We gave my Perry figures another run out at the club using Black Powder rule set. The British were given 2 Brigades of infantry each with 3 Battalions of foot with support by a 7pdr Screw gun, a Gardner and Gatling Machine gun. They were also given a brigade of Cavalry of 3 regiments including a regiment of Bengal Lancers. These were faced by 8 foot units of Beja warriors (2 rifle armed) and 2 Nile Arab units on foot. In support the Mahdists had 2 cavalry, 2 camelry units and 2 captured Krupp guns.
The British players Noel and Phil took a brigade of infantry each and split the cavalry. I am not sure whether much discussion was had over a battle plan but noel decided that speed was of essence and his cavalry charged down the British right flank and very quickly charged into trouble! Phil of the right flank decided a much more prudent advance was the order of the day even though that meant Noel’s brigade’s left flank was hanging in the air. Both British players decided that an advance in line was the formation to adopt – not brigade squares. Noel’s cavalry after a fierce engagement withdrew slight worse for wear. His infantry were marching as quickly as they could to help support the outnumbered cavalry.
The Cavalry charged again and were destroyed. The natives led by Simon and Jonathan surprised the advancing British infantry and smashed into the advancing British infantry brigade. Unable to deploy his supporting machine guns (due to poor order dice rolls) Noel’s British brigade ended up in a fierce melee all long his line. However Phil’s troops were still some way back and were unable to support. Lady luck deserted Noel in his dice rolls and combined with clever aggressive play by Simon and Jonathan resulted in Noel’s brigade of infantry being destroyed – even the Scottish infantry fell to the charge of the Ferocious Beja. I am sure there will be questions in the house… Phil’s brigade finally got into action seeing off a few native units and started to grind forward. However heavily outnumbered and still far from the objective and game time running out the day was won by the Mahdists. The British players were left pondering where it wrong…
More Pictures from Phil's fantastic game
Over on the samurai right, the fight goes on with the Kuroji still in control of the temple and seemingly destined to remain so. As the first temple under threat it seemed to be ready to fall, but has ended up the only temple still firmly in the monks’ control. As for the others, one has been ransacked and the other two are close to falling. The switch of the Hachisuka clan to attack the Oushokuji temple appears to have reduced the pressure on the Kuroji.
Meanwhile the fight on the central hill is nowhere near producing a result .
As night falls and with it the lure of Rob San’s wonderful nosh, Phil San declares a marginal victory for the Samurai with only the arrival of darkness and hunger preventing a substantial victory. With that said, the assembled throng of wargamers alighted on the said wonderful nosh and proceeded to debate the events of the day, or as much of it as the now arrived partners of the wargamers would allow.
Help arrives or is hoped for
The temples under threat
On the Samurai left, battle was cautiously joined with the Papuruji monks. Surprisingly this proved unnecessary as the mounted samurai of the Ashikaga clan, emerging from their victorious destruction of those unworthy peasants, came down from the central hill and swept into the lightly defended Papuruji temple, killing the temple leader, ransacking the temple and resulting in the rout of the entire
Papuruji monk army. The decision not to defend the temple but to advance and take on the samurai had been proven to be heroic but unwise. The Ashikaga and Honda clans were now free to move all of their strength against the Howaidoji monks and Akechi clan in the struggle on the central hill.
In the centre the Ito and Sumikiri foot, now joined by the Hachisuka were pressing on towards the Oushokuji temple. The line of monk archers, carefully set out in defence behind their tate, did some damage with their archery but proved unable to stop the onslaught and were soon dispatched to the rear. The advance lapped at the fortified walls of the temple but was initially repulsed. The fight between the mounted units on the central hill ebbed and flowed, but eventually turned in favour of the samurai, who advanced toward the only lightly defended Howaidoji temple and Akechi maku. The Oushokuji temple was in danger of being isolated on both sides as the aggressive attack of the Hachisuka mounted samurai had pushed back the defending units on the other flank of the temple.
On the samurai right the battle for the Kuroji temple continued with the monks holding their own and being joined by another horde of unworthy peasants from yet another village. Curiously, all this time the monks had failed to make use of their secret knowledge of a track through the impassable mountain between them and the Hosokawa maku, and launch an attack on that maku. This was because, even more curiously, the Hosokawa had kept back a couple of apparently wasted foot units to defend it. Perhaps Alan San of the Hosokawa showed hidden wisdom or had memories from past battles or was just suspicious of seemingly impassable terrain.
The Monks prepare
Aware of the arrival of the Samurai clans the monks reacted, each temple in a differing way. On their left, the Kuroji lined the river in the expectation of an attack from the opposing clans - the Hisamatsu and the Hosokawa, supported by the Hachisuka.
The Samurai Advance
On the Samurai left the Ashikaga mounted samurai swept boldy forward to the paddy fields surrounding the nearby village, only to be rudely surprised by the appearance of peasants lining the river ahead. The proud samurai were astounded to be fired upon by these low born rabble. To add injury to insult the leaders of both mounted units were felled creating a moment of both crisis and outrage. The Ashikaga Daimyo hastily dispatched replacement leaders but before their arrival the samurai had rallied, crossed the river and chased the peasant upstarts into the hills.
The Honda mounted samurai were more cautious and ended in conflict with the advancing mounted monks. The foot samurai and ashigaru of both clans laboured to close up but were left trailing behind.
In the centre, the foot samurai and ashigaru of the Ito and Sumikiri clans got their feet wet entering the paddy fields on their respective sides of the village in their advance toward the Howaidoji temple. Once again the local peasants mustered to defend the monks and a protracted firefight began to flush them out. Eventually assaults were made across the river and the peasants dispersed.
With the intention of exploiting what seemed to be a weakness in centre of the monk defence, the mounted samurai of the Ito and Sumikiri clans crossed the river and advanced up the slopes of the central hill.
Perhaps forewarned by the appearance of peasants in the villages, the mounted samurai of the Hisamatsu and Hosokawa clans swept past the village on the samurai right and headed for the Kuroji temple. Over several combats they reached the temple and beyond it but were forced back through loss of leaders and casualties.
In all the villages the Samurai entered, they seemed surprised that peasant units appeared that were friendly with their local monks. Those in the village on the samurai right were cleared with relative ease by the samurai and ashigaru foot. The advance on the Kuroji temple gathered pace and the temple seemed to be under imminent threat.