Sunday, September 10, 2017

Battle of Whitebridge


The following dispatch has been received from our correspondent  on the North East Frontier.

Brooklyn, 9 Sep 1867.  On Friday, the 8th, I learned that General Milne was hastening to Whitebridge to oversee the recall of a substantial portion of Colonel Otter's Column from their posts along the Little Blue River and decided to accompany him to the front.   There appeared to be little indication of Blue activity in the North East. The main army, including troops from both Oberhilse and her nominally independent ally Hougal, was reported to be gathering in the centre.

The garrison in Whitebridge consisted of five companies of infantry drawn from the Belmont Rifles, Victoria Rifles and the York Volunteers, supported by one squadron of the Queen's Lancers and one from the Kapelle Mounted Rifles who had been sent back from the Oerberg Frontier as the threat of renewed war with Oberhilse grew. A train which was on its way to collect the infantry was rumoured to be carrying a Naval Landing party with one of the new Gatling Guns to reinforce the defences.
The troops scheduled to rejoin the main army were already fallen in by the Station when the Blue guns suddenly galloped into sight, deployed, and opened fire.
The red coated companies of the Belmont Rifles were already fallen in, waiting by the station, and the train was in view when Blue's advance elements appeared and a battery opened fire on the town. With great steadiness the Victoria's supported by the York Volunteers returned the enemy's fire.

A courier soon arrived with an order for the Belmont's to commence boarding and depart as soon as possible. This order was greeted with a murmur of dismay but it was obeyed even though a second column of Blue troops had now appeared some distance south of the town.

The Belmont Rifles depart to re-enforce the main army.
While Blue's infantry kept up a hot fire on the town, the Blue Guards could be seen slogging across the ford and forming in the woods.

At last the Guard Lancers, resplendent in their gold laced, blue hussar tunics and fur caps,  emerged from the woods and trotted forward. Lowering their lances, they charged forward, routing the Queen's Lancers and then driving back the Mounted Rifles. It was a magnificent spectacle despite the  unfortunate defeat of  our  brave men.

General Milne himself was forced to rally our horsemen in person while ordering the Gatling to deploy and cover the gap.

Modern warfare, the Gatling routs a company of the Blue Guards.
What a contrast in traditional and modern warfare. The age old clash of lance and sword followed by the chatter of the Gatling as it cut swathes through the ranks of the Blue Guards, driving them back in disorder.

Stubborn fighting as Blue regroups and attacks again.
The Blue Guards are not easily thwarted however and the attack was renewed time and again while only the intervention of General Milne at the head of the now dismounted Kappele Mounted Rifles saved the Gatling from a flanking attack from the Guard Lancers.

As Blue's infantry was forced back all along the line, Blue's gunners took up the duel, forcing the Gatling to retire with heavy losses.

Blue's General took advantage of this to finally launch his infantry over the bridge. If only the Gatling​ had been entrenched at the head of the bridge, how could any troops force the bridge against such firepower?

Recognizing the value of the Gatling, and never forgetting the need for reinforcements for the main army, General Milne ordered the Gatling to fallback, escorted by the Mounted Rifles, and march to the main army.

As the sun sinks, the fighting in the town rages.
With the thinning of Red's ranks and the absence of the Gatling, Blue intensified their assaults on the town from both sides of the river. Again and again Blue was hurled back but eventually numbers told and house by house the Victoria's were forced out.

Gathering the tired survivors, General Milne put himself at their head and led them forward with the bayonet in a desperate counter charge. Alas, a bullet found the brave General and those young Riflemen lifted him back onto his horse and retreated.
'B' company of the Victoria Rifles escorts the wounded General Milne to safety.
So, in the end, the sun sank on a bloody and hard fought field as the dishearted young soldiers retreated carrying their brave leader while their comrades rushed sling the rails to join the main army and perhaps earn fresh laurels.

Behind them the bloodied Blue soldiers regrouped and began to dig in. Was this attack a distraction or is this where the main thrust of a new offensive.


  1. A fine story of duty and heroism, the Noodle has captured the charm of your armies perfectly.

    1. Thanks Norm, I'll ahhh pass that on to "our correspondent".

  2. Where would we be without the work of our special correspondents to immortalize the splendid deeds of our soldiery in the twilight of the saber and stirrup? Gatling vs lancers, indeed!

  3. Nicely played, Ross. I imagine the blend of old and new would have been very recognizable in 1866 during the Austro-Prussian War. Did you have to create a special rule for firing the Gatling gun? Do you have a rule for the gun jamming?

    1. They've been in my various 'Colonial rules fir 20 years. I used to have a special jam rules for the lower level games but with this system which is aimed at result not process its enough to assume that if the gun has no effect then maybe it jammed, or maybe there's another reason.

  4. An exciting battle report, as usual. I would love to get my wargame battles with Peter Laing figures to look like your games. They are truly inspirational.

    1. Some of your games aren't so far off really. A little bit of terrain goes a long way to setting the scene even if its mostly visual.

  5. Ross Mac,

    What a splendid little battle! Beautiful toy soldiers, great terrain, excellent rules, all put together to give you lots of fun and your readers a huge amount of enjoyment. Reading your account of events makes me itch to get some figures onto my tabletop as soon as I can.

    All the best,


    1. Bob, I think a good solo game is just what you need at the moment.

    2. Bob, I think a good solo game is just what you need at the moment.

  6. I love the train with its cotton wool wisp of smoke and the staunch ranks of defenders and attackers.