As a result of the massacre of Bimbashi Bumble’s Punitive Expeditionary Force there was a general upsurge of discontent and violence in Southern Zubia, particularly along the border with Sadun. The Khedive seemed unable to respond, and as a result the commander of the Zubian Army sent one of his best young officers – Miralai Ahmed Kurti – to the nearest provincial capital – Atmara – to ensure that it was properly fortified and able to resist an attack. The commander also sent a consignment of new magazine rifles to arm the town’s garrison.The garrison comprised:
- Four Infantry Battalions
- An Artillery Battery
- A Machine Gun Battery
This proved to be a very sensible course of action and when Miralai Kurti arrived in Atmara he found it to be almost devoid of proper fortifications. Within days he had ensured that the town’s defences were repaired and improved, and that the garrison were trained how to use their new rifles and were ready to resist an attack.
The attack was not long in coming.
A large Native army advanced out of the desert to attack Atmara. Thanks to the successful destruction of Bimbashi Bumble’s Punitive Expeditionary Force, the numbers of insurgents had greatly increased, and besides Infantry (two bands of rifle-armed Native Infantry and six bands of spear-armed Native Infantry) and Cavalry (two bands each of Native Cavalry and Camelry), it now had a battery of ancient smooth-bore field guns.
The Native army’s advance brought them within range of the Zubian Field Artillery …
… who selected as their target a leading band of spear-armed Native Infantry …
… who suffered 25% casualties from the effects of the artillery shells that were fired at them.
The Zubian Machine Gun battery then joined in, and fired at another band of spear-armed Native Infantry …
… whom they almost wiped out!
Before the Native Army could move, the Zubian Field Artillery was able to fire at them for a second time at its previous target …
… and inflicted a further 50% casualties upon it!
As the Natives had the initiative, they surged forward undaunted by the casualties they had already suffered.
The Cavalry and Camelry advanced unhindered towards the flanks of Atmara’s defences whilst the much-depleted band of spear-armed Native Infantry assaulted the position held by the Zubian Machine Gun Battery. Their attack was unsuccessful …
… as was a second that was conducted by another band of spear-armed Native Infantry …
… but a third assault did manage to inflict a casualty on the Zubian Machine Gun Battery.
An assault by the other much-depleted band of spear-armed Native Infantry of the Zubian trenches also proved futile …
… and the rifle fire from one of the two bands of rifle-armed Native Infantry cause no casualties on the entrenched Zubian Field Artillery Battery.
The Zubian Machine Gun Battery opened fire on the large band of spear-armed Native Infantry to its right …
… which it almost destroyed, the survivors falling back to avoid further casualties.
The Zubian Infantry Battalion in the trenches to the left of the Zubian Artillery Battery fired at one of the on-coming bands of Native Camelry …
… inflicting 66% casualties on them.
The Zubian Infantry Battalion in the trenches just behind the Zubian Machine Gun Battery fired at remains of the band of spear-armed Native Infantry in front of them …
… whom they wiped out.
On the right-hand side of Atmara’s defences, the Zubian Infantry Battalion stationed in the trenches fired at one of the advancing bands of Native Cavalry …
… whom the forced to retreat after suffering 33% losses.
As the Zubian Artillery battery was the only Artillery Unit on the battlefield able to fire, it engaged the closest Native Unit, a band of rifle-armed Infantry …
… which it forced back out of single-shot rifle range after causing it 25% casualties.
At this point the battle could have gone either way, and whichever side had the initiative during this move might have been able to assure themselves of victory.
At this point the Zubians gained the initiative!
They began to exploit their advantage by firing their Machine Gun Battery at the nearest full-strength band of Native Infantry …
… which it forced to withdraw after it had suffered 50% casualties.
The Zubian Infantry Regiment in the trenches to the left of the Zubian Field Artillery Battery engaged the sole remaining members of a nearby band of Native Camelry …
… which they destroyed with the rifle fire.
The Zubian Infantry Regiment in the trenches immediately behind the Zubian Machine Gun Battery then fired on the nearest band of spear-armed Native Infantry …
… who were forced to withdraw after almost being wiped out!
On the right-hand side of Atmara’s defences the Zubian Infantry Regiment positioned there chose as its target the nearby band of Native Cavalry …
… which fell back after suffering 33% casualties.
The Native army was now exhausted, and were forced onto the defensive.
The Native army began to withdraw, suffering further casualties as they did so as a result of Artillery and Machine Gun fire. The uprising was suppressed – for the moment – and the Khedive could sit more easily on his throne … although the commander of the Zubian Army had shown that he might be a potent rival in the months and years to come.
A tax collector operating in Southern Zubia had been ambushed and killed, and his head returned to the Provincial Governor. The latter knew that the local situation was volatile, and asked that troops be sent from the north to ‘punish’ the tribes that had killed the Government Official.
The Khedive of Zubia had little option but to accede to this request as a refusal to do so would be regarded as a sign of weakness … and this might have given the Sultan of Fezia all the excuse he needed to remove the Khedive. A force was therefore assembled under the command of an ex-Captain of the Britannic Army, BimbashiHector Bumble.
Bumble’s ‘army’ comprised:
- Four Infantry Battalions
- A Cavalry Regiment
- An Artillery Battery
- A supply column
Despite being described in a local Zubian newspaper as being ‘probably the best military units in the service of the Khedive‘ (and as the ‘sweepings of the jails‘ in the foreign press) all of the units were poorly trained and under strength.
The journey south was uneventful, and despite fears that many of the soldiers would desert (something that was prevented by chaining the recruits together!), the newly-named Bumble Punitive Expeditionary Force was soon assembled in the capital of the Southern Province and ready to move against the rebellious natives who had killed the tax collector.
The Punitive Expedition marched unhindered across the desert towards the area where the tax collector had been killed. Locally recruited guides led the Expeditionary Force towards the village of Jebel-al-Kutallah, the supposed home of the natives responsible for the murder. The Expeditionary Force approached the village down a valley through a range of rugged hills that separated the village from the desert. Bimbashi Bumble ordered his Cavalry to scout ahead of the main body of the Punitive Expeditionary Force in order to ensure that no ambush had been set and that the advance would be unhindered.
This proved to be a wise decision.
The Cavalry moved ahead of the main body of the Punitive Expeditionary Force. The latter’s advance was slowed by the restricted speed of the Artillery and the need to keep the Force together.
The Cavalry continued to scout up the valley, and the rest of the Punitive Expeditionary Force followed behind as fast as it could.
At this point, the trap was sprung! A group of previously unseen band of Native Cavalry charged the Zubian Cavalry …
… who suffered casualties and retreated …
… but not far enough! A second band of Native Cavalry charged into the fleeing Zubians …
… who suffered even more casualties.
Whilst this was taking place at the head of the valley, the main body of the Punitive Expeditionary Force was attacked. A band of spear-armed Natives charged over a small hill that formed part of the valley wall …
… and into the leading Zubian Infantry Regiment on the left-hand side of the Punitive Expeditionary Force. The impetus of the Native Infantry charge caused the poor quality Zubian Infantry Regiment to collapse and they were wiped out to a man!
On the other side of the valley a band of rifle-armed Native Infantry emerged from a side valley and opened fire on the leading right-hand Zubian Infantry Regiment …
… causing it to lose one-third of its strength.
At this point Bimbashi Bumble’s Punitive Expeditionary Force had reached its Exhaustion Point, and was unable to take any further aggressive action … not that this was an option that the Bimbashi was contemplating as he saw his troops dying around him.
Everything now hinged on whether or not the Zubians would have the initiative this turn. The dice was cast … and they did not!
One of the bands of Native Cavalry pursued the remnants of the retreating Zubian Cavalry Regiment …
… and cut them to pieces!
The other band of Native Cavalry charged down the valley and engaged the under-strength Zubian Artillery Battery …
… which they wiped out!
The band of spear-armed Native Infantry charged the second Zubian Infantry Regiment of the left of the Punitive Expeditionary Force …
… and totally destroyed it!
On the other side of the valley the band of rifle-armed Native Infantry fired at the rearmost Zubian Infantry Regiment on the right-hand side of the Punitive Expeditionary Force …
… and caused 33% casualties!
Two bands of Native Camelry now appeared at the head of the valley …
… and a further band of spear-armed Native Infantry joined the first band on the Punitive Expeditionary Force’s left flank.
The leading Zubian Infantry Regiment fired at the band of Native Cavalry that had destroyed the Zubian Artillery battery, and inflicted some telling casualties upon it.
The other Zubian Infantry Regiment deployed so that it could engage the nearby band of rifle-armed Native Infantry …
… upon which they inflicted 25% casualties.
The Zubians gained the initiative, and attempted to retreat back towards the desert.
Unfortunately they could not outrun their pursuers. The leading band of Native Cavalry attacked the Punitive Expeditionary Force’s supply column …
… and wiped it out.
The band of rifle-armed Native Infantry fired at the nearest retreating Zubian Infantry Regiment …
… and wiped it out.
The spear-armed band of Native Infantry caught up with Bimbashi Bumble and his headquarters …
… and slaughtered the Bimbashi and every single member of his staff!
The remaining Native troops advanced down the valley to engage what remained of the Punitive Expeditionary Force …
… who were wiped out before the end of the next turn.
Only a few survivors made it back to Zubian-controlled territory, and when their stories were published, there was rioting on the streets of Zubia’s capital. There were calls for the removal of the Khedive, and what was left of Zubia’s Army threatened to revolt unless their honour was restored.
A group of slave-traders (who were thought to be operating out of Marzibar) set up a temporary base inside an old abandoned coastal fort on the border between the Britannic Colony of New Surrey and Fezian Madasahatta. The area was disputed territory. According to the Fezians the fort was in Fezian Madasahatta, but maps produced by Britannic surveyors definitely showed it as being part of New Surrey.
The slaver-traders – who were led by the infamous Ali Yusuf – had arrived by dhow, and quickly restored the old fort. They stationed two Field Artillery Units (each armed with smooth-bore cannon) within the fort along with a Unit of Infantry armed with single-shot rifles. A similarly armed Infantry Unit occupied a nearby abandoned native village whilst a third Infantry Unit remained aboard the dhow.
In order to stop any possible slaving raids into Britannic territory the Governor of the Colony – Sir Reginald Goodman – had ordered military units to eject the slave-traders (‘Remove that nest of Sea Rats!‘) and destroy the fort so that it could not be used for such a purpose in the future. The forces he had allocated to the task comprised:
- The armoured gunboat HMS Indolent (commanded by Lieutenant Commander Barrington Muir)
- A unit of Marines (which will be transported aboard HMS Indolent)
- An Infantry Unit of the Scotia Highlanders (armed with magazine rifles)
- An Infantry Unit of the Madasahatta Rangers (armed with magazine rifles)
- A Machine Gun Unit
- A Field Artillery Unit (armed with rifled field artillery)
- Two steam-powered coastal passenger ship that will each carry an Infantry Unit and the Machine Gun Unit or Field Artillery Unit
The overall command of the force was given to Colonel Charles Wells, an officer of Marines who had a lot of experience of landing operations.
News of the impending movement of Britannic troops into the disputed territory caused consternation amongst the Fezian hierarchy in Madasahatta. The Governor – Abdullah Rahman – immediately ordered his military subordinate – Colonel Saleh Usman – to assemble a force with which to ‘protect the sovereignty of Fezian territory‘.
Colonel Usman mobilised two Infantry Units (armed with single-shot rifles) and a Field Artillery Unit (armed with rifled field artillery) as well as the armoured gunboat Osman III (commanded by Lieutenant Harun Mohamed). He also requisitioned two dhows to transport his force to the disputed area.
The Britannic force sailed down the coast towards the disputed area, led by HMS Indolent.
Whilst the two steam-powered passenger ships moored so that they could begin unloading their cargo of soldiers and military equipment, HMS Indolent sailed further along the coast to investigate the fort.
As soon as she came in sight of the fort, HMS Indolent was fired upon, but suffered no damage. She returned fire with her heavy armament … and inflicted casualties upon the Unit of Field Artillery that had fired at her.
In the meantime the first Britannic Units had been unloaded from their transports.
HMS Indolent continued to trade fire with the fort with the result that HMS Indolent suffered some minor damage and the Unit of Field Artillery was destroyed!
By now the Britannic force was unloaded from its transports …
… but the slave-traders had not been idle and two of the Infantry Units began to advance to meet the ‘invaders’ …
… whilst the dhow manoeuvred so that she could sail out to engage HMS Indolent.
Before the advancing slaver-traders could get into single-shot rifle range they were engage with artillery fire from HMS Indolent and the Britannic Field Artillery Unit. This not only caused casualties amongst the slaver-traders but also forced one of the Infantry Units to retreat.
The Britannic Infantry Units used this opportunity to advance towards the fort.
The slave-traders countered by moving forward and firing at the leading Britannic Infantry Unit (The Madasahatta Rangers) …
… whom they decimated!
In the meantime the slave-traders in the dhow were slowly making progress out of the small harbour they had been moored in and towards HMS Indolent.
The casualties cause to the Madasahatta Rangers showed that the slaver-traders were not going to be an easy enemy to defeat. As the main advantage enjoyed by the Britannic force was its firepower, Colonel Wells ordered HMS Indolent and the Field Artillery Unit to fire at the advancing slave-traders. The Field Artillery Unit’s fire destroyed the leading slave-trader Infantry Unit and HMS Indolent‘s gunfire inflicted a casualty on the other slave-trader Infantry Unit, which seriously depleted its strength.
As this was happening the Kezian convoy came into sight, heading towards the fort.
The slaver-traders in the dhow immediately crammed on all available sail and made their escape seaward, leaving their compatriots to fend for themselves!
The remaining slave-traders (led by Ali Yusuf) fell back towards Kezian territory …
… and the Britannic troops again began to advance on the fort.
As there were no suitable targets, neither side fired their artillery at their opponents. The slave-traders occupied the jetty near the fort … and proceeded to surrender to the Fezians!
The Britannic troops continued to advance, led by the Madasahatta Rangers who were intent upon exacting their revenge on the slave-traders for the casualties they had suffered.
A Fezian Infantry Unit stormed ashore from the dhow that had been transporting it whilst the second dhow moored next to the fort prior to landing the troops it carried. The gunboat Osman III – carrying Colonel Usman – steamed towards HMS Indolent and signalled that the Colonel requested an urgent meeting with Colonel Wells, whom he rightly assumed was aboard the Britannic warship.
Realising that the situation had drastically changed and that there was a distinct possibility that fighting between the Britannic and Fezian troops could break out at any moment, Colonel Wells signalled the Britannic troops to stop advancing with immediate effect. This order was not well received by the Madasahatta Rangers, but they grudgingly obeyed it.
Whilst the Fezians rounded up and disarmed the slave-traders …
… the Britannic and Fezian commanders held a conference aboard HMS Indolent.
Colonel Wells knew that the fort was situated in disputed territory, and did not want to risk starting a war without approval from his government. His force had achieved its aim – the removal of the slave-traders – but he wished to make sure that they could not return at a later date. Colonel Usman realised that his force was out-gunned by the Britannic troops and gunboat, and he looked for some way in which he could ensure that he protected ‘the sovereignty of Fezian territory‘ without risking an all-out fight with a potentially stronger adversary.
After some considerable discussion the two Colonels agreed that the fort should be destroyed by explosives. These would be provided by the Britannic Marines and the fuse would be lit by a Fezian officer. The slaver-traders (or ‘traders’ as the Fezian Colonel insisted on calling them) were taken into ‘protective custody’ by the Fezians, who returned them to Marzibar.
After the explosives had been set, the fort was destroyed in a huge explosion.
It is rumoured that an independent Boundary Commission is to be set up to adjudicate where the actual border between the Britannic Colony of New Surrey and Fezian Madasahatta lies … but who knows how long that will take nor what could happen in the interim?
As I mentioned in a recent blog entry, David Crook has used the imagi-world of 1891 that I created as the background to a wargame he has recently fought. He has written a long and very interesting battle report on his blog – A Wargaming Odyssey – and has given permission for me to feature the photographs of his battle – The Battle of Keder Sirte – here.
The Battle of Keder Sirte
The Fezian forces occupy the high ground (top left of the photographs) and await the attack of the larger Rusland force (advancing from the right of the photographs).
David fought this battle using a slightly modified version of the first edition of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.
All the preliminary information relating to this punitive expedition can be found at:
- A Punitive Expedition Part 1
- A Punitive Expedition Part 1A
- A Punitive Expedition Part 2
- A Punitive Expedition Part 3
- A Punitive Expedition Part 4
- A Punitive Expedition Part 4A
It will be nice to see how this first battle set in the imagi-world of 1891 turns out, and I will certainly read David’s battle report with interest.
David has now used the imagi-world of 1891 as a background for a campaign of his own. He has written a very interesting scenario that will probably see the Empire of Rusland mount a punitive expedition across the border with the Sublime Sultanate of Kezia.