Saturday, May 21, 2011

John Corrigan Memorial game 2011- "Action in the Plattville Valley" - redux...!

With the news of John's passing last week, DG and I though we should perhaps remember him in a way that we were sure he would approve, so it was the DG and I got together last night for the first of what I hope will be many more games, that I've labelled the "John Corrigan Memorial Game"... there are no rules to this annual set-to, other than that it has to be set in the American War of Independence so that we can use those lovely old Minifigs John gave me all those years ago...

Cycling to work the other morning then, with the period set, my thoughts then turned to the matter of scenario. I'd just read a (excellent) recent post by Ross Mac where he had re-fought the Action in the Plattville Valley - like a bright shining light between the eyeballs (though it may have been a lorry overtaking..) it came to me, what could be more perfect than this quintessentially old school battle from Don Featherstone's "War Games" for our game..?? Decision made...

The original scenario as described in the book has this map (and click on this or any of the other pictures in the post for a bigger view), so the first challenge is to represent this using my own TSS scenery. I know that it was not going to be exact, what I wanted was a fair representation... I came up with the following..

The battlefield taken from the eastern end looking west - the roads are slightly different but representative, I don't have a church in 25mm so I used the small wooden hut as that would give me enough room to put the walled sheltered area in front of it.... I used the barn for the buildings, but Green Ridge (classed as "steep slopes" for our game), Mole Hill and Rabbit Ridge ("gentle slopes") are largely as per the map. The water is classed as a stream (passable but some movement limitation), and Platt Wood is in the foreground as per the map ("dense woods")

Orders of battle were largely as the book - one of the advantages of playing this game in the American War of Independence, as opposed to the original American Civil War is that the units can largely be the same - both wars were light on cavalry so that translates well. Don suggested three brigades of infantry a side, with a squadron of cavalry and a gun..

As the Americans suffer with poorer morale in the American War Of Independence rules I use (click here and scroll down to the rules section for a link - I use Will McNally's rules and have done for years, but as is the way of wargamers I've added a few modifications to the morale and firing sections), I gave them a weakened fourth brigade to make up the difference...

Orders of battle then are as per the following - in the game the Americans took the part of the Confederates, the Hessians (it was largely a German force rather than British - John used to love painting Germans and they were some of the first units I based up!) took the Union side.

1Green Mountain Boys - 1st Battalion1 & 205
1Green Mountain Boys - 2nd Battalion3 & 405
2New York Regiment9 & 1005
29th Pennsylvania Regiment11 & 1205
3Massachusetts Militia - 1st Battalion5 & 605
3Massachusetts Militia - 2nd Battalion13 & 1405
4Connecticut Artillery (Light)2805
44th Dragoons37 & 3805
5Maryland State Marines2303
5Maryland State Marines24 & 2505
1von Barner (Brunswick)8 & 9+15
1Erbprinz11 & 12+25
2Jaegers (Brunswick)3 & 4+15
2Jaegers (Brunswick)5 & 6+15
3 Regiment Prinz Ludwig - 1st Battalion13 & 1405
3 Regiment Prinz Ludwig - 2nd Battalion15 & 1605
4New York Loyalist Artillery (Light)2305
416th Light Dragoons24 & 25+15

So - an average American force, some Militia, standard morale bonuses (0's), versus a smaller, tougher, Hessian force - the killer unit being Erbprinz with their massive +2 morale benefit - hardened German grenadiers (boooo hissss! smileys)

So - on to the battle - the scenario requires an advance guard of one brigade to enter the table, three moves before the main force - DG entered from just south of Platt Wood, I entered diagonally opposite by the bridge... DG used his 1st brigade

While I used the 2nd brigade (and look - those damned site see'ers turned up again smileys)..

..and here is the position at the end of move 3, as the main forces of both sides are just coming on to the table..

First off (above) DG - he'd chosen to bolster the centre of his line with the regulars of the 2nd Brigade - in the far distance the Militia, and in the foreground the Marines (and before anyone mentions it, I haven't managed to find any reference to the Marines actually fighting in a land battle, and I don't care - John was painter first and foremost, so his collection was eclectic!)

While I had grasped the bull firmly by the horns and massed my best regiments opposite "Church Hill" - Erbprinz to the fore.. I had in mind a veritable battering ram of an attack that I hoped would carry all before me...

At the other end of the table - a close up of the advance guard as they come over the bridge and move down the valley on the south side of the stream - artillery following with the cavalry following the road round the ridge.

I hesitate to call them plans, but I was planning to use the cavalry to scare DG's Militia and keep them out of the battle, while I brought the artillery up towards the barn to help the assault on Church Hill...

As I'd hoped DG brought the Militia out to block the road, with the 9th Pennsylvania of the 2nd Brigade in the second rank as support - I took one look at this line of Militia, shuffling and looking despondent, and threw the aforesaid 'plan' out of the window - "fortune and glory, kid" and charged the left of the two regiments sending them routing down the road after they failed to stop me closing... being cavalry, the 9th Penn were then the obvious target of the breakthrough charge, and the Death and Glory boys raced on only to be held by the disciplined volleys of the 9th Penn. In the next turn however, they recovered, charged home and sent them routing away as well... ho hum - lucky dice for me on the melee's and the morale check, but the sum total being that DG's east flank was wide open.. see following..

At the same time, on the north side of the table Erbprinz were attacking the barn complex with a view to ejecting the Marines - this went spectacularly unwell, and they were sent packing (boo hiss!!) but the Brunswick'ers following up close behind renewed the assault and successfully drove them out and took the barn... hadn't escaped my attention however, that DG had occupied Church Hill with the two regiments of the finest.

Later in the game (see following) and the Brunswick'ers have now exited the barn and Erbrpinz are back from their push back, and about to follow them through.

DG's Militia have recovered and the British cavalry are again in action, while the unlucky 9th Penn continue to rout (red pin).

Meanwhile the assault column is formed, and the British artillery is almost in action (at last!)

Beginning of the end for the American's as the assault smashes home, von Barner carrying all before them - I picked my spot and attacked DG's east facing unit in the flank, but it was still over a wall, and in the face of musketry from the other unit - truly triumphant stuff...

...and in the following, the end - a fighting retreat for those units DG had left as he departed the field leaving the Platville Valley in Hessian hands.... for the time being... smileys

Post Match Analysis :
  • It goes without saying that I had some lucky dice throws this game - it clearly benefited the British cavalry who were.... err... dominant! Good results in the melee's (I won or drew, all of them).
  • A good discussion after the game about the relative strengths of cavalry compared with infantry in the fire fight - I do have a penalty for cavalry firing (and a long discussion and some research would indicate that this was a fairly common occurrence) but clearly 80 odd men (which is what a cavalry unit is representing) armed with carbines is not going to put out as much fire as 250+ men armed with muskets - leaving the range aside the penalty was clearly not enough so for the next game I'll increase that (was -1, will probably increase to -3)
  • It's been a while since we've played these rules, and unlike Will's 7YW version of the rules there isn't an option to refuse the flank - I'll remedy that as it played to my benefit in the assault on Church Hill - DG had one regiment in line facing each direction - all I had to do was pick the regiment facing the 'wrong' direction which clearly wasn't fair. I'll make a modification that allows one stand to turn to face a threat and not be penalised when firing...
  • The AWI collection... smileys
  • Refreshments on this occasion were alcoholic and from the Thornbridge Brewery, starting with a glass of Kipling and moving on to another of Jaipur - absolutely delicious!


  1. Steve

    I'd say you've done your friend proud. Your terrain was a very good representation of the original Featherstone map, and the translation to AWI worked well.



  2. Excellent and a fitting tribute to your friend.

  3. Well done! A fitting tribute and an attractive and interesting game.

    However, while I only have the evidence of 3 versions of this scenario plus the original, the score appears to be 4 victories for the North/Federal side vs none for the Rebels. Interesting. Cries out for a rematch or 2.

  4. Another interesting game Steve. I have been looking for a scenario to test Regtl FnF, chose one from the Battlegame book but will now be getting out my copy of Wargames. On a different tack I also enjoy the Samson books by Deighton and have found they are worth rereading. His book about a Berlin family which give background to the characters is also worth reading.

  5. Cheers one and all - the comments were much appreciated... I enjoyed the game a lot (there's something about moving those big 25mm Minifigs about) what with the dice throws I suspect DG thought he was being bulldozed, but I prefer to believe it was my superior plan! :o)

    Jim - I already have the Berlin book and read it years ago - I hadn't realised there was a connection with Game/Set/Match - I must pull it out again for another read...

  6. Huzzah - I'm sure John would heartily approve!

  7. Great post, It looked and sounded like a very enjoyable game.

  8. A good looking and fun game as well as a new outing fro an old scenario! Like you I cleave to Will McNally's AWI rules although I use the computerised version put up by Tony Delyall.

    As to Marines fighting on land; well Major Samuel Nicholas' contingent of Continental Marines formed part of Cadwalader's Brigade at the Battle of Princeton in 1777. Also let us not forget the heroic efforts of Colonel John Glover's 14th Continental Regiment composed mainly of men from Marblehead (Mass.) who are commonly thought to have been sailors and fishermen in semi-nautical garb - they basically pulled Washington's fat out of the fire at Brooklyn by ferrying the army Manhattan. In addition they ferried him back and forth across the Delaware and helped out at Trenton in '76. If not actual marines they proved to be something more useful sailing soldiers!