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"Charlestown battle." Topic

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673 hits since 5 Mar 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2017 4:14 p.m. PST

Superb Terrain job here…




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historygamer05 Mar 2017 7:35 p.m. PST

Actually the text says it's Bunker Hill.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2017 12:11 a.m. PST

The beach looks a little too narrow; otherwise, superb. Looking forward to seeing this "in the flesh".

Gnu200006 Mar 2017 5:51 a.m. PST

Well, my blog post does indicate that this is a first setup and parts of it will be adjusted. I'm happy with beach as I only need to push a narrow column of light companies up it. SuperMax do you have any guidance on how wide it should be? All I have read suggests there wasn't much room and the cobble wall was defended by 50-70 men in several ranks. The beach and 'palisade' I have found the hardest parts of the battlefield to come to firm conclusions on.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2017 6:54 a.m. PST

You are quite right that the defenders were in several ranks, apparently with muskets being loaded and passed forward to the men at the front which would certainly explain how the British column was shattered so comprehensively and quickly. Re-reading your blog, I notice that a base equals a company (approximately) and so in terms of your ground scale, the width of the beach may actually be correct.

I formed the impression that the British advanced in a column of companies, possibly two (rather than three) ranks deep in each case, so 20+ men wide; although Elting talks about a "column of fours" but I'm not sure where he gets this from, as he then talks about the first three companies each being cut down in turn by a single volley, which would not have happened in a 4 wide x 10 deep column. The tide was ebbing during the battle, so more of the beach may have been exposed by that, as well.

Obviously the width cannot have been that great or else Stark's men could not, in such a short space of time, have built a wall all the way across of sufficient size to conceal that many men (I have Stark's command at 150, but can't find a source for that). I've seen a reference (albeit on Wikipedia) to the beach being 12 feet wide, but whilst this fits the "column of fours" theory for the British, for the Americans it seems hard to imagine that a rank of men (or even two) that narrow behind the wall could produce a single volley so devastating as to wipe out an entire company* (much less do it three times).

[* having seen post-BH muster rolls for the 23rd's light bobs supposedly wiped out I suspect this was not true anyway, and in addition to the natural exaggeration of enemy losses common to battles of this period, a lot of men were probably knocked down by nothing more than the genuine casualties in front of them falling backwards ]

Gnu200006 Mar 2017 1:44 p.m. PST

Thanks SM. I gaming terms this doesn't make any real difference. The light troops are still bunched up quite densely with no room to manoeuvre. I'd like to be more confident about the defenders at the cobble wall but I'll see how it plays out in a test game!

If the defenders had about 1/3 of their number firing with the rest reloading this would at least double their rate of fire, so maybe a volley every 10 seconds. With no respite, officers being felled in the front rank and the companies being unused to operating together in such a stressful environment, I can see how the attack could have floundered whether it was 4 or 10 men wide. Nasty. I doubt a light battalion of 1777 would have been stopped so easily, with greater experience of operating as a single unit rather than 10 disparate companies.

Thanks for the info.

Personal logo Ironwolf Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2017 3:01 a.m. PST

Super Max,
"a lot of men were probably knocked down by nothing more than the genuine casualties in front of them falling backwards"

I've never looked up the numbers, but always wonder if it was a combination of soldiers being hit and those not being hit dropping to the ground?? So when I read your comment it got me to thinking again. lol

historygamer07 Mar 2017 5:19 a.m. PST


I know we are all speculating here (the fun of the internet), but I suspect a Light Battalion of 1777 would have had the same trouble – narrow front, density of the target, rate of fire.

General's Howe plan to flank the rebel line was a good idea hours earlier, but not once the line was extended to the water. Using trained, but green troops, I suspect made little different. Note how the Lights got pinned down at Birmingham Hill in 1777 by fire too.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2017 11:29 a.m. PST

@ Ironwolf,

There is a similar description of a British light battalion taking "severe" casualties at Pelham Manor late the following year; again, the muster rolls say otherwise and it would seem to be a combination of over-guesstimation by inexperienced Continental officers and most of the target battalion either "hitting the dirt" when Glover's brigade opened fire, or being knocked over by casualties in front of, or to either side of them.

That said, I think "historygamer" is spot on when he says that on such a narrow frontage, a similarly concentrated fire would have caused a similar level of confusion. Where I think the M1777 battalion might have done better is having some men out in front to either "spring" the ambush early, or at least spot it.

Gnu200008 Mar 2017 1:51 p.m. PST


Blog updated with some more progress on organising the terrain for the Breed's Hill game. Currently not doing fleches as such. It allowing a log barrier. Easier to model at least 😀 . Open to suggestion on this matter…🤔

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2017 3:16 p.m. PST

Yes, the fleches are controversial supposedly they were an ad hoc construction from fence poles/timbers that were lying around possibly just re-stacking of the piles; however, some maps don't show them at all.

The only thing I would say about your layout is that the manned rail fence (Reed/Knowlton) is a bit further back than I would have thought (although it does give the British an opportunity to "swing left" and punch through behind the redoubt without flanking fire from the fence). Otherwise, I think you have done a very, very good job. Nice to see the stone barn in the American right rear a lot of Bunker Hill games ignore this for some reason, although there was some desperate fighting around it involving the 47th Foot and 1st Marine battalion.

Will this be at Salute?

Bill N08 Mar 2017 3:38 p.m. PST

@SuperMax-I thought there was some dispute on British casualties at Pelham. One explanation is the British did not include Hessian casualties in their very low numbers, and a large portion of the losses were incurred by the Hessians.

Gnu200008 Mar 2017 11:30 p.m. PST

Hi SM, thanks for the comments and no, I gave up on Salute a couple of years ago when they seemed to stop valuing gamers who had supported the show in the past. I understand things have now changed but I've now got used to not traipsing to London for what is a very exhausting day. The game will be at Cannon and Partizan.

I think the rail fence might be right but Breed's Hill has crept forward :-)

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2017 3:36 a.m. PST

@ Gnu2000 – Sorry to hear, that; I can recall your excellent Guilford CH game from a few years back. Maybe see you at Partizan.

@ BillN – I did quite a lot of research on this action for British Grenadier Scenario Book 4, assisted by a gentleman named Lt Col Frank Licomeli, who is/was a lecturer at West Point. A number of local historians, writing in the first half of the 20th Century, got a little excited by having a battle in their backyard and not only overestimated (grossly would not be an unfair adjective here) the number of Crown troops involved (converting every flank company into its parent regiment – including the Hesse Cassel Foot Guards), and accepting every Continental estimate of losses inflicted at face value (and even exaggerating one or two of them).

At most, the Crown units involved on the day were 1st Light Infantry, a jaeger company, a section of RA 3-pdrs, and the Grenadier Battalion von Linsing; for the game, I included the possibility of the 2nd Light Infantry following the 1st Bn more closely than it did historically, and 2nd Grenadier Battalion and its 6-pdr section arriving on a flanking march late in the game (which almost happened in the real thing).

German accounts of the battle indicate similarly low casualties as for the British, with only the jaeger being seriously engaged. From my recollection of correspondence with Lt Col Licomeli, the large number of Germans buried at or near St Paul's church in Westchester (most of whom had died from disease) led to false conclusions by the local historians about Hessian casualties on the day.

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