Sunday, 2 May 2010

Adrift on a raft, or, how not to cross a river

This week saw the return of the Annexation of Chiraz campaign, with the forces of the Electoral League attempting to cross the river Junger against oposition from Chiraz local forces. What follows is a rather wordy account of the events of the day. I will leave it to the reader to decide who played the part of Lord Percy.

The pontoon train and covering force was under the command of Lord Percy Wimppe, who was still confused as to how he came to find himself in this rather awkward situation. Things had started out quite well really. His father had secured him a foreign posting to the court of the Electoral League just as the misunderstandings about the outcome of a gentlemanly game of cards were becoming 'unpleasant'. At the court he pursued his allotted task of promoting the interests of His Majetsy (as Elector of Hanover, rather than King of Britain), in curtailing the influence of the Grand Duchy of Lorraine, and by extension, France. Not only was he quite successful in this, but he had the good fortune to become acquainted with the rather comely daughter of the Grand Duke of Neustadt. Then, with the worsening diplomatic situation it was deemed necessary for Hanover to be represented in the Electoral League forces. The first choice, General Wurmer had the misfortune to be thrown from his horse whilst en route to take command. His replacement General Grosbek was on such bad terms with the overall commander Prince Elector Wilhelm on Schlangen-Augen he refused to be in the same room and returned home within a week. With the timetable for operations set and only 24 hours to go, the burden of representing Hanover had fallen on Lord Percy.
He now stood looking at the grey waters of the Junger with his aide Captain Schwarznatter; "this local chap of yours has organised the rafts hasn't he? It will be dashed awkward if the Prince turns up and we are still on this side"
"Baldric won't let us down" replied Schwarznatter. Just then, some rafts appeared through the early morning mist, drifting gently downstream. "Here he is" said a relieved Schwarznatter.

As the rafts bumped gently against the bank, Lord Percy decided to send one of his light cavalry regiments across first to carry out a reconnaissance. They would be followed by the jaeger and then a brigade of line infantry. The pontoon operation would be covered by the second brigade of line infantry. With the cavalry loaded the barges began to cross the river. To their dismay they saw that enemy forces were in position waiting for them. A volley caused mayhem on one of the rafts as horses, already nervous at being on the raft, broke free from their tethers. Swiftly the local watermen returned to the eastern shore. The senior surviving officer reported to Lord Percy that a mixed force of infantry and cavalry were in position on the opposite bank. Lord Percy decided that infantry was the solution, he would shoot the oppostion away. Confusion reigned on the riverbank as Baldric attempted to sort out the rafts. He ordered two to move back upstream to clear space for some light artillery which would support the second attack. As the two rafts moved slowly away against the current, they came in range of the enemy infantry. A second volley rang out and some of the watermen were hit. Unfortunately one of the casualties was the poleman. One of the rafts began to drift away downstream, across the front of the rafts loaded with infantry. Immediately Baldric ordered one of the rafts loaded with infantry to intercept the drifting raft and take it back under control.

As the two rafts came together volleys began to be exchanged and although a new crewman (actually a 'volunteer' jaeger),was put on the drifting raft, he was wounded before being able to bring the craft under control. Volleys continued to be exchanged, but casualties amongst the Electoral infantry rose inexorably. Baldric sent a second raft to the rescue, with a company of jaeger on board. This managed to reach the raft and men scrambled across, but one unfortunate slipped, disappeared below the surface and was not seen again.

After a great deal of delay, a third attack was organised. A line battalion was loaded onto the rafts, the artillery had a clear field of fire, but the Chiraz forces had retired!
The engineers and pontoon staff had quietly worked away assembling their bridge and its imminent completion had convinced the Chiraz commander that he had done his duty by causing significant delay and confusion. For the loss of a few lightly wounded militia he had caused 25% losses on three units of the Electoral forces. Lord Percy was not looking forward to his meeting with the Prince, especially as he could not seem to find either Schwarznatter or Baldric.

To close some photos of the recent Sudan game where the Dervishes triumphed

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