AWC Fire & Sword
As Sir Henry’s Column advanced South towards Akasha, he received word of a large Dervish Force from ostensibly friendly locals (but more likely disgruntled Mahdists with a score to settle against the Mahdist force’s commander). As this force was reported a few miles inland from the Nile, at a minor watering hole, Sir Henry felt obliged to turn and approach the Mahdist forces – he could ignore them, being but a day and half’s march from the town of Akasha, but that would allow them to remain behind him on his Lines of Communication, and potentially block reinforcements from reaching him. As a result he turned inland, and his plucky column headed into the desert…
After the previous battle at Alam Halfa and the subsequent march South Sir Henry’s Anglo Egyptian Force struggled due to the small Hospital Corps attachment assigned to it – the medical staff were hard pressed to take care of the wounded, and there had been some fatalities from wounds as a result.
The Anglo-Egyptians luck runs out – the revolt has spread into Western Sudan; Darfur & Kordofan are aflame with Mahdist support and Dara immediately falls to the rapidly growing Dervish Army in Darfur. Even worse El Fasher falls immediately after with the loss of it’s garrison. In Kordofan the expedition heading for El Obeid (2nd Company, XIIth Sudanese Battalion; and 1st Section, B Egyptian Artillery Battery) somehow survive the sudden onslaught, and are not perhaps fully aware of their precarious position.
However the good news is El Obeid does not get taken by surprise, which would have been a major coup for the Dervishes – thanks to the weak numbers of Dervish followers in Kordofan no doubt – and as El Obeid has 4 turns of Supplies on hand things are not critical immediately. Furthermore, El Obeid’s resistance (luckily) gives the XIIth Sudanese expedition above a safe haven to make for.
Having camped but a days march from the approaches to Wadi Halfa in late September 1883, Sir Henry Frotheringham’s relief column is suddenly assaulted in the early dawn by a large Dervish Force…!
Facing Sir Henry is a significant force (a full ‘Flag’) under the Khalifa Abdullahi that hopes to give the infidel invaders a good thrashing; it includes 3 of its 4 Amirs, and the troops from 3½ of it’s 4 Rubs supported by artillery (although unfortunately only half it’s riflemen are present) – still a sizable force. Sir Henry’s intrepid column consists of:
The Anglo-Egyptians get a lucky break, the Khedive is relieved to hear the revolt hasn’t spread to Darfur & Kordofan, the breadbasket of the Sudan. Meanwhile in Khartoum the available supplies have actually increased thanks to Bordein’s unexpected, albeit hasty, arrival. However Abu Hamed is not looking so lucky – it has only 2 turns of supplies and the only possible help that might reach them is plucky Talahawiyeh, who, if very very lucky, may reach the garrison by the end of this turn, if she doesn’t they may have to gamble on sallying out to try and drive off the Dervishes long-enough to forage for supplies.
In Northern Sudan the garrison of Abu Hammed can do nothing but sit still – hoping supplies and news will reach them before the end of next turn. At Aswan, Sir Henry gathers up what troops he has (2 Infantry Companies & 2 Guns), and resolves to make for Wadi Halfa. The march south along the Nile and through Korosko passes quickly and peaceably – soon they are approaching the Egyptian-Sudan border, and Wadi Halfa…
Our Colonial Campaign gets ready to kick off! Turn one has already begun and the Sudan has erupted into revolt. See how the campaign is going here… Our First Fire & Sword Campaign.
Maizoub ‘John’ Pasha despatches Talahawiyeh (with her 9pdr Gun, Nordenfelt MG, & detachment of 6 armed Sailors) towing a Nuggar and transporting the 4/5th Egyptian Company (20 men), down river towards Abu Hamed – to discover the full situation and re-establish contact with the latter, and if possible, Cairo. The expedition is under the command of Captain Wahab El Zahra Agha, officer commanding the 4/5th Egyptian Rifle Company.
Talahawiyeh & her Nuggar reach Wad Hamed without incident. She successfully negotiates the 6th Cataract, before encountering a Dervish force while approaching Metemma. The Dervishes appear to be a small force of Beja Fuzzy-Wuzzies occupying the Metemma area on the banks of the Nile, and who appear to have no artillery. El Zahra Agha on Talahawiyeh decides to put ashore and use her guns and accompanying troops to clear the village and obtain intelligence and supplies…
The campaign begins with a violent revolt in the North and South, spreading fast like a bush fire. The North had been a powder keg for some time but it had been hoped any insurrection might be contained there. The insurrection actually began at Dongola, and spread North to Wadi Halfa which immediately succumbed and the Xth Sudanese Battalion garrisons in both locations were engulfed by the suddenness of the uprising. Even worse the revolt spread South through Berber and then Atbara fell to the rapidly growing Mahdist cause – it being suggested that most of the troops at Berber (from the 2nd Egyptian Cavalry Squadron) may have changed sides and joined the Ansar rather than fight them! All along the Lower Nile the lesser towns also fell to the Mahdists, and just the strongly held garrison town of Abu Hamed held out, surrounded by a countryside of seething revolt.
The initial deployment was done randomly – using a random table I generated to use in conjunction with Steve Winter’s original rules. This resulted in a reasonably conventional, although not necessarily ideal deployment of the Egyptian forces. The actual size and number of forces was similar to Steve’s originals, see his starting OOB (or our map below) for an idea of the forces… The map shows the situation once the random deployment has been completed and the initial revolt indexes generated – but before Turn 1 has begun and checks for revolts carried out.
It is late-1883, the apparent insurrection by a small group of followers of the self-styled ‘Mahdi’ have inflicted a serious blow by eliminating the army of General William Hicks, sent to Kordofan to detain or defeat them. Hicks had left earlier than he planned under pressure from the Khedive, and by October his fate is well known.
Some of us at the Auckland Wargaming Club were inspired by Steve Winter’s campaign at the Colonial Angle website – so we grabbed Steve’s great idea, I tweaked it a little to suit me, and off we went! First thing I did was grabbed Steve’s Map and colourised it – the map below is the result. I am on the lookout for a new map long-term however and this one is now getting a bit congested due to my tweaking!
You can read the narrative and see how we get on with our first attempt at the campaign here… Further down the page (below the map) you will find notes and links to additional rules, changes to Steve’s original campaign, and additional material that we came up with.
Below is the map we are using (as mentioned it is a slightly modified version of Steve Winter’s Map) – feel free to save a copy if you wish to use it for your own attempt at Fire & Sword in the Sudan!