|Disciplined British Light Bobs sweep through the Whig camp enroute to|
cut the Americans off from their line of retreat. Poorly led troops would be drunk
and sacking the camp.
My best friend Gregory Starace set up a Carnage and Glory II game for us at the Hobby Chest in Jacksonville, NC last week and events stayed pretty close to the historical outcome. Carnage and Glory II is similar in construct to Black Powder, however, orders of battle are entered into a computer system, which calculates damage, morale, mandatory actions, etc. It was interesting and the computer spits out very detailed information about the actions and reactions of the troops. A good mix of table top gaming and the digital age.
|The Whigs camped at a bridge crossing Briar Creek, which feeds the Savannah River.|
His Majesty's forces approach from the upper right.
The original battle took place on the 3rd of March, 1779. From Georgia Historian Dale Cox,
"The events leading to the Battle of Briar Creek had started in the fall of 1778 when British forces began a major campaign to take control of Georgia for King George III. The American Revolution was then in its third year and the focus of the war was shifting south.
British forces advancing by land from East Florida turned back after the Battle of Midway Church, fearful of rumored American reinforcements. An amphibious attempt to take Fort Morris at Sunbury ended in failure after the Patriot commander, Col. John McIntosh, dared the British to "Come and take it!"
The King's forces had more success on December 29, 1778, when they captured Savannah. Pushing quickly inland, they took Augusta by January 31, 1779. Things then took a turn in favor of the Americans.
A force of irregular Loyalist militia led by Col. James Boyd tried to make its way from South Carolina into Georgia to join the British at Augusta. They were met and badly defeated at the Battle of Kettle Creek on St. Valentine's Day, February 14, 1779, by the forces of Gen. Andrew Pickens, Col. John Dooly and Lt. Col. Elijah Clarke.
The destruction of Boyd's command at Kettle Creek led the British to conclude that their position at Augusta was too vulnerable and they began a slow retreat to the safety of Savannah. American forces, led by Brig. Gen. John Ashe, moved across the Savannah River in pursuit.
When the British reached Ebenezer, they halted. Command was turned over to Lt. Col. Mark Prevost, who turned on the Patriot force that had been slowly following him.
The Americans, meanwhile, went into camp near the confluence of Brier Creek and the Savannah River on February 26, 1779. The British had destroyed a bridge over the creek during the withdrawal and the Patriots now began the effort of repairing it.
Ashe's total army included around 1,300 men, 200 of whom were light cavalry. They were camped with Brier Creek between them and the British, who were thought to be far away at Ebenezer.
Prevost took full advantage of the false sense of security in the American ranks by sending a decoy force of around 500 regular and militia to within 3 miles of the burned out bridge being repaired by Ashe's army. They took up a position there to capture and hold the attention of the American commanders.
Lt. Col. Prevost in person then led a larger force of 900 regulars and seasoned militia soldiers north up the creek to a mill owned by Francis Paris. They quickly repaired the destroyed bridge there, using timbers from Paris' house and barn.
The British crossing at Paris' Mill went completely undetected by the Americans and Prevost immediately pushed south toward the rear of Ashe's army. 
|Briar Creek was the culminating event is a series of small actions in Georgia.|
It ended in slaughter and defeat for the Whig forces.
Order of Battle for the Crown forces included Sir James Baird's Light Infantry on the Right, LtCol Prevost (Brevet General) and the 71st Highlanders in the Center and Provincial Cavalry on the Left. In reserve were three companies of Florida Grenadiers and a troop of dragoons. Artillery support was a brass 6-pdr and a battalion grasshopper. For the Whigs, my left under General Elbert consisted of a company of Georgia Continentals and 150 Georgia Militia. Center and Right: Generals Bryant and Young with NC Militia (Wilmington, Brunswick, New Bern). My artillery was two light brass pieces (although in the original battle, there was only one on the American side). My reserve (not on the board) was Col Perkins with a battalion of Continental Light Infantry, south of the bridge.
Immediately after deployment, my son chose to charge with his Highlanders and Light Infantry. His co-commander moved his Provincial Cavalry up on my left in anticipation of my militia breaking ranks.
My NC militia on the right under Young and Bryant was able to stand, stalling the charge of the Highlanders. Meanwhile, my light artillery was able to send solid shot crashing through their ranks. On my left, it was a different story. While my Georgia Continentals stood like men, the Georgia and NC Militia was a mixed bag. One battalion faced about and ran for the bridge, exposing the flank of their sister battalion. The rout was on.
My left wing caved in, allowing the British lights to capture my camp and forcing the withdrawal of my remaining militia battalion. They rallied under Gen Bryant in time to hold the bridge across Briar Creek, but only for a moment, both Bryant and Young were mortally wounded and carried from the field. You could hear the militia groan (General Elbert failed every single attempt to inspire and rally his troops. At one point it was rumoured that he was in camp breakfasting while his troops were engaged. Shameful!
A precipitous retreat, and poor command influence and my militia were throwing down their arms and either dispersing or cowering before the bayonets of His Majesty's Light Infantry. Success begets success and failure begets failure. My senior General (Elbert) consistently failed to inspire the troops, at one point, the Brunswick Militia even expressing embarrassment at his attempts to rally them for a counter charge. I think they knew the way this battle was going to turn out from the first sound of the charge.
|The Light Bobs have the bridge...if only my Continentals would make haste to|
reinforce my wavering NC militia.
My guns kept firing and withstood cavalry charges. Further, the Loyalist provincials were not convinced that Mars would smile on the side of the Crown. In the end, it was of no consequence. LtCol Prevost manfully reorganized his stalled Highlanders and enveloped my guns, causing my remaining Brunswick Militia to fall back carrying their General's bullet-riddled corpse. My cavalry made for the bridge and my gunners spiked the guns and ran as well.
My Continental Light Infantry Reserve never made it on to the board, but at this point, I had forces on the bridge, with their route of march blocked by the Light Infantry on the other side. Inglorious defeat and infamy...at the hands of teenagers and a handful of Highlanders and Light Infantry.
A great game and a good time with friends. Total time to play was about three hours, mostly due to 14 and 10 year olds bickering about the wisdom of charges and displacement of artillery!