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Crossing the Bhuna, 1857


Queen Victoria’s Little Wars, Honour & Fortitude, 28mm

I’m sorry for offering up so many pictures from this game, but visually it really was a cracker. This fictitious game involved a British relief column led by General Sir Sidney Roughdiamond (Chris Henry) advancing in relief of the garrison of Aga “where its always baking” (British in-joke). First though, the column had to defeat the Mutineer army deployed to cover the crossing of the River Bhuna, near the town of Fatipore.mutiny-sept-09-01Sir Sidney had two infantry regiments – the 79th (Cameron) Highlanders and the 61st (S. Gloucs.) Foot, supported by a unit of the 6th (Queen’s Own) Dragoon Guards, and a battery of Royal Artillery. His objective was to storm the redoubt guarding the ford, then assault the earthworks guarding the far bank.mutiny-sept-09-06Earlier that day Sir Sidney detached a small flanking force, which crossed the river a few miles downstream, and was now advancing up the far bank of the river. Col. Sir Ronald Macdonald (“Big Mac”, played by Dougie Trail) commanded his own 93rd (Sutherland) Highlanders, supported by a unit of the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers (aka “The Delhi Spearmen”) and an attached irregular unit of Pindaris – Throckmorton’s Throat Cutters. His job was to take the defences in the flank.mutiny-sept-09-19The Indian Mutineers were led by the rebel prince the Khazi of Kurma (that would be me), and consisted of six regiments of Mutineers (the 1st, 13th, 48th & 53rd Bengal Native Infantry and by the 2nd and 7th Bengal Light Cavalry) plus guns, backed up by the Khazi’s own yellow-turbaned guard, some Pindari irregular cavalry, and a unit of Badmash  – “the sweepings of the Aga”. In most previous mutiny games this force would have been no match for the doughty Highlanders. However, these rules – Honour & Fortitude (an old set once produced by Freikorps) – were largely untested.mutiny-sept-09-08Actually, it all went pretty much according to plan. Both British forces led the advance with their cavalry, the Dragoons sweeping round the redoubt to engage the supporting mutineer infantry, while the Lancers routed another unit of mutineer foot, but were then counter-charged by the mutinous Bengal Light Cavalry. The mutineer gunners did their best, causing a few casualties as the 73rd advanced, but with a fair degree of melodramatic inevitability, the British swept over the breastworks, captured the guns and skewered the defenders with their bayonets.mutiny-sept-09-10On the far side of the table things weren’t going so well – the “Delhi Spearmen” were being whittled down by superior numbers, and the 93rd were suffering from the attention of the last-remaining Indian gun. Once again a Highland charge was launched and the gun was captured, while – defying all odds – the Lancers broke their opponents, and chased them off the field. As the 93rd cleared one entrenchment the 61st Foot assaulted the other, and the game ended with the Mutineer defenders in flight, their withdrawal covered by the remains of the Khazi’s army. For his part he Khazi took advantage of the confusion and lumbered off the table in his command elephant – ostensibly to look for reinforcements.mutiny-sept-09-15Amazingly, the two British players thought the game was a draw. They’d lost about half their cavalry, while both Highland regiments had suffered substantial casualties. Of course, it terms of the body count the day went to the British, but I suppose anything resembling a spirited Mutineer defence is something to applaud! The rules worked surprisingly well, and while we’ll tweak them, we’ll certainly use them again. They produced a fast and believable game, and with the wrinkles ironed out they’ll be the best set we’ve found which reflect this wonderfully colourful and quirky period.mutiny-sept-09-16

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