Friday, February 19, 2010

Chapter 30: Battle At The Camp

Date: 16 October 1899
Time: Dawn as the sun rises in our photos.
Location: Entrance To The Secret Valley?
Situation: Battle For The Camp
Sirs, images enlarge when clicked.
Reviewing Chapters 28-29 will be beneficial. Suffice to say in the dark hours before dawn enemy horsemen are attempting a coup de main on the Imperial camp. Will they succeed? Find out as the sun illuminates more and more of the valley. We return now to Lt. Byron beside the Tower and....

Byron: "Form line here! Bring THAT gun up too, behind me. On the double!"

As the sun continues to rise, the first arriving Seaforths get into line whilst the 15 Pounder prolongs forward. Below the ridge men of the 1st Sikhs race out of camp to form line as well.

Why? Two bodies of enemy cavalrymen are heading for the camp to score a coup de main. The familiar Red Sash Horsemen lead followed by a strong reserve from the elite Household.

Here they come. Only one company of Sikhs has been able to form line. Meanwhile, Lt. Byron orders the formed Seaforths to the edge of the ridge joining the 15 pounder already there. Colonel Archibald Sinclair has arrived on the scene as more Highlanders form to his right.

The piquet line of Sikhs and two 2.5" guns of the 1st Indian Mountain Battery fire.

Ohhhh, WELL DONE Berkshires! They are formed and marching out to deploy at the back of the camp. General Pettygree, Colonel Blackeney and Correspondent Pearson observe the march. The other 15 pounder is just coming in to support the line.

The Sikh battle line fires but half the battalion closest to you is still disordered.

All available Seaforths line the ridge and fire. Sinclair peers into the enemy mass saying..."It's....

KHAN!" --- shouting new orders to his horsemen.

Who suddenly turn in the manner of Ancient Parthians to fire on the Imperials.

The two sides fire at each other.

As the Seaforths watch from above, the horsemen finish their 180 degree turn riding back from whence they came. Do they hope the Imperials will break ranks and pursue them to their doom?

This ruse de l'guerre fails to tempt the Sikhs. The mountain guns fire parting shots as the Berkshires turn toward the combat area. 

 Two Seaforth piquets are the last to engage the foe.

The horsemen abandon the field riding as fast as they can taking some of their wounded with them.

The turncoat Rajah of Bebara also decides to depart. The battle is over --- or --- is it?

The General has ridden forward to speak with Col. Buckingham of the 1st Sikhs and Major Mitchell.
Pettygree: "WELL DONE SIKHS!

Buckingham: "What was the point General?"

Pettygree: "It was a close run thing Colonel. Had your men not gotten into line I suspect the Tugs might have ridden your people down and ransacked the camp.

Mitchell: "They hoped for confusion and a coup de main. Had the Red Sash chaps gotten in, their Household Reserve might have been too much of a shock for us.

Pettygree: "Aye. Had they succeeded, I suspect the Berkshires would have had a prodigious mass of fugitives heading toward them; a very great trouble. We were lucky."

Mitchell: "True, but General, if KHAN is a student of the Parthians, then the rest of the enemy force awaits us back along our route of march. With the escarpment to our front and the Tugs in our rear, he may think we are trapped."

1. And now dear viewers we must even more seriously ponder the treachery of The Rajah of Bebara. It was he who led The Column into this valley blocked on one end by the sheer escarpment and on the other by his cunning associates. The pursuers have now become the pursued --- and --- they are trapped.

2. It was a matter of one turn that made the difference. As the Tugs closed, Buckingham ordered the line back. Only half the battalion previously had sufficient time to become ordered; the men arriving on the firing line first. Later arrivals were only scarcely in line when the retrograde order came in. They never had time to remove "disorder." When they fired, a -1D6 reduced their fire effectiveness.

3. As for KHAN'S plan, a 1D6 throw decided his final option at the last moment.
1, 2, 3, 6 = Parthian Shot. 4, 5 Charge home into the Sikhs. (The throw was 1)

4. Sikh Losses: 2x KIA and 1 wounded man taken to Dr. Watson.
5. 1st Mtn. Battery:  1x wounded man taken to Dr. Watson.

6. Red Sash Horsemen:
11x KIA, 9x wounded rode away, 7 wounded captured and 2 wounded recovered immediately.

7. Chapter 31 will appear in March.

8. Meanwhile, your remarks are welcome. Click on Comments below, if you please.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chapter 29: Lt. Gill Crosses The Rickety Bridge

Date: 15 October 1899
Time: Very Late Afternoon And Soon Tis Time To Make Camp
Specific Location: Entrance To The Secret Valley?
Situation: The Next Twelve Hours
Images Below Expand When Clicked. It's Good Form.
Previously, A Troop 2/9th Bengal Lancers cautiously approached a rickety bridge crossing a deep chasm whilst Lt. Gill silently decided his next move. "A Troop will await the arrival of B Troop and then cross the rope bridge, one man at a time. I will go first and signal to confirm that the men may follow. Once across the bridge the troop will move to a position sheltering behind the palisade gate. B Troop will remain at the near bridgehead and provide covering fire if the enemy appears."

Lt. Gill: "All set then, Haidari?"
Jemadar [Lt.] Haidari: "Yes. Troop A is posted ahead with B close behind but you should not go first."
Gill: "I shall lead from the front - as always. -- Right. Off I go."
Gill: "Sowars [cavalrymen]! Load and cover me."

They do.

Will the rope bridge hold as Lt. Gill slowly moves ahead?

He makes it across.

Arrives at the palisade gate.

He tries the latch.

The first sowar is called across. On a 2D6 throw of double ones, the bridge will yield -- perhaps causing the lancer to shockingly fall into the abyss.

The next man starts to cross. He aims his carbine to save a second should a foe appear.

 The bridge continues to hold as more cross.

Jemadar Haidari and B Troop continue to provide support as ordered by the Ressaldar [Squadron Commander] Gill.

A Troop opens the first gate and presses on. No trouble is seen or heard.

They ascend the Gate House and survey the area. Nothing. All quiet. A small mercy to be sure. Indeed the Gate House is overgrown and appears unused for years.

A runner is sent back across to report all is clear. This news will reach General Pettygree within minutes. He is not far behind with other senior officers watching the progress of Ressaldar Gill's  dismounted lancers.

As a result several companies were later sent across the bridge, The Column encamped, sentries were posted, the men went about their various duties, the evening meal was made, night fell, most bedded down and we now arrive at....


The Imperial Camp before sunrise. Seaforths guard the flank near the tower while a screen of 1st Sikhs guard the far edge of the camp. At the end of the valley a soft morning mist hovers above the distant shallow stream.

Shadows appear on the landscape. 

An unseen animal emerges from the mist, after a cool morning drink.

The Seaforths guarding the flank of the camp vigilantly go about their protective duties. Atop the tower a heliographer and his officer train perspective glasses out yonder.
Heliographer: "Sir, vedettes posted farthest out are not in sight and...."

Heliographer: "Horsemen are emerging from the mist."

Heliographer: "A lot of 'em Sir! Com'n this way an' increasing the pace!"
Standing a foot away Seaforth Captain Fraser remarks: "Aye. Tugs and our supposed ally, The Rajah of Bebara, is with them. Make no mistake, its treachery.  Bugler! Sound the alarm. "STAND TO!"

The bugle sounds while Captain Fraser rapidly bellows out orders.

Fraser: "BYRON! -- I SAY, Lt. Byron, get the laddies out of the tower and form up to give fire into the valley below. Sergeant Drummond. Dash down the hill and tell The General!"
Drummond: "Sah!" 
Closing Remarks:
1. This is going to spoil breakfast.
2. Seaforths and tentage kindly on loan from the celebrated collection of Der Alte Fritz.
3. Gate House and Rickety Bridge are from Miniature Building Authority.
4. Your remarks are very welcome below.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chapter 28: Arrival Before The Secret Valley Or?

Date: 15 October 1899
General Location: Beyond The Khyber Pass
Specific Location: Entrance To The Secret Valley?
Situation: Khyber Field Force After Two Week March From Bebara
View: Mostly Panoramic Vistas Accentuating Vast Openness/Distance
Singular Clicking Of Images Expands Them. It's Elementary, My Dear Fellow. Press On. There's Not A Minute To Lose!

After the march through The Khyber Pass, the 2/9th Bengal Lancers lead the way into a picturesque valley.

"Squadron! Wheel by the left. MAARCCHH!" Flankers follow to the sides.

The remainder of The Advance Guard arrives. The Seaforths are to the left and center whilst the Bombay Miners and Sappers screen the right. All is quiet. Peaceful sunny day too.


The Main Body starts to arrive; 66th Foot Berkshires to the left. The Advance Guard and flankers press on.

The Berkshires march farther in followed by The First Indian Mountain Battery. Times correspondent Pearson writes notes regarding the procession.

We've gone forward to join the Seaforth flankers for a moment. They've encountered an abandoned tower.

Now turn round, if you please looking back. The Berkshires are in the middle followed by the First Indian Mountain Battery, 1/9th Bengal Lancers, The Rajah of Bebara (Polish crimson flag) and the magnificent jumbos of The Elephant Battery swaying into view. Flankers to the sides protect The Column from surprise.

The rear of The Main Body.

The Supply Column arrives. Nothing to be nervous about you lot - for now. This does not help their tormented thoughts.

Never mind them. We need a closer look at the jumbos, right?

Better still! Jumbos and 1/9th Bengal Lancers. The Sowar with the casualty ring is actually in hospital back at Bebara.


The Rear Guard;  First Sikhs march behind the Supply Train as the Tenth Hussars cover the rear of The Column. 1/10th are in column whilst 2/10th screens the rear and slope top nearest you. On the left!

Another view of The Rear Guard with flankers out.


The Column is closing to the front, Seaforths at the head.

Officers to the front! Something is brewing methinks, don't you? That's Colonel Archibald Sinclair of the Seaforths looking at you. Behind him in sequence: Cavalry Brigadier "Blacky" Blackiston with binoculars, his ADC Major Grant Forsythe III, ADC to the General Major James Mitchell, General Pettygree 'imself and Times correspondent Pearson.

The Seaforths see nothing but a prodigous bird from the abandoned tower they occupied earlier. But....

A Troop 2/9th Bengal Lancers have encountered an escarpment and....

A closer view. "TROO-OUOP! DISMOU-OUNT!"

They walk cautiously forward for a better look.

While an unseen member of the class of aves glides and circles overhead. Heights high above or descending the sheer drop to the river below do not bother it, but these walking creatures are disturbing --- perhaps edible though. It's flight is silent and unobserved because....

A Troop's total attention is fixed to the immediate front. Lieutenant Gill draws his service revolver and....

  1. After the close-ups of Chapter 27, I thought to change to panoramic views to give a sense of the vastness of the terrain in which The Khyber Field Force is operating.
  2. It is also a means to advance our story via a leisurely march into the unknown.
  3. Some will remember the foe resides in The Secret or Hidden Valley beyond The Khyber Pass.
  4. The Imperials do not know if they have reached the entrance to the enemy homeland but the report A Troop will soon send back to the officers collecting at the head of The Column will advance that idea.
  5. Remember Sgt. Cutter's remark, "Is THIS bridge safe?" And Gunga Din's answer, "Oh, SAAFE S'ahib!"
  6. Would you cross now or call the engineers forward?
  7. What lies beyond the gate?
  8. The Seaforths are kindly on loan from the collection of Der Alte Fritz.
  9. The tower is currently for sale at "Michaels" where wooden bits and what nots are shelved for sale.
  10. Terrain cloth and river sections are from The Terrain Guy, lengths designed to owner's personal specifications.
  11. Miniature Building Authority built the gate, fence and rickety bridge.
  12. Your remarks are welcome. Look down now.