|Farmer Gill, a local Loyalist to the Crown, is interogated by Lt. Colonel O'Hara prior to the start of the Battle of Kingston.
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I fought the Battle of Kingston last week and am presenting a report of the action which was contested between Lord Cornwallis' British army and the Rebels' Continental Army of General Horatio Gates. The battle concludes Turn 10 of our twelve-turn South Carolina Campaign of 1780.
Cornwallis won a crushing victory over Gates, eliminating all four SPs of the American army from the campaign and possibly locking in a British win of the entire campaign. There are only two turns remaining in the campaign, which runs a maximum of twelve turns.
Campaign Overview - events leading up to the Battle of Kingston
The map below depicts the location of the various British and American units in South Carolina on game Turn 10. You can locate Kingston in the middle right pointy area along the NC and SC border.
After Gates' defeat by Cornwallis at the Battle of Cheraw, Gates retreated to the Southeast towards Kingston rather than taking the more logical route north to his base at Hillsborough, North Carolina. He knew that he could not survive a pursuit of his army by Cornwallis. As expected, Cornwallis marched towards Hillsborough and Gates marched to Kingston and avoided a fight on Turn 9.
Cornwallis caught wind of Gates' deception and so he turned around and headed back to Cheraw. There, he reasoned that Gates only had two choices of direction: the south road leading back to Camden, where Lord Rawdon had a sizeable army; or southeast towards Kington. It was doubtful that Gates would march to Camden and run into Rawdon, so the only possibility was Kingston.
|SC Campaign Map - Turn 10
The only problem with going to Kingston for Gates was that he would eventually be trapped between Cornwallis in Cheraw and the British stronghold at Georgetown. The map indicates that Gates could continue to march east to Little River, SC and then on to Georgetown, but he would be out of supply and begin to lose strength points (SPs) each turn that he was out of supply. So going to Kingston only delayed the inevitable destruction of his army - either through attrition of outright defeat in battle.
By delaying a potential battle for a turn, Gates would have time to construct some hasty earthworks and hope that Cornwallis would attack him and produce a Bunker Hill style battle that would favor the Rebels.
The Opposing Forces
Gates would begin the battle with only 4SPs, having lost half of his army at Cheraw. He rolled dice to determine if the local Kingston militia would turn out and support him, and to his great surprise the fools did turn out to join his rag tag army. Then Gates hived off one stand from each of his Continental regiments to created a converged battalion of Chosen Men, which would act as a reserve unit. These actions taken together increased Gates' army from 4SPs to 6SPs.
Gates' Army: Thus the Continentals were divided into two brigades: the South Carolina Brigade (1st and 3rd SC regiments) commanded by Colonel Isaac Huger and the Virginia Brigade (1st and 3rd VA regiments) commanded by Colonel George Weedon. The Rebels had one 6-pound cannon that was attached to Weedon's brigade deployed on the left. Huger's SC brigade was deployed in the center-right. The Kingston militia deployed to the right of Huger and the Chosen Men deployed behind Huger's brigade (where they formed a last line of defense inside the town of Kingston).
Cornwallis' Army: The British army was also divided into two commands or wings. The righthand brigade was commanded by Lt. Colonel O'Hara and consisted of the converged Light Battalion, the Guards Brigade and a troop of the 17th Light Dragoons. There was also a 1-pound amusette attached to the brigade.
The lefthand brigade was commanded by Lt. Colonel Silas Cathcart and was comprised of the 4th, the 5th, the 44th and the 55th regiments of foot. Several companies of Ferguson's Rifles, a 1-pound amusette and two Royal Artillery 3-pounders were in Cathcart's brigade.
The Lay of the Land
The annotated picture below depicts the key terrain features of the battlefield as well as the initial American deployment around the town of Kingston, SC. The North direction is in the upper right corner, South in the lower left corner, West in the upper left corner, and East in the lower right corner.
Please click on the picture below to view the terrain and read the annotations to familiarize yourself with the table top terrain. The game was played on a 6ft by 12ft table.
|Annotated Overhead View of the key terrain features , annotated in "orange", of the Battle of Kingston. T
he initial American deployment of troops is annotated in "blue".
Gates deployed his small army on a West to East axis in front of the town of Kingston. His right flank was anchored on a hill adjacent to the Waccamaw River, which flows in a southward direction into the larger Pee Dee River, which in turn, flows into the Atlantic Ocean. He deployed his only artillery piece, a 6-pounder, on the "Artillery Hill", facing the probable British arrival on the Cheraw Road to its front. The British entry point for its O'Hara's right wing is at the Cheraw Road next to the Gill Farm.
|Lt. Colonel O'Hara's brigade of the rightwing arrives on the Cheraw Road.
The Cheraw Road runs south and intersects the Kingston Pike, making a dog-leg towards the southeast crossing the front edge of Kingston, then making another dog-leg turn to the east, where it exits the table at the Preece Farm (lower right corner).
The British left wing of Cathcart entered the table along the righthand edge of the picture above, between the Gill Farm and the Preece Farm.
|Lt. Colonel Cathcart's British Brigade - left wing.
|Weedon's brigade: 3rd Virginia regiment deployed behind the abbatis,
with a 6-pound cannon dug in on Artillery Hill behind them.
|American 6-pounder covers the British approach down the Cheraw Road.
Thus does Gates' American army cover a long stretch of the table from the Waccamaw River to the Preece Farm, ignoring the observation of Frederick the Great that "he who defends everything defends nothing." Gates had sufficient time to dig some wolf pits in front of Kingston and to construct some abattis and hasty works along the flanks of his position.
|American wolf pits supported by formed troops - 3rd South Carolina regiment.
The Battle Begins
The battle commenced with with the skirmishers and light troops of both sides sniping at each other. The American riflemen picked off the crew of the amusette posted on the left wing in front of Cathcart's brigade. The riflemen also inflicted the game's first casualties on the British 5th Regiment, the surprise of which caused it to go "shaken" for a turn. The artillery fire of both armies were largely ineffective at long range.
By Turn Three, the two sides had closed to within musket range of each other
|Overhead view of the initial British advance towards the American lines in front of Kingston.
|Overhead view of the British attack as it approaches the the abbatis that have been constructed across the length of the rebel defensive ling.
|The British 44th Regiment approaches the wolf pits and engages the rebel skirmishers.
Battle on the British Right
|Light battalion advances towards Artillery Hill in loose files while the Guards march down the Cheraw Road.
|Guards and 17th Light Dragoons march past the Gill Farm
to support the Light battalion attack of Artillery Hill.
|The 55th Regiment from Cathcart's Brigade assists O'Hara's attack. T
he Light Btn has now closed ranks and engages the 3rd Virginia in front of the abbatis.
|The 3rd VA has to fall back towards Artillery Hill or risk getting outflanked by the Guards,
who are crossing the log boom placed in Cheraw Road.
|Rather than attacking Artillery Hill, the Guards continue to march down the Cheraw Road,
and then take a left turn to charge into the flank of the 3rd South Carolina regiment of Huger's Brigade.
Attack on the British Left
Cathcart's Brigade is deployed with the 5th, 44th and 55th regiments of foot in the first line, supported by the 4th Regiment in the second line, in reserve. The Royal Artillery battery of 3-pounders was not very effective against the dug in defenders of the wolf pits, so the artillery stayed in the rear areas while the British infantry closed in on the Rebels.
|Cathcart's Brigade close in on Huger's South Carolina Brigade.
|The 44th Regiment halts in front of the wolf pits. The Rebel skirmishers will have to retire behind the formed friends (3rd SC Regt.) behind them as they can't stand up to the formed British regulars.
|The 1st SC regiment routs on Turn Three, but Gates is there to rally them back into good order.
|Eye to Eye Along the Kingston Pike!
The Kingston Militia repulses the attack of the 5th Regiment, who take a morale check and ROUT! Egads.
On Turn Six, the 44th Regiment marched right in the face of the 3rd SC and delivered a devastating volley that "shook/shaken" the hunting shirt clad Gamecocks. The plucky 3rd SC held it together long enough to return the favor at the 44th, and this time it was the redcoats who legged it out of the battle line in rout. A group of rebel skirmishers picked off some of the officers of the 55th Regiment, who went "shaken" as a result. Suddenly, things were not looking so good for Cathcart and the British center. There was some good news for the British, however, as the 4th Regiment filled in the gap created by the rout of the 44th and routed the 1st SC for the second time in the battle. The 1st VA regiment also routed, but Gates' converged Chosen Men filed in behind the Virginians and plugged the hold in the American battle line in the center.
On Turn Seven, things continued to go south for Cathcarts' Brigade. The 5th Regiment attempted to charge the Kingston Militia, but instead they routed as the militia held its ground behind the stone wall. The 44th Regiment was still in rout mode from the previous turn as Cathcart could not rally them. Meanwhile, the Americans were down to only two viable regiments in the center: the Chosen Men and the 3rd SC. The Kingston Militia were still in good morale, but they had seen enough and decided that it was time to march off the field in good order and skatter into the countryside.
Finally, Lord Cornwallis rode over and rallied both the 5th and 44th Regiments on Turn Eight. The crisis in the British center/left was averted.
|The 5th Regiment is too panicked to heed Cathcart's (left) orders to halt,
so Lord Cornwallis (right) trots over to calm the soldiers and rally them
|Ferguson's Rifles cover the left flank of Cathcart's Brigade and take on the
Continental skirmishers along the Kingston Pike.
While Cathcart's Brigade had been staggered by withering American muskety, it rallied all of its regiments and prepared to make another assault on the crumbling American center. At the same time, O'Hara's Brigade had finally run off the defenders of Artillery Hill and now outflanked what remained of Huger's Brigade in the American center.
|Last stand of the 1st and 3rd SC regiments -Huger's Brigade
The picture below provides an aeriel overhead view of the battlefield at the end of Turn Eight, which is where the Battle of Kingston ended.
|British positions at the end of the battle. Click to enlarge.
The rout was on as the remnants of Gates' army fled through the town of Kingston. At the end of the day, the only remaining viable units were the Kingston Militia and the Battalion of Chosen Men. The remainder of Horatio Gates' army were either running for their lives or casualties in the field. Gates himself was at the head of the mob that was rampaging through Kingston town.
|"You there. Yes you! Organize a defense of the town while I ride and get some reinforcements."
|The British Guards Btn charges down the Kingston Pike, c
hasing the remnants of the Rebel army into the town of Kingston.
There seemed to be no stopping of the British now as the 17th Light Dragoons led the pursuit and forced the few American formed regiments to lay down their arms and surrender.
|The 17th Light Dragoons finish off the Rebels.
The Butcher's Bill
NOTE: the figures in parentheses indicate the beginning strength of the unit, minus their losses = ending strength.
British Army: they began the battle with 220 figures and lost 47, ending the battle with 173 figures.
4th Regt. (32 - 4 = 24) Shaken & Recovered
5th Regt. (32 - 8 = 24) Routed & Rallied
44th Regt. (32 - 9 = 23) Routed twice & Rallied
55th Regt. (32 - 8 = 24) Destroyed the 3rd SC
Ferguson's Rifles (12) Lightly engaged
Light Battalion (32-14 = 18) Routed the 3rd VA
Guards (32-2 = 30) Routed the 3rd SC
17th Light Dragoons Pursued and captured remnants of Gates' army
RA 3-pdrs (6 crew/2 guns) Lightly engaged
American Army: they began the battle with 145 men including 25 local militia and lost 66 figures as field casualties and the remaining 79 figures surrendered, including General Gates and Colonels Huger and Weedon. The battle statistics indicate that Huger's Brigade fought hard and suffered heavy losses. The 3rd Virginia stoughtly defended Artillery Hill versus twice their numbers, but ultimately routed once the Guards slipt past their right flank and cut them off from the rest of the army. Probably the best performing unit was the Kingston Militia, who routed the 5th Regiment during a melee.
Chosen Men (18-0 = 18) Covered the retreat of the army before being captured
Kingston Militia (25-5 = 20) Routed the 5th Regt., retired in good order and dispersed
Weedon's VA Brigade
1st Virginia (20 - 14 = 6) Routed
3rd Virginia (30 -11 = 19) Routed after defending Artillery Hill
6-pounder (4 crew) Lightly engaged
Huger's SC Brigade
1st South Carolina (24-18 = 6) Routed twice & Rallied once
3rd South Carolina (24-18 = 6) Routed after hit in flank by Guards
So at the end of Turn Ten, the British army had 33 SPs in the field compared to just 19 SPs for the American rebels. The American SPs include 6 SPs of partisans under the commands of Marion and Pickens.
I have yet to add up other campaign Victory Points for things such as towns controlled, captured SPs , captured enemy generals, battles won, etc. However, it looks as though the British have a commanding lead in the campaign with just two more turns to go. My assessment is that the British have likely won the South Carolina Campaign of 1780. Technically they had already done so several turns ago when Banastre Tarleton raided into North Carolina and captured the American supply base at Hillsborough, NC. However, Tarleton forgot that he needed to hold the city and he marched back into SC to create more mischief for the Americans. I too forgot about the impact of capturing Hillsboro so we gamed on through it and won't count it as a victory condition for the campaign.
On Turn Eleven, I expect that both sides will attempt to gobble up as many towns as they can in order to increase their total VPs. The Americans will likely avoid a pitched battle with either Cornwallis or Rawdon and Rawdon commands the only field army that is within striking distance of DeKalb's American army. Cornwallis is too far removed to be able to march and battle another opponent before the campaign ends in two turns.