Monday 9 April 2012

TSATF Battle Report - The Relief of Fort Djeli Belli

Today we fought out the TSATF scenario described in a previous blog post - The Relief of Fort Djeli Belli. Here's a report on how things went along with some pictures. Remember to click for larger versions.

View of the table from Fort Djeli Belli showing the road from Port Suakin

Turn One

The British relief column advances up the road from Port Suakin towards Fort Djeli Belli. Hadendowa Tribesmen close in on the fort in the face of sporadic rifle fire from the defenders. A lucky shot from a defender kills a Beja leader.

The British relief column

Fort Djeli Belli and defenders

Hadendowa tribesmen and captured Egyptian artillery

Turn Two

The British relief column fans out to either side of the road with the Royal Irish Fusiliers on the left, King's Royal Rifle Company in the centre and the Naval Brigade on the right. Barkingly-Madd and the Gardner Gun stay safe in the rear of the column.

Khordofan Rebels appear from scrub ahead of the Royal Irish Fusiliers and more from behind a hill ahead of the Naval Brigade. The Khordofan Rebels charge into the Royal Irish Fusiliers who are caught in open order, killing large numbers of them and driving the rest back. The Naval Brigade fare little better, also suffering casulaties and being forced backwards.

Meanwhile the Hadendowa Tribesmen reach the fort and begin trying to scale the walls. A few hardy souls reach the top of the ladders but are thrown off. Native artillery also fires on the fort to little effect.

Fort and threatening tribes

Naval Brigade vs Khordofan Rebels

Royal Irish Fusiliers vs Khordofan Rebels

Turn Three

The Hadendowa Tribesmen continue to assult the fort without success, again suffering casualties as they fall from the ladders.

At the centre of the column the King's Royal Rifle Company are charged by the same Khordofan Rebels that fought the Naval Brigade but they have time to form a rough square before impact. The fight is short and with little in the way of wounded with the Khordofan Rebels eventually being driven off. Free of attackers, the remaining Naval Brigade rally and return to the fray.

Ahead of the King's Royal Royal Rifle Company a unit of Native camels ride out of the brush and head towards the fort before turning and charging towards the King's Royal Rifle Company. On the British left flank the Royal Irish Fusiliers continue to retreat in complete disorder. The crew of the Gardner Gun provide covering fire, giving them time to finally rally.

The fort comes under determined attack

Turn Four

Bloodied but not beaten the Royal Irish Fusiliers advance again towards the Khordofan Rebels whilst the Hadendowa Tribesmen retire from the King's Royal Rifle Company and the Naval Brigade also continue to advance on the British right flank.

Fort Djeli Belli is coming under increasing pressure, assualted by three units of Hadendowa Tribesmen and still under the guns of the captured artillery. Unbowed, the defenders continue to throw attackers from their ladders without a single enemy gaining a foothold despite their efforts.

Can they hold out?

Maybe they can!

KRRC form square and have at them

Turn Five

The Hadendowa Tribesmen have now encircled the fort and begun firing on the defenders at the earthworks in the gatehouse. If only they had a gate! No casualties as yet but they are so few. Charged again by Khordofan Rebels the Royal Irish Fusiliers are beaten in melee once again, lose all their officers and rout. The Khordofan Rebels are almost destroyed too and unable to pursue.

The Naval Brigade continue to advance on the right and are also charged again by the Khordofan Rebels. They too are badly beaten with all officers killed and they rout. Things are looking grim for the relief column!

In the centre the King's Royal Rifle Company form a line and trade rifle fire with the Khalifa's bodyguard who have appeared from the scrub ahead of them. Camels wait off to their left, ready to charge at the right moment.

Enemy at the gates

Hold on lads. Relief is at hand! Maybe...

Buzzard's eye view of the carnage

Charge! Into the teeth of the Gardner Gun

Turn Six

The Hadendowa Tribesmen continue to attack Fort Djeli Belli, now aided by another unit of Khordofan Rebels. This means the single militia unit and Heliograph Section face odds of greater than 4:1. The men defending the gate are all killed and the Hadendowa Tribesmen prepare to rush in.

Unprotected now on both flanks the Gardner Gun is charged by the remaining Khordofan Rebels who drove off the Royal Irish Fusiliers and the Naval Brigade. They kill a few Rebels with a burst of fire before being overwhelmed in melee.

The King's Royal Rifle Company, last surviving intact unit of the relief column are charged by the Hadendowa camels but drive them off with losses. Down to half strength and the only remaining unit of the relief column they cannot reach the fort now surely.

KRRC vs camels. Spitting in the face of the adversity...

The end is nigh for Fort Djeli Belli

Turn Seven

Galled once again by the loss of his force Barkingly-Madd decides to retreat back to Suakin taking the remaining King's Royal Rifle Company with him. As they retire they hear the cries of the Hadendowa Tribesmen and Khordofan Rebels as they pour into Fort Djeli Belli and slaughter the remaining defenders.

Where did the British go wrong?

A grim day for the British and a hard earned victory for the Mahdists.

The British achieved neither of their objectives and the Mahdists both of theirs. The British were too bold advancing the relief column overly quickly and allowing the Khordofan rebels to charge into them before they could fire. A more sedate and maeasure approach would have worked better.

The defenders of Fort Djeli Belli put up an outstanding defence, never once allowing an enemy onto the ramparts. They only fell when the gate was breached and would have survived perhaps another two turns had the relief column not retired and left them to their fate.

House rule on scaling ladders

TSATF provides no rules for scaling ramparts so we made some up. Attackers take one turn to climb a ladder and can fall on a roll of 1-10 on a d20. If they reach the top they fight as if over an obstacle (On Top of Wall or Obstacle) while the defenders fight as defending walls (+1). Two attackers at a time can fight from a ladder.

A fun and free flowing game played with only two players in about 4 hours, testament to the rules once again. Thanks Russ for playing the Natives. Barkingly-Madd will get you yet!


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