Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

1776 Battle of Brooklyn AAR


(Refought on its 247th Anniversary, August 27, 2023)

[played on 12’x7.5’ table; 12 British Inf regts + Cav & Art. vs. 7 Continental Inf regts. + Art. & militia skirmishers]

BATTLE OF BROOKLYN 1776, The Empire Strikes Back!


General William Howe and his battered army have spent the last 4 months licking their wounds and rebuilding their strength in Nova Scotia, Canada, following their Pyrrhic victory at Bunker Hill and subsequent ejection from Boston by the then newly-appointed commander of the Continental Army, George Washington, with the aid of British guns captured at Fort Ticonderoga. But on July 26th, 1776 (less than a month after the signing of the Declaration of IndependenceThe Empire Strikes Back!

Under the command of Howe's older brother, Admiral Lord Richard Howe, a Royal Navy fleet enters the mouth of the New York Harbor with 200 ships, including 10 ships of the line, 20 frigates and 170 transports.  A local paper reports: "The endless canopy of sail is truly a sight to behold."

The Brothers Howe have brought with them the largest British fighting force as yet ever deployed overseas, of 32,000 soldiers -- 10,000 of which are the dreaded Hessians. Unsure what reception they will receive from either rebel or loyalist, they anchor across New York Bay from Manhattan, off Staten Island, where there is ample space to bivouac, as well as bountiful foodstuffs to feed the troops while the high-ranking siblings take stock of the situation.

Fully aware that New York is the strategic gateway to the Hudson River and on into Canada, as well as a major mercantile center, and with orders from the Continental Congress to defend it, Washington is anxious. He takes his newly-cobbled-together Continental Army of 19,000 Yankee tradesmen and Southern planters and deploys them in small packets at key points in Manhattan and the surrounding areas. About 3,000 under Generals Sullivan and Stirling take up posts on Western Long Island, covering the high ground called Gowanus Heights.

Now, like General Artemis Ward at the Siege of Boston the year before, Washington can't be sure exactly where the British will make their main thrust, so he remains wary of committing his main force too early, afraid he may be duped by an enemy diversion. To improve the odds for his outnumbered army, Washington fortifies the Heights of Brooklyn with redoubts, trenches and gun-works, and posts blocking forces at each of the key approaches leading to there: Shore Road along the East River, Martense Lane PassFlatbush Pass, and Bedford Pass, all of which cut through the Gowanus Heights -- but fails to adequately defend the northern, potential end run, route through Jamaica Pass [see map]. 

Weeks go by and nothing happens save for a few forays by British gunboats up the East River and several sincere efforts by the Brothers Howe to parlay and put an early end to the rebellion before more blood is spilled (though General Howe's army, which had suffered high casualties at Bunker Hill, did not share his desire for peace). But Washington will have none of that nonsense. Battle it shall be...

So, on August 22nd, General Howe launches some 15,000 men in small boats across the tidal straight called The Narrows from his staging area in Staten Island to land at Denyse's Ferry, barely a mile away on the South-West tip of Long Island. Washington counters by sending 6,000 more men under General Putnam (of Bunker Hill fame) across the East River to Brooklyn. Howe ups the ante and extends his beachhead, landing more troops at Gravesend Bay, East of Denyse's Ferry, including 5,000 Hessians. British forces are estimated at 22,000 men, giving Howe more than a 2:1 advantage, plus the strength of the Royal Navy (and Marines) in support, if the winds prove favorable. For five days the opposing forces prance and parade in front of each other, some engage in skirmishing, while others loot nearby farms...

Then, at around 9 o'clock on the morning of August 27th, General Putnam sends word to Washington in Manhattan: he has heard the Sound of Guns coming from Jamaica Pass -- the battle of Brooklyn has begun...

Scenario map:

View of the table/battlefield from South-East corner:


For the Americans to win the battle, they must bottle the British up on Long Island, thus preventing them from seizing Brooklyn Heights -- the gateway to strategically vital New York City.


For the British to win the battle, they must seize Brooklyn Heights -- but to win a glorious strategic victory and bring a quick end to the war, they must destroy Washington's army in detail.

TURN 0: 10:30 am

PRELIMINARY PRE-DAWN TURN ENABLING BRITISH NIGHT MARCH. British roll a 4, which puts Cornwallis Brigade far North down King’s Highway, close to Howard’s Halfway House at Jamaica road & Bedford Pass, and puts the Hessians on the same road, close to Flatbush Pass.

TURN 1: 10:45 am

BRITISH win initiative roll (12 vs 9) then roll 4 coins (on D6), Gnl Grant’s Art. Ba]. fires at 1st Penn on Ba]le Hill, inflict 1 casualty (to be known as caz).

AMERICANS use 1 command coin to summon General Washington & 19th Con>nentals across East River from Manha]an, C Ba]ery (Sullivan) double fires (22”) down Flatbush pass at 2nd Grenadiers (5+ to Hit) = 1 caz. / Penn. State Rifles fire 8” at Dismounted Dragoons = 1 caz.

TURN 2: 11:05 am

AMERICANS win initiative (11-10; 3 coins): C Battery Double Fires again: 2 caz (RULES NOTE FOR FUTURE CONSIDERATION: Frank suggests that units receiving double fire in column, instead of choosing to engage in a gun duel, may choose to redeploy into line in order to make themselves a smaller target). 2nd Grenadiers fail morale & go Shaken; this earns the Americans 1 Point on the game’s Scoreboard. Dragoons suffer 1 caz & Pass morale.

BRITISH Double Fire Dragoons into Penn Rifles (in Soft Cover). 3rd Hessian battery fires at C Battery and inflicts 1 caz, C Battery passes morale with flying colors (roll box cars, so they are awarded a GOLD COIN; EFFECT: their morale will not falter or break throughout rest of game. Cornwalis continues advance (33rd and 63rd Regts.) 1st Light infantry deploys into town of Flatbush. On the South slope of the Gowanus Heights (which will become known to history as “Battle Hill”) Penn State Regt. take fire from Grant’s gun & resulting casualties cause them to go shaken, causing Scoreboard to go back down one to zero/neutral.

TURN 3: 11:30 am

BRITISH win Initiative (9-8) 4 coins: British buy 2 coins of supplies (mix of 24 red + green chips to pay for fire & maneuver). Rally 2nd Grenadiers (+1). Dragoons (down one stand of 2) remounted and withdrew (maybe used coin #4 for double action, perhaps combo of remount AND move?).

AMERICANS Rally Penn State Regt. (scoreboard back neutral). C battery fires at Hessians (Mirbach) inflict 1 caz. 19th Continentals advance toward outer works. 12th Continental mans the outer works. 1st New York moves up the road towards Bedford.

TURN 4: 11:52 am

BRITISH win initiative 8-6 (2 coins): Grant’s gun puts 1 caz on Penn State Regt, who check morale & go Shaken. Grant’s Inf. then A4ack & Rout Penn State Regt, earning +2 for Brits on the “SCOREBOARD” (Fire & Maneuver rules use a cribbage style "scoreboard" to track tactical advantage during the game). Hessians advances toward Gowanus heights.


AMERICANS engage in Art. “Gun Duel” (inflict 2 caz on Hessian Battery) Hessian Bat. goes Shaken. 1st Delaware fires at 44th Regt. (inflict 2 caz). Rally Penn State (go from Routed to Shaken). 22nd Continue to fire on 4th Grenadiers; (1 caz). Penn rifles fire at 1st Light Infantry (but inflict no caz).

TURN 5: 12:15 pm

BRITISH win (5-3) 1 coin. Cornwallis & Hessian ba4ery fire but miss. 4th Grenadiers move & fire at Penn Rifles (2 caz) Penn Rifles go Shaken. Meanwhile, scale miles away at the other end of Gowanus Heights, Grant’s Brigade is about to sweep Battle Hill.

Stirling decides to try to hold Battle Hill against the coming onslaught. Americans fire at Grant’s Brigade (1 caz on 44th Regt), 44th pass morale check. 19th Cont. move to post at Outer Works.

TURN 6: 12:30 PM

BRITISH win (10-7; 3 coins). Royal Marines Charge up battle Hill and wipe out 1st Delaware. Hessian Stirn Regt. Charge 17th Continentals on Gowanus Heights -- melee results in American victory (9-6), Hessians Retreat. Grant’s Battery Double Moves toward Martense lane.

AMERICANS (1 coin) C Battery fires at Highlanders (1 caz; Pass morale check). (WHAT DID AMERICANS DO WITH THEIR 1 COIN? DOUBLE FIRE... RALLY...?)

BRITISH go up +1 on Scoreboard for taking Battle Hill objective, putting them up +2 overall.

LUNCH BREAK: 1:00PM (after 2.5 hours of play)


TURN 7: 1:50 PM

BRITISH win (10 +2 Brit = 12 vs. 10 American; 1 Coin). 71st Highlanders destroy C Battery Continental Artillery (which had only one crewman left -- their heroic C.O. LT Josiah Roxbury of Cambridge, MA). Rebel skirmish fire near Howard’s Halfway house is ineffective. Cornwallis positions his brigade on the eastern slope of the Northern Gowanus Heights. One of Grant’s regts clears the woods atop Battle Hill. Grant himself leads 44th to advance up Shore Road.

AMERICANS: Sullivan falls back through Flatbush Pass towards Bedford. Stirling leads Marylanders falling back along Shore Road past the Red Lion Inn, towards the Old Stone House.

(There was some talk by the Americans of Stirling ordering the Marylanders to About Face & Fire on the pursuing 44th Regt. in an effort to cut down General Grant, who had just haughtily taken the point ahead of his troops and potentially within close range. If he'd been knocked out of the saddle it would have caused a morale check & if that had gone badly the effect might have spread -- but the chances of such a volley hitting him were deemed too slim to make the attempt worth the delay it would have caused, which would have likely made it impossible for the Marylanders to reach the Old Stone House before being hit in the open themselves by enemy fire or bayonet charge.)

TURN 8: 2:10 pm

BRITISH win (6+4 vs. American’s natural 10 = tie; re-roll: British 6+4 vs. American 3; 3 coins). Rally Hessian battery; use 2 coins for resupply (24 chips total). Hessians seize the central Gowanus Heights overlooking Flatbush Pass. Hessian Regt. Mirbach spends a turn CLEARING OBSTACLE of the Dongan Oak* from Porte Road Pass. Along King’s Highway to the NE, Cornwallis’s Cav. Fire on the enemy (Mili.a skirmishers, who they maybe destroyed?).

AMERICANS: Sullivan leads 1st New York & Penn Rifles out of defensive works to occupy Bedford. Stirling leads Marylanders & 17th Continental to occupy Old Stone House. 22nd Con;nentals take up position in the crop-fields around Bedford.

(NOTE: The "Dongan Oak" was a large old tree, mentioned in the 1685 "Patent" of then Governor Richard Dongan as marking the boundary between the towns of Flatbush to the East and Brooklyn to the West, which was cut down, either by American troops or a local farmer assisting them, & used to block the Porte Road Pass. CLICK HERE to read more about it & see photos of the monument that now marks its place)

TURN 9: 2:30 PM

BRITISH win (13 to 10) 5 Coins: British 44th (15 effectives) ATTACK Penn State (6 effectives) wipe them out while suffering 4 caz. GM awards 44th Regt. a GOLD COIN for their glorious exploits. Hessians continue to advance.

AMERICANS decide to fall back & use their one command coin to double move 22nd Cont. across Gowanus bridge & towards taking up positions in the fortifications on Brooklyn Heights.

TURN 10: 2:50 PM

BRITISH win (3+7 vs. 6) 2 Coins; Grant’s Battery double fires at Old Stone House inflicting 2 caz split between Maryland Regt. & 17th Continentals. Hessians continue to advance. Cornwallis Brigade advances. 17th Dragoons change formation into column in preparation to ride down Jamaica Pass & outflank the American left. General Howe gives the order: All forces advance and converge upon Brooklyn Heights...

AMERICANS spend their one coin to prep Gowanus Bridge to blow (requires a red chip and a D6 result of 2+, a die-roll result of "1" = fail to light fuse; may try again next turn). Stirling makes a hard call & chooses to retreat again, leading Marylanders & 17th Cont. to evacuate the Old Stone House and cross Gowanus bridge. Fort Putnam Hvy. Batteries inflict 2 caz on Hessian (Mirbach) Regt. approaching down Flatbush Pass.

TURN 11: 3:15 PM

BRITISH win (3+7 vs 5) 2 coins. Grant’s Bat. Fire (8 dice) at 17th Cont., inflict 2 caz. 17th pass Morale (11). Hessian Mirbach Bat. fires inflict 2 caz on 17th Cont., who fail morale & go Shaken (+1 to Brits on Scoreboard). Hessian Regt. Mirbach inflict +2 caz on 17th, who fail again & ROUT (another +1 to Brits on Scoreboard), towards Gowanus bridge. Cornwallis’s infantry advance over the North end of Heights.

AMERICANS spend their one coin to Double Move 1st Maryland & inquire (of the GM) what is the range of Washington’s aura (ability to boost morale roll by 1 point)Instructed to roll 3 D(6); result = 13”.

TURN 12: 3:35PM

BRITISH win (6 coins) Grant Double Fires on 1st New York, inflicts 4 caz). Hessians and Cornwallis advance.

AMERICANS blow Gowanus bridge with roll of 2 (Need anything but a 1, so just barely successful).

TURN 13: 3:55PM

BRITISH Win 7+5 to 7 (4 Coins). General Howe orders “All out attack!” on Brooklyn Heights -- Grant, Von Heister’s Hessians and Cornwallis all converge on the lower works.

AMERICAN combined heavy artillery & musket fire from A & B Battery, 1st New York, 19th & 22nd Continentals Routs Mirbach & 44th and sends 71st to Shaken morale status. 1st Maryland & 12th Cont. move into the lower works to add their firepower to the defensive line next turn.

Scoreboard is now British +1 -- down from British +8 just two turns before.

TURN 14: 4:15PM

BRITISH win 8 to 2 (5 coins). Double fire Grant’s gun, inflict 2 caz, rally the 71st. Royal Marines assault 1st New York at the south works & receive 2 caz from defensive fire. 1st NY then win the Melee 9-4, resulting in the Royal Marines being wiped out (one fig survives & is removed by British player). British units within 6” must test Morale, all passed. Cornwallis ba4ery Double Fire at 1st New York, inflict ZERO caz. Light Infantry fire on 22nd Cont., inflict 1 caz.

AMERICANS use their one coin to Double Fire A Battery at 63rd Regt, inflict 1 caz.

TURN 15: 4:40 PM

AMERICANS (with a +1) WIN INITIATIVE 7-5 (first time they've done so since TURN 2, which ended 4+ hrs. earlier) (4 COINS). These 4 "Command Coins" will allow them to place 4 x Double Fires this turn at the many close range targets before Fort Putnam and the outer works.

BRITISH C-in-C Concedes. Majority of his troops are poised to take potentially devastating fire from the Hvy. guns in Fort Putnam & Infantry Regts. lining the lower works, and he is also about to run out of logistics/supply (Red & Green chips enabling fire & maneuver).

AMERICAN TOTAL CASUALTIES: 67 (from full complement of 142 regulars + 6 Militia, all 6 of which were lost)

BRITISH TOTAL CASUALTIES: 54 (from full complement of 256)

A hard-fought, close-run contest played over the course of 5 hrs. + 20 mins. with an added 50 mins. Lunch break.

Some additional game pics, followed by more detailed casualty returns...

Detailed British casualty returns...


C-IN-C GNL. HOWE (main force flank march via Bedford Pass and/or Jamaica Road)

17th Lt. Dragoons (cavalry).............. 2 (from unit of 12 figs)
LightInfantry.....................................0 (from unit of 12figs)

CORNWALLIS BRIGADE (main force flank march via Jamaica Road & Bedford Pass)
2nd Grenadiers ................................. 3 (from unit of 18 figs)
4th Grenadiers .................................. 2 (from unit of 18 figs)
33rd Regt. of Foot ............................ 1 (from unit of 18 figs)
63rd Regt. of Foot ............................ 2 (from unit of 18 figs)
Cornwallis Battery: Gun + 4 crew
Supply Train

GRANT BRIGADE (diversionary force attack along Shore Road)

23rd Regt. of Foot (blue facings)....... 0 (from unit of 18 figs)
44th Regt. of Foot (yellow facings)... 9 (from unit of 18 figs)* (Mentioned in Dispatches despite the Army’s defeat)
55th Regt. of Foot (green facings)..... 0 (from unit of 18 figs)
Royal Marines (white facings)........ 17 (from unit of 18 figs) Destroyed (Whilst covering themselves in salty glory)
Grant Battery: Gun + 4 crew

VON HEISTER HESSIAN BRIGADE (support main force attack via Flatbush Pass)

Regt. Mirbach..................................... 8 (from unit of 18 figs)
Regt. Stirn........................................... 0 (from unit of 18 figs)
Regt. Donop........................................ 0 (from unit of 18 figs)
42nd Highlanders (attached)................10 (from unit of 18 figs)
Von Heister Battery: Gun + 4 crew

“*” Denotes unit awarded a GOLD COIN for rolling a 12 (double sixes) on a morale check OR at GM discre.on for incredible accomplishment(s) against the odds and above & beyond the call of duty. EFFECT: Said unit’s morale will not falter or break throughout rest of game.


Detailed American casualty returns...


Manhattan reserves under Gnl. Washington

19th Continentals...............................................................................0 (from unit of 18 figs)

Brooklyn Heights redoubt & outer works under Gnl. Putnam

1st New York.........................................................................10 (from unit of 18 figs) 12th Continentals............................................................................0 (from unit of 18 figs)
A Battery Continental Artillery Regt. 1 Hvy Gun + 4 crew...0 (from unit of 18 figs)
B Battery Continental Artillery Regt. 1 Hvy Gun + 4 crew...0 (from unit of 18 figs)

Gowanus Heights under Gnl. Sullivan

17th Continentals (Clark) at Flatbush Pass..............................Routed/Destroyed (unit of 18 figs)
22nd Continentals (Wyllys) at Bedford Pass............................1 (18 figs unit)
Penn State Rifles (Miles) at Jamaica Pass...............................Routed/Destroyed (unit of 9 figs)
C Battery Continental Ar;llery Regt. 1 Lt. Gun + 4 crew.......Destroyed*(Gloriously fighting their guns to the last!)

Shore Road under Gnl. Stirling

1st Maryland (Gist).................................................................................1 (from unit of 9 figs)
1st Delaware (Haslet)..............................................................................Routed/Destroyed (unit of 9 figs)
1st Penn State Regt. (Hand & Atlee) at Red Lion Inn/Martense Lane...Destroyed (from unit of 9 figs)

Six Towns Militia ..................................................................................Destroyed (But as pure skirmishers their loss did not count against the Americans on the Scoreboard) (3 x bases w/2 skirmishers EA)

“*” Denotes unit awarded a GOLD COIN for rolling a 12 (double sixes) on a morale check OR at GM discretion for incredible accomplishment(s) above & beyond the call of duty. EFFECT: Said unit’s morale will not falter or break throughout rest of game.


AMERICAN TOTAL CASUALTIES: 67 (from full complement of 142 regulars + 6 Militia, all 6 of which were lost)

BRITISH TOTAL CASUALTIES: 54 (from full complement of 256)

View across the East River from Brooklyn showing the Manhattan skyline c.1776:

PS. I'm back to add one last feature, a video w/appropriate music -- "York Fusiliers" played by Nathan Hale Ancient Fifes & Drums -- courtesy of my friend Frank Patterson, who himself played the role of British General Grant, fighting his way up Shore Road in the battle:

~ finis ~


  1. This is, IMO, just an outstanding scenario & AAR! Also beautiful figs & terrain! I am so impressed I am going to try to run it for my gaming group, using the Live Free or Die rules & 15mm figs.
    Any recommendations for adjustments for the rules set or scale would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Hi Jerry,

    Thanks for taking the time to leave your comment, it is sincerely appreciated! Unfortunately Blogger won't allow me to "sign in" & comment as myself but at least I can still comment anonymously, which is the next best thing. I asked our GM your 15mm question & he didn't think the scenario would need any adjustment. Neither he nor I are familiar with "Live Free or Die" so can't really speak to that, though I have seen them mentioned on hobby forums. The obvious adjustments would be the ability to shrink the size of the table if you have limited space while still being able to lay out your equivalent of our entire tabletop battlefield -- but if you have enough room for the size we used, I think it would work great, allowing either larger spaces or larger units with more of your smaller size figures taking up roughly the same footprint as our 28mm figs did.

    Over on TMP someone asked about the specifics re: the opening British Night March (Turn "0") and I posted them. I should add them to the scenario post I put here and maybe add them to this AAR post also, but for now, here they are, to use, adjust or ignore at your pleasure:

    D(6) roll = number of moves up the road, using Road March category for troop type movement distance, ie: infantry move in road column 12" per turn, so roll of 4 = 48" long Night March for the Inf, 64" for cav, all in column.

    No pressure but I hope you & your group get the game going & if you do I hope you'll post about it online somewhere & come back & leave a LINK here!

  3. Thanks for the prompt reply! I'm thinking of using a 6' X 10' table. My 18mm units appear to have about 2/3 the footprint of your 28's.
    A couple of additional questions:
    What is the effect of "Dongan oak" on the Flatbush road?
    I notice there are burning markers on the bridge near the Colonial field works. Are there special rules for this?
    Do the ships and/or rowing figures near the ferry have any affect on play?
    Thanks for your kind assistance!

  4. Jerry,

    For your 18mm figs I think 6' x 10' should work about the same as our 7.5' x 12' did for our 28mmm.

    The "Dongan Oak" was a famous big old tree that had stood for at least a century before the battle & was noted in official documents for being a marker on the line separating the towns of Flatbush (to the East) & Brooklyn (to the West). Just before the battle It was cut down & laid across the Porte Road to serve as an obstacle to approaching British forces. Treat it as you would any significant obstacle in your rules. The Americans can choose to defend it or just leave it there to delay the enemy for a turn or more, depending on how things go.

    RE: the fire marker on the bridge over Gowanus Creek -- As mentioned in the AAR above, on TURN 12 the Americans managed to "blow" the bridge, setting it on fire in order to prevent the pursuing enemy from using it. This is exactly what happened at the real battle. The details re: rules for successfully destroying the bridge can be found above in the AMERICAN portion of TURN 10.

    RE: the ships and flatboats (c.18th Royal Navy landing craft) near Danyse's Ferry/The Narrows, they were mostly for show, but whenever the British players used a Command Coin to purchase additional logistical chips (RED for "Fire" & GREEN for "Maneuver") the chips were placed in one of the flatboats & took 1 more turn to deliver and be added to their supply. Of course this use was very rules specific!

    For the larger "ships of the line" present off the coast of Brooklyn (which obviously were smaller scale than the troops)... in the days leading up to the game the GM floated the idea of rolling dice at the start of play to determine the direction of the wind, so if the winds were favorable to the British the Royal Navy could sail up the East River & provide naval gunfire support and potentially land a portion of the Army, or at least the Royal Marines, farther North up the West coast of Long Island (the obvious site would be Gowanus Bay).

    Needless to say, if this had occurred it would have proven extremely challenging for the Americans. I argued against it, not because I was an American player but because I thought it would throw off the balance of play for the scenario to such a degree it wouldn't have been much fun for either side but particularly for the Americans. After some discussion the GM decided not to allow the chance of "favorable winds" for the Royal Navy. If we had added this element, the one thing that might have offset the big advantage gained for the British if they had rolled for a "favorable wind" would be adding the use of American shore batteries on Manhattan Island, which did exist, and might land some lucky hits on the British fleet before they impacted the game in a big way. At the real battle the wind made it impossible for the Royal Navy to move North up the East River, otherwise the Continental Army would have had much slimmer odds of surviving the battle. A day later when the winds shifted the British fleet sailed North, but overnight George Washington & co. had already escaped across the river to Manhattan. (Luckily for us Americans!)

  5. Your kind assistance is very much appreciated! I apologize for overlooking the bridge burning rules. I'm going to begin working on the game table.

  6. Gracious apology unnecessary but accepted! I wish you the best of luck with the game & if you post about it online I really hope you come back & post a LINK in the comments here.

  7. I know its almost a year late, but I just stumbled on your AAR today. Impressive game, and looked like there was plenty of action. What rules did you use? Thanks.