Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Battle of Benjamin Bridge

With its release just a cover design away, I decided to play a game of Tree of Liberty with a friend after our Sunday lunch last week. The game is specifically designed for the mid-range battles of the American War of Independence, so we quickly threw some terrain on a 4'x4' table and dug out some units

British Order of Battle
General Brassick: Status 2
Brigader Suttle: Status 3
Muttoncuffs, 5 bases: Regulars, muskets, colonel, Cohesion 4
Fusiliers, 6 bases: Regulars, muskets, colonel, Cohesion 5
Canadian Highland Volunteers, 9 bases: Regulars, muskets, colonel, Cohesion 3
Queen's Rangers, 6 bases: Regulars, muskets, Cohesion 3
Hessian Jagers, 4 bases: Regulars, muskets, light infantry, Cohesion 4
Dragoons, 6 bases: Regulars, cavalry, colonel, Cohesion 3

Command Initiative: 4 dice, 9 orders
Breakpoint: 17 bases

American Order of Battle
Brigadier-General Horeson: Status 3
Brigadier Grimley: Status 3
3rd Maryland, 10 bases: Regulars, muskets, colonel, Cohesion 3
1st New Yorkers, 10 bases: Regulars, muskets, colonel, Cohesion 3
9th Connecticut, 10 bases: Regulars, muskets, colonel, Cohesion 4
Riflemen, 12 bases: Irregulars, rifles, Cohesion 3
Benjamin's Hollow Militia, 3 bases: Militia, muskets, Cohesion 2

Command Initiative: 4 dice, 9 orders
Breakpoint: 15 bases

The Game
Both armies were divided by the Sackahominy River, only crossable at the rickety Benjamin's Bridge. Defending both sides of the road, the Patriots lined the fences and waited for the British to advance; which they did in short order.

The Canadians were slow enough to ruin any chance of success on their flank. Their reluctance to get to handstrokes meant that despite their stellar success breaking three units of Americans with fire and bayonet, the Muttoncuffs were abandoned in a cauldron of musketry and eventually annihilated in a counter-charge. The Canucks eventually made it almost the whole way to the bridge before being similarly surrounded and shot to pieces. Brigadier Suttle was the only British piece remaining on the left bank of the Sackahominy by the time the game ended.

In part, that was due to General Brassick destroying his army's command and control by sacrificing himself in a successful charge alongside the Fusiliers on the other side of the river. After a few sharp exchanges of fire with the Patriots in the hills and woods opposite, they routed New Yorkers off the road fences, but like the Muttoncuffs were caught without support and squashed flat.

On the British right flank, the skirmishing Rangers and Jagers were quickly bogged down in ineffectual firefights against Connecticut line infantry and swarms of riflemen. By the time the Dragoons moved up in support, any attempt to charge the American lines would have been a waste.

The battered British right withdrew having watched everyone to their left flee the field in poor condition. No Loyalists would be passing by Benjamin's Bridge any time soon...

The Fusiliers exchange fire with continental infantry.

The Muttonchops crest the hill and take a volley.

The lane fills with powdersmoke and bullets.

The rest of the Patriot flank opens fire, ineffectively.

With zeal and bayonets, the Muttoncuffs charge home!

The die roll that sealed the Fusiliers' fate!

The Canadian Highlanders stand firm until the last.

Butcher's Bill
British: Almost 900 casualties; Americans about 600

Man of the Match
The Fusiliers provided two perfect lessons in how to conduct a bayonet charge, both giving and receiving perfect set-piece shock attacks preceded by heavy musketry. For their foreshadowing of Pickett's charge, I name them the Men of the Match.

The British were attacking against greater numbers, and trusted too much to their superior quality – which wasn't actually much greater overall, despite the presence of the Fusiliers and Muttoncuffs. Their arrogance met with an almost Hollywood end – riflemen in the woods and Continentals at the fences shooting down men who stayed shoulder-to-shoulder far too much. It is telling, I think, that all the bases lost to shooting were lost from units in Ordered Line, and none from those who took just as much fire but were in Open Order. Good units caught alone were crumpled and I often regretted a lack of second and third lines – it all felt very historically accurate!

Ben enjoyed the game, which since it was his first for years and years was very gratifying. It is interesting that while another playtester called it really fun “micro-management”, Ben said it was “kind of abstract and simplified” but really fun – it just goes to show how different two people can find the same game while still enjoying it! Tree of Liberty should hopefully be available for purchase from the Wargame Vault in the next few weeks as the next installment in the Tactical Two Pager series.


  1. Are the rules single base focused, or are multiple base units needed? If the latter, much painting needed to produce units of eg 10 stands. Small size unit rules allow one to have the huge variety of uniforms for the AWI.

    1. Bases represent 40-70 men, so only the largest battalions would have ten bases. Usually a short battalion of 300 men only requires 4-6 bases. The number of miniatures on each base doesn't really matter, so you can have a man-model ratio anywhere from 1:70 to 1:10.

      I've thoroughly enjoyed looking up all the different uniforms I can have in the AWI - only five or six hundred models left to paint in twenty or thirty paint schemes!

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  3. . Small size unit rules allow one to have the huge variety of uniforms for the AWI.

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