Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Small Action - Major Elder takes Berber

So the battle for Berber.  Major Elder was sent over the far right of Manley’s column to attack Berber with the support of Lt. Cmdr. Owen commanding the Gunboat Giza.  The campaign is not going too well for our dervish because the entire Euro Force are colliding at these points.  The Gunboats Giza and Cairo are on the hunt commanding the river up to this point.  The Giza was ordered to support the assault at Berber while the Cairo steamed past Berber to get to Atbara.  The Giza’s journey to get here will be told in the next AAR.  So let’s talk about Berber... 

The premise here was that our dervish forces are falling back toward Khartoum.  Berber was going to fall but the Dervish still accumulated the points for one turn which helps the overall campaign cause.  More specifically to this battle was that I thought I had a good defensive force to cope with Elder’s Battalion.  Two Guns and Riflemen behind a zareba making them Class III targets.  I also had two fuzzie rubs in support to counter the British breaking through the zareba or flanking Berber to the east.  That made it 287 points to the British 262 (w/o Giza).  As all TSAF battles you never know what is going to happen.  And using these event cards, well it makes it that much more entertaining.  Well, entertaining for one of us.  Not me this time.  As in all the one on one battles it was scheduled for 8 turns.  That is just about right and it always comes down to the last turn or two.  

The most notable failures on my part were not putting my dervish in the buildings which would have made it tougher for the British.  But at the same time knowing the Giza was steaming up river to join the battle I wanted to start causing some casualties.  Those casualties would effect the next battle.  But to only wound about 3 or 4 Camel Corps for the whole battle was a dismal performance.  My guns kept jamming and I got the “Did you bring the ammunition card” so one of my guns was running out of ammunition.  We did manage to put some holes in the Giza.  Nothing significant but an interesting gun duel.  I am not sure how our Dhows are going to fare against these Gunboats, but we shall see very soon!

So with that, another British report, this time from Major Elder.  

To: Lt. Colonel Manley

SIR, - The detachment of Grenadier Guards and Camel Corps, supported by a 6pdr gun and the sternwheeler Giza has fought a decisive battle at Berber.  On arrival on the outskirts of Berber, the Grenadier Guards and Camel Corps advanced at a steady pace stopping at regular intervals firing volleys into the zareba surrounding Berber.  The Giza commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Owen arrived to provide support in the form of a 6pdr Quick Fire and a Nordenfeldt.  A group of Dervishes mysteriously sortied from Berber parallel to the Grenadier Guards.  It quickly returned to Berber after receiving major casualties.  The 6pdr field gun crew must be commended for their quick movement throughout the battlefield supporting all units.
The final assault had the Grenadier Guards advancing into Berber via the entrance and the Camel Corps breaking through the zareba.  A final charge by the Dervishes towards the Grenadier Guards failed.  Berber was captured with few Dervish escaping.  The Grenadier Guards and the 6pdr field gun sustained no casualties.  The Giza received only light hull damage.  The Camel Corps detachment has four lightly wounded infantry.  Two enemy guns have been captured.

Major E. Elder

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Small Action - Major Shockey at Korti

As we know the battle of Abu Klea was a setback for the British forces.  Major Shockey had been called back to Korti before the battle erupted.  As we saw at that battle the Scots and the Naval Company were last seen retreating once Osman Jahan penetrated the baggage Zareba.  They were harassed by Jahan's forces as they fell back to Korti.  The orderly retreat turned into a rout as they ran for the defensive lines of Korti.  Major Shockey hearing that units were still streaming back from Abu Klea and hearing the dervish drums formed up for a fight.  He took command of the Heavy Camel Corps, Marines and a Nordenfeldt manning the defenses.

At first this battle was not going well for my Dervish.  The Naval Brigade and 1/2 a company of Scotts made for the lines and my dervish were moving way too slow.  Back to Back Halt cards in the movement phases did not help matters either.  I thought things were really going to go bad and it was going to be too easy for the British when my first Ansar unit was torn apart by long range Nordenfeldt fire.  Major Shockey's gun was laying out some very deadly fire until we finally benefitted from some untimely jams later in the battle.  Those jams allowed my dervish forces to close into melee!  I have noticed in all of these battles that one major key for the British forces is to get those Highest Leader kills which they can also do by Officer Pistol shots.  I was thinking of adding an extra leader into the Dervish units or maybe just the Fuzzy Fanatical types.  Not sure what that would do to game play so we will hold off until the next campaign.  So we were able swirl into and around the British defenses and it could have gone either way.  I will allow the After Action Report from Major Shockey to describe the battle.

Upon the report of our scouts near Korti of the Naval brigade and Scots from Abu Klea streaming back toward Korti, I called upon the limited forces we had at hand.  Limited because most were gone for a Bank Holiday,   As the Naval force appeared over the horizon; also appearing was a large force of Mahdists in hot pursuit.  We were blessed with a fine Gardner gun crew, who had been reading a book by a Jules Vern about something called “laser sights, “ whatever that is.  They were able to destroy that force with three rapid fires.  As the few Scots appeared, three enemy forces closely followed them.  With the help of Marine fire from our right flank, they were able to make it into the compound with only 2 wounded Scots. The Naval brigade was also able to make it into the compound on the left flank and regroup to barely meet the charge of a very determined force.  Although they did inflict some damage to the enemy at range the hand-to-had combat that ensued was brutal.  I helped out, as best I could, by shooting their leader with my pistol from long range.  A bloody good shot if I say so myself.  

The savages were able to push into the centre of our compound and attack the Scots, but were repulsed by concentrated fire from three directions that killed that group’s leader.  We seemed to be able to kill their leaders rather easily.  I believe there may be job openings available in the Mahdist forces thanks to our gallant men. Our Gardner Gun did jam three times allowing on of the central forces of the enemy to close with the regulars at the front of the earthworks.  All but three of the 10 manning the rampart were wounded, but held the position.  Sgt. Jerome Smithwick must consider for a commendation as he single-handedly killed or drove off 5 before being wounded himself.  He is now recovering in our infirmary.  With the collapse of that final force of the enemy they choose to withdraw, leaving the leaders of each of their 5 forces behind, dead.  Their leader was heard to say “Must get that book by Jules Vern!”  

We were glad to recover our troops from the disaster at Abu Klea.  Unfortunately some made it back just to be wounded or killed in the supposed safety of our compounded at Korti.  We must redouble our efforts to rid the desert of this scourge.  

Yours most respectfully,

Major Terrance Shockey (BmusEd. M.A., XYZ, etc.)