I hadn't taken any time at all to consider just how the force available might carry out their mission and despite having written the rules, I wasn't sure of the unit capabilites in this situation or what the best plan of attack was. In fact I was probably feeling much like the inexperienced little plastic general on the table.
It didn't take long to realize that a defile made the approach difficult and the machine gun in town made it dangerous to approach. Worse, between the river and the hill there was no way to concentrate enough rifle fire on the enemy to drive them away. It would have to be done the hard way.
No sooner was the attack set in motion than the Imperials rolled a 6 and their cavalry appeared. It was going to be one of those days.
|A fine mess.|
Then, above the din of battle, could be heard the clear notes of a bugle followed by the sounds of men singing. "Come on Soldiers of the Emmmmpire. The day of gloryyyy has arrived!" The marching song of the Imperial Marines. (You'll have to imagine the tune, its very catchy, could bring a nightclub full of people to their feet).
|In the Nick of Time|
Rifle fire drove the Imperial artillery back, off the road and ..........into a good firing position, hmm. With the Free State artillery that was supposed to be supporting the attack stalled in the rear and the defenders around the bridge now outnumbering the attackers in that sector, the attack turned into a pinning action.
The focus switched to other flank where an artillery duel was in progress with honours even. The Colonial Mounted Rifles had been switched to the right to backstop against the first attack but with the gun with its escort now being attacked by 4 infantry, a gun and sharpshooters, they were quickly shuttled back and the 2nd Guards ordered forward as well.
|At this point I seem to have forgotten the camera so here is a wider shot at the same point in time as the last shot.|
The sharpshooters continued their fusillade against the 4.7 and forced it to limber and retreat but there was no one to follow up. Taking advantage of the confusion in the Free State ranks, and with the gun safe, the Nottinglish infantry and mounted rifles fell back into dead ground, daring the enemy to come and get them. As the wounded General climbed back into the saddle he contemplated doing just that but his army was battered and now the enemy was in position with equal numbers and fresh units. The opportunity to keep the enemy allies apart had slipped away. He ordered a retreat.
|The scene at the end.|
So was it fair? Since the Free State sharpshooters and mounted rifles were originally Boers I had thought about giving them superior firepower but hadn't, was that a problem? No, they had actually done quite well. Was it just a string of bad luck? The timely arrival of reinforcements? Partly, but, looked at after the fact, it had been a battle plan that was dependent on luck that ignored terrain and the enemy's strengths while minimizing the attacking unit's mobility advantage and the ability of the sharpshooters and dismounted rifles to win firefights in the open. It also ignored their inability to take heavy casualties. When the Free State units started taking hits early on, instead of pressing forward to take their objectives before the Imperial troops could arrive, they gave ground to avoid the hits but at the cost of lost time.
In other words, it was a risky plan carried out in a cautious manner. That's not usually a recipe for success even though it came close twice. It was a recipe for a good game though!
Note: No changes were deemed necessary to the Square Brigadier rules (not often I say that!)