Sunday, July 5, 2015

The 'Battle of Bronkhorstpruit' 20th December 1880 - 1st Boer War

I have just uploaded a few images of the great little colonial game myself and Dave Lowe played this afternoon. It was based very closely around the  'Battle of Bronkhorstpruit', in the opening stages of the 1st Boer War. Well actually it was the very first battle (ambush) of the war, which you can find a great little article at the following site:

But first a little background to the game and why I thought it would be a great scenario to play. On the 5th December 1880 Lt Col Philip R. Anstruther, the commanding officer of the 94th Regiment departed the town of Lydenburg in the eastern Transvaal after receiving orders to retire on Pretoria 188 miles away. His column consisted of the battalion HQ, A and F Company of the 94th Regt, six members of the Army Service Corps, a surgeon and three men of the Army Hospital Corps, three women, two children, about 60 black wagon drivers and voorlopers, plus around 34 wagons (roughly 300 men, women and children)

By the morning of the 20th the column was still well short of it objective however the Boers were fully aware of the columns approach and were in discussion of what to do next. At about midday on of the columns scouts spotted a party of mounted Boers several hundred yards to their front. Lt Col  Anstruther spotted another group of Boers of to the columns flank after a long survey through his field glasses....but declared they were just cattle? 

However the column pushed on for another 500 yards until it was about a mile from the Bronkhorstpruit River then suddenly the band stopped playing and a line of Boer horsemen were seen  on their left flank. Lt Col Anstruther ordered the column to close up and the men to get into formation with their arms. 

Gerry Webb of Castaway Arts was kind enough to loan this great Boer wagon for the game.

After a short time (only a matter of a minute or two) a Boer dispatch rider (Paul de Beer) approached the column under a flag of truce and handed Anstruther a letter. The letter basically stated that any further movement of troops would be taken by them (the Boers) as a declaration of war against......Anstruther refused to comply and roughly 15 minutes later over half of his men were either killed, wounded or captured. Our battle started about about the time of the LT Col Anstruther meeting with Paul de Beer (pictured above). On his refusal I then placed the ambushing Boer units onto the table and the game commenced in earnest.

Turn one of our game found the British strung out in column with scouts out in front followed by battalion HQ's, the Battalion band, F Coy, the Regimental colours, A Coy, Quarter Guard and Provost escorts, the wagon train and then the rear guard.

The Boers, with deadly accuracy, inflict a multiple of causalities on the British column. 

Unable to return the accurate fire of the Boers and with a number of company commanders killed in the first volley the British struggle to reform into line.

By our third turn mounted Boers attack the rear of the column, destroying many of the wagons and forcing the natives to flee

What was left of the infantry companies try to reform, but many more are struck down by Boer rifle fire.

However the rear guard managed to put up a stout resistance for a number of turns only to shot down to the man.

With the wagon train in flames or captured Lt Col Anstruther rallies the remnants of his battalion around the colours and directs the troops to make for the Bronkhorstpruit River.

Mounted Infantry dismount and move to a position of support for the withdrawing troops.

The remnants of A Coy make for the river in order to defend the crossing or died trying.

More mounted Boers close in on the rear of the column

After recovering their weapons the members of the battalion band put up a fantastic defence of the last wagon. But after pushing back two Boer attacks and suffering 50% causalities they finally put down their weapons and went into captivity.

Lt Col Anstruther and the remnants of the Mounted Infantry and F Coy fall back over the river while the Battalion band (below) fights their last fight

Victorious Boers ride along the destroyed column

'Stand firm lads and make your rounds count'

The last wagon is captured

After surveying the battlefield through his binoculars Lt Col Anstruther realises the magnitude of his defeat - all the wagons captured or destroyed, four officers killed or captured and approximately 200 men killed, wounded or captured......but at least the colours have been saved.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Wheats Tiger Zouaves (Greens) - Adventure Miniatures Australia

Mr Ebob has been on top of the sculpting of late for Victor at Adventure Miniatures Australia ......and Victor is very happy to present his latest work ...... this unit is the legendry (Wheats Tiger Zouaves ) these little guys are now completed there are 13 tiger Zouaves in total.

Once completed you can look forward to seeing another union cavalry unit the 3rd New Jersey, and some general officers and maybe some dis-mounted cavalry forboth union and confederate forces sometime in the future.

Victor however is still finding it a little hard to get the figures into a mould so I believe he is in the process of purchasing a vulcaniser...hopefully soon as I would love to see these fantastic figures in my collection.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fall 1863 - Probing for the Army of the Potomac Flank

Last night the lads from the club had a great little ACW. The scenario was set in the fall of 1863 when after the Gettysburg campaign both sides were trying to regain the initiative. The period or the campaigns during this time allowed itself for some very interesting cavalry skirmishers and our game last night was bases roughly along those lines.  

I placed the Confederates on the offensive with ten regiments of cavalry, in three brigades. Their mission was to break through the thin Federal cavalry screen and find the flank of the whole Union Army. The Federals, as you may have guessed was to hold or delay this manoeuvre for a period of eight turns. The Union cavalry screen consisted of only five regiments and a battery of artillery, decided into two brigades. However they were veteran troops and had all been issued with new the new repeater carbine.

In the opening turns two brigades of Confederate cavalry entered the table both coming down two alternate roads, at the western end of the table. The Union cavalry were deployed almost along the center of the table and started to construct hasty works out of the numerous rail fences in the area. This proved to be a very good tactical move for the Federals, as once the Confederates realised they were coming up against a well deployed and defended position, they changed their tactics and dismounted.  

The dismounting of the Confederate cavalry worked well for the Federal commander, whose job it was to delay the rebel cavalry as long as possible. His troops wasted no time in preparing their positions and were soon laying down a devastating fire into the rebel dismounted skirmish lines.

My newly painted and based dismounted cavalry proved hardy troops in last nights game. By the end of the game they had sustained heavy casualties and had to withdraw from the battlefield.

Union cavalry dismount and start to construct some hasty works

Works completed......"Come you Reds!!"

The Confederate commander wasted no time and soon after deploying two brigades in skirmish line (leaving one brigade still  mounted) he went onto the offensive. 

The Confederate reserve brigade moves up in support, waiting for an opportunity to charge the Federal lines.

A great view of the battlefield from the Confederate right flank

With troops deployed and well supported the Rebel commander advances his lines and soon come into contact with Union troops deployed in and around the outbuilding of a near by farm.

"Conserve your ammunition and shoot only at the targets you can see"

By turn six the pressure on the thin blue line starts to to does the casualties and the rebels see their chance to attacked all along the Union line. But they hold in the centre and on the the right flank and the Confederates are repulsed......

But with the falling back of the dismounted troops it opens up an opportunity of chance and the Rebel commander orders the charge. Two rebel cavalry regiments charge through the gap and after only a ragged volley from the Union troopers they overrun the position, capturing 120 Federal troopers prisoner.  

The remainder of the regiment flees....opening up a wide gap in the Federal line

But the Federal commander leads by example and rallies his troops and counter attacks the Rebel cavalry driving back two regiments  and stabilising the Union left flank.

However all looked on the Union left flank and they seemed to be holding their own quite well. But by turn seven the Federal right had given way after sustaining %50 casualties and was forced to withdraw from the field.

Even though the battle was lost to the Federal commander he had held the Confederates (who out numbered him 2-1) back for a substantial time and saved the Army of the Potomac from a flank attack. 

But victory no mater how small still went to the Confederates.