Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Woodscrew Armies Campaign - A Deadly Reckoning


Battle of Camp Supply - early action

Great Battle at Camp Supply!

Tenth Army in Grave Peril!!

Fears held for Fate of Tenth Army!!!

August 6, 1889.  Camp Supply.

Reports have reached this News Agency of a Great Battle fought in the Forbidden Zone between our Brave Tenth Army and the Chinese Incursion. One who was there has reported to us of a disaster: huge and ferocious attack by Asiatic hordes; our troops overrun, equipment lost and at least one Brigade Wiped Out!!  Appalling loss of life and materiel.

Tenth Army's forward supply depot 
'Camp Supply' (sketch by Tony Adams)

Much as we hope and wish for Tenth Army only the best of fortunes, we must deplore the incompetent bungling of the General Officer purporting to command it. After a fortnight's campaigning, what has General Jackson to show for his marching and countermarching, and footling little combats? We have the answer: a litany of bungles, misjudgments, scrapes and last-minute rescues, such as to mark forever the Commanding General as one of the least deserving ever to have been placed in command of an Army.

Camp Supply tent, wagon and supply lines.

Having barely scraped out of an ambush at Yangzigu; a single brigade being caught isolated in the middle of nowhere; the Army, with a large army howling in pursuit,  having to cut its way through a blocking force to reach their present position; there they stood at bay at their forward tactical supply depot: 'Camp Supply'. There, some scant field works were caused to have been constructed, with a few stretches of barbed wire scattered about.  It seems that in all the confusion no one ordered the evacuation of the line of communication troops, the carts, wagons and pack animals and the supplies of provender and ammunition. It all remained in place for the enemy to stretch forth their hands and take.
37th Brigade behind earthworks

Heavily outnumbered, Tenth Army has had to withstand the terrific attack by forces seeking vengeance not only for the loss of their lands two decades ago, but also of their recent losses. It seems that whilst the main attack was directed at the defences along the escarpment line west of the river and the main camp, a strong column enveloped the flank of our army's position and was set to roll up the whole line. The fate of Tenth Army remains problematical, whether in headlong retreat, or swallowed up and prisoners in the hands of the Chinese Army.

An 'old photograph' of the 17th and 19th Brigades
awaiting the assault

Our reporter was unable to stay the course, being caught up in the rout and destruction of one of the Brigades, the 17th, Brigadier-General Early commanding. Well, we might have expected Early, notorious for rashness and carelessness, would fritter away the troops in his charge. Why General Jackson posted him in the position of greatest danger will be a mystery to many, but is merely yet another to be added to that Officer's growing inventory of errors.    

Top pic in black and white

To be sure, the reporter could not say that he directly witnessed the rout of the whole army.  He allowed that the issue was still in doubt as he left the field.  But what he has told us leaves us with little doubt that our gallant troops have suffered a serious reverse, that the so-called 'Emperor of China' will absorb the Forbidden Zone back into his imperium, and the credibility of our military has been forever compromised. We should not be surprised to see a Chinese Army violating our borders, sacking our towns and massacring our people.

We await with bated breath the Court Martial of General Jackson and his subsequent rendezvous with the firing squad.

Hordes of Chinese swarming in 
to the attack

Great Battle in the West!!

Tenth Army in Fight for its Life!

Terrible loss of life and limb!

August 6, 1889

Rumours have become circulating of a great battle that has been fought, three or four days ago, deep in the Forbidden Zone, some 50 miles or so from our frontier.  According to people we have interviewed, our Army having retired upon its forward supply camp, was brought to bay there by a vastly superior Chinese Army.  After a pause to gather its strength, enemy launched an all-out assault, the vehemence of which astonished and appalled the eye witnesses who tell of it. 

Yet the issue remains in doubt. Certain it is that the fight was a tough one. Such a near run thing, perhaps, that even its survivors are unsure of the outcome. Although in the last day or two there has been increased traffic at the frontier of Army transports - a great many ambulances as well as wagons sent for revictualling and replenishment - there has been little sign there yet of an army in rout or retreat. The outgoing traffic is carrying on. Reports have been contradictory. Some talk of a heavy defeat, others state that, though with difficulty, the enemy were repulsed, and the camp Supply position held. 

We await  more definitive news  with our hopes and prayers for general Jackson and his Army. 

* * * 

I think it timely here to remind readers of the inspiration for this campaign.  It is exactly as the title of this series suggest: the Woodscrew Miniature Army blogspot of Tony Adams.  Click on the link to his blog spot.  Here is a more specific link to Tony's blog posting that kicked off this campaign:
'The Chinese Move South'.  You might be interested in our discussion in the comments section.


  1. Archduke Piccolo,

    Wow! Now this looks like it was a real turn up for the books! 10th Army looked as if it was well and truly smashed … and that the Chinese troops really need to be know henceforth as the ‘Ever Victorious Army’.

    All the best,


    1. Bob -
      The proper narrative has yet to come. This little piece was by way setting the scene for a cliffhanger.
      Archduke Piccolo

  2. Ion.. Well this is interesting. Clearly a close run thing for the least I hope so. Once again the Chinese have sprung a surprise by the sounds of it. Yet again left wanting more !!!! Very exciting and can't wait for the full battle report but I do like these newspaper articles, so very realistic. Regards

    1. Hi Tony -
      I took 50 pictures of that battle - you've seen a few - and now I'm having to pare these down to ten or a dozen for the write up. This battle will probably be the climax of the campaign, though it won't be quite over... I hope to publish the thing over the weekend.
      Archduke Piccolo

  3. Another very entertaining article from the Denver Daily Post! With my appetite suitably whetted, I look forward to the cliffhanger of an action:)

    1. Hi Steve -
      Of course panicky reports are likely to magnify themselves with distance... So who knows?
      Archduke Piccolo