Saratoga 1777 anyone?

I’ve been playing American Revolution games with a variety of different rules for about 20 years now. I always wanted to do the 1777 Northern Campaign; the one with Burgoyne that doesn’t go so well near Saratoga. However, no one made the right British figures in 15mm. The British units in that campaign used cut down, that is recycled uniforms, as their uniform shipment for 1777 was captured by American privateers. That meant they didn’t get new uniforms. Instead they cut down their coats and used the extra material to patch them. They took their battered hats and reshaped them to something that looked military. So necessity created the unique uniform worn by British soldiers under Burgoyne, it was not due to the unique nature of woodland fighting as claimed by some dubious secondary sources.

Here is what the British looked like (from a Troiani illustration):

TRW53 - 21st British Fuzileers, Private 1777-700x600

No one made these figures in 15mm that I could ever find, and being a bit anal, I had to have the right British figures to play the campaign. I would not settle for substitute figures, and making my own figures with this uniform was beyond me. Then one day on The Miniatures Page I read in the announcements that Blue Moon is now making 15mm French infantry for the American Revolution. That was good news to me as the Old Glory 15mm French Infantry for the American Revolution were not my favorite figures (too many dancing and too many poorly designed figures). So I go to the Blue Moon/Old Glory 25mm page to see the new French figures and there below them are the new British Saratoga infantry figures. Wow! I might have to do the full Saratoga Campaign in 15mm. I would add that the French figures look very nice as well.

Here are the images of the new Blue Moon 15mm figures (from here

Saratoga Infantry Command: (looks like two command groups each of 1 officer, 2 standard bearers, 1 drummer, and 1 sergeant)


Saratoga Infantry Marching: (come 30 to a pack)


Saratoga Infantry Firing: (come 30 to a pack)


Saratoga Artillerists: (come 12 to a pack)


The only thing missing is the flank companies, but you can always paint the wings on them. However, it is not entirely clear if the flank companies had wings at all. Also it is pretty clear that the light infantry companies wore the new style Saratoga caps rather than the Keppel hats that some secondary sources claim. The figures look like a good match to the Troiani interpretation as well (which matches primary source illustrations). I have painted some Blue Moon 15mm American Revolution figures and I like them a lot. They have raised detail which makes them easier for me to paint (as contrasted to a Minifigs 15mm which has limited depth to their detail, which some people like as they find them faster to paint, I don’t).

I’ve done a ton of research on this campaign (mostly from primary sources) and have constructed  a British order of battle and I am finishing up the American order of battle (just have to figure out some of the militia call-ups). It looks like a reasonable size campaign for most rules and some real choices for the players, especially the American commander. The British have 2 line and 1 elite brigades, plus St. Leger’s ad hoc brigade. The Brunswick/Hesse-Hanau forces are 2 line and 1 elite brigade as well. The British also have lots of Indians and other skirmisher types. The Americans have 24 Continental Regiments in 4 regular and 2 ad hoc brigades plus a lot of militia, up to five or six brigades of it. So enough units that the campaign will not be over in one or two battles. I already have a lot of the required units painted in 15mm and most of the rest of the figures unpainted, except for the British regulars in their cut down uniforms. So this is a good campaign possibility.

I have also found that while I can find a good order of battle for both sides (from primary sources, secondary sources are limited for this campaign, especially in terms of research accuracy), and I can find a very good description of what the British, Brunswick, and lesser allies wore as uniforms, what the Americans wore as uniforms is very limited. It seems that unlike 1775 and 1776, there was no major issue of uniforms in the Continental Army in 1777. Instead, if a Continental soldier got a coat of any color, he was lucky. This means most American Continental units would look a lot like militia units in terms of clothing as not much was issued in 1777, and what was issued varied a lot, even in the same regiment. I can actually live with that, and in some cases I’ll substitute other Continental units from later periods for the 1777 Continental units as that is what I have painted and they look better than just a scruffy mob.

So, figures found or already purchased (many even painted), orders of battles for both sides researched, uniforms researched as much as possible. Now it is time to decide on some rules. Many have enough good points to consider using them, none of them are perfect. The key things the rules I will use need to have are:

1. No triple moves (so no Piquet: Field of Battle and no Black Powder as I hate triple move games more than any other sort of games).

2. Be able to run a small battle of 3 or 4 units as well as a big battle of 20 to 40 units (this is a big issue as most games are designed for a certain number of units, often 12 to 24).

3. Have some sort of command and control rules in them or that I can add to them.

4. Have or be workable with a campaign system (otherwise they won’t work as rules for a campaign game).

5. Have enough detail but not be so complex that it takes forever to play (I have bits of evenings and parts of weekend days to play, not the time required for games that go on for 8 to 12 hours a battle).

6. Work in a solo setting as that is about all the time I have these days with family, work and dog obligations.

7. Be historically accurate (which eliminates about 50% of the rules out there as well).

8. In terms of aesthetics, I’d like a figure ratio/scale of 1-20 or 1-25, but not larger (1-30) or smaller than that (1-10). That will produce units of 12 to 20 figures, which is what I like best and what I am willing to paint.

So now to collect, read and review rules to see what might work.

Hopefully in the next post I can add more about my campaign development.



One Response to Saratoga 1777 anyone?

  1. greenknight4 says:

    Wow you don’t want to much do you 🙂 You have a great punch list but I find I usually have to settle for less to keep me going. For a campaign system I have been playing around with one Steve Haller published years ago in the second Courier (full size). It started with a jump off point and after each battle a series of dice and decisions were offered to both sides based on the results of the previous battle. I find this works well for multi player and solo. I have mentioned the rules I use previously. When I want a more serious command system I use the card system from my own rules “Day of Battle”. Anybody interested can go to my site and request a copy of the command system from me via the contact form. Chris P.


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