Saturday, March 4, 2017

Battle of Guilford Courthouse March 15, 1784

It has been a while since I've posted, but I look forward to getting back on track. In February I was privileged to play in a refight of the historic Guilford Courthouse during the American War of Independence. Although not a large battle, it did contain a good number of units that would later take part in the Battle of Yorktown. Here we see Cornwallis' command entering the field.

The Americans have three lines of defense. The first two are made of militia units, with the first being untested militia who had orders to give two good shots and retire. The first line also had some small light infantry and cavalry units to harass the flanks of the British. The third line contains the Continental regiments, which are the best quality of troops Greene has.

The American plan is to delay the British and inflict as many casualties as possible. The cavalry and light infantry are to harass and fall back all the way up to Guilford Courthouse, should they survive.

Here we have the first line of North Carolina militia units waiting behind the fence line. Lt. Colonel Washington's cavalry unit along with his light infantry. On the far side of the American line, you can see some of Light Horse Harry Lee's light infantry.

Here are the Virginia militia regiments in the second line. These militia were deemed a bit more reliable and in our refight, would prove to be a very difficult line to break.

The British advance after some cannon fire upon the militia. The British had hoped their cannon could clear the way, but it would take more than cannon to push the North Carolina militia units aside. Lt. Colonel Washington's light units are engaging the Hessian jaeger unit while Tarleton's cavalry enter the field (upper right).

Lee's light troops are tangling with the Hessians in an aggressive firefight that will wear down both sides. One of the North Carolina militia units had broke and left a gap due to continuous artillery fire. Cornwallis in this refight decided to use his cannons boldly, which managed to inflict minor damage.

With the Hessian jaegers eliminated early on, British Gen. Webster now has the problem of Lt. Colonel Washington's intact light infantry and dragoons on his flank. This threat to his flank would later prove to be a major problem as the British advance would be stalled.

Lee's light units fall back after some unsuccessful combat. Cornwallis' artillery continues to fire upon the North Carolina militia.

The British made an advance and the North Carolina militia were driven off. British General O'Hara's 2nd Guards and some converged Grenadiers then surged forward toward the Virginia militia manning the 2nd line.

Webster's troops have a dilemma before them. If they push on to attack the 2nd line, they will be shot at by rifled armed light troops and possibly hit in the rear by Washington's cavalry. The smaller light infantry units are faster than the British line regiments and can easily evade combat.

British General Leslie has decided to risk it and brave the harassment from Harry Lee's light troops. As you can see, the British attempting to move forward too quickly is leading to their units becoming disorganized as they are forced to fight effectively in different directions.

O'Hara and Webster's troops are attempting to destroy Lt. Colonel Washington's light troops that are managing to snipe at the British advance. The Virginia militia had managed to maul some of the British units before being broken. The casualty marker attest to the near breaking of multiple British units before they can even contact the fresh third line of defense.

Webster's regiments being continuously delayed fighting smaller numbers of American troops. The choice is either get shot in the back or turn and face your enemy.

One of General Leslie's desperate attempts to protect the army's artillery with the battered 1st Foot Guards.

Webster's men finally broke from the fire of Lt. Colonel Washington's light troops (note the row of casualty markers). The converged grenadiers attempted and succeeded in destroying one of Washington's light infantry units. The overall exchange not being favorable to the British side.

A major attempt to push the attack on the final American line after dealing with Lee's troops and Virginia militia. As can be seen, the casualty markers mean these units are almost to the breaking point.

A rash British attempt to subdue the Continentals with the British artillery sections deploying before the Courthouse. Greene's Continentals can't resist and come down from the hill to try and take the guns.

The left of Green's 3rd line is cautiously sitting on the hill with the cannons, just in case the attack fails.

With Webster's command broken, O'Hara is forced back by the faster moving light troops of Lt. Colonel Washington. The grenadiers are close to their breaking point and so this was a smart idea.

After dealing with Cornwallis' artillery, the Hessians use the sacrificed artillery to advance up the road.

The Hessian unit makes a desperate charge into the American artillery, which fails to win the day.

On the right, all that remains of the British that began this battle. Time to retreat toward Yorktown?

A closer image of Cornwallis and the few units he has still upon the field. The Continental regiment pictured is also mauled from frontally engaging the British artillery.

Historically, it was a British victory, with the Americans being brushed aside. In this refight, the British had the misfortune of not dealing with the American light units effectively, which cost them the game. Not really pictured, were Tarleton's infamous cavalry. The reason they're not featured is because they suffered a major defeat that broke the unit very early in the game (didn't get a chance to picture that combat). The British cavalry could have been used to counter the American flanking actions had they not been used as a battering ram.