Bringing Up the Rear

Odds and Sodds on this and That

The Battle of Granny Quarter Creek

     I have long thought about running a refight of Camden, but  in the end thought it would be interesting to see what would have happened if both Gates and Cornwallis had the troops that they wanted to be there. I also wanted to see what would happen had Gates not made his attempt to steal a night march on Camden. Therefore I decided to run the battle of Granny Quarter Creek – a few miles north of the actual battlefield at Camden at our local convention – Winter War at the end of this past January. (its taken me too long to learn how to use this computer system!)

     The game was designed for a 6’ by 12’ table, with a ground scale of 1” equals 25 yards. Therefore the battlefield was a mile deep by just less than two miles wide. Wooded swamps existed to either side, so that the action was channeled in the center, as both sides were unable to out flank the other. Troops could move through the wooded swamps, but at severe penalties. The Waxhaws Road ran roughly down the center of the table, with a road junction halfway across the table. There sat the Granny Quarter House, with lanes leading east and west to two other homesteads. Hall Manor lay to the west, while Glasco House was to the east. The homesteads consisted of a house, barn, and assorted outbuildings. The homesteads and various fields were surrounded by either hedges about Hall Manor – or wooden fences – found all over the battlefield. There were a number of low hills and woodlots about, which did not impede movement as much as block line of sight. The map below shows the battlefield without troops, but does indicate the camps of the American Army:

 Granny - Map           

battlefield

Battlefield from the south – Granny Quarter House at the Crossroads – Hall manor to the left – rail fences not placed yet Wirsing Hill to left, Chadwick’s Knob in northeast corner of crossroads

 

battlefied east 

 Battlefield looking east - fences not yet in place 

 

     As to the troops present, I use wing scale Volley and Bayonet and build “Brigade” sized units semi historical units. Thus my Maryland Delaware Brigade has uniforms from 1776, 1778, and 1780 serving in the same unit. For this battle – with minor exceptions all of the troops were “off the shelf” – and I did not bother to re-label them if their abilities matched what I wanted present.)

Definition of terms

            (xxx) Number of men in the unit

            ss indicates sharpshoots

            r indicates rifle

            PT indicates Poorly Trained which handicaps combat and movement

            Mi indicates poor militia, which gives the stand a permanent disorder marker

            LtH indicates Light Horse

            Lt indicates light artillery 3 or 4 pound weapons

            Fd indicates field artillery – 6 pound weapons

            Sk indicates ability to skirmish

            SH indicates Shock

            Nuc indicates no Unit Commander – must be commanded by senior officer

Thus

                       

2 x 1-5 indicates two stands, each of 1 SP, Morale 5

            2 x 3-4 PT mi would indicate two stands, each of 3 SP, Poorly trained, militia

 

     For the American forces I gave Gates the following:

Southern Army: Major General Gates

Army Troops

             Armand’s Legion: Colonel Armand

                        Foot (100) 2 x 1-5 sk

                         Horse (100) 2 x 1-5 LtH

              Porterfield’s Light Infantry (200) 2 x 2-5 sk

Continentals: Major General Baron de Kalb

Maryland Delaware Brigade: Brigadier General Smallwood

              1st Delaware (400) 2 x 3-6 SH, 1 x 2-6 SH

              1st Maryland (400) 2 x 3-6, 1 x 2-6

              2nd Maryland (400) 2 x 3-5, 1 x 2-5

              1st Continental Artillery – 4 6# field guns 2 x 2-6 Fd

2nd Virginia Brigade: Brigadier General Muhlenberg

              3rd Virginia Regiment (400) 2 x 3-5, 1 x 2-5

              Crockets' Western Battalion, Virginia State Forces (300) 2 x 3-5

              Virginia State Regiment (300) 2 x 3-5

              1st Continental Artillery – 2 6# field guns 1 x 2-6 Fd

3rd Continental Light Dragoons (100) 2 x 1-6 LtH

American Militia

1st (Virginia) Militia Brigade: Brigadier General Lawson

              Culpepper Rifle Battalion (200) 4 x 1-5 ss r

              Prince William County Militia (250) 1 x 3-5 PT, 1 x 2-5 PT

              Middlesex County Militia (250) 1 x 3-4 PT, 1 x 2-4 PT

             Orange County Militia (250) 1 x 3-4 PT mi, 1 x 2-4 PT mi Nuc

             Halifax County Militia (250) 1 x 3-4 PT mi, 1 x 2-4 PT mi

             Virginia State Artillery Regiment – 2 3# field guns 1 x 2-5 Lt

2nd (Virginia) Militia Brigade: Brigadier General Stevens

            Augustus Rifle Battalion (200) 4 x 1-5 ss r

            Prince George County Militia (350) 1 x 3-5 PT, 2 x 2-5 PT

           Lancaster County Militia (250) 1 x 3-4 PT, 1 x 2-4 PT

           Gloucester County Militia (250) 1 x 3-4 PT mi, 1 x 2-4 PT mi Nuc

          Henrico County Militia (250) 1 x 3-4 PT mi, 1 x 2-4 PT mi Nuc

           Virginia State Artillery Regiment – 2 3# field guns 1 x 2-5 Lt

3rd (North Carolina) Militia Brigade: Brigadier General Caswell

          Tyron County Militia (200) 4 x 1-4 PT Sk

          Dover County Militia (250) 1 x 3-5 PT, 2 x 2-5 PT

          Ulster County Militia (250) 1 x 3-4 PT, 2 x 2-4 PT

           Dublin County Militia (250) 1 x 3-4 PT mi, 1 x 2-4 PT mi Nuc

          Glasgow County Militia (250) 1 x 3-4 PT mi, 1 x 2-4 PT mi Nuc

4th (North Carolina) Militia Brigade: Brigadier General Herkimer

         York County Light Battalion (300) 6 x 1-5 PT sk ss

          Cumberland County Militia (250) 1 x 3-5 PT, 2 x 2-5 PT

          Newark County Militia (250) 1 x 3-4 PT, 2 x 2-4 PT

           Princess Anne County Militia (250) 1 x 3-4 PT mi, 1 x 2-4 PT mi

           Bristol County Militia (250) 1 x 3-4 PT mi, 1 x 2-4 PT mi Nuc

     Militia brigades were about 30% “decent” militia, 30% militia, and 40% “poor” militia. Total strength was about 2,700 Continentals, and some 5,200 militia and ten guns – giving Gates almost 8,000 men. (For the record Gates thought that his army should have numbered 7,000 plus just before the actual battle, instead of the 3,500 he actually had.

      The American troops were allowed to deploy north of Granny Quarter Creek – and informed that there would be a morale loss for the brigade owning the camp if it was overrun. Accordingly they set their camps back from the south edge of the board, though some elements were placed to contest any British advance. As the American victory conditions called for them to drive any British forces back to Camden, they planned a general advance once the British forces arrived on the table. In a reverse of the historical American deployment at the actual battle, the Americans placed their militia on the right of their line, and placed their Continentals to the left. Their only reserve was the light troops of Armand’s Legion. Since players were unaware that we were fighting the Battle of Camden, their set up and strategy was quite interesting in that it was similar to history.

     The British forces were given the following troops – again based on what I had in my collection so units appeared here that were not present at the actual battle:

Lieutenant General Charles Earl of Cornwallis

1st Brigade: Brigadier General Leslie

            1st Battalion, 71st Foot (200) 2 x 2-5 SH,

            2nd Battalion, 71st Foot (200) 2 x 2-5 SH,

            Light Companies, 71st Foot (100) 2 x 1-5 ss sk

            von Bose Musketeers (400) 2 x 3-5, 1  x 2-5

            Hessian Jaegers (100) 2 x 1-5 sk ss r

            Royal Artillery – 2 3# field guns 1 x 2-6 Lt

2nd Brigade: Colonel Stewart

            27th Regiment of Foot (400) 2 x 3-5, 1 x 2-5

            63rd Regiment of Foot (250) 1 x 3-5, 1 x 2-5

            64th Regiment of Foot (250) 1 x 3-5, 1 x 2-5

            Royal Artillery – 2 6# field guns 1 x 2-6 Fd

Loyalist Brigade: Colonel Rawdon

            Prince of Wales American Volunteers (400) 2 x 3-5, 1 x 2-5

            New York Volunteers (250) 1 x 3-5 SH, 1 x 2-5 SH

            South Carolina Royalists (350) 1 x 3-5, 2 x 2-5

            Loyal Ethiopians (300) 3 x 2-5 PT mi

            American Volunteers (100) 2 x 1-5 sk ss

            Royal Artillery – 2 3# field guns 1 x 2-5 Lt

Guards Brigade: Brigadier General O’Hara

            1st Battalion, Brigade of Guards (250) 1 x 3-6 SH, 1 x 2-6 SH

            2nd Battalion, Brigade of Guards (250) 1 x 3-6 SH, 1 x 2-6 SH

            Flank Companies, Brigade of Guards (100) 2 x 1-6 ss sk

            33rd Regiment of Foot (350) 1 x 3-6, 2 x 2-6

            Royal Artillery – 4 6# field guns 2 x 2-6 Fd

Tarleton’s Legion: Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton

            17th Light Dragoons (50) 1 x 1-6 LtH

            Tarleton’s Horse (250) 5 x 1 x 5 LtH

            Tarleton’s Foot (250) 1 x 3-5, 1 x 2-5, sk

            Royal Artillery – 2 3# field guns 1 x 2-5 Lt

Supply Train

            2 Wagons

       This gave Cornwallis a total of about 4,700 men and 12 guns – with the vast majority of his troops being battle tested regulars. The British were informed that the supply train did have to enter the field, and the loss of a wagon could affect the morale of two brigades. (This last was a game mechanic designed to force the British commanders to defend their rear.) They were allowed to start two brigades south of Granny Quarter Creek, and bring their remaining troops on the board during the following terms – up to two brigades could enter the table on turn two (counting the British Legion as a Brigade) and the remaining brigade and supply train must enter the table on turn three.

       They choose to start the Guards/33rd Foot to the right of the Road, and the Loyalist Brigade to the left – similar to the historical British set up at the actual battle.  The 1st Brigade was to follow on behind the Loyalists, while the 2nd Brigade would follow behind the Guards. The British Legion was the last unit to enter the board along with Cornwallis’ supply train.

Game Set Up

Granny - Start JPEG(1) 

      

     The opening turn of the game started with the Loyalist Brigade to the west of the road pushing across Granny Quarter Creek in an attempt to capture Wirsing Hill. To the east of the road the Guards Battalions crossed the creek as well in the cover of a woodlot, while the 6 pound field guns and the 33rd Foot took up a position to protect the British right flank. The American response was to advance the 1st (Virginia) Militia Brigade to the top of Wirsing Hill, while elements of the 4th (North Carolina) Militia Brigade advanced against the British artillery supporting the Guards. The Continentals started their advance forward as well, but the remaining militia stood fast. There was an exchange of fire on both flanks – with the American militia on the left managing to pick off half of the gunners of the 6 pounders supporting the Guards. On the other side of the road, the exchange of fire caused limited casualties as well. The results of the first turn are as shown below:

End of Turn 1

Granny - Turn 1 JPEG(1)

    

     On Turn 2 the British brought the 2nd Brigade on the table west of the road, while the 1st Brigade entered to the east of that point. The commander of the Loyalist Brigade sent the South Carolina Royalists and New York Volunteers to take Wirsing’s Hill, while the Prince of Wales American Volunteers advanced to secure their flank by advancing up through the fields just west of the road. East of the road, the 2nd Guards wheeled and charged the advance elements of the 4th Militia Brigade in flank. The 1st Militia Brigade was driven back in disorder, as were elements of the 4th Militia Brigade.

 

 Loyalist Troops

Loyalist Troops at the base of Wirsing Hill

 

     In the American half of the turn the Virginia Continentals continued to advance on their left. The guns of the Maryland Brigade had deployed on Chadwick’s Knob. The Prince of Wales American Volunteers came under a heavy fire, not only from Chadwick’s Knob, but also from riflemen to their front as well as the 3 lb guns of the 2nd Virginia Brigade, and from militia of the 4th North Carolina Brigade near the Granny Quarter House.

End of Turn 2

Granny - Start JPEG(2)

     

      During the third turn the British left consolidated their control of Wirsing’s Hill by advancing their 3lb guns to the crest of the hill and started to bring on the British Legion. In the center the Prince of Wales American Volunteers found themselves under heavy pressure from the west, north and east. East of the road, the 2nd Battalion of the Guards wheeled again and attacked the ridge just south of the Granny Quarter House, from which the skirmishers of the 4th North Carolina Brigade had been firing on them. The 1st Battalion of the 71st Foot entered the woodlot in support of the Guards, while elements of Stewart's 2nd Infantry Brigade moved to the right of the 33rd Foot to secure that flank against the on coming Virginia Continentals.

Vir + 3rd jpeg

 

The 3rd Continental Light Dragoons advance – with the Virginia Continentals to their rear

 

     In their half of the turn, the 1st Virginia Militia Brigade, having effectively collapsed, withdrew its shattered elements behind Hall Manor, though its riflemen and artillery section remained in play. The commander of the 2nd Virginia Militia Brigade sent his riflemen forward, and picked off the Royal Artillery gunners manning the two 3 pound guns that had been supporting the Rawdon’s Loyalists. Seeing the Prince of Wales American Volunteers reeling from the fire poured upon them – a detachment of the 4th Militia Brigade attacked them on the flank, and drove them out of their position . The 3rd Continental Light Dragoons charged the 2nd Guards on the flank, and though they exhausted that unit, where unable to drive it from the field.

End of Turn 3

Granny_-_Turn_3

     

      On Turn Four east of the Waxhaw’s Road the engagement grew hot and heavy as rival groups of regulars faced each other at close range and exchanged volleys. The 27th Foot was broken by the Virginia Continentals, and fell back to be replaced by the 63rd Foot. However all three regiments of the Virginia Continentals were exhausted in turn, though they held their ground. The remains of the 4thNorth Carolina Militia Brigade fell back as the Maryland Delaware Brigade took their place. On the British side, the remains of the 2ndBrigade of the Guards fell back into the shelter of the woodlot, but the 2nd battalion of the 71st Foot took their place in line.

 Maryland - Delaware JPEG

1st Maryland to the left – 2nd Maryland to the right – camp to the rear

 

     East of the road events were starting to collapse for the Americans. A few riflemen and a 3lb gun section held the camp of the 1st Virginia militia brigade – while the remains of the Brigade attempted to regroup in the woods north of Hall Manor. The 2nd Virginia Militia Brigade had taken some losses, and was trying to protect itself, so started to fall back – a difficult task for poorly trained troops. The 3rd North Carolina Militia Brigade continue to hold its position and had the foot of Armand’s command come up to support it.

4th_North_Carolina_Brigade_JPEG

 North Carolina Militia near Granny Quarter House

 

     The Prince of Wales American Volunteers and New York Volunteers were out of the fight on the British side, and the South Carolina Loyalists were close to collapse, but reinforcements had arrived. The Hessian Jaegers were firing into the ranks of the 3rdMilitia, while the musketeers of von Bose and the 1st Battalion of the 1st advanced behind their cover. The foot of the British Legion took the place of the New York Volunteers while the horse of the British Legion had taken station on top of Wirsing Hill, from which they could threaten the entire American right. The fear of the Legion - more then its actual effects - unnerved the American commanders on the right flank. On the other hand - watching a solid line of light dragoons appear on the crest of Wirsing Hill was unnerving for troops who can not retreat facing the enemy!

End of Four Four 

Granny_-_Turn_4

 

     Turn 5 was the last of the game, and was marked by the fact that the American right started to collapse as it fell back to avoid the Legion horse. (Poorly trained troops are effectively unable to withdraw from combat in good order, hence the American militia commanders wanted to break free before the Legion Horse could charge them.) Watching his right break, Gates ordered the Delaware Regiment to move to protect the right flank of the Marylanders, and stopped pressing on the British to his front. The commander of the Maryland Delaware brigade had wanted to attack the British regulars to the front, but yielded to Gates concern that any advance forward would only expose his flank. The Continentals would be able to withdraw in good order, though they would have to abandon Gate’s campaign.

     On the British side, Cornwallis was content to press the American militia west of the road – while holding the Continentals east of the road in check. Both battalions of the Guards were in poor shape – while the 2nd Brigade had been damaged by the toe-to-toe slugfest across Granny Quarter Creek. In the end, the British were willing to let the Americans go, as it was judged a tactical British victory.

Granny_-_Turn_5_End_

Post Mortem

          As the game ended and we held a debriefing, the player commanding the 1st Virginia Militia Brigade pointed out that while the American orders mentioned the need to attack the British Army, in reality his attempts were less then successful. Pitting American militia against effectively British regulars in a stand up firefight was a less then successful – to which I could only agree – but then I wanted to refight Camden and not Guilford Court House. With an almost 2 to 1 edge in numbers - and no need to worry about the ability of the Crown to out maneuver the American flanks which rested on the swamp I thought that the Americans could afford to several losses and come out ahead. As it was, Rawdon's Loyalist Brigade was effectively destroyed as a fighting force in and about Wirsing's Hill, as all three of the line battalions were exhausted by the fighting there.

     I was surprised at the American set up, as I had expected to see the militia on both sides of the road with the Continentals in the rear. The fact that the American commanders decided to do a mirror image of the historical battle was interesting to say the least. The major flaw in the American plan was that while two of the militia brigades did press the Crown - the other two brigades sat back and waited. The American numbers never came into play.

       In the end it was judged as a tactical Crown victory - with Gates forces to withdraw into North Carolina, but with Cornvallis unable to pursue.

 
Greg Novak