Thursday, 26 September 2019
AWI - British Light Infantry
The next additions to my Niagara frontier AWI collection are these British Light Infantry groups built in units of six to furnish as skirmishers for Sharp Practice, but I will be adding another twelve figures to allow for four groups in skirmish or three groups as formed shock infantry, together with some more suitably attired officer and NCO figures.
AWI - Kings Royal Regiment of New York
I like the way Sharp Practice allows the British player the flexibility to decide how to use their 'light bobs' as this flexibility seems to chime well with the descriptions of their tactical flexibility in 'With Zeal and with Bayonets Only', Mathew H. Spring's book and in depth analysis of British tactics in the AWI, which I reviewed back in February last year.
With Zeal and with Bayonets Only
In it, he describes how the Light Infantry had to relearn the skills of 'bushfighting' not retained from the French Indian Wars and although excelling at the use of the bayonet, found those tactics of little use in the woods.
Lieutenant John Enys on an expedition along Lake Champlain in 1778 recalled as they;
"went into the woods a little way to practice 'treeing' as they call it; that is to say, the manner of hiding ourselves behind tree stumps etc., etc., etc. And at our return the major was pleased to say the men had exceeded our expectations; though I could see very plainly our awkwardness diverted the Indians and royalists, who are far better hands at this work, being bred in the woods from their infancy and accustomed to this manner of hiding themselves in order to shoot deer and other wild beasts."
The weakness of relying on the bayonet in wooded terrain was noted from the Burgoyne expedition in 1777 as recorded by Captain John Money (Burgoyne's deputy quatermaster general) when he related the experience of the 62nd Foot charging four times during the Battle of Freeman's Farm in an attempt to drive away rebel skirmishers;
".... The rebels fled at every charge deeper still into the woods; but when the British troops returned to their position, they were slowly followed, and those who had been the most forward in the pursuit were the first to fall."
Indeed Spring concludes that the British tactical doctrine never really succeeded in remodeling the light bobs into competent bushfighting capable troops, able to match the rebels in this kind of fighting; and that with the adoption of the open-order two deep line, coupled with the switch to 'shock' tactics as the primary offensive infantry tactic, the light bobs, like the grenadiers became the elite corps for this type of work.
On open or lightly wooded ground these tactics enabled the British infantry to overthrow all but the best rebel troops, thus these chaps are better suited to forming that force to dominate such ground and supporting the Loyalist and Indian forces, better suited to opposing the mainly rebel militia operating in the more heavily wooded parts of the battlefield, and how I would see them being used by Colonels Johnson and Butler in their raiding campaigns.
These figures are from the Perry range of metal figures, which come with a range of heads and head-dress to allow for the myriad varieties of look among the different regiments.
I have depicted these two groups as coming from the 8th (blue) and 34th (yellow) Foot who accompanied Johnson on his expedition to the Mohawk Valley in 1780.
Next up Joseph Brant and some of his Mohawk Indians, before I start work on Butlers Rangers.