Wednesday, July 16, 2014

2nd Battle of Atbara (Sudan Campaign)

We finally played the 2nd battle of Atbara.  As you may remember the dervish stopped the advance of the British only this time to be overwhelmed by an ever increasing British force crossing from Suakin.  This battle served its purpose and that was to delay the infidel forces from reaching Khartoum before its fall.  More on the campaign later, let’s discuss the battle.  

I took inspiration for the dervish fort from the accounts of the battle during the reconquest.  You can see I modeled zareba, spikes, earthworks making it a formidable position.  This made the dervish forces a Class IV target making them harder to hit.  It was evident during the battle how the cover reduced the effectivity of the British and Egyptian fire.  As in a narrative I read the dervish were still digging defenses when the battle began, hence I left the right flank unprotected.  

The attackers were going to have to remove the Zareba, and attack in open order due to the spikes embedded in the earth walls.  They also suffered the (-)1 when atop the wall during combat.  The spikes deterred any cavalry from trying to charge so why didn't the dervish hold them back longer?

The battle raged on.  The dervish were holding their own having to maneuver some hidden units on the right to keep the British cavalry out.  Jahan’s camelry came in waves which kept the British cavalry on guard and he finally sent in his hidden rubs.  

The dervish hill battery were causing irritation to the British but the jams started to occur more frequently.  The British Gatling and Nordenfeldt however, suffered far more jams in combat than the the dervish guns!  It did come to a point where the dervish leaders ordered the guns to be removed.

So the dervish were taking and causing firing casualties but because of the staggering British firepower the dervish leaders started to fall!  And as we have all seen once the dervish start losing leaders their morale becomes very brittle.  You will see in this battle that 3 out of 4 units ready to take a charge failed their stand and fight and the retreats started flowing.  It got to the point where Jahan and Kurte couldn’t hold back the fall of the left and right.  There was only one dervish unit that refused to give way until the end of the battle.  They were fighting off the Northumberlands and the KRRC.  But all was lost around them.  I believe the actual battle and this was by no means a simulation of that battle but of my own design, but the actual battle only lasted 45 minutes.  One of the highlights were of the Highlanders storming the works.  They did in this battle run right through the dervish once the breached the wall and made their way to Battery Hill.

So everyone seemed to be having a blast, even the dervish defenders.  We have several more battles to fight before the campaign ends but this truly is the beginning of the end of the campaign. 

Colonel Manley sends his excellent report, I hope you enjoy the narrative and pictures.

Last Stand Dan

Commanding Officer
Egypt and the Sudan

From Lt. Colonel Manley
Atbara, Sudan


I have the greatest pleasure to report our recent success in the capture of the enemy fortifications and liberation of this city.  This victory is due to the bravery and tenacity of our officers and men who conducted themselves with the greatest honor in today’s action.  Our only disappointment was not finding Osama Dougna within the captured enemy works or the city.   There are rumors that he fled the city prior to our assault in one of his newly constructed Dhows.   Hopefully Commander Andrews will locate and capture him on the Nile.  The following is an account of today’s action.

Our plan was to close as rapidly as possible on the enemy works while putting pressure on their unfinished southern wall.  Facing this portion of the works we placed two batteries of guns under the command of Major’s Lambert and Stockton.  These two batteries decimated three enemy Camel units allowing Major Lamberts Bengal Lancers and 10th Hussars to finish the destruction of the enemy’s right wing, including another camel unit and two fuzzy rubs.  As the infantry of the main assault was cresting the earthworks, the cavalry entered the fortress from the south and pursued all the enemy infantry as they ran from our attack.  Unfortunately due to their exertions in making several charges and fighting several melees, the horses were unable to take full advantage of the enemy collapse and complete their destruction.  Those that we did capture have been more than willing to join our effort in the liberation of Sudan.  I want to highly recommend Major Lambert for his abilities in independent command and resourcefulness in initiating and completing the destruction of the enemy right wing.  Please consider him for promotion to Lt. Colonel at the earliest moment.  I have complete confidence in him and his command.

On our right flank, Majors Forte and Daniel lead the 9th and 10th Egyptians on the assault of the works.  The 9th again served with distinction; replicating their heroics from earlier battles by being the first of our forces to breach the enemy fortifications.  They attacked with such tenacity the enemy fled, giving up their positions with only one casualty to the 9th.   The right wing attack was supported by Major Elders Gardner gun that provided significant support while suffering 75% casualties.  

During the entire attack, Major Daniel (brother of the officer serving with Major Shockey’s desert column) exhibited great bravery and leadership and his actions deserve mention in the dispatches.  Additionally, he took over command of the entire wing as Major Forte became seriously ill and was escorted to the hospital by his staff, leaving Major Daniel in overall command or our right wing.  Major Forte is recovering and we are trying to determine the cause of his malaise; but it appears to have come from German or Argentine men on his staff.

As the 9th cleared the walls, they turned south to support the attack of the Highlanders to their left, while the 10th supported their right flank.  The pressure from the 9th on the flank and Highlanders from the front resulted in the flight of the enemy on the walls and the Highlanders advanced quickly to the interior hill occupied by the enemy guns.  As the assault was climbing the hill, the gunners ran attempting to save the guns.  Unfortunately for us, these were not captured as they just outran our pursuit.  Originally leading the Highlanders and successfully creating a breach in the Zareba, the 111th Fusiliers were initially repulsed in their attack on the walls; however they rallied under the encouragement of Major Owens and provided support to the Highlanders on their charge through the fortress.  The division of the 111th and Highlanders was ably commanded by Major John Owens a relative of the Captain of the Giza.  I’m sure the Naval Captain will be very proud of the courage and leadership exemplified by his namesake during our assault.

In our center, I commanded the Northumberland Fusiliers who moved smartly forward supported by the Kings Royal Rifle Corp.  The Fusiliers were firing as they advanced and taking minor casualties on their way to the Zareba.  After a determined effort they were able to breach the Zareba and half the unit lead by Sargent Thompson crested the works only to be repulsed.  The other half of the Fusiliers finished tearing down another section of Zareba and then rallied with their brothers while the Kings Royal Rifle Corp took up the attack.  Advancing through the Fusiliers they crested the wall and were met by a stout defense.  During the attack Sargent Kent and three men were killed and Lt. Summers along with 4 men were wounded.  Though the KRRC took severe casualties, the loss of Sgt. Kent and our men was not in vain as they decimated the fuzzy rub they were facing.  Still, they were forced back to rally behind the Northumberland Fusiliers, leaving the enemy in possession of the works.  To relieve the pressure on the KRRC, the Northumberland Fusiliers then advanced back to the top of the wall and closed with the enemy, forcing them back and taking control of the wall.  They raised the first cheer as they saw the 10th Hussars, Bengal Lancers and Sikh Cavalry charging through the south wall of the fort. 

Other than the losses in the KRRC and the Gardner gun, most units suffered minor losses.  Tonight the men are celebrating in the town and will soon be preparing for the action to come.   We await the arrival of the Cairo and Giza along with the troops that recently captured Berber.  Once here, we will continue our attack south to liberate Kassala and Khartoum.

The earliest arrival of replacements and supplies would be appreciated.  Until we meet again.

Your obedient servant,
Lt. Col. Manley


Monday, July 7, 2014

GUNBOAT! The Cairo goes into Action (Sudan Campaign)

The Cairo was ordered to sail to Atbara to support Manley's siege in the upcoming days.  The Kadesh was seen moving downstream toward Berber so the Cairo and Giza were on alert.  You saw the Giza was damaged and was docked at Berber after supporting Elder's attack on the city.  This is the battle of the Cairo meeting up with the Kadesh.

Using the excellent set of Gunboat rules Boilers and Breechloaders, 4th Edition I set up the ambush of the Cairo.  The Cairo was moving slowly coming around a shoreline when it broke out into some open waters of the Nile.  In front of Captain Andrew's was the protected vessel the Kadesh, a converted side-wheeler ferry boat.  The Dervish rolled two Krupp guns on the forward and aft decks. Additionally, rifle and swordsmen were crowded on the deck in hopes of grappling and boarding the Cairo.  Two more Dhows were loaded with swordsmen to do the same.  With a 6" current and an easterly breeze of 6" it was a perfect situation for the Dervish flotilla.  

The Cairo started stoking the coals and building speed throughout the battle until it was steaming at 13+ Knots against the current.  With the size and speed it was not going to be stopped.  All the Dervish could do was to try and slow it down with some boarding actions but that didn't happen.  The Kadesh was soaking up a lot of hits and because of its size had to go to the Special Damage chart frequently as they took on damage.  Boiler hits, gun destroyed, captain almost hit, and failed morale had the Kadesh keeping its distance from the deadly Cairo.  

One battle incident was when one of the Dhows turned across the bow of the Cairo only to get rammed when Captain Andrews unexpectedly made a hard turn to port which put the Dhow right in the path to get rammed.  The second dhow had a chance to grapple but failed and because the Cairo cleared both boats so quickly (getting the Cairo card first) they would never catch up.  

The Royal Marines were crack shots in this battle and took down some Dervish troops.  The Nordenfeldts also got into action and peppered the Kadesh from the Port side gun ports.  The 3" gun of the Cairo is deadly when hitting wooden vessels.  It causes 4 hit points a hit on Wooden Boats.  If the Kadesh was not there the Dhows would have been blown out of the water.  I think a few more dhows creating a line of battle providing more grappling opportunities could make things interesting for the British.  

So the Cairo creating all kinds of havoc for the Dervish flotilla is on its way to Atbara.  It may make it in time, we will see.  The problem will be with the Giza that is damaged with the Kadesh moving downriver to engage it.  We will fight that battle soon.  

Captain Andrews:
Slowly navigating a bend in the river I found open water an ordered full speed ahead.  I also spotted the Dervish flotilla waiting for us.  My orders were to press through to Atbara at all costs.  So as I engaged the Dervish I continued to increase speed.  I ordered one hard turn to port to line up our exit point away from the small island on our starboard side.  I ordered the 3" to open fire at long range and the battle was on.  We steamed forward and continued to punishing the Kadesh and engaging the two dhows filled with warriors.  After maneuvering to port I was able to get our aft 6pdr into action.  My Marines and Nordenfeldts also engaged the enemy as they came in closer.  One dhow mistakenly moved across our bow and I ordered us to ramming speed.  We hit the dhow, damaging it and then slid past it as we moved up river.  The second dhow tried to grapple with us but failed.  Our damage was light but I am sure the Kadesh was hurt because they unexpectedly disengaged and kept their distance from my gunners.  I did have the intention of slowing to eventually sink her but proceeded with the mission to move up river with great haste.
Captain Andrews

HMS Cairo

A few pictures of the battle....