Thursday, June 01, 2017

Ombakane revisited

Sometimes you find you've set up a game and it's essentially a retread of a previous action.  Looking at the photos and recalling this battle it occurred to me that this game set up was almost identical to the scenario I last played with Gav two years ago.

This is always a risk with my Zulu wars armies.  I think I need to add some more variety to them so some other situations can be tackled; of course that means painting a bunch more of the buggers!


So myself and Paul met for a battle and decided to eschew the Ancient and medieval in favour of something more recent, still featuring spears and shields, but also alongside Martini-Henry rifles and 7lb Mountain Guns.

Paul took command of the British column, whilst I played the hidden Zulu forces.  The British had to deploy as if on the march, with their Horse to the front and Artillery train to the rear.  Their object, to make a crossing of the river.

Opening deployment
 Native horse to the front, and the Light company in skirmish order to the columns' right:

 Sensing trouble, and let's face it, in a wargame why wouldn't he, Paul ordered a redeployment to a company wide march, whilst his cavalry was to dash forward to the river.

initial  movements
 Immediately there was a blunder though (once again we used Black Powder, my favourite rules for covering a wide range of actions in a gentlemanly manner).  The Natal Native Horse caught scent of something and galloped off to their left over a small, scrub covered hill, in doing so proving suspicions correct, they stumbled upon several hundred Zulu moving to the British flank.

 This resulted in the Zulu unleashing their trap, with their main attack blocking the route to the river.

 At the same time masses of Zulu appeared on the long ridge from another wide copse of scrub-land, and a smaller attack approached the British rear; swiftly engaging the ammunition train and forcing the artillery to retreat.  Paul sent urgent orders to his horse to protect the rear, whilst his main infantry force formed a battalion square.

Calm in the face of nearly 3,000 Zulu.
 The square suffered a dreadful blow in the face of the coordinated attacks, with the natives on three sides of them.  Holding off the largest, most obvious groups with measured rifle fire, a surprise attack from the scrub made it home the the Left side of the square and in a sharp action, rendered it inoperable.

stand firm!
 Soon the Square had to collapse for it's own good; becoming a vague line instead.  Nevertheless, the weight of fire was enough to keep the majority of the Zulu at bay.

 To the rear the Ammunition train had been scattered, and young Zulu warriors were busy gathering new weapons and cartridges.  On the long hill the light infantry company had also been put to flight.  But the main battalion of the British had managed to reorganise, and driven off the main threat of its' enemy.

 The Zulu came down from the hill and attempted to break the weakened British, now low on morale and ammunition.  Dense volleys of fire exchanged at 50 yards or less.

 This would continue for the rest of the battle, with the British firefighting tattered morale and slowly withdrawing onto the river.

Meanwhile the Zulu rearguard was trying to find some way to engage the Artillery, which was taking pot shots from half a mile or so away...

The wider field
 As night fell the British were divided, but just about holding on.

Each side was by this stage at the edge of its' army breakpoint, and the loss of a single unit would have made their situation irretrievable.  In the end, the Natal Horse and Artillery were able to denude the Zulu rear enough to take the will from the Africans to prolong the fight away.  But it was very close.

However, next time I feel I really need to try a distinct set up rather than just the hidden Zulu ambush in the trees and hills...

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