The hellishly hot weather affecting the Midwest curbed any enthusiasm I might've had for being outdoors. I turned my mind instead to fighting the next action in the Raid on the Tembe mini-campaign - the Rev. Jenkins' Mission.
* * *The gradual opening-up of Ukraziland to British and European exploitation has led to a number of folks trying their luck on the new frontier. One such is the Reverend Charles Jenkins of the Barsetshire League of Anglican Missionaires (BLAM).
About a month ago Jenkins disappeared alone into the interior to set up a combined medical and religious outpost somewhere on the banks of the Ukrazi River. The steamboat Lady Cynthia recently made a scouting foray upriver ahead of the British column and sighted the mission, located in an Arab house not far from the east bank. Although the BLAM flag flew over the mission's roof, repeated blasts on the steam whistle elicited no response.
On the scouting report reaching Capt. Pike, OC British Column, he decided that as the mission lay upon his course to the slaver tembe, he'd investigate. Deploying his troops in skirmish order, he approached the area, alert for anything amiss...
Capt. Pike leads 2nd section at a brisk walk through the trees toward the mission house. The Ukraziland Rifles Askari section takes center, with CSM Harrington away to the right.
Harrington's suspicions regarding the undergrowth are justified when his sharp eyes spot movement. A large native warband lurks within cover.
Capt. Pike approaches the door to the mission house. The flag is missing, and no one answers his call.
Harrington forms his men into line and gets down to doing what he does best - directing rapid rifle fire into an enemy. The cover of the bush proves irksome. His section's fire isn't having the desired effect.
Not far off Capt. Pike gets an answer he wasn't expecting! A large native warband surges out of cover and slams into his section, sending it reeling back with casualties!
Once the Barsetshires win clear of the scrimmage, the Ukraziland Rifles respond to their comrades' distress by opening fire - only to find the attention of the entire warband turned murderously upon them!
The natives are victorious, driving the askari back in confusion. Their NCO manages to rally them, and they give a ragged volley. To their left, Captain Pike takes the opportunity to reorganize his men.
Goaded into attacking the askaris, the warband soon kill or drive off the remaining troops. Their sacrifice allows Captain Pike to ready his men for a counter blow.
Aware his previous performance hasn't been inspired, Bombardier Lal Singh seizes his chance. A well-directed shot causes more casualties to the warband. Their shock is accumulating fast...
Over on the right, Harrington breathes an inward sigh of relief as the disciplined rifle fire drives off the warband. The rifle barrels are too hot to touch!
"Bloody 'ell! 'Ees orf agin!" cries an unknown voice from the ranks as Pike leads them in a fierce charge into the disorganized warband. It's nip-and-tuck, with another two men falling to the deadly spears before the warband yields to the bayonets.
As the warband retreats, Pike orders Bugler Bates to sound Assembly. The clarion notes of the bugle summons Harrington across to his assistance.
Safe out of range of the deadly rifles, the Ukrazi leader N'Wenke exhorts his severely shaken warriors to make one last effort.
The Barsetshires have formed-up, and are coming on with blood in their eyes. Lal Singh directs another well-placed shot into the distant warband, destroying what little cohesion it's regained.
A final volley persuades the tribesmen to withdraw and lick their wounds. Although beaten, they feel satisfied the honors of battle have been more equal this day. They've destroyed the native soldier-slaves of the White Queen, and given her own troops a bloody nose. Perhaps their witchdoctor spoke truth - fighting smarter and not harder is the secret.
As the smoke dissipated, Captain Pike directed a signal to be sent to the Lady Cynthia, cruising not far off on the river. Her commander, Capt. Murdoch, turned her bows to the shore and moored. The casualties were brought to the bank as the medical team went ashore, and a tent erected for their use.
The Reverend Jenkins was found in his mission house, bound and gagged but unhurt. He converses with Capt. Pike as soldiers carry food and water for their fallen comrades.
* * *
Some thoughts on the game and the aftermath will follow soon.