Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sudan campaign ~ situation so far

A glance at the theatre map shows the current situation and disposition of forces.

Cataracts and Wolseley and Wild, Wild Warriors.

General Wolseley has had an easy time of it so far. He advanced up the Nile to the town of Kerma without facing much opposition. It seems the population of those areas closest to the Egyptian frontier have yet to decide if they're for the Mahdi or not.

The Nile is daily becoming more of a problem due to falling water levels. In spite of this the three steamboats sent to Abu Hamad have successfully descended the river to rejoin the flotilla with the main army. One boat received minor damage from captured Egyptian guns sited in Mahdist ring forts covering the 4th Cataract below Kirbekan, and is undergoing repair at Kerma.

The steamboats carried copies of Brigadier Stewart's report from the Flying Column as to its progress and the recent battle. Stewart's report did not impress Wolseley, but there's little he can do about the situation.

Sending another flying column to Abu Hamad is out of the question since it will denude his own force of cavalry and mobile infantry. Wolseley intends to continue his march, but is giving careful thought to sending steamboats to Abu Hamad with supplies, ammunition and reinforcements for Stewart. He has one other gunboat, Sultan, which he would prefer to keep with his army. Equally, the steamboats face a tough time of ascending the Nile without an armed escort vessel since the River Arabs are now considered actively hostile. Decisions, decisions...

As for the situation at Abu Hamad the recent battle was, as one correspondent put it, 'brutal.' The Mahdists lost over 2,300 warriors, the Flying Column 910. Such losses put both commanders, Brigadier Stewart and Emir ibn Yusuf, in a quandary. Stewart more or less has to stay put in the town of Abu Hamad and await reinforcements. He has supplies for a couple of weeks, but ammunition is a concern since so much of it was lost along with the Camel Corps' mounts. At least he can act as a threat-in-being, since the mere presence of his brigade threatens Mahdist control of the area should Emir ibn Yusuf withdraw.

Should I stay or should I go?

Emir ibn Yusuf's army suffered enough casualties he can't make a move against a determined defence, neither can he withdraw without the British force seizing control of the area. As the uprising spreads reinforcements are coming in, although recent Imperial victories in the Red Sea Littoral province have mitigated the enthusiasm shown by the local River Arabs and Sudanese for the Mahdi's cause. This has reached the point where new recruits aren't as numerous as ibn Yusuf would like. For now he has dispersed much of his force in the locality so his warriors can forage, but all are within easy recall distance should the Infidel make a move. 

The Emir has decided to take the option of moving SSE to join with the remnants of Usman Digna's army, currently withdrawing from its home territory after the rough handling meted out by Major General Graham's column. Combined, this will give the Mahdists a potent army with which to face Graham's column in battle as it approaches the town of Berber on the Nile. If/when victory is achieved recruitment will pick up, and ibn Yusuf can then return to deal with Stewart's force before British reinforcements arrive. The Emir has enough intelligence of the Infidel Chief's activities he knows this will be a long time yet.


Carlo said...

Looking very interesting AJ. I simply love a good campaign and this has all my favorite aspects tied into one...especially being in the Sudan!

A J said...

Thanks, Carlo, I agree, a campaign lifts gaming to a whole new level. It never ceases to amaze me what random chances can throw up to direct the course of a campaign. I'll post the mechanisms I use when the current campaign is concluded. On to Khartoum!


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