Tuesday, September 18, 2007

American Revolutionary War - 1777 Campaign

3rd Continental Light Dragoons (Baylor's) - Firing Line Miniatures

3rd Continental Light Dragoons (Baylor's) Dismounted

1st Pennsylvania Regt - Hartley's Brigade - 28mm Old Glory Miniatures

British 44th Foot - Maj.Gen. Charles Grey's Brigade - Old Glory Miniatures

Note: please click on the pictures to enlarge the photo.

If the subject is anywhere remotely related to 18th Century military history, then Der Alte Fritz is likely to have an interest in painting the figures and wargaming the conflict. So it should come as no surprise that Der Alte Fritz has a rather substantial collection of 28mm figures for the American Revolution. Circa 1991, Old Glory Miniatures introduced a comprehensive range of British, American Continentals and Militia figures and it didn't take me long to decide that I would like to game this period of history. I have often thought that the American Revolution range was, and still is, one of the best figure ranges that Old Glory has ever done. Sixteen years later, I still believe that these are very nicely sculpted figures.

Getting Started: As with most new historical periods, my modus operandus is to do a little bit of back ground reading with the goal of focusing in on a particular battle or campaign. There are many campaigns in the American Revolution that are conducive to fun wargames so there is hardly a lack of choice for anyone who is just getting started in this period. Washington's 1776 campaign around New York City features a very poor army with a nice variety of colorful uniforms (blue, green and brown are the predominant colors). However, the Continental Army shouldn't have much of a chance fighting the well-trained army of British General Howe, so I opted out of this campaign.

Other campaigns of interest include the Saratoga Campaign, the various campaigns in the Southern colonies, and the end game at Yorktown, where one can add the colorful French army to the predominantly blue-coated Continentals. But the campaign that kept attracting my attention was the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign.

Washington's Continentals are better trained by this time and they have a decent chance of holding their own in a straight up fire fight with the British. Maybe. I doubt it though. Howe, ever the professional, continues to confound Washington with his standard tactic of pinning the enemy with one wing of the army, while the other wing marches around its flank. Very effective. Very darn bloody, old bean.

Another aspect of this campaign that appeals to me is the addition of the Hessian brigades in Howe's army (well, actually they were at New York in 1776, but I digress...). You all know how I feel about blue coated German troops. So it has an element of the Seven Years War to it, but the fighting is in North American.

Selecting An Order of Battle: Having selected the campaign, it was now time to select a battle to fight. Once this was done, my next step would be to focus in on one or two brigades on each side and work up an order of battle to depict these brigades. I decided to use the Battle of Brandywine as my guide to building my American Revolution forces. Fortunately, all the information that I could hope to find was in one particular book, The Philadelphia Campaign, by David G. Martin. This is part of the Great Campaigns series of books published by Combined Books, Inc in 1993. You may have seen this series: blue cover, orders of battle in the appendix, sidebar articles on related topics, well-mapped , and tons of photos or black and white drawers.

For Washington's army, I selected Nathanael Greene's division of Virginia troops. Greene's division was composed of two brigades, that of Peter Muhlenberg (850 men) and George Weedon (900 men). I also added Anthony Wayne's division of Pennsylvania regiments under the brigades of Colonel Thomas Hartley (850 men) and Colonel Richard Humpton (900 men). Given the small sizes of the regiments, I decided to build the army at a figure to man ratio of 1:10 (i.e. one casting is the equivalent of 10 men in real life). With these small numbers, it isn't hard to build up a nice looking brigade with around 90 figures. Thus the American army ended up with four brigades of infantry ( I later added one brigade of militia as well), some 3-pound artillery, and two regiments of light dragoons. So conceivably, up to six players could man the Continental army.

On the British side, I selected two brigades from General Cornwallis' division at Brandywine, those of Major General Charles Grey (1,500 men) and Brigadier General James Agnew (1,383 men). Part of the appeal of Grey's brigade was that this one included the 42nd Highland Regiment (Black Watch). The balance of the regiments in both brigades were regular foot regiments. The average unit size of my British regiments was 30 figures (except for the 60 figure 42nd Regt). Just for the fun of it, I also painted a 50 figure converged grenadier battalion , a converged light battalion of 50 figures, the Queen's Rangers (40 figures), two Hessian regiments of 50 or 60 figures, a small 20 figure contingent of dragoon (16th Light Dragoons) and a couple of Royal Artillery 3-pound cannon. And so the British side has 2 British brigades, 1 Hessian brigade, and an elite brigade of converged grenadiers, lights and one regiment of dragoons and some artillery, for a total of 4 players.

The Pictures: I have included 4 pictures of my American Revolution armies with today's posting. The top two pictures depict some Continental Light Dragoons in "jockey helmet" that are painted as the 3rd Continental Dragoon's (Baylor's regiment). These were figures that I had commissioned with Firing Line Miniatures. I agreed to purchase a certain number of figures (men and horses) and in return, the company agreed to sculpt the figures and add them to their range. They come with 3 or 4 different head variations in order to depict a larger number of Continental dragoon units.

The rest of the pictures depict the fine Old Glory range of figures for the American Revolution. The third picture from the top depicts some of the Continental troops, painted in the brown coat and green facings of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment in Hartley's brigade of Wayne's division. The bottom picture features an unusual "firing line" with the front rank firing and the rear rank loading. I like the way the figures fit together in perfect unison. Note the British officer on the far right of the front line, dropping his handkerchief as a firing signal.

The Big Sale: I am planning on putting these armies up for sale. There are approximatley 450 figures per side or some 900 in total. I will do a proper inventory and post the results later in the week. I do not wish to break the armies down and sell them by the unit, as I don't want to end up selling substantially one side and then having nothing to game with if the urge strikes me. The figures were painted from 1991 to 1994 and I would estimate that they have only seen battle four or five times at the most. The figures are painted to an above average standard with moderate degrees of shading/highlighting ( I had not entirely bought into this method of painting at the time that they were done). I don't recall where I got the flags, it might have been the ones designed by Orv Banisek in Iowa. GMB Designs flags hadn't been invented in 1991, otherwise I probably would have used those instead. If you think that you might be intersted in buying this nice collection, then contact me through the "comments" section of this blog or send me an e-mail at "altefritz (at) yahoo (dot) com" and we can discuss this in further detail.


  1. Dear Alte Fritz,

    Thanks for sharing your latest pictures. Funnily enough, right next to the computer is my painting table, and on it my own version of the 3rd Continental Dragooons were just about ready for varnishing. However, something was wrong - and I couldn't put my finger on it until I saw your pictures! I painted my turban bands red, following a source I usually rely on (Alan Kemp: American "Soldiers of the Revolution"... even though like you, Don Troiani opted for a blue helmet band. Not wanting to sound like some sort of fashion designer, when I saw your pictures I knew what was wrong - the red jarred! I've now repainted them light blue, and they look far more harmonious! Thanks!

    By the way, would you mind if I add a link to your blog from my own website -www.edinburghwargames.com ? We share much the same interests, so it would be entirely appropriate. You can e-mail me at anguskonstam@aol.com

    Best Wishes,

    Angus Konstam
    Edinburgh, Scotland

  2. Not to be a pendant, but I don't think anyone was giving fire by ranks by the AWI.

    I've yet to see anyone actually base their figures this way, but one could indicate 'platoon fire' by arraning the fellows with some stands shooting, others not.

  3. wonderful stiff, damn it means i'm going to get those figures in the bottom draw and start painting again. beautiful

  4. Angus: feel free to add a link to my blog. I would feel honored. Yours' is on my bookmark list and makes for an enjoyable read.

  5. Great stuff yet again. I was hoping to see some nice pictures of OG 25's for the AWI and this delivered.

  6. I will try to post some more AWI pictures this evening.