Tis the season for some treason! Ah yes, the American revolution hangs by a thread in the winter of 1776. With a full understanding of the dire situation in which the continental army is in, General Washington undertakes a bold action to save the revolution! The battle of Trenton is the most one-sided engagement of the revolution.
I hosted this game at my place with the crew - our official "Christmas season" game (Roy Scaife, Dan Kerrick, Matt Hilzendrager, Thomas Foss - with John Lantz being out sick). In addition to dice, miniatures, terrain - there was eggnog, Santa hats, and ugly Christmas sweaters! This is my favorite time of the year. Are you ready to barf out some Christmas joy?! Well, let's go!
Alright, the battle of Trenton - a most one-sided engagement you say - why would you wargame the battle if that is the case? A good question dear reader!
I was inspired by Little Wars TV for this game. I was specifically on the hunt for a game that I could run that would be winter/Christmas themed and I ended up watching the YouTube battle report for Trenton by Little Wars TV (watch it here). A great battle report and history surrounding the battle.
I decided to use the Little Wars TV rules for this game - Live Free of Die (available as a PDF download). The rules are very straight forward being only 4 pages in total. Additionally, the rulebook itself comes with some excellent scenarios. But wait, there's more! They also have an outstanding scenario book for AWI that I also picked up that is packed with 10 more scenarios (including Trenton).
While the rules are written for 15mm (and LWTV play it with 10mm), I'm using it for 28mm since that is the collection I have and it is large enough to do the battles they have detailed out in the scenario book. I did have to update the ranges/distances. Effectively any distance that is 3" in the rules as written I changed to 5" - along with some of the ranges.
The 28mm version of their quick reference sheet you can download from here:
The scenario for this adds some very creative options into the mix for the players. The folks at Little Wars TV drew on some of the factors around the battle that almost did or where likely to have happened but did not in order to provide a great set of random events that occur during the battle. I don't want to give it all away here, I highly recommend purchasing the PDF scenario book, even if you already have a set of AWI rules you like.
HESSIAN ORDER OF BATTLE
Col. Johann Rall
- Grenadier Regt. Rall
- Grenadier Regt. Rall II
- Regt. Von Lossberg
- Regt. Von Knyphausen
- 3-lber Light Gun
- 16th Queens Dragoons
Depending on random events determined at the start of the game, and based on both sides choosing their battle strategies, additional Hessian and potentially even British reinforcements are possible.
AMERICAN ORDER OF BATTLE
General George Washington
Major General Nathanael Greene
- 4th VA
- 5th/6th VA
- 1st/3rd VA
- 1st PA Rifles (Skirmishers)
- 20th CT
- 1st MD
- 5th MA/CT Militia
- German Regiment
- 1st PA
- 3-lber Light Gun
- 6-lber Field Gun
Major General John Sullivan
St. Clair's Brigade
- 5th Continentals
- 2nd/8th Continentals
Depending on random events determined at the start of the game, and based on both sides choosing their battle strategies, additional American units may arrive to help OR some units from the above OOB may have a delayed arrival or not arrive at all.
American pre-battle decision was to "delay the vanguard for one hour - two at most - to allow time for the rest of the army to catch up, avoiding the risk of a piecemeal engagement." The Hessian pre-battle decision was that "fortifications are unnecessary and would weaken the morale of the men. Double our patrols outside of town and keep the pickets on high alert."
American random event resulted in the artillery not making the crossing - being removed from the American OOB. Additionally, they rolled the result for Sargent's brigade to arrive at entry point V on turn 5. The Hessian random events resulted in no effect and Von Donop sends aid from Bordentown - on turn 4, one regiment from his brigade arrives at entry point Z.
The game lasted for 8 turns. The American objective was to seize the "three" sections of the town of Trenton (divided by the road).
I'll summarize the action after the pictures below. For now, enjoy these pre-game pictures I took on the eve of battle using my nice camera ...
The American's advanced to volley range and opened up on the Hessians who were holding at the edge of town. The engage of shooting lasted several turns. On turn 5 the Americans realized they need to start charging to push out the Hessians who had stood in place against the American shooting. Successive charges by American units and counter charges from Hessian units saw one section of the town fall to the Americans. The main section (in the shape of a pie slice) was being held just barely by the Hessians when the game ended. The result was a minor Hessian victory - but honestly had there been even just 1 more turn I think the Americans would have carried two town sections and won. Washington was wounded during the battle and carried from the field in turn 8 after supporting a main American charge that secured a section of town. We all had a blast and enjoyed all the variability of the scenario that allowed us to see a different outcome from the historical outcome.
Pictures below of the battle in progress throughout the turns.
Mobile phone pictures taken throughout the battle below ...
I was a bit busy during the game so didn't get that many good in progress pictures. One of our crew was sick so I ended up playing 1/2 of the Hessian force. I had originally just planned to be the GM and take pictures ... oh well, I really enjoyed playing and hosting.
A fun little game. Happy holidays folks!