Thursday, August 1, 2013

Battle of Freeman's Farm

On Saturday we managed to pull together terrain and figures for the battle of Freeman's Farm (a.k.a First Saratoga).

I did a bit of scrambling to put together a scenario for our AWI rules- Flint & Steel.  Table was 6' x 12.5' and scaled at 33yds = 2 table inches.  OOB was set at 1 to 33.  The map is below.  I will release the map, OOBs, and scenario briefings in a subsequent post.

And Fate smiles on the cause of Liberty once again, or does it?

Scouts from Morgan's rifles have sighted three British columns leaving their camps on the Hudson and heading inland.  General Benedict Arnold moves to intercept.  Morgan's rifles along with Dearborn's light infantry take up positions amongst the light woods south of Freeman's Farm.  Brigadier Enoch Poor's brigade is ordered to move to support.   

The time is 1 p.m., the leading British column under Brigadier Hamilton arrives, hurried by Gen. Burgoyne himself.  The 9th foot covers the advance into Freeman's farm.

 Morgan's riflemen open up on the 9th foot surprising and disrupting their advance, however the drilled British infantry manage to give as good as they get.

The elements of Enoch Poor's brigade advances.  The 1st and 2nd Connecticut advance along the left, while in the distance the irregulars of Fraser's "advanced" guard enter Mcbride's fields.

Dearborn's Light Infantry charge the skirmish line of the 9th foot and force them to retreat, catching the 21st foot in road column, and sending them into a disordered flight.

The field of victory after a well timed attack!

Enoch Poor advances with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd New Hampshire.

On the left the 1st and 2nd Connecticut Militia has a rough going at Coulter's Farm.  The Loyalist militia, Brunswick Jagers and British Marksmen beat the militia to the cover of the light woods, the defenders of Liberty were caught in the open.  

The time is almost 2 p.m. General Enoch Poor has arrived to support Morgan's advanced corps.  The General takes the initiative and rushes the 1st New Hampshire into a charge, taking the 20th Foot in the flank as they form into a skirmish line.  Once again British discipline saves the day for Hamilton, and the 20th Foot make an orderly, if hasty, retreat
The 1st New Hampshire clears Freeman's Farm, but to their left they can hear the British splashing across the creek.

The time is almost 3 p.m.  The Connecticut Militia is starting to crumble.  The Cook's 1st Connecticut manages to drive off the Brunswick Jagers, however Lattimore's 2nd is slowly being torn apart.  The 2nd has managed to largely suppress the elite British marksmen, but the Indians of the Confederation had a blood feud to settle.  Every shot told and the Americans remained in a constant state of disruption. 

The 1st New Hampshire is routed as the 9th foot, fresh and rallied, comes crashing out of the woods.  Benedict Arnold attempts to rally the Continentals, but is swept up in the rout.

The time 3:30 p.m. and the situation on the American left is becoming desperate.  Brigadier Fraser has stirred himself and the battalions of converged light companies and grenadiers are about to sweep the road of the American Militia and cut off the American line of retreat.

Hamilton send forward the 9th and 62 foot against the Continentals to decide the issue.

The 2nd and 3rd New Hampshire and the 2nd New York crash into the skirmish line of the 62 Foot, forcing them to run.  However, the sight of the fleeing Redcoats sends the Americans into a disordered charge!

General Poor is unable to keep order and the Americans crash into the orderly ranks of the 9th Foot.  However, the 9th Foot has been fighting, retreating, and rallying, and charging for almost 4 hours.  British discipline crumbles and the 9th foot once again runs for the rear in a disorderly mob.   

And yet further disaster befalls Hamilton.  Hull's volunteers, 300 men from Learned's Brigade, order by Arnold to advance through the woods in support of Enoch Poor come crashing out of the woods to the east of Freeman's cornfield, greatly distracting and disconcerting the 20th foot.... which ends in tragedy for the British.  A rifleman from Morgan's 11th Virginia spots a mounted officer desperately attempting to bring order to the retreating British behind Freeman's farm.  A shot rings out and Brigadier Gen. Hamilton falls from his horse.  The sight of their leader falling in battle as he attempted to restore order cases the rout of the 62nd and 21st foot. 

The Continentals starring down the remaining Redcoats

 But all the gains the American's make at Freeman's farm are for naught.  Gen. Fraser has broken the Connecticut Militia and they are streaming south.  The time is 4 p.m. and Brigadier Gen. Learned's Brigade is just beginning to arrive.  On the far right of the American position, Gen. Riedesel's Hessian column is spotted.

General Learned's advanced elements form up to delay Fraser's advance.

Riedesel's Hessians advancing to the sound of the guns.

General Arnold realizing both of his flanks are now in jeopardy orders a retreat.   The British have been delayed in their advance inland to outflank the fortifications and Bemis Heights, but were not defeated.  The American's suffered 200 casualties, the greatest burden falling on the 1st and 2nd Connecticut Militia, both of which eventually routed.  The natives of the Iroquois Confederation accounted for 50% of all British casualties inflicted. The British suffered 270 casualties and lost General Hamilton.  The majority of the loses fell on Hamilton's brigade, which ultimately saw two battalions rout from the field.

A tactical victory for the British, but not without significant cost, and the strategic result still hangs in the balance.  Burgoyne must hang onto the ground he has taken and then continue his advance inland to out flank the Bemis Heights fortifications.  However Morgan and Poor's Continental are almost completely intact and General Learned has 1,200 fresh Continentals about crash into Fraser's brigade.

Do the American's simply retreat? Can Learned hold Fraser?  Does Arnold try for Glory and attempt to smash Fraser's elite advanced guard between his three brigades?  Is there enough time before the remnants of Hamilton's brigade and Riedesel's Hessian's arrive?  --An interesting premise for a future scenario.

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