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Fighting for the Wells – Sudan 1884

Last Sunday Myself, the two Dave’s and young Willie got together at the club and had a great little game in ‘The Sands of The Sudan’. The scenario I put together was that a small British column made up of:
2 x Troops of the 19th Hussars
3 x Companies of the Mounted Infantry Regiment (1 x Mounted)
2 x Companies 1st Bn The Royal Sussex Regiment
1st Division of the Naval Brigade
Was the advance guard of the Desert Column. Their mission was to advance and secure the wells for the remainder of the Desert Column, which would be arriving in two days time….however little did they know that the wells would already have a security force in place….but not for the British.

The Mahdist forces (commanded by Myself and Dave) were comprised of mainly Berber horse and camels, captured Egyptian riflemen and Kordofani tribesmen. We had no artillery but we had a lot of guts and determination to throw the infidels back into the desert.

Initially the British advance went well and only encountered light resistance from a mad bunch of Kordofani tribesmen on the left flank. However the situation changed rapidly as the column approached the hills and all of a sudden out of the heat haze on the left flank three waves of Berber horse charged the British flank. But then the unexpected happened the the 19th Dragoons counter charge the Berber horsemen putting all but one column in flight and out of the game for the remainder of the afternoon……the flank was safe…or was it???

So with the flank again secured, well for the time being, the remainder of the column soon began to advance again towards the hells, which as they approached seemed to be heavy held by the Mahdist forces in strength. The British commanders (Dave and Willie) thus decided to halt the column, placing the supply camels into square with one company of the Royal Sussex in support, and advanced the remainder of their command towards the hills. A Troop of the 19th Hussars and the mounted Infantry scouting out to the front for and hidden enemy.

The 19th Hussars soon ran into trouble when a column of mounted tribesmen on camels charged their formation but after a brisk fight the tribesmen were thrown into confusion and made a hasty retreat back into the hills with the Hussars following close behind.

However little be known to the Hussars once on the other side of the hills they were confronted with the main Mahdist Army, which was waiting for the British to get a little closer before springing thier trap. But now the trap was revealed and the Hussars fought gallantly to extract themselves from the overwhelming numbers of tribal warriors swarming around them. On the other side of the hills the mounted infantry (on the camels) had also followed up on some fleeing warriors and again followed them into and beyond the hills. These brave sons of Victoria knew that the only way to save the column was to sacrifice themselves to save others. And they did just that firing from the saddle and into the massed ranks of warriors seemed to hold the warriors in place while the column approached. But it was not long before these brave fellows were forced to withdraw, leaving half their number behind in the sands of the Sudan.

Their sacrifice however was not in vain and as they were struggling to hold back the Mahdist waves a company of the Royal Sussex charged up the middle hill with bayonets flashing and bugles blaring. The Royal Sussex boys soon had the remaining warriors on the run and claim the hill for themselves. The Mahdis forces new they were defeated and what remained of them made of in the desert to fight another day. So with the wells now secured the lads posted sentries, buried their dead and waited for the main column to approach.

Above and below – the two troops of the 19th Hussars saw plenty of action this day, with repeated charges on the enemy, helping win the battle for the British forces.

Mahdist riflemen (who were once in the service of the Egyptians)

The warriors holding the middle hill who were soon to be the targets of the Royal Sussex boys

B Coy Royal Sussex

It was the charge of the tribal cavalry on the British right flank, which almost put the fear of God into the lads…however with skill full charges by the 19th Hussars two of these units were soon in flight and would not participate in the battle again.

A company of the Mounted Infantry gets charged in the flank. The lads are pushed back leave a few of their number dead and wounded however they mange to reform and repulse further charges.

Into the valley of death rode the 19th Hussars

But somehow they managed to survive even though a few more saddles were emptied they did discover the remainder of the Mahdi Army.

More riflemen fire from the surrounding hills into the advance British lines

Hint no.1 when in fear of a flank attack from a mad bunch of screaming warriors form square and hope for the best.

7pdr screw guns engage the enemy on the hills

The 19th Hussars win their glory

And the Imperial Mounted Infantry are about to win their glory as well.

The other two companies of Mounted Infantry stand firm, just outside the square and fend off repeated charges by the tribesmen.

And then the boys charged to glory…winning ever lasting fame.

And lests not forget the Naval Brigade lads…after the garner gun got stuck in the sand a number of times they finally caught up with the rest of the column only to be charged twice by and hidden group of warriors. However the boys stood firm and repulsed both charges with accurate volleys and machine gun fire.

Three charges were made by the Mounted Infantry that day and only after heavy casualties did they finally withdraw from the action.

More charging camels but this time these camels were not successful and were shot down in waves by the fast firing British Infantry.

Above and below: the last charges of the 19th Hussars and the Imperial Mounted Infantry

Both charges allowed the brave lads of B Coy Royal Sussex to advance unmolested and charge the middle hill.

A last minute gamble by the Amir was to push his riflemen out from cover in a vain hope of inflicting  more casualties on the British

The Amir over looking the battle from in hill on the Mahdist left flank

However his gamble failed and the Royal Sussex lads were victorious in capturing the middle hill and  winning the day for the British.

21 thoughts on “Fighting for the Wells – Sudan 1884”

  1. Sensational Photographs Nathan. Very much looking forward to the write up of the battle itself mate as it looks absolutely intriguing. Lots of natives looking pretty savage mate. Love the shot of the Emir on the hill looking down on all the action by the way.

  2. Thanks Carlo, I will have an AAR completed by tomorrow I would say…well hopefully. The mother in law has arrived for a few days so will slow down my activity time.

    All the best best and thanks again for the comments


  3. Can't say any more than has been said already really. Great figures, good eye for a camera shot, and a pleasure as always to read and feast my eyes. Keep the posts coming.

  4. Inspirational stuff. This would lend itself nicely to 54mm gaming that I intend to do using Armies in Plastic 54s. Every photo a masterpiece and your scenery is spot on.

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