Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bombay Dreams 1898

"My it's bloody hot today, eh Khambatta?"  Col. Buckingham took a moment to wipe the perspiration from beneath his pith helmet.  "And only the morning to boot."  "I am confident the other white officers would not share your discomfort, being comfortably situated in Fort Bombay." said Senior Captain Khambatta.  His posture with his colonel was relaxed, belying his long relationship and many battles shared together.  "Do I detect a veiled criticism there old boy?"  A wry smile briefly crossed Buckingham's face.  As a native commander he was used to the subtle jabs and whispered remarks in the officer's mess.  "Let us just note Sir, that the only troops on duty for the day are our 1st Sikh battalion in this advanced redoubt and the Bombay Sappers and Engineers.  They at least are working the wharves and get a breeze off the water."

The post of "honor"
"None the less, there's work to be done.  Get Sergeant Gupta and have him take a company to the watchtower and relieve the Berkshires.  They'll be wanting to get back to town.  You can join them and assume command once we've gone over the daily returns."  Buckingham knew that at the watchtower outpost there would at least be tents for shade plus the covered watchtower itself.  Not everyone needed to sweat.

Fort Bombay, with the morning stirrings of the garrison
Fort Bombay held some strategic importance since the waterways are the source of life in the Sudan.

Cavalry patrol that passed by early on.  Besides their normal duties there was some talk of archaeologists and a survey going on at the nearby ruins.

The first of their horde arrives.  Out of sight of most, our only clue was ominous dust, though in the Sudan the source for that could many things.

Sgt. Gupta reported in and, seeing the dust, aligned his men to guard against a sudden onslaught.  The Berkshires, being proper soldiers, first had to form up and take role.

Form a combined square under the command of the Berkshire officer and advance to the pass as a steady stream of pack animals and scouts pour past.

"I say... oops."

The Fuzzy Wuzzy vanguard impacts the square that has retired to it's starting point.

The first assault is repelled and the two large stands rout away.

But alas, the square is next assaulted on two sides and the gods of war are not kind.  It is pushed back, disordered, then a rout occurs.  It is not know whether the Berkshires ran first, as asserted by the Sikh witnesses, but the end result was the same.  Run to ground they were all wiped out.  The Fuzzy Wuzzys did not long enjoy their victory though.

Buckingham could see that attacks were going in against the walls of Fort Bombay.  They even had ships on the river.  So far they had all been bloodily repulsed but there were new elements in this action.  The Dervishes had some sort of Gatling Gun.  Where had they gotten it?  Fortunately it jammed permanently after a few shots.

A brief respite fell over the field as the Fuzzy Wuzzys and Dervishes fell back to regroup.  Seeing that this would be assault to decide the day, Buckingham pulled the Sikhs back to align themselves against the walls of the fort.  There was not time to get inside, but at least they wouldn't be flanked on the left and could maximize their firepower.

Some decidedly nervous looking Bengal Lancers and Scouts
took position behind the Sikhs.
Little further commentary is needed.

Volley fire at 200 yards!
Independent fire at 50 yards!
Much diminished, they still bravely hit home and
we are pushed back, almost onto the lancers.

And then they are gone.  The survivors fleeing back into the hills.

Some desperate fighting remained elsewhere but in the end...

Rule Britannia!
In the aftermath of the battle the grisly cleanup began.  We can only assume that the crocodiles would feast for some time.  The Bombay Sappers being a tidy lot and all.  For our part, outside of the loss of the square our casualties had been light.  We could only hope against hope that some of our brave lads had survived wounded when the square was overrun.  God Save the Queen.

See also the Campaigns of General Pettygree http://generalpettygree.blogspot.com/
Der Alte Fritz http://altefritz.blogspot.com/ (scroll down for this action) for more accounts of high adventure in 1898.


  1. Shabash Sah'b Michael,
    I enjoyed vicariously enjoying your part of the game again! Excellent photo sequence and narrative.
    Bill P.

  2. Wow! An excellent site! I particularly enjoyed the Sudan game in 1898 as most games are set in the 1880's Will they be more?

    Thanks for entertaining report - Dickie