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The 2nd Battle of Saratoga, 1777


The American War of Independence, Black Powder, 28mm

We had a rare opportunity for a weekend game, and we decided to play the sequel to our First Battle of Saratoga (Freeman’s Farm) game we played out last month. This was General Burgoynes’s second and final attempt to defeat the American army blocking his advance down the Hudson River, as his army was fast running out of food and supplies. The Americans won our refight of the first battle, so this time the pressure was on the British players to win the day, and to change history.awifeb10-01Like the previous round, this was essentially an encounter battle, with both sides advancing onto contact, and feeding brigades onto the table as the game progressed. The British began aggressively, advancing all along their front, hoping to sweep the rebels from the table before their reinforcements arrived. It almost worked, as the strongest of the two American brigades – the one with all the regulars in it – blundered, and began the game by retiring back onto the American table edge.awifeb10-18The British right wing fell foul of American riflemen – first they saw of a supporting unit of Indians, and then with the help of the Connecticut militia they broke a battalion of British line, and their supporting detachment of light infantry. In the centre the British advance was slowed and halted, but the Americans remained under heavy pressure. Actually, Dave O’Brian’s rebels did pretty well. They broke five British or Hessian regiments during the course of the battle, and by mid-afternoon the umpire gave the British a brigade of reinforcements that didn’t actually exist, just to keep the game going a bit longer. The Americans were on a roll…awifeb10-07The other success came on the British left, where the British grenadiers charged a whole brigade of American regulars who had just appeared on the British flank. Two American regiments were broken, and the rest were driven back in disorder. Eventually though, the grenadiers were stalled by concentrated musketry, as were the Hessian grenadiers who advanced to support them. In that particular scrap the Americans defended a pigsty against all comers!awifeb10-11When the Hessians broke the plucky British grenadiers had little option but to fall back, to cover the flank of Burgoyne’s now crumbling little army. the end came quickly. On their right the British had pulled back to Breymann’s redoubt, which was eventually carried by the Connecticut militia, supported by Dan Morgan’s riflemen. In the centre von Reidesel’s Hessians were broken after a long and hard-fought fight, leaving the few reserves hopelessly outnumbered. At that point the British commander decided to concede, thereby achieving a result that pretty much mirrored the historical outcome of the battle. Including lunch, the whole game took us six hours to fight to its conclusion.awifeb10-13Once again, enjoyed using Black Powder. The rules might have their quirks, but these aren’t anything that a few judicious “house rules” can’t deal with. the main thing is that they provided us with a fast-moving and lively game, with the tide of battle ebbing and flowing throughout the day. When units break they are removed from the table, so you need to plan ahead, leave reserves, and watch out for those spectacularly sweeping three-turn moves, that can see units advance across the table and charge the enemy. Once you know what to expect, it all becomes good fun, and strangely enough it produces a satisfactorily historic result.

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