American Revolution: The Road to Guilford Courthouse

Part 1 - Polemos Rules Test

I have been working on 6mm figures on and off for a number of years now to do the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. I originally based them for Principles of War at 25mm scale (so 3 bases per Regiment, each 60mm x 30mm).

I've never been entirely happy with the rules I've looked at, which is why the project kept stuttering...

So I thought i'd have a look at the new Polemos: Ruse de Guerre rules by Glenn Pearce (published by Baccus, and availble from Wargames Vault) written speciffically for the AWI. French and Indian War and War of 1812.

We had looked at a previous version of Polemos (Franco Prussian), and whilst we liked some of the mechanisms, we thought it was too slow and clunky. However, all that has changed with the release of RdG - the rules themselves only take about a dozen pages up, and there aren't too many modifiers to remember! As an added bonus, the author is happy to answer questions on the Baccus Forum in some detail, so I was able to arm myself with clarifications prior to my first game!

I'm still finishing a few things off needed for Guilford Courthouse itself, so started with a smaller game.

Order of Battle

British (TP=5, AC=18)

CinC (Cornwallis) - 1 Commander-in-Chief (Capable)
6lb Artillery (under Cornwallis) - 1 Stand (T, 6lb)
6lb Artillery  (under Cornwallis) - 1 Stand (T, 6lb)
Combined Grenadiers  (under Cornwallis) - 1 Stand (W)

Tarleton - 1 Commander (Decisive)
Tarletons Light Dragoons - 4 Stands (T, S)

Webster    (23rd and 33rd) - 1 Brigade Commander
23rd Fusileers - 3 Stands (W) + Capable Commander
33rd Infantry - 3 Stands (W) + Capable Commander
Combined Light Infantry - 1 Stand (W, S) + Capable Commander

Leslie (71st and Hessians) - 1 Brigade Commander
71st Highlanders - 3 Stands (W) + Capable Commander
Hessians - 4 Stands (T) + Capable Commander
Jaegers - 1 Stand (W, S) + Capable Commander

The British Army

Hessian Regiment

23rd Foot (Welsh Fusileers)

Continental (TP=5, AC=18)

CinC (Greene) - 1 Commander-in-Chief (Capable)
6lb Artillery (Under Greene) - 1 Stand
6lb Artillery (Under Greene) - 1 Stand

Washington - Commander (Decisive)
Washington's Light Dragoons - 2 Stands (W)

Williams - Brigade Commander
Continentals - 3 Stands (T) + Capable Commander
Continentals - 3 Stands (T) + Capable Commander

Hugar - Brigade Commander
Continentals - 3 Stands (T) + Capable Commander
Continentals - 3 Stands (T) + Capable Commander

Lawson - Brigade Commander
Militia - 5 Stands (P) + Plodding Commander
Militia - 5 Stands (P) + Plodding Commander

Kirkwood - Commander (Decisive)
Light Infantry - 1 Stand (W, S)
Delaware Light Infantry - 1 Stand (W, S)
Rifles - 2 Stands (T, S)

The Continental Army

Continental Regulars

Continental Militia

Washington's Dragoons
(note the trumpeter has reversed uniform colours)

Initial Deployments

The British deployed first with the 23rd/33rd to the British left, the 71st/Hessians to the right with the Grenadiers and Tarleton in reserve. The artillery was apportioned out to the 2 Corps commanders.

British Deployment

The Continentals deployed with the militia to their right, flanked by Washington's Dragoons, and the Continental Regulars to their left and in depth, flanked by the corps of light troops.

Continental Deployment

The Game

The British made a general advance on their right targeting the two militia units that were directly in front of them.

The British Advance

Meanwhile, Tarleton's Legion moved off to the right where there was an exposed flank.

Tarleton heads off to the right flank

The Continentals also decided to advance....the militia, thought that would be madness, but advanced anyway...!!!

The Continental advance

Meanwhile, Washington's Dragoons moved forward hoping to exploit a flanking opportunity. Note the red beads...Polemos uses Tempo, and I used blue beads for Army Tempo points, and red beads for units inherant tempo.

Washington's Dragoons advance

By this time the Continental artillery had deployed, and was able to shoot at the 71st Highlanders - the red counter signifies a shaken marker...not a great start!

First blood to the Continentals...

The Continental firing line

On the British left, the 23rd and 33rd Regiments closed to within 1 base width of the Militia to maximise fire.

The 33rd Close!

After an ASTONISHING round of dice throwings - three 9s and 10s in one round of fire, 2 militia bases and 1 33rd base were destroyed!

After the smoke cleared...

The 23rd didn't have as much luck, with no bases destroyed on either side, but plenty o shaken markers. In addition, the white counters signify loss of Elan (or First Fire if that is what you want to call it).

The Welsh exchange fire!

The Grenadiers, who had swung round to fill a gap, found themselves exposed as a Continental unit wheeled to face. Two bases were able to fire on the Grenadiers, resulting in a shaken marker!

Shaken Grenadiers!

On the British right hand side, Tarleton sat in front of the American skirmish line.

Tarleton faces off!

Close up of the Legion

The Continentals now closed on the 71st Highlanders, maximising fire, and again destroying two bases - Martin's dice throwing was astonishing!

The 71st are shattered...

This is all that is left of the 71st!

At this point, the 23rd and 33rd Charged the militia - after losing an additional base each in close combat, the Militia forces promptly did the 71st.

The British lost 7 army cohesion points as a result (d10 roll of 7), whils the Continentals lost only 4 (2 x rolls of 2).....doh!

The British break through the Militia

Things were not going well on the other side, however, as the Hessians suffered a similar fate to the 71st.

The Hessians suffer casualties...they made a last desperate charge before the final base was lost...

The scene on the right

The 23rd and 33rd struggled to redeploy and support the right in time...the Hessians were destroyed (another roll of 7 meant 14 points of the 18 Army Cohesion were now lost.

The Continentals, on the other hand, were able to move quicker to sut the door...the dragoons, always a threat, made it difficult for the British to just turn in and support their comrades!

The British struggle to redeploy

...and that was it, game over...we called it at that point, as the British were only 4 points from breaking, and with no chance of getting victory.

The final positions


An excellent tryout - all players really enjoyed it, and picked up the rules very quickly. Getting a game of this size to conclusion in about two and a half hours was a major bonus.

As soon as things started happening, scarcity of tempo became a real issue for both sides, though the british tended to bid high (and chose the lower number to generate tempo) to "strangle" the continental opportunities.

Had the Continentals deployed as I would have expected, with some of the continental regulars behind the militia, the British would probably have won, however, by using the militia as a decoy, they effectively split and iscolated the other brigade...well done to Martin for this one!

We are going to give this a go next week with different armies, and i will make more postings as the project develops - but at the moment, the rules seem to do everything we need!