Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chapter XIX: Battle Beside Lake Alexandrapour

Date: 1-5 November 1900
Locations: Lake Alexandrapour
Situation: Battle of Lake Alexandrapour
See Chapter XVIII posted 28 June 2012 here:
Especially Act III.

Battle of Lake Alexandrapour

I sensed Captain Tumarkin's enthralling story must now be nearing its climax. We knew he with a companion had left the Romanov Expedition hastily retracing their route of march back to The Legation City of Dongolo. However, Dongolo was weeks to the South. Upon discovering us several hours ago, he abandoned going there desiring our assistance in some as yet unexplained fashion. As you know he wanted to completely tell his story before requesting something from us. I suspected it had to do with the battle he began describing previously.

Lt. Col. Lawford: "Pray continue your story."

Captain Tumarkin: "The arid region through which we marched for several days eventually ended. When we topped another hill, a massive jungle incredibly sprouted from the ground in the near distance. At first we did not know...."

Tumarkin: "A hidden river lazily watered the landscape with rich nutrients. Vegetation abounded in extraordinary and striking verdant luxuriance. Another giant blood stone (upper left of the image) told us our march to Alexandrapour was true. Sir Richard Stirling remarked...."

Stirling: "The late Professor Grenville and I briefly penetrated this jungle before we precipitously retreated. Actually no! We fled for good cause to the escarpment camp where you found us. There are classical structures and a singular clue that caused the Professor to hope the lost ancient City of Alexandrapour might be hidden just ahead."

Alexandra: "Vat' caused you to abandon search so suddenly?"

Stirling: "Creatures Countess such as no European has ever seen alive. There was also recent evidence of a people whose horrific pagan beliefs hearken back to a shocking primitive era we know little about."

Colonel Villainovich: "Our automatic guns and rifles give us an overwhelming advantage Sir Richard."

Stirling: "Did they give you the advantage when the Professor's camp was trampled and three men were crushed including the Professor himself at night a few days ago?

Tumarkin: "You may imagine Colonel Villainovich would have nothing to do with a retreat with the goal possibly so near at hand."

Lawford: "Intriguing! When did the battle you spoke of moments ago commence?"

Tumarkin: "Not long afterwards. Before entering the jungle, we encamped nearby along the shore of what we named Lake Alexandrapour. Colonel Villanovich understandably preferred to bivouac there to benefit by long and open fields of fire. A congested jungle camp could not provide the same advantage. Vegetaton would limit our line of sight in every direction."

"As mentioned previously, our cavalry rode to the same rise of ground from which we had first observed the jungle with orders to keep watch. Moments later the Battle of Lake Alexandrapour began."

Tumarkin: "The troop dismounted to fire carbines to slow the enemy."

Tumarkin: "One man returned to camp with news that...."

Tumarkin: "An apparently hostile force was approaching."

Tumarkin: "One enemy group began racing toward the Gorlov automatic gun."

Tumarkin: "The rush surprised us. The Gorlov hardly had time to chatter and spit before the crew was cut down. (See upper right.) Our horsemen were so shocked they abandoned their horses and retreated to the camp to join a firing line forming there."

Tumarkin: "More enemy appeared and fired."

Tumarkin: "We fell back to consolidate and gain some advantage of cover."

Tumarkin: "All appeared lost. It all happened so fast!"

Tumarkin: "Even our workmen picked up their implements to fight but...."

Tumarkin: "Failed and fled to a then unknown fate."

Tumarkin: "We were compressed and tightly oppressed from two sides plus the left rear fighting for our very survival. Indeed some of us fought hand to hand!"

Lawford: "Shocking! How did it end?

Tumarkin: Our soldiers on the left managed to better the foe and pushed them back."

Tumarkin: "They routed pursued by our maddened men."

Tumarkin: "A fine thing but consider the foe to our left rear." (Left bottom)

Tumarkin: "There was only one thing to do. Fall back into an even tighter formation, use as much cover as possible and charge the enemy in our rear."

Tumarkin: "It was man to man. Amazingly we prevailed."

Tumarkin: "And that foe routed too. Fortunately this time we did not pursue. After this, the remainder of the terribly weakened enemy became disheartened and sullenly withdrew. Somehow we survived."

Tumarkin: "Later Colonel Villainovich assembled our survivors. Roll call found four dead plus eighteen wounded. Of the latter seven were able to return to light duties. Forty-three enemy casualties were left on the field."

Tumarkin: "Colonel Villainovich called to me saying...."

Villainovich "In view of our casualties whom we can not abandon and since we may have reached our goal, I order you to return to Dongolo. Report what has happened to Consul-General Kuragin. Ask him to send a strong relief column. He might even consider asking the Germans, British or Americans to help. Our fate, our very lives, may depend on you and his response. I can spare only one man to accompany you. --- God grant you success."

Tumarkin: "Not long afterwards, we departed."

Tumarkin: "As we rode over that familiar rise of ground, we dared not look back."

Tumarkin: "Five days later providence or fate allowed us to find you."

Tumarkin: "Whereupon I asked to join your column, tell my story and afterwards ask a question of the greatest importance."


You will recall my mission was to pursue the Romanov Party to ascertain their proceedings and if Alexandrapour was found, to discover it's importance. As related already, three previous expeditions had grievously failed; Ryder's of 1879, Sutherland's in 1892 and the late Professor Grenville's in the past fortnight. No one from the first two parties survived. Time would tell if the Romanovs or any of us would make the return trip to civilization to win indifference or accolades from science, governments or society.

The expedition led by Colonel Villanovich and Countess Alexandra now also appeared to be in peril. Vigorously attacked by nature and man over several weeks, their numbers were much reduced. Their vaunted automatic guns and numerous rifles did not and could not prevent their atrophied condition.

Captain Tumarkin finally appealed to me as a fellow European to add our firepower to that of his countrymen. Naturally I agreed. Therefore, he logically abandoned his orders to return to Dongolo to secure help. Dongolo was weeks away and the return trip even more. We were closest within five days at a normal pace to the Romanov lake camp. We would force march and become their relief column.

Lawford: "I agree to assist you in the name of humanity."

Tumarkin: "Thank you Colonel."

Lawford: "S'gnt Mjr!"

RSM Maxfield: "ZUR."

Lawford: "Halt the men to rest and eat here. We'll resume the march when the moon is overhead -- continuing till dawn."

Maxfield: "Very good Sir."

Lawford: "For the next four nights we force marched resting during the heat of the day. It was imperative we arrive at Lake Alexandrapour as soon as possible."

Lawford: "We gained one day. Would we be on time or too late to help?"

Lawford: "We arrived on the fourth day. Something appeared terribly amiss. Scouts rode into a curiously vacant camp to investigate."

Tumarkin: "It looks deserted."

Lawford: "Column. HAH--AHLT!"

Lawford: "It was totally abandoned. Campfires were days cold and tentage was strangely undisturbed."

Lawford: "Not one soul was found in the camp. Had Terra Incognita consumed another trespassing expedition? Every man, beast and weapon had vanished."


(1) Lake Alexandrapour Losses
Of 75 natives were 43 were lost.
Of 46 Imperials, 4 were killed in action, 11 remain under medical care and 7 recovered.
Of 8 native diggers, one became a casualty.
Amazingly not one personality miniature suffered a hit. Fate.

(2) Thank you Chuck L. and Todd B. for supplying most of the jungle vegetation. You will get to see more of it in Chapter XX. They have amazingly gorgeous and diverse collections. Without them, our images would be very sparse indeed.

(3) Randy F. supplied our colorful native workmen plus the staff of Mr. Hicks, Mogambo and Hastooch to oversee them.

(4) Tentage is from Miniature Building Authority and Architects of War. For the latter see  Ground cover is from The Terrain Guy. The Gorlov is from Askari Miniatures. It is the Russian version of the Gatling Gun.

(5) Chapter XX ends the story of Expedition To Alexandrapour though there may be an Epilogue if needed.

(6) If you please, place your remarks below at the word "Comments."