|Something of an encounter battle, both sides advance|
the m'Butu perhaps more eagerly...
As the Azeitonian expeditionary force began to leave the jungle along the Limpopo River trail, they entered a region of scrubland as they approached the great bend in the river. There awaited the m'Butu army. Given time, Chief Barra Kuta might perhaps have refused battle, though where he could find a favourable battlefield east of Kachinga Town, might have been problematic, to say the least. For the moment he could at least count on some superiority in mobility, especially in that final tongue of jungle forest that reached, seemingly, for the road. But where the regular forces of the Azeitonians might have some difficulty negotiating a patch of scrub, the m'Butu's looser formations could pass through with ease.
(Note: Although scrub patches offered cover for those within and concealment for those behind, the natives could walk though as if they weren't there. With one exception, the colonists had to take one turn to enter such a patch. The exception for the Azeitonians was a bunch of bush-fighting volunteers, who, for celerity of movement through hard country were to be the equal of the m'Butu. I forgot to remind Paul of this - just this moment remembered it in fact - so I don't know whether that Militia group were these fellows or not).
For their part, a m'Butu regiment - amabutho Wa Nnabe - lay in wait within the jungle, ready to leap upon the flank of the column whilst the remainder of the army - the impi ya masoshe - awaited the enemy in the scrub.
|Campaign area. The red lightning denotes where the battle |
takes place, not far from the great river bend that gives
the battle its name.
|'A' Troop runs into warriors coming the other way...|
|'A' Troop surrounded by 5 times their numbers.|
But the m'Butu are taking heavy losses.
|'A' Troop finally overrun, as the m'Butu close with |
the colonialist column.
|Coordinating bush fighting ain't easy, even for the locals.|
|Early attacks repulsed, the m'Butu pull back...|
The main action going against the m'Butu, Chief Barra Kuta, blood streaming from a shoulder wound, called his men to give back. This was no rout - rather a coiling back to draw the enemy on. Fading back into the scrub and jungle, the m'Butu successfully placed some distance between themselves and the enemy.
|...putting themselves as much as possible out|
of rifle range.
|The river boats advance...|
|The Azeitonian column yet to lurch into motion|
|Sailors disembark,. The covering gunboat's machine guns|
fail to discourage the m'Butu from attacking
|General overview of the battlefield late in the action|
|Final counter-attack of the m'Butu.|
|(Poor photo) the m'Butu withdraw |
alogether form the action.
(In game terms, the m'Butu had lost 24SP, a little over their 'exhaustion point', the threshold being reached during the final counter-attack. Of these 8SP are immediately returned to the army (stragglers, grazed and the like; 8 are returned to the army after 1D6 turns (I call them recruits rather than, say, recovered wounded); 8 are lost permanently. The latter 16 count as battle casualties; at 1SP representing 10 men - 160 men lost. The Azeitonians lost 15SP up front, they being split 5, 5 and 5. Ten SPs lost for the moment, the histories will relate how they lost 100 men in the expedition's first fight).
The early pull back enabled the m'Butu to put a few kilometres distance between themselves and the Azeitonians before halting. Perhaps this made them complacent. For their dilatoriness subsequently, they were to be asked a high price to pay. That is to say, the Black card that terminated the Azeitonian moves proved to a string of one only: the Reds that followed went number, king, number, number, number before the next Black card turned up. This was a fine portent for the colonists' expedition into m'Butuland; and an ill omen for Barra Kuta's realm...
A word on the figures, terrain and the rule set(s) used.
All the figures in this action, apart from the machine gun and the boats, were from Paul's ('Jacko's') collection - ESCI and HaT. The boats were my scratch-builds, the transport from the fleet I made originally for American Civil War riverine operations about 25 years ago, and the gunboat specifically for this campaign. The machine gun aboard O Ra Desvairado was a HaT Gardner gun. The name of the gunboat, by the way, was a nod to the late George Macdonald Fraser: an incarnation of La Grenouille Frenetique, or, in English, the Frantic Frog, that features in The Pyrates.
The Campaign and Battle rule sets were from Bob Cordery's Portable Colonial Wargame - the latter being The Gatling's Jammed...
To be continued...