Friday 28 August 2020

Sharp Practice: Bloody Work on the Widow Creek Bridge

Having played through four of the scenarios in Sharp Practice (and the remaining two just being encounter battles) I suggested to Andy we see about converting the Widow Creek Bridge scenario from Rebels & Patriots to see how that worked. In that a small defensive force holds a bridge and finds itself under attack from a superior force, whilst reinforcements rush to their aid. 

Lieutenant Haddock took command of two groups of British Line Infantry guarding the bridge, periodically retiring to the nearby hostelry for an occasional sherry...

His repose is broken by the sight of rebels advancing towards his position... Gad!

Rebels who suddenly open fire on his position! Corporal Horowitz's Continental Light Skirmishers firing an ineffective volley at the British.

Fortunately for Haddock. Ensign Harrow with three groups of Light Infantry Skirmishers were patrolling north of the river and move to support.

However they come under fire from a small group of Militia Skirmishers under Corporal Rowsick hiding in a wood across the river. Harrow's men take some Shock, but spread it between the three groups largely negating its effect.

More British Line arrive under the command of Sergeant Wakefield, so Ensign Harrow deploys his Lights to engage the advancing Americans he can see across the river...

Bullets slam into the Patriots, one of Captain Whitfield's Continentals is killed and his group takes Shock. Once again Corporal Horowitz is wounded in the first round by enemy fire (keep your head down man!), fortunately this week he was a Level 2 leader so still able to issue one command a turn. #lessonlearned

American return fire inflicts some Shock on Harrow's Lights but spread between the three groups it has minimal impact on their combat ability.

The British Light's fire continues to rip into the flank of the advancing Continentals, who lose more men and are taking double Shock for being shot in the flank.

Clearly advancing down the road under the withering British fire was only going to see the Continental Line reduced to complete ineffectiveness so Captain Whitfield swung them into line facing the enemy and returned fire, whilst Lieutenant Kraslow with his Continental Lights in Line (Lee's Legion) moved across the field, covered by the wood.

Meanwhile Sergeant Wakefield ran his boys up towards the bridge to support Lieutenant Haddock. They took a couple of points of Shock in the process, but they arrived in a timely fashion.

Just as well as one of the groups of British Line was beginning to take Shock and casualties from American fire.

Lee's Legion engaging them from across the field of play... 

Meanwhile Corporal Watson's Militia had moved past the struggling Continentals and continued advancing towards the Widow Creek Bridge. At this point I realised my army deployment was a right mess and at the very least the Legion and Militia should have been in each others positions!

The brave, but rather foolish, Corporal Watson and his Militia bore down on the bridge under British fire and started to take casualties and Shock...

A 'firing incident' (arising out of three flag tokens being drawn in a row) saw the hostelry catch fire. Lieutenant Haddock is aghast... Think of the sherry! Still, ever the professional he rushes over to his other group of Line to reduce their Shock and improve their shooting at the Rebels.

The withering fire from the British piles the shock on the Militia and Sergeant Wakefield advances his men onto the bridge to support his officer.

With his front group badly shocked, Corporal Watson splits his formation into two separate groups in an attempt to bring some muskets to bear on the British, but Haddock gets his firing in first!

The British volley hammers into the Militia, both groups falling back and the American Force Morale takes a beating.

At this stage things were looking good for the British, they had stalled the American attack and the Rebels were resorting to desultory musket fire at them. 

In an attempt to regain some initiative Captain Whitfield ordered the Continentals to resume their advance to try and rescue the Militia, whilst Horowitz's Skirmishers started shooting at the British on the bridge.

After his success last week, Andy decided to go on the offensive again, two groups of British Line Infantry fixing bayonets and charging down a group of dis-spirited Militia!

The result was inevitable and the Militia unit was not only destroyed but Corporal Watson was captured by the British! The American Force Morale dropped even further...

However things were not all going the way of the British. Whilst they had been attacking the Militia, Captain Whitfield had managed to deploy the Continental Line and they fired a volley into the British who were still celebrating their defeat of the Militia.

This volley inflicted Shock on the British forcing them back and Lieutenant Haddock was hit by a musket ball knocking him over!

Captain Whitfield attempted to build on this change of fortune and ordered the Continentals in with the bayonet!

The British Line fell back and then found themselves under rifle fire from Horowitz's Skirmishers, taking more casualties and Shock. 

This was too much for one group of British Line who fell back to the bridge, leaving a prone Lieutenant Haddock and the remaining half group facing the Continental advance. The British Force Morale was now down to the same low level as the American's!

The British attempted to drag Haddock to safety away from the line of the American advance, but the Continentals charged in...

Killing one Englishman and forcing the remainder back.

Deciding to 'sod this for a game of soldiers' the British fled the field of battle, dragging the unfortunate Lieutenant Haddock with them...

Meanwhile Kraslow's Legion Light Infantry pushed forward towards the river to continue their firefight with Ensign Harrow's Skirmishers...

Meanwhile back at the bridge Captain Whitfield ordered the Continental Line in with the bayonet again...

Breaking the British group and recapturing the unfortunate Militia Corporal. The flight of the British Line saw their Army Force Morale reduce to zero - the Continental Line had pulled the bacon out of the fire and victory had gone to the Patriots!

That was another excellent close run game that could easily have gone either way (the American Force Morale was dangerously low at the end of the game and we both entered the final phase on just 3 each).

I think both of us made mistakes during the game, I should have used the Militia to protect the flank of the advancing army (as they have more muskets than the Legion), and the Legion are my best unit in melee combat so may have resisted the British Line better. Andy probably should have just tried to hold the bridge rather than run the Militia down, but I understand why he did given the impact their destruction had on my Force Morale. He was unfortunate the way the chips fell at this point as the luck all went with the Continentals allowing them to plug the gap and the incapacitation of Lieutenant Haddock added insult to injury at the most important part of the battle, hamstringing the British Line.

It was good to see that the scenarios from Rebels and Patriots can be ported across with little problem as their are some good ones in the book that I think will make for some exciting and enjoyable Sharp Practice games.