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.