A random series of articles on war gaming in 40K, FOW and other systems. The headings are, WiP; Conversions and models in various states of assembly. PiP; Paint works on various models. Mission Critical; scenarios or missions to bring a bit of a twist to a normal game. MiA; rules for units and characters that could/should/might appear in a game. Dig In; How to guides on making various types of terrain for different game systems. Sit Rep; Battle reports and after action reports on games played

Monday, June 11, 2018

Whatever happened to Captaine Steiger’s expedition on the Burning Sands? (TMWWBKs campaign)

Ambush on the Lahlafe
Before the relocation, Tonio and myself managed to finish of the Burning Sands campaign. But real world issues delayed it getting to the blog.

Time is running out for Captaine Steiger’s expedition, the campaign season is nearly over and losses are mounting but the expedition is nearly at its objective of bring the Tuareg to heel. The last obstacle in the way to assault the final enemy camp is the tribe of the Lahlafe.  The Captaine tried to persuade the Lahlafe to bow to the inevitable march of progress. But Tuareg pride does not bow easily and the captaine was again forced to fight his way through the tribe.   The last engagement with the Haquara was costly for the legion now the expedition is in a bit of a quandary the units are not weak enough to be disband and merged but at the same time are far from their ideal strength. One major positive was the expedition was attacking and managed to ambush the Lahlafe defenders (see note 1)
Lahlafe on the March

The Lahlafe defenders consisted of three units of tribal cavalry supported by two units of irregulars and two units of warriors. Captaine Steiger’s ambush column consisted of Gunnery Chef De Gras with his 75mm gun, 1st, 2nd, 3rd legionnaire squads, 1st and 3rd Tirailleur squads.  Despite being short on men Sous lieutenant Hill's full strength Machine gun section was not employed his reputation as a shirker was considered too great a liability.

The entire Lahlafe tribe is on the move 

Having observed the Lahlafe order of march the legion ambush column opted for a turkey shoot formation (aka line up and start shooting).  The initial volley targeted the fast moving cavalry who were surprisingly difficult to suppress but were eventually pinned down.  The Tuareg reacted aggressively, the cavalry unpinned, much to the french annoyance, while the warriors moved towards the legion firing line and into cover. The Tuareg irregulars, however, failed their command check and stayed in place in front of the firing line.   

The Tribe starts to take fire from the French
Some of the cavalry opt for a tactical withdraw (definitely not running away)
The legionnaires again had to suppress the Tuareg cavalry who stubbornly soaked up fire that could have been spent elsewhere. Thing began to go deviate from plan for the ambushers when the Tuareg cavalry again managed to shake off its suppression and now the Tuareg infantry were moving towards either end of the French firing line.
The Warriors move through the rocks on to the flank of the French firing line

It was not yet another Camerone, but at the same time it was becoming a more difficult situation than initial thought.  The firing line switched fire from the cavalry to the more pressing nearer targets who now happened to be stalking them through the bush. The firing the unimpressive and the french concerns began to mount.  Released now that the French had switched targets the remaining Tuareg cavalry raced towards the French lines, the Tuareg irregulars began to fire on and pin some of the French units. While the Tuareg warriors continued to move through cover towards the French flanks. So far in the campaign the Tuareg had never been able to deliver a coordinated assault on a legionnaire column with units being pinned or failing command checks are critical points in the assault could this engagement be any different?

The rest of the Tuareg column was stuck in front of the French firing line.
Feeling distinctly uncomfortable and with some units pinned Legionnaires fire discipline began to break down with individual units firing on the nearest threats trying to keep sword wielding angry natives at arm's length.  Some Tuareg units were pinned but not enough. Both the warrior units arrived near full strength on either end of the firing line and both passed the command to charge. Now the situation was resembling the battle of Camarone.  
The warriors began to roll  up the French flank

Ensuing melee still brings a smile to my face, the Tuareg warriors hit both flanks of the legionnaire firing line while the vengeful cavalry charged the centre.  Two units of Tuareg cavalry were broken.  In response De Gras’s gun was overrun, 1st and 2nd legionnaire squads were broken.  With both sides taking losses the Legionnaires blinked first and the remaining units already nearly encircled broke and retreated back the nearest safe outpost.   
The cavalry arrives to increase the pressure on the french
Sacre bleu, les indigènes sont agités
4th squad takes a cavalry charge and is pushed back

The debacle at Lahlafe puts an end to the French aspiration in the Burning Sands.   The column no longer has the time or supplies to reach and assault the camp of the Almukhtar.  In any case it is unlikely to be strong enough to move forward.  Captaine Steiger has been recalled to Paris to take up a position in the French Diplomacy Corps. The French and the Tuareg have been returned to the war cabinet for now. 
Gunnery Chef De Gras' is overunn
More Taureg cavalry are coming
With more infantry on the way
The other flank is assault by more warriors
The situation looks grim for the Legion
3rd squad is overrun by cavalry
2nd squad is also overrun

Note1: Something of a learning for me. While researching the campaign I was reading Small Wars by Colonel Callwell, published in 1906. It outlines the tactics used by the colony powers of the day dealt with irregular opponents. Surprise assault, particularly night marches followed by a dawn assaults was one of the recommend actions to engage irregular opponents. During the day the irregular natives’ eyes and ears were awake and every movement could be monitored but a night the countryside would be a sleep and irregular camp discipline would very laxed allowing a daring assault to be decisive assuming the column does not get lost moving through unknown lands at night.

Expeditions final unit roll call 

Thanks to Tonio for putting up with my rambling on colonial warfare. Overall it was great little campaign I would recommend giving The Men who Would Be Kings a test run but recommend you season it to your own sense of flavour.  The campaign rules worked a treat. They are a little Beer and Pretzels (or Port and Cheese if you are ever lucky enough to play in Doc Martin’s abode) but provide context and depth to the games.

That is all for now thanks for stopping by.

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