Friday, July 14, 2017

Battle of McDowell - Conclusion

Colonel Sevier's Last Stand on Thickety Ridge (click pix to enlarge)

When we last left our heroes, it was the end of Turn 7 and the Americans were consolidating their battle line atop the high ground called Thickety Ridge.

The American battle line, from left to right, consisted of Hopkins' Militia, the 1st Virginia, the 3rd South Carolina, and in reserve, Kent's Militia. The 3rd SC had its left flank anchored against the woods, but its right flank support was a little bit dodgey with elements of Kent's Militia. Knowing that Captain Ray was with Kent's Militia gave little solice to the 3rd SC, his reputation having preceeded him.

The Americans form a battle line on Thickety Ridge. Click picture to read annotations.

A closer view of the American left flank.

Hopkins' Militia had a precarious hold on the American right flank. The 1st Virginia regiment, in green coats, can be seen in the center.

Colonel Tarleton also took advantage of the brief lull in the battle to reorganize his troops, who had been pushing back the Americans for the full day, up to this point. The British left flank was anchored by two companies of the Light Battalion; the center included the other three companies of the Light Battalion, a squadron of the 17th Light Dragoons, and the British Legion infantry. British Legion sharpshooters were deployed all along the British line. The right flank was held by the feared British Legion cavalry. See picture below:

The British battle line forms at the base of Thickety Ridge. Click picture to read annotations.

On Turn 8, two companies of the British Light Battalion on the British left flank spied Hopkins' Militia opposite them and pegged them as a worthy target for a charge (bayonets versus no bayonets was a killer for the militia).

Two companies of British Light troops prepare to charge into Hopkins' Militia .

The first stage of the final British attack on the American line kicked off on Turn 9 with the two Light Companies charging Hopkins Militia, which miraculously does not rout, but does fall back six-inches. The British Legion cavalry and the 17th Light Dragoons positioned themselves for a charge against the American line on the next turn.

On Turn 10, the British Light Companies press home another charge into Hopkins' Militia and after two more rounds of melee, the American militia are told off, allowing the Light Companies to maneuver behind the rest of the American battle line.

British Light companies move into the rear of the American battle line after driving off  Hopkins' Militia.

The American line bends back into a "U-formation"
On Turn 11, the British Legion cavalry and the 17th Light Dragoons charge up Thickety Ridge into the 3rd South Carolina while the other three companies of the Light Bobs charge into the 1st Virginia. The South Carolina troops go "shaken" from the melee and were required to retire 6-inches facing the enemy. On the second round of the cavalry versus infantry melee, the "shaken" penalty makes it difficult for the 3rd South Carolina to strike any hits on the collective British cavalry. The South Carolinians rout!

The 3rd South Carolina feel the fury of the British cavalry charge. The red coats are the 17th Light Dragoons and the green coats are Tarleton's British Legion cavalry.

The Americans make a last stand in square formation, while Kent's Militia skeddadles into the trees.

A view of the American position from the British point of view.

This was effectively the end of the battle because the remaining American troops had been pushed back into an informal square formation and were surrounded by British infantry and cavalry. Colonel Sevier decided that it was time to surrender and hope that Colonel Tarleton might be in a good mood and spare their lives today.

While all of this was going on, Kent's Militia had skeddadled to the rear, with the cowardly Captain Ray leading the mad rush off the battlefield. A couple of his men had had enough of this behavior and they fired off a couple of shots towards Ray's back, but they missed.

Captain Ray skulks off the battlefield to live and fight (?) another day! Some of his men attempt an 18th Century version of "fragging" but miss their mark.

Later in the day, Captain Ray was captured by some of the British Legion cavalry and brought to Colonel Tarleton as a prisoner. The other American prisoners jeered at Captain Ray when they saw him. Tarleton, being no fool, announced, "let that man go! He serves us better commanding his troops than he does sitting in our jail."

So a small, but higher quality British force of 3 Strength Points destroyed the larger American army of 6 Strength Points. Note, however, that 4 of the 6 American regiments were militia troops and the British player quickly gleaned the advantage of having bayonets versus militia troops having none. As a consequence, the British player always charged the militia whenever possible.



  1. A fine conclusion, Jim. I really like the annotations & word bubbles on the pictures, too. This adds another dimension to the narrative. It is also inspiring as a solo wargaming piece. So top marks on all fronts. Happy Bastille Day, by the way! Cheers, Rohan.

  2. Lovely clear photos Jim and the annotated ones were particularly illuminating, thank you.

  3. A fine conclusion to a very entertaining scrap:)

  4. An exciting battle ! , well done the British , Tony

    1. Yes, I was rather surprised at how convincingly Tarleton destroyed a larger army.

  5. So what happens to Sevier and his fellow luckless prisoners? Tarleton is not going to massacre them I assume.

    1. No massacre. They will be sent to a POW camp and the lucky ones will be in a prisoner exchange. Their is also an opportunity for them to be rescued when they are marched to the camp. (Hmm, an idea for a small scenario).

  6. A splendid triumph for the forces of the Crown! Grand AAR and photos as ever!

  7. Marvelous AAR! The photos really served the purpose well of illustrating the narrative.

  8. An excellent conclusion to a very well done batrep.