Monday, August 17, 2009

Continental Ties

My aunt Elizabeth has been researching our family tree for several years now and at a family gathering this weekend she and I had a great talk about my military ancestors. During our talk she showed me several pension documents from one of my relatives who was killed in the American Civil War. I'm going to be getting copies of those documents so I can learn more.

Of even greater interest to me is the fact that an earlier ancestor of mine was William Bond, who died of illness at Mount Independence near Fort Ticonderoga while serving as the commanding colonel of the 25th Regiment of Foot from Massachusetts during the Saratoga campaign. Think of my surprise to find out that I wargamed a battle which took place just weeks after my relative's death just days before! Well my interest in the 25th Regiment of Foot and Col. William Bond has now been piqued and I'll be doing more research into this interesting part of my family's past.

First Carnage & Glory AWI Game - 2nd Saratoga

I've owned all three versions of
Carnage & Glory for several years and have always wanted to start running games using the rules. This year at Historicon I watched while my friend Leo played in what appeared to be a very enjoyable game of C&G for an AWI battle. On my return home from Historicon I convinced myself that it was time I finally got to trying out the rules for myself using my AWI figures. I wanted a small to medium sized game in order to be able to learn the rules without being overwhelmed. For the battle I chose the battle of Bemis Heights A.K.A. the 2nd Battle of Saratoga. Since I had just purchased the British Grenadier scenario books, I used the scenario included in the first scenario booklet as a starting point, converting the figure counts back to full 1:1 scale, and inputting them along with my extrapolated unit ratings into the Carnage & Glory order or battle editor. This is an interesting scenario which allows for Benedict Arnold to lead the American attacks from the start of the battle, an ironic 'what-if' which I kept in place.

The only Northern Conspiracy member who's had experience running C&G games is my uncle Ralph Gero. Ralph was very gracious and offered to co-GM the game with me to help get me on my feet. Ralph's help in reviewing my initial OB and in helping run the game was greatly needed and made the game go smoothly. I'm sure without his help the learning curve would have been much steeper.

The scenario starts out with the King's troops advancing on Bemis heights at the moment the advance forces of Poor's brigade engage them. The British Grenadier scenario has Morgan's forces deploy on board in a flanking position, but for my scenario I had Morgan march on the board in order to allow both sides some opportunity for maneuver before the battle lines became fixed. Opening positions are shown in the photo at the top of this page. Of note in addition to the new set of rules I also needed to create two new redoubts for the scenario which are shown.

The opening moves by the British were to withdraw their lights and detachments from their forward positions and re-deploy them on their right flank in anticipation of a flank attack. Poor's Brigade advanced echelon left towards the Hessian redoubt sending the 2nd New Hampshire through the woods on the extreme left.

Learned's brigade, which arrived on turn two, pressed on towards the British formed line to the right and once it was within effective artillery range the British opened up with a scalding series of shots that bounced through Learned's lines with devastating effectiveness. After a couple of turns the entire Brigade was retiring or routing to the rear. This photo was taken on the first turn of the British artillery fire. Over the next few turns, the British pressed forward on their left while the British Lights and Morgan's troops fought a back-and-forth battle at the end of which found Morgan's Virginians pressing forward towards the British rear with the British light infantry pursuing them, although without the fortitude to press home a charge due to exhaustion from prolonged fighting.

With both flanks having fought themselves mostly to a conclusion the battle was just starting in the center, near and around the Hessian redoubt. The 1st Connecticut militia performed in a truly militia-like manner, delivering an ineffective volley in one turn, a devastating volley the following turn, then retiring in disorder the turn after that. Nonetheless their one good volley sent the 24th foot to the rear in rout, and the turn after that the 3rd New York sent the British Forragers routing to the rear as well opening up the redoubt for the final assault.

By this time we were having so much fun that I forgot to keep taking photos. The assault on the redoubt by the 2nd New Hampshire and 3rd New York was almost spoiled by the British grenadiers who charged the 3rd New York as it began to charge the redoubt. Luckily for the New Yorkers, their volley into the Grenadiers on the way in was enough to throw the Grenadiers back allowing the 3rd New York to continue on to the redoubt. Although the Americans drove out the Hessian Grenadiers, the Hessians reformed immediately and were prepared to contest their redoubt when we called the game as a complete British victory. The Americans had some fabulous successes later in the battle, but not enough to outweigh the devastation they received at the hands of the artillery early on.

I'm planning to run this game again in November at our monthly game night. For this upcoming game I'm going to correct some of the small errors I made in the OB on the computer and in the labeling of the troops. I'm also going to remove one battery of British Artillery, but increase the Hessian Jager numbers from 60 to 120. Their small numbers, while historical in fact, didn't allow them to make the contribution they did in the actual battle due to the way the calculations in C&G handle small units. 120 men should give them the impact they need to match their performance at the actual battle.

C&G has a very interesting post-battle summary that tells you the actual losses, captured colors, and most interestingly, which unit received 'honors' at the battle. Not surprising to anyone at the game, honors in this battle went to the RA Reserve Section of British Artillery. Their initial devastating volleys on Learned's brigade followed up by their relentless prolonging to face new threat after new threat earned them the name of the RA Reserve Flying Foot Battery. Commanded by Art Fossa, they were definitely the deciding factor in the game, even if they were pushed to utter exhaustion by the end of the battle. Art is pictured below, left, in the white shirt doing, what else, measuring the range for the RA Reserve Section.

Thanks to all the players, and my co-GM Ralph. Everyone really played along and had fun despite any of the glitched that arose from my first time hosting a C&G game. I can't remember laughing so much as a GM in a long time. Great fun.

More photos are available on the Northern Conspiracy Events Gallery page.