Sunday, May 13, 2012

"What a muddy mess." Said Major Boone to Sargent Joseph. "Indeed sir. slow going through this rice country." Rain continued to fall on the calvarymen.

Boone's unit, a detachment of the Peshawar Lancers were scouting parallel of the coastal highway ahead to the west of a small british force. Elements of the Royal Army and also a column of East India Company forces. Foot regiments, batteries and calvary all marching, added up it came to about 4,228 men, not counting the baggage train of merchants, whores and general riff-raff that trained behind.

Rumors of a large Mugal army had been making their way to the British for days now. Sightings of Mugal Calvary reinforced the impression of a force ahead, but the screen of Mugal horsemen kept the Brits in doubt of what lay ahead. It was Boone and his lancers job to add to what intelligence could be gained.

The trail the lancers was on climbed a low ridge over looking the rice farms, out to the southwest came into view Mugal forces. In column and marching, "It large sir, a couple of thousand infantry at least." said Sargent Joseph. "Calvary too, and quite a big baggage train." replied Boone. Boone studied the enemy through his field glasses. Out of a copse of trees came Mugal horse at the trot. Boone gave the order and his lancers turned and galloped east towards the main coastal highway and the East India Army, with the Mugal Horse content to pursue at a distance. 

A few miles later Boone and his troopers rushed back into contact with the British Army. Warnings were shouted at officers of regiments that he encounted, but his duty lay with getting the news of a large Mugal force to General Christopher Gallatin, commander of the East India Company and regular British forces.

Galloping up to the General who was riding with his staff Boone came to a halt, saluted then told Gallatin "We confirmed four regiments of Mugal Infantry, one of Calvary, but also a baggage train thagt would suggest this is quite a large force. The Mugals could be lined up all the way down our right flank sir."

The 4th Foot 'The Kings Own' in square under assault by
by hordes of foes but did not break!
General Gallatin, looked at his intelligence officer and said "that Mugal General Afzal Pann, could it be him?" Yes sir, I'd bet so" The general turned to Boone. "Take your lancers, go down the column and give the order to the regiment commanders to turn and deploy to the right of the highway, we will form a line from south to north." Boone saluted rode back up to his troop and told Sargent Joseph their orders.

The Lancers trotted back up the Army Column, giving warning and Gallitins order to deploy in line to the right of the highway. As they moved north foot regiments, calvary and gun batteries went from column to line with urgency.

The 5th Foot 'Northumberland Fusiliers' firing a volley at
their foe. This regiment braced and held through several
charges by enemy calvary and infantry.
The British had been lucky, out of the gloom on a facing rise came hordes of Mugal forces. It was now apparent that the foe was numberous, as he trotted along Boone estimated over 15,000 enemy. The British were outnumbered more than three to one.

From the British left the Mugal General had his infantry and calvary charge into the Brits. Among the first regiments to come under heavy assault were the 4th "The Kings Own" and the 5th "Northumberland Fusilers" Foot. Both regiments formed square and received attacks from hordes of enemy infantry and calvary, but held bravely.

The Charge of the Peshawar Lancers! (East India Company
Native Calvary.)
The 104th Royal Horse Artillery was instrumental on the British left holding. Several waves of Mugal were cut to shreds by canister shot fired at very short range. The guns of the 104th were deployed just behind and a bit above of the foot regiments. Its canister shot screamed right over the heads of the British soldiers and hit with great effect upon the Mugal foe.

Peshawar Lancers and Mugal Camel Calvary in melee.
Things appeared to be holding up, the left composed of famous regular British Army Regiments was holding and the foe was checked and disengaging. Major Boone and his small squadron then started passing East India Company regiments as they continued north. Beyond those regiments could be seen more masses of enemy infantry and calvary waiting to spring upon the Company regiments. Boone joined Colonel Mask his superior and the commander of the Peshawar Lancers.

The regiment of East India Company native lancers was on the far right flank, or the north end of the British line. Boone heard a battery of East India Company guns open fire and the enemy charged across a large open field towards the Brits. The last foot regiment in the line was the 3rd Bengal European Foot. It managed to fire a volley but then was under attack from Camel Calvary and swarms of Mugal foot soldiers.

"The 3rd are in trouble, we will charge the Camels, forward ho!" The bugler sounded the charge and the Peshawar Lancers went to a trot then reached a gallop. A wood rail fence lay just in front of the camel calvary who were hacking at the square formed by the 3rd European Bengal Foot. The lancers jumped the fence and landed in the camel calvary. Boone near the head of the formation was among the first to come into combat. He stabbed his sword into the face of a Mugal, then turned to his left to parry the blow of another Mugal. Sargent Joseph then dealt that Mugal a mortal blow, for minutes the clash continued till the Mugals routed. The lancers had bested their foe and reformed.

The Colonel had the lancers reform during a bit of a respite from action. Boone passed the order along and watched the lancers get back into diamond formation. He then glanced past the 3rd european towards a battery of horse artillery and the 9th Bengal Native Infantry. The guns and regiment were swarmed by over a thousand enemy. Mugal calvary and infantry over ran the guns then charged in for hand to hand combat with the 9th Bengal Foot. The 9th broke and ran, soon other East India Company regiments too broke and a route was on.

Colonel Mask again told the bugler to sound the charge, the Peshawar Lancers would attempt to slow the onslaut and give the retreating infantry time to form a orderly retreat. Into masses of Mugal Infantry the Lancers charged. One Mugal regiment gave up and retreated, but more poured in. Boone was despartly hacking at infantry around him, the Lancers found themselves surrounded. Boone saw Colonel Mask take a musket ball to his chest and mortally fall from his mount. As lancers surrounded and protected the fallen colonel Boone jumped down and checked the Colonel. Mask coughed up blood then died. Boone remounted his horse that a lancer had been holding. He screamed over the din to Sargent Joseph "We have to cut our way out towards the highway!" Joseph nodded and in the confusion the remaining lancers struggled back east and managed to break out.

Only 41 lancers made it back to the retreating British Army, 99 had fallen. Thanks to the Royal Army regiments that had held on the left, and to the efforts of the Lancers on the far right the British Army managed a orderly retreat after a stinging defeat.
The breaking point, A Brit Horse Artillery Battery had been overun just to the left of this picture. The 9th Bengal Native
Infantry see at the top of the picture behind the stone wall then routed.

Monday, September 6, 2010

General Churchills push on the Mugals.

Major Noel Boone rode over a ridge with his squadron of calvary. Below and in the distance could be seen dust and bustle as the Royal British Army in India was crossing the Godavari River. He and his men from the Peshawar Lancers had been detailed to split from the East Company Army, meet with General Churchills Royal Army and escort back a battery of cannon.

Several hours were spent getting over the bridge. Once over the Godavari River Major Boone found General Churchill with his staff. A Colonel turned his horse and intercepted Noel. "Sir!" with a Salute Boone greeted the Colonel and handed over his orders. The Colonel looked over the paper. "No bloody chance right now of you getting that battery I'd venture!"

General Churchill a few feet away looked over. The staff Colonel handed over the papers. Lord Churchill looked them over then said "Major Boone, pleasure to see you, we have a Mugal Army just ahead. We will hang on to you Battery of Cannon for a few days, actions seems eminet. In the mean time I will assign you as extra escort and security to our Artillery officer."

Two more days of dusty march in the large British column. Then the third day the British Army met the Mugals. Boone and his squadron trotted along with the artillery train. The British Royal India Army fanned out into position. The Mugals had formed a line in the distance and seemed to want to play static defense.

Boone noted with interest the Artillery deploying. Men, horses and wagons hurridly setup. Soon in front of Boone the cannon opened fire upon the Mugal lines. Smoke soon obsured the battlefield but the steady fire continued.

2nd Foot Forward! The British Infantry moves towards
the Mugals. The British Artillery Batteries can be seen
on the Ridge.
To his left and right suddenly British Infantry started advancing. Into the smoke marched the Foot Regiments. The artillery ceased firing, the smoke cleared and Noel witnessed the infantry march to musket range and commence firing volleys. Once again smoke shrouded the battlefield.

The batteries in front of Boone then burst back into activity. Cannon were moved and re-sighted. On the right flank of the British Army large forces of Mugal infantry and calvary had turned the Brit Line. A regiment of Grenaders actually broke and ran. "Infanmy! those blokes are rioting!" Said Boone to Sargent Joseph next to him.

Into the masses of Mugal poured solid shot and exploding shells. The well aimed artillery took its toll, then British Foot Regiments that had been put in reserved ran to new positions, fired into the enemy and held.

"The roar of cheering then echoed over the battlefield, British infantry in the middle of the line had fixed bayonets and charged the Mugals. The Mugal Army broke and ran. Victory was at hand.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rebellion and Riot.

At twilight, the Brunswicker Dragoons in Churchill's Army charge into Maratha Rebel cavalry during a small action in India.
(1798 Winter, Hindustan) Major Boone eased down and sat by the campfire. Today he along with the East India Company Army had engaged a rebel force best described as an offshoot of the Mughals. Casualties had been light for the British, but regardless month after month of patrolling Hindustan had not tamped down the the unrest.

South of the Company Army in other provinces, the same held true. The Regular British Army had its hands full too. The Mughal Empire, beat back was still struggling and had time to get back on its feet.

An intelligence officer, was sitting at the fire. In his late fifties, beard and civilian cloths. "Not a bad action you chaps had today." said the intelligence officer.

"Well yes" said Boone. "Surely at some point we will establish order, we campaign out in the field, and the city has riots. We quell those and then its back out here after rebels and bandits!"

"We are not the only ones, India is on fire. General Churchill pushes his army all over quelling troubles, then you heard about the Mughal Army that went up the east coast, got to within a few hundred miles of Calcutta."

Boone replied. "Indeed, two Company foot regiments and a handful of local militia units held back the Mughals. Damn fine thing, they were fighting in the streets of Cuttack."

The intelligence officer nodded affirmation and threw the bitter remains of his tea in the fire. "Well, time to turn in."

The defense of Cuttack, two East India Company foot regiments and a rag-tag assortment of militia and armed citizens held back eight Mughal regular regiments. The large town hall seen in the picture was the last defense which held! The British met the foe on the outskirts of town, but kept falling back to stronger positions wearing down the Mughals.

The Battle of Malwa.

(Arkbarabad, Hindustan. Winter 1787) Noel Boone walked the busy streets of Arkibarabad, a sea of humanity swarmed around him in the ancient city. Out of the city proper and through the gate of the central citadel he strode, then made for the officers mess, located in an imposing square tower.

Other East Indian Company officers were laughing, shouting and slapping each other on the back as he entered the mess. Mask walked up to a gathering that were grouped around a table with a map unrolled upon the surface.  Colonel Crenshaw, his commanding officer was among the officers and smiled at Lt. Mask. Crenshaw said "good day Mr. Boone, we have taken Ujjain, Malwa! General Churchills army took it after a well fought battle against the renegade Prince Jayesh Sahai."

Colonel Crenshaw then placed a glass of wine on one of the corners of the map to hold it in place. He pointed at the map of India, indicating the regions the Company now rules, all colored red on the map. "One more large city to go with the Mugal Emperor, but we have the Punjab Kingdom here in north to watch, War has started with that kingdom. A large Punjab army with quality regiments is just west of the border in Maratha Territory few hundred miles from where we are standing. Our 'Allies' the Maratha are raising bloody hell about that.

"We'd march out to meet the Punjab Army, but this city is a powder keg, strikes and unrest. We'd lose it without our Army sitting right on top of it!"


"The Battle of Malwa."  Official Dispatch & Oil Paintings of the Action.

To the right honorable Governor-General Barnabas Bailey,

It is my duty and great pleasure to inform the Governor-General that the Kings India Army concluded a campaign in the State of Malwa. His Majesties Army met and bested the hordes commanded by Prince Jayesh Sahai. The battle took place within a few miles of the city of Ujjain.

Our intelligence officers estimate that the Maratha Rebel Prince had over 7000 soldiers. A mixture of infantry, much cavalry and one battery of cannon. With a force of one third of the enemy, our Army Regiments marched forward and deployed on a rise at the foot of a ridge, within sight of the opposing host.  Infantry and Calvary charged our lines.

Our left flank took the brunt of the charge, but no regiment buckled during repeated hand to hand melees. Of particular courage and fortitude were the officers and men of the 2nd Foot (The Queens Own Regiment). While in squre the regiment received multiple cavalry and infantry charges. Like a rock the 2nd held and broke regiment after regiment of the enemy. Of 300 men that went into battle only 140 survived.

The Royal Artillery batteries continuously fired upon the Prince's force inflicting heavy causalities. The Maratha Rebels morale broke and our cavalry regiments rode down the fleeing host. The city of Ujjain surrendered the next morning. Prince Jayesh Sahai, unfortunately did not survive, his body was discovered on the field of battle. We facilitated a 'State Funeral' for his highness.

His Majesties Army is occupying the State of Malwa under military law until which time I recieve further instruction and can hand over governance to the Honorable East India Company. Further letters detailing casualities, matters of logistics and recommendations for political administration are included for your consideration.

Your Humble Servant,

General John Churchill

Infantry of the Kings Army deployed in line just as the Battle of Malwa is starting. In the foreground can be seen the Scot Guards and to the left of the Scots can be seen the red coats of the 33rd Foot Regiment (The Dukes). In the distance can be seen the skyline of the city of Ujjain, ruled by a breakaway Maratha Prince.

The opening shots of the Battle of Malwa, Enemy infantry comes under heavy bombardment. Three Royal Artillery batteries served well through out the battle. Due to the geography of the battlefield the cannon were on a ridge top, having great command of the field. The enemy rarely was out of range or line of sight.

The 2nd Foot (The Queen's Own Regiment) melees with enemy infantry at the Battle of Malwa. After being in square to hold against Calvary attacks the Queen's Regiment deployed back to line formation then charged with bayonets into Rebel Maratha infantry. The foe broke and ran.

The Battle of Akbarabad (Its not a trap!)

(On the outskirts of Akbarabad, Hindustan 1796. Summer) Ten years with the Regiment and Noel Boone is now a Major, promotion is slow in John Company's Army going by seniority, not merit! With the Peshwar Lancers rode his squadron in the dust of an Army on the move. Colonel Crenshaw commander of the Regiment trotted up and reigned in his stallion. "Mr. Boone, General Pennington informs us that a large force of Mughal infantry and cavalry are a few miles ahead of us over that line of hills. We will seek and engage." The Colonel pointed to the dull skyline composed of dusty scrub with small rolling hills.

Multiple regiments of Mughal Infantry in the opening moments of the Battle of Akbarabad. The Mughals had 7,928 men, while the East India Company Army had 2,189. (Amazing that computers can pull that off, give it ten years and we will have Armies of  fifty thousand on these war games!)

"We will maintain the Regiment on the left flank of our Army along with Garner's Horse & the 9th Horse. We will be first on the flank, next to our infantry. Good luck!" The Colonel headed to one of the other squadrons to see those officers in charge. Major Boone passed along the news to his Sargent, the Regiment broke out of column formation as the the whole East Indian Company army fanned out.

By late afternoon the Company army was deployed in a line. Calvary on both flanks, six regiments. Infantry in the middle, seven regiments of Sepoy and European muskets. Then on a low ridge three batteries of cannon.

The Sargent to his right said "By the look of that dust cloud that's quite a big mob we are looking to caper with!" Major Boone laughed, "indeed Joseph we finally earn our pay, been ten years since the Dutch War in Ceylon." Then with a stern expression Boone said "keep the line dressed and watch the new recruits." Sargent Joseph saluted. "Yes Sir!"

To his right Boone could see British cannon batteries opening up and continuously fired upon the advancing Mughal Army. The fire was effective with cannon shot after shot screaming through the ranks of Mughals. Sheets of blood, smoke and dust signified each time a shell went home, but onward toward the Brits marched the Mughal Infantry.

East India Company Infantry and Mughal infantry regiments traded musket fire. The action was inconclusive, then on both flanks charged forth Mughal cavalary.

Sargent Joseph said "They are catching hell over there." as camel Calvary charged into British infantry, which was now in square. The Mughal cavalry hacked and fought, but did not break any Company infantry regiments.

Charge of the Left Flank Calvary Regiments! Mughal infantry and cavalry can be seen receiving the charge but mainly breaking and running. The East India Company's regiments Peshawar Lancers, Garners Horse and the 9th Royal Deccan Horse are all in the picture.

Colonel Crenshaw then shouted "Lancers forward, charge!"

Major Boone kicked his horse forward, around him three Regiments of Cavalry walked forward. "Wheel right!" The large formation turned then cantered and finally galloped into the Mughals Cavalry and infantry. Quick brutal fighting, the weight of the Brit charge made itself felt and multiple enemy formations broke and ran. "Its a route!" yelled a Lancer. Into the mob, spearing the terrified fleeing foe rode Boone and his squadron. To his far right Boone saw the other flank of Company Calvary charging in on the Mughals. Victory was complete with the foe flanked and surrounded. Thousands of Mughals died on the field.

Note: The Mughals while having a very large force,  fielded very low quality units, most were garrison type units. Most of these battles I detailed have other actions that take place with multiple stacks of enemy armies maneuvering on the campaign map. I treat most of the smaller battles as rear guard skirmishes and such...counting them as part of the bigger battle.

News from around the Empire. (Summer 1796)

Declarations of War came in from the Mugal Empire and the United States of America. His Majesty and his advisors just wanted North America to remain a sleepy theatre while maintaining the status quo. British attention had firmly stayed on India and commanding the seas.

The USA threatened Canada, but the Brits pushed down to Maine, invaded took that State, lost it back then a peace tready was signed. However an epic struggle took place which during the 'Battle of Maine' high quality American Foot Regiments and British Foot Regiments traded musket fire for one of the longest battles yet experienced.
'Hellfire Hill' at the Battle of Maine. USA and Brit forces locked in a caldron of fire! (The Brits won an action, then lost one. Near-run battles, won or lost make the game fun as heck.)
The Brits defended and won that action, but then lost the next and retreated back north to Canada, but held the Army together. Due to British resources being devoted to the Royal Navy and to building armies for India, the British had one Army againist several large American forces. Stalemate was not a bad result at all.

On the Mugal empire stabbing the Empire in the back with a Declaration of War. Meyhem in India is just what the Brits are looking forward to. A large East India Company army and also a regular British army with many famous & elite regiments are ready to campaign in the sub-continent.

The HMS Thunderer locked in mortal combat with a 2nd rate Dutch ship. The Royal Navy repeately faced Dutch and French fleets in the Channel maintaining mastery of the Seas.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Battle of Ceylon.

101st European Foot and to the right the 2nd Bengal Sepoy Foot (East Indian Company Regiments) engage the Dutch VOC line seen in the distance.
(Summer, 1786) Captain Noel Boone sat on his horse among the Peshawar Lancers, an East India Company cavalry unit. To the left of the Lancers was deployed 'John Company's' Army. Five regiments of infantry, a battery of cannon and four other cavalry regiments.

In front of the British army Boone watched  Dutch VOC Regiments march up. Just as the Brits, the Dutch had their own private army in the India theatre. Dutch and British both opened fire with their batteries of cannon. The booming of the guns firing, the whistle of shells and then explosions. From time to time a shell misfired and the crackle of powder could be heard as the shell slow fired as it arced through the sky. It did not bother Boone, he did not fear combat.

East India Company Infantry and Dutch VOC infantry regiments lined up, closed in and opened fire upon each other, but the Captain and his troopers remained stationary out of the action. The Lancers were on a ridge on the outskirts of a village. A good view of the action when not obscured by smoke opened in front of them. A large Dutch foot regiment pulled off the line and moved back to redeploy. Right there a quarter of a mile in front of the cavalry lay a battery of Dutch guns.

The Colonel of the Peshawar Lancers suddenly yelled for the troops to form up and move forward. "Charge!" yelled the Colonel and the bugler sounded his horn. At a slow trot the Lancers moved towards the Battery.  Boone watched the cannon being moved to aim at his unit. Cannon fire opened, horses and men fell screaming to the ground. Blood from a decapitated trooper splashed on his uniform.  Onward the lancers trotted then broke out in a gallop upon the Colonels order.
Into the battery rode the Lancers. Boone spotted a Dutch artillery trooper trying to use his cannon rammer as a weapon. Into the Dutchman's throat  Boone plunged his lance. Around him screams of death and also of victory rang out. Within seconds the Dutch battery and its crews were destroyed.

The Lancers formed up once again after being scattered during the short but brutal action. Again they were on the flank of the main action. To their left the regiments of infantry held in lines firing their muskets in mass volleys. With the Dutch artillery knocked out the British now had mastery of the field with their guns. Shells ripped into Dutch formations.

The Dutch infantry had held well, but soon started giving way, other British cavalry regiments charged and the rout was on. Boone was startled from watching the other units by the urgent shouting of his Colonel. "The enemy general and his bodyguard are retreating, Charge!" The Lancers flew into action. Out of a copse of trees the Dutch General and his men were galloping up a rise, but the Lancers had a better angle and no slope to navigate. Into the Dutch yet again the Peshawar Lancer crashed.

In melee the Lancers took a heavy toll on the first charge, but mixed in close from that point the swords of the Dutch took their toll. A dutch cavalryman stabbed one of Boone's enlisted men. Boone turned his horse right into the foes horse. At too short of range to spear the Dutchman, Captain Boone used his lance as a club striking the foe across the face, the blow caused the Dutchman to fall off his horse to the ground, Boone then easily stabbed the helpless foe with the tip of his lance.

More Brit light cavalry charged in at this point, the Dutch General fell and his escort ran or died. Except for pursuing routing Dutch the Battle had been won. The island of Ceylon fell to the Brits.

The Peshawar Lancers charging a Dutch VOC cannon battery during the Battle of Ceylon. The VOC is the Dutch competitor of the East India Company.