Sunday, June 20, 2010

Disaster in the Sudan!

"A Company" 99th (Banffshire) Regiment of Foot man a lonely outpost in the Sudan. They await the changing of the guard in the morning as Colonel Alexander Erskine brings "B and C Companies" from the fort to relieve them.

On Saturday our group convened in Brown Deer, WI to fight a colonial battle in the Sudan between the Black Beja warriors of Osman Dinga plus reinforcements from some Arab tribesman. In all, they outnumbered the Imperial forces by about two to one. A company of Highlanders (the mythical 99th (Banffshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot was manning an outpost on the perimeter of the British supply base at Jebil Obeid, on the Nile River. Colonel Alexander Erskine was accompanying two more companies of Highlanders that were going to relieve and replace "A Company". A squadron of the 10th Hussars accompanied Erskine and patroled in the direction of a ridge to the east of the redoubt. The supply base was garrisoned by the Royal Berkshires, the Bombay Pioneers, a regiment of Egyptian regulars and a regiment of Sudan regulars, plus assorted Imperial cavalry and some Royal Artillery batteries.

General Pettygree, commanding officer of the garrison, ordered Colonel Erskine to take two companies out to the redbout and return if any trouble was brewing. Pettygree promised to send out several reinforcing regiments if Erskine got caught up in serious trouble.

Our story, as told by The Guardian correspondent, Harry Pearson, follows below:

All is safe and quiet in the supply depot at Jebil Obeid, on the Nile.

Workers unload supplies at the Nile River port of Jebil Obeid

But Arab dowhs sneak up the Nile to attack the depot from the waterside.

A hussar patrol under the command of Major Trevillian takes a morning ride to see what is over the other side of the ridge. Well, we have our suspicions about what they might find, don't we? I mean, it is like a horror movie, why does the beautiful girl always go down into the dark basement to see what that noise was? Why are the British hussars checking out the other side of the ridge? Well, we need a macguffin for this game, as Hitchcock would say.

What the hussars saw on the other side of the ridge. Did you have any doubts?

The patrol hurries back to the redoubt manned by Coy A of the Banffshire Regiment, at least what is left of them return. Only 3 of the 12 hussars made it back to the redoubt, the rest were cut down by Beja riflemen.

"Mark your targets men, aim low!" The replacement guard of Coys B and C quickly form line and prepare to open fire on the Beja and their Arab allies as they converge on the redoubt.

They are coming closer. Ulp!

...and now they are a bit too close as they rush the redoubt. The first ranks of the Banffshires have fallen back to the second line of mealie bags after several volley fires. In the background, you can barely make out a regiment of Sudanese regulars extending the Banffshires line to the right.

The first wave of Beja are thinned out a bit, but not enough to prevent them from charging into the redoubt.

An aerial view of the action so far: two rubs of Beja converge on the redoubt while a third rub melees with Companies B & C outside of the redoubt. The Sudanese regulars provide some helpful fire support to the right of the Highlanders. Guardian correspondent, Harry Pearson, can be seen mounted on his horse observing the action by the supply cart.

Colonel Alexander Erskine looks back toward the supply depot at Jebil Obeid, wondering where are those reinforcements that General Pettygree promised him.

Desperate hand to hand fighting inside the redoubt. If only the Highlanders can win this one melee, then the routing warriors will disrupt the pile of Dervish reinforcements that are bunched up behind them. Colonel Erskine orders Correspondent Pearson to ride back to the fort and convey the bad news to General Pettygree. Pearson gladly obliges.

Alas, it was not to be. A and B companies make their last stand inside the redoubt, while most of C Company is cut down just outside the redoubt. The Sudanese repelled one rub of Fuzzies, but they made the rash decision to pursue them and they in turn were cut down by Arab reinforcements. The survivors fled back to the supply depot.

So three companies of the 99th Foot were wiped out in the redoubt and half of the Sudanese regiment perished as well. Colonel Erskine and three of his men were the only survivors of the Highland contingent in the battle. Erskine claims that he was trying to rally the Sudanese and found himself carried away in their route. I leave it to you, dear reader, to make your own judgement on our dear Colonel Erskine.

It is very clear to me though, that I need to place an order for about four Gardiner machine guns from Connoisseur Miniatures so that this does not happen again. Nevertheless, I had fun getting wiped out and a good time was had by all.


  1. Oh, if only the quartermaster has issued the ammo faster!!!

  2. Great battle report - what rules did you play with?

  3. Love the report and the photos -- excellent!

  4. We used Bill Protz's BAR variant for colonial wargaming. The rules worked very well.

    The problem wasnt the quartermaster, it was that I had to deploy the Highlanders in a salient and could only ever bring half of the unit's fire at the fuzzies at any time since I was in a sort of V-shaped formation.

  5. Thank you for posting terrific photos and remarks Jim plus proving what a capital fellow you are to get your new Scots and Dervishes ready for the game; some 250 chaps!
    Others thankfully contributed as well. Randy with Arabs, an oasis, palm trees and MBA buildings. Chuck readied his new Dervishes, provided the Nile, two dhows, reddish rocky terrain identified as ancient ruins and the most amazing palm trees ever seen. Keith provided some of the celebrated Sudan collection of Peter Gilder.
    The Main Camp provided artillery support fire ror Jim's Scots plus an Egyptian battalion. It not get very far and did not do well at all. We rated the latter as poor for fire. As a result, they performed so, umm, poorly, they withdrew back behind the zariba.
    Three of the four Dervish commands, well, 2.5 of them went at Jim. A very hard rain over in the redoubt. Still the Scots did well and if not for a unlucky run of dice throws, just might have thrown back a large portion of the initial first wave attack.
    Elsewhere there was a supply column also coming in which needed guarding lest it would be lost.
    In front of the Main Camp, the Imperials caused the fourth flag of the foe to retire behind cover and out of sight.
    Had there been time, the foe would have massed for a terrible assault on the Main Camp. Impossible to predict the outcome but there was a lot of firepower there especially after the battalion guarding the supply column arrived.

  6. Great report...nice to see the Sudan back in the works!

  7. You do realize that the bravest person in the battle was the artist who allowed himself to be flown in a kite sot that he could paint those "aerial" images. Bravo to him!

    -- Jeff

  8. ...those native people - very well Direkted, the Great EYE of Knowledge is very impressed with them - perhaps a regiment raised for Herrschaden service would set the flames alight - magnificent figures and report!

    The EYE watches you!


  9. Great AAR! I like all the photos of masses of figures going at it. Thank You very much, it's great inspiration to me to keep at my Colonial Sudan games.

  10. Good to see the Dervish win - as they did sometimes!

    It's clear they've been having instruction... "Only 3 of the 12 hussars made it back to the redoubt, the rest were cut down by Beja riflemen" - French or Italian mercenaries??? :o))