Brandywine Day 2

French aristocrat and soldier for the American rebels the Marquis de Lafayette lies on the ground with a bullet wound in his leg as an aide helps him to his feet at the Battle of Brandywine, Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania, September 11, 1777. Lafayette, in his first military engagement, stayed with the troops during their retreat to Chester before getting medical attention for his leg. (Image by Kean Collection/Getty Images)

For the first time ever, I am playing a second day at Brandywine. The British were trying to avoid heavy casualties and underestimated the colonial’s tenacity. Knyphausen’s smaller wing, instead of demonstrating across the Brandywine, drew the short straw and had to march the nearly twenty miles around to come in and outflank Washington. This left Cornwallis watching and waiting with the Sledgehammer of the British expeditionary force.

Predictably, this got hung up, helped by the Colonist’s stalwart defense. Toward the end of the day, Cornwallis launched his assault and suffered heavy casualties. His right wing collapsed and the intrepid Greene crossed Chadd’s and Pyle’s ford in a brilliant envelopment that left the Grenadiers falling back in disorder as night came.

That night Greene recovered his command’s losses and was able to refresh one division. Cornwallis was able to reorganize his best troops, under Mathew, and was ready to put an end to this congressional nonsense.

Greene scrambles to locate the British Baggage before the British can find him and chase off his exhausted troops.

The bandaged hearts show the recovered units. If Greene gets activated before Cornwallis all he needs to do is send General “Mad” Anthony Wayne forward to make contact with the bags (arrow) and the Rebels will win. If Cornwallis is drawn first, then Mathews (the recovered British unit) will be able to block Greene’s exhausted troops, giving the Knyphausen time to break the American lines.

Nothing is a sure thing, but whoever is activated first will probably win. In a solitaire game, I may not even bother fighting this out (Ha! Yes I will!), but imagine how exciting this would be with an opponent. You’ve fought all of day 1 and the British were almost winning (but getting frustratingly denied) until the last couple turns. Suddenly, with Green across the Brandywine, everything has changed.

Now the chit draw becomes very intense. If Greene’s chit is drawn first, Cornwallis will need to roll 1-4 to jump ahead. If he fails, Howe is near by and can try to roll himself. If either of those rolls is successful, then Greene can roll to jump ahead of whomever got the jump. Greene’s only disadvantage is that Washington is out of command range, and so can’t support the way that Howe can. If Washington were to be drawn ahead of Cornwallis, then he could move within command range of Greene and support him (Actually, I just measured and he comes up about an inch short, so he can’t). The Rebel player would have needed to anticipate the possibility of needing to support Greene, and moved Washington during the night turn.

This is why I am so enthusiastic about the chit draw mechanic. It is so simple, yet the opportunity to Alter Turn Order can have deep strategy that takes time to master (read about it here). In this case the players wanted to go first, but even more frequently the attacking command will want to go after the defending command.

As a player, you can see right where the British Baggage Train is unpacked. Greene would not necessarily know where it was, or whether or not is was vulnerable to a sudden attack. Cornwallis might not be able to organize Mathew’s troops, or recover the Grenadiers in time to counter a rebel effort. Rather than endless charts, rules, and tables, that try to limit the player’s god-like knowledge of the battle; Pub Battles simply uses the chit draw.

Knyphausen opens with an angry assault on the British left. An assault that gets bloodily rebuffed, but the colonists regroup in front of their baggage whilst the British have paid a price too dear to recover from. Meanwhile, Greene bugs out.

Instead of the instant Victory Washington could have got, we instead envision Cornwallis getting the jump and activating first. Knyphausen and Cornwallis get their way…And pay dearly for it!

Knyphausen’s attack is bloodily repulsed, but Ferguson and the Hessians fall back to their own supply caissons and are able to recover, unfortunately his line troops are too decimated and join the ranks of the Glorious dead.

Meanwhile, Mathew and the Grenadiers reform and dare Greene to come att’em. Greene declines the invitation and bugs out, hoping to make it back to their own lines to recover and join the main defense.

After the horrible initial fighting, both sides lick their wounds, recover their spent forces, and Greene’s men continue their long march, in column.
Washington gets the jump and Pulaski’s cavalry break the British line by outmaneuvering their British counterparts!

Turn 4 of Day 2 sees the American cavalry outmaneuver their British counterparts when Washington’s chit goes first. Even if they had not captured the British Baggage, Washington’s dice had been too hot for Howe. British casualties were far too heavy for what should have been a British cakewalk.

3 thoughts on “Brandywine Day 2

  1. Great job!!! Awesome read. I’m really liking these new rules. Whole new dimension. Before the battle felt like a tactical slugfest. Fun but a little empty. This seems to add just the right amount of stratergery.

    You do know, the Baggage Trains are supposed to remain hidden. The enemy can guess where they are most likely to be but they usually don’t know exactly which block it is. You end up pushing in the general direction of where it should be.

    That is VERY exciting too. I had a battle at Marengo where the Austrian baggage train was a sitting duck out in the wide open. The French went first. They had a Cav right there. All they had to do was charge that Austrian train and it was game over. But guess what? They didn’t know! They didn’t realize they were that close. They decided to play it conservative and reform their lines, while the Austrians held their breath!


    1. Of course, the Baggage Trains are supposed to remain hidden, which is part of the fun when playing v a human opponent. I prefer solitaire for a variety of reasons, and with covid, it is becoming a huge sector of the hobby. As a veteran solitaire player, I handle it one of two ways, either I play the commander as ignorant, or I let the chit draw decide if the enemy gets to the Baggage Train first.

      However, I do take your point about the cool fog of war present with two (or more!) player games.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment!


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