Our local Group of wargammers indulged me with another game of Sharp Practice, this time an American Revolution period scenario. I used Scenario One from the rule Book, a Meeting Engagement where each side rolls to see where they place their Deployment Point. The British got Point 1(Red arrow below) and the Rebels at Point 2(Blue arrow). Unfortunately I had brought the wrong CigarBox Battle Map to the game. I had picked up the Nashville map instead of the European 102c map, so we ended up with more woods than I wanted. The CigarBox Maps are a little bigger than the 6X4 tables we have down at the local game store(Blue Sky Hobbies in Bremerton, WA) so about four inches hang down over the sides of the table. That's why the primary Deployment Points shown below are so far in from the edge. Only one Deployment Point per side is used so it was a little crowded getting onto the table. To win a victory one side must force his opponent to withdraw from the table, either voluntarily or due to a reduction in his Force Morale. Both sides roll Low for their Force Morale(the rebels being -2 for more than half their force being Militia) and both start out at Force Morale of 9.
The Forces in this encounter are somewhat small, about 65 points each. The British have two Groups of Highlanders(Regulars) one Group of Light Infantry Skirmishers and three Groups of Provincial Regulars(Conscripts & Volunteers). The Rebels have a three Group Unit of Continentals and two Units of Militia, each of two groups, one without bayonets. This would be a typical skirmish between the forces of Nathanael Greene and Banastre Tarleton somewhere in South Carolina in the year of 1781. Below is the Roster of Troops with their leaders and Support Options. The battle is set in the fictional town of Bad Rock somewhere in South Carolina.
The first turn sees the Rebels all deploy in the field behind the church. Its a little crowded but they all fit within the six inch distance around the Deployment Point.
The British deploy in the open space between the two streams. The Skirmishers with their nine inch deployment distance set up lining the road.
Captain Goode's Militia head for the church. One Group under the Captain takes cover inside the church while the other under command of Sergent Rick O'Shea must remain outside although there are some woods and a picket fence providing some cover.
The other Rebel Militia unit(w/o bayonets) under Lieutenant Lester decides to head around the church. Unfortunately for the Lieutenant, he sprains his leg( A "My bally leg!" random event) and must limp around at -1 pip per die. He encourages his men to move on while he tries to catch up.
The Continentals under Captain Bush cross into the livestock field in column. A small hill is in front of them is blocking sight to the British.
The Highlanders under Captain Head are on the edge of a woods facing the church. The skirmishers under Lieutenant Rench are also facing the church and will shortly be trading fire with the Rebel Militia. The Provincial Regulars under Lieutenant Canhandle are coming up to face the Continentals but are delayed due to passage through the woods.
Lieutenant Lester's Militia must have been discouraged by the injury to their leader as they don't advance very far while the other Militia is all ready hotly engaged with the British. (Note: a combination of poor movement die rolls and a series of non-activation can cause units to be left out of the action)
After some maneuvering Captain Bush deploys the Continentals into line and advances to the crest of the hill. There he has the troops present and lay a Crashing Volley into the Provincials and British Skirmishers.
The Green coated Provincials take a thrashing. Twelve Shock on the Formation and five dead including their lackluster commander, Lieutenant Morgan U. Canhandle. Sergeant Jimmy DeLocke with trepidation, is forced to take over the Unit. Captain Head from the Highlanders has moved over so he can assist activating units with his longer command range. Unfortunately for him, he is in the line of fire and takes a hit. His wound causes him to loose an Initiative level. Dr. Payne hurries over to treat his wound but he will be out action while this is done and the Brits need his ability to remove Shock.
Meanwhile, the Continentals have also suffered casualties in the fire fight. Two are dead and there is a total of nine shock on the two Groups on the right side. The left hand Group had miraculously suffered no casualties or Shock.
Lieutenant Lester's Militia are slowly moving up but are not within range yet. Meanwhile, Captain Goode's Militia are holding their own in the fire fight with the Highlanders and British Skirmishers.
The Highlanders suffer from damp powder( A "Damp squib! " random event) and will fire at half effect until they can be replenished. Fortunately, the powder wagon is right behind them and it moves up to supply them with new ammunition.
The fire fight on the Rebel right flank continues and both sides are getting worn down. Captain Bush calls on Reverend Hal E. Looya to encourage the men. On his first attempt to remove shock he rolls a "3". The next attempt, only a "1". Somehow the fear of God does not help the morale of the Continentals, but they hold on and keep pouring shots into the British. Perhaps an issue of rum would have done better.
Lieutenant Lester has finally gotten his Militia into position, but he lags behind no doubt due to his bally leg. Captain Goode's Militia come out of the church and join up with Sergeant O'Shea's Group.
The Militia units begin to poor some heavy fire into the Highlanders and the Shock mounts up. Meanwhile the Provincials and British skirmishers pull back behind the rail fence to recover from mounting shock while the Continentals advance toward them. At this stage Force Morale is at "7" for the British and "9" for the Rebels.
The British with several units close to reaching break point, a wounded Force Commander and one dead leader, decide discretion is the better part of valor and retire off the battlefield leaving the village of Black Rock in the hands of the Rebels. The Continentals yell insulting taunts at them as they retire off the field.
In a parley after the battle, the British arranged for the Lieutenant of the Provincials to be buried in the Church cemetery near where he fought. He was well liked by his men and the other Officers. A collection was taken up to pay for his tombstone on which they had inscribed this Epitaph, "The Lieutenant had a Bad Day in Black Rock. It was more than he could handle".
The dense terrain hindered both sides but probably more so the British. Once the Shock built up, it was impossible for the British to advance and engage the Rebels in Fisticuffs since they would be deducting movement pips for both shock and terrain. Its in melee where the British have a significant advantage over the Rebels, especially against Militia units with no bayonets.
The "crashing volleys" of the Continentals put the Provincials at a disadvantage due to increasing Shock which is was hard for them to recover from once they lost their leader and their Force Commander was wounded.
I thought it was a fun game and shows what can be done with just a few Units in Sharp Practice. I liked the way the Random events played into the narrative of the game. Hope you enjoyed this After Action Report. Much thanks to Gary, Kevin and Tom for playing the game with me.