Jackson Gamers' second game set in our 1885-86 "Green Nile Campaign
Wadi Zoum-Zoum

The gunboat “Shillelagh” steams upriver as two steam lauches make steam, preparing to leave the dock at the town of Koresh. The British camp will be just ahead on the port side of the steamer. The opening where Wadi Zoum-zoum opens into the Green Nile can be seen behind the steamer.

The British camp, protected by a thorn-bush zariba. Note the watch-tower and the white tents. A garrison of two Indian army platoons, two British platoons, a platoon of cavalry, two gatling guns and two field pieces make this a very strong position. The Wadi Zoum-zoum is just to the left of the camp.

The Jackson Gamers played "Wadi Zoum-zoum" the second of four games set during our "Green Nile" campaign at Hobbytown on April 7, 2001. This was a hard-fought and dreadfully bloody affair which finally resulted in a British victory. The Anglo-British camp at the wadi was held (barely) while the Sudanese town across the Green Nile river was lost to the rampaging Mahdist hordes. The British gunboat flotilla was savaged, with two out of three burned and the third damaged, but the royal navy (and the Army's guns) did yeoman work dispatching the Dervish steamer and most of the arab dhows that carried Mahdist infantry down the Nile. We used Larry Brom's "The Sword and the Flame" rules (of course!).

Close action in the streets of Koresh! Egyptian infantry fights from the roof-tops as Mahdist bodies are piled in the streets by the fire of the Egyptian cannon. A Sudanese platoon in dark blue coats lead by a British officer in full-dress red uniform fight blurrily to the left amid hasty attermpts to build fortifications.

The camp is under attack. Two Mahdist units surge against the zariba and two more give fire support from the left. The Indian infantry units held firm and drove off the attackers in a 4-turn series of fire and close combat.

Mounted Dervishes attempt to force the main entrance, but musketry and point-blank Gatling gun fire devastate them. Note the white tents knocked askew by the rushing to and fro of the defenders.

The picket boat as the early-morning fog lifts and the Mahdist flotilla of 4 sailing dhows and a captured steamer (formerly H.M.S. Dundee) are seen hastening downriver, loaded with dervish infantry.

Falling back to their fortified camp after the last battle, the forces under Col. Campbell were been reinforced by several Indian units, among others. The problem with the position is that the Wadi Zum-Zum camp is on one side of the Green Nile and is not large enough to hold the entire force. Some of the forces had to be on the other side of the river to protect the Sudanese village of Koresh on the other side. The British/Egyptian force could not allow the innocent villagers to be slaughtered by the heathen Dervishes.

Another view of the battle for the town of Koresh. This is to the left of the previous veiw which can be seen blurrily in the top background. Small knots of Sudanese and Egyptians have just driven off a Mahdist infantry unit in hand to hand combat.

The anglo-Egyptian forces ivailable to the British were three companies of infantry and one of cavalry.

1st Company (British) Sean Pitts
2nd Company (Egyptian) Tim Latham
3rd Company (Indian) Robert Whitfield
Cavalry Company Jim Pitts
Artillery Battery (3 field guns) Jim Pitts
Royal Navy Force Tim Latham
The navy had one large steamer armed with a quick-firing breechloader in the bow and a Nordenfelt machine gun on the stern. Also present were two steam launches each armed with a Nordenfeldt. A unit of armed sailors was split between the steamer (10 men) and the launches (5 men each)

The overall commander was "Col. Campbell" (Jim Pitts).

The four Mahdist dhows filled with dervishes come to the bend of the river confronting the British steamer and one of the launches. The Mahdist steam boat (captured in the previous battle) has just caught fire, hit by shells from the British cannon in the camp. In the next turn, two of the dhows will be sunk by cannon fire, but the other two will be pushed by a sudden gust of wind and will move forward to grapple with the British steam boat, pouring hoards of dervishes onto her deck.

Survivors of a sunken dhow wade ashore to confront a line of dismounted cavalry and two batteries. The cavalry was leaderless and did not stand to the close combat but the gunners did, one battery being savaged by the few Mahdists for their bravery.

The forces available to the Dervish player were divided into "Rubs" of three units plus a leader figure, each "Rub" having a grandiose title:
Folowers of the Prophet Bryan Thompson
Swords of the Faithful Fred Diamond
Strong Arm of the Righteous Bryan Thompson
Always Faithful David Causey
Strong Servants of the Lord Luke Brister
Smiters of the Infidel David Causey
Beloved of the Almighty Luke Brister
Joyful followers of the Word Fred Diamond

The Emir in charge of all was Fred Diamond - "El Schmeer"

The British/Indian camp with a good look at the thorn-bush Zariba surrounding the camp. The British are sending a half-unit of cavalry out through the main entrance to the Zariba but they do not show up well in this photo.

The final victory point "score" was British - 116 points vs. Dervish - 89 points. The British got 36 points from 7xD6 (zariba held, two dhows sunk, and steamer sunk) and 80 from Dervish casualties (that after we let them carry away a number of wounded equal to their remaining forces, so their casualties were even more than the 160 figures we counted "coup" on). I don’t know the breakdown of the Dervish points, except Fred got 2xD6 worth of points for Koresh, plus Imperial casualties (number unknown).

Tim Latham (on left) commanded the Royal Navy forces in the battle and also played the Egyptian/Soudanese defenders of Koresh. Bryan Thompson (in colorful shirt) commanded Dervish foot and artillery as did David Causey (in white shirt). A thin sliver of David's daughter Breanna is visible at the extreme right.

The British gun boat HMS Shillelagh under attack by two dhows filled with dervishes. The natives swarmed on board hacking with swords and only close combat with bayonets and cutlasses pushed them back. As they sailed off, it was found that the gun-boat herself was on fire (shot with a cannon by Breanna Causey) and she later became a total loss.

Clickhere for more photos of the "Wadi Zoum-zoum" game.


From: the Green Nile Expeditionary Force, in camp at Wadi Zoum-Zoum, the Soudan.

To: Lord Sterling, Governor of Upper Egypt and the Soudan at Khartoum

My Lord, I beg to report that a very large Dervish force attacked our camp at the Wadi Zoum-Zoum on the 7th inst. We estimate that the Dervishes had in excess of 5,000 warriors, plus at least four guns and a naval flotilla. After a grueling fight, I can report that we repulsed their attack and forced them to retreat south into the desert. They left over 1,000 bodies on the field and there were many more wounded or drowned in the river.

Our losses were moderate, with most occurring in the Egypto-Soudanese command of Captain Thomas Hudson [Tim Latham] (seconded from the Royal Warwicks) whose mission was to defend the village of Koresh. After a valiant struggle that saw the village change hands several times, his command was forced to retire north along the river bank. The Dervishes did not pursue him and we reoccupied the village the next day. Much of the Dervish success there can be attributed to the treachery of some of the townspeople who allowed and assisted a Dervish unit to infiltrate the defenses. I respectively request that an investigation by the civil authorities be arranged to rigorously question the village headman and others to ascertion and punish those responsible. Captain Hudson and his men are to be commended for holding as long as they did when assailed from without by overwhelming forces and from within by treachery.

The military camp was fortified with a thorn zariba and manned by the British company commanded by Captain John MacDuff [Sean Pitts] (seconded from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) and the Indian company commanded by Major Robert Allen [Robert Whitfield] (of the Bombay Grenadiers). Also in the camp were two Royal Artillery sections, a troop of the Royal Hussars, and two Gatling guns manned by ratings from the Royal Navy. They were ably supported by the gunboat, HMS Shillelagh (commanded by Lieutenant Thomas Wickem, RN [also Tim Latham]) and two steam launches. Hidden outside the camp to ambush any Dervishes approaching along the right bank of the river was a platoon of the Camel Corps.

The Dervish attack on the military camp developed from three different directions on the land, plus a riverine force of the captured steamer Dundee and four dhows. The Dundee was set on fire and forced to beach and two of the dhows were sunk by gunfire from both the HMS Shillelagh and the RA sections. The other two dhows attempted to board the HMS Shillelagh but were repulsed and retreated back up the Green Nile. The Dundee burned to the waterline after it was abandoned by its Dervish crew. During the river fight, steam launch #1 was set on fire by Dervish artillery and burned after running aground; its crew unable to extinguish the flames. They later assisted Captain Hudson in the defense of Koresh. Steam launch #2 took heavy casualties and retired down river. The HMS Shillelagh was also set on fire shortly before it was attacked by the Dervish dhows. During the successful defense of the ship, the fire made so much headway that Lieutenant Wickem had no choice but to beach her below the military camp and evacuate all to shore. The fire was too far advanced by the time the last Dervish attack was beaten off and she also burned to the waterline. No decrement should be accrued to Lieutenant Wickem’s record due to this unfortunate incident.

During the land attacks, Captain MacDuff’s company repulsed one mounted and two or three dismounted attacks by fire, and in conjunction with the dismounted camel corps (which I had concealed in some rough ground to the south of the camp) decimated the Dervish force that abandoned the steamer Dundee. The Royal Hussars took heavy losses (50%) in repulsing the mounted attack at the entrance to the zariba and later in supporting the RA sections against the riverine Dervish force.

But the heaviest fighting in the defense of the zariba was by the Indian company of Major Allen (Bombay Grenadiers). These two platoons repulsed by fire and close combat at least six individual Dervish attacks, which were supported by rifle and artillery fire. At no time did any Dervishes penetrate the zariba in their sector. During the close combat, one section of Indian troops were forced back from the zariba, but Major Allen threw himself into the breach, killing, wounding, or forcing back the Dervish force in single-handed combat. This particular Dervish assault numbered at least 150 warriors. I mention his name to bring to my Lord’s attention his outstanding, heroic contribution to the defense of the military camp at Wadi Zoum-Zoum. Without his brave effort, I am positive that the Dervishes would have gained entry to the camp and inflicted severe losses on our forces before we would have been able to recover and overcome them. I submit that an appropriate reward for this gallant officer should be forthcoming.

After regaining our strength from the reinforcements I understand are even now making their way upriver, and receiving more naval support, I intend to resume our advance and complete the pacification of this region.

Your respectful servant,

Col. Campbell, Major General of the Khedive’s Army in the Soudan [Jim Pitts]

Officer Commanding, Green Nile Expeditionary Force

A good shot of the British/Indian camp and the wadi, being overlooked by Breanna Causey. You can see two "Rubs" of Dervishes being urged ownward to attack the camp by a mounted emir.

David Causey on the left, Jim Pitts in the center (with hat) and Robert Whitfield (blue shirt) on right. This is during a particulary tense moment during the attacks on the zariba around the British/Indian camp. A hand-to-hand struggle is going on and Jim Pitts is removing casualty figures. David had dice in hand waiting for the next roll and Whit is supervising both of them!

The Next Game on the Green Nile

Colonel Campbell will have to wait on new boats being sent up the river by Lord Sterling, but in the meantime, he can try another overland thrust, hoping that the newly arrived steamers will be up in time to meet him with supplies at some yet-to-be-determined location on the Green Nile.

But what is this? The column must find a pass through the "Mountains of Terror" ? And Colonel Campbell will have to choose one of the three passes which the locals call:"Death", "Despair", or "Madness".

To be continued...

Go to more photos of "Wadi Zoum-zoum"

Go to "The Desert and the River" - Our first "Green Nile" Battle

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