Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Army Men ('Jono's World') - Acquisitions...


At the recent Club bring-and-buy, I snapped up five interesting items, 3D model prints of military hardware that seemed just the right scale for my Army Men (a.k.a 'Jono's World') project. At five bucks the lot, how could one miss? It's one of those 'on again off again' projects that isn't seeing much action but which is gradually accumulating a fairish amount of kit.  So I thought I'd take a little bit of an inventory.
We start with these toys out of China. Toys they are, with those friction-motor thingies that allow you, after dragging the vehicle back along a surface, to let it travel along at a considerable distance. It waggles its turret about a wee bit as it goes.  I like these things - pretty reasonable models of PzIVG, slightly underscale compared with the largest of my army men figures, but, as the picture shows, quite a bit bigger than 1:76 scale.   They're pretty chunky and heavy - probably too heavy for their friction motors, but that motive power is not what I got them for. These tanks form a company, or maybe a small battalion, in the service of that aggressive island Empire, Ra'esharn.



This harlequin group of four make up another unit. The two flanking AFVs, 711 and 714, are Army Men Pattons - which, considering they are cheap toys - not a patch qualitatively on those PzIV toys - are actually quite good. The armoured AA vehicle is an even cheaper toy, and pretty battered into the bargain, but now reinforced and modified, with a crew man added. I want a second crew man, but do you think I can find among all my Army Men (I must have two or three hundred at least by now) a second dude wearing a beret? Now, the lead tank, 717, is one of those 3D prints I bought. Actually a little bit of assembly work is required, but nothing onerous. It is almost exactly the same size as the other two - quite a nice little armoured force.

The PzIVs I treat as my 'standard type' for determining weight of armour and anti-tank: medium armour; medium anti-tank. The Pattons I treat as heavies, with a heavy AT gun.



Three of the other 3D items were these APCs - presumably M113 in our world, but simply armoured personnel carriers (APCs) on Sideon IV - Jono's World. At last I can mount my alleged 'Armoured Infantry' in something that actually has armour. In the picture below, is a prototype armoured infantry battalion with their APCs...
... and that brings me to a recent change in how my armies will be organised. Having bought a copy of Tim Gow's Little Cold Wars, I rather liked the way his set-up looks. Instead of mounting figures as individuals, with a numerical scaling down of units and formations, I've gone for mounting them on bases, comme ├ža  Little Cold Wars, but on 75mm square, rather than 4-inch. This will mean my having to modify my rule set for this project, giving it an extra braincell or two. 
Now, although a good deal of the kit looks 1950s-ish, in fact they purport to be roughly 1943 tech. Which will probably be a 'Strange Little War' for some. The Patton and one of the Kiivar tanks will be the rough equivalent of a German Panther or Tiger. Because I have so many of them, I had to include bazookas. Originally the tech was supposed to be c.1940,  but the available kit tended to no earlier than mid 1943, so there it stands - no ATGW, no jet-powered aircraft, no helicopters.  

Whilst I was taking pictures, I thought I would picture what a Kiivar medium artillery battery or regiment would look like. I thought 3 of a crew for each of 3 howitzers, unit commander, and a forward observer group. Those large jeep-type vehicles become artillery tractors and ammo carriers, and the little jeeps the command and FOO vehicles. Perhaps I should add some extra jeeps to transport the gun crews! This unit is of course under naval operation though under army command. The loss of so many ships has left many Kiivar mariners stranded on the beach, whereat they were offered employment among the land forces. That's the 'backstory' I'm running with anyhow.

Very well, among a whole bunch of Army Men figures that fell into my possession, were a bunch of these sailorman figures. Four of them were carrying artillery shells under-arm, to the whole lot became artillerists. I rather liked the look of these fellows painted up...  The blue of the jackets were left unpainted, as I liked that sort of blue. 

Finally, the last of the 3D buys; this fine Centurion. Bigger than the other four I have, this one is of a size with the Pattons, so it will count as a heavy tank as well - a Cougar Mk IV. The two smallest Centurions in the bunch are so close to 1:72 scale, I'm tempted to shave back the exaggerated front mudguard overhang, and enter them into the service of the Nawab of Tchagai... 


 

These chappies were going to be 'Cougar Mk I' light tanks with a light-medium anti-tank gun. But the scale is small enough that it won't look out of place with 1:76 scale figures in my Harad project. They'll probably be retained as the Mark with a 20pr main gun.


All this stuff is of course not my total inventory - just what I've been working on lately.


Saturday, December 25, 2021

Woodscrew Armies Campaign - A Deadly Reckoning (4 - conclusion)

 


The fall of Prince Zeng Seng-Bao seemed to enrage the Chinese 5th Regular formation, who, ignoring the defensive rifle and gunfire, rapidly closed with the northern 38th Brigade redoubt, and simply swept over the position like a tidal wave. Of the entire garrison of two battalions, nothing remained under command. The North Column Regulars and 19th Conscripts threatened to roll up the fluid Union line as the fleeing remains of 19th Brigade were almost swallowed up by the onrushing West Column formations pushing south from the escarpment position.



Closer by the camps, 38th Brigade, under the eye of Major-General Jackson, took up the battle against the advancing 3rd Regular and 15th Conscript formations. They were supported by the Pioneers in their redoubt near the bridge, and one of the heavy batteries on their other flank. The conscript formation's victory had not come cheaply. Already disordered by its costly fight with 17th Brigade, 15th Conscripts sank quickly into further confusion, fell apart, and precipitately fled, back down the face of the escarpment.  The Regulars lasted longer.

They lasted longer, but somewhat in advance of the other West Column formations to their right, were facing fearful odds of superior numbers, superior firepower and artillery besides.  Those other columns, in pursuit of the 19th Brigade remnants, were distanced by their quarry, who, passing beyond the range of the enemy small arms, formed an extempore gun line prolonging the 38th Brigade position. Crowded to the rear of the fleeing ordnance, the machine gunners took some losses from the distant enemy rifle fire before settling into fire positions covering the heavy and Brigade artillery.




All this was happening out of sight of Bidwell's Brigade, north of the stream skirting the high ground, pushing up against a rearguard hastily cobbled together by T'ai Kun Wu himself.  He had available the smoothbore artillery of East Column - the only unit from that corps still under command - and the rifled cannon from West Column, plus the light infantry survivors from the Leopard and Tiger light infantry skirmishers who had opened the battle.  With these troops he hoped to drive off the oncoming Union brigade.


The latter had the numbers, the machine guns, and supporting fire from the breech-loading rifled guns that had remained behind the earthworks on 'Big Hill'. And they had magazine rifles against single shot breechloaders - the only Chinese unit with even those obsolescent firearms. In the light of the overall disparity, it was probably too much to hope that this Chinese rearguard could defeat Bidwell's Brigade, but perhaps they could they render prohibitive the cost of a further advance?

The dice rolls tell the story - or most of it - though they require explanation. I use a 'Die range' system to determine hits. The effect is the same as subtracting from the individual dice scores, but does away with the actual arithmetic. The Chinese rolls - sixes and fives - would have been a tremendous score under a different regime: here they were bad. Only the smoothbore artillery beside the river scored hits (5 of them) being close enough for that score to count. The other artillery fire (one die, a six), and the infantry (one die - a six, and a half-die - the five) were ineffectual. The 5 scored by the smoothbores led, once 'converted' into casualties, to 3 figures being removed from 37th Brigade. That was bad enough for the Union.

How Bidwell's fight went: 11 'hits' to 5.


In contrast, the Union returned a devastating fire. Everything hit: the MGs, 2 hits; the artillery 3 (the maximum it could score at that range); and the riflemen 5, plus the fraction (the red die beside the red/white/blue dice) adding another 1. The MGs wiped out the East Column artillery; the supporting artillery silenced the Chinese rifled ordnance; and the riflemen themselves cut the enemy light infantry to ribbons.  In the carnage, T'ai Kun Wu was lucky to survive.  

This was by no means the end of the battle. Quite unaware of what was happening below the escarpment behind them, the Chinese, though their their ranks were greatly thinned, continued to press forward. Once what remained of East Column had been flung back, 3rd Regular's lone battle against 38th Brigade could have but one result, however valiantly they fought. And valiantly they did. Once again let the dice tell the story.  

Four hits they scored, but the return fire was even more devastating: altogether eleven. Thirty-eighth Brigade could wear the losses; 3rd Regulars had no chance. In a trice, the scant remnants also abandoned the fight.


There remained whatever North Column could achieve to determine the outcome of the battle. As the unseen fight north of the creek had been developing, the Union line had more or less consolidated, well to the rear of their original position. Having overrun one redoubt, 5th Regulars reformed, wheeling to the right, prepared to storm the second 39th Brigade infantry position. The defenders might have benefited from machine gun support, but their attention had been drawn to the approach of a large column of Chinese cavalry - 2500 of them. The MG and flying artillery fire proved ineffectual against that large target (only one horseman being knocked over). Now was Brigadier 'Reb' Klamath's chance to realise a long-held desire - to engage in a mounted action.  


The battle flared up anew in this part of the field. Again taking severe losses, the 5th Regulars rolled over the second redoubt.  The surviving 39th Brigade battalions hastily abandoned the work, and retired in disorder behind the brigade gun line. Standing upon the ground conquered, the Chinese regulars' rifle fire soon silenced the 39th Brigade artillery as well. But, further advance being impossible, they could not long endure the whiplash of enfilading machine gun fire. Soon, 5th Regulars were drawing back, their swift tide of advance becoming an equally rapid ebb of retreat. 


The hoped-for cavalry clash proved less climactic, perhaps, than either side hoped for. Both sides hampered by the fields of barbed wire entanglements, they could throw in only separate regiments. The slightly greater Chinese numbers could not be brought to bear. The Chinese fought to a standstill 55th Union Cavalry, on the latter's right, both sides losing a figure. To the left of the wire, 58th Cavalry crushed their opponents, killing or capturing half, and sending the other half fleeing.   

There remained the Chinese centre - the conscripts of North column and two formations of West Column, to carry the day.  It still seemed just possible, as the 38th Brigade remained the sole organised formation remaining to face them...



Suddenly the Chinese attacks collapsed and faded away. The rout of East Column; the North Column having receded from their highwater mark; and the West's assault columns having become woefully thinned out; the Chinese army had simply exhausted its strength. Losses had been appallingly heavy, so determined had been their attacks, but they had at last become too prohibitive to be endured. Two of his formation commanders had fallen with them. The army shattered - T'ai kun Wu's command had dashed itself to pieces - there was no option but to retreat. But the Union army was itself in very nearly as great a distressed state. Driving back the western end of the Union line the best part of a mile, T'ai Kun Wu had come so close to a victory.  

'Who does not see the hand of God in this victory,' General Jackson remarked to his Chief of Staff, 'such a one is blind, sir. Blind!'  

Victory it was, but the Union Army knew it had been in a fight for its life, and had come within ace of falling to pieces itself. There was no pursuit, the Army was exhausted, and the sun was by this time close to touching the distant horizon. Even on the morrow, there would be none but a respectful follow-up by the cavalry. 
Situation Map, afternoon August 2nd.



Losses were appalling on both sides. The Union had to deplore the loss of 5000 troops - nearly a quarter of the army - all too many of them from the fresh brigades, 17th and 19th. Brigadier General Early had also fallen at the barricades atop the escarpment, along with almost the half of 17th Brigade. The ferocity of the Chinese assault might be measured by their own losses: near on 15,000. Of them, some 3500-4000 remained prisoners, wounded and unwounded, in Union hands.

Never certain of victory after the series of defeats his army had endured during the fortnight leading to this battle, T'ai Kun Wu had deliberately chosen to delay his attack until the day was well advanced.  A reverse could then be minimised, and a pursuit obviated, by the onset of darkness. He had still under command despite their losses, just 4 formations - 1st Regular, 12th and 19th Conscript, and the cavalry. Half his guns had been lost. So scattered was his army, that it was to be a painful three-day retreat to join the South Column, west of Weshall Pass...

The battle won at such a cost, left the Union Army badly in need of rest and reorganisation.  Determined still to drive the Chinese from the disputed territories, Major General Thomas J. Jackson set about revamping and reorganising his troops. There would be no retreat for Tenth Army.

To be continued...








Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Woodscrew Armies Campaign - A Deadly Reckoning (3)

The view from 37th Brigade's position on 'Big Hill'

Isolated upon the heights forming the right flank of the Union line, Brigadier-General Isaac Bidwell eyed the developing situation below, on the far side of the road and across the stream. He saw the first assaults go in, the scrimmage over the earthworks, and the repulse, with huge losses, of two Chinese columns. Having nothing to face where he stood, on his own initiative - he didn't trouble to wait for or request orders, he gathered his troops and his machine guns, determined upon a counter action. As joining the defence seemed too distant a prospect, Bidwell hoped by direct action along the line of the stream to engage the interest of the Chinese army.
Heavy assaults going in.  On the escarpment line fewer than 8000
Union soldiers would face some 30,000 assailants in successive waves

Meanwhile, three of his formations broken, T'ai Kun Wu had five more about to assault the Union escarpment line.  Of the two Conscript formations held up by wire, the 15th - the sole formation remaining in action of East Column - skirted the wire to attack the much weakened right flank of 17th Brigade.  Third Regulars struck the other end of that Brigade's line.  Such blows, coming so shortly after the stiff struggle to throw back the initial attacks, were too much for the 17th. The defence crumpled quickly, the gun line overrun. In attempting to rally his reeling command, Brigadier-General Early was felled by a poleaxe as the Chinese hordes swarmed over the while east end of the line. Only a pitiful remnant survived death, wounds or capture to flee to the rear.

(I use the singular 'remnant' advisedly: but one figure of the whole command survived, more or less under command, to flee behind the Union reserve line; though several more stragglers were rounded up subsequently.)

First attack upon 39th Brigade's position

By now the flanking move was developing into an assault upon the 39th Brigade's scattered line. Having marched farthest, the 17th Conscript formation bypassed the wire in front of the Brigade's centre left, where the redoubt was garrisoned by half the Brigade riflemen. Helped by the machine guns to their immediate left, the magazine rifles simply mowed down the conscripts, the formation shredding away before they even contacted the earthworks.  
The demise of Prince Zeng Seng-Bao.
Thus encouraged, the right-hand half-Brigade, with artillery support, opened up upon the approaching Regular formation - the 5th - not so far advanced as their broken comrades had reached. A lucky shell-burst struck Prince Zeng Seng-Bao a mortal wound. But, far from stopping the regulars, this seemed to add to their determination to close.

Between the East and North Column attacks, the heaviest blows fell upon 19th Brigade - three West Column formations, one regular and two conscript, surging up to and over the earthworks. The regulars rather tended to envelop the left end of the line, where the battalions weakened by the earlier attacks from a North Column formation found themselves gradually overwhelmed by a more numerous enemy. Though more protracted than the swift collapse of 17th brigade, this fight - some 10,000 Chinese against rather fewer than the 4000 troops with which 19th Brigade began the battle. The artillery support and machine guns were insufficient help, as the Chinese, an unstemmable tide, stepped over their dead and wounded in overwhelming numbers forced their way into the Union lines.  

Owing to the casual placement of the wire, the Brigade's machine guns and the heavy gun battery were somewhat protected from direct attack. As the infantry lines were being forced back and broken through, both batteries won clear, and fled into the plateau behind. The Brigade artillery, by some good fortune (a 50-50 die-roll call), also broke out from the surrounding enemies. Having farthest to go, the machine gunners hauled out their weapons just barely ahead of the oncoming hordes.  For all that, the whole of the escarpment position had fallen. None too many riflemen accompanied the rearward exodus of the guns.


Retaining his usual phlegmatic demeanour upon observing this disaster, Major-General T. J. Jackson  deployed where they stood the reserves immediately under his hand.  Facing west to begin with, he wheeled the line half right, 38th Brigade's infantry flanking organic artillery on both sides, and the second battery 110th Heavy Artillery slightly refused upon the Brigade's left flank.  Such was the greeting that the Chinese 15th Conscript and 3rd Regular formations were to receive upon carrying 17th Brigade's position.
Will Bidwell's command achieve anything
worthwhile?

And 37th Brigade?  As the good Brigadier Biswell led his men down the hill and along the river line, past the bridge and across the road into the plain, he began to wonder if all he would strike was air. The critical action seemed to have disappeared beyond the skyline to the southwest, although the sounds of battle, albeit muffled by the intervening high ground, continued with little abatement. Would his advance make a lick of difference?
 

General situation: main Union position overrun;
38th Brigade deploying where it stands;
Bidwell's advancing into the Chinese rear.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Woodscrew Armies Campaign - A Deadly Reckoning (2)

 

The Battlefield: attacks by two Corps (Columns) over the stream
whilst the third (North Column) makes a flank march

The Union Army was ready for him ... but T'ai Kun Wu would make them wait a little longer. The Union commanding general had chosen a seemingly strong position from which to offer battle. There were indications, too of a considerable supply base established behind the rising ground before the Chinese Army. The question remained how to make the best use of his numbers, to drive the Union from this place and out of the rightful Imperial lands.
As seen from behind Union lines

One slight advantage the losses to his army had reaped: the logistic situation was eased sufficiently that T'ai Kun Wu could spend a day, possibly two, in a careful reconnaissance of the position, from which intelligence gathered he might form a plan.  Time was less a factor than it might otherwise have been.

The large hill - the Union called it 'Big Hill' - alongside and east of the road seemed too formidable an objective, and to fetch a march around it would be to cross its front and arrive at a stretch of the creek that ran though swamps and marshes. So difficult was this latter approach, that the Union had disdained to improve the position there by fortifications. It transpired, however, that instead of running in front of the hill, the creek ran through a pass between hill and escarpment, crossed there by a bridge recently repaired, whence it traced a path across its rear then southeastward. Even though this was rendered accurately (Tony Adams's sketch map) by the officers charged with carrying out the reconnaissance, it passed T'ai Kun Wu's attention.
Tony Adams's sketch map of Camp Supply, with 
Union positions and Chinese battle plan 
added. Very much Not To Scale.

[Aside:  This was programmed: I considered a range of options, from a full frontal attack, to variations of combined front and/or flank attacks. The fact was, I simply overlooked the option of taking out Big Hill with one of the columns, then exploiting from there. That does not mean that would have been the plan adopted; it ought merely have been slotted in to the Chinese range of options. Having made the list, I rolled a D6 die, a '4' coming down upon two columns attacking the escarpment; the other carrying out a short flank march around the Union left into the shallow valley between the western edge of the escarpment and a round hill a considerable distance - over a mile - south of it. I then chose the columns' respective roles.]

17th Brigade in action

Having formed his plan, one further decision remained to set the wheels in motion. Seriously considering a night attack, the Chinese commanding general concluded that such was beyond the capacity of his army. Instead, on the late morning of August 2nd, he ordered his most powerful and freshest corps, North Column, on its flank march, and at precisely midday launched forward his other two corps, West and East columns, into a direct attack up the escarpment.  

The Chinese Army comprised:

Commanding General: T'ai Kun Wu

North Column: Zeng Seng-Bao

  • 5th Regular Formation - 28 figures
  • 17th Conscript - 19
  • 18th Conscript - 19
  • 19th Conscript - 19
  • 1st Cavalry - 15
  • 2nd Artillery - 2
Totals North Column: 102 (17,000) and 1 gun (8 cannon)

West Column: Li Xiucheng
  • 1st Regular - 21 figures
  • 3rd Regular - 21
  • 8th/9th Converged Light Infantry (Blue Leopards) - 20
  • 11th Conscript - 18
  • 12th Conscript - 18
  • 1st Artillery - 2 
Totals West (Reserve) Column: 100 (16,667) and 1 gun (8 muzzle loading rifles).
Note that 2nd Regular and 13th Conscript were, on account of losses, disbanded and the personnel distributed among other formations.

East Column: Li Kuan Yu
  • 6th Regular/13th Conscript converged formation - 21 figures
  • 15th Conscript - 19
  • 16th Conscript - 19
  • 3rd Artillery - 2 
Totals East Column: 61 (10,167) and 1 gun ( 8 cannon)

Totals Chinese Army: 263 figures (43,833) and 3 guns (24)


West Column formations covered by 
light infantry skirmishers

Anticipating attack from north and west, the Union army had constructed a formidable defence line along the escarpment, and on top of 'Big Hill', with barbed wire entanglements here and there across the front. Though they didn't cover the whole front, those entanglements were to prove a considerable hindrance to the early Chinese assaults. To the escarpment front, General Jackson entrusted the newly arrive brigades, 17th, at the bridge end, and 19th, a battery of heavy artillery attached, and all under the command of Brigadier-General Early.  

The defences of the refused flank were rather less complete, 39th Brigade ensconced in redan strongpoints covered by the machine guns to the flank not far from the cavalry horse lines, and the brigade artillery in the open field a short distance to their rear. Covering the flank of 39th Brigade was the cavalry, who mounted up as soon as action became imminent, and the flying artillery behind its works upon the Round Top Hill.  

The Chinese ignored the 37th Brigade upon Big Hill as an objective too many, although had the South Column been available, no doubt T'ai Kun Wu would have found it useful to mask that position. For all its isolation, Isaac Bidwell's Brigade would once more have some impact upon events as they unfolded.

Finally, in reserve close by the Police Battalion lines and the ammunition storage dump, Major-General Jackson retained 38th brigade and the second battery, heavy artillery. With such arrangements the Major-General had prepared himself for whatever the Chinese army might throw at him.

Union Tenth Army looked like this:

General Officer Commanding: T. J. Jackson
  • 37th Brigade: 16 riflemen, 1 gunner, 1 MG gunner = 18 figures
  • 38th Brigade: 18 riflemen, 2 gunners, no MG = 20 figures
  • 39th Brigade: 14 riflemen, 1 gunner, 2 MG gunner = 17 figures
  • 17th Brigade (attached): 20 riflemen, 2 gunners, 2 MG gunners = 24 figures
  • 19th Brigade (attached): 21 riflemen, 2 gunners, 2 MG gunners = 25 figures
  • 10th Cavalry: 13 troopers, 1 gunner = 14 figures
  • 110 Heavy Artillery: 4 gunners (2 guns) = 4 figures
  • 210th Pioneer Battalion: 4 pioneers = 4 figures 

Totals: 126 figures (21,000), 8 artillery (52), 4 MGs (28)


The assaults go in.  Where not held up by the wire,
East Column formations hit the Union lines
 at the first rush

He might have been less sanguine had he anticipated with what ferocity the Chinese would throw themselves into the assault. Covered by light infantry skirmishers, the West Column assaulted the western end of the escarpment, all along the 19th Brigade front, 3rd Regulars even striking the left flank of 17th Brigade. To their left, East Column splashed across the stream, the 6th Converged formation and 16th Conscripts surging up the slopes against rather ineffective rifle, machine gun and artillery fire. Although this fire failed to stop the Chinese formations, they brought their commander to a halt, Zong Ganshi, Li Kuan Yu, being laid low almost as the assault formations began their advance. Fifteenth Conscripts would have joined the assault upon the trenches, but were held up by the wire. 

The lead formations of North Column turn toward
the 39th Brigade redoubts
Thus pinned, Early's two brigades were unable to prevent the development of North Column's enveloping moves. Prince Zeng Seng-Bao detached 18th Conscripts to attack the end of the escarpment line, where the field works had been bent back ninety degrees, and, after a short distance, a further right angle to form a species of bastion. Now 19th Brigade found themselves assailed from front and flank. As it happened, the brigade's volume of fire had quickly driven the Chinese skirmishers off, whereat the West Corps heavy formation columns took up the action. Before they could reach the Union works, 18th Conscripts were already in action on the flank, the fighting surging back and forth over the fortifications.
Hand to hand fighting between 19th Brigade 
battalions and 18th Conscript formation
Had the front been struck at the same time, no doubt 19th Brigade would at once have been overrun, but as it was, the Union defenders, exacting a fearful toll upon the assailants, threw them back with losses so heavy, 18th Conscripts were driven altogether from the battle. All the same, it was a rather weakened 19th Brigade that were to meet the West Column formations as they closed.
17th Brigade, shrouded in battle smoke.


Yet West Column, like the East, was not able to develop its full strength along the 19th Brigade front. A clump of barbed wire held up 11th Conscripts whilst 1st Regular and 12th Conscripts forged ahead.  Close by the fieldworks, the assault columns sent in one volley, before carrying on into the Union lines.
11th Conscripts held up by wire as 1st Regular
and 12th Conscript surge on.
Placed between 17th and 19th Brigades, the heavy artillery battery proved well covered from direct assault, as directly before them was another stretch of wire entanglements. So it was that 3rd Regular from West Column came up against the left wing of 17th Brigade. Like the rest of West Column, this formation couldn't quite reach the Union lines at the first rush. A volley felled a few Union soldiers but the return fire was far more formidable.
3rd Regular avoid the wire to strike part of 
17th Union Brigade.

Without the early cover from skirmishers, two formations of East Column did contact the defenders at once; no volley, straight in to hand to hand close assault. Rifle and machine gun fire exacted a terrible toll on 6th and 16th both, but failed to stop them. The conscripts surged over the machine gun line, sparing neither gunners nor guns, and the two rifle battalions were also badly battered. Yet even such success came at far too high a price for the Chinese formations to endure. Back down the slopes they went, mere wreckage remaining of the 6,666 troops that went up them.  

Union machine guns overrun - but at what cost?


The Union had barely held against the three formations - almost 10,000 strong altogether - that had struck them at both ends of the line, but held them they had, and thrown them back with huge losses. But 17th brigade had lost its machine guns, and a good many of its own riflemen as well. Three formations repulsed, but there were five more - at least double the numbers - to renew the assault. The barbed wire would not for long hold up 11th and 15th Conscript formations, and the 1st, 12th Conscript and 3rd were just feet away from the lines, and closing.   



Western end of the battlefield. 18th Conscripts 
repulsed, but their attack was mere overture.

Far to the Chinese right, the North Column formations had become strung out as a certain amount of traffic congestion was holding up the cavalry and the formation's artillery. The repulse of 18th Conscripts created a further obstacle to the smooth unfolding of Prince Zeng's march. T'ai Kun Wu was beginning to concern himself lest the main assault might peter out before the flank attack could properly get under way.  
The general view of the battlefield early afternoon



He need not have been so worried...

To be continued: the second wave...