight. This can have a far
reaching effect on a commander wanting to attack, who finds his troops lacking the necessary will to close to the bayonet despite what he
wishes. The combat mechanic prevents micro managing of a melee situation. All you can do is what a commander would do; prepare the
enemy, hoping to waver them, ensure support for the attackers and try to make it more likely that your troops will do as you ask and carry the
attack to the enemy. In more challenging, terrain in which movement can be slower, and support less than forthcoming, it is more likely that
troops will not make a bayonet charge, the rationale being that troops are more likely to find cover and blast away at the enemy instead of
using cold steel. The +1 added for 'Zeal' makes it less likely that British units will be tempted to stop and fire, but does not rule it out entirely.
The average score of 2D6 rolled is statistically 6 or 7. A +1 advantage added to this gives +7 or a +8 result. On the combat resolution table a
unit scoring 6 to 8 becomes in embroiled in a close range firefight. Both sides take 2 casualties and then roll a single D6, the lower scorer
taking a third casualty. If there is a tie the dice are rolled until one side is determined to have taken the extra casualty. The winner of the
firefight is dependent upon factors which might not necessarily be because it took less casualties. Higher levels of experience and class, or
unit character are far more important in determining the loser.
Unfortunately, Grant's troops were on Attack orders and Nige rolled a 2 on his PIP die (with Grant rated as Poor moderated to only 1 PIP). No
support was available to the unit who charged in piecemeal.
Each command must be given an order either Attack, Engage, Hold or Manoeuvre (Support). A command with Attack orders must ensure that
50% of its units must continue to move towards the named feature or formation it is attacking. Only once the criteria have been complied with
can commanders use PIPs for other things like stopping and rallying.
Not surprisingly a brisk firefight resulted in which the Marylanders, being rated as Resolute, were victorious pushing back the British
infantry. Units whose character is given as being resolute are tough determined fighters who will usually win most firefight situations. A unit
that loses a firefight is forced to withdraw 4" and is said to be wavering.
A second assault by another British Regiment a turn later was also repelled after another stiff firefight result.
The Marylander's luck was about to run out though as the 42nd Regiment of Foot, reinforcing Agnew, burst onto the scene. One wing in the
assault, with the second in rear support, and fresh as daisies. This second assault pushed the tough Continentals back defeated leaving an
ominous looking gap in the centre of the American line.
Over on the extreme right, the 1st Continental regiment, flanked by the now restored Atlee Regiment, poured volley after volley into the
redcoats as Grant's attack stalled and wavered yet again.
The centre situation was resolved however as Stirling used the Inspirational card to gallop over and order a charge from Haslet's Delaware
Regiment. With their General attached, the Delaware's piled into the 42nd pushing them back defeated. Situation restored. So far the British
had landed several body blows on the American position but each time the rebels had managed to somehow to salvage things, largely by
having the benefit of interior lines to move reserves to threatened areas.
Agnew continued to press, and though the Connecticut Levies blasted away merrily, creating lots of smoke and noise, their efforts largely
went unrewarded. The British were slowing significantly as their lines became fragmented largely due to the trees, and low PIP die rolls.
Still committed to his Attack orders Agnew half heartedly had to engage the Delaware Regiment, still accompanied by Stirling.
Even with rear support the 23rd Foot were heavily outnumbered, overlapped and charging uphill to boot. Again not entirely a surprise, the
British regiment and their supports were routed and fled down hill.
Turn 12 at last arrived, and Nige threw the required 5 or 6 for Mirbach's Hessian brigade to arrive on the American left flank. Nige deployed
them just below the Gowanus Heights but fortunately didn't throw the necessary score for Cornwallis's advance guard to arrive on the
Agnew's brigade was still reforming after their repulse by the Delaware Regiment and in no position to make any offensive action, but Grant
now resumed his advance on the rebel right flank.
The riflemen of the 1st Continental Regiment were charged by the British and soundly thrashed, reeling backwards in rout. Their supporting
Atlee Battalion forced to recoil as the redcoats raised a loud "Haloo" and pursued the fleeing rebels along the Narrows Road.
Fully expecting Cornwallis to arrive shortly, I now decided discretion was the better part of valour and that I had done my bit. Nige threw
snake eyes for the random event card and the heavens opened with a deluge. With no firing possible for the forseable future I therefore
ordered a withdrawl in good order to the Brooklyn lines. Smallwood's battered Marylanders and the unengaged 10th and 17th Continentals
turned tail and began to plod back to the rest of the rebel army, covered by the Delaware Regiment supported by the skirmishers of the
Bedford County Rifles.
Grant's 55th Regiment of Foot managed to advance behind the Delaware's and take the crest but became permanently defeated and were
forced back down the hill they had fought so hard fo, when fired upon by the rebel riflemen of the rearguard. A final desperate assault by the
57th Regiment of Agnew's brigade came to nought when they too were permanently defeated by the resolute Delaware's whose ranks were
thinning with each new British challenge.
By turn 16, Cornwallis had still not materialised and the Hessians had not had much luck with their card activation. Agnew's Brigade was
almost permanently defeated, all bar one regiment in reserve, or in no shape to press any further.
Grant wasn't much better off either. A Grenadier Battalion had reinforced him but found its passage blocked by disordered and demoralised
redcoats. Grant's poor PIP rolling wasn't helping at all either and failing to have the necessary PIPs to force a passage of lines the Grenadiers
halted and no doubt glowered at their defeated comrades in arms. At that we decided to call it a day as it was obvious the Hessians and
Cornwallis wouldn't get to interfere with the withdrawl in good order of the remaining rebels. So in the end it was a draw but perhaps a
winning draw in favour of the rebels.
I guess I got lucky. The terrain played a huge role in isolating the British attacks and preventing effective support of the key assaults. Poor
PIP rolling on behalf of Grant also played its part as he just never seem to have enough pips. Interior lines certainly had helped a great deal.
The Delaware Regiment were my reserve (and what a reserve they turned out to be) and kept back from the initial action to plug any gaps. At
one stage they seemed stuck in the middle, repeatedly changing their facing to turn to each area that looked threatened, but in the end their
timely arrival, and the inspirational addition of Stirling proved to be the difference. The Gowanus Heights would be abandoned but the rebel
army was defiantly withdrawing in good order.
All figures by Peter Pig painted and owned by my good self.
Click to view more of my collection of Rebels, British and Hessians
Gowanus Heights AMERICANS
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