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"How did Doodles fight?" Topic

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historygamer04 Jan 2018 6:36 p.m. PST

So the fact that the Crown troops (with the general exception of the Germans) fought in open order is well documented.

But how did the American troops fight? Were they always in close order (with the possible exception of the riflemen), or did they also use open order formations as well.

Not looking for opinions, but I am looking for historical references.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member04 Jan 2018 11:45 p.m. PST

The Americans fought in open or loose order, just like the Brits. Not going to the trouble to look it up. Who do you think the British learned it from? Why do you think the British spent all that time training for it?

My question is, how did the French fight in America? I read somewhere that only the French light infantry fought in open order. Given the terrain I find that hard to believe. I am not convinced the Germans stuck to tight order past New York. But maybe they did.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2018 3:11 a.m. PST

It was the British who first adopted "loose files", Howe introducing them to the Boston garrison after he replaced Gage as C-in-C in America, and basing them on the formations used by (among others) his older brother during the F&IWar. After the battle of Green Spring, in June 1781, a Continental officer complained that, whilst the British were using open order they (the Americans) were adopting close order. IIRC, the word "German" was used – quite possibly a pop at Steuben, who was becoming extremely unpopular in some quarters of the Continental Army.

For the first half of the war, the Continental Army (or at least the New England elements of it) used a drill book written by Timothy Pickering, which he had adapted from the Norfolk Militia manual of 1759. This involved close order, although one assumes that it was amended to two-ranks from the usual three – certainly as American regimental strengths dropped after the initial "highs" of 1775.

Steuben's regulations apparently amalgamated British (the 1764 Manual), Prussian and French drill.

The French generally used close order, and were seen to do so at La Vigie in 1778. Rochambeau issued orders to his corps that they were to fire in two ranks, with the third rank loading for the first two; again, this suggests close order.

The Germans adopted two ranks fairly quickly, according to Atwood. We know from Riedesel's own diary that he encouraged his Brunswickers to adopt British formations, and that they demonstrated them in a "field day" watched by Fraser and Phillips in 1776; the Hesse Cassel contingent, however, appears to have had repeated requests to the Elector to be allowed fight in the looser British style, turned down.

Dn Jackson05 Jan 2018 3:46 a.m. PST

I read years ago that it depended on the French commander. The first troops to come over had switched to a two rank system while later commands stuck to a three rank system. Can't remember now where I read it.

historygamer05 Jan 2018 3:56 a.m. PST

And Rally is kind of proving the point of my question – can anyone document Americans (other than riflemen) fighting in open order?

FlyXwire05 Jan 2018 6:55 a.m. PST

By Americans, do you mean Continental Line deployed for open battle?
Americans, both Rebel and Tory Infantry, Rangers, and Militia, along with their Indian Allies constantly fought in open order "Indian Style" it was required by the nature of the Frontier.

"Using the wooded terrain to their advantage, the 600 plus troops flanking Baum's various positions would fire from behind a tree, reload, rush forward to another tree, fire again, and repeat the process. Though they were attacking uphill, they were able to take aim at a fixed position, whereas the defenders could only fire at elusive, moving targets."

This quote from With Musket & Tomahawk by Michael Logusz, references Colonel Nichol's New Hampshire Regiment and Colonel Herrick's Vermont Rangers in action at the Battle of Bennington.
The nature of the battlefield terrain often dictated the tactics employed (and tactical opportunities), and America even now, in places like upstate New York still resembles a primeval forest.

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2018 8:19 a.m. PST

My reading has lead me to the startling conclusion that as the British adopted open order, the American Line (at least after Steuben at ValleyF) adopted tighter formations (although not, it appears, beyond two ranks).
Steuben wanted the Americans to learn to use the bayonet.
To do so effectively, they needed to be en masse.
They did so at Monmouth, much to the surprise of the British.

As far as battles in the woods of upstate NY, it should be noted that much of the fighting there was done my masses of militia, whose effectiveness was directly proportional to how much they outnumbered their opponents.

42flanker05 Jan 2018 9:02 a.m. PST

I think there might be a bit of over-generalisation here. Different circumstances, at different periods, in different theatres, surely.

FlyXwire05 Jan 2018 1:19 p.m. PST

Conversely, Lt. Infantry, Rangers, and Partisans maneuvered in open order, again the terrain conditions often dictated this from upstate NY as mentioned, to the backwaters of the Southern States.

There's a good chapter on Knowlton's Rangers in Robert Tonsetic's book. A sampling -

"Due to the hilly and heavily wooded terrain, it was extremely difficult for various units to maintain contact with each other, but the rangers fought well on such terrain."

"Threatened by the arrival of a large force of British light horse, Knowlton ordered his rangers to withdraw into the near impassable Gowanus marsh to evade their mounted pursuers. The rangers moved in small groups across the tidal marsh, and reached safety of American lines on Brooklyn Heights without losing a man."

Indian Fighting tactics, for which Rangers were originally organized to combat, and tactics used during the Revolution to fight the enemy's advance guard, to reconnoiter his positions, to assail his supply lines, raid his camps, pillage food stocks and ammunition/weapon caches, to destroy bridges along the line of march, burn/butcher sympathetic hamlets, and of course for the ambuscade.

"Ambuscade" "Ambuscade derives from Middle French embuscade, a modification of an Old Italian word formed by combining the prefix in- and the Latin noun bosco, meaning "forest." This is appropriate, since many such surprise attacks have involved the attacking force hiding out in and emerging from a wooded area."

A fun but appropriate thread from the forum here -
TMP link
What makes it the AWI was the question?…..I think the preponderant consensus is it was fought under the conditions of an American landscape, and the Royal forces could never dominate that fact.

42flanker05 Jan 2018 5:40 p.m. PST

Knowlton's ranger company was intended primarily to operate as a reconnaissance and intelligence gathering force, not as raiders. They had a short career. In their first dedicated operation on 16th September 16 1776, recceing British forward positions on Manahattan, they precipitated a fight with British light infantry, which escalated into the action of Harlem Heights The Rangers suffered 10% casualties and Knowlton himself was killed. Meanwhile one of Knowlton's men, Nathan Hale, on a bona fide intelligence mission into British occupied New York, was identified and summarily executed as a spy. It was proposed to disband the unit but after White Plains the survivors were assigned instead to man the ouposts of Fort Washington and were all captured when that post was taken in November 1776.

FlyXwire06 Jan 2018 6:53 a.m. PST

Unfortunate that Knowlton was killed, as he was an experienced, and brilliant tactical leader, much like Hugh Mercer, both of whom had fought in the ranks during the French and Indian War.

An earlier assertion concerning the militia at Bennington fails to recognize the fighting experience of Stark's manpower. From Patriot Battles, by Michael Stephenson

"They were overrun. As the historian Brenda Morrissey has pointed out: Stark's men are often depicted as inexperienced farmers, in contrast to Baum's and Breymann's regulars. In fact, New Hampshire and Vermont were major recruiting areas in the French and Indian Wars and many men were former rangers or Provincials……
This was classic partisan warfare, so rarely encountered in the formal volley battles of European theaters of the eighteenth century. Baum was killed, and most of his command either became casualties or were captured."

The book With Zeal And With Bayonets Only, by Matthew Spring has chapters on "Bushfighting" and "Hollow Victories" (why the Royal forces were unable to achieve destruction of American forces defeated on the tactical battlefield). It details the evolution to the American 'loose files' order that Howe supported

"The aim instead is to sketch the tactical role that by 1775 the newly restored light infantry was expected to play, and to examine how and with what success British troops combated the rebels in the woods of North America."

Both Lt. Col. Lord George Townsend in 1772, and Mgr. Gen. Howe's light infantry drill of 1774 laid down the doctrine and training regime they recommended for troops in service in N. America -

"One departure in Townsend's instructions from the orthodox "heavy" drill laid down in the 1764 Regulations was the adoption of the two-deep firing line at open file intervals. Another was the practice of maneuvering and forming by files……
This devolution of fire control required each file to work together so one man remained loaded at all times. Ideally the two men were expected to share a tree from behind which they would alternately fire and retire a few feet to reload."

This exact practice is deployed by the ill-fated advance to Fort Stanwix by America Brig. Gen. Nicholas Herkimer during the battle of Oriskany. From the book With Musket & Tomahawk, by Michael Logusz

"Under his tree, General Herkimer realized that his militiamen were vulnerable after firing a shot; before they could reload, warriors would often charge forward with a tomahawk, club, knife, or spear in hand, forcing the militiaman into a hand-to-hand battle. To counter this, General Herkimer ordered that his militiamen fight in two-man teams. One would fire, and then reload while covered by his partner."

Author Spring also covers the inefficiency of the British instruction to rely on cold steel to drive the point home when facing the Rebels in close terrain, and at the [1st] Battle of Saratoga, facing a cross-section of American troop types; riflemen, regulars, and Lt. Infantry. -

"One of the most notable examples of the inefficacy of British bayonet charges against an enemy in dense woodland is the four-hour seesaw struggle in the center at the battle of Freeman's Farm. There Brigadier General Hamilton's brigade (the 20th, 21st, and 62nd Regiments, supported by the 9th Regiment), posted in the clearing around Freeman's Farm, repeatedly resorted to bayonet charges to drive away Brigadier General Enoch Poor's brigade, Colonel Daniel Morgan's riflemen, and Lieutenant Colonel Henry Dearborn's light infantry. Contemporary accounts make it clear that the dense woods around the clearing provided the rebels with cover from which to shoot at the exposed British troops and a rallying point when they had to fall back to evade enemy bayonets……
Burgoyne later stressed the cost of this bitter and unequal struggle: Few actions have been characterized by more obstinacy in attack or defense. The British bayonet was repeatedly tried ineffectually. Eleven hundred British soldiers, foiled in these trials, bore incessant fire from a succession of fresh troops in superior numbers, for above four hours, and after a loss of above a third of their numbers (and in one of the regiments above, two-thirds), forced the enemy at last……
Hamilton's embattled corps did not just have to contend with fire from their front. According to Lieutenant Hadden, swarming rebel parties exploited the thick woods to work their way onto the flanks and even into the rear of the 62nd Regiment."

Author Spring goes on to discuss King's Mountain, but more importantly how British and German regulars became entangled in heavy woods fighting ("became drawn into private battle") on the flanks of the battle of Guilford Courthouse.

For those looking for good books on the complete "nature" (no pun intended) of much of the fighting during the AWI, you can't go wrong with any of these quoted sources.

Personal logo Ironwolf Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2018 5:08 p.m. PST

Trying to find the source, but I recall reading how at Yorktown the French were keen to test their three ranks system against the British Two rank open order system??

I'm thinking it was in With Zeal And With Bayonets Only, by Matthew Spring?? But so far not able to find it.

My understanding of the American formations was two ranks close together. I'm basing that on same information SuperMax's posted. What manuals did the Americans use to train with before and after Steuben.

historygamer07 Jan 2018 6:50 p.m. PST

I'm interested in how Continental troops were trained to fight and how they fought – did they every fight in open order or always at closed order? If open order, cite a source please. :-)

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member07 Jan 2018 9:58 p.m. PST

A lot depends on what is meant by loose or open order. In our rules units are either loose order which are three to a base or tight order has four figures per base. Loose order units move faster in woods and rough terrain than tight. But tight gets bonuses when in melee.

In these rules all Americans are loose order and most of the British. Certain German units and especially Grenadiers are tight order.

Isn't open order and Skirmish formation two different things?

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member07 Jan 2018 10:03 p.m. PST


Wouldn't your answer be in "Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States" by von Steuben?

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member07 Jan 2018 10:13 p.m. PST

Did the British use open order in the FIW? I always thought that the British learned open order from the Americans during the FIW. Wasn't Howe influence by the Colonial Battalions during the FIW, where he commanded British Light Infantry?

He trained British Foot in loose order tactics based on his experience in the FIW. I find it hard to believe that he wasn't influenced by Americans adapting to the rough terrain of North America. I think the Americans adopted it years before the British.

42flanker08 Jan 2018 2:45 a.m. PST

It's important to distinguish between the ranging and bushfighting techniques advocated by William Howe's brother Lord George Howe, which led to the temporary formation of light infantry companies in America (as well as Gage's 80th Regt), and the more general adaptation of clothing and equipment for British infantry for woodland campaigns.

Overall, for the infantry during the F&IW there was no major change in tactics, simply a modification of how troops fought in line to local circumstances; specifically, Amherst's orders to reduce the depth from three lines to two and to open the spacing between files. Moreover, encounters between European troops in the open field were rare.

The bushfighting skills of regiments such as the 60th and the Highland regiments may have been exaggerated (perhaps even those of the provincial ranging companies, too).

Virginia Tory08 Jan 2018 6:49 a.m. PST

I was thinking, Howe issued orders in 1775 to go into open order as soon as he arrived in Boston--so he was simply going on past experience.

The Rebels are harder to nail down--the army that fought from 1775-7 is different from the one that was raised for 1777-83.

The problem with that is regimental quality varied, as did brigade level quality.

I haven't been able to find anything similar on the Continentals such as Spring's work looking at tactical evolution and doctrine.

We know about units using bush fighting techniques on the frontier, but those are secondary theaters.

Monmouth was more a case of the Rebels forming a strong line with artillery, which is really what stopped the disjointed British attacks (not Rebel bayonet charges) and there being no open flanks for the British to turn.

All of which argues for a Rebel force fighting in close, not open, order.

FlyXwire08 Jan 2018 7:14 a.m. PST

The terrain dictated the order used (both open or close).


historygamer08 Jan 2018 7:33 a.m. PST

Like others, I use BG rules, which allow the American to fight in open order, but I have not found an example of when they did that yet. Understand about fighting in woods, but that is different than being trained to fight in open order.

FlyXwire08 Jan 2018 7:47 a.m. PST

If you're trying to approach this historical question from a ruleset's point of view, you could likely be opening up a can of worms, or in the least rule's rewritting.

If you believe the Continentals never fought in open order in open terrain, then I would submit the argument they would have far better close-combat capability earned by their denser frontage, and with enhanced cohesion and morale benefit too when opposing British infantry in open field battle (especially late-war)….is this the case in BG?

The first fallacy I've learned from wargaming is to first enjoy it for the command decisions it brings to participants, but of course not to regard the gameplay as a means of [re] simulation, but at the most as a "simile".

Another comment on rules, and a general wargaming thought where is it practical to really simulate wooded terrain (and in miniature) like was evident on many of the AWI's battlefields, and on the fringes of "nearly" all of them? To deploy, move through, fight within, and deploy out of such terrain no doubt caused continuous requirement to dress the ranks and restore a formation from disorder. Is this the fare of AWI rulesets? Is this an exercise wargamers promote and encourage via their gorgeously-painted soldier stands brandishing resplendent bayonets on high? No gamer really wants to simulate this facet of linear warfare command in N. America…..far too tedious for most but the stalwart, and the latter who will soon abandon the "exercise" too, and move forward with the game (and really, gamers aren't to be faulted historical reenactors don't do this either).

historygamer08 Jan 2018 8:38 a.m. PST

I'm looking at it from a re-enacting standpoint as well.

"Wasn't Howe influence by the Colonial Battalions during the FIW, where he commanded British Light Infantry?"

I would suggest that he was more influenced by the Indians and nature of the terrain. Since there were no permanent colonial forces per se, and they certainly had not written tactical doctrine, the Brits had to develop their own. This is not to say that some provincial forces didn't develop a higher degree of ability (VA regiment from 1756 onwards, due to constant deployment on the frontier), but the developed their skills at the same time as did the British.

"The bushfighting skills of regiments such as the 60th and the Highland regiments may have been exaggerated (perhaps even those of the provincial ranging companies, too)."

Agreed. The 60th was just a regular regiment and had no special frontier ability. While the conducted some drills for deploying in Indian files in a single rank at Fort Bedford, their actual combat experience belied any special ability during the battle of Grant's Hill that Sept. During Pontiac's rebellion, Bouquet commented that the Highlanders got lost when they went about 30 yards off the trail, thus he hired guides at For Bedford on his march to relieve Fort Pitt.

I would also suggest that you didn't want to go out on a raid with Rogers as few seem to come back except him for some reason. The British Lights by 1759 at Quebec were the equal of any armed light forces on the continent and were indeed led by William Howe. Even the Indians with the French commented how hard it had become to kill the English, but then again, five years of war will usually make a veteran force with experienced commanders.

historygamer08 Jan 2018 8:39 a.m. PST

But, back to my question – does anyone have any references about the American Continentals fighting in open order?

FlyXwire08 Jan 2018 8:59 a.m. PST

Your original question was about "Doodles", but to our credit we took you seriously. :)))

FlyXwire08 Jan 2018 10:42 a.m. PST

So now a couple of intriguing historical [and wargaming] questions follow.

If Continental Line (say during the Southern Campaign for discussion purposes) only fought in close order formation during the significant pitched battles of the campaign, and British Line did so in open order -

1) Did this mean British Line fought hand-to-hand outnumbered?

2) Does this mean there was also a higher concentration of American firing muskets fire per frontage during volley exchanges?

3) Do period maps, or our contemporary versions of them reflect these differences in troop density between American and Royalist deployments?

I'm sensing some huge ramifications/reevaluations may be arising.

Lance Flint08 Jan 2018 2:53 p.m. PST

Tactically a fascinating subject!

Troops with little drill practise(in large numbers anyway), training and lacking experience would TEND to use a closer order to maintain cohesion and for their Officers and NCOs to maintain control more easily. I believe this was what Von Steuben had settled on for an achievable goal? However more seasoned Americans, certainly later in the conflict, would be more tactically flexible.

Potentially British infantry in a loose formation MIGHT struggle against a resolute enemy line in a Closer order? Tarleton complained about this after Cowpens, as did some other officers later in the war, although this might be due to the improving quality of American troops in general.

So also yes, close order troops of an equivelant level of training COULD potentially outshoot looser formed enemy, BUT this might be balanced by that enemy presenting a more difficult target?

Looser formations benefitted aggressive offensive action that demanded movement and discipline with denser formations favouring the defense when cohesion and stability was demanded of the troops involved?

All a bit generalised to be sure and all IMHO of course!

historygamer08 Jan 2018 3:18 p.m. PST

I am hesitant to go down this path, as no one here seems to be able answer my question.

The advantages of being at open order:

1. Able to close faster, before your opponent has time to reload

2. Ability to go to close formation before closing

3. Ability to flank an opponent of equal size in close order formation

4. Reduced casualties due to being a less dense target

5. Ability to use cover better, if needed (tree all!)

It was never in the interest of the Crown troops to get into a shooting contest. Fire, draw fire, close with the bayonet. Seemed to work pretty well in most battles.

FlyXwire08 Jan 2018 3:45 p.m. PST

I've rarely read about the practice of closing-up ranks when at bayonet range, specifically into close order (#2). The issue was if stopping to do so, the risk was the formation would not resume movement again to charge to contact. This has been sited as one of the issues of driving home a charge in general, and certainly if the troops were loaded, where they would slow upon closing [hesitate], and instead stop to begin a firefight.

I think your other points are sound!

Like Lance commented above, the issue of a potentially denser volley fire might be cancelled by a more "porous" target formation but this was not the aim of open order (but something game rules should consider anyway).

So now, let me "turn the world upside down" with another question of my own how many historical accounts from say 1778 onward, can we find texts of British troops forming into close order lines (back from open order line)?

FlyXwire08 Jan 2018 6:44 p.m. PST

Btw, while researching for a Harlem Heights scenario presented a few years ago, I became interested to find info on the musical signals mentioned being used by the British Lights (with fox horns) during that skirmish, and for other types of instruments employed to communicate orders in close terrain, such as by the German Jaegers, and also by American troops. I've retained a print-out copy of the following article on these "instruments of war" and the signals they could convey in the field, and luckily the article is still available online (it's an interesting read) -


What caught my eye, is the mention of the drum signals arranged by the Sullivan Indian Expedition of 1779, which was ordered by George Washington, and related within this article are the drum orders organized for use by this force, as recorded by a member of the Continental 3rd New Jersey Regt., and reaffirmed a couple weeks later again in general orders reissued

"This order was reaffirmed on 24 August at Fort Sullivan, Tioga.

The army are again notified that beating the troop on a march, is ever a signal for closing column ready to display [into line], & beating to arms a signal to display & form in the common order.11

These passages are interesting since they describe detailed signals intended for use by troops on the move. By way of comparison, de Stuben's 1779 Regulations gives only three different signals for marching forces: for the "Front to halt", "the Front to advance quicker", and "to march slower." The correlation between common usage of the "Troop" (to assemble "the soldiers together") and "to Arms" ("the signal for getting under arms in case of alarm") to their use above can be seen. At the time of the June 1779 British incursion up the North River, General Washington's main army in New Jersey made use of what was most likely a similar set (or sets) of signals for the same purpose. The following was included in the orders for the movement of the army: "As the country is covered with wood [and] is close and much broken it will be necessary for the Major Generals to fix upon certain beats or signals for advancing in the whole or part, retreating &c."12."

What is notable, is Rees' comment that different (or more detailed) drum signals were used on this 1779 expedition than were stipulated by von Steuben's regulations. Additionally, that it is likely these, or similar, more detailed signals were used by Washington's Army of the same time period [see above].

Second, does it appear to readers here that two line deployment orders, or the possibility or more than one line order might be signaled… display [into line] and into "common order"?

And what was then a "uncommon order" (one for use in "close and much broken" terrain perhaps)?

In the least, I think this might help establish that historical evidence does exist, that American units could and did respond to more detailed orders than were set forth by von Steuben's instructions.

historygamer09 Jan 2018 9:45 a.m. PST

Might have something to add later today. It is from a 1778 orderly book and involves training.

historygamer11 Jan 2018 6:21 a.m. PST

Manoevers to be performed by Genl Waynes Division July 30th 1778.

The Battalions properly Told off, The Officers posted and formed for a Charge Division, marched by the Right to the Exercising Ground in one column, And the following words of Command will be Given; 1st Close Column, the Column Closes; The light Infantry one Hundred paces in front of the points in view; And keep up a smart fireing, Second Display Columns The Columns Displays to the left and the Light Infantry Retreats through the Intervals forming in the Rear of the Right of their Battalion, ye firing Commences as The Columns Displays, and each platoon fires four Rounds; Third Forward March, the whole line marches to the front to an assigned Distance, Each Battalion Dressing by its own Center, The Battalions Dressing to Each Other, being regulated by the standard on the Right, Fourth halt, they must halt and dress to the right, fifth, to the Right about face, they will face to the Right About and March to their Ground, this will be repeated Several times forward March, March, Charge Bayonnetts, Sixth, to the Right About face, this will be repeated; Seventh by Platoons to the Right Wheel March, Ninth March, Tenth Form Divisions, Eleventh form platoons, N.B. when Every General word of command is Given to the Divisions, it is Necessary the Commanding Officers of Regts should repeat it
Michael Ryan Major Inspector

FlyXwire11 Jan 2018 6:39 a.m. PST

Sounds like they had a busy life!

The "retreat through intervals" is intriguing, but this could have been between platoons (this has been seen in other battles for allowing forward elements [the militia] to retreat behind the rearward Continental Line).

The Lt. Infantry [platoon?] out front that's a good find (reference to actual, tactical field drill)! It's what is often referred/inferred to as "skirmishing" in innumerable historical accounts, and I can imagine the Lt. Infantry didn't form up into a column before they retreated to the rear. ;)

Good stuff HG!

historygamer11 Jan 2018 6:47 a.m. PST

The intervals could also mean open order. Hard to say. This was provided by my friends in the 2nd PA Regt.

FlyXwire11 Jan 2018 6:50 a.m. PST

Thanks goes out to them – another good find.

historygamer12 Jan 2018 8:09 a.m. PST

Here is an interesting response to the post above:

Since these are Division Orders (Wayne's Division being made of the 1st & 2nd PA Brigades), where the orders are to the battalions, not individual divisions/platoons, it is most likely that the "intervals" are between battalions and not between platoons, let alone individual men. Also, given that the platoons are firing immediately upon coming on line, it is hard to imagine that the light infantry is falling back in an open order parallel line to the regular infantry.

The most logical interpretation of these orders on our end:

"Multiple battalions are referenced in the orders. The light infantry is likely retiring through the intervals between battalions. What is being described with this maneuver would seem to be the lights engaging the enemy, meanwhile the brigade {Division} displays, and the lights falling back to protection of the main line of infantry. Retiring lights would not be falling back over a broad front if they encountered the main line of the enemy.
A) They would want to present the narrowest target possible
B) They can't block the fire of the platoons.
N.B. In this description, platoons are firing as they come on line. QED…these lights are falling back in single file and firing between battalion gaps."

Given the overwhelming evidence from Continental, British, & civilian accounts that the Continental army fought in tight, closed order formations, at this time we shall continue to fight as such for the post Valley Forge period.

Virginia Tory16 Jan 2018 12:20 p.m. PST

Wow, that really throws a wrench in the "history" we all learned as kids, doesn't it?

42flanker16 Jan 2018 1:30 p.m. PST

'July 30th 1778'

When was the next time American troops in the Northern theatre would engage the enemy formed up thusly in the open field?

historygamer16 Jan 2018 2:16 p.m. PST

Likely in some skirmish against foragers.

42flanker16 Jan 2018 3:19 p.m. PST

It seemed to me that the divisional orders indicate, as you suggested, a much more extensive, 'set piece' deployment, rather than, for example, skirmishing with British foraging columns out of New York.

William Ulsterman17 Jan 2018 7:27 p.m. PST

What about the Continental troops at Connecticut Farms or Springfield in 1780? Those battles did involve the Continental battalions holding defensive positions and fighting set piece battles against the British – in the open field might be more questionable – although holding the Galloping Hill Bridge at Springfield where two British assaults had to be stopped over a bridge near the town would suggest that this was fairly flat terrain, complicated only be the presence of a river or stream.

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