Saturday, 19 December 2015

Tamai 1884 - An Inglorious Moment for Empire

Our battle of Tamai appeared to be a pyrrhic victory for the forces of Empire at the end of the day of battle.  Colonel Davis's square had been annihilated and Buller's Square was in disarray, however holding fast on heartbreak hill. 

Had Davis held on, Buller would have stood firm however the full dervish host was now unleashed upon him from three sides. At this time exhaustion started to overtake both sides and as the sun rose high in the sky toward full noon it started to become very, very hot!  At this time Mahsud Musa, the Dervish commander, received a mortal chest wound and the remainder of the army melted away, carrying their fallen brethren, and pulling away what remained of the shattered guns and looted supply of Davis's Brigade. 

The next day end of battle status showed an inconclusive action as most of the missing on both sides returned to the ranks. While this was not a British massacre it was certainly very bloody for them, much more than what would have been the norm.  No doubt the British press would have classified this as a stunning defeat. Now I don't want a totally realistic game as that would mean the Dervish side would win less than 10% of the time. At the same time I do want the balance to be fairly historical so that if the mob prevails they can savour their victory. Even while the battle was 15,000 Dervishes against 4,500 British, it was not uncommon for the British to inflict 10-20 casualties for every one of their own historically.

The Right Dervish wing, flushed with victory over Davis, swing around to try
and encircle Buller. Get those 9 Pounders in action men!

Heavy canister at close range flies into the mob cutting down the first wave
but not stopping them.  Two guns are lost as the battery limbers up and retreats.
The supply is also overrun,

Here is the order of battle that was used: 

Note: I used community names from a map of Sudan to name the Dervish units, leaders were named by using a current listing of generals in the Sudanese Army,,,except for the commander's name of Mahsud Musa which was known. Very colourful!!

Mahsud Musa - Attack
  [ 103] Generalleutnant Mahsud Musa - Active D+ [650 paces]
[ 101] Gezira Arabs                      0/ 592      C-
[ 103] Dervish Artillery                 0/  50 [ 2] D-
[ 104] Elephant Guns                     0/  30 [ 1] D-
    Brigade Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein - Attack
    [ 120] Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein - Active C- [300 paces]
[ 121] Kosti Beja Rub                    0/ 782      C+
[ 122] Wad Madani Beja Rub               0/ 813      C 
[ 123] Quadarif Ansar Rub                0/1042      D+
[ 124] Fashir Ansar Rub                  0/ 810      D 
[ 125] Kosti Jyhadiya                    0/ 105      D 
[ 126] Wad Madani Jyhadiya               0/ 102      E+
[ 127] Quadarif  Jyhadiya                0/ 103      D 
[ 128] Fashir Jyhadiya                   0/ 103      C-
[ 129] Daen Cavalry                      0/ 400      D-
    Brigade Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir - Attack
    [ 110] Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir - Active C+ [500 paces]
[ 111] Nyala Beja Rub                    0/ 775      B-
[ 112] Bahri Beja Rub                    0/ 991      C 
[ 113] Khassala Ansar Rub                0/ 825      D+
[ 114] Ubayyid Ansar Rub                 0/ 766      C-
[ 115] Nyala Jihadiya                    0/ 103      D 
[ 116] Bahri Jihadiya                    0/ 100      E+
[ 117] Khassala Jihadiya                 0/ 103      D 
[ 118] Ubayyid Jihadiya                  0/  99      D 
[ 119] Baggara Cavalry                   0/ 414      D 
    Brigade Mustapha Osman Obeid Salim - Attack
    [ 130] Mustapha Osman Obeid Salim - Active C+ [300 paces]
[ 131] Damazin Beja Rub                  0/ 802      B-
[ 132] Geneina Beja Rub                  0/ 824      D+
[ 133] Rabak Ansar Rub                   0/ 839      D+
[ 134] Damazin Jyhadiya                  0/ 100      D+
[ 135] Rabak Jyhadiya                    0/ 105      D-
[ 136] Geneina Jyhadiya                  0/  98      D+
[ 137] Sennar Camelry                    0/ 305      D-
    Brigade Ibrahim Aboud - Attack
    [ 140] Ibrahim Aboud - Active B [500 paces]
[ 141] Managil Beja Rub                  0/ 791      C-
[ 142] Nahud Beja Rub                    0/ 837      C 
[ 143] Damir Asar Rub                    0/ 824      C-
[ 144] Managil Jyhadiya                  0/ 101      D+
[ 145] Nahud Jyhadiya                    0/ 102      D-
[ 146] Damir Jyhadiya                    0/  99      E+
[ 147] Atbara Camelry                    0/ 301      D-

     0/ 13736 Sword and Spear
     0/  1420 Sabres
     0/    80 Artillerists
     0/     3 Cannon

     0/ 15236 Total of all arms
            8 Standards present 

Division Sir Gerald Graham VC - Attack
  [ 502] General de Division Sir Gerald Graham VC - Active B+ [950 paces]
[ 508] Bashi Bazouk Scouts               0/  48      D+

    Staff Fred Barnaby
    [ 540] Colonel Fred Barnaby - Active B [950 paces]
[ 540] Col Fred Barnaby's Shotgun        0/  25      B+

    Brigade Sir Herbert Stewart KCB - Attack
    [ 510] General de Brigade Sir Herbert Stewart KCB - Active B [450 paces]
[ 521] Naval Brigade                     0/ 190      B 
[ 511] 2nd Dragoons                      0/ 190      B 
[ 512] Bengal Lancers                    0/ 199      A-
[ 528] RA Screw Gun                      0/ 100 [ 4] B-

    Brigade Sir Redvers Buller - Attack
    [ 520] Colonel Sir Redvers Buller - Active B [450 paces]
[ 531] 3rd Bombay Native Infantry        0/ 391      C 
[ 532] 7th Bombay Native Infantry        0/ 385      C 
[ 533] Camel Corps                       0/ 411      A-
[ 534] Yorks and Lancs                   0/ 405      B 
[ 526] Royal Artillery, Bty A RML        0/  97 [ 4] B-
[ 535] Sikh Screw Gun                    0/ 114 [ 5] B-
[ 529] Mule Supply Caravan I             0/  63      D 
[ 518] Camel Supply Caravan I            0/  69      C 

    Brigade Davis - Attack
    [ 530] Colonel Davis - Active B- [500 paces]
[ 527] RA 9lber                          0/  99 [ 4] B-
[ 522] KRRC                              0/ 390      A-
[ 523] Royal Irish Fusiliers             0/ 415      B 
[ 524] Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers      0/ 381      B+
[ 525] The Black Watch                   0/ 413      A-
[ 506] Naval Nordenfelt                  0/ 105 [ 4] B 
[ 539] Mule Supply Caravan II            0/  63      D+
[ 520] Camel Supply Caravan II           0/  69      C 

     0/  3532 Bayonets
     0/   575 Sabres
     0/   515 Artillerists
     0/    21 Cannon

     0/  4622 Total of all arms

Meanwhile the stoic Guards Camel Corps (aka the "Posties") pour volley after
volley into Masud Musa's Arab Guard.  They hold fast but are finally wear

Final battle results can be found here:

The Army of Allah has suffered losses of:
[ 32%]   5095 men of all arms
   incl.[ 20%]   3266 prisoners of all arms

[ 32%]   4617 Sword and Spear
[ 31%]    449 sabres
[ 12%]     29 artillerists
                    2 cannon[s] lost
Honors: [ 119] Baggara Cavalry

Losses include 3 standard[s]:
        [ 101] Gezira Arabs [1]
        [ 112] Bahri Beja Rub [1]
        [ 119] Baggara Cavalry [1]

Losses include 2 Leaders[s]:
        [ 103] Mahsud Musa - Mortally wounded
        [ 110] Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir - Captured

The Suakin Field Force has suffered losses of:
[ 32%]   1547 men of all arms
   incl.[ 17%]    813 prisoners of all arms

[ 34%]   1223 bayonets
[ 17%]     98 sabres
[ 33%]    226 artillerists
                   11 cannon[s] lost
Honors: [ 512] Bengal Lancers

Losses include 2 General[s]:
        [ 540] Fred Barnaby - Severely wounded
        [ 530] Davis - Severely wounded

 Indecisive skirmish in rough terrain.
Carnage and Glory 2 worked very well for this period even though it was not designed for it.  The ability to define troop types and weapon's allows a game designer much flexibility to achieve their scenario objective.  Here are a couple of things that needed tweaking and are reflected in my rule adaptations.

The Imperial cavalry was much too powerful when attacking sword and spear.  The minimal damage done to the attackers by spears (revolvers) usually meant that the mass unit would flee in the fire phase.  Quite often they were taken in flank but hey...who are dervishes to be worrying about flanks?  Even a 48 man unit of Bashi Bazouk scouts managed to put at least three units to rout...(2400 sword and spear).  One problem was that I forgot to mention to the dervishes that they could attempt to go prone against cavalry (except lancers) and the cavalry would ride right over them without causing damage. Historically, this was a common tactic of the dervishes as the horses would avoid the prone bodies but it would not protect them from lancers.  Furthermore I would not allow foot to charge horse.  Some of the players argued against that and in retrospect Dervish Mass Units will be able to do so in a quite medieval manner (according to Ed).  While that won't prevent extreme results by cavalry it will give them something to think about if there are other mass units nearby. 

British Dragoons hold Buller's flank.  There will be no encirclement.
The Dervishes were a little too successful in breaking into the squares.  It was not easy but it was not too hard either. Once the square was broken the British could be picked off by overwhelming numbers. I rated the British very highly but needed to go back and bump them up yet again.  Firepower also seemed insufficient to stop many dervish charges.  I was trying to figure out which formation, open column or closed column would be more susceptible to fire. I assumed that would be closed column and did some tests but there did not appear to be any difference in casualty rate.  I had originally decided an Open Column would best reflect a loose dervish mass, but found it to be not enough of a target to make the Imperial firepower as effective as it should be. The answer seemed to be to have the Dervishes in closed column however, that did not appear to make for a more susceptible target.  There does not seem to be a good solution to this from a formation point of view but I did go back and make sure all British had Excellent Fire.  That should help. As an alternative, I have considered using different range sticks for movement and fire.  I am currently using 1:50 for everything but could limit it to just unit frontage and movement with firing using a 1:37.5 stick or 1:25 to reflect the 14 years of weapons development that had taken place since 1870 for which the rules were designed.  

Further research on the web (Google Books) finds a Contemporary Analysis, Starting on page 343 of the Martini-Henry (1871) vs the Snider-Enfield (1853) and the Chassepot (1866).  It show the Henry to have three times the accuracy and twice the rapidity of fire. Clearly the minor tweaks above that I envisaged for the British Army lists are not enough and not necessary.  British Rifle fire should be done at either 1:37.5 0r 1:25 vs.1:50 for all else. 

Furthermore I have created an ability for troops in square who have recoiled to return to their position in the square even though they should not be able to long as the dervish have not moved first. I also bumped up the caliber of the British 9 pounders from 6#RML to 8#RML and have increased the battery size from 4 to 6 guns. 

In real life Dervish skirmishing was not very effective. I feel that in the game they were causing many more casualties than would have been the case...even though at the end of the day, they were still very ineffective!  Jury is still out on that one. 

More waves of dervish advance from the right flank after
dealing with Davis, finishing off any wounded infidels as they go.

Captain Ritchie of the Yorks and Lancs offers words of encouragement to
his men.  "Steady Chaps". 

The Last Fresh Reserve barring the way to he British Camp.  All appears lost
when the Dervish army abruptly turns away and vanishes as quickly as they came.

"Ere's to you Fuzzi-Wuzzi!"

1 comment:

  1. Those are interesting analysis points from this battle. I also use C&G, and followed your link on the group email to the blog.

    Out of curiosity how many figures do you have? I am contemplating starting to collect figures for either this theater or the Zulu wars, but have been slow to do this as I wanted to use C&G but I don't have this specific system or the time to experiment around with something that might not work as I'd hope.

    This gives me some inspiration!