Monday, 29 August 2022

This Ain't Zululand: Part Four

A Delayed Post:

I'm a bit behind with posts & write-ups thanks to the Reenactment Season (Evesham, Bosworth etc. and associated injuries), heat-induced lethargy, a bout of Covid which I'm still shaking off (dagnabbit) and family-issue wrangling, but here we go. Thoughts on a replay of the previous TAZ fights, but from the Other Side of The Hill.... 

Playing At Home.

Same set up and scenario as the first battle, this time playing as the Great King's general. My job is to stop the British achieving their objective while not losing too many men.

The reason for this (apart from the fun) is to play around with a situation where it is MY guys who are hidden, to see how I can manage a "secret plan" of my own with limited data AND how to manage the enemy's reaction to what they find. There may be some seat-of-the-pants flying but should be fun.

Decisions, decisions:

My first decision will be how to deploy my forces.

It doesn't take a military genius to see that the British will be most vulnerable if their convoy straggles (test throws will be as before, and as we have seen before, so this cannot be guaranteed) or when they are crossing the Drift (or drifts). Having men to hand to take advantage in these situations would be good, but placing them so makes their discovery by enemy scouts more likely.

Scattering my regiments will allow wider coverage. However, this leaves them open to defeat in detail and increases the chances of independent action on the part of my sub-commanders. Placing troops off-table keeps them safe, but makes them difficult to summon - and again risks independent action on their part. Also, do I expose certain troops to view (and thus fire) in the hope this affects enemy decisions ? Hmmm....

Once the British enter the field (via the track) they will be making their own decisions as to what to do. This will be hidden from me since while my general can guess at their route, how they actually approach and how (i.e. in column of march, deployed for battle or in mobile square) will only be "known to me" if I chose to place the general in Line of Sight of the column (i.e. close to the action) or when a report (Messenger) mentions this (see below: "Incoming Data").

The enemy "decision" will certainly affect the success of any moves on my part. Their decision may also affect how any of my sub-commanders react.

One thing I will need to decide is where to place my general. Ideally he should be able to see both the enemy and his own army. He should also be in a position to signal to his men so as to exert some kind of control over the action. However......

Given that on the two previous occasions the "Home Side" achieved their objective with just the AI as player (albeit at a cost) I feel that I should handicap myself. My general will therefore start the game in the kraal (let's say he is having "second breakfast"; one of the privileges of rank) and will not move from there until there is the sound of heavy gunfire (say at least a whole British company) within 36 inches of the kraal or a message arrives (see below) indicating that the enemy are here in force.

Incoming Data: 

Unless the enemy is in clear sight I won't know what they are doing unless informed by messenger. Unlike the enemy horse in the previous games I do not have separate Scout Units. Instead my units must spot the enemy, then send messengers to my general. These messengers are not professional soldiers (these are the junior ranks of the units - perhaps rookies or even herd boys). The process will work like this.

On an enemy force approaching within sight and within twenty four inches of a friendly unit or scout a test is made per friendly move on the table below to see if a messenger is despatched:

We then assess how long, in theory, a messenger will take to reach the General and test once that time is expended to see if the message has been delayed.
 

Once the message has arrived we test again on the table below to ascertain how good the data sent actually is.


Summoning /Activating Troops:

On-table troops will be activated in the normal way  - i.e. their commanders will react to messages, pre-arranged signals, react to ad hoc decision tests with regards changing situations and standing orders etc. etc. However, off-table troops must either have specific instructions as when to enter (written before play) or must be summoned by signal or messenger. They will NOT enter the table without orders. 

Messengers sent by the general will be subject to the usual problems/factors of messengers, with a standard "Delay test". Messages must be written out and must be interpreted based on the actual words - not the intentions of the writer.

Signals, if used, must have a pre-set meaning (written down at the start of the game, "e.g. On signal march to location of smoke", "On signal; march to Black Calf Kopje",  "On signal; march to Black Calf Kopje, attacking any enemy seen en route"etc.). Their implementation may be subject to a "Delay Test". Once on the field they will be subject to normal sub-commander reaction tests.

Pre-set instructions must be specific (e.g. "If many guns are heard march to them", "March to Black Cow Kopje when the sun is highest", "March to any Kopje from which I signal with smoke", "March to the Drift" etc.)  with a supplemental instruction if desired (e.g. "If many guns are heard march to them. Attack any enemy seen."  etc.).


Summary:  

Yet another "How Can I Introduce FoW into my Games experiment. OK, a lot of tables there, but I want to see how I can manage (or mismanage) on limited data. Playthrough next....



Sunday, 24 July 2022

"This Ain't Zululand" Three.

The Empire Snaps Back....

Recap:

After their reverse the British rest up for a day, plan and count the cost of the battle.

The butcher's bill from the last encounter was bad from the British point of view. None of the men caught outside the wagon perimeter, overrun (or left when the companies on Black Cow Kopje were pushed back) survived.

Some eighty men, including six officers and four sergeants, were lost by the Regulars; the bulk from Shoreham and Fairbrother's companies. The British have about 18 wounded, six of whom are fit for basic duties.

The Auxiliary foot lost twelve men dead and about the same number wounded (but these only lightly; those more badly injured and unable to make off were "dealt with" by the enemy).

Casualties among the Great King's men were judged to be around the three hundred mark. With almost all wounds coming from the rifles most of these may regarded as hors de combat for the next day. These are SERIOUS losses for an army used to slapping their neighbours at little cost to themselves.

[My usual "post-battle accounting system" was used here; see my "A Word About Casualties" post]

However, it is known that the Great King's army has a tradition of Shigaba Tha Cickewa ("Constant Replenishment") of it's Immortal Regiments. Veteran soldiers ("Lions of the Loins") lost are replaced by warriors from experienced "sister regiments" ("The Bull's Head" Fahwini) of the same Hansi who have proved themselves in battle. Such "promoted" troops are then replaced by drafts from the youngest sister regiments ("The Horns and Wings"), who in turn have their numbers made up by the older and bolder herd boys, hunters, scouts and snuff boys who accompany the army.

The British will still have a fight on their hands if they come again.

British Plans:

It is decided that, after a day's rest, the Column will advance - this time in hollow square - to complete the mission. It is unclear if the Great King's regiments are still in the vicinity. If the enemy are present they can perhaps be drawn into fighting to their disadvantage. 


The Great King's Plans:

Who knows.....?

Technical:

I felt that the game perhaps developed too quickly last time (in game terms, rather than realistically), to the disadvantage of the Great King. I'm therefore using a 1x12D for the Scouting and Off-Table Tests with a 12 prompting a reaction this time to see how that works.

Like the last game there will likely be a LOT of ad hoc Decision Tests by detached British units and the local forces. When such a test is deemed necessary/appropriate/has taken place I will note this in the narrative (unless otherwise mentioned in the text itself) with the following [DT] annotation. 

Reaction Tests called for my morale rules will be mentioned in the text, but not highlighted since they are not "Solo Play" procedures.



The Game:

The British move off, in hollow square this time, with Dunsfold's horse screening and scouting..

Three moves into the game a detachment senses something suspicious in the woodland by the river, west of Black Cow Kopje and withdraw up the hill to observe [DT]. The scouts do not at this time alert the Column [DT] as they are uncertain.

Next move the noises and movement reveal themselves as.......

Some foraging goats...

The scouts move back down the hill [DT] and investigate the woods properly, before heading for the main drift.

By now detachments of Dunsfold's Scouts have checked and established pickets on Black Bull and Black Calf Kopjes (to observe for any off-table movement from the east). Another detachment has crossed the Trail Drift and starts checking the patches of woodland beyond. [All DT-led]

Dunsfold's detachment and another section begin to scout out the riverside woods near the small drift. [DT]



Next move proceeds without event. Then, as the lead elements of the actual wagon column reach and cross the Trail Drift one of the scout units sees something suspicious in one of the east bank river woodland patches. They stay in place to watch developments [DT].

At the same time a cloud of dust can be seen entering the field from the southern west side. There is nothing specific to be alarmed about yet, but the column will be at it's most vulnerable while crossing the Drift, so it is good to be cautious.

On the next turn the two leading infantry companies and the British Commander himself cross the Drift.

 

The picket on Black Calf can see dust clouds (off table) to the east but the other seen dust clouds do not move. The scouts on the west side of the river check the woodland patches.

As the slow-moving convoy begins to cross the Drift the British redeploy to screen against the possible dust cloud threats. Again there is no movement from the dust clouds.

Meanwhile I realise that not only is the convoy is getting spread out at the drift (and that there is a snarl-up of wagons, troops and scouts on the east side of the river) but that there are now too many companies stranded on that side if an attack comes from the west.

The cavalry (lancers) here seem to have got bored - or maybe they want to move to support the scouts at the woodland (who knows?) and have moved further north than I would have liked. [Lancer commander DT]



I deploy the two companies I have on the west bank to meet any threat, but am nervous - despite the nearby, western woodland patches having been scouted and declared safe (there are still the table edges - and no high ground nearby to see off-table). The scouts here push ahead. 

The scouts by the woodland dust cloud have a decision to make; enter and investigate the woods - and risk being attacked at close range or watch and wait.

They decide [DT] to enter the woods and discover.....

Catastrophe !! (??)

[A card draw; Red King -  thirteen regiments]

A huge mass of men rise from concealment in the woodland undergrowth and the riverside bushes and reeds and surge forward. Luckily they seem as surprised as the scouts (who scuttle back towards the rear of the convoy - clearing the Line of Fire of the redcoated escort companies) and simply deploy in the open and shuffle themselves into order. However, this is a shock!

Just to make matters worse; the scouts on the west side of the river have seen something suspicious in the donga fronting them and the dust cloud in the south east (still concealed from clear view by a rise in the ground) moves towards my troops at the west side of the Drift.

In the next British move the Lancers turn and gallop back to the main line of redcoats and dismount, pulling out their carbines . Dunsfold dismounts his group by the wood and does the same [All DTs].

 



Luckily the British convoy guards on the north flank are already deployed for action, and the hesitation by the suddenly visible enemy is a godsend. It's longish range, but the British open fire on the mass of enemy facing them. The various company commanders make sudden decisions [No central command here - so ad hoc reactions all round] but a reasonable, if ragged, perimeter forms.

In their next move the Great King's Fahwini rush towards the British lines in a mass - but their leading unit is slowed by having to get rid of the confusion sown by the initial British volley. Thus they do not reach the British line - leaving themselves open to volley fire at close range next move.

On the west bank a swarm of Great King's regiments emerge from the donga, panicking the scouts there, who flee to join their fellows near the drift woodland, and sweep towards the British column head[DT]


The Gatling Gun is unlimbered [DT] and the wagons that have crossed the river are hastily lined up to provide some basic cover.

On the east bank the British open fire, while still trying to secure their flanks by moving units around. The Great King's casualties are considerable and the enemy centre right and right wing are stalled. However, next move their left wing sweeps over the slopes of Black Bull Kopje to outflank the British line, while one of their left centre regiments crashes into the redcoats. The British company contacted takes serious casualties and is pushed back.

Meanwhile the eastern dust clouds move towards the kopjes.

But next British move the volleys crash out again. Dunsfold and a few of his scouts hold their position at the edge of the river elbow woods and fire into the enemy flank [DT]. The rightmost regiment of the Great King's army, taking casualties from front and side, breaks, a neighbouring unit pulls back in shock - and the regiment that had charged home on the British line is battered by close range fire and likely to reel back soon. The enemy bodies are taking punishment from the rifle fire. 

However, the scouts over on the eastern kopjes panic as the Fahwini there sweep across the slopes. The riders rush to the rear; in turn alarming the Lancers, who also withdraw. [All DTs] The British right is looking badly exposed, and I have a bad feeling about this.


Over on the west bank, with one company held back to cover the dust cloud hovering in the south east, the Gatling and the other companies fire from the cover of the wagons. The lead Fahwi is halted, taking casualties, but the remainder will likely soon push through and past it to crash into the little "bridgehead" on this side of the river. 

Just to make matters worse the scouts here panic too - and ride back (against the traffic) over the drift and eastwards.

The next move is vital. On the west side of the drift the Gatling Gun is overrun and the crew killed. While the Great King's men at the wagons cause casualties among the British they in turn are forced back by bayonet and rifle fire. The next British move causes more casualties and disruption among the Fahwini, some fall back, but it feels like it's only moments until the British here will be overwhelmed.


On the east side of the river the British line takes casualties from hand to hand fighting and recoils. The native auxiliaries, hit in the flank, break; but the close range rifle fire also breaks a couple of the Great King's regiments. The fighting here seems more even.

However....

Screened by the units fighting the redcoats, four fresh enemy regiments are now swinging past the right flank of the British. The scouts in front of them panic and the Lancers hesitate[DT] . It looks like these hostile units may well pivot round towards Black Cow Kopje - cutting off the British retreat.   

Meanwhile the dust clouds generally move forwards [DT]- with the one south west of the drift proving to be potentially another six regiments !!  This actually brings out only four - the remaining elements of the Great King's army. All of his regiments are now deployed.

This looks like endgame for the British on the west bank. Next move the British here have had enough, and they start pulling back across the drift - jostling with the panicking wagoneers [DT].

On the east side the British consolidate their line as the bulk of the enemy hesitate. Another volley further discomforts the Fahwini in the centre, then the Lancers finally act, and charge the faltering Snake Regiment on the enemy left centre, breaking them.

The next move the Kings' men hover threateningly on the west bank, but do not close - nursing their wounds and reorganising [DT]. This gives the British breathing space enough to form line so as to control the river crossing.

On the east bank the regiments also try to reorganise and rally. It is difficult to tell, but it looks as if the British volleys have taken the fight out of some of the regiments.

On the other hand the British are in a pickle. The wagon train is in confusion and about a quarter has been lost. Almost all of the native auxiliaries are now fleeing the field. The British line of retreat is threatened, with some companies having been nastily mauled.


It looks like a draw is on the cards; the British being unable to fulfil their mission, the Great King's army unable or unwilling to charge into the face of the volleys again and finish the job.

However, as the British try to move their remaining wagons back, off trail, one breaks a wheel (the remaining ammunition wagon) and an ox goes lame on one of the other wagons. Not good.

The cavalry charge has panicked the enemy centre on the east bank, giving a breathing space, but the volleys from the line companies cause minimal disruption.

Dunsfold's exposed troopers by the elbow woods pull back to the main column [DT].

On the west bank the Great King's men surge across the drift [DT], catching some wagons marooned there, but the warriors will still be wading across during the British turn, so are likely to be met with gunfire before they can close.

On the east bank the Great King's right wing holds, the centre breaks as the panic from the cavalry charge spreads, but the left wing of his force pushes south - still threatening to envelope the British line. 

Next move the British companies guarding the drift open rapid volley fire at close range at the enemy crossing the ford; tearing the leading Fahwi apart and breaking it. This unit rushes back though the supporting regiments, sowing disruption. The drift is holding.

Any enemy advance on the east bank has likewise been stalled by volleys. A British company races to occupy Black Cow Kopje to prevent the enemy left wing from taking it. Dunsfold is sent in support. The reminder of the wagon train pushes slowly south.

Meanwhile, on the east bank the Great King's centre, having taken enough from the British volleys, pulls back to Black Bull Kopje. The King's general has lost heart and he pulls back the right wing[DT] . Likewise the enemy left wing commander[DT] whose men have been unsettled by the breaking regiments and the presence of the cavalry. The fight seems to have gone out of the Great King's regiments on the east bank, with the volleys and cavalry having taken their toll.  

But suddenly disaster for the British; a mass attack across the drift by the Great King's men [DT] leads to a vicious melee, and the British companies there are pushed back with severe losses. This could be a game changer - or the last throw of the dice for the Great King's warriors.

It is the British turn - and this will be key.

They fall back and regroup successfully - leaving (sacrificing?) the companies at the drift to try to stem the flow of enemy here. These companies slow the enemy advance (next enemy move), but suffer badly and are broken by the action.

This is enough, perhaps, for the British main force. The sacrifice at the drift has bought time, so in the next British turn almost two full companies can pound the leading elements of the west bank Great King's force with close range rapid volleys. This they do, breaking the lead Fahwi, which in turn runs though its supports, breaking these in turn.



The British force now has a good front, with it's left protected by the river, and a right made up of the companies occupying the crest of Black Cow Kopje. Both front and side of the British position have clear lines of fire before them of between 400 and 800 yards; plenty of room to blunt a charge. 


This seems to be it. The Great King's general has ordered his troops of his right wing to hold, and not pursue as the British seem to be pulling back [DT]. Those regiments which have just crossed the drift halt, in accordance with his signals.

The remainder of his army (elements still on or those from the west bank broken after crossing the drift and his centre) are recovering their order or are still in flight. His left is wavering, but currently steady, having pulled back to long range. 

The Brits pull back unmolested. Endgame...

Result and Butcher's Bill:

So far as the Great King's men are concerned they have again driven back the supposedly invincible Red Soldiers. For them it is a victory.

But at a cost. Today's losses to the Great King are 192; dead on the field and 168 seriously wounded, plus about 160 other wounded. Coupled with losses from the previous battle this is serious; about five Fahwini of experienced troops.

The British lost about seventy Line Company men dead today (including eight officers), mainly on the west bank, at the drift and when the enemy's centre caught a company in the flank. They have about eighteen seriously wounded (as before, any wounded men overrun by the enemy were swiftly despatched) and about 30 other wounded. The column also lost twenty four native auxiliaries dead and about twelve walking wounded.

Fourteen wagoneers/drivers and the Gatling Gun crew were lost. ALL of the regimental ammunition wagons were lost.

On this expedition the British have lost the equivalent of two companies of Line Troops and about half their native foot. They have lost to the enemy most of their wagons, plus about two hundred rifles and masses of ammunition. Not good at ALL....


Summary:

Another exciting and unpredictable little game.

The reduction in the likelihood of a PAP activating was a good move, and certainly worked in the Great King's favour. The "ambush" nearly came off - again the Brits were only saved by the devastating power of their close-range rifle volleys. 

The chaos at the drift was nearly enough to tip the balance in the Great King's favour, but not quite.

Could a more forceful approach by the Great King's general once the British had been pushed back across the river have led to greater British losses? Perhaps. Had his left wing not already shown signs of wavering, and had they been pushed south of Black Cow Kopje to cut off the British retreat I would have said possibly "yes". 

But on balance, with much of his army already having broken once, a proportion showing clear unease (having taken severe, and in the Great King's army's terms, extraordinarily high, casualties) I don't think he was wrong to call it a day - especially as he had already seen the effect the volleys and the British cavalry had had on his men. He would also have been unaware that the British troops had been left with only the ammunition they carried with them.

Politically too, wiping the column out - complete with a "Famous Last Stand" to exercise the British breakfast table - would guarantee the British coming back mob-handed and bent on revenge.

Both sides have learned a lesson. Perhaps (via the good offices of Commissioner Sanders - and some firm telegrams from the neighbouring French and German Protectorates) some accommodation can be reached between The Great King and "The Old Woman Across The Water". We shall see......

As always, queries and comments welcome. 





  
 




Thursday, 14 July 2022

"This Ain't Zululand" Two: The Battle.....

The Game:

The Native Horse (Scouts) under Maj. Dunsfold enter the table and begin scouting; splitting into four parties. One will scout the eastward, Black Calf Kopje. Another team the riverside woodland with a third climbing up Black Cow Kopje. 

 

Dunsfold himself moves to check Black Bull Kopje - but activates two enemy units hidden there, who show themselves.

Shortly after, more possible units are seen from the scouts now atop Black Calf Kopje, to the east of the trail (dust can be seen off table), then more dust is seen to the north of Black Bull. Already we have enemy activity on the table. This IS early in the game.

However, intelligence suggests the enemy are not shy of using the old ruse de guerre of faking dust clouds with driven goats, cattle and herd-boys with blankets.

Dunsfold's Initial Moves

The detachment on Black Cow Kopje dismount and open long range fire at the hostiles moving down from Black Bull Kopje.

Dunsfold himself withdraws towards Black Cow. His troop on the east side of the table atop Black Calf Kopje also heads for the main body. 

Meanwhile Dunsfold has sent a messenger back to the Column informing them of the enemy confirmed - and possible - presence.

Once the woodland by the river has been checked Dunsfold's command concentrates on Black Calf Kopje. The hostiles are clearly in force in the vicinity of Black Bull. These two enemy regiments (Fahwi) move down towards Dunsfold's command. There is a desultory exchange of fire between Dunsfold's men and the enemy formations beneath Black Bull for a while, but while one enemy unit seems willing to close and moves across the open ground towards Dunsfold, the other pulls back up Black Bull and goes to ground.

Unexpectedly the Column Activates - but having had time to process the information sent by Dunsfold we test for the Column Commander decision.

The leading elements enter play; two companies of the 18th Regt. of Foot (Capt. Luton and Capt. Shoreham) deployed for action.  The companies advance slowly.

The enemy make no move, seemingly thrown of balance by the sudden arrival of the redcoats.


Now the head of the actual Column proper appears; a further company of the 18th (Cpt. Fairoaks) in column of march, and some wagons. Cpt. Shoreham's company opens fire at long range at the regiment in front of  Black Bull.

Far to the west, across the river, two clouds of dust suggests a further hostile force is approaching. 

As the redcoats push forward, the enemy regiment fronting Dunsfold pulls back; having taken casualties from Fairoak's unit and the Scouts. The other enemy on Black Bull pull back from the crest and out of harm's way. It looks like these enemy bodies have taken the warning and know better than to face the British in the open.

Over the next couple of moves the hostiles sink into inactivity. The column moves forward with Fairoak's company in the van, Shoreham on the right and Luton's company clambering up Black Cow Kopje to secure the left.

Dunsfold mounts his men and forms up fronting the Column north of Black Cow and moves north. Again, the enemy seem unsure as what to do.

Dunsfold decides to divide his command one detachment to cross the river at the trail for, the other to scout the woodland in the elbow of the river. Meanwhile there is a sudden flurry of enemy activity on both the Black Bull and Black Calf heights, and on the far side of the river, with more dust in evidence. We seem to have more visitors...

Capt. Fairoaks deploys his men for action to cover any movement from Black Calf and to screen the column's north/right flank. A further company, escorting the wagons (Capt. Stansted) partially deploys to do likewise.

 

Meanwhile, Luton's company, having reached the top of Black Cow, opens long range fire on the hostiles across the river.

All seems under control; but then there is a rush from Black Calf and an enemy regiment is revealed; hurtling down towards Shoreham's men while two massive clouds of dust can now be seen on Black Calf and Black Bull. Shoreham's company pours rapid volley fire into the charging unit at close range and it is stopped in its tracks. 

Of the dust on the eastern kopjes one of these clouds proves to be a false trace, made by herdboys and porters, but the other resolves itself into a force of eleven (!!) Fahwini pouring rapidly over Black Bull and the valley between it and Black Calf. The British suddenly have a major action on their hands! 

While the regiment facing Shoreham's troops pulls back, the British rapidly reorganise in their move. There is a real danger to the column and leading troops if the enemy charge home, not least because there is no time to form a proper laager. However, the lead wagons are taken off-trail and the off-table elements of the column halted.

While Fairoaks's company pulls back to the slopes of Black Cow to join Luton's men (who are still engaging the cross-river Fahwi) the other extended companies rush back to concentrate behind the cover of the wagon line. If the enemy regiments rush the wagons now things could get dicey...

They do.....


Nine hostile units pour rapidly across the plain towards the British lines. A platoon of Shoreham's company, too slow to get back to the wagon line, is caught in the open by the leading Fahwi and loses half it's strength to the spears of its pursuers.

But now the remains of Shoreham's men and Stanstead's company, huddled between and behind the wagon teams, pour fire into the massed ranks of the enemy's leading units.


Fairoaks on Black Cow Kopje, hurriedly redeploys to cover Shoreham's hanging flank with a field of fire. Meanwhile, more British troops, in the form of Captain Gatwick's company, march onto the field along the trail, then deploy parallel to it to face any threat from Black Calf.


The King's Regiments sweep across the open ground. One unit of the enemy slams into the part of the wagon line held by Shoreham, but they are unable to force their way in.

The British loose close range volley fire, all along the line, into the charging and stalled regiments; causing havoc and bringing men down.

However, this does not stop some of the enemy. Elements of the Banda-Beia (Black Shields) forces back part of Shoreham's depleted company and gets though the wagon line.



Then the veteran Toolah (Zebra) Fahwi - braving the fire from the men on Black Cow - hacks their way through a small gap between Shoreham's company and Fairoaks's.

Shoreham's command is split as one platoon breaks and another part is cut off in the angle of the wagon line by the pursuing warriors; some of whom are now triumphantly chasing survivors up the slopes of Black Cow Kopje, supported by the Pala-Mubi (Brown Bee Fahwi).

 

Another British company (Cpt. Hendon) arrives on table in column of march and pushes towards Black Cow to stabilise the centre.

Next move the British hastily try to form a coherent line to block those warriors who have got over the wagons. Part of Shoreham's company is still cut off, while others rally and form line by the wagons and yet more scatter up Black Cow to line up beside Fairoaks's men.



The Banda-Beia and Toolah still have elements on the slopes of Black Cow and within the defensive perimeter.

Nearby the Pala-Mubi (Brown Bees) Fahwi, on the north east slopes of Black Cow cannot being itself to attack, and becomes shaken. The crack Nueen-Plapa (Red Turtles) regiment is fighting at the wagon lines. Hendon's men are used to form a new line on Black Cow, while further reinforcements arrive in the form of Maj. Kenley's Native Infantry Auxiliaries and General Lympne himself. More volleys slam into the regiments facing the British companies; the Great King's men will not be able to take this punishment for long, but so far seem steady.

While all this has been going on the mounted scouts have been busy. One unit, now on the west side of the river, is being pursued by the Fahwi there, drawing it away from the main fight.

Meanwhile Dunsfold and his men clear the woods in the elbow of the river. However, they spot possible activity in a further stretch of woodland east of them.
This proves to be four more of the great King's regiments.

The situation indicates that is was clearly a well-planned ambush of some eighteen Fahwini, presumably intended to destroy the column while on the march - though perhaps prematurely launched due to the probing scouts.

Dunsfold, now cut off, will pull his men south and west to the Trail Ford - later being joined by the remainder of his men. He will, once he sees what the main force is doing, react accordingly.

Gen. Lympne gets his men together and does some damage limitation re. Shock  and the British shake themselves into some kind of order. The regular close-range, rapid fire volleys cause three enemy regiments to pull back and stalls the attacks on Black Cow. However, this kind of action eats into the ammunition - and with no resupply system set up the Brits can only carry on with this level of expenditure for so long. And now the enemy regiments from the river woodland are fast approaching the battle lines. 

Next move the Banda-Beia and Toolah Fahwini break, as do the Nueen-Plapa (Red Turtles) and Brown Bees. All along the line the leading Great King's regiments are faltering or flying - but behind them come the reserve. These steel themselves for an assault on Black Cow, but, like their comrades, are struck with heavy volley fire as they come into range.

However, on the British left fire is slacking: Luton's company and what's left of Shoreham's are almost out of ammunition and begin to pull back, leaving Fairoaks's command exposed to a sudden charge from the Grey Herons (Kerri-Nei)  which drives them back.

 

The British now have to stabilise their line - abandoning most of the forward wagons; and giving the enemy breathing space to get back into order.

The Grey Heron and Wasp (Zebuni) regiments now push along the west slopes of Black Cow, supported by the veteran Stingless Bees (Kerri-Mubi Naseb) and junior Split Rose (Devi-Noon) regiments; but the earlier punishment unleashed by the British volleys means they have to rally and reduce the shock and confusion they have suffered; giving the British the chance to reorder their line below and south of the Black Cow slopes. 


But while the Great King's men draw breath, from the British perspective things are not good...

Ammunition is low in some companies. Two companies are severely shaken, having been reduced to token strength, and some units have become mixed up. The British form a line of sorts and behind that try to pull back those wagons and mules still under their control (several having already been lost) and take them from the field.

Now the Split Rose (Devi-Noon) and Grey Herons charge towards the British left, the Herons hitting Luton's company and forcing them to fall back. Only a sharp charge by Kenley's Native Auxiliaries gives the Herons pause. Kenley's men are repulsed, but they have halted the Herons and left them disorganised.

 

The Great King's regiments are now in various stages of disorganisation across the field. Although the advancing reserves are fresh, those units nearest the British are wavering or recovering from earlier flights; with some having suffered heavy losses. It will be at least two to three moves before another serious assault can be launched.

From Gen. Lympne's point of view, however, things are equally unpromising. His men are tired and low on ammunition. What looks like some five to seven fresh to semi-fresh enemy regiments capable of attacking are moving up the field towards him. He does not have time or space to turn this into the Right kind of Fight for his men.

He gives his instructions. The British begin to fall back in good order with what they can salvage, to the off-table laager, to rethink their approach, and fight another day. On the west side of the river Dunsfold follows suit.

The army of the Great King remains on the field. The plan did not go as expected, the ambush being sprung too soon - but they have seemingly driven back the Red Soldiers, if at a cost. 

The battle is over. For the moment.

Summary: 

An exciting little battle which could have swung either way at times.

The British volleys are, predictably, devastating in the right terrain but the clincher here, I feel, was the scouts triggering the ambushes before the whole column was on the table and before any wagon/trail issues could break it up. I'll think more about the mechanics here.

The scouting adds a lot to the initial tensions, but in this case clearly prompted the early discovery/attacks of the Natives' forces, to their disadvantage. Realistic? Perhaps. It lessened the chance of a decisive Native victory, but on the other hand meant the British didn't have the chance to form a concentrated laager with all their resources on the field (which might have helped with both their defence and the ammunition issue).

Maybe I need to lessen the likelihood of there being a force at a PAP, but allow a "cleared" PAP to become reactivated after a period of it being outside "observation range"...? Hmm.... 

But the game isn't over. The British still have their mission. Part Three awaits. Watch this space.

As always, queries, comments and snipes welcome...




This Ain't Zululand: Part Four

A Delayed Post: I'm a bit behind with posts & write-ups thanks to the Reenactment Season (Evesham, Bosworth etc. and associated inju...