Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Sudan: Battle of Gebeit, part two

As the day progressed it was becoming obvious to General Graham that considerable numbers of Mahdists were in the Gebeit area. War bands were appearing all around the compass but mostly to the North, North-East, and South-East. The Grenadiers had dealt with one serious attack. Now another appeared to be shaping up, this time directed against the Egyptian infantry.

An overview of the Imperial column to show who's where. The 15th (Ludhiana) Sikhs are deployed facing a threatening war band to the S-E, with the Australian NSW Battalion's Gatling gun unlimbered between the four companies. The Royal Artillery 12pdr has gone into battery alongside the Sikhs to render long range support. F company, Grenadier Guards has remained to give support to the Egyptian infantry against a threatened Mahdist charge from the N-E.

The Egyptians had shown themselves steady enough so far, but would their new confidence last against this latest threat?

To the South-East, the mass of Hadendowah launch an all-out charge. General Graham orders the Gordon Highlanders into line to support the Sikhs if necessary. The 12pdr rendered good service in fire support, but the Mahdists have come perilously close. Fortunately the Gatling gun doesn't jam and the Sikhs double volleys do the job. Bullets tear into the oncoming enemy. Their attack stalls. With great dignity they turn and walk away.

Not far away the Egyptians succeed in getting off two good volleys, but they're insufficient to stop the Hadendowah. With blood-curdling screams the Mahdists hurl themselves into the fray and the fight is on.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town... A couple of hundred Hadendowah stroll up towards the settlement. The Amarar camelry are surprised to see them and redeploy to keep these unwanted visitors out of town.

A deadly fight ensues between Egyptian infantry and Hadendowah. Historically such combats have never turned out well for the Egyptians, but in this case they win the laurels of victory-at a cost. Their volleys inflicted enough casualties to their hereditary enemy that they were outnumbered in the vicious hand-to-hand fighting. With the aid of A company the enemy are destroyed. F company of the Grenadier Guards looks on with approval.

The column is within sight of Gebeit. South of the town the Hadendowah war band becomes aware the place is occupied by unknown numbers of enemy. Uncertain, they pause to watch and wait.

Having dealt with the Hadendowah threat to the S-E, the column resumes its march. The Gordon Highlanders dispersed a small but threatening war band lurking in the old wadi. Now they form battalion column, eager to reach Gebeit and have a brew-up. Satisfied all is progressing well, General Graham follows on, accompanied by the Royal Artillery and the remnants of the 19th Hussars. In the distance the Sikhs and Egyptians form the rearguard.

Another overview of the column. From top to bottom, the Grenadier Guards, the Berkshire Regiment, the New South Wales Volunteers with General Graham, the guns and the Hussars close by, and the Gordon Highlanders. Top-right are the surviving Egyptian infantry, centre-right the 15th (Ludhiana) Sikhs.

As the sun begins to set the day still has one surprise, in this case a pleasant one. Coming in from the wilderness are two companies of Egyptian infantry and a squadron of lancers. Survivors from a lost garrison, the stalwart askari took their fate into their hands and marched to the sound of the guns. Fortune favours the brave, and they'll be safe in Gebeit with the Imperial column come nightfall. On the steep hill in the distance a sizable band of Hadendowah can do nothing but glower down from the height as their enemy passes by with impunity.

The end of the day, and the Imperial column enters Gebeit. Away in the distance the rearguard keeps watch against any sudden moves by the enemy, but there's little prospect of further action now. The way back to Suakin can be considered clear. Once in town General Graham intends to write his dispatches and send to Suakin for reinforcements - especially cavalry. Then there's the next stage to plan: the advance on the Hadendowah's nominal capital of Haiya.

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As with all games using these rules, nothing went quite as expected. I'll write up some thoughts on the game and the rules soon.

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