Friday, 28 January 2022

1776 And All That (Part Five)

Back to the map...

Next move for the 1776 map scenario.

Post battle I allow Gate's a 1x6D "retreat allowance"; not in the board game rules, since he had already had his "move" - and stayed put in Albany, but it seemed reasonable as he had got away and the British not been right on his tail. As did deducting 3 SP militia units for the troops which had actually scattered off-table (they went home). He proceeds up the Mohawk Valley. If activated again he can use the remainder of his Movement Points.

[I also, out of interest fought two rounds on the game's CRE based on what occurred on the table; the first with Gates standing and defending against an enfilade by Burgoyne's force alone. The second with Gates withdrawing against a reconnaissance in force - so as to allow Gates to end the battle. The losses matched the deductions I had made above. The only real difference to the result was that I allowed him "wigggle room" to move up the Mohawk.]

Grey passes through Princeton and crosses the Delaware at Coryell's Ferry, en route for Philadelphia, which he puts to siege. Washington has not the men to challenge this.

Brandt, by water, moves across lake Ontario to the head of Seneca, passing Lafayette, who is marching along the eastern shore of Ontario, en route for the St. Lawrence, and Warner, who has reached the lakeside near Oswego. 

Stark moves into New Hampshire, but so does Howe (after leaving Cornwallis and a small force at Bennington) and another British column which has come over the Green Mountains..

Burgoyne has elected to remain at Albany; presumably resting his men, gathering supplies and writing home to justify (and advertise) his actions.

As we saw, Gates moved up the Mohawk Valley. He then pulled over to rest and recuperate among the German farmers in the vicinity of Forts Dayton and Herkimer. There he is joined by about 2,000 militiamen*.

[*As generated by the scenario reinforcement rules. These should have arrived at Albany, but default to the nearest strategic town if that is in the hands of the enemy. I allowed them to default to Forth Stanwix  - in the hex next to the settlements and forts at Dayton/Herkimer - on the basis that 1) getting there from the vicinity of Albany was simple and logical and 2) all other major centres were in British hands, within a British controlled area or within a single move of a British force.]

However, next activated and hot on his heels is Clinton, who catches up with him on the 18th. 

Gates, despite losses due to stragglers and desertions, now has about 6,000 militia and 3,000 Continentals with him. Clinton leads fifteen (understrength) regiments of British Regulars, Flank Companies and Hessians, plus an artillery and supply train.

Gates now knows that Lafayette has moved as if to press into Canada, leaving Ft. Stanwix and Ft. Oswego exposed by Clinton's unexpected move up the Mohawk. He has also received news of Grey being across the Delaware (but does not know that he has reached Philadelphia). Gates is also aware that Washington desperately needs troops in Pennsylvania.

It is clear that Gates needs to preserve his force and not risk its destruction but we have another potential table battle. 

Clinton, particularly chagrined by Burgoyne's precipitous attack which allowed Gates to get away at Albany (and the unfair criticism he has himself received regarding this) will likely be aggressive and imaginative. Given that he was (historically) a promoter of imaginative flank marches and similar it seems reasonable that he would attempt something like that. 

I look at the data online on the area of Dayton/Hermiker/German Flats. It seems to me that, since he has been caught up with and cannot pull away without some kind of fight (he cannot risk being chased and caught while in line of march), Gates has three choices;

1) Hold position and fight Clinton in the area of Hermiker. This risks his whole force, which I think would be unwise.

2) Leave a blocking force at a suitable location at Dayton/Hermiker/German Flats to delay Clinton enough for Gates to get his main column away.

3) Send a small force back along the Mohawk valley to block Clinton further downriver. In theory the area of Little Falls Gorge and the road over the hills to the south looks good - but there are alternative routes here, and knowing Clinton he will use these to outflank any force in the vicinity of the gorge, and trap them.

Perhaps the area around what is now Jacksonburg looks best, or maybe at Hermiker Fort itself. Looking at Streetview, and taking away the canal, this looks a good place for a small formation to run interference on a larger.

The Table Transfer:

OK, the thing to do here, I think, is to again "play" the British - as Clinton will be feeling his way along the road from Albany, so what I will do is set up a basic table roughly according to local terrain at the point between Hermiker and Little Falls where hills seems to come right down to the Mohawk (roughly where the canal cuts off from the river), with no Colonial forces on the table (using Hidden Enemy rules) and Clinton  having to make his way across the board in a race against time. That should make for a short, if interesting game. 

Before I do that, however, I will have a couple of plays on the table as it is.. 

As always: feedback welcome.

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