What follows is a dispatch from Captain Charles Chase of the Honorable East Indostan Company to General Sir Richard Hardballs. The report is written by Dave and pictures from the battle can be found below, using the Sharp Practice rules. (Click the images to enlarge)
Dispatch To General Sir Richard N. Hardballs
After our discussion on the reconnoiter of outlaying farms and villages this report follows. Carrying out your orders I left Noghul with two companies of line infantry, Lt. “Chinstrap” Sutton, sergeants Snodgrass and Nobbs, the Indo tracker called Runoff and my translator, Imshae (who I have the devil understanding), several water carriers and children. I am unsure where these children have come from but they are prolific and try to sell everything from carved wooden elephants, to something called the Taj Mahal. We soon left them all behind and marched due east from our siege works at Noghul.
After several hours on the march we came across a farm and a small blockhouse defended by a company of Grenadiers and the remnants of a company of line infantry. It looked like a fierce battle had been fought and after talking to the garrison's commander, a large strapping Grenadier officer by the name of Captain Smallgoods, I discovered only hours before the farm had indeed been raided. Several civilians and officers had been captured by the brigands who had fled to the south east. I immediately took charge of the situation (my commission maturer then Smallgoods) and taking a company of Grenadiers to bolster my own forces we set off with haste, our tracker Runoff in the lead.
We soon located the brigands holed up amongst some rocks in a dry wadi. I espied through my spyglass the captured civilians, two it appeared had been rolling around in flour, why I am unsure, and amongst them a lady! Immediately we swung into action. I ordered Smallgoods and his sergeant, Braune Steynes to come down on the left while Nobbs, Snodgrass and I would come through the middle. Lt. Sutton would follow us bringing up the rear. The brigands were keen for a fight and their leader sent skirmishers forward to slow our advance, an action which was hardly necessary as the weather was quite hot and the men moved slowly. The Indos got a rude shock of their own though, as a tiger, which had been lying low, sprang from nearby bushes causing confusion. At least one of the skirmishers must have kept his head, as they quickly composed themselves and fired on the beast, killing it outright. An ominous sign?
Ordering my troops down the side of the wadi amongst the rocks, I was barged off my feet by the men who were keen for the fray. I soon regained my composure, catching up with them, however as they entered the rocks, the heat and lack of water took its toll slowing them to a crawl.
Meanwhile Sergeant Steynes had made excellent time and was starting to pour fire down on the left flank. Captain Smallgoods followed behind. Alas Lt. Sutton and his men were nowhere to be seen and soon I received word he had taken a nasty tumble, having twisted his ankle. Refusing to be removed from the field, and his men refusing to leave him behind, they remained in the rear.
Our shot was proving frustratingly bad, either the men from grinding their powder too fine or from the heat and lack of water I am unsure, but our aim was wide. The Indos were also having a hard time finding their marks, but I put that down to native ineptitude.
Eventually my men traversed the rocks and started to cross the wadi. Sergeant Nobbs had skirted around the rough and was also pushing into the center; I think the promise of an additional grog ration is working wonders! No sooner though had we crossed the expanse and formed into line an almighty din could be heard from behind us. The Indos had brought up reinforcements and were attacking us in the rear! From messengers and what I could see through my spyglass, Lt. Sutton made an excellent show, repulsing wave after wave of Indos as they threw themselves at his thin red line. I saw an armoured Indostani chap on horseback call him out and gallantly he accepted the challenge, alas smoke and dust blocked my view and I could not see the outcome. Later his men reported to me that he had disappeared amongst the smoke and chaos. All that they found was his hat and broken chinstrap. I pray he is alive and we find him fit and well.
Meanwhile the Grenadiers had pushed up the left and had shown the bayonet to the Indos, who promptly showed the grenadiers their bullocks and ran off. Where the bullocks came from I don’t know, but they appeared out of the smoke in the middle of the Indos' camp, presumably from their raids on the farms. The Grenadiers fought their way to within several paces of the captured civilians. It was the group with the terrified young lady in it. Who says gallantry is dead eh? Another wave of brigands attacked, repulsing the Grenadiers and cutting them off from their quarry. I could hear Lt. Smallgoods cussing from the other side of the field.
By this time, with darkness falling, I pushed the line forward and after several devastating volleys, we slow marched for the rocks, bayonets at the ready muskets primed and the drums beating the pace. All had not gone well for us though. The Indostanis let off several volleys as we crossed the open ground and received several casualties, amongst them the brave Sergeant Snodgrass, though not mortally wounded, he took a ball in the shoulder and was knocked from his feet. Our guide and water boys tended to him as the line pressed forward. Alas amongst the growing darkness, smoke and dust, and no doubt with the sight of the line advancing slowly towards them, the Indos gave us the slip, fleeing into the night with their prisoners. Seeing their comrades vanishing into the gloom, the other laggards in our rear ceased their attacks and withdrew.
Deciding it was too dark and the men desperate for rest and water, we have made camp at the wadi and come the dawn I will send Runoff to search for signs of Lt. Sutton and the Indostani brigands.
I am in a good defensible position, with a solid supply of food and water, and once again surrounded by many children selling more bits of useless junk. I await your orders.
Captain Chase leads his men.
The Indostani brigands lie in wait with their captives.
The Grenadiers move down the left flank.
Chase navigates the rough terrain.
Their skirmishes are attacked by a tiger!
The opening exchange.
The first British volley!
A bird's eye view of the field.
The Grenadiers draw a lot of attention.
Sgt. Nobbs' men finally reach effective range.
With Sgt. Snodgrass wounded, alone, Captain Chase co-ordinates a line beyond the rocks.
The enemy are at our backs.
Heat, dust and lead.
Where did they come from?
The line is formed. FIRE!!
Sgt. Steynes pushes his advantage.
Meanwhile, the brigands to the rear launch an attack on Lt. Sutton.
The Grenadiers charge, and drive off the foe, but...
...are themselves counter-charged and...
...finally repulsed. The captives still in the hands of the enemy.
In the rear the battle rages...
... Lt. Sutton meets the Indostani leader in mortal combat.
Chase directs fire on the enemy's position - surely they can't hold out much longer?
The above scenario was loosely based on an article in issue 271 of Wargames Illustrated, titled the Battle of Sideling Hill. It was meant for the French and Indian Wars but had some goals easily adaptable to any genre. It was a really fun game and proved full of action. Unfortunately time did not permit to see the scenario to it's end, but I do predict it may have been a victory to the British, what with Chase's line amongst the brigands. We will certainly be revisiting this one when the campaign starts proper in one form or another.
In the last couple of days some posts on the Too Fat Lardies Yahoo
site and the purchase of their new Terrible Sharp Sword
supplement, has confirmed something I was suspecting we have been doing incorrectly in our SP games - the use of Blinds. It has dawned on me that the use of Blinds will not only add a great degree of "fog of war" but will also hasten the more boring and time consuming initial moves. My initial thoughts were that Blinds were to be used only on those more "sneaky" type missions where someone is trying to avoid detection. I now believe they can be used in each scenario and will assist to "cut to the chase" (no pun intended) more quickly. We will test this theory in our next game.