Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The British Are Here! - The Battle of Concord, Part 2

This is a continuation of last week's post, which covered the beginning of Bob's Battle of Concord. Last week, we left off with a rolling battle north of Concord between the British Regulars and Colonial Militia units, a defense force in Concord, and my Light Infantry moving back into town.  

Carl and Frank had their hands full north of the river as they kept trying to push towards the final stores of colonial supplies. Unfortunately, while they did manage to push the colonial forces back several times, they could never make a decisive thrust. They were ultimately repelled. Carl and Frank decided to cut their losses and start marching their troops back to town so we could regroup and head back to Lexington. 

It soon became apparent that our escape plan was about to become much harder. A unit from Sudbury arrived and took up position on a rise watching over the path the British would need to use. 

As an aside, the line of lichen clumps represents a small (and rather scummy) stream. 

The battered British detachment made its way back over the river and into Concord, harried by colonial units. The militia were forced back by grenadier units across the water. 

The British rearguard made preparations to begin marching out of town. 

The above picture shows the British positions as the game entered its later turns. My light infantry detachment finally got back into town (without seeing a single bit of combat so far). A combined force of light and grenadier units started to engage with the Sudbury militia that had a vantage point over the British exit route. And the rearguard continued to form up.

A exchange of fire saw the Sudbury unit chased off. Luckily for the colonists, the only place the militia could retreat to was in the same direction as the British were heading! 

More colonial units kept marching onto the board, placing themselves between the oncoming British. My Light Infantry was tasked with leading the British column out of Concord, so it was up to me to break up the oncoming Americans. 

Another overhead shot. British flankers have been sent out to chase the Sudbury unit away. The small, single-man militia units that can be seen are blinds working in pairs - one is the actual unit, one isn't. Only by getting British units close enough could these blinds be revealed. 

The colonists started coming on so thick that they were blocking each others movement. Of course, this also meant that a unit retreating from a charge would stop immediately. My light infantry was stuck in the face of a colonial horde, either firing or charging to try and force them back. 

While the British were able to force the American units back, more kept appearing on our flanks, which meant we had to send out our own flankers to keep them away. Our march was quickly becoming bogged down. 

Concord was almost abandoned, with the colonial militia supplies still burning. What British companies still remained in town prepared to hold back the colonial units threatening the rear. 

Finally, we reached the game's last turn (with the sun finally setting outside the store's window. We decided to call the game a draw. While the British had managed to destroy 3 out of the 4 supply locations, they weren't going to get back to Lexington without getting absolutely mauled. There were 5 large units of colonials between the British and the exit off the table, with more coming from behind and from the side. Bob decided that the result was much like the historical outcome, with the British arriving at Lexington battered and bloodied, have not expected such fierce resistance from colonial militia.

And that was the game! Another great effort by Bob with his fantastically painted miniatures and great terrain. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The British Are Here! - The Battle of Concord, Part 1

It's beginning to feel as though this blog would be completely dead if it weren't for Bob and his big community games. Maybe I should give the man a byline?

Nevertheless, Bob once again ran a session at 7th Dimension Games. This time it was the Battle of Concord - no Lexington. In the wake of a night full of distress calls, alarms, and lit candles in windows signalling the approach of the British, the Redcoats had arrived in force to investigate certain rumors of possible colonial supply and arms stores in the area. The British would have to move quickly - hordes of militia and Minutemen were converging on Concord, and the small force would quickly be outnumbered. 

I would be commanding the British along with two other players - Carl and Frank. We decided to split our force into three groups. Carl and I would both take detachments of light infantry and make a quick march to the supply stores, investigate them, destroy whatever we found, and then quickly return. Frank took the bulk of the detachment - made up of grenadiers - and would use them to both secure and investigate the town. Bob pointed out, to our amusement, that this was essentially the same plan the British used. 

We hoped that the result would be more in our favor. 

The above picture shows the beginning positions of the British. Light infantry lead the column, followed by the grenadiers. Another group of light infantry was waiting just off the road. Mounted officers stood atop the hill, while those on foot were mixed into the column. Wagons waited to cart off the wounded.

For the British, each grouping of two stands formed a company. The Americans would differ in that their 'groups' could consist of as many as twelve stands! However, the British officers would allow 'detachments' of stands to all take the same action at once, such as moving, charging, or firing. 

Carl's light infantry headed north over the bridge to one of the objectives. Grenadiers moved in behind them to secure the bridge, and both groups were watched carefully by the first groups of milita. Both sides were reluctant to open fire first, so the beginning turns of the game consisted mostly of movement.

Since units couldn't move through one another, Frank had to get a company of grenadiers out of the way of my light infantry. Hoping to deter another group of colonists, he put them in line just off the road. 

And my boys were off and down the road, their boots kicking up dirt into the early April air. 

Unfortunately, they were followed by the group of colonial militia, who quickly set up on the only bridge that my men could cross back to Concord. The colonials celebrated this early, minor victory. 

North of Concord, a large group of militia had gathered to stymie British progress. Again, as neither side wanted to be the one to fire the first shot and thus be labelled the aggressors, the British prepared to fix bayonets to see the colonists off. 

Frank decided that leaving the bridge in the hands of the militia wasn't a good idea - especially so early in the game, when we knew more militia would be arriving later - so his grenadiers fixed their bayonets and charged. They forced the militia off the bridge and sent them running into Concord with many dead and wounded at their feet. They unexpectedly took casualties of their own, however, and the shock of the militia's ferocity sent the redcoats in a brief retreat. 

Bob determined that some shots - famously heard 'round the world - had been fired in the melee south of Concord, and so the militia on the north side of the river, already on edge, opened fire on the approaching British. 

Taken by surprise, the light infantry fell back and regrouped with some grenadiers that Frank had sent across the bridge. The larger British detachment then attempted to move back into battle with the militia. 

Thus began a rolling fight between a combined force of British light infantry and grenadiers, and an ever-increasing amount of colonists. American units broke several times, but their greater numbers meant that there was always another unit to either fill the gap or threaten a British flank. 

My detachment of light infantry had a relatively easy time. They made it to the forge and discovered that the colonists had hidden a few cannons. They were destroyed, but in the process the forge was accidentally set alight. Deciding not to risk any of my men putting it out, I had my column about face and prepare to march back. 

And while the fighting raged across the river north of Concord, fires blazed in the town as Frank's grenadiers discovered and destroyed supplies meant to aid colonial resistance. 

And so we leave the battle for now. Part 2 will come out next week with the game's conclusion.