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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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Heskith’s Field, 1776

The American War of Independence, Black Powder, 28mm

As I was away up in Orkney I didn’t have a game pre-planned, and this was the result of a hasty e-mail exchange a couple of hours before the club night began. I brought along a couple of boxes of my American War of Independence toys, and Michael and I played a small Black Powder game with them, ably assisted by Jim and Bill. The thing too was that we usually play AWI games using either Bill’s own amendments (which centres around shooting before moving), and Michael’s ones, which involves a few tweaks to the units’ abilities. For this game we decided to try the Warlord AWI amendments found in their new rebellion bolt-on to Black PowderEssentially this was an encounter between two small forces in a rural landscape, dominated by a large central cornfield.My British came on along the road beside the church, while the Americans began the game encamped astride another road, on the far side of Heskith’s Field. Jim and I had a brigade apiece to command, each of three battalions, and our small force was backed by a  3-pounder detachment. For their part the Americans also had two brigades of three regiments each, one of which was of Virginia and Maryland continental. the other contained Maryland militia and two regiments of Pennsylvania regulars. They also had a two regiment brigade of Stevens’ Virginia militia under their command, whose job was to screen the flanks and pick off the British light troops. Finally they had a gun detachment and a unit of Continental Army light infantry. Jim played the part of our overall commander General Leslie, while Michael played the role of General Greene. Inevitably, as the two sides advanced towards each other, the light troops clashed around a log cabin, but all the regulars seemed to be drawn in by the magnetic pull of the cornfield. by the time we got there the rebels were lined up behind the rail fence on the far side, and showed no inclination to move. Why should they – the Americans were in a fairly good defensive position, and arrayed three deep! Still, as our light battalion screened the Virginia militia on our right flank, and the 23rd line screened the American light troops on our left, our remaining four battalions deployed on the opposite side of the field from the Americans, behind the fence. So, it was an impasse – both sides staring at each opther, daring the other to jump the fence and launch an attack. We cracked first. Jim and I decided British honour demanded it, so we swept forward, with our Hessian unit leading on the right, followed by the 33rd, and the combined grenadier battalion on the left, supported by the 71st Highlanders. That’s the situation you see down below. We took some fire coming across the field, but essentially we were still up for a fight. So, jusdging the moment, we delivered a close-range volley, and charged in. Both sides made it into action – in fact the Hessian volley disordered the Virginia continentals in front of them, and they actually won the melee, pushing the neemy back. The grenadiers weren’t so lucky. Both sides took casualties, but I lost the melee as the Americans had more supporting units. In the Break test I rolled a “5”, which mean the grenadiers fled the field. Undeterred, the Highlanders traded shots with the American defenders, and forced a Break Test on the 1st Pennsylvanians. They too fled the field, so honours were even.The Highlanders charged then, contacting the second unit of Pennsylvania troops, and in a herculean effort they swept them from the field. Meanwhile the Hessians had seen off the Virginians to their front, who had been forced to retreat. Now the two sides lined each side of the fence, blazing away at each other. Meanwhile the Highlanders were over the fence, facing the third unit in front of my brigade – the Maryland militia. The Highlanders couldn’t charge again though, as they were now disordered . The militia though, held their ground in the ensuing firefight, and worse the American 6-pounder which I’d forgotten about turned around and fired canister into the Highlanders’ flank. This was more than enough for them, and they broke and ran. By then the Hessians had been forced to retreat too, and the 33td behind them were taking flanking foire from the Virginia militia, lurking in the woods to their right. So, conceding the day, Jim and I called it a day, and quit the field. It was a short, sharp battle, but the British , though outnumbered, had the ability to attack thanks to various bonuses such as being rated crack, steady and elite (in the case of the grenadiers). Sadly it wasn’t enough, as the Americans were mostly decent troops, and far more numerous. Still, it was a fun little game, and I’m sure we’ll be back at some point, to exact revenge on the damnable rebels.


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