|Colonel of the Camerons regiment surveys the terrain. Click picture to enlarge.
Thursday evening I travelled to Bill Protz's house in Wisconsin so that we could play a "small game" using our 54mm toy soldiers for the Sudan campaigns. I call this game "small" only because I did not bring all of my toys on the road with me to Bill's house. I learned that it is not too difficult to transport the toy soldiers, so I imagine that we will have more games on Bill's large table set up.
I was particularly eager to have another 54mm Sudan game so that I could use my brand spanking new Cameron Highlanders from Heritage Miniatures in the UK. They had never been battle tested so it was with a little bit of trepidation that I included them in my order of battle (you know what always seems to happen to new war-game regiments the first time that they are in a game - they perform miserably). I am happy to report that the Camerons and a supporting company of the Black Watch performed admirably and with much grit and excellence.
Let us now get on with the story telling.
PLEASE CLICK ON ALL PICTURES TO ENLARGE YOUR VIEW
We called the scenario the Battle of Akasha, taking place during Kitchener's Omdurman Campaign in 1898. If you have a copy of the Osprey Campaign book 29 on Omdurman, you will see a very nice map on page 30 that provides a nice overview of where things are.
Akasha is near the end of the railroad line that the British built to make the hauling of supplies much easier. The railroad tracks by-pass a long section of the Nile River, south of the second cataract, that is vertually unnavigable. The Dervish, commanded by atman al-Azraq, are attempting to blow up a section of the railroad track to disrupt the advance of Kitchener's army. Kitchener has dispatched a small force of Camerons, Black Watch, Camel Corps and the Naval Brigade to protect the section of track between Akasha and the town of Firket. The commanding general is a certain General Shearing, rather than our usual friend, Major General Pettygree.
|General Shearing watches developments in the battle through his binoculars. The Camerons are to his front.
The rest of the story will be largely told through picture captions.
|A view of the battle field from the British point of view. They occupy the village of Akasha, largely in ruins. In the distance, one can see the village of Firket, as well as a hoard of Dervish.
|Britsh naval brigade defends the right flank of the British army in Akasha.
|Sailors are posted atop the ruins to keep an eye on any Dervish movements.
|The Camerons, Black Watch and a company of Camel Corps comprise the right flank, which will be the spearhead of the attack.
|Dervish cavalry and foot advance towards Akasha.
|Dervish work detail hauls a wagon full of gun powder that will be used to blow up a section of the railroad track.
|A band of Dervish advance up the railroad tracks looking for a place to lay down explosives to blow up the track.
|The left side of the Dervish deployment. Camel mounted scouts look for signs of the British.
|Beja riflemen hide in the wooded area in front of the Akasha ruins.
The battle begins as the left side (from the British point of view) of the Dervish army launches an attack on the Camerons and Black Watch.
|The Dervish warbands are spotted by the Camerons, so they deploy into a battle line supported by two Gatling guns and a Screw Gun.
|The larger of the two Dervish warbands piles headlong into the righthand company of the Camerons. A company of Black Watch (in grey tunics) will swing to the right and hit the Dervish in the flank.
|Another view of the melee.
|The Fuzzies occupy the vacated town of Akasha and capture the British colours. Just barely visible, at the bottom left side of the picture, a company of the Camel Corps turn around and face the enemy.
|The Dervish realize the futility of attacking the strong British line, and so their cavalry break off and return to Firket. The Dervish infantry also halt their forward movement, thus ending the Battle of Akasha.
|The battle, as seen from the Dervish perspective. At least two Dervish war bands, maybe more are running away from the deadly firepower of the Highland Brigade.
It was a very enjoyable game for the players of both sides. I think that the rules accurately reflected my understanding of warfare in the Sudan. The rules make it hard to kill of the Fuzzies, who are rated as "fanatical" warriors. They have a better chance of saving themselves during the saving roll phase of the game. This is based on accounts of the battle of Tamai, in which the Beja would appear to be shot down, but then they would get up and hurl themselves toward the British squares.
The Beja riflemen were difficult to deal with. They were picking off sailors with relative ease, but because they were in "open order/skirmish order", they were hard to hit.
It seems that every British brigade needs at least one Gatling gun or similar machine gun if it is to withstand a Dervish charge. A bit of good die rolling also helps. As for the Dervish, I think that they need to coordinate their charges so that several warbands hit the British line at the same time. Their piecemeal attacks were relatively easy to fend off, from the British point of view.
My Cameron Highlanders performed admirably in the game. They won numerous melees and caused three Dervish warbands to run away. My company of supporting Black Watch also performed well, noting their timely charge into the flank of the attacking Dervish. My Highland Brigade only lost three figures for the whole game!
I completely forgot about my brigade of Imperial cavalry, consisting of 18 of the 21st Lancers and 12 of the Egyptian Lancers. I had intended to have them roam around in the rear areas of the Dervish army, but instead they were unused. Perhaps it was just as well, for the cavalry were well-positioned to block off the Fuzzies who had broken through the Naval Brigade and could have threatened the rear of the British army.