End of Empire (Compass Games, 2014)
American Revolutionary War Campaign Report (1775 Start)
Part Two: Turns Seven through Twelve (Spring 1776 to Winter II 1777)
The British start in control of Georgia and South Carolina; the remaining colonies hew to the American cause. Their position in the southern colonies looks strong, and they anticipate building northward.
The Americans have eliminated only 4 of the 20 British Regular steps needed to bring the French into play. Continued attritional attacks to whittle down British Regulars before large numbers of German and Loyalist troops arrive seems paramount, and with the British fleet about to arrive, attention must be paid to vulnerable ports as well. The British amphibious invasions can strike at will, perhaps their greatest strength in the war.
(Leader ratings given as combat modifier/rank/initiative. Combat results are attacker losses/defender losses. Phases with no significant actions are omitted.)
Turn 7 (Spring, 1776)
The British fleet arrives over the horizon, sails lit by the rising sun, and takes up position in the North Atlantic, menacing large swaths of the coast. [The British fleet automatically enters each Naval Phase until the French enter play.]
The captured Schuyler [0/4/3] and Carleton [1/4/5] are swapped, a fair trade given their co-equal ranks. Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina send large numbers of men to the colors, with Maryland and New York also sending troops to the Continental Army. Replacements flock to American units, bringing them all back to full except for the troops from South Carolina, currently under the royal thumb.
Howe [1/5/4] makes good his threat to invade and embarks from Halifax, leaving a small force in garrison. New York City soon sees the tall ships, and Lee [0/3/3] decides to stand, having brought his meager force into fortified positions. The NY militia turns out, but a neighboring regiment from New Jersey fails to respond to the calls for help.
Howe’s forces swarm off the longboats carrying them in. [32 attack strength against 16 defense strength for 2:1 odds. Mods are +1 Howe, -1 fort, +1 US reforms for net +1. Combat dr=1; final dr=2 for 1:0. 1 British regular step lost; 5 total lost.] The cannon Lee kept in New York pay off, but Howe pushes the attack, unwilling to return to Nova Scotia in defeat. [29 attack strength against 16 defense yields 1:1 odds. Mods are still net +1. Combat dr=6; final dr=7 for 0/2.] The militia panics, and Lee decides to pull out of the shambles of his base with the cannon, at least.
Howe immediately calls out the loyalist New York militia, and in Philadelphia, Thomas [0/6/3] does the same, mustering the Pennsylvania militia, though there’s some grumbling about having to leave Philly to defend the New Yorkers, of all people. Meanwhile, in South Carolina, the Marion Militia appears just outside Charleston. Though not overwhelmingly strong, they represent a threat to the rear of Clinton’s advance.
His regular troops exhausted from the seaborne invasion, Howe tasks the militia with building up the fortifications but they lack motivation, perhaps themselves exhausted after their celebrations at the rebels being driven off.
Pigot [0/19/3] on the St. Lawrence holds his location just upriver from Montreal. His force is too large for the Americans to simply ignore, so he bides his time, content as a force in being. Percy [0/18/3] in Boston likewise holds on. With Howe having used up the fleet’s shipping capability, he’s stuck behind the walls, waiting for Washington to strike yet again.
Clinton [1/6/4], stripped of his title as Commander in Chief now that Howe has landed in the colonies, adopts the order of the day and fortifies in place in Georgetown, South Carolina, hoping that some of the troops soon bound for the colonies will be placed under his command.
Returned from captivity, the Provincial general Carleton rejoins the Canadian forces under Pigot’s command, taking over, much to the chagrin of the British Regular general.
Sensing that the British might be leaving Boston soon, Washington [1/1/5] exhorts his forces to attack once more. With powder finally available, Percy’s fortification seem vulnerable at last. [63 attack strength against 43 defense strength for 1:1 odds. Mods are +1 Washington, -1 fort, -1 US reforms for net -1. Combat dr=5; final dr=4 for 0/1. 1 British regular step lost; 6 total lost.]
Sensing his troops’ eagerness, Washington presses the combat. [63 attack strength against 40 defense strength for 1:1 odds; still net -1 drm. Combat dr=4; final dr=3 for 1/0.] The militia decide they’ve had enough, seeing a regiment of the Continental Army fall, and Washington ceases operations.
Montgomery [1/8/5], hearing his old foe Carleton has returned, determines to gather his forces and march on Quebec. Leaving a small garrison behind in Montreal, he gathers the troops stationed at the depot nearby and heads down the St. Lawrence. Carleton hurriedly summons the Canadian militia and makes a stand at Trois-Rivières. [18 attack strength against 23 defense strength for 1:2 odds. Mods are -1 no artillery, -1 US reforms, with Montgomery and Carleton cancelling each other out for net -2. Combat dr=3; final dr=1 for 2AR/1.] A Pyrrhic victory, perhaps, but the Americans can afford the losses while the British lose another irreplaceable step [1 British regular step lost; 7 total lost (6 eliminated)].
Thomas in Philadelphia fails to respond to Lee’s call for help; the forces assembled in the capital remain in place for now. Ward [0/2/3] in Norfolk likewise takes some time getting acquainted with his new troops, leaving Schuyler and Putnam [0/5/3] to deal with the southern front for the time being.
Moving his forces from Salisbury, North Carolina, Putnam heads down the Wateree River toward Charleston to reinforce the Marion militia. Together, they assault the hastily fortified city. [5 attack strength against 2 defense strength for 2:1 odds. Mods are -1 fort, -1 US reforms, -1 no artillery for net -3. Combat dr=2; final dr=-1 for 1AR/1.] Pushed back, Putnam cannot rally the remainder of his forces to take the now-empty city they fought so hard to claim.
In desperation, the South Carolina rangers leave their wilderness redoubt and rush to the city, securing it for the time being. The colony reverts to American control.
Schuyler pushes the advantage, heading to Georgetown to tie down Clinton’s fortified troops. With the British hemmed in against the coast in their port fortifications, they will need to go through Schuyler to retake Charleston.
The various militias return to their homes.
Turn 8 (Summer I, 1776)
The British fleet sails south along the coast to the Chesapeake Bay.
A massive wave of British regiments arrives, along with a levy of German mercenaries. Cornwallis [1/9/5] brings a group into Savannah, while the besieged Clinton in Georgetown gets his requested troops as well. The bulk of the Germans arrive in New York City along with their commander, Riedesel [1/12/2]. A few regiments are earmarked for Nova Scotia and Quebec.
In Charleston, long-delayed recruits muster finally, helping to bolster defenses there, and Gates [0/7/3] brings several units into Philadelphia.
The Creek and Cayuga join the British cause, potentially causing issues for the American-allied Catawba, who are effectively keeping St. Augustine cut off from the rest of the British forces.
The long-awaited evacuation of Boston takes place, with Percy conducting a picture-perfect retreat. The regiments sail for Wilmington, North Carolina, where the militia rushes to the port in an attempt to defend the city. [40 attack strength against 5 defense strength yields max 4:1 odds. Mods are +1 US reforms, +1 no defender artillery for net +2. Combat dr=1; final dr=3 for 1/2DR. 1 British regular step lost; 8 total lost (7 eliminated).] Against inferior opponents, the British regulars suffer an expensive loss, but the city is taken.
Operation Southern Summer commences. Or, it would, but Cornwallis in Savannah simply cannot believe the Georgia heat; his forces remain in place for the time being.
Clinton, veteran southern fighter that he is, brings his seven regiments out from Georgetown’s port to face Schuyler. [37 attack strength against 16 defense strength yields 2:1 odds. Mods are +1 Clinton, +1 US reforms, +1 no defender artillery for net +3. Combat dr=2; final dr=5 for 1/2DR.] The German mercenaries lead the charge and lose half their number, protecting the British Regulars. Schuyler falls back, yielding the city.
Leaving a regiment behind in Georgetown with the newly arrived Phillips [0/11/3], Clinton keeps up the pressure, harrying Schuyler south, who keeps just one step ahead until they reach Charleston, where the Marion militia turns up to help in its defense. Clinton arrives on schedule. [30 attack strength against 22 defense strength for 1:1 odds. Mods are +1 Clinton, +1 US reforms for net +2. Combat dr=1; final dr=3 for 1/0.] Rebuffed, Clinton pulls back from Charleston, shorn of his mercenary regiment.
From his redoubt in New York City, Howe eagerly eyes the American supply locations nearby and sets out to claim them, leaving Riedesel in command of the troops left behind to guard the vital city. He scares Lee out of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, and claims White Plains, New York, but the knowledge of Washington’s now-free force gives him pause. He fortifies White Plains and awaits events.
Outnumbered at Trois-Rivières, Carleton pulls back to Quebec. The liberation of Montreal must wait.
Schuyler instructs his troops to build up defenses around Charleston’s port, while Putnam tarries outside the city, ostensibly providing “flank protection” for the defenders.
In Williamsburg, Ward begins to gather troops raised in Virginia, pausing for a spell in Alexandria’s famed harbor (and tap rooms) to recover after the long march.
From Philadelphia, Thomas summons the many regiments under his command and marches towards New York City, linking with Lee’s forces outside Elizabethtown.
Washington delegates a few regiments to garrison Boston, but his eye is on Howe. Marching with purpose, he picks up stragglers along the way, finding his nemesis waiting for him behind the walls of White Plains. Battle is joined. [53 attack strength against 28 defense strength for 1:1 odds. Mods are -1 fort, -1 US reforms, with Washington and Howe cancelling for net -2. Combat dr=2; final dr=2AR/1.] Another German mercenary regiment takes losses, and a question goes through the journeymen ranks about how smart this contract really was.
Unwilling to leave it at that, Washington moves to strike again [51 attack strength against 26 defense strength for 1:1 odds, same -2 drm. Combat dr=1; final dr=-1 for 3AR/0.] Perhaps belatedly realizing that he should have left it at that, Washington accepts defeat for the moment, allowing Howe to remain in White Plains.
The Congressional Marines in Philadelphia take advantage of the British fleet’s presence in the Chesapeake to raid Nova Scotia, securing supplies for the spring for any unit that might be cut off from its own mustering point.
Thomas leaves American service.
Turn 9 (Summer II, 1776)
The British fleet sails back to New York and the North Atlantic coast for the time being to remind the Americans that their ports are all within reach of British landings.
British Regular regiments and German mercenaries continue to pour into the colonies and Canada. Cornwallis in Savannah, Carleton in Quebec, and Howe’s New York command all receive generous levies.
American reinforcements are more limited in scope, though both sides see an excess of generals enter the fray. The colonials in particular need them, with their leaderless forces dotting the map, useless in their far-flung garrisons.
Leaving a German general in charge of Savannah, Cornwallis takes 11 regiments of Regular and Provincial troops with him on a march towards Salisbury, but he is surprised at the outskirts of the city by the North Carolina militia. Unprepared for battle after such a long march, he and his troops bide their time just beyond the city limits.
Three regiments of German mercenaries, under the command of Heister [0/7/3], depart from Georgetown to pressure Putnam, holding north of the besieged Charleston. Sensing the danger, the American pulls his forces into Charleston. The added troops there cause Clinton to pause—he’d prefer better odds before committing to a full assault on the city.
From Wilmington, Percy declines the opportunity to move the troops he brought recently from Boston; after months of defensive work, they deserve a break, apparently.
Carleton now commands a mighty force in Quebec, and he intends to use it. Leaving Pigot and Burgoyne [0/8/4] behind with a small holding garrison, he moves boldly down the St. Lawrence, chasing Montgomery all the way back to Montreal, where the brash American makes his stand. [55 attack strength against 34 defense strength for 1:1 odds. Mods are +1 US reforms, +1 no defender artillery, -1 fort for net +1, with Montgomery and Carleton cancelling each other out. Combat dr=4; final dr=5 for 1/2.] The loss of a few Provincial troops doesn’t slow down Carleton, and he urges his men forth for another attempt. [52 attack strength against 30 defense for 1:1 odds, same +1 drm as before. Combat dr=2; final dr=3 for 1/0.] Carleton knows the strength of Montreal’s walls all too well, and he pulls back his troops for the time being.
Playing harbormaster in New York City, Riedesel sends a tranche of newly arrived German regiments to Howe in White Plains, then accompanies additional troops to Elizabethtown, leaving Vaughan [0/14/3] in charge of the city.
Brant [0/*/4] takes command of the Mohawks and heads with them to Lake Champlain, aiming to threaten Montgomery’s supply line.
Burgoyne transfers to Wilmington to take Percy’s command; the sluggish hero of Boston has earned a “reprieve” for the time being.
Again, Washington tests his fledgling army against the trained professionals of Howe’s command. But, seeing that his opponent has left open the western approach to New York City, Washington marches around, hoping to bait out Howe’s forces from their redoubt in White Plains.
It works. Howe seizes on the opportunity, moving with most of his forces to attack the moving Americans, and Washington, whose forces are stronger defensively than offensively, smiles just slightly. [49 attack strength against 89 defense strength for 1:2 odds. Mods are +1 US reforms, with Washington and Howe cancelling each other. Combat dr=4; final dr=5 for 0/1.] A pinprick for Washington’s forces.
Howe retreats back to White Plains, but his cavalry keeps tabs on Washington’s whereabouts; as soon as they come near again, he launches another harrying attack. [49 attack strength against 87 defense strength for 1:2 odds; same +1 drm as before. Combat dr=1; final dr=2 for 2/0. 1 British Regular step lost; 9 total lost (7 eliminated).] Between the trying terrain and the repeated combats, Washington can go no further, though he can count the campaign as a success.
Montgomery realizes, too late, that he cannot hold Montreal through the winter without supply, but he lacks enough strength to even attempt to fight through Carleton’s forces [less than 1:3 odds results in automatic 2AR/0]. The retreat into Montreal spells doom for his brave troops unless some way can be found to relieve the pressure.
Bedel’s regiment takes the initiative and tries to help, marching from their wilderness refuge at the far end of the Connecticut River to the British supply dump at Trois-Rivières to cut off Carleton’s supply. Whether they can hold this position long enough to allow Montgomery to even try to escape remains unclear, but if it weren’t for long odds, the Americans wouldn’t have any odds at all right now.
Meanwhile, inspired by Washington’s long march, Lee rallies his forces for the Battle of Elizabethtown. [16 attack strength against 31 defense strength for 1:2 odds. Mods are -1 US reforms, -1 Riedesel for net -2. Combat dr=1; final dr=-1 for 4AR/0.] An ignominious defeat for Lee, who had hoped to at least whittle away at Howe’s southern flank.
Several newly arrived generals, including the resourceful Greene [0/12/5] travel the post roads to link up with leaderless units, hoping to bring them into the fight.
Turn 10 (Fall 1776)
The British fleet sails for the South Atlantic to blockade Charleston, threatening the defenders holed up around the port.
Yet more levies of German mercenaries arrive, pouring into New York, Wilmington, and, ominously, Nova Scotia, where Grant [1/13/3] prepares for another seaborne invasion. Emboldened, the loyal subjects of the crown in New Jersey and New York rally to the colors.
Cornwallis aims to finish what he started in the late summer and forces Salisbury. The militia brace for the worst. [59 attack strength against 5 defense strength for max 4:1 odds. Mods are +1 Cornwallis, +1 US reforms, +1 no defender artillery for net +3. Combat dr=1; final dr=4 for 0/2.] With the final American supply dump in North Carolina captured, the Tarheel state returns to the fold [2 Colonies restored: GA, NC].
Leaving behind a sizable garrison, Cornwallis heads to a British supply area in central North Carolina to ride out the coming Winter months.
Heister, to the west of Charleston, fails to respond to Clinton’s call to join forces. The British general has no desire to spend the winter in a tent on the coast, so he determines that he must breach the city walls now. [28 attack strength against 25 defense strength for 1:1 odds. Mods are -1 fort, +1 US reforms, +1 Clinton for net +1. Combat dr=1; final dr=2 for 1AR/1. 1 British Regular step lost; 10 total lost (7 eliminated).]
A sloppy attack, but Clinton presses on, determined to take this city. [25 attack strength against 21 defense strength for 1:1 odds; same +1 drm. Combat dr=3; final dr=4 for 0/1.] The defenders hold strong, and Clinton attacks yet again. [25 attack strength against 20 defense strength for 1:1 odds at +1 drm. Combat dr=3; final dr=4 for 0/1.]
Again and again, the Regulars crash against the walls of Charleston, spurred on by Clinton’s fire. [25 attack strength against 19 defense strength for 1:1 odds at +1 drm. Combat dr=5; final dr=6 for 1/2DR. 1 British Regular step lost; 11 total lost (7 eliminated).] At last, the walls give way, and the panicked defenders are rounded up, trapped against a harbor teeming with British frigates. Schuyler and Putnam are captured, their troops bound for prison barges. [3 Colonies restored: GA, SC, NC.]
The southern colonies have been returned to the crown, though at an extreme commitment of British force. Keeping a rearguard from popping up promises to be tricky, but at present, there are enough troops to hold the proverbial fort.
In Quebec, Pigot grabs the closest regiment and heads to deal with the pesky American troublemakers at Trois-Rivières, who stand and fight, knowing that they are the only hope for Montgomery’s beleaguered army in Montreal. [4 attack strength against 2 defense strength for 2:1 odds. Mods are +1 US reforms, +1 no defender artillery for net +2. Combat dr=6; final dr=8 for 1/4DR. 1 British Regular step lost; 12 total lost (7 eliminated).] An overwhelming victory, though at an outsized cost for the British, who now have several Regular regiments in a depleted state.
Howe, in White Plains, has no stomach to chase down Washington; New York City is secure with the recent reinforcements. A proper campaign can wait until the spring weather.
A troubling time. Montgomery in Montreal cannot be saved, the south is lost, and Howe commands New York City. Still, there is nothing for it but to fight.
Washington marches to Morristown, New Jersey, determined that he will have the better of Riedesel where Lee failed. Vaughan in New York City does not anticipate the move and fails to send reinforcements for the German. [49 attack strength against 31 defense strength for 1:1 odds. Mods are -1 US reforms, with Riedesel and Washington cancelling each other out. Combat dr=1; final dr=0 for 2AR/1.] Elizabethtown chews up more American troops.
Washington urges his men back into battle, and again Vaughan does not assist the German general. [49 attack strength against 30 defense strength for 1:1 odds, same -1 drm. Combat dr=5; final dr=4 for 0/1.] A German regiment collapses, and Washington continues the attack. [49 attack strength against 26 defense strength for 1:1 odds, -1 drm. Combat dr=1; final dr=0 for 2AR/1.] More Germans fall, but so do Americans. Washington cannot continue.
Spencer [0/10/3], Greene, and Ward hold their positions in Virginia—the British are in supplied and defensible positions in North and South Carolina. Little can be done at present about the southern colonies.
The militias withdrawal to their homes, to attend the harvest.
Turn 11 (Winter I, 1776)
The British fleet chooses to stay in the relatively sunny climes of the South Atlantic.
Some minor American additions, most notably Eddy’s regiment, which appears at Fort Cumberland near Nova Scotia. Not very powerful, but a reminder to the British to guard their supply base.
From Wilmington, Burgoyne sets out for New Berne with a substantial force, dropping off a small garrison at Kingston along the way. Percy remains behind with the remnants of his Bostonian command.
Clinton takes some depleted British regiments from Charleston back to Savannah, the better to protect them.
From New York City, Vaughan deploys a few troops to Riedesel’s command nearby. And in Montreal, Carleton contents himself to wait—winter will clear Montreal far more efficiently than his irreplaceable troops could.
Though the snows begin to fall, Washington determines to hammer Riedesel yet again. [48 attack strength against 31 defense strength for 1:1 odds. Mods are -1 US reforms, with Washington and Riedesel cancelling. Combat dr=5; final dr=4 for 0/1]. They press on with the fight even as the snow falls. [48 attack strength against 29 defense strength; same 1:1 odds at -1 drm. Combat dr=4; final dr=3 for 1/0.] Washington’s stirring oratory does little to rouse the men to continue; they cannot recall how many times they have tried, and failed, to stir the perfidious German from Elizabethtown.
Rumors of improved tactics being developed bring some joy to the American encampments; for now, though, no more battles.
Many American regiments strike the colors and leave the field.
Winter Attrition Phase:
Cut off from supply in Montreal, Montgomery loses several depleted regiments, though he is able to scrounge enough to keep the 2nd Canadian Regiment in satisfactory form.
Turn 12 (Winter II, 1777)
The British fleet remains in the balmy South Atlantic.
The Virginians continue to rally to the American flag, while a few replacements filter into New York as well. A ranger regiment managers to muster in the South Carolina woods, but they will likely be a nuisance rather than an impediment to continued British control of the colony.
Clinton commandeers longboats from the nearby British fleets and transports two German regiments from Savannah to New Berne, the better to march come the spring.
The British deign to act with all this beastly snow about. Howe considers sending troops from White Plains to Norwalk and Danbury, Connecticut, to interfere with American spring recruitments, but he thinks the better of it —splitting his forces is a very easy way to lose them all.
Greene in Suffolk, Virginia, moves to combine his forces with Ward’s in Alexandria. Spencer, in Williamsburg, dispatches a cavalry regiment to Norfolk to guard the port there.
Otherwise, American forces wait out the long winter, either unwilling or incapable of moving in the heavy snows and bitter cold.
Yet more troops leave American service. They will be replaced soon, to be sure, but those from the southern states have no hope of reconstitution until their homes are liberated. Ward, Washington’s second-in-command, also bows out after a long two years of service.
Winter Attrition Phase:
Montgomery’s command in Montreal dwindles down to the 2nd Canadian Regiment, the rest dispersing from hunger and disease.
Turns 7-12 Overview
For the British, another successful year of campaigning. Though Boston had to be evacuated and Montreal remains (nominally) under American occupation, the southern colonies sit tightly in royal control. Clinton, Cornwallis, and Burgoyne threaten to roll up through Virginia, but there is much more ground to cover there, and with partial American military reforms conducted, their defense will prove stouter than before.
Losses of Regular troops continued, but most of those taken this year were from two step units; the losses do not “count” until the second step is removed, and careful husbanding of those depleted regiments should see them safe for the time being.
The Americans find themselves at a crossroads of sorts, with a strong force assembled under Washington but tied down by Howe’s equally strong army in and around New York City. They must be screened in force, else they break out and take multiple ports and supply/mustering locations. A balance must be struck between containing Howe and supporting Greene’s army in Virginia against the marauding Clinton and friends.
Montgomery’s Montreal gambit did tie down a good six to eight Regular regiments that might otherwise have been sent to the British southern command, and most of his forces are replaceable. Still, a painful lesson in terms of retreating into an unfriendly fortress without sufficient power to fight out of it should the need arise.
The American economy becomes the battleground for the next year; should the British hold and/or raid enough ports, the already tenuous American financial infrastructure could buckle, leading to a massive loss of troops from the field. And there are quite a few ports to protect, with six already under British control and most others lightly garrisoned by the Americans, if at all. The British are driving events right now; Washington and the Continental Army need a big win, and soon.
(To be continued…)