Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chapter 55: Into The Pass

Date: 8-12 July 1900
Location: An Unnamed Mountain Pass
Situation: Marching Deeper Into The Interior
Recommendation: See Chapter 54
Right Click Images To See More
Surajistan Field Force
The Battle of The Amla on June 30th. temporarily stopped General Pettygree's Surajistan Field Force from pursuing the Thugee Host. A halt of seven days was ordered to rest, bring up supplies and allow the lightly wounded to recover. On 8 July you may remember a singular incident occurred as the Imperials began crossing The Amla River. Let us briefly return to that day when....

8 JULY 1900
Soon after the Advance Guard crossed the Amla River, a Romanov officer was unexpectedly brought to Lt. Caddy RE. A state of war did not exist with the Romanovs so far as anyone knew at that time.

Lt. Caddy: "Who the deuce are you?"
Lucy: "Snorts and whinnies!"
Romanov Officer: "Kapitan Golitsyn.

Caddy: "Sir, may I inquire about your business here?"
Golitsyn: "I am to speak to the General Pettygree."
Caddy: "He is across the river which I pray you know."
Golitsyn: "Da (yes)"
Caddy: "Soon Sir -- when I can assemble an escort."

When circumstances permitted, Golitsyn was taken to General Pettygree not as a prisoner of war but rather as an uninvited guest. At the evening campfire....

Kapitan Golitsyn: "Your hospitality is appreciated."
General Pettygree: "A professional courtesy Sir. [All pause.] Shall I assume you were associated with the Tug attack on the 30th ultimo?"

Golitsyn: "A state of war does not exist between our two nations. We did not engage your force though several of my party were regrettably slain by your random artillery fire. I was near an explosion, apparently experienced a blackout and was left behind in the tumult of retreat. Your men found me."

Pettygree: "You are observers then?"

Golytsyn: "I can only say my government views the shocking increase in Thugee strength, their intractable fanaticism and many natural advantages of terrain as destabilizing in the region. Your survival keeps them in check and less able to to trouble our southern border with their malevolence. Should you be vanquished, the Czar must naturally seek means to reduce the menace."

Pettygree: "Well captain, I intend to end the menace by diplomacy or the bayonet. Meanwhile, there is the matter of your immediate future. In the morning you will accompany the party returning to Fort Grant with the wounded. I daresay our politicos will assist with your next destination."

After four days of marching the Advance Guard entered another mountain pass. The 2/10th Hussars are in the distance followed by 1st. Sikh piquets. Riders are coming in to report to Captain Khambatta.

Trooper Corey: "Captain Sachs' compliments Sir."
Captain Khambatta: "What news?"
Trooper Hamm: "Sir. No enemy in sight around the hairpin curve just ahead."

Accordingly the march continued. Khambatta's two piquet lines keep wary eyes looking in all directions. The Main Guard of twelve Sikhs reinforced by a screw gun are ready just behind to render immediate assistance if needed. The rest of the battalion follows in column of march.

Behind the battalion rides Colonel Preece and the greatly reduced 1/10th Hussars. The squadron commander, Captain Bartlett, remains in hospital. Preece has taken over designating it as his headquarters troop.

The hairpin turn is easily negotiated by the aforementioned units plus the 27th Bombay Miners and Sappers (dark khaki uniforms) and the leading company of the 2nd. Sikh Battalion (right center). Let's reposition to the rear of the 2nd. Sikhs now shall we?

The 2nd. Sikhs marching in two divisions are near full strength. The 1st. Mountain battery follows them.

A better view of the 2nd. Sikh Battalion and 1st Mountain Battery.

Following the light guns are three Jumbos limbered with two 15 Pounder rifles and one ancient 12 Pounder smoothbore.

As The Column marches around the hairpin curve, more Imperial units come into view. Following the Jumbo's and their heavy guns are the 66th Foot Berkshires, supply elements, the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders and the celebrated 9th Bengal Lancers. Where is General Pettygree?

He rides his grey stallion Express at the head of the Berkshires.

As we return to the Advance Guard and the infantry piquet, a critical aspect of mountain marching is....

 Flank protection and....

"Crowning the heights."

Measures such as these prevented surprise attacks and sniping at the vulnerable column especially the animals. Without sufficient numbers of them all would grind to a halt resulting in mission failure.

 It would be like....

Shooting fish in a barrel.

The head of The Column has come to a halt. Troopers Corey and Ham signalled Captain Sachs to come forward.

That's them behind cover (right center) looking over a slight rise of ground into the distance.

Captain Sachs: "What do you see troopers?"

Trooper Ham: "Begg'n yer pardon Sir, I can't say I know."

1. Attrition has affected every unit marching in The Surajistan Field Force. For example, the Berkshires have lost approximately 50%. It can be very easy to track losses, recovered wounded and reinforcements. Assign 1D6 per casualty marking the six possibilities with whatever makes sense to you. For example: 1 = KIA or Invalided Home, 2-4 = Remain in hospital and 5-6 Lightly Wounded Recovers. Results would be worse for those without modern medical assistance - for 1900 that is. Keep it generous though to keep your campaign going. 

2. An extremely useful book aimed at junior officers is, Lessons In Imperial Rule. Instructions For British Infantrymen On The Indian Frontier by General Sir Andrew Skeen. The abundance of information germane to Colonial gaming will be prodigiously relevant from skirmish tabletop games to anything larger. See:

3. Thank you for your interest. Comments are always welcome below.


Anonymous said...

Excellent work keeping the anticipation and tension going! I was expecting the column to come under fire the entire time.

Inspiration to keep working on the Colonials collection is appreciated!

Conrad Kinch said...

Fantastic work - your photographs always through me into a pit of despond. I shall never equal them.

Jacko said...

Great article ! I have a feeling I know what is over the hill :)

All the best


A J said...

Splendid work again, sir! I particularly like the firelight effect in the photos, and the companionable atmosphere it generates.

Larry Stehle said...

As usual, a pleasure and a joy to see and read. High Marks, Sir, for the campfire lit photos!!!

Stryker said...

Brilliant stuff as always!

Gallia said...

Thank you very much for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your interest and kind thoughts.

johnpreece said...

As soon as I saw the very first photo I thought,

'Aha General WAP is giving us an object lesson in moving a large force through enemy held hills.'

Great stuff and something all those young subs out there can study at their leisure.

The campfire is pretty awe inspiring too.

Mad Padre said...

This is amazing! I feel like I've stumbled into the middle of an old movie like Korda's The Four Feathers. And now I have 54 stories to read prior to this?!? Wow. Love this site. Blessings to it and it's inspire and quite mad creator.


Adelaide Gamer said...

The firelit scenes are fantastic. Makes one want to put on a billy of tea and swap a few tales from the frontier...

Gallia said...

Thank you again Sirs, for your kind and encouraging thoughts. I appreciate you taking time to converse very much.

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