I hope this letter finds yourself and Lady Hardballs in good health. What follows is the account of the close victory we have achieved.
As you are aware Sir, the town of Ohsheet sits on our busy trade road to Madapras. The local satrap chap, a Poomba Chowdri has refused to let our merchants pass through without paying
As ordered, a company of line infantry, under my direct charge and supported by my subordinates Lieutenant “Chinstrap” Sutton and Sergeant Nobbs, as well as a half-company of Grenadiers, under the command of Lieutenant Smallgoods and Sergeant Braune Steynes, marched on the town. Also along, an Officer of Engineers, a Lieutenant Pardon, his gunners and ordnance piece. I believe you may have met Pardon at court once or twice, a very amiable young man. I do not see his hearing problem affectting his future prospects. On route we scoured some of the local friendly villages, procuring no less than twenty-four local volunteers, whom Sergeant Steynes took personal pride in forming into two expendable functional units.
As we approached the town my scout, Runoff, returned with news of the terrain. Shocking ground. The walls and fences of the town were barricaded by Indos, impenetrable jungle and scrub to all sides , a small rocky hill difficult to climb and sodden mud paddys. With nowhere to deploy the lines, it was going to be a hard slog and a hot day for the lads. Alas my gout was acting up and I was forced to ride my horse, Clag, which according to the Indo who sold her to me was a very lucky name in battle.
I ordered Smallgoods to take the Grenadiers and the Indo volunteers over the rocky outcrop and to attack on the right, while I would take my plucky lads and the cannon down the road to the left and force the flank into the village. Sergeant Nobbs who was in the lead unit wished me to “Pluck off” and I wished him the same, such a brave and gallant Sergeant. No sooner had we started down the road there was a brief shriek followed by an explosion from the Indostani lines. Taking out my spyglass I could see a plume of smoke and a rather chubby and blackened Indostani yelling and waving his fists at a group tribesmen behind him. Unsure exactly what was going on, I paid it little heed and ordered the men on. Lieutenant Sutton drove his men forward, stopping once, as a couple of them had a nasty attack of the galloping trots, but we pushed further down the road a few more paces.
Suddenly a second shriek and a long column of smoke which at first headed towards us and then quickly turning to pass over the Indos defenses, heading towards a large house before veering off once again to explode on the hill above us. My men looked at me somewhat anxiously but I waved them on. Sutton soon had a unit of men pushed up through a narrow gap between hill and road and was being shot at from stone walls and fences. Sergeant Nobbs had moved further down the road to a watch tower of ramshackle construction and was also exchanging volleys with Indos sheltered behind fences. Meanwhile Smallgoods and the Grenadiers were struggling with getting up and over the hill. The native chaps scampered over, being urged on by Steynes and I could hear the echoes of “Schnell swartz swine hunds” and other Prussian ranting from my place on the road. They were soon trying to cross the fields and scrub under fire from the walled house.
Back on the road my men were being shot at from all angles and the cannon was slowly being brought up but much to slowly for my liking. Just as we started pushing up the road more shrieks were heard and plumes of smoke whizzed across the battlefield, causing not only my men, but also my horse, to slow their progress. Once again using my spyglass I determined that these weapons being used against us were in fact rockets! This was indeed not only my first encounter with these fiendish weapons but also that of the men. My horses' reaction was probably an omen for what was about to come, steady in battle indeed, for after the last volley it hesitated stepped sideways, went round in circles and finally after much urging decided to once again go forwards. Sergeant Nobbs though seemed undeterred by these weapons and kept his men advancing at a steady pace along the road. The same could not be said for the unit following him, who had slowed their advance to a snail's pace.
Meanwhile Sutton and his men were keeping up a masking fire while trying to advance on the walls, this however had little to no momentum, nor were the Grenadiers having as much luck either for their advance had slowed to a halt trying to cross a paddy field. Only the native volunteers under the ranting threats of Sergeant Braune Steynes had advanced and leapt over the wall into the village. I am still unsure if this was due to some ancient rivalry between tribes or they had an eye for the villagers camels.
The Indostanis weren’t having it all their own way though. One group of villagers seemed to have used up all its gunpowder and ran off into the main building, while another seemed to be swearing and carrying on at the group moving and firing the rockets, seems they have about as much control over those things as Sergeant Nobbs has control over his base urges in a tavern.
It was the Grenadiers though, who under the brilliant command of Smallgoods saved the day. Either fed up of being shot at by the Indos inside the building or just fed up of being in knee deep muck and mud, charged the wall and leapt over it. Soon much hand to hand fighting was taking place in and around the main building. Not to be outdone, Sergeant Nobbs also charged, sending his men over the fence by the road to clear out the Indos firing on him from there. Alas for Nobbs he miscalculated his charge and landed straddling the fence causing him to wince in pain and slowly keel over cupping his “two meat and veg” as the men colorfully put it. While he moaned quietly, his men drove off a mob of Indos and sent them running.
The Grenadiers had a bloody melee on their hands fighting room by room in cramped quarters. I am happy to report they performed admirably killing or chasing off all the Indos holed up in the house. I even saw through my spy glass the Indo chief dive through a window to save his own skin! It was the Grenadiers who won the day through their brave actions and derring do.
The flank assault lost, Nobbs started to retreat back down the road but his path was blocked when a rocket collided with the look out tower and the whole structure came crashing down. To my astonishment, Runoff who had been watching the battle from up there was at first left clutching to pieces of wreckage before being knocked clear as the tower collapsed. I am happy to report my plucky Indo scout survived with some bruises and cuts.
With the collapse of the tower and the grenadiers blood up, the remaining Indos decided they had had enough and fled leaving us in control of the town. I have since dispatched work parties to clear up the wreckage and reopen the road for traffic. My men are bloodied and shaken from their first encounter with rockets but I'm sure we will fare better next time now we know what we are dealing with.
|The outskirts of Ohsheet.|
|The defenses along the road.|
|The defenses at the house.|
|Poomba Chowdri surveys his men.|
|The watchtower and it's sentry.|
|Chase, astride "Clag", in command of the flank assault.|
|Pugey Chowdri is blown from his horse, by the first rocket of the game.|
|A little better - at least the rocket clears the Indostani lines.|
|Lt. Sutton urges his men forward.|
|The volunteers rush forward under threats from Sgt. Steines|
|The defenders open fire.|
|Sutton's men come under fire.|
|Chase's skittish horse.|
|Pushing down the road.|
|Lt. Smallgoods and the Grenadiers.|
|Smallgoods under withering fire.|
|A birds-eye view of the assault on the house.|
|Damp powder forces some Indostani to retreat into the house.|
|Lt. Sutton attempts to form the men in line.|
|The hell at the road.|
|Sgt. Nobbs' charge.|
|The volunteers fight off the defenders left at the wall...|
|... while the Grenadiers direct fire onto the house...|
|... and charge it en masse.|
|They pour in downstairs...|
|... they pour in upstairs ...|
|... and take the house by storm, forcing Poomba to flee through a window!|
|Meanwhile, the rockets wreak havoc...|
|... and some men break and flee.|
|A rocket shrieks through Sutton's men.|
|The cannon is finally revealed.|
|Hold! It's only a little noise and smoke.|
|Pardon's opening and finale shot.|
|Chaos, but victorious!|
Happy Australia Day everyone!!