Saturday, April 28, 2012

Chapter XV Terrible Battle Ends And

Date: 30 September to 20 October 1900
Location: Deeper Into Terra Incognita
Situation: The Next Three Weeks

Vital:  See Chapter XIV posted April 15, 2012 here:

Expedition To Alexandrapour
Colonel Lawford's Battle Narrative Continues

30 September 1900

"You may remember from my previous narrative...."

"The Gatling had just jammed and the foe was again at the zareba barrier of bushes thrusting spears within. We were fighting for our very existence. There would be no tomorrow for any of us if we failed to hold the line."

"I joined the wall with our mascot Brutus"

"The foe fought us bitterly and...."

"Somehow we drove them off. Miracle."

"Our horsemen returned to support us whilst another horde armed with rifles brandishing a red flag moved closer. Though this might be our end there was nothing else to do but brace up. Amidst our fallen comrades we fired again and again, hands singed from cruely hot rifle barrels. Our square was a dreadful ruin but we still had a chance to stay alive."

"Our cavalry too weak to charge dismounted to give covering fire."

"Then the enraged mass unexpectedly turned on them!"

"No time to dawdle. Our cavaliers rocketed back to their horses, remounted and rode away amidst bullets whistling above and between them. The square covered their retreat."

"It was the last act. This new foe had had enough and withdrew. As suddenly as it had come on, it departed. Thus, was battle ended and none too soon."

"Our effective strength was reduced by a shocking 44%! What would the morrow bring? Would there be a tomorrow?" [See Closing Remarks for losses.]

1-16 October 1900

"There were many unmolested tomorrows and we wisely used those days to improve our circumstances. I shall describe all this in a moment. Meanwhile, allow me to beg your forbearance to awaken within you several developing patterns making themselves known."

"The contemplative in me was aroused thinking how Terra Incognita was slowly revealing each of her singular novelties. Unique animal life was chief among these. Several species were certainly unknown. In some cases their large size or aggressive nature was of a higher magnitude than found elsewhere in Mafrica. Odd too was a growing worry that the largest were, if not impervious to our bullets but that they could withstand the damage of the .577 Snider bullet fired up to ten rounds a minute with little trouble."

"No people were thought to inhabit the region either. Certainly there had been no intelligence of indigenous peoples of any ethnicity here. Thus, the sudden appearance of a combination of at least four different manly cultures in their aggressive attack against us on the 30th was a shock. Clearly they were the most impressive and intractable of foes. Though beaten off, our effective strength had been alarmingly reduced by nearly 50%. Had their attacks been more coordinated, had our cavalry not threatened their flank on two occasions, we would have been overwhelmed and lost."

"It was therefore necessary to improve our defenses whilst waiting for the more lightly wounded to return to duty. The thorny bush zareba built on the 29th was enhanced by raising earthworks as described by Mr. Churchill in his recent history entitled The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War. Should the foe return, he would find overcoming us more difficult. Yet he did not return again."

"Continuous cavalry patrols sent in search of them found nothing including no detritus of war nor even burials. The last report on the 14th of October again stated, 'No sign of the foe. All trace of him is vanished.' Emptiness."

"As more men returned to duty, the thought bore upon me to resume the pursuit of the Romanov Expedition heading somewhere for the lost ancient city of Alexandrapour. It was imperative to do so. Yet there were still wounded men recovering in the camp incapable of marching. The decision was mine alone. Should we remain in camp awaiting more men to recover, return to Dongolo in failure or push on."

"Fortunately an unusual number of men returned to duty from medical care. Therefore, not without opposition from some of the officers, I decided the expedition would divide into two divisions. One would remain behind and one would continue the pursuit of the Romanovs to Alexandrapour. Was this folly or audacity? The answer would depend on the result."

"We marched out on the 16th of October. Captain Beatty RN was left in charge of the camp with his naval contingent, 3rd Sikhs, Gatling gun and recovering wounded. As I waived goodbye and good luck...."

"The Bedfords, our baggage and...."

"All the cavalry passed by heading into bright and cheery sunshine."

20 October 1900 - Four Days Later

"On the 20th. under stormy skies we came upon another of the many watercourses flowing though Terra Incognita. Scouts sent across to ascertain what they could about terrain ahead initially observed only a pair of predatory lions looking us over. Nothing more."

"The Column was halted at the edge of the stream."

"A fine male and female pair."

"The male excitedly roared at us. Then both hastily departed probably unwilling to engage us more closely."

"No. That was not the reason. They were fleeing in front of two Romanov horsemen galloping toward them. Romanovs - here?"

"Another surprise. One dismounted giving fire to his rear. At what was he shooting? The other rode hell for leather toward us."

"Soon the dismounted man remounted and galloped in our direction too. Our hussars accompanied his mate back across the stream to me."

"The reason for their flight soon became known. Chasing the Romanovs for dinner was an extraordinary pair of felines. They were large and muscular animals armed with unusually prodigious canines."

"Thinking better of continued pursuit, the angry pair broke off and disappeared into the forest nearby."

"I invited the Romanovs to accompany us back across the stream. It was curious why the leader agreed so readily. His name to my astonishment was Captain Tumarkin. I had heard of him before as have you dear reader from Colonel Boyle in that part of this monograph entitled The Spy." See

Lawford: "I am surprised to find you here Captain."

Tumarkin: "No surprise Colonel. Fate has brought us together. Let me tell you why."


1) Counting Imperial The Cost:
On 30 September of 72 combatants engaged, 32 were wounded.
On 1 October 43 + Brutus reported for duty.
KIA = Killed in action = 6.
Hospital = Under medical care = 22.
RTD = Lightly wounded; returned to duty = 4.

Col. Lawford and Nazim {2}: 2 On Duty
Mascot Brutus was unscathed.

9th Bengal Lancers {8}: 1 KIA. 3 Hospital, 1 RTD = 4 On Duty.
10th Hussars {6}: 1 KIA, 2 Hospital, 0 RTD = 3 On Duty.

Bedfords {25}: 1 KIA, 8 Hospital, 1 RTD = 16 On Duty.
3rd Sikhs {13}: 2 KIA, 3 Hospital, 1 RTD = 8 On Duty.
Naval Contingent {18}: 2 KIA, 6 Hospital, 1 RTD = 10 On Duty.

2) Medical Rules: 1D6/casualty the day after the battle.
1 = KIA, 2-5 = In Hospital, 6 Return to duty.
D6s are thrown every fortnight for men still in hospital. The next cast was on October 15, 1900 (April 15, 2012) campaign time.

3) Next medical dice throws allowed return to duty on a 5 or 6. This is a convention to allow more miniatures to return to action. The hope is to prevent emasculation of the Column and the story. Fortunately it worked. April 15th. dice throws allowed twelve more Imperials to return to duty. Amazingly no one died of wounds though there was a 16% chance of that happening. This left ten still in hospital. Thus, the decision to march deeper into Terra Incognita was easier to make though still a dangerous one.

Captain Beatty left behind in the camp will throw medical dice again on 29 April 2012.

4) Left to right: Bill P. (yours truly), Todd B., John B. and Chuck L. I commanded the Imperial cavalry whilst Chuck stoutly fought within the square. Good form to keep the story going Chuck! Todd and John admirably commanded the mysterious, tenacious and brave waves of foes.

Wot's that you lot? No! I did not leave Chuck behind so I could ride off with dispatches! I just prefer cavalry. That's all.

5) The motion picture soundtrack for The Mummy (1999) fits right in when painting, gaming or pondering Colonial things. Kind of stimulating like caffeine.

6) 28mm Foundry and Copplestone natives appeared in the game from the lovely collection of Todd B.

7) The lions and saber tooths were attractively and artfully painted by John B.

8) Your comments are sought and welcomed below, if you please.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chapter XIV: Terrible Battle

Date: 29-30 September 1900
Location: Into Open Country
Situation: Shocking Attack Upon Us

See Chapter XIII posted April 1, 2012 here:
Expedition To Alexandrapour
Colonel Lawford's Narrative Perseveres 

"On the 29th of September we abandoned Great Elk Meadow because it was deemed too dangerous to encamp there. Though picturesque with its lake, trees and verdant grassland, it would not allow the men a restful night given aroused animals and insects of a startling size there. Night would bring imagined and real terrors which would be too much within the enclosure. It would be better to encamp in open country. So we marched out."

"One never knows what fate prepares for those who contemplate it. Lucky are the people who rarely give such notions thought. They carry on apparently peacefully accepting and working with what each hour ahead brings them. Those in command can not be so blasé about the future. The officer commanding must always plan a proper response should trouble appear at any moment from any direction and not dither about it either. His considered judgement and right decisions will ultimately bring mission failure or success, disgrace or accolades and hopefully good stories at the bar."

"I rode just behind the cavalry screen on the march out. We had not gone a quarter mile before a new and startling event presented itself which might ruin everything. Had we exited the meadow too soon? Was it more defensible there with cover offered by wooded ridges or would open country with better tactical control and enhanced fields of fire be better?"

"The reason stood before us a half mile distant. In the open country beyond a band of dark skinned men armed with shields and throwing spears appeared before us. I rose my hand to halt the column."

"More appeared from behind a rise in the ground. Their vigorous gestures and repetitive rhythmic deep bass chant left no one in doubt about their displeasure. 'Mah Kowah AHN! - Mah Kowah AHN! - Mah Kowah AHN - AHN!' --- Terra Incognita was fast becoming a very disagreeable place."

"No time for dithering. The lancers were ordered to see them off."

"It worked. Was it too easy? Were the lancers being lured into a trap by a classic Parthian maneuver? The horde sped away curving to the right entering a defile. Fortunately Subedar Pratrap Singh halted the troop and watched them go. It would be too dangerous to follow them into the narrow gap."


"No further sightings were made of the warriors who appeared so suddenly yesterday. The afternoon was late by that time. Darkness would soon descend. The column was ordered to a nearby hilltop to form square."

"The men immediately set about cutting vegetation to be placed on the outside augmented by boxes of stores and our wagon that was overturned. We had good fields of fire in all directions and certainly locum tenens. Let them come in the morning if they dared. We controlled the hilltop and were ready."

"And on the 30th., they did come."

"Directly and forcefully into a corner of the square. We rapid-fired and still they came on. Through the smoke I could see more natives running towards us in the lowland ignoring our cavalry ready to take them in flank."

"The diminished wave fought through the zareba engaging our men in hand to hand combat. The foe was eventually driven away after suffering gruesome casualties. We were not unscathed however and a new assault was heading straight for a different side of the square. Officers and NCOs filled gaps in the line, the men reloaded and all prepared to fire. In those paltry few moments before the next storm broke on our wall...."

"Subedar Pratrap Singh's lancers with the hussars charged home on another band of warriors."

"Our cavalry charging without the advantage of ground lost more than half their numbers but dispatched the foe. The square was saved from being attacked by two war bands at the same time. I regret to say the Subedar was wounded by a stabbing spear."

"The cavalry rode off to reform when the next wave hit the square. Had they not done so a fourth enemy group (not in view to the right) armed with small bows probably would have cut down all our remaining horsemen in an instant." [See the bowmen in the upper right of the next image.]

"Men were pulled from unengaged walls of the square to help repel the new wave of attackers."

"It was the crisis of the battle. Amidst the chaos and noise of orders to fire, pot that fellow, stand your ground you malingering sojer' we continuously overheard the enemy's deep war chant, 'Mah Kowah AHN! - Mah Kowah AHN! - Mah Kowah AHN - AHN!' I drew my service revolver to assist where needed. Somehow we beat them off but...."

"Three new enemy forces were gathering to take us down. Our numbers by this time were much reduced. By half? No time to think about it. We fired again and again."

"Once more. Come on then! Fire!"

"It is strange to calmly contemplate potential and shocking defeat amidst the chaos of battle. For some reason my brain silently retold a portion of Shakespeare's Saint Crispen's Day speech when Westmoreland said, 'O that we now had here but one ten thousand of those men in England that do no work to-day!'

"And King Henry V answered, 'No, my fair cousin; If we are marked to die, we are now to do our country loss; and if to live, the fewer men, the greater share of honour. God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more."

"The bowmen were at the zareba.
Once more into the breach."

"And the Gatling jammed."

'Mah Kowah AHN! - Mah Kowah AHN! - Mah Kowah AHN - AHN!'

Closing Remarks
1. This was an actual war game using Peter Gilder's Sudan Rules with modifications for increased movement and enhanced opportunities for natives on the reaction table to be more aggressive. For the latter we allowed the native player to rethrow on the reaction table if the first reaction was unsatisfactory from the native perspective. This rethrow governed no matter the result.

2. The Gatling really did jam.

3. To be continued with credits to our players on 29 April 2012. Maybe!

4. And at Comments below - you say?

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Have a blessed Easter Season.
There are some remarks off to the left.
Very Respectfully,