Tuesday, 26 July 2022

The Governor's Residence: a Black Powder scenario

Once again Steve kindly organised the traditional "Sunday after Phalanx" game for the visiting Gentlemen Pensioners.  Attendance was lower than previous years perhaps due to continuing concerns over Covid and the aggravating factor of the drastically increased cost of fuel.  This year the game was scaled back to Steve's usual 6 x 8 table and was set in the Sudan.

News had come through to Imperial headquarters that the governor's residence near Kagbar was under siege by Amir Khat .  Such an affront to British prestige could not be ignored and consequently a large force was assembled to restore proper order.  Two brigades of British infantry, (Brigadiers Ross and Wakefield), with a brigade of mounted infantry, (Goodrich)  and one of cavalry (Nowell-Lees); were accompanied by two brigades of Egyptians (one each of infantry and cavalry, (Brigadiers Al-Hussein and Badawi respectively).  The whole force was under the command of General Wilberforce Forbes-Robertson.

When the Imperial force came close to Kagbar, they found that there was a force of Dervishes on the ridge close to the residence.  They had artillery and this was shelling the residence, attempting to break down the walls or gate.  Forbes-Robertson ordered Nowell-Lees and Goodrich to advance directly towards the ridge, but to beware of being ambushed by other Dervish forces.  The Egyptians were to move towards the village of Kagbar itself, whilst Ross and Wakefield would screen the settlement of Fareig which lay in front of them and with the majority of their troops protect the flank of the cavalry and mounted infantry. 

The Dervish force threatening the Governor's residence

The Imperial forces begin their advance

The residence's defenders

The advance began but almost immediately, Goodrich's men came under fire from Fareig.  Although the task of dealing with Fareig had been delegated to Ross, Goodrich sent one of his units to silence the riflemen.  This move hampered Ross's advance and also forced Wakefield to move to his right to avoid the deployed mounted infantry and their attendant camels.  No sooner had the firing started than two units of Dervish infantry rose from concealment and moved towards Ross's men

The Egyptian brigade moves forward

The Dervish move out of cover to attack the Imperial left flank

The cavalry and mounted infantry advance in the centre

On the right, the Egyptians were also moving forward, lead by Badawi's cavalry.  Suddenly from behind some dunes and scrub bodies of Dervish cavalry appeared, moving swiftly towards them.   The leading unit of Egyptian cavalry turned to face their assailants, but as they did so a unit of Dervish infantry charged out of the village of Kagbar and into their flank.  Reeling from this attack the Egyptian cavalry were then charged by the Dervish cavalry and routed.

The Egyptian cavalry are ambushed

On the left the battle for Fareig continued and Ross deployed his battalions to meet the Dervish attack. The West Borsetshires were charged as they struggled through the scrub and  were driven back in spite of the best efforts of their officers to hold them in position.

One of Ross's infantry battalions is driven back in disorder

Nowell-Lees had continued to advance and was contemplating bringing forward Goodrich's command to establish a solid base from which to assault the ridge.  He had ordered his units to halt to await the mounted infantry, but the order had not got through to the Lancers who were the lead unit.  Their commander thought he saw a chance to capture the Dervish artillery and drive off the infantry on the ridge.  With trumpets sounding the Lancers swept forward onto the ridge.  They dealt with their opponents quickly, but then command and control seemed to evaporate and the cavalrymen dallied, rather than driving home their advantage.  
The Lancers sweep onto the ridge

On the right the Egyptian position was perilous.  Even more enemy mounted units were appearing and they were joined by infantry from Kagbar.  To give time for Al-Hussein to deploy the infantry, Badawi ordered the Bashi-Bazouks to charge.  The Egyptian cavalry tried their utmost, but in the end they were overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers.  All now depended on the fighting qualities of Al-Hussein's infantry.
The Egyptian forces come under heavy pressure 

Although he had been ordered to support Nowell-Lees, Goodrich had been forced to dismount his men and form a firing line to try and hold back waves of Dervish infantry which had attacked from the direction of Kagbar and also the dunes behind Fareig.  Forbes-Robertson ordered Wakefield to move his men forward to support Goodrich, though half the command was involved in trying to suppress the riflemen in Fareig.  Fortunately, the artillery was now shelling the village and the enthusiasm of the defenders was wavering.  Even so, an attack on Fareig, by one of Goodrich's units was driven back with heavy loss
Goodrich's men come under attack
In the centre, another of the mounted infantry units was struggling to hold off an attack by two units of Dervish warriors.  To their left, a unit of Dervish and broken through and was only stopped by Wakefield deploying two battalions to prevent the Dervish from swinging round to reinforce the defence of Fareig.  

Further forward, Nowell-Lees ordered the Hussars to charge yet more Dervish infantry that could be seen massing in and around Kagbar.  The Hussars lost a lot of men to rifle fire as the advanced and were unable to prevail against the masses of tribesmen, necessitating a retreat.

The failed charge on Kagbar
At Fareig, Ross was at last making headway.  The artillery had unsettled the defenders and an infantry assault finally drove off the Dervish infantry.  Captain Barnes RN had led his 'Blue Jackets' forward with his usual steadfastness and they had successfully driven off several determined attacks by the Dervish warriors.  The Naval infantry advanced past Fareig, supported by other units of Ross's command only to be met by another of wave of attacks.

Steadfast in defence, the naval infantry

Meanwhile, the unit nearest to the beleaguered residence, Nowell-Lees' lancers, far from pushing forward to offer some hope to the garrison, now found themselves in a precarious position as Dervish infantry began to encircle them.  Nowell-Lees had cantered forward to assess whether he should reinforce their position on the ridge, but he now found himself having to fight for his life as tribesmen surged around him.  Desperate, he ordered the retreat be sounded, but there was no way out and the lancers and their commander perished.

The lancers are doomed

Amir Khat's plan was succeeding.  His lieutenants were attacking in successive waves, pinning back the Imperial troops and preventing them from reaching the residence.   

Ross's men face yet more attacks

Goodrich and Wakefield struggle to hold the centre

Much as Forbes-Robertson urged his subordinates to get their men forward, little could be done in the face of the incessant attacks.  Ignoring their casualties, the Dervish warriors threw themselves at the lines of British infantry and in the distance, the Dervish artillery could be heard battering away at the residence.

Finally the gates of the residence were split asunder and this was the cue for Dervish infantry to surge forward, eager to secure the victory.  The defenders did what they could, but it was a doomed enterprise against such overwhelming numbers.  When the building had been ransacked it was put to the torch and as the smoke of the fires rose into the sky Amir Khat ordered his men to begin to disengage.  Forbes-Robertson was left in control of the battlefield, but he had failed in his mission, his sole remaining duty was to tend to the wounded and bury the dead.

The end - the residence falls

A most enjoyable game.  The Dervish command played their cards well.  They stalled the Imperial advance at every opportunity and kept plugging away with their artillery, eventually smashing the gate.  Once that happened the fall of the residence was inevitable.  The governor did manage to escape, though his staff and garrison were put to the sword.  It is said he never spoke of the event in later life and his memoirs (in several volumes) are strangely silent on the matter.  Forbes-Robertson was recalled and offered promotion; to a desk, where he spent the remainder of his career.  

Monday, 20 June 2022

Phalanx at St Helens

We had a great day out at the Phalanx show on Saturday.  As I mentioned in my previous post, Steve, Bob and I (aided and abetted by several members of the Gentlemen Pensioners), were putting on a 'Renaissance Rampant' game on behalf of the Lance & Longbow Society.  There were several positive comments from passing members of the public and we even persuaded someone to join us to roll some dice.  Here are a few photos of the game.

The Imperial troops form up before leaving their camp

The Janissaries and Sipahi of the Porte begin their advance


The Azab infantry drive off the Hungarian cavalry

Battle is joined between the trench lines

The Gendarmes attack the janissary archers

Not far from us the Mailed Fist group had a Thirty Years War game

 Liverpool Wargames Association had an ECW game


Nearby the All Independent 54mm Wargames Club also had an ECW game 

Something a little different from Tiger Miniatures, who showcased their Dragon and Peacock Wars range with a Sino - Burmese Wars game set in the mid 18th century.

 The Ribble Warriors had a 'Blood and Plunder' naval game with pirates

The Furness Warlords also had a naval game, this one set on the Great Lakes.

The Spartans did a great job organising the show and their efforts were rewarded with a good turn out from clubs, traders and the public.

Many thanks to them and also Andy, Bob, David, John, Peter, Steve and Will for helping with the game.  Also Dave and Lynne for providing much needed tea and coffee.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Phalanx preliminaries

The 2022 Phalanx Wargames Show (link ) is only a week away and Steve, Bob and I are busy getting our game ready for the event.  Once again we will be representing the Lance & Longbow Society and our game this year will be based on the relief of the Siege of Buda in 1541.  The inspiration for the game came from Oliver Green's Camisado blog especially the photographs of his excellent collection.  He and Stuart Mulligan have extended the Dan Mersey Lion Rampant rules, (published by Osprey), into the Renaissance period and very kindly supplied us with a copy of their rules and army lists.

Buda is held by Hungarian, Moldovian and Wallachian troops loyal to the Sultan and an Imperial army, also containing some Hungarian troops, led by General Roggendorf, has been besieging it.,  Sultan Suleiman 1 is leading an army to raise the siege and has  reached Buda before the Imperialists can form up their forces away from the  siege works and camp.

The Ottoman forces arrive before the Imperialists can move away from their camp

The Imperialist infantry still forming up


The view from the walls of Buda

So, is you are attending the Phalanx show please feel free to drop by, have a chat and perhaps roll a few dice with us.  We will be adjacent to Dave Lanchester books.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

A Grand Day Out: Partizan 2022

 On Sunday, Steve and I ventured over the Pennines to the Partizan show at Newark.  It was c11am when we arrived and it was plain from the number of vehicles already parked that many other wargamers had converged on the venue.   Once inside we saw that the organisers had again produced a show with a high standard of games on display and also provided a wide range of traders.  What follows are photos of a selection of games; it concentrates on my main areas of interest but games from other periods which were worthy of inclusion.

First, a showstopper of a game which my photos do not really do justice to, the game the late Ian Smith would have brought to Partizan, put on by his friends as a tribute to him.  A YouTube can be found here


Close by was this Great Northern Wars game by the Derby Wargames Society, which portrayed the Battle of the River Pruth, a significant defeat for the Russian army led by Peter the Great.

Views of the Russian camp


The Ottoman forces

Barry Hilton had three mini 17th century naval games set in the Second Anglo-Dutch War and I was particularly taken by the lovely model of the Medway. Unfortunately the roof lights reflected off the varnished river. 

 The Immortals put on the battle of Morlaix, 1342 which used a new type of table matting based on a material usually used for lining hanging baskets.  It gave a distinctive texture to the display, also distinctive was the basing of the archers .

Simon Miller put on a game based on the Battle of Roundway Down and used an inclined table.

Steve Jones put on The Battle of Freeman's Farm from the AWI.

One of the great features of the Partizan show is the Participation Zone where visitors can try out all sorts of games.  Steve and I tried "Never mind the Boathooks" which is a version of the popular "Never mind the Billhooks" rules for medieval naval warfare, produced by Andy Callan.  The rules give a fun game with plenty of incident.

An inspiring day with the added attraction of meeting up with friends from all over the country.  There were many other games on offer and I am sure that you can find large numbers of photos on other blog reports.