After General Burgoyne's attack on Fort Ticonderoga, the American garrison commander, General St Clair, decided to abandon the fort om July 6th and make haste with his army to put as much distance between his men and Burgoyne's British and German forces.
In the scorching July heat and through heavily forested terrain, the Americans cleared 26 miles, reaching Hubbardton, a small hamlet in the wilderness. St.Clair chose to leave a rearguard to slow any attempt by the British to pursue, while he with the main army continued their quick march south.
The commanders of the rearguard, Colonel Ebenezer Francis and Colonel Seth Warner, assumed they had put sufficient distance between themselves and the British, so on the night of the 6th their men settled down to sleep and recover from their day's excursions without posting a proper picket line.
In actual fact the British had pursued the Americans with equal vigor, having discovered Ticonderoga empty, the Scotsman Brigadier Simon Fraser had gathered together a quick pursuit force made up of several companies of Grenadiers, Light Infantry, the 24th Foot and in support three Brunswick units as well. On the night of the 6th they too rested near Hubbardton and prepared for their attack the next morning which they readied for at 3am.
ORDERS OF BATTLE
Brig. Simon Fraser - Commander in Chief - Veteran, Elite, Inspirational leader
Grenadiers (200 men) - 12 figures - Open order infantry, elite, veteran, musket
2 x Light Infantry units (2 x 200 men) - 2 x 12 figures - Open order infantry, well trained, veteran, musket
24th Foot (200 men) - 12 figures - Open order infantry, well trained, veteran, musket
Lt.Gen Friedrich Adolf Riedesel - sub-commander - Veteran, experienced, respected leader
Brunswick Jagers (200 men) - 12 figures - Open order infantry, well trained, experienced, musket
Brunswick Grenadiers (200 men) - 12 figures - Open order infantry, elite, experienced, musket
Riedesel's Regiment (200 men) - 12 figures - Open order infantry, well trained, experienced, musket
Colonel Ebenezer Francis - Commander in Chief - Veteran, Patriotic, Inspirational Leader
2nd New Hampshire Regiment (400 men) - 24 figures - Open order infantry, trained, patriotic, variable morale, musket
11th Massachusett's Regiment (400 men) - 24 figures - Open order infantry, trained, patriotic, variable morale, musket
Colonel Seth Warner - sub-commander - Veteran, Patriotic, Inspirational Leader
2 x Units of The Green Mountain Men Vermont Militia (2 x 400 men) - 2 x 24 figures - Open order infantry, trained, patriotic, variable morale, marksmen, musket
THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED
The battle began on the right, with the 24th Foot attacking the New Hampshire Regiment commanded by Colonel Nathan Hale. Despite being outnumbered the experienced British troops made a steady advance, routing the Americans and capturing their commander.
Attention was then given to the centre with the British Light infantry advancing with the 24th Foot now in a flanking position to support them. Colonel Francis was determined to stand his ground and fighting became an intense firefight testing drilled obedience against patriotic fervour, Major Grant of the 24th was killed in the fighting and the British looked to hesitate in their attack, pulling back to regroup and rally.
On the left, Colonel Fraser sent forward his Grenadiers to climb Zion Hill, a deceivingly steep mound, and attack the Vermont Militia in the flank. Due to the incline the advance took far longer than anticipated and during this apparent lull, Colonel Francis launched his own flank attack on the opposite wing, reinforced by some of Hale's men who had rallied and decided to return to the field. The attack seriously threatened Fraser's position and the battle for quite a while hung in the balance. The sound of gunfire had alerted St.Clair, now a distance away, but he decided not to send reinforcements, likewise the noise also alerted British forces, especially Riedesel who was marching to support Fraser, he immediately sent his Jagers forward at double pace while his other units followed up. These German Jagers emerged from the thick forest and on to Francis's attack, hitting them in the flank. At the same time the British Grenadiers completed their hill climb and after regrouping launched themselves into the flank of the Green Mountain Men. Still the battle held as a fairly even stalemate until Colonel Francis was struck a fatal shot, his men previously so enthusiastic by his leadership, began to panic and the American line began to crumble before turning into a rout along the entire line.
The Americans lost 150 killed, 450 wounded and 250 captured to the British 60 killed and 150 wounded.
WARGAMING THE BATTLE
This is an excellent battle to game, not requiring too many figures and being pretty evenly balanced throughout.
It would lend itself to large skirmish rules as well as regular sets.
For those inspired by this battle and period, take a look at our American War of Independence Starter set which includes both a British and American army, complete with MDF bases and the brilliant Land of The Free rules published by Osprey and full of excellent information. You can find it at https://www.thelittlecorporal.co.uk/product-page/the-complete-awi-starter-set