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 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
Egypt and the Sudan
From Lt. Colonel Manley
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