The empty landscape before the battle. Oasis in the center of the table. I had thought that there would be bitter fighting over the oasis, but the Anglo-Egyptian forces did not get that far.
The Jackson Gamers played the first of four games set during our "Green Nile: campaign at Hobbytown on January 6, 2001. This action: "The River and the Desert", was an overwhelming victory for the Mahdists, who resisted a combined assault by a British/Egyptian force marching overland to rendevous with steam boats ascending the Nile river. We used Larry Brom's "The Sword and the Flame" rules (of course!).
The Egyptian camel corps moves out in column trying to get past the infantry so it can deploy into scouting line.
Desert Horsemen allied with the Mahdists attack the camel troopers, attempting to force them back.
A modern Krupp gun mounted on an ancient mud-brick tower proved to be a ship-killer, forcing the British steamers to withdraw down the nile with punctured boilers and fractured captain's egos!
The river steamer "Dundee" steam pouring from a damaged boiler and afire to boot is hard aground on the shore, victim of the "tower gun"
Dervish riflemen, massed on a low hill near the river pour rifle fire into the beached river boat "Dundee".
A map of the battlefield showing the two British entry points. All of the Mahdist units were hidden at the start of the game, except for one unit in the center of the table near the oasis. The British forces on the river were contained in a steam launch and two larger steam boats, the "Dundee" and the "Jessie S".
The British/Egyptian players: Standing, left to right, Ashley Koostra, Jim Pits (Col. Campbell - The British commander) Sean Pitts (Cavalry Commander). Seated, left to right, Jay Ainsworth (Right flank commander)and Bill Estes (Naval contingent commander). At absolute bottom left is Jerry Lee Ainsworth (Mascot and mover-about of the crocodiles in the river).
The followers of the Mahdi: Standing, left to right, Larry Reeves (Dervish commander) and Fred Diamond. Seated, left to right, David Causey, Brian Thompson, Jody McDonald.
Jay Stribling acting as Lt. General Lord Sterling - Sirdar of Upper Egypt and Sudan - is the game master in this colonial campaign, fought by the Jackson Gamers in the year 2001. Return with us now to 1885, those golden days along the Nile, when the British and Egyptian forces ascend, explore and conquer The Green Nile!
From his base at Khartoum, Lord Sterling directed his strong right arm Colonel (Brevet Major General in Egyptian Service) Sir. Colin Campbell (Played by Jim Pitts) to ascend the hitherto little-known 3rd major channel of the great Nile River. Surprisingly navigable, the Green Nile was churned by 3 river steamers, carrying supplies and artillery support for the expedition. They were met by a column of troops marching overland. Times such as these, when the route of march had diverged from the Nile, and the troops marching cross-country had to re-unite with the river column proved a dangerous opportunities for the defeated, but not crushed, forces of the Mahdi.
Mahdist cavalry races forward, ignoring their casualties, attempting to cut off the landing party from the steam boat "Jessie S.".
BRITISH COMMANDER'S AFTER-ACTION REPORT:
To Lord Sterling, Governor of Upper Egypt and the Sudan at Khartoum:
My Lord, I beg to report a slight setback in our expedition to punish the Sudanese malcontents. As I advanced on the village, fully expecting to easily push aside the scattered and disorganized remnants of the Mahdi’s army, I was shocked to discover a powerful and well-organized and equipped army opposing me. Numbering in the thousands, this well-lead force was more than my hybrid expedition could handle.
Commander Estes and his river force were particularly ill-handled by the enemy’s very accurate artillery fire. We both believe that German advisors were with the rebel gun crews and may have even been serving one of the guns that conducted very well aimed fire. Commander Estes had all three of his ships badly damaged. The steam launch was forced to flee down stream away from the accurate enemy fire, whilst both river steamers were temporarily set on fire and beached. Luckily the stalwart British sailors were able to extinguish the fires on both steamers and retire without further loss.
The desert column, on the other hand, had to deal with thousands of beserk dervishers who overwhelmed my Egyptian infantry unit and captured their companion artillery piece. The cowardly gunners ran without putting up much of a fight and the infantry weren’t far behind. I will say that the Egyptian camel unit, although forced to retire by overwhelming numbers of mounted dervishes, rallied were were ready to return to the fray. The Egyptian cavalry unit was almost totally destroyed when it was ambushed by very-well armed rebels.
Evidently the Germans were at it again, this time providing modern rifles and marksmanship training. Overwhelming rebel numbers also forced one of my British units to temporarily retire, but only after they had inflicted severe losses on the enemy. Outnumbered and being outflanked by a large rebel host, I deemed it prudent to retire back to my river base camp at Wadi Zum-Zum. Here I will refit and resupply my forces, punish the cowards who deserted their brethern, and repair the damage to the river steamers. I do most humbly request additional infantry, cavalry, and artillery reinforcements. With the highly suspected German backing, this Sudanese rebel army will be difficult to defeat without more assistance.
Commander Estes requires at least one, if not two, cannon equipped gunboats to support his river steamers which are only armed, as your Lordship knows, with machineguns. I also beg to report the loss of Captain Ainsworth, seconded from the Royal Hussars, who was killed while leading his Egyptian camel unit against a overwhelmingly strong force of dervish cavalry. Another experienced cavalry commander is required most expeditiously. Reinforcements should be dispatched with haste as I do not know how long I can hold out here against the well-armed and lead Sudanese rebel force who greatly outnumber me.
Your most obediant servant,
Colonel James Campbell, Brevet Major General of the Egyptian Army, Commander of the Green Nile Expedtionary Field Force.
A unit of Ansar ("Helpers") erupts out of the terrain around the oasis, headed for the Egyptian front line.
Lord Sterling, Sirdar of the Sudan, replies to Col. Campbell as follows:
My dear Colonel Campbell,
Your most distressing news having just reached me, I shall make arrangements this day to dispatch all available forces to your command. At least one more steam boat is available and others are expected shortly from downriver. As to the boats' ability to mount cannon, I shall have to consult with the naval liason officer.
I feel certain that at least one additional unit of Egyptian infantry will march to you this day, followed perhaps by some of the forces just arrived from India. The trip has been a hard one for the sepoys so it may be some time before they are successfuly acclimated to the climate hearabouts.
I urge you most strongly to fortify your current position, for the news of this reverse will certainly add recruits to the forces of your enemy, and they are likely to move upon you swiftly. My intelligence officers are quite certain that no Germans have served as advisors to the dervishes, and they discount your reports of modern artillery serving with the enemy. Your river column must have inflated the number and accuracy of the mahdists' old muzzle-loaders.
I am your most obed...etc.etc.
Our campaign started after the successful rescue of General Gordon, Lord Sterling (newly appointed Sirdar of Sudan and the southern lands) is directing forces up all three branches of the Nile, pursuing the beaten but not crushed forces of the Mahdi. He remains in Khartoum, giving general direction to the campaign and allocating reinforcements. We are gaming only the Green Nile, but major disasters on the other two fronts could limit the forces available in our games.
Col. Campbell (Brevet Major General in the Egyptian army) commands the upriver expeditions. This unlooked-for debacle with the Mahdist forces in the first game will certainly slow the progress of upriver conquest and exploration.
Other forces farther up the Green Nile are the Yazulu (of Yazooloo). These negroid peoples have warred against the Sudanese for hundreds (thousands?) of years and now that the imperial forces have moved against the Mahdists, the Yazulu may come out to settle old scores.
Further upriver, the villanous Bathan tribesmen of Ahoogastan fight amongst themselves, the river forming a natural tribal boundry betwixt the two major tribal groupings among the rocky highlands. Which side of the river should the British aid? Or can Col. Campbell trust either side?
And what about the Yazulu, they hold no love for the Bathan, but will they leave their grassy plains to support the British/Egyptian forces in Ahoogastan? Hows THAT for starting a campaign eh?
Go to "Wadi Zoum-zoum" our second "Green Nile" game
Go to our Colonial Period Page
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