Here is a photograph of the table showing El Kohl and neighbourhood, The Nile flows right to left along the western edge of the town. The small hamlet of Al Kohol (to the north east) was the billet of the cavalry unit.
One of the liaison officers with the Egyptian garrison has been sent back to Aswan by the commander, Suleiman Bey, to report on the increasing level of Mahdist activity and his assessment that an all out attack on the outpost is imminent. The report asked for reinforcements and further supplies of ammunition. In response, the general commanding has put together a force of 3 units of mounted infantry, (South Essex, North Rutland and Borsetshire regiments), a unit of cavalry, (Prince John's Own Royal Lancers), a field gun and a machine gun. The ammunition and other supplies are to be transported on the steamer Assad, commanded by Lieutenant DR Beatty. Overall command of the force has been given to Captain CV Firth-Newsome. Although the column set off without delay, events at El Kohl outpaced them.
Shortly after dawn a patrol galloped back to report large numbers of Mahdists approaching from the east. The Garrison stood to arms and Suleiman Bey deployed his men around the walls of the town
|The 3rd Infantry regiment with the machine gun in the North East corner of El Kohl|
|The 2nd Infantry regiment with the field gun cover the eastern wall|
|The 1st Infantry regiment cover the southern gate|
|The cavalry at Al Kohol|
As the eastern attacks reached their peak, a unit of Mahdist riflemen broke cover from the rocks near the river bank. They fired at the troops defending the barricade, causing some casualties. The cavalry in Al Kohol fired in retaliation, as did the garrison of the Administration building. None of the Egyptian fire was particularly effective and that from the Administration building became even less so when some native artillery began firing. Shells began to thud into the walls and although no casualties were caused, most of the defenders sought cover. As the defensive fire slackened a second unit of Mahdists broke cover and charged forward, heading for the barricade. Suleiman sent forward his reserve company to help the defenders. They arrived too late to help defend the barricade, but the defenders had managed to hold the line, though at considerable cost.
|The attack on the barricade|
|The second attack on the barricade|
|Action at the southern gate|
|The line breaks|
From his command post in the tower of the Coptic church, Suleiman Bey was anxiously scanning the northern horizon for sight of the relief force. With relief, he saw the thick, dark smoke of the steamer in the distance. Surely, the reinforcements must be near? Then a rocket was fired from Al Kohol, the signal that indeed the British column was approaching!
|The desert column arrives|
It was as well they did for the garrison were coming under heavy pressure. Further attacks had been made against the south eastern corner. The infantry had beaten back one attack, but the field gun had been overrun and now Mahdists were threatening the defenders' flank
|The field gun is overrun|
On the river, Beatty had at last managed to get the steamer into a position where he could assist the garrison. For the last half an hour as the Assad had crawled upstream he had been sending increasingly strong requests to the chief engineer, Montgomery Scott, for more speed. The reply was always the same, "I'm givin' her all she's got lieutenant".
Unseen to Firth-Newsome, but all too clear to Suleiman Bey and Captain Dyson fresh Mahdist troops now entered the battle, mostly cavalry. They swept around the eastern walls and headed toward Al Kohol.
|The Mahdist cavalry arrive|
|The Borsetshires stand firm|
|The lancers flee|
|Attack on the Administration building|
In El Kohl the Mahdists were now flowing between the Administration building and the Nile. Beatty received the news that the machine gun was now in full working order grim faced and tersely said "Well, you had better b******y well get it trained on those d****d Mahdists then !!"
The gun crew leaped into action and the first wave of Mahdists was reduced to a bloody heap. The second wave began to suffer the same fate, but then the gun jammed again! The fire of the blue jackets was again ineffective and a steady stream of Mahdists now moved towards Al Kohol.
The Egyptian cavalry, unaware of the enemy moving around behind them were fully engaged repulsing an attack by Mahdists moving from the Church. Seeing the clear ground towards the British lines the commander of the cavalry ordered the machine gun crew to take their gun to the British and he would cover their withdrawal. As the gun moved away, the cavalry saw a unit of camelry coming down the street towards them. The gun had no sooner moved around the barricade than it was charged by Mahdist infantry. The crew gallantly stood by their guns, but they were cut down to a man. Moving on, the Mahdists charged into the rear of the cavalry just as the camelry charged from the front. The result was never in doubt with the cavalry totally destroyed. The village was now in Mahdist hands.
|The end of Egyptian resistance|
A Mahdist victory, but at heavy cost.
Steve had created an enjoyable scenario which lasted two full gaming days. The Mahdist reinforcements were randomly timed and placed by dice roll and created plenty of excitement. The 'low ammo' rule, together with the jamming of the machine gun created plenty of uncertainty and stopped the Imperial player (me) blazing away all the time.