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.


Michael Mathews said...

A hard fight indeed. Lucky that no turf defending giant critters showed up to spoil the fight. But no bodies? Gentlemen of the era relieve us of hearing of the uglier part of warfare, but do we understand that there was nothing left to help identify the assailents? Anxious to hear what the Romanovs have to offer.

A J said...

Excellent, as always. It's good to see proper recognition of the important role medical services have in keeping a column in fighting trim. Now, what are those rascally Romanovs up to..?

ColCampbell50 said...


Excellent continuation of the story. I think your fortified camp would have surely impressed Mr. Churchill!


Anonymous said...

The tale is ripping along at quite a pace. I particularly liked seeing the dismounted cavalry [both Empire and Russian] and the close up of the tree in the photo of the sabretooth tigers.


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Better than my weekly issue of the Victor* when I was just a lad...


Peter Douglas said...

Stirring stuff

I love the table top -what do you use for the cloth cover? The figures are of course gorgeous.



Gallia said...

Terrain Guy in Texas made the terrain mat. He offers several sizes and you can request custom sizes too. We did. The one you see is part of a 6'x20'. The nice thing is one can place all kinds of things under it to make undulations and rises in elevation to look a little more natural.
Many thanks to viewers and commenters. I apprecaite your interest very much.
There are only five more chapters to go in Expedition to Alexandrapour.

Bob said...

Surely, God must be an Englishman. Carry on, good sir, stiff upper lip and all that rot. Bash those bloody Romanovs and send them packing! And try not to get yourself skewered along the way.