By smacdowall, Dec 2 2018 02:00PM
Shortly after the Society of Ancients conference I was back in the 18th century for a re-fight of Guildford Courthouse in the American War of Independence (1781). Gary Kitching put the game on with some beautiful 28mm troops and a most atmospheric table-top.
I played on the British side with a small but perfectly formed force of battle-hardened regulars against hordes of ragged rebels.
One can only admire the fine appearance of our brave men as they advance with confidence and perfect dressing against the rebel position.
The trouble was that all we could see in front of us was a fence and woods behind it. We had no idea where the enemy actually were.
We advanced confidently into the woods and it was not long before we began to encounter Virginia and Carolina militia. There were a few surprises, including cavalry and light infantry suddenly appearing on our flanks. For the most part we managed to see off the rebels with relative ease but we took casualties in the process. By the time we cleared the woods, some of our battalions were feeling almost as ragged as the rebels.
As we moved into the open ground to our front we began to see ranks of Continentals drawn up ready to receive us. They even managed some sort of decent military appearance.
At this point I had to leave the field of battle (work interfering). I was glad, later, to read the dispatch from Lord Cornwallis which informed me that although the Continentals managed to see off the 71st Highlanders, a bayonet charge by the Guards settled the issue. It was a close run thing and in many ways the game unfolded in a very similar way to the historical battle.
The rules we used were Andy Callan’s Loose Fire and American Scramble originally published in the first edition of Wargames Illustrated. I recommend them unreservedly. Only a few pages long, they capture the essence and atmosphere of the American War of Independence. The relatively simple mechanisms conceal a depth of subtlety. It is from these rules that I developed my Close Fire and European Order rules for the War of Spanish Succession.