Saturday, January 10, 2015

Trenton as a Wargame

Opening positions of the American forces. (click to enlarge view)
I thought that I would write down some of the elements of my Trenton wargame scenario as a template for anyone else who wants to give the scenario a try. Looking at the picture above, the road on the left is the Pennington Road; the road on the right is the River Road. In the upper right corner, you can see Assunpink Creek and the road that crosses the bridge seen on the right leads to Bordentown.

Directionals: the top of the table is South, the bottom of the table is North, the left side of the table is East, and the right side of the table is West. For all intents and purposes, the right side table edge is the Delaware River, which may not be crossed. Thus any unit that routs off the right edge of the table automatically surrenders since it has nowhere to go.

The American infantry forces each represent one of the seven brigades in Washington's army. Hamilton's New York Battery is represented by three cannon models. That gives the American players 8 elements that could be divided among two players, each having 4 elements. The Hessian units will represent actual battalions. There were only three Hessian regiments in the Trenton garrison, but I am using four battalions in order to keep the proportions correct and to give the Hessian player enough elements to move about the table. The Hessian forces could be divided into two commands.

I am using a figure to man ratio of 1 to 10, thus one casting equals ten actual men. The Hessian force is generally thought to be around 1,300 soldiers or 130 wargame figures. The American forces were thought to be approximately 2,400 soldiers or 240 wargame figures.

American Mission
You want to capture the town of Trenton and bag at least two battalions of Hessians as prisoners.

American Forces

7 units of infantry
3 artillery models

American Deployment

Hamilton's New York Battery begins the game deployed looking straight down King Street. To his left is deployed Stephens' brigade of infantry.

Fermoy and Sterling's brigades are deployed on the Pennington Road.

Mercer's and St Clair's brigades are deployed between the Pennington Road and the River Road.

Glover's and Sargent's brigades are deployed on the River Road.

Hessian Mission
It is a given that you are outnumbered and probably can not hold the town, so your mission is to escape from Trenton with at least two battalions of infantry.

Hessian Forces

1 unit of grenadiers (Rall Grenadiers)
3 units of fusiliers or musketeers ( 2 x Lossburg; 1 x Knyphausen)
1/2 unit of Jagers (12 figures at most)
2 mounted dragoon figures
2 light 3-pound artillery pieces

Optional forces: 1 unit of the von Donop regiment stationed in Bordentown.

Hessian Deployment

The Rall Grenadier regiment was the designated "unit of the day" and so they were already deployed when the American attack began.

The von Lossberg and Knyphausen regiments are in quarters at the time the opening attack begins, so these units should be scattered around the town in various houses. They will have to attempt to form up somewhere in the town once they become activated.

The jagers should be divided into two small piquet details, one deployed on the Pennington Road and the other on the River Road, both roads to the north of the town.

Optional Hessian Forces
The von Donop regiment never was notified of the attack and so they did not participate in the battle. However, we can model the possibility that a messenger could have been sent to them requesting assistance.

For this possibility to occur, I suggest the following mechanism:

1. on Turn 1, the Hessian player(s) will roll one D6 and have a 50-50 chance of successfully waking up the commander, Colonel Rall, who will send a messenger off to Bordentown (use the 2 British Dragoon figures in the OB for this purpose). So a roll of 1 to 3 = success and a roll of 4 to 6 is a failure. The Hessians only get one opportunity to wake up Rall and send for reinforcements.

2) you will need to determine how many turns it will take for von Donop to arrive, so roll two D6 dice , noting that von Donop may not arrive prior to Turn 4, regardless of the outcome of the dice. Von Donop will arrive on the Bordentown Road, which is on the south side of Assunpink Creek.

Turn One Mechanics

The American army will get the first move and first fire of the game, to represent the surprise nature of the attack.

The Hessian Rall Grenadier regiment starts the game deployed in the center of the town of Trenton. All other Hessian infantry units are scattered throughout the town at at the start of the game.

Turn Two Mechanics
The von Lossberg and von Knyphausen regiments are not activated until at least Turn 2. To activate the units, a simple ODD-EVEN on a D6 die determines what happens. Both units automatically activate on Turn 3 if they have not previously activated. They will be considered "disordered" until the majority of the unit's stands are touching base to base.

The Hessian 3-pounders are deployed on King Street and Queen Street, both facing East. The cannon on King Street may activate on Turn 1 and the cannon on Queen Street can not activate until Turn 2.

So set up the terrain and forces and give the scenario a try. I would be interested in hearing how your game turns out. Will any of the Hessian units escape capture in Trenton?


  1. Jim,

    Superb set-up, one of the best I have seen. I have left comments on the AMG Forum.


  2. Looks great. Do you have plans to do Assunpink Creek (aka 2nd Battle of Trenton)?

  3. Yes, I plan to stage Assunpink Creek and Princeton next.

  4. Excellent, this will be very helpful.