Saturday, July 14, 2012

Attack on the Tembe

Before the game I had to decide on the politics of the situation. The Ukrazi tribe could offer help to the Yabhouti Arab slavers currently occupying the tembe. Previous heavy defeats at the hand of the British and a long-standing dislike of the Arabs made this chance remote. I decided there was only a 20% chance the tribe would fight, and rolled 23% on decimal dice - close, but no cigar. The Yabhoutians were on their own.

And so to the game. Captain Pike had taken direct control of 1st Section of the Barsetshire platoon, CSM Harrington control of the battered 2nd Section, now down to seven effectives, including the recalled Pvt. Hare. Cpl. Powell's 3rd Section were brought ashore to provide the vital manpower needed for the final assault. 

The terrain in the area is tangled, with stands of scrub, trees, long grass and other obstacles to confuse any white man passing through. I decided to roll 1d6 to see which section of the table the British would enter by from the East. A score of 1 placed them closest to the tembe, 2-3 in the central section, and 4-6 the area nearest the river - which Capt. Pike would prefer.
Needless to say, he didn't get his way. The die decided the British entry point would be close to the tembe. Cpl. Powell led the way through the trees and scrub to within sight of the tembe, standing on its low hill.
Captain Pike with 1st Section followed close on his heels. As ordered, Powell approached the tembe and promptly received fire from its walls. A great wail of fear told the British soldiers slaves were present. 
Powell followed pre-encounter orders and withdrew to the scrub line to conduct a heavy rifle fire upon the embrasures in the tembe walls. 

Pike had two options for breaking into the tembe. One was a bombardment from the Indian Army mountain gun, crewed by Bombardier Lal Singh, but Singh appeared to have been delayed in the brush. The second was a petard placed against the tembe gate. Appraised by Cpl. Powell that slaves were present, Pike decided on the petard. Even though placing it posed more risk for his troops, it would be safer for the unfortunates within than a full-on bombardment.

Girding their loins, Pike and his men rushed toward the gate, as CSM Harrington came up on their left.  

Pike noticed that fire from the tembe had already slackened considerably as Powell's musketry came into play. It helped his aim considerably. He and his men reached the log gate, and set to work with practiced hands to set the charge. 

Meanwhile, CSM Harrington ran into an ambush. On approaching a belt of scrub he and his men were totally surprised by a blast of musketry. As powder smoke filled the air, Harrington could see the dark shapes of tribal musket men dodging and ducking amidst the scrub. He directed his men to return fire, but so rattled were they, their efforts proved negligible.
Pike's men set the charge and Pike himself lit the fuse. Retiring immediately, they were still almost caught by the explosion. As his head reeled and ears rang, Pike made a mental note to brush up on his field demolition techniques.

Not far away, Harrington and 2nd Section were in trouble. Pvt. Alder fell dead, shot through the head, and the shock began to pile up. The section's return fire was still ineffective, and the men began to waver.
As smoke from the petard cleared, Cpl. Powell seized his chance. Standing up, he shouted "Come on, lads!" and with a rush and a cheer they stormed across the open ground and up to the walls. Pike directed fire from his own section upon the embrasures nearest the gate, and was joined by Lal Singh with the mountain gun.

Powell and his men thrust the rifle muzzles in through the embrasures and fired unaimed. Return fire from the tembe all but vanished, as Pike led his men with a cheer to the gaping hole where the gate had been. Behind him, 2nd Section had retired from contact. Harrington began berating them, ordering them to stand fast. Reluctantly, 2nd Section slowly pulled itself together, but the fight appeared to be all but over.  

Even though the Yabhoutians were protected by the stout walls of the tembe they'd suffered from Powell's well-directed fire. Only the leader, Wazir Amini Tago and one of his men survived out of the dozen or so original garrison. Even so, he met Pike at the gate in hand-to-hand combat. 
The fight surged back and forth, with shrewd blows taken and given. Eventually, bloody and rather annoyed, Pike beat his man down and placed the point of his sword at the Wazir's throat. "You will yield, sir!" he snapped.

The Wazir complied. The slaves were liberated, the tembe fell, and with it the last bastion of Sheik Yabhouti's influence in the Ukraziland region.

And so ends the Raid on the Tembe mini-campaign. A follow-up with thoughts on the game will appear soon.


wardy-la said...

Good to see Captain Pike leading from the front. A true gentleman!

Bluebear Jeff said...

And just how did Pvt. Hare perform (or not perform) his duties?

Reads like a nice sharp action well carried out.

I look forward to your thoughts.

-- Jeff


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