Saturday, December 26, 2009

Another look at Trenton, this time using Rebels & Redcoats

The Trenton Battlefield

After my session of Hold the Line I became curious how authentic a more traditional hex-and-counter wargame like Rebels & Redcoats might be dealing with this unusual battle, so I played a solitaire session of the game.

Of course, unlike the abstract unit treatment of Hold the Line, Rebels & Redcoats is very specific about the exact units involved and the telecsope is bumped up in magnification enough to capture even very small units. For example, the 20 dismounted dragoons of the 16th Lt. Dragoons rates a 1-factor counter in R&R.

The game begins with a fixed setup for the Hessians/British. Basically the Rall Regiment and half the Lossberg Regt. hold the north end of Trenton, the Knyphausen Regiment in deployed by the orchard on the southeast side of town and the Jagers cover the west side. Rall, himself, the dragoon detachment and the rest of the Lossberg regiment in the center. To represent surprise all the Hessian guns start the game disrupted. Each Hessian regiment has a gun section.

The battle opened with Greene leading the Philadelphia Dragoons, the Pennsylvania Rifles, the 1st and 3rd Virginia and Bauman's artillery down Pennington Road and around the northeast side of trenton as part of an effort to start cutting off the Hessian force. Washington led German's regiment, the Delaware company and the 1st Continental with Forrest's 2-section battery and Hamilton's artillery against the Rall element at the north end of town. Washington was bale to drive the Hessians back with an assault.

Meanwhile, from the West side of town came Gen. Sullivan with the balance of the Continental army. Most of the force maneuvered through the woods to set up a wide front attack, but a four-regiment task force drove back the Jaeger pickets at the bridge.

The Hessians used their half of the 0730 turn to consolidate their regiments roughly along Fourth Street. The Jaegers failed in their disengagement attempt and dispersed. The Rall Regiment was able to successfully retreat into a reserve position near the orchard on Second Street. At the end of the turn the disintegration levels were American 0, Hessian 4.

The 0800 turn saw Sullivan's wing push into Trenton on a wide front, successfully driving the Hessians back from King Street and along First Street to cut off the bridge. During the historical battle the Americans were able to set up their guns to sweep the streets, but the R&R rules don't allow that to happen because the town hexes block the line of sight, so this is a case where the more abstract game (Hold the Line) is actually more realistic on a detail than the hex-and-counter game. Instead Washington led the artillery with him to join Bauman's guns to the northeast of the town in hopes of getting a clear shot. Greene led his light troops, dragoons and one regiment to chase the British Dragoons out of the isolated house east of Trenton.

The Hessians spent their half of 0800 slowly falling back along Queen Street. At the end of the turn the disintegration score was American 2.5, Hessian 6.

The Americans were getting concerned at 0830 about the lack of progress and tried some bombardments, which had no effect because of town hexes and bad rolls. Greene continued to lead his lights and dragoons to the South of the town, completing the encirclement. meanwhile Washington created a grand battery in the northeast able to fire on the main Hessian position between Fourth and Third streets. Sullivan marshaled his forces in preparation for a massive push on the 0900 turn. One brigade's worth of Sullivan's troops launched an assault to secure the intersection of Queen and Third streets but was repulsed with some disruptions.

The Hessians, for their part of the turn concentrated their forces at the two ends of their line, leaving just half of the Lossberg Regiment to hold the open field in the center.

At the end of the turn the disintegration levels were American 4.5, Hessian still just 6.

The final turn, 0900 began with intense bombardment of the Lossberg field from both sides. Uncoordinated fire by four gun sections at the intersection of King and Second streets only netted one morale check, which Lossberg passed. A coordinated blast from Washington's grand battery on Fourth Street also only achieved a morale check -- which Lossberg again passed!

So now it was time for a massive, coordinated American assault across the length of Queen Street from hex 1705 to 1608 -- four hexes worth. A couple of regiments also launched a diversionary attack on the Rall Regiment, mostly to exert a zone of control.

General Greene's attack on the field portion of Lossberg was a 2-1 with a +2 for Greene, but the die roll was a measley 3, adjusted to a 5 for a NED0 (No Effect on attacker, Defender morale check) which Lossberg, naturally, passed!

The diversionary attack by the 1st Pennsylvania Rifle and Ward's regiment against Rall and the rest of Lossberg went very badly -- Attacker Eliminated.

The next attack was three stacks of Americans with no leader against Rall and his stack in 1706. This 3-1 attack was shifted to the left by two for the town, but brought back right by one for the American light infantry to a 2-1. Rall subtracted 1 from the die roll, but Washington added 2, for a total +1. The die roll of 6 became a 7 for a DR2. The Knyphausen Regiment lost half its strength in the retreat through zones of control, but most of Rall's force survived. Sullivan took the hex.

The Hessian retreat created an opportunity for the 1st and 3rd Virginia to attack Rall's force but this attack failed, and the two American units retreated, one disrupted. Several American units failed their rally rolls and left the field.

In the Hessian half of the turn Rall launched an assault on the Philadelphia Dragoons to open up an escape route. This attack succeeded in eliminating the horse unit. The other half of the Lossberg regiment joined its portion in the fields to launch an attack on Greene's force at 1-1 which ended up being repulsed with an AR2, although true to form the Lossberg Regiment only took one disruption form the multiple morale checks caused by retreating in a zone of control.

The 16th Dragoons sacrificed themselves making a diversionary attack against several stacks of American units to cover the withdrawal of Knyphausen and the guns.

So the game ended without the Hessian being driven to their disintegration level and even having a clear escape route along Second Street. The final disintegration score was American 15.5 and Hessian 19.

Although considerably more detailed, I can't say I was left feeling like Rebels & Redcoats did a better job of reflecting the actual battle than Hold the Line did.

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