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The Road to Kirriepur, 1857


The Indian Mutiny, Muskets & Tomahawks, 28mm

This weekend was the spring gathering of the League of Gentlemen Wargamers, which means we were up in Kirriemuir, a small town about 90 minutes drive north of Edinburgh. The weekend was divided into two parts. On the Saturday, we played a bunch of skirmish games, using Bill’s Indian Mutiny variant of Muskets & Tomahawks. Then, Sunday was devoted to a larger game – the relief of Kirriepur – using more conventional rules. There were ten of us on the Saturday, so we set up five 6×4 tables, with five very different scenarios. A roster meant that everyone got to play four games during the day (two in the morning, two in the afternoon), and everyone played each game with a different opponent. My first game was called “Rescuing the Memsahib”. Lady Hyacinth had been captured by the mutineers, and so a British force was sent to save her from “a fate worse than death”. She was held prisoner in a village, guarded by a small mutineer force, which I commanded. Appearing from the other table edge was a small British force under Colin Jack’s command, consisting of a unit of volunteer cavalry, Gurkhas and Sikhs. The thing was, if the British came within 12″ of the village, the Mutineer commander could order a unit to go and kill the Memsahib. All she had to fight back with was her unarmed maid and a hatpin. So, Kevin wisely played it cautiously, using his superior firepower to whittle me down. Still, my mutineers gave almost as good as they got, and the casualty list was mounting as the British forded the stream, halfway to the village. By then though, the morale rules were really kicking in, and I spent more time trying to rally my troops than fight with them. Kevin wisely kept his distance throughout most of the game, blazing away until I was on my last legs. However, he never manged to reach the village before the clock ran out, which meant this nicely balanced and hard-fought game ended in a win for the Mutineers. Next was “Up the Arsenal”  – a noctrunal sortie by the besieged defenders of Kirriepur to capture the mutineers’ arsenal. A minor win was achieved by blowing up the magazine – a major win my escaping with two cartloads of gunpowder. Peter Nicholson played it well, advancing with his Naval Brigade sailors who formed the main assault part, supported by the firepower of a unit of Highlanders, and the help of a unit of East India Company volunteers. Visibility was just 8″, and the sailors managed to rush the gate and kill the sentries before the alarm was raised. What followed was some hard-core hand-to-hand combat in the courtyard and rooms of the arsenal, but eventually the sailors overcame the garrison. Now they had to deal with the mutineer reinforcements, escape with the powder, and set a fuse to blow the magazine. Actually my reinforcements were pretty effectively stopped by Highland firepower, and while the East India troops suffered quite a few casualties, they kept the mutineers at bay until the laden wagons had passed through the arsenal gates and were heading towards the beleaguered Kirriepur residency. So, victory went to Peter and his British – a spirited game that was great fun to play. After lunch it was “The Panther’s Lair” a scenario featuring my hill fort that we’d playtested before, albeit in a North West Frontier setting. This time my mutineers in the shape of “The Panther” and his bandits were up against the keen military mind of Charles Grant. In this game, Charles deployed everyone but his unit of Sikhs in the main assault, ignoring the bandits in the village and sending everyone towards the fort. His gun unlimbered and began banging away at the door, before switching to shrapnel to clear the roof of snipers. I sensibly hid everyone “below decks”, which of course meant there weren’t many defenders able to snipe at the Gurkhas and Highlanders as they  approached the fort. So, the assault went in, with the Gurkhas in the lead. Charles had them set off their petard, blowing the door off its hinges, and then the Gurkhas were in. A short, sharp melee followed, but it was all up for the defenders, whose good morale rolls simply meant that they didn’t surrender or run away, and so were chopped down to a man. In the end only “The Panther” was left, who was duly apprehended, and led off in chains to face justice. All in all it was a great little game, and it could easily have gone either way. The final game was one I didn’t take any pictures of. For some reason I forgot. In any case, it was a re-run of the Ambush in Grundy’s Lane game we played at the club a few days before, only moved from the French & Indian War to the Indian Mutiny. This time Kevin Calder played the British, and did an excellent job forcing his wagons along the road, despite everything my mutineers could do to stop him. In fact the whole thing came down to a turn of the card, as his leading wagons were poised to exit the table, but my mutineers were closer to them than his escort was. In the end both sides took quite a few casualties, but despite the game ending with the wagons still on the tablew we deemed they’d effectively fought their way through. So, victory went to Kevin, after what was probably the most evenly-balanced scenario of the day – and that was really saying something.The picture above is of the fifth game – The Tiger Hunt – where the British District Commissioner was out tiger hunting with the Nabob of Kirriepur, when their sport was rudely interrupted by newly-mutinied sepoys. The game was essentially an escape one, but this relatively simple operation was hindered by roaming man-eating tigers lurking in the jungle, and the fickle loyalty of the Nabob, who was likely to turn against his guest at any moment!  All in all it was a great day of gaming, and at its end we re-arranged the tables ready for the big game the following day. Then it was off to the local hotel – the Airlie Arms – for a curry dinner, followed by an evening of socialising over a few drinks. All in all a perfect wargamer’s day! 

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