Background image is Les Dernières Cartouches (The Last Cartridges) by Alphonse de Neuville

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Project 1777: Addendum concerning orders of battle.

"So, what does that mean, again?" (
Some folks have asked about my system of notation on orders of battle.

The larger number next to a unit is its historical strength, or my best approximation of it. The number in brackets is the number of stands used in the game to represent it.

Additionally, I should perhaps explain "wings". Because units, especially British units, often used very wide spacing between files, large units became hard for a commander to maneuver easily. So units over about 300 or 400 men were often broken into two subunits or wings that operated as separate units. Thus, for instance, the Queens Rangers at Short Hills are a 400-man battalion represented on the tabletop by two 4-stand wings.

As far as troops go, most will have muskets of some quality. I'm relying on research in historic records that a friend of mine did many years ago to determine which American units are likely to have been provided with bayonets.

Only a few units on the American side, and on the British side the German jaegers and a few units of Provincials carried rifles throughout. There isn't any way in C&G, currently, to reflect the practice of arming one company of a battalion, or one platoon of a company, with rifles, as the Crown Forces often did, other than treating that body as a separate unit. That's more the province of a lower-echelon game, where individual platoons are the maneuver units.

I'll add commander ratings later on, after I've had time to do a little more research and evaluation.  But at the higher level my read is that Cornwallis and Greene were some of the best general officers who served during the war, both in terms of tactical insight, organizational skill, and their ability to inspire and motivate their men. Alexander was undeniably brave, but a bit foolhardy. Grant was well-connected (a good friend of Howe's and with experience of and friends in British political circles) but alternated between rash boldness and overconfident torpor.

Carl von Donop (Wikipedia)
Von Donop sounds to have been a bit of a martinet, but generally a capable commander; he had good instincts for arranging his posts in New Jersey that were overridden by Howe, and he conducted his withdrawal in the face of the American surprise attack capably and without rush or fuss. His attack on and death at Red Bank seems to have been due more to bad intelligence about the fort and its defenders than anything else.

Benjamin Lincoln is a challenge to rate: he had a largely undistinguished and unsuccessful career as a general officer, being alternately commander of a rear guard that was not hard pressed, commander of reserves that saw no action, surprised and chased out of his billet in his nightshirt, wounded in a pointless skirmish, superintendent of a failed capaign hamstrung by poor troops and lukewarm civilian support, forced into the most humiliating surrender of American forces during the war, and then unsuccessful in his first combat command after returning to the army. On the other hand, Washington seems to have thought fairly highly of him. He recommended Lincoln for a general's commission despite his lack of experience. And he continued to put him in positions of command after repeated reverses. My guess, after a quick read, is that he was an able administrator and competent, if not distinguished, field commander who was simply cursed with some of the worst luck going.

Peter Muhlenberg seems to have been a competent, somewhat inspirational officer. George Weedon sounds as if he were very competent (or connected) given how regularly he was promoted and then tipped for adjutant general, but also hot-headed (given his leaving the service over the question of his senority). Washington seems to have blown hot and cold on him, praising him in 1777 and then many years later damning him with faint praise and implying he was a drinker. My historian friend remarks "I see Weedon and Muhlenberg as fine administrators and solid battlefield commanders (not thrilling but reliable).  Weedon had more fire in his belly early in the war.  Both inspired their men with great confidence."

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