Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Small Action - Extreme Left Flank at Atbara

Another battle was put on this time against Major Lambert's forces last weekend.  He was tasked to scout the extreme left flank of Atbara.  My Dervish actually did very well in the fact that they held Lambert's forces from getting more troops around Atbara.  His Hussar's recon however, will prove very valuable to the final battle there.  

So the battle started with his infantry Company and Gun marching onto the field.  His Hussars were sent forward at daybreak on recon.  The battle could have been more of an ambush but one of the event cards caused confusion in the Dervish ranks.  This confusion caused one unit to break out of ambush and started the entire line of Dervish charging at a little longer range than I was planning.  I was thinking I could cut down the British Dogs before his Cavalry could make it back to the area but that was not to be. 

So with that I present Major Lambert's report to Lt. Colonel Manley.  I hope you enjoy the battle.

 Colonel Manley,

I have the honor to report a successful reconnaissance of the left flank of the Desert Column this Friday past.

The 10th Prince of Wales' Own Hussars were sent ahead of the 111th Fuzileers with the 3rd Punjab Artillery in column with the infantry.  By splitting my force this way, I was able to reconnoiter much more ground.  Lt. Wilberforce of the Hussars is a trustworthy and resourceful officer, so I felt confident in giving him an independent mission, which he has fulfilled admirably.  I maintained my command post with the infantry and artillery, which as it turns out was just the right spot.

As the infantry column advanced upon an area of low ridges and broken terrain, a Mahdist rub suddenly appeared amongst the rocks, well out of rifle range and before I had even ordered scouts to deploy.  Quickly, the Punjab mountain howitzer took a position on a low ridge, and spotted another group of Mahdists in the clear ground at even longer range.  As the Fuzileers deployed in support, the howitzer engaged the long-range target as the nearer group seemed reluctant to leave the cover of the rocks.  The Punjabis' accurate fire caused some casualties, as more Mahdists appeared in the distance.  After several rounds, the near group of dervishes appeared to make ready for a charge against the howitzer, so I ordered it limbered up and redeployed to the opposite flank, while the Fuzileers split their command to prepare to receive multiple charges.

Just at that moment, Lt. Wilberforce's Hussars appeared, in the rear of the enemy's force!  After taking a moment to size up the situation, the Hussars formed up stirrup-to-stirrup and charged the nearest dervish, who at that moment were closing in on the front of the Fuzileers.

Trapped between two forces, the Mahdists decided to try and fight their way through the Fuzileers.  While the Hussars charged home into the rear of the dervish, it was hack and slash at the point of the bayonet for the Fuzileers, who fought off four times their number with minor casualties.  I myself despatched four of the devils, the last with good Wilkinson steel!  At one point I was face to face with the dervish leader, but he seemed to lose his nerve at the last minute and made off for the rear before I could give him his just desserts.  At last, the dervish seemed to tire and fell off to the south, leaving many dead and wounded behind.

While the wounded enemy were properly sent off to their reward, Lt. Wilberforce and I conferred so that I could receive his report.  His troopers were able to advance all the way to the Nile, where they observed numerous Arab dows trafficking back and forth, as well as what appeared to be an armed steamer.  Having drawn the enemy's attention as well as some desultory fire, the Hussars made haste to rejoin my command.  Their timely arrival as well as their successful scouting mission was in all the best traditions of the cavalry, Lt. Wilberforce and his men are commended.  Casualties in the Hussars are 3 dead, 1 wounded.

Holding steady in close order, the brave Fuzileers gave yet another example of the steadfastness of Tommy Atkins in a tight spot.  Casualties were light:  5 dead and 4 wounded in the Fuzileers.  One of the wounded was Sgt. Hardcastle, who survived a sword cut to the throat which has made him even more gravel-voiced and evil-tempered than he was before.
My compliments to the Punjab artillery, under Havildar Pradesh, who gave accurate fire throughout the engagement and emerged without loss.

Although my losses were minor, I shall of course send my request for replacements as regulations require.  Meanwhile, I await your orders.

Your obedient servant
Major JL Lambert

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