Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Battle of White Plains - October 28th, 1776 with Field of Battle

    This past Sunday I visited Jared in Tarrytown, NY, for a game of Field of Battle, this time set during the American Revolutionary War. Jared set up the scenario, which was loosely based upon the Battle of White Plains. This was very fitting as we were playing  less than 10 miles from the site of the battle, and only 4 days after the 239th anniversary of the battle. I also spent the first 18 years of my life living within 15 miles of the site as well!

   Following his defeat at the Battle of Long Island, Washington and his army retreated North of New York City. His opponent, General William Howe began gradually taking control of the city, and made use of the services of the Royal Navy, which controlled both the waters around New York as well as the lower Hudson River. This cooperation, so often lacking in the Revolutionary War, was doubtless facilitated by the fact that the commanding officer of the American Station for the Royal Navy was none other than his brother, Admiral Sir Richard Howe, who had a very distinguished career. General Howe';s plan was to encircle Washington and trap him, between his field army, his forces around New York City, and the Hudson, dominated by the RN.

Maneuvers before and after the Battle of White Plains, Fall 1776.

Map of the Battle of White Plains

View of the table after deployment, looking from the South (British positions). The British had 20 units,. including one medium and one light battery. They rolled well for their Morale points, starting with 22. On average their units were better quality than the Americans, but not markedly so.  Howe had a Skilled Sequence Deck. 

And a view from the North (American end) of the table. The Americans had 25 units, also included  2 batteries, one each light and medium. Jared offered me my choice of sides, so I took the Americans. Jared and Mike shared the British command. I tanked my Morale point roll with a "1" (one of the few ones I would roll that day, as it turned out), and thus had 19 morale points, plus 5 more granted by the scenario design, for a total of 24. Washington had a Poor  sequence deck. As it turned out, the bulk of the many LULL cards in my deck were at or near the bottom, where they did relatively little harm. 

The American 3rd Line. I positioned 2 Brigades here, composed of mostly lower quality Militia units. My Medium battery was stationed on the left flank, where it had a clear filed of fire against any British trying to turn the Left of my first two positions.

The American 2nd and 1st Lines. The British were deployed quite close to the first line, so it could be assaulted almost any time after the start of the game. I placed 2 brigades of my best infantry in the first line, hoping to bloody the British noses pretty well before they inevitably carries the position. In the second line were another 2 brigades of decent troops. this included my two Rifle units, stationed on the left flank  of the position, again intended to slow or thwart any turning movement by the freedom hating British. I placed the Light battery ("pop guns") on the far right of the 2nd Line, where they could shoot at the British as they crossed the first line, and react to outflanking attacks against my right.. 

On their far right, planning to attempt just such a turning movement, Mike had the Hessian command. In the real battle, they were on the left and performed the turning maneuver successfully, being the heroes of the day for the British. Washington would avenge himself on the Hessians less than 2 months later at the Battle of Trenton and his famous Christmas Eve crossing of the Delaware. 

View of the main British forces opposite the American first line (all these counted as class 2 hasty works). Scenario condition, Jared allowed troops to be deployed in the woods (all class 2, light for colonial America) in the foreground. We had a dice off of the Commanders Leadership die to determine which army would be so entitled. Washington's D10 beat Howe's D12, so I placed a mediocre brigade of Infantry in the woods. They would inevitably be defeated, but if they held out for a turn or so, they would keep the British bunched up in front of the three successive entrenched positions. I had one more poor quality brigade stationed in an isolated redoubt on the far side of the (Bronx) River. The British posted their best troops - the Guards and converged grenadiers, just to the near side of the far woods, including their Medium battery. 

Let the battle begin - opening shots are fired as the British close on the near woods; my Militia manage to repulse the first British unit to come within range, with losses. 

My Militia head out from their isolated redoubt on my far right rear, to support the isolated troops in the near woods, and limit any potential breakthrough should their resistance prove less than stalwart!

The Hessians make fine sight, as they do indeed step out to attempt to turn my Right. In the center, the British Grenadiers have pierced the first line. This came at a terrible cost, however. The unit of Continentals that has been pushed back (with smoke, upper center of the picture) was awarded a Congressional citation upon Washington's recommendation. It routed one unit of British Guards with its fire, and forced a second one back in melee, before only grudging giving way before the third attack. 

View of the two repulsed Elite British units, and their supporting battery. Both Mike and Jared had very cold dice this day, rolling an astounding number of "1's" - never good in Field of Battle!

Clouds of dark smoke obscure the fighting in the Near woods, where the British are slowly gaining the upper hand.  The troops are all beautifully painted 15's from Jared's collection. 

The British grenadiers attempt to exploit their breakthrough!

The Hessian flanking attack manages to defeat another unit of Colonists on the right of the first line. However, fire from my medium battery has routed one Hessian unit with 3 UI loss (far left). A second Hessian unit assaults the right of the 2nd American line. Rifle fire and then a desperate hand to hand fight results in this unit also losing 3 UI, although holding despite that. 

More British units attack the American First line, and the British light infantry moves up and provides a screen for their attack. 

The right half of the American First line is holding, but the breakthrough is making the position precarious. Washington debates pulling these men back, but the British have taken heavy losses, and are nearing zero morale points already. Eager to drive them to zero, he decides to have them hold here a while longer. 

Perhaps not the best choice - the British grenadiers have maneuvered to outflank the remainder of the First line, destroying an American unit and threatening to dispatch more!

The Americans in the Near woods are getting pushed back steadily, but reinforcements have arrived!  The far American brigade has made good use of excellent Leadership Die rolls to MOVE up in support with alacrity! It isn't likely the British will be able to score any major breakthrough on this flank now. 

Overview of the center from the American 3rd Line. The shattered remnants of the defenders of the left half of the first line are attempting to rally... without much success, I might add!

The Hessians will fail to rally this routed unit, which ultimately retreated off the table. My battery peppers a third Hessian unit, which suffers losses but holds. 

Washington uses a timely MANEUVER card to refuse the left flank of the remaining  First Line. It's high time to get those brave men back to safety, though, George!

More British move up to attack the right half of my first line frontally. 

The British are slowly muscling their way through the Near Woods, but a routed Colonial unit manages to rally on the far side of the Bronx river. 

The British have reached zero Morale points at the end of turn 1, and are starting to pay points to the Americans for losses they can't cover. Washington rolls a big chunk of Impetus at the start of turn 2, and opts to go fist, hoping to pile more losses on the British, and then await their initiative, where they will (hopefully) turn an Army  Army Morale Card in their deck. In the event, Washington's run is a fizzle, with several LULL cards (one resulting in the British seizing the initiative for a big MOVE),  an American Army Morale Card, with the general commanding the exposed brigade manning the remnants of the American first line falling mortally wounded, two Leadership Cards where Jared's dice finally warmed up and he equaled or bested all but one of my many rally attempts, some Tactical Advantage cards and NO INFANTRY FIREPOWER cards. On their initiative, the British made some headway with a couple of their own Infantry Firepower cards, and started whittling away at the American Morale point total as their dice were no longer being kept in liquid nitrogen. Washington was able to use a British LULL to finally pull back the exposed brigade above after a replacement officer was assigned to command them. This left the British with no real openings to exploit, as well as 4 units that had routed of the table.

In the end, it was too little, too late, and the inevitable British ARMY MORALE card was turned. In keeping with their abysmal die rolling prowess on the day, the British managed to roll yet another "1" on their D12 Leadership die, thus failing the test and commencing their withdrawal. The King will not be pleased!

Marker in the town of White Plains near the site of the battle. 

Washington practices posing for a suitably romantic painting to commemorate the battle. Never can seem to find a good wig when you need one!

Thanks to Jared for hosting and setting up, and for a great scenario, and to  Jared and Mike for a great game. I recommend sending your dice for a session of therapeutic dice torture, though! hopefully we can arrange a return game in Connecticut soon. 


  1. Looks like a great scenario, and you certainly had the dice gods well in hand! Nice looking troops, quite a collection in AWI there.

    1. It was a fine looking game and fun to play as well. Of course, it helps if your opponents forgot to sacrifice to the Dice Gods before the game!

      We're looking to hopefully set up a game here at my place in late November or early December if you can make it, Joe. I'll send nout some information to you and HAHGS once we firm up a date. It will likely be an FoB2 Napoleonic game, with the exact action depending upon the number of players. Considerations include Wavre, Quatre Bras (especially if you're coming and bring the Nassauers and DB troops), Dennewitz 1813 (if many players - SWEDES!), or Klagenfurt 1809 (small action, probably only if just Jared and me).

  2. A stylish wig is never at hand when needed!
    Good looking game and an enjoyable BatRep, Peter.

    Oh, and a great outcome for you!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Jon. Yeah, too bad my wig was laid up for restoration that day. :-)

      It take no great talent to achieve victory when your opponents can't roll a decent die score most of the game! I also think Jared may have rated the Americans a bit too highly for this point in the War, especially considering the good defensive position they had.

  3. Great AAR Peter, and you look most impressive in a tricorn.

    1. Thanks, Lawrence. The Tricorne was acquired at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia about 20 years ago (great place). It's a bit small a (medium), but IIRC they were all out of Large so I settled for the Medium. If nothing else it conceals the ever increasing baldness, LOL!

  4. Wow! This happened over 2200 years ago! :-)

    All kidding aside, great AAR!

    1. More sharp eyed readers to catch the mis-strokes of a ham handed typist! :-)
      Seriously, thanks for the visit and comment, Greg.
      On checking your profile, I hope to see you post something to your own blog!

  5. Great read and looks like it was great fun!

    1. Thanks Victor; glad you enjoyed it. We had a great time with the game!

    2. Thanks Victor; glad you enjoyed it. We had a great time with the game!