Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chapter 62: General Pettygree Defeated


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Date: 18 July 1900
Location: Captured Tug Village of Dongolo
Situation: Battle of Dongolo Ends
Tabletop Rules: BAR Colonial. To obtain a copy see:
http://www.oldregimerules.com/

See Previous Chapter 61: The Second Wave! Posted 16 Feb. 2013

GENERAL'S JOURNAL - 18 JULY 1900

"Final moments of The Battle of Dongolo found the enemy breaching our defences in several areas but...."

LEFT FLANK - NORTH SIDE OF DONGOLO

"Colonel Sinclair's Seaforth Highlanders continued to hold the northeast corner of the village."

"It was at this time I gave the order to form a new battle line in the western end of Dongolo. The Seaforths continued to defend the northeast corner of Dongolo so this could be accomplished."

"Colonel Sinclair performed miracles there even as the enemy gradually pushed the Highlanders back. The number of the enemy was considerably reduced. The situation here gave me a glimmer of hope."

"As had been the Thugee pattern from the beginning, very little pressure was applied to our left flank on the north side of the village. The 27th Bombay Miners and Sappers had suffered few casualties as they withdrew to form the new battle line outside and inside the northern half of Dongolo."

"Behind the 27th., remnants of the 2nd. Sikhs formed a second line."

"A few yards farther to the rear, mounted on Express, my grey, I commanded our last reserve; our old 12 pounder, a body of surviving Berkshires and some of the 1st Sikhs."

RIGHT FLANK - SOUTH SIDE OF DONGOLO

"Our line in the southwest corner of Dongolo was not as deep. There was not much that could be done though there was a little time to shift some men to bolster the defence."

"The enemy held the ground south of the wall. Inside Dongolo a company of Sikhs held the enemy back with supporting fire from the Seaforths. However, they could not hope to hold long with the mass of the enemy ready to knock down the wooden wall."

"We were terribly outnumbered but holding - for the moment." 

"There was one uncommitted reserve available to the Guru; his third wave. Yet these and so many of our foes of the past hour were not apparently Thugees. They were allies of some kind who had suffered terrible casualties as the second wave pushed us back - as had we."


DEFEAT AND THE MIRACLE!

"Some said it was near sundown, when the cacophony of battle ceased. First to stop pushing, thrusting, firing and disengage were our opponents. Unbelievably they stood down as if on cue. An order from the Guru surely. Sensing an opportunity, I gave the order to cease fire too."

"We stood nervously eyeing each other. Our standing men formed up a bit better, reloaded, drank water from nearly drained canteens, nursed minor wounds and wiped sweat from their brows. Wounded were tended and brought to the rear as best we could manage. Was this a malevolent ruse to reorganize and bring forward their enormous reserve to crush us in an instant?"

"Then word came from Colonel Sinclair. A delegation preceded by the Guru's Household flag requested a parlay at the East Gate. What for? Our surrender and enslavement? -- Never!"

"Political Officer Major Faraday (left) accompanied by Lieutenant Caddy, RE rode smartly out of the East Gate to discover their intent. They were told the Guru himself demanded to speak with me."

"The Guru came forward with some of his Household warriors beckoning me."

"Colonel Sinclair formed a Highland guard outside the gate. Faraday and Caddy maneuvered their horses to the side to observe the proceedings."

"I walked through the gate to meet my nemesis." 

Guru: "Greetings General. Please accept my compliments for you and your Imperial Surajistan Field Force."

"At first I was silent casting a suspicious eye on this well-spoken frontier leader. Even Faraday and Caddy's horses were stern in their gaze. However, we knew that in the 80s he had benefited by a classical education at Oxford."

Guru: "Surprised General? Your countenance betrays you. You see a humbly clad man, shoeless, without gold braid or opulence in command of thousands of warriors who do not want any representatives of your Queen Empress here."

Pettygree: "To prevent your cult's murderous ways. Your army is crippled sir and can no longer conquer the subcontinent."

Guru: "Do not count on it General."

Pettygree: "What do you want to say?"

Guru: "That we should stop this bloodshed."

Pettygree: "Good. We shall start with your warriors and allies laying down their arms to be destroyed. Thereafter, your men will immediately return to their villages.

Guru: "No General. As the great Napoleon instituted an armistice in the year 1813, I suggest we do the same. We will start with your retreat from my valley. Take your accursed flags, weapons, wounded and every able-bodied soldier honourably away lest you be utterly vanquished and destroyed in fifteen minutes. You are beaten! You may have twenty-four hours before departure to build conveyances for your wounded. What do you say General?"

"I thought about it for some moments. His army had suffered crippling losses and like Napoleon he needed time to rebuild - if he could. However, I doubted he had resources in men and ammunition to do so. If the battle resumed, his losses would soar even higher."

"He no doubt also knew our annihilation would bring revenge from the Queen Empress as he called her - infinitely stronger than The Surajistan Field Force. I guessed he calculated it was his only way out. He would let us go to possibly insure his future survival."

"This extraordinary offer was our only way out too."

Guru: "What do you say General?"

Pettygree: "We agree to these terms.

Guru: "Then goodbye General. Never come back!"


TWO DAYS LATER

"We departed Dongolo for Fort Grant after twenty-four hours per stipulated terms. I wondered if it was a pretty ruse to attack us in the open but...."

Captain Wending-Smythe: "Riders coming in General."

"Troopers Ham and Corey had found us. They reported the Rear Guard was encamped on the other side of the next river waiting for us. If the Guru wanted to attack surely he would have done so before we could combine."

 "Captain Jellicoe's Shore Party soon came into view."

"Behind them red coat infantry occupied a Thugge Tower."

"Before evening The Surajistan Field Force crossed that stream and encamped for the night.


EPILOGUE

"The retreat was not accosted as is often the case under these circumstances in these regions. No trouble came our way from the Guru or his allies. He was as good as his word. On August 27th. after more than a month's march we passed through Fort Grant's Main Gate. The campaign of 1900 was finished."

"No human knew what would come next. Perhaps we could hope for a long period of stability and peace,  relative peace. We worked very hard to care for the wounded and rebuild our shattered units. As for me personally, I expected a telegram any day recalling me to Britannia. On the 25th of September it came."

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CLOSING REMARKS

1) Clearly the Guru (Chuck) won the battle and campaign. Had it not been for "The Miracle" every Imperial save surviving cavalry would have been lost. The Surajistan Field Force must now retreat back to Fort Grant.Well done Chuck. He was ably assisted by Keith ? and Jon P. Congratulations and bravos!

2) Native Casualties:
Tugs: 262 miniatures (2,620 at 1:10)
Allies: 81 miniatures (810 at 1:10)
Total: 343 miniatures (3,430 at 1:10)

3) Imperial Casualties: 226 miniatures (2,260 at 1:10).
Imperial commanders were John B., my son Tyler and myself, Bill P.

4) Not all casualties are permanent. Medical care in the coming months will restore many combatants to their units, some will be lost and others will be invalided home pending D6 throws.

5) For the near future both sides will be in a state of recovery.

6) Questions:
How long will the armistice last?
Does the Guru have another reservoir of warriors?
What will be the attitude of the Guru's allies?
Will Britannia send reinforcements soon, later or never?
What will become of General Pettygree?
Are there other questions?
What do you think? Please post these below at Comments.
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12 comments:

Der Alte Fritz said...

Well done Archie Sinclair! That's the style.

Pettygree took a huge gamble accepting those terms. It had me thinking of Elphinstone's retreat from Kabul in t 1840s.

Conrad Kinch said...

I must echo AFs thoughts - it had all the hallmarks of a Kabaul.

Well done to Chuck. No mean feat. I only hope that General Pettygree will return undaunted.

Kim Allman said...

I was thinking more in terms of the book and movie Last of the Mohicans as the British garrison is allowed to depart the fort with their arms and colors only to be ambushed by the Mohawks once away from a reliable defensible position. However, it appears the Guru is a man of his word and hopes to be able to best you at a later time of his better choosing.

Chasseur said...

This battle reminds me of a skirmish between some Boxers and some Brits who were pounded in a book I read years ago! Same sort of scenario. BTW nice narration ... Jeff

Brent said...

Wonderful read. I'm lookign forward to "next year."

Bob Gallavan said...

Hard cheese, but a force in being at Fort Grant is more valuable now than a heroic stand to the last man. A difficult choice. Would the allies press the third attack? Did leaving the field to the Guru justify their losses in their eyes? Hard to say.

Steve Gill said...

I'm almost too shocked at the turn of events to comment coherently :-)

Thank you for a dramatic entertainment, as absorbing as ever.

Richard Hubbard said...

So the curtain falls... the end???
I hope I'll see/hear more from the General soon!

PS: Bill, at the bottom of this blog-post you give the (apparent) dates for Easter... only they're wrong! Maundy Thursday this year is 28th March, Good Friday, 29th March, and Easter Day is Sunday 31st March...well, leastways, it is here in England! :-)

A J said...

A surprising turn of events, but I think General Pettigree had the moral courage to accept the terms. His decision saved the lives of his men, who gained experience and will surely have a real thirst for revenge.

Gallia said...

Richard,
Thank you for the Easter date item! The dates you saw here were for last year. I need to update it pronto!
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Everyone,
Thank you sincerely for your vibrant interest and concern for General Pettygree.

Those familiar with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may know he became tired writing Sherlock Holmes detective stories. Thus, he threw Holmes and Professor Moriarity off the cliff at the Reichenbach Falls to their deaths. His readers were apalled and demanded Holmes somehow be restored. He was.

Unlike Doyle I did not want the general to fall at Dongolo. You will see him again.

Respectfully,
Bill

Larry Stehle said...

Great story - Fantastic AAR! As for as the Generals fate...we shall see what Queen and Country say about his actions. I for one say "HUZZAH!" and raise a glass to the courage of General Pettygree and to his men! HUZZAH!!

Phil said...

Wonderful AAR with fantastic looking pictures and minis...Thanks for sharing!
Phil.