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"Have you gamed Bunker Hill?" Topic

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Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2013 7:31 a.m. PST

Speaking of today's … masthead?

I would never do it, but Darrell in our group made a beautiful 3-D model of the Peninsula.
It was in a genuine "box scale", in that it had to be able to fit in his truck, disassembled.
Rodger and he painted up the 15mm figures needed for it, and we did a few playtests before they took it to conventions.
we used Age of Reason, with appropriate mods.

Best "Gotcha!" rule was when the British labored mightily to set up their guns and Darrell handed the player the "You have the wrong ammunition for the guns" card. Very historical. grin

A good timw was had by all, and very different results each game.

GoGators17 Jun 2013 7:53 a.m. PST

Yep. 28mm.

First time the family tried out the British Grenadier! ruleset. We played disruption points very incorrectly. The British grenadiers were like unstoppable Tiger tanks! Good thing that was my command that day! ;)

Have played BG a few times since that. Fun set of rules. No tigers when you do disruption correctly.

Want to try it again sometime.

I've also climbed the tower on Breed's Hill. That is something I never, ever want to do again. Nice view…. 20 mins after you get to the top and it stops feeling like you are gonna have an MI.

vojvoda17 Jun 2013 8:02 a.m. PST

Mike H. and I were working on a table to do it with 15mm figures at a one to one scale. We had the rules but never started the boards as we could not agree on the layout. I still have the plans but have put AWI on the back burner for now.

James Mattes

artslave17 Jun 2013 8:29 a.m. PST

Yes, absolutely! I and fellow AWI enthusiasts did this some years ago on the anniversary. We used our 25mm armies using our home-brew rules. We had to scrounge every militia figure from all our troops to fill out the rebel lines. This is not one for the typical gamer, but more interesting as an exercise for study of devoted historical nuts. We never did it again, though.

vtsaogames17 Jun 2013 8:33 a.m. PST

Yes, in 20mm, some years ago. We haven't done AWI in a while but I have intentions… Of course I have intentions for the Franco-Prussians, ACW, WWII, the Great War…

45thdiv Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2013 8:45 a.m. PST

No, not yet. Just started to play the era, so I am still in painting mode.


Who asked this joker17 Jun 2013 8:49 a.m. PST

On the bucket list of battles to game.

myxemail17 Jun 2013 9:08 a.m. PST

I saw it played on a spectacular table at a recent Havoc in Shrewsbury, MA. I think it was done in 2011 or 2012

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2013 9:34 a.m. PST

No, but I have been there

highlandcatfrog17 Jun 2013 9:50 a.m. PST

Yes, in 15 mm using Flint and Steel. Very historical results.

I've also climbed the tower, back when I had two working knees. Glad I did it then as there's no way I could now!

John Leahy17 Jun 2013 9:52 a.m. PST

Yep, I used Redcoat years ago. Pretty bloody for the British. One of the few early Rebel victories in our campaign.



Oddball17 Jun 2013 10:12 a.m. PST

Yes, several times with different rules sets.

I one game I had the redoubt when in perfect formation and tactics the British approached with 2 batt line and 1 batt grenadiers. They were positioned on 3 sides of the redoubt for an assault. There was no way I could hold them back.

Except dice rolls.

The British line would charge on a roll of 1-8 on a d10 (they had taken some losses coming up). Both units failed to charge, both retreated one move. The grenadiers would close on anything but a 10. Ya, the British player rolled a 10.

The grenadiers did not retreat, but stood shaken in perfect musket range in front of my troops. The next volley sent them on their way.

Tough day for the British.

21eRegt17 Jun 2013 10:13 a.m. PST

Yes, but disguised as a SYW game between Prussians and French (I think). Some special rules like the "Prussians" were not allowed to fire until they had received close range musketry. Ships off shore if you got too close to the shoreline (some did), and various other things to color the game. Very, very historic result.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Jun 2013 10:45 a.m. PST


Personal logo Bashytubits Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2013 10:50 a.m. PST

I haven't either. Maybe someday.

Doug MSC Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2013 11:17 a.m. PST

Yes we played it with 40mm figures a few months ago. The British made three attempts to take the hill. Twice they were beaten back but the third time we only allowed the Americans to fire at half strength because they were running out of ammo. The British took the hill on the third attempt.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2013 11:28 a.m. PST

Never have and don't expect to, unless at a convention.

So I guess the idea here is that you don't allow the British to flank or land behind the Rebels. So you expect the British player to be just as pig-headed as Howe was.

I don't know how many guns the British had if any, but I would bring out my artillery and commence firing every turn at the works with support from the fleet. I would fire until I blasted a opening in the works or until all the crewmen were shot and then I would have infantry man them. Then until I ran out of ammo.

At the same time I would demonstrate with some infantry in front and have flank companies, flank the position and let that develop. Land some troops in the rear to bag the whole lot. Regardless I would not attack that position in front until the flanks were developed.

If you tell me I have to assault frontally, that I can't flank or use artillery or use my control of the sea to land troops and you have this many turns to do it. Then I would say pretty diorama you have there Sparky. See ya later.

Bob in Edmonton17 Jun 2013 11:35 a.m. PST

Yes, a couple of times with DBHx and other rules. Long time ago but I recall historic results one time and plausible results the other (lucky dice turned the tide).

Pijlie17 Jun 2013 11:39 a.m. PST

It's on the list, right behind family, friends, career and a few other battles like Trenton and Brandywine…

A sea that raged no more17 Jun 2013 11:48 a.m. PST

I visited Bunker Hill recently and found it to be surrounded by housing. If the Americans had won there would it now be a National Park with uninterrupted views over the Bay? wink

I have played it as a game with counters – a freebie game, along with a coloured map and coloured counters – from Practical Wargamer magazines, of yesteryear. That game was actually very good and enjoyable.

I saw Giles's game report on his Tarleton's Quarter blog and I am convinced that it is a game I need to do with real toy soldiers.


mbsparta17 Jun 2013 12:23 p.m. PST

It is one of the great battles of American Arms … Who in their right mind would not want to give it a go??

Played it several times using British Grenadier! in 28mm. It is a good battle to learn BG! rules as it is a straight up fight. There are some beautiful pictures of games out there on the Internet … Very inspirational … And there is new and very good older books on the battle.

Mike B

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2013 12:23 p.m. PST


skinkmasterreturns17 Jun 2013 12:26 p.m. PST

We did it in 15mm using Black Powder rules.It wasnt pretty for the British,however,my "out of ammo" rules for the Americans were poorly written,and the American's firepower was unhindered for the game.

GiloUK17 Jun 2013 12:38 p.m. PST

I've played it 3 times, always with "British Grenadier" rules. It's a very tough nut for the British with these rules you need careful coordination, plenty of luck, and generals up front to rally off DPs. It's a challenge, and I can see that some British players will find the BG experience a bit frustrating, as they see their battalions recoil away from the redoubt after failing to charge home. But once you get in the American position…

My first game was my very first BG game with Eclaireur it didn't go too well for the British. Second go was with Mark Spackman of Melbourne (hi Mark!). A report is below, very early on in my AWI gaming so crappy figures and pics, I'm afraid.


Third game was with Loughton Strike Force, and I really can't recall who won!

For possibly the best recreation of the battle in miniature, see Pat's blog here:


and Christopher's blog here:



Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Jun 2013 1:41 p.m. PST

@ Rallynow: you have the benefit of historical hindsight in your analysis of how the British should take Breeds Hill. evil grin

I'm not that familiar with the battle, but I would imagine that Howe et al had a certain amount of contempt for the capabilities of the militia, figuring that they would run away at the sight of red coats and bayonets. Howe certainly did not repeat his mistake after Bunker Hill.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2013 5:37 p.m. PST

Once with 1776 and once with Whites of their Eyes – Enjoyed the day – Have thought about doing the battle of Long Island next.

JonFreitag17 Jun 2013 6:23 p.m. PST

Yes, in 15mm.

ancientsgamer17 Jun 2013 8:08 p.m. PST

No and to stir the pot, it should have been called the Battle of Breed's Hill….

Supercilius Maximus17 Jun 2013 10:45 p.m. PST

<<So I guess the idea here is that you don't allow the British to flank or land behind the Rebels. So you expect the British player to be just as pig-headed as Howe was.>>

It is interesting how so many wargamers completely ignore the fact that the Rebels had a large force just off the Charlestown peninsula that could have intervened in any such move, whereas it was impotent in the actual battle as the Royal Navy could bombard the Neck, across which all of those troops had to pass. It is also worth remembering that without the artillery ammunition SNAFU, the first assault would have been supported by canister in the same way that the (successful) third assault was.

In reality, there were several perfectly good reasons why Howe took the option that he did.

1) He only had enough boats from Graves' fleet to land half of his men in one wave. Wherever the first wave landed had to be far enough away from the enemy to (a) be unopposed as they came ashore, and (b) avoid being overwhelmed whilst waiting for the second wave to land.

2) Allied to 1) above, the tide was ebbing which meant that the boats were rowing against the flow whilst fully laden. This meant that the boat crews would have been struggling to get the second wave over as they became increasingly tired by the effort – not helped, of course, by the heat of the day.

3) The only feasible places to land – remembering the need to disembark guns – other than Moulton's Point, were (a) the wharves in Charlestown, or (b) the Neck itself. The former were clearly occupied by the enemy already; the latter was extremely difficult to access by boat (and impossible for artillery) on its southern side because of the bund of the mill pond, whilst landing from the northern side would have required a very long row up the Mystic River (for which the Royal Navy had no charts as there had never been any strategic need to "sound" it because it led nowhere). And of course any landing on the Neck would have left a hugely outnumbered British force trapped between the main Rebel army based around Cambridge, and the troops fortifying Bunker's and Breed's hills.

To answer the original question, once in 28mm and once in 15mm, both times using "British Grenadier". Two British victories, both hard-fought; although in the latter case it was entirely due to incredibly poor dice (every one of the 11 bayonet charges declared by the British failed from low rolling – yes, mine!).

Ironwolf18 Jun 2013 1:54 a.m. PST

I've played the battle three times. All in 15mm using modified Johnny reb II.

First game we played with the same historical constraints Howe faced that day.

So if we tried to land on the neck, we had to face american forces from breeds hill, bunker hill and the peninsula. If we tried to land troops in Charlestown at the docks. We had to face Americans already defending from the houses. So strange as it is, we landed just like Howe did near Moulton Hill. The British made three assaults on Breeds Hill and we ignored the Americans left flank. The Assaults failed every time. After the second assault the americans had to roll each turn to determne if they were out of ammunition. They passed their roll every time. So did not run out of ammo like they did historically.

Second game we played the British could land any where with all their troops. Landed between Charlestown and the neck. So with fudging the historical conditions, the British did win but with heavy losses.

third game I GM'ed it and only two players on the American side knew all the details of how the historical battle went. The rest knew the British won with heavy losses but not the details of how the battle flowed. So after giving the british the historical conditions. They did what Howe did. Once all their troops were landed, they deployed to flank on the right and were stopped. They then tried to flank on the left near charlestown. But ended up assault the town and took a lot of casaulties. When they finally assaulted Breeds Hill. They were pretty much worn down and could not take the hill. After the game I explained how the historical battle went. One of the players for the British said, "I told you we should have burned that town down." lol

Mallen18 Jun 2013 3:21 a.m. PST

No, but someone stole the radio from my car when I was parked nearby, while I was supervising some demolition work in a boiler room of the Bunker Hill housing projects,….

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP18 Jun 2013 11:40 a.m. PST

Well SM if you put it that way. I seem to remmber reading about a slight disagreement within the British Command on how to attack the position. But I could be wrong.


Random quotes from Frothingham's and Ketchum's books on the battle:

"Then, in the early predawn, around 4:00 am, a sentry on board HMS Lively spotted the new fortification, and notified her captain. Lively opened fire, temporarily halting the colonists' work. Aboard his flagship HMS Somerset, Admiral Samuel Graves awoke, irritated by the gunfire that he had not ordered."

"He stopped it, only to have General Gage countermand his decision when he became fully aware of the situation in the morning. He ordered all 128 guns in the harbor, as well as batteries atop Copp's Hill in Boston, to fire on the colonial position, which had relatively little effect."

"The rising sun also alerted Prescott to a significant problem with the location of the redoubt it could easily be flanked on either side. He promptly ordered his men to begin constructing a breastwork running down the hill to the east, deciding he did not have the manpower to also build additional defenses to the west of the redoubt."

"It took almost six hours for the British to organize an infantry force and to gather up and inspect the men on parade. General Howe was to lead the major assault, drive around the colonial left flank, and take them from the rear. Brigadier General Robert Pigot on the British left flank would lead the direct assault on the redoubt, and Major John Pitcairn led the flank or reserve force. It took several trips in longboats to transport Howe's initial forces (consisting of about 1,500 men) to the eastern corner of the peninsula, known as Moulton's Point. By 2 pm, Howe's chosen force had landed. However, while crossing the river, Howe noted the large number of colonial troops on top of Bunker Hill. Believing these to be reinforcements, he immediately sent a message to Gage, requesting additional troops. He then ordered some of the light infantry to take a forward position along the eastern side of the peninsula, alerting the colonists to his intended course of action. The troops then sat down to eat while they waited for the reinforcements."

I like Ketchum's book.

Ironwolf18 Jun 2013 9:13 p.m. PST

From everything I've read about the assault on Breeds Hill. When the British moved to the left to flank Breeds Hill, they received fire from Americans in Charlestown. It was not until after Charlestown was burned that the British were able to flank Breeds Hill on the left.

When the British attempted to flank Breeds Hill on the right. The British ran into Americans there. When the Lights tried to flank even further on the right along the beach. The Americans had countered that advance.

Every thing I've read the British guns shooting at Breeds Hill from their ships was pretty much ineffective. The guns brought over and placed on Moulton's hill could not fire on Breeds Hill. As the British brought the wrong size cannon balls.

Its a pretty interesting battle when you add in the different situations that limited Howe's options.

Supercilius Maximus18 Jun 2013 10:01 p.m. PST

<<I seem to remmber reading about a slight disagreement within the British Command on how to attack the position. But I could be wrong.>>

No, you are correct; there was a council-of-war of sorts, which is where the alternatives were considered and rejected.

Louie N20 Jun 2013 8:58 p.m. PST

Hello All,

Sorry I am late to the thread.

My club played once. It was a 15mm game using a modification of Napoleon's Battles rules. The result was the British took the redoubt after several attempts.

While all this discussion was going on I was actually at the Bunker Hill monument. A good visit along with Lexington and Concord.

I took lots of pictures of the miniature diorama on display in the museum. I hope the pictures are a useful reference for those wanting to recreate the battle.

Thanks and enjoy



The full set can be seen here.


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