Nap George
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After a summer where we travelled the US from coast-to-coast and back again by car, I found myself with no replays created. I enjoy these replays and with school approaching (I teach middle school, so it tends to be consuming once it starts) I decided to break out Saratoga from GMT, the only game in the tri-pack which I had not played. I was pleasantly surprised by the low unit count. I will play the campaign scenario. The Brits get two turns free, modified by the level of fog, then the Continentals get the initiative and then we roll for initiative.

Initial impressions are that this is a tough road for the crown’s forces. Terrain favors the defense, which is then dug into the heights. I will have the redcoats approach in their two historic columns, splitting the inland one to hit Freeman Farm from two directions. (I know the historic consequence of this battle, but know little of the minutiae, excepting that Gen Arnold was apparently magnificent, which was suppressed and which contributed to his choice to betray the Continental cause).

I will try to avoid a blow by blow of this battle, as I am wont to do, but each engagement does paint the narrative. Broad strokes AAR, at least I will attempt that, no promises. Editorial note: Sometime during play the turn number indicated on the die became out of sync with the actual turn, the photos are now posted to the appropriate turns by my reckoning, disregard the turn indicated by the die in case of conflict. Enjoy.


Turn 1 - 8AM

HQ – Ft Nelson
General Gates,

I beg you again to release my winge. Understanding my responsibilities I will guard this fort to the last extreme, but have thrown Morgan and Dearborn forward. The enemy must approach soon, covered by this damnable fog. I entreat you to permit to find and fix our foes.

Your Obedient Servant,

Arnold, General, Commanding

Moderate fog is rolled, no strategic movement, the King’s columns trundle south toward New York, civilization and supplies.


Turn 2 – 9AM

HQ – Woodworth Farm

General Arnold,

In receipt of your most recent communication. I beg you sufferance, understanding your youthful vigor, my plan requires us to hold tight to our position and force the enemy upon our works. I have no doubt that you shall be fully engaged and will have the opportunity to account yourself in a manner befitting. We will hold fast at this time.

Most humbly,

Gates, General, Commanding

The British columns continue south marching towards the Continental positions. Von Riedesel appears with his column. I will roll for the direction of the entire column. On a 0-6 the column remains on the river road, on a 7-9 the column follows Fraser. (A 1 results in the river road, Burgoyne has chosen substance over style and will strike the Continentals head on.)


Turn 3 – 10AM

General Gates,

While disappointed in your most recent response, I accede to your seniority. Understanding from our conference of the previous instance I shall venture forward to contest the farm which is Freeman’s and find the enemy. My movements shall not uncover Fort Nelson nor the Bemis Heights position. I believe I may suffer to obtain a victory for our army forward of our current positions. The spoils, of course, are yours.

Arnold, General, Commanding


The Continentals have initiative this turn, Gates wing is pinned to Bemis Height’s until released by British presence or die roll. Arnold throws his units forward, maintaining the required garrisons. Gates moves forward to shuffle within the works.



Turn 4 – 11AM

General Arnold,

Am in receipt of your last correspondence, rather concerned about your movements. Understanding your exuberance, my experience in these matters is also great. I had hoped you would interpret my correspondence of this morning as a change to the conclusion of our conference the previous eve. Inspecting your works, I find while the numbers of troops are sufficient, their quality is lacking. I am moving to cover these positions and have ordered General Lincoln to do likewise upon our flank upon the river. I wish you good hunting, but fear you have imperiled our plan.

Gates, General, Commanding


Initiative Continental (5-1). I note that I should have sent Fraser’s entire column looping west, Burgoyne could have then turned from the river at Wilbur Basin and pressured both the middle and supported an advance on Freeman Farm while the Prussians assaulted directly towards Bemis Tavern. This will probably end up being what I attempt, but could have saved part of a march by swinging all of Fraser west.

Arnold covers Morgan’s flank and moves troops forward to contest Freeman Farm.


First contact, the recoats strike with their lead forces at Freeman Farm while closing on McBride farmhouse. Morgan fires at Earl of Balcarnes, missing on a zero. Balcarnes and Qns Lt Rangers go in against Morgan and Dearborn, a pin results. Fraser, Mackey and the Grenadiers get an R/R against Arnold and the NH line. Retreats abound.


Turn 5 – Noon– Continental initiative (2-1)

General Gates,

My disappointment at your displeasure wounds me. I shall attempt to redeem myself in your estimable eyes in the coming engagement. I met and shattered the enemy’s first encroachment upon Freeman Farm, certainly disrupting his approach and plans. I now shall press him and win your affection.

Arnold, General, Commanding

Continental
Continental initiative is fortunate, otherwise Morgan and Dearborn were threatened with a path of no retreat if forced to do so in close combat. They break pin and Arnold reshuffles the line to the southern portion of Freeman Farm clearing. Gates stands obdurate behind the works.

Crown
We approach the rebel works near the river, stopping just short of hailing distance. We press Arnold on both flanks at Freeman Farm. Morgan misses Balcarnes (rolled a damned 3).

Ludwig/Gren (Pruss) and 24th against 2 and 4 NY rolls a 1, disrupting the attackers. Fraser leads the Gren and Rangers against Arnold and the NH line, rolling a 0 and taking a step loss. Dearborn and Morgan are attacked at 2-1(-1) by Qns Rng, Balcarne, Bourcherville, Jessup and the 20th Foot. A modified 0 results in a one step loss for Balcarnes (abysmal Brit rolling).




Turn 6 – 1PM – Continental Initiative (7-1)

General Arnold,

I hear fire forward of our positions and pray that you are not becoming entangled in such a manner as to threaten our general defensive posture. Whilst you crave my favor, I implore your obedience to the plan which was directed. Your freedom of action extends so far as to only that which will result in success. I remind you that operating outside the bounds of our commands shall preclude our ability to protect you in any resultant adverse outcome. I shall support your actions to the utmost within those parameters.

Gates, General, Commanding

A fortunate initiative for the Continentals who consider to see favor from the dice. In my experience that will end at the most inopportune time. Must be careful of a double British move, last this turn, first the next, as they close on Bemis Heights. Both armies are now fully present, Bemis Tavern is the only goal which matters to the crown.

Continental

Arnold withdraws past the bounds of Freeman Farm, setting a line on Middle Branch. Morgan and Dearborn strike at the Ottawa, rifle fire missing, closing (6-1 +4) causes a retreat – rolled yet another zero. 9th MA approaches the Jaegers who miss, and close with bayonets (3-2 +0), the Continentals retreating.


Crown
Time to close on our left(river) flank, and continue to maneuver Arnold out of position. Dearborn and Morgan are exposed to a 1-1 (surrounded) and it is a chance we have to take. Fraser goes to rally the disrupted Gren (Pruss) and Von Riedesel closes on Bemis Heights.

Fraser rallies the Grenadiers (he could not reach the combat against Morgan/Dearborn.

With the Ottawa cutting off retreat, Jessup and the 20th of Foot combine against Dearborh and Morgan. Morgan misses the Ottawa on a zero (horrible shooting), the attack goes in (1-1, -1), a six converts to a five, resulting in a pin.

Turn 7 – 2PM – Continental initiative (5-4)

General Gates,

I thank you for your qualified support, more than I should have expected. I report continuing to delay advance of our foes, we have seen them run, we have seen them bleed. As for myself, I wish no glory and do not expect to survive this fight unscathed. Here where the fire is hot, the metal cold and the enemy rife, I cannot expect less. We shall fight on without support to fulfull your plan of passive defense.

Arnold, General, Commanding

Continental

With the presence of Von Riedesel, Gates’ wing releases, moving forward to skirmish with the British light infantry. Arnold pulls back from Middle Branch and the 9th MA moves to cut off the retreat of the Ottawa. Morgan fires at the Ottawa forcing a loss in army morale. The Jaegars fire at 1st MA missing.

9th MA and Morgan attack the surrounded Ottawa (4-1+3) capturing the unit. British morale is fatigued. Dearborn attacks Jessup forcing a retreat. Arnold and the NH line attack the 20th of Foot (3-2+2) forcing a retreat. 6th, 1st and 14th MA attack the 1st Chass and Jaegers, demonstrating against the 2nd Jaegers (3-1, +1), eliminating the Chass, retreating the Jaegers. A Continental Line has formed on Mill Creek and Middle Branch.

Crown

Some lessons learned already. With morale fatigued and continuing to drop, it may be a better plan to gather the left (river) flank and avoid engagements at Freeman Farm until the entire army is engaged. We have spent morale to no good end and now must go in at a deficit against prepared positions. But in we must go.

Jaegers miss. The artillery roars on the Hudson, Hall hitting Von Riedesel forcing a retreat and breaking up the attack.

Erb-P and P Ludwig Ft (I have both Prinz Ludwigs in the game, my error, will play on with them both) with Von Riedesel go in against Lincoln, Hall arty and the 13th MA at 2-1 (-1) a 2 converts to a 1 disrupting the attackers, all units retreating leaving Jones arty exposed. Von Rhelz is disrupted in their attack against 6th MA. The Jaegars pin the 1st MA (1-3). Burgoyne attacks the 14th MA (2-1+0) and is disrupted. The 20th, Balcerne, Qns Lt and Boucherville attack Arnold and 2NH (3-1, -3), the attackers disrupting and the Continentals gaining a momentum chip, British morale is now wavering. Mackey, 24th of Foot and Prinz Ludwig Hrs attack 3NH (2-1, -2) pinning the defenders.


Turn 8 – 3PM – Continentals elect to spend the momentum chip to influence initiative, the crown is 4 morale points from breaking. Initiative Continental (4+3=7/2-1=1), did not have to spend the chip.

General Arnold,

You should find yourself relieved that the army has moved forward to rescue you from your precarious position. We have repulsed British forces on both flanks and secured your position from peril. I hear sporadic fire from our center, where it is reported you are attempting to lead your forces. I have given our most illustrious colleague, Gen’l Lincoln command of our riverward flank and have taken personal command of our forces on the left flank – bereft of your presence – at Chatfield Farm to provide direction and inspiration.

I pray this correspondence finds you healthy and extant.

Gates, General, Commanding

Continental

Attempting to finish the enemy off, their morale is close to breaking. A general advance is ordered.

Morgan fires at Balcarnes forcing a retreat. Jaegars fire at 1st MA missing, Jones fires at 6th MA, missing on a zero (horrid dice continue).
In order to randomize the order of attacks (to drive the narrative) I rolled to see which attacks would to in first, Gates goes first. 8MA and 2NH attack Mackay and 24th of Foot ( 1-1+2 ) both retreating. CT Lt Dr and 4th NY attack Prz Lud Hrs (1-1+2) disrupting the Prussians (Brit morale to 3).

Arnold attacks next by random choice. 2NH and Arnold attack Jessup (3-1, +5 [-1 for creek +3 Brit morale, +2 Arnold, +1 Continental morale]) Jessup is captured, the British center shattered a momentum chip gained and Brit morale to 2). (Post game note, Jessup’s Corps were captured on an AC result. They would have been able to retreat, as ZOC’s do not extend into woods hexes. But the result of battle was a capture.)


Lincoln goes in last, the 6th MA capturing Jones arty (Brit morale to 1). The 1st MA attacks the Jaegars (3-1, +3). 9MA and 12MA attack 21 Fus (3-2, +2) disrupting the attackers . 5MA and 14MA goes in agains the Fighting 9th and Burgoyne at 3-2, +0), the 14th MA loses a step. The British gain a morale point and are at 2.

Crown

The British army is shattered and wavering, but must take Bemis Tavern or lose. There is a choice between pressing on, or regrouping and rallying, or a middle path. We will attack exposed Continental units, protect our own and shore up the lines. Arnold poses a threat to our center which we will attempt to staunch.

All rallies fail, horrible rolls, did not even need to apply the -2 DRM for wavering morale.

Jaegers miss 1MA.

Von Riedesel leads Prz Lud Ft, von Sprechl and von Riedesel against the 6th MA (3-1, -1), the attackers repulsed and retreating. Infantry Recruits attack 1MA (1-1, -2) both retreating. Fighting 9th attacks 5MA with Burgoyne (1-1, -2), attackers retreating. 21st Fus attack remnants of 14MA (4-1, -2) and are disrupted on a zero, which converts to a -2, awarding a momentum chip and costing a morale.

Turn 9 – 4PM – Continentals expend all three momentum chips to seize the initiative. Time to put this one to bed.

General Gates,

It is my honor to announce that I have shattered the British centre. I am pushing on to destroy the enemy army in detail. Your concern for my health is noted, but unnecessary. I will bring great credit upon this army today. History will most surely judge my exploits and your leadership in an appropriate manner. Our collaboration has borne unexpected fruit.

Arnold, General, Commanding.

Continental

A general advance is again ordered, the wavering (British morale at 1) enemy pressed.

Morgan fires at Balcarne, disrupting the enemy who break, British morale drops to 0, the battle ends with a Continental victory. Now Arnold and Gates, that is another tale entirely.

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Robert Myers
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Spring Grove
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Great AAR...Thanks much!
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Brett Dedrick
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You do realize that zones of control do NOT extend into forest hexes, right? If you have gaps in your line, it's very, very easy for the British to easily surround your units.
 
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Nap George
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Infiltrate maybe, by no ZoC cuts both ways, surrounding is another thing entirely. This was a war of linear tactics, even in more dense terrain, it is how the armies trained and how they were deployed. I think the game system rewards this, but that is just my opinion.
 
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