Sunday, August 28, 2016

BIG Battles using Sharp Practice - The Battle of Cowpens 1781

Less than two weeks before the Wyvern's Annual all dayer and this year we are taking Sharp Practice up a level.

One of the best things about gaming in a club enviroment rather than the mid-week kitchen table experience is the ability to bring several players together on a far larger gaming area. Over recent weeks many us have played Sharp Practice with a single force. But could this be scaled up to a larger battle keeping everyone engaged and retaining the original feel of Sharp Practice?

Carl at the club has a massive AWI collection which needs a good outing every now and again and with several players willing to take part. The challange was to find an encounter that played to the strengths of Sharp Practice and gives everyone a full days gaming experience rather than having people playing a bit part or having nothing to do for long periods.

Battle of Cowpens, January 17, 1781

After much consideration and flicking through the bookshelf The Battle of Cowpens 1781 seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

This encounter has several elements which make it perfect for Sharp Practice.
  • Around 1000 combatants per side.
  • Both sides experienced faltering morale which they need to recover to get back in the fight (Shock.)
  • A number of seprate bridgades of which could have a separate commander and force morale.
  • A limited amount of Cavalry on both sides, but scope for extra's (Support points).
  • Well known Big Men Lt Col. Tarleton of the 17th Light Dragoons and Colonel Daniel Morgan of the Continential Army. Both of which have a significant part to play.
  • A table layout with lends itself to Deployment Points within the rules.
  • An encounter played over a narrow frontage with the option for strength in depth which allowed players to be engaged all day and reach the centre of the table (Always a must on BIG games.)
Account. The war in the southern colonies had become something of a stalemate, neither side having sufficient strength to hazard full out offensive operations.
Tarleton had made his reputation in the southern colonies as a ruthless and impetuous commander. Pursued by Tarleton, Morgan determined to make a stand by the Broad River. He selected a simple position on two low hills in open woodland in the expectation that Tarleton would make a headlong attack without pausing to devise a more subtle plan. Morgan was correct in his assessment of Tarleton’s actions.

Map of the Battle of Cowpens
Morgan placed the Georgia and North Carolina militia in front of his line with a further screen of riflemen to their front. His main line was on the first and higher hill and Washington’s dragoons were placed behind the hill. He had no guns.
If my workings are correct the American commander should be able to field 3 Separate Infantry forces and 1 Cavalry force.

Tarleton marched his force onto the battlefield and attacked immediately.
I have browken the Loyalist command down into three core sections, one made up of regulars, one of Loyalists and a cavalry command.
Tarleton's first move was to send the 17th Light Dragoons to disperse the riflemen. The dragoons were driven back by accurate fire.
Tarleton formed his infantry line and began the advance; the Light Infantry on the right, the infantry of his legion in the centre and the 7th Royal Fusiliers on the left. 

Troops of light dragoons flanked the foot. The reserve comprised the 71st Highlanders and the cavalry of Tarleton’s legion.
Image result for battle of cowpens 1781

Morgan’s riflemen opened fire on the British line and made a point of shooting down the “epaulettes” (the officers), before falling back behind the main American line.

A troop of light dragoons pursued the riflemen and were attacked and driven back by Washington’s dragoons.

As the British foot attacked, the 71st Highlanders extended the line to the left, outflanking the Americans. The American line withdrew but in good order. The British line lost its cohesion as it hurried to pursue the Americans who halted and gave fire before Washington’s dragoons again attacked, this time in the rear of the British line.

The Americans went onto the offensive and the British line was overwhelmed. The 71st continued to fight until finally forced to surrender. Only the Royal Artillery gunners fought until they were all killed or wounded.
Tarleton fled the field with the remnants of his column, the cavalry of his legion having refused to charge from the reserve.

The British lost 39 officers and 60 soldiers killed. 829 were captured. 12 Americans were killed and 60 wounded. The Americans captured the British baggage and the colours of the 7th Foot.

Converting the battle to Sharp Practice - Scenario Defence in Depth.
The British must capture the American Primary Deployment Point.
Each side holds 7 command cards and may not deploy more than 12 Big men.

British Force.

British Regulars 1781
Leader Status III (Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton)
Three Groups of 8 Regulars, Muskets. - 71st Highlanders
Leader Status II
Two Groups of 8 Regulars, Muskets. - 7th Foot.
Leader Status I
One Group of 6 Light Infantry Skirmishers, Muskets.
1 Light Cannon - 3 Pdr.
Points 68
Force Morale 11

Provincial Loyalists 1781
Leader Status II
Two Groups of 8 Provincial Regulars, Muskets - British Legion.
Leader Status II
Two Groups of 8 Light Infantry Skirmishers, Muskets - Coverged Light Infantry Battalion.
Leader Status I
Two Groups of 6 Loyalist Ranger Skirmishers, Rifles.

Points 54
Force Morale 10

Loyalists Cavalry 1781
Leader Status II
One Group of 8 Dragoon Cavalry, Impact Cavalry -17th Lt Dragoons.
Leader Status II
One Group of 8 Loyalist Cavalry, Impact Cavalry - Ogilie's Troop.
Leader Status II
One Group of 8 Loyalist Cavalry, Impact Cavalry - British Legion Cavalry
Points 40
Force Morale 11

Support points available - 12

Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton
Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton - Commander of the British Field Force.

Amercian Force.

Continental Command 1781
Leader Status III (Colonel Daniel Morgan)
Three Groups of 8 Continental Line, Muskets. - Maryland and Delaware Continentials
Leader Status II
Two Groups of 6 Continential Light Infantry Skirmishers, Muskets - Mar/Del Light Battalion
Leader Status I
One Group of 6 Frontiersmen Skirmishers, Rifles.

Points 59
Force Morale 11

Southern Militia Command 1781
Leader Status III (Colonel Andrew Pickens)
Three Groups of 10 Rebel Militia, Muskets. - 1st/2nd Spartan South Carolina Militia Regiment
Leader Status I
One Group of 6 Rebel Militia Skirmishers, Muskets - Cunningham's Georgia Militia
Leader Status II
Two Groups of 6 Frontiersmen Skirmishers, Rifles - McDowell's North Carolina Riflemen
Points 43
Force Morale 9

Southern Militia Command 1781
Leader Status III (Lt Col. John Howard)
Two Groups of 8 State Line Troops, Muskets - Tripplett's Virginia Militia
Leader Status II
Two Groups of 8 State Line Troops, Muskets - Hammond's SC State Company
Leader Status II
Two Groups of 6 Frontiersmen Skirmishers, Rifles - Gilmore Rockbridge Virginia Riflemen
Points 47
Force Morale 9

Continental Cavalry 1781
Leader Status II (William Washington)
One Group of 8 Continential Light Dragoons, Impact Cavalry - 3rd Dragoons
Leader Status II
One Group of 8 Continential Light Dragoons, Impact Cavalry - South Carolina State Dragoons
Points 26
Force Morale 10

Support points available - 24

Image result for Colonel Daniel Morgan
Colonel Daniel Morgan - Commander of the American Field Force.
So the plans are in place.

The core forces have been posted to the lead commanders allowing them to consider what support points are needed for each commander or whether a new brigade should be formed?

Each side can see what worked on the day and what the opposing sides core forces are, but have no idea what support points will be spent on. Battle plans and support points will be drawn up on the morning of the game over. 

Let's hope the plan survives the opening volley?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Smugglers and Wreckers.

The blog and hobby generally has really fallen behind in recent weeks, what with a couple of holidays and trying to play catch up at work to make up for the "rest". 

Devon was rather wet.
What did I expect for August in the UK?

However looking for things to pass the time I wandered into a couple book shops who had a number of small booklets on the Smugglers and Wreckers of North Devon. Perfect as I had been looking at the Black Scorpion range for several weeks thinking about how I could find a use for them.

 Privateers 2

During the 17th and 18th centuries smuggling or Free Trading was commonplace in the West Country and considered to be a very profitable way of life!

Smugglers were known to have used Lee, Ilfracombe, Heddon’s Mouth, Watermouth Cove and Morte. Some of the smuggling operations were clearly considerable; in 1785 a 96 gallon cask of rum  was found at Watermouth Cove and in 1801 224 gallons of gin and 164 gallons of brandy were found on the foreshore near Ilfracombe. 

Pirate girls 2

Wrecking was another popular activity, as goods were washed ashore from a wrecked ship were regarded as common property. The wreckers of Mortehoe were notorious and feared by sailors it was said a sailor would rather drown than come ashore at near the men of Morte.
Any ship in trouble brought locals to the shore and in no time the ship would be destroyed and its cargo carried away. It was illegal to claim salvage from a wrecked ship if anyone was found alive on it. Therefore the wreckers would dispose of any survivors!
One of Mortehoe's most notorious wreckers was Elizabeth Berry, who it is thought used her pitchfork to drown sailors." (she was arrested for plundering the William and Jane in 1850 and given 21 days hard labour).


It seems that everyone was involved; in 1783 all the Ilfracombe pilot boats were suspected of smuggling and one, the Cornwall, was seized and cut up into three parts. An Ilfracombe Collector from 1804-1824, Thomas Rudd, was father in law to a known smuggler, Cooke, who was never caught. In 1825 the richest man in Combe Martin, John Dovell, was prosecuted for handling smuggled goods.

The most infamous smuggler in north Devon was Thomas Benson, who in 1747 became MP for Barnstaple. The following year he was granted a lease on Lundy Island and entered into contract with the Government to carry convicts abroad. 
However, he landed them on Lundy instead to run his smuggling operation. He became over confident and was fined for smuggling and stripped of his office. He didn’t pay and his lands in Bideford were seized. To recover his losses he persuaded the Captain of the Nightingale to fire it for the insurance, but the plan was discovered and he fled to Portugal. 

Now they sound like some cracking scenario's to me....
Just the tonic to kick start the hobby again....

Sunday, August 07, 2016

SBH - Elizabethan Zombie Wars - "Bringing in the Flock" - AAR#5

One of the great reasons about gaming at a club is you get to go BIG on games and expand beyond the kitchen table and todays offering was no different.

It's been 12 months since the Elizabetan Zombie Wars have had an outing - which is a shame as they are really fun games to run, played out using the Songs of Blades rule set.

The people of Shifton had been walled in for several weeks, the cadavers continue to roam the countryside reacting to any movement of the living yet strangely enough ignoring livestock and wildlife it was almost as they they were only drawn to cravings of the flesh of their own kind.
Within Shifton people were begining to starve and lose hope driven partially crazy by the fact that outside the walls their flock and livestock continue to graze as if nothing had changed in recent months.

Desperate to change their fortunes and bolster their much needed supplies small scouting parties had been sent out but they had been forced to ground in barns and cottages in the outlying area as the undead had shambled towards the movement from within Shifton, orders were simple sally out of Shifton sheppard the outlying flocks in and rescue the scouting parties. 

The Miltia commander decides to split his forces rushing to grab the outlying herds before cadavers rise from the plague pits. Firing was proving  ineffectual on the rotting corpses and only serve to attract more of these unfortunate souls which were emerging from the plague pits.

Torn between holding on to the new rounded up flock and their personnel safety mankind is forced into hand to hand combat with the rotting cadavers.

In the centre of the table a firing line is formed to bring down the undead. single zombies are easily dispatched but shot and powder runs out the dead do not.

Ensign Smyth embarks on a solo mission having spotted a wagon of supplies which if captured could provide the village with a much needed boost leaving his comrades he takes his standard and skirts the field looking for his treasure.

In a small stone cottage to the North of the village two scouts burst out of their hiding place hoping to grab some of the flock before they are spotted by the undead but good fortune is not with them, one valiant fighter sees an easy victory in striking down a rotting body only to be knocked to the ground where he is set upon by the undead horde.

The most numerous supplies appears to be around the Blacksmiths and Barn, with sheep and sacks of grain and dried goods aplenty however unfortunately for the living this is where the Cadavers appear most numerous.

 Slowly Ensign Smyth makes his journey towards the wagon within his newly acquired draft animals but his slow movement is drawing more foul followers from the woods to his rear.

Hiding in the barn the final scouting party make their presence known as the village militia battles the foul beasts who slow increase in number.

Sensing something was better than nothing and cutting their losses the eastern party of humans make a run for it whilst the Cadavers feed on a poor soul.

Falling back from the advancing corpses the men of Shifton struggle to hold the undead at bay. Three sheep would not be enough to sustain the village for long, but it was not lost on some members of the community that the loss of so many fighting men whilst reducing their defences would also reduce the number of mouths to feed. 

Dark times are indeed ahead for the people of Shifton.