Friday 13 October 2023

Sharp Practice: Skirmish at Halfway Swamp

Having spent recent gaming time in the Second World War (whether that be 6mm 'O' Group or 28mm Chain of Command), Andy suggested a long over due return to the American War of Independence with Sharp Practice and as he dug out his lobsterbacks and a scenario from the Swamp Fox supplement, I dusted off my rebels.

The scenario, based on a skirmish between Colonel Francis Marion ("The Swamp Fox" himself) and Major Robert McLeroth of the 64th Foot in December 1781 required a lot of rebel militia forces so I had to make use of some of my Continental regulars who I slotted into the Veteran Rebel Militia, obviously back home in South Carolina after time served up north still proudly wearing their blue coats!

Having received intelligence that Major McLeroth would be leading a column of recruits for the 7th Fusiliers to Camden to join their regiment there, the Swamp Fox decided to ambush the lobersbacks at the farm at Halfway Swamp, leading Veteran Rebel Militia towards the road the British will be travelling along.

Aware of the presence of the legendary rebel leader in the region, McLeroth ordered Sergeant Dowling to scout ahead with a group of Light Infantry skirmishers from the 64th Foot.

Whilst the volunteers for for the 7th Fusiliers (Tory Loyalist Militia types) "marched" towards Camden led by Captain George Kelly and Lieutenant Anthony Chalmers-Brown - it'll take some serious effort by a Sergeant Major to whip these boys into shape!

Behind them Major McLeroth led the escort from the 64th Foot (bayonets fixed no doubt to encourage the Militia "volunteers" on their way to Camden).

Spotting the Tory Militia marching down the Camden-Charleston road, Marion snapped his men into a firing line, whilst Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Horry brought the Kingstree Regiment Militia up behind in support...

Surprised by the appearance of so many rebels, McLeroth split the 64th into two formations, the second under the command of the inexperienced Captain Willian Stanford.

As the British prepared to face down the American rebels flanking the main road they suddenly spied more enemy to their front - Lieutenant Colonel Lemuel Benton commanding three groups of Newly Recruited Militia and two groups of Militia skirmishers commanded by Major John Vanderhorst and Captain Robert McCottry respectively. Whilst the Newly Recruited Militia would not be able to stand against the bayonets of the redcoats, Benton was hopeful that his men might get a couple of good volleys in, even if they were Poor Shots.

Major McLeroth ordered Chalmers-Brown to get his Loyalist Militia to face off against the Swamp Fox whilst he led his 64th Foot further down the main road and Kelly led the other Militia around the rear of the building.

Sergeant Dowling ordered his men to the edge of the swampy woodland and opened fire on the enemy Militia to their front...

Gad! A British musket ball creased the brow of the Swamp Fox and knocked him from his horse! Dazed Marion lay prone on the dusty road...

His Veterans opened fire, a volley tearing into the Tory Militia, killing two.

Major McLeroth ordered his redcoats to boldly push forward and engage the enemy militia, killing two and inflicting more Shock on them, whilst Stanford ordered the remainder of the 64th down the main road.

Volleys were traded and redcoats, bluecoats and Tory Militia fell dead.

Whilst at the very edge of the range of his men, Lieutenant Colonel Benton ordered his to fire, fire and keep firing down the main road at the redcoats!

Whilst they were Poor Shots Benton's Newly Recruited Militia managed to inflict enough Shock on McLeroth's men that one group of them were forced to fall back!

As his command wavered, Major McLeroth ordered Captain Stanford to go in with the bayonet on Marion's leaderless Militia!

The British attack forcing the Veteran Militia to fall back into the swamp!

Vanderhorst and McCottry's skirmishers took position behind the rail fencing and opened fire...

On Kelly's Loyalist Militia, killing one and inflicting some Shock. A firefight erupted between the rebel skirmishers and Tory militia, caught up in their own private battle.

Meanwhile Lieutenant Colonel Horry ordered a group of the Kingstree Militia, who were slowly advancing through the swamp alongside the road, to open fire at the 64th who had pushed Marion's men back...

Several lobsterbacks falling to the well aimed shots of the Kingstree men!

With Major Vanderhorst's men concentrating on the enemy Militia across the field, Captain McCottry ordered his men to concentrate on the redcoats by the farm building...

Shocked by the fire coming in from their flank, the decimated redcoats wavered...

And broke, running back to Charleston as quick as they could!

Dowling's Light Infantry skirmishers traded fire with the Kingstree Militia to limited effect...

An eagle's-eye view of the battlefield revealing the finely balanced situation, the British wobbling under American fire, but still capable to carrying the road to Camden if they could just close with Benton's men and put them to the bayonet!

Major Vanderhorst's private battle with Captain Kelly came to a sudden conclusion...

A rebel musket ball lodging itself in the Tory Militia Captain's skull!

Then in a shocking example of cultural misappropriation Sergeant Dowling ordered his Light Infantry skirmishers to throw tomahawks at the Kingstree Militia and charge in on the Americans...

The noble Lieutenant Colonel Horry took a slight wound from the British but he remained upright as his men saw off the redcoat attack (that'll teach them to use weapons stolen from America!)

The Kingstree men decided to see the 64th's skirmishers off with a final volley...

Resulting in the surviving redcoat skirmishers fleeing into the woodland swamp! (probably to be eaten by alligators).

The coup de grace was administered by a detached group of Lieutenant Colonel Benton's Newly Raised Militia who levelled their muskets and fired at Major McLeroth's men...

The 64th broke, the surviving lobsterbacks running as fast as their legs could carry them back to Charleston! The British Force Morale crashed to zero and victory was handed to the supine Swamp Fox!

A lot of fun was had here, a somewhat challenging scenario for the British that went the way of history. Nice to play some AWI Sharp Practice again, we should do this again soon.

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