The Battle of Breed’s Hill (or ‘Bunker Hill’), 17th June 1775: The Scenario

Well after two postponements, we finally got to play our Battle of Breed’s/Bunker Hill* game last Thursday!  Andy the serial-sickie still couldn’t make it, but I had three willing players in the form of Chris, Trevor and Mike.  Mike and I took the forces of Monarchy and Freedom, while Chris and Trevor took the rebellious mob of tax-evaders.

Players of British Grenadier! will know that there is a Bunker Hill scenario in the main rulebook of both the original and ‘Deluxe’ Editions (which I have played before), but for this game I used a scenario written by my late friend and much-missed transatlantic collaborator Mark Hayes.  Mark worked for the US Navy Historical Centre and had a wealth of source-material to hand, which added a whole raft of additional detail (and some additional units) to the original scenario.

* The Battle of Bunker Hill was actually fought on Breed’s Hill.  The battle was mis-named partly because Colonel William Prescott, having been ordered to fortify Bunker Hill (which stands a short distance to the north), decided instead to fortify Breed’s Hill, but the historical record still showed that he had been sent to Bunker Hill.  To compound this, a British map of the battle drawn by one Lieutenant Page (shown below) mistakenly reversed the names of the hills and so the name ‘Bunker Hill’ stuck!

We based the shape of the redoubt in our scenario map on Lieutenant Page’s well-known map above.  However, Page doesn’t show the well-documented flanking ‘flêches’, instead showing a straight breastwork.  To add further confusion, another diagram of the redoubt (shown below) looks absolutely nothing whatsoever like the one shown on Page’s map!

Suffice to say, there is considerable disagreement in the sources, so feel free to make it up…

Scenario Outline

The game lasts for 20 turns.

The British can claim a Victory if they eject all rebel forces from the Breed’s Hill Redoubt.

However, the rebels can still claim a Draw if they inflict a casualty ratio in excess of 2:1 on the British before they take the redoubt.

If the British can destroy both Prescott’s and Stark’s Brigades without suffering 2:1 casualties, they can claim a Historic Victory.

If the British fail to take the redoubt, the rebels can claim a Historic Victory.

American Army
Major General Israel Putnam (Average)

Prescott’s Brigade – Colonel William Prescott (Average)
William Prescott’s Massachusetts Regiment [16 figures] (Militia)
James Frye’s Massachusetts Regiment [16 figures] (Militia)
Ebenezer Bridge’s Massachusetts Regiment [16 figures] (Militia)
Thomas Nixons’s Massachusetts Regiment [16 figures] (Militia)
Ephraim Doolittle’s Massachusetts Regiment [12 figures] (Militia)
Jonathan Brewer’s Massachusetts Regiment [12 figures] (Militia)
Robinson’s Detachment [9 figures] (2nd Line) (skirmishers)
Sam Gridley’s Battery (4pdr) [1 gun] (2nd Line)

Stark’s Brigade – Colonel John Stark (Excellent)
Thomas Knowlton’s Connecticut Regiment [16 figures] (Militia)
John Stark’s New Hampshire Regiment [18 figures] (2nd Line)
James Reed’s New Hampshire Regiment [16 figures] (2nd Line)
John Callender’s Battery (3pdr) [1 gun] (Militia)
Samuel Trevett’s Battery (4pdr) [1 gun] (2nd Line)


1. Mark Hayes would class Prescott as ‘Excellent’, but I have left him as ‘Average’.

2. Prescott’s, Bridge’s and Frye’s Regiments were stationed in the redoubt and are listed by Mark Hayes as ‘fatigued’, so could therefore be downgraded to ‘Levy’ class.  However, I felt that this might be too much of a downgrade.  However, having now played the game as the British, perhaps not! 🙂

3. Nixon’s, Brewer’s and Doolittle’s Regiments were stationed in the fleches.

4. Robinson’s Detachment comprises Wheeler’s company from Doolittle’s Regiment, Crosby’s company from Little’s Regiment and a company from Woodbridge’s Regiment.  The detachment may be placed anywhere within 6 inches of the redoubt and not just where it is shown on the map.

5. Stark’s Regiment was commanded on the day by Lieutenant Colonel Wyman, as Stark was commanding the brigade.

6. The strengths of Stark’s and Knowlton’s Regiments take into account the fact that approximately one-third of these regiments comprised unarmed men, who are not therefore included.

7.  The Redcoats are coming on in their traditional closely-dressed ranks.  You can therefore apply a +1 modifier when shooting at any British unit in Close Order formation.

British Army
Major General, Sir William Howe (Average)

Right Brigade – Major General, Sir William Howe (Average)
Combined Light Infantry Battalion [20 figures] (Line)
Combined Grenadier Battalion [20 figures] (Elite)
Combined 5th & 52nd Regiments of Foot [20 figures] (Line)
Royal Artillery Battery (6pdr) [2 guns] (Line)
Royal Artillery Battery (12pdr) [2 guns] (Line)
Royal Artillery Battery (Howitzers) [2 guns] (Line)

Left Brigade – Brigadier Robert Pigot (Average)¹
38th Regiment of Foot [16 figures] (Line)
43rd Regiment of Foot [16 figures] (Line)
1st Battalion of Marines [18 figures] (Line)
Light Infantry [6 figures] (Line) (skirmishers)

Reinforcement Brigade – Major General, Sir Henry Clinton (Average)¹
63rd Regiment of Foot [18 figures] (Line)
2nd Battalion of Marines¹ [16 figures] (Line)


1. The total strength of the 38th & 43rd Regiments also incorporates the strength of the 47th Regiment and three detached companies of grenadiers.

2. Howe is C-in-C but is also in direct command of a brigade.

3. The 12pdr battery may change facing on the spot, but may not move from its starting position on Moulton’s Hill.

4. The 6pdr battery has arrived without ammunition.  The limbers are on their way, but they may not fire until Turn 4.

5. The Light Infantry Battalion may use Close Order or Open Order formation and may deploy in whole or in part, into Skirmish Order.  All other units must use Close Order formation.

6.  The enemy will gain a +1 shooting modifier when shooting at British infantry units in Close Order formation.  NB Remember that British infantry in Close Order formation will gain a +1 mêlée modifier.

7. On Turn 4 roll 1 D6: Clinton’s brigade will arrive on a 5 or 6.  The chance will increase by 1 on each subsequent turn.

Terrain Notes

1. The redoubt on Breed’s Hill and the flanking flêches will take 2 DPs to cross.

2.  The fortified rail fence will take 1 DP to cross.  Note that this was in fact a stone wall, surmounted by two wooden rails.  In front of this was a wooden fence and the gap between the two fences was filled with hay.  The whole structure would therefore constitute rather more of a defensive work than previously thought.

3.  The areas of marshy ground are impassable to artillery.  Formed troops crossing it will take 1 DP.

4.  The western edge of the map has various small copses and orchards, representing the edge of Charlestown (which is presently on fire, thanks to bombardment by the Royal Navy and British artillery firing from Boston).  Each copse inflicts a 1 DP penalty on any unit passing through.

Above:  The calm before the storm…

I was going to add the AAR onto this post, but Mrs Fawr and I are just heading off for a few days with friends and there isn’t time to add that now, so I’ll leave you with the scenario and will add the AAR next week.  In the meantime, here are a few pics of the action:

This entry was posted in 28mm Figures, American War of Independence, British Grenadier! Rules (AWI), British Grenadier! Scenarios, Eighteenth Century, Games, Scenarios. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The Battle of Breed’s Hill (or ‘Bunker Hill’), 17th June 1775: The Scenario

  1. Steve Johnson says:

    I love the maps which I’d not seen before, but then I haven’t really bothered much with this action as a wargamer. Fine additional info on the units and terrain too, should I ever wish to make a game of this. The snapshots of the game look superb:).

  2. Paul smith says:

    Hi Mark

    Looking forward to the AAR in due course. I played ‘Bunker Hill’ using the ‘Live Free or Die’ rules (from Little wars TV) twice earlier this year (with my 10mm Pendraken figures) and found it almost impossible for the British to win the secenario so will be interested to find out how you got on.
    As I think I mentioned earlier I was lucky enough to visit Boston and of course the Bunker Hill ‘battlefield’ back in July/August this year. The museum was excellent with some very good dioramas. Not really anything left of the battlefield itself, just the top of the hill (Breeds Hill) which is a grassed over square about 130 metres x 130 metres or so surrounded by buildings and trees with the Bunker Hill Monument in the centre. You can’t even see any of rivers from the top of the hill itself although I didn’t go to the top of the monument. That said the corners of the redoubt are marked by stones and it looked pretty small to me.
    Mark, I don’t know your e-mail address but if you contact me (assuming you have access to my e-mail address below), I’d be happy to send you photos I took in the museum and of my refights purely out of interest.
    Hope you have agood break.

    Cheers Paul

  3. Joseph says:

    Looks like it was enjoyable!

    I know this might not be the best way place to ask this but the old post of your rules modifications for Shako when you last played Leuthen was something I was very taken with and have since ended up using for our own miniatures battles in the horse and musket era.

    Yesterday (we hadn’t played in quite a while so our memories were rusty) we could not remember if we were doing cavalry melees correctly:

    Side A Horse wins a close combat matchup with Side B, who lost by 1 so B reduces his strength by 1 and retreats. Now Side A must take a hit also because of the Fatigue rule for cavalry. So far so good – here’s my question then:

    Does Side B also take a second hit due to it also suffering fatigue in that encounter? Two of us thought it did, two of us said only the attacking cavalry does.

    Sorry to bug you here but not sure where else to better ask. Appreciate any help you can give me, thanks!

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Hi Joseph, fantastic to hear that you’re enjoying it! 🙂

      Only the winner takes the fatigue hit. It’s easier to think of them as ‘winner losses’ (the term used in Napoleon’s Battles rules).

      That does mean that both sides end up taking one casualty and that has caused ‘animated discussion’ among my group, but it needs to be remembered that the winner gets positional advantage and potential breakthrough charge and the loser might fail to rally from retreat, so there is a definite advantage/disadvantage.

      Dies that help,


  4. Joseph says:

    Thanks Mark, it does help a lot! Other than that we have really been enjoying your rules modifications. Just completed a battle with 2000 plus figs in it in one session in four hours time.

    Oh and looking forward to see if the American freedom fighters beat off those royal thugs in your Breed’s Hill AAR.

  5. Ian Wilson says:

    Excellent looking game and great write up.

  6. Pingback: The Battle of Breed’s Hill (or ‘Bunker Hill’), 17th June 1775: The Refight | Jemima Fawr's Miniature Wargames Blog

  7. RogerB says:

    Absolutely wonderful blog!

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