Sunday, December 28, 2008

Freedom for Shastapsh!!!

The Red Captains met yesterday to play out game two of our Martian campaign. According to the "Official History" of Shastapsh, written by your humble blogger, upon the ejection of the British from Shastapsh, the Shastapshi replaced their hereditary ruler the Bowel, and formed a revolutionary council. Declaring the canal city free and open, they replaced their ruler with a more representative leader, Ranzi Yukkus, and officially severed their ties to the Oenotrian Empire.

They called for freedom lovers everywhere to come to Shastapsh, Martians and Earthmen alike. Fenians and ex-Confederates, leftist and rightist radicals answered the call and flocked to the city, as the traditional residents enlisted in militias formed to keep the city free from Oenotrians and British imperial troops.

The first response came from their former masters, the Oenotrians. Choosing to fight them in open ground outside the city as the Bowel prepared his defenses, three militia battalions with light artillery support were rushed to meet the advancing enemy. Two of the militia were semi-trained cutter and musket units (with the odd bow for those with that proficiency.) The third militia unit was trained by former Regimental Sgt. Maj. Willie Fraser and armed with minie-ball muskets. It was agreed that the militias would use the terrain and create field defenses, fighting a holding action, with reinforcements to follow, retiring to the next line of defenses as the situation on the field demanded.

The Imperial forces advanced across a broad front. On the City troops' left flank were hill Martians, the Imperial artillery and a unit of elite banded riflemen. In the center were three Legions of cutter and musket infantry, and on the right were two more legions. The Oenotrians also had a unit of Gashant mounted Royal Carbiniers who were committed to the advance on the right.

The battle really evolved as three separate actions from the City troops's left to the right. On the left flank, Willie Fraser's Black Flag battalion occupied some high ground and field works to oppose the advance of the banded riflemen and Hill Martians. These advancing troops were also supported by some medium guns. These forces took advantage of their long range weapons, and immediately began inflicting damage on the militia. Fraser was wounded in the thigh, and as he ripped pieces from his Argyle and Sutherland kilt to stanch the bleeding he said: "Is naethin'. You should see what the damned Zulus did tae me!" He immediately bared a six inch scar from a stab wound across his left breast.

Fraser's own troops replied as the bandeds advanced, taking advantage of their own fire discipline and faster rate of fire. They remained at their post, until the deployment of the Carabiniers to their flank made their position untenable. Later they joined a second militia unit and a gatling (donated by the newly arrived Anarchist community of Shastapsh) in a second defense line. Events on the left flank petered out when the Carabniers made an ill-advised charge across the front of the left flank forces and suffered horrendous casualties. The left flank held.

In the center, the Martians advanced with three legion units against one militia unit in the Grand Redoubt. This advance was distracted by the arrival of a German built walker mounting two gatling guns. Two of the three legions received fire by from the defenders. Two of them lost their commanders in the resulting casualties, but advanced grimly forward. One of the legions took on the walker, failing to do much damage to its armor, but fighting with courage and determination. The walker also drew the attention of the artillery deployed on the left flank. It advanced through a hail of shot and shell dispensing death from it's many-barreled guns. The two remaining legions assaulted the redoubt, taking casualties from the defenders, but eventually ejected the militia holding the position, who fled from the veteran Oenotrians. This represented the attackers' sole success on the field, achieved at a terrible cost. They were not able to advance further.

The action on the right flank may have been the oddest of all. The Oenotrians were slow to advance on the hilltop position. It was held by a unit of Earthmen gone native-chiefly sword and pistol armed troops and a light artillery piece. They had received a note from one of the legions prior to the battle offering to come over to the City if they were not fired upon. The position was weak, and as the two Imperial legions advanced, it appeared that their superior numbers would swamp the defenders. With the fall of the Grand Redoubt this position looked hopeless, however the Imperial Black Legion fired their muskets in the air and continued marching past the flank of the City troops and on into Shastapsh where they offered their service to the Bowel, Ranzi Yukkus.

However, fighting remained to be done on the right. The remaining legion engaged the Earthmen in a close range firefight to neither side's advantage. The Virginia Steam Cavalry eventually arrived, plagued by breakdowns in the difficult terrain and charged into the Imperial legionnaires driving them away from the hill. Though the Oenotrians eventually massed for a second attack, they eventually withdrew from the general engagement.

This battle for Shastapsh was a tremendous victory for the city defenders. They inflicted considerable harm on the Imperial forces at relatively little expense. The addition of the Black Legion to the City's garrison provided a veteran, steadying presence to the growing City militias. The German crew of the light walker deserve considerable praise as its presence on the battlefield was of considerable moral support to the inexperienced defenders. It disrupted the attack on the right flank and in the center and was under continuous fire from the Imperial artillery.

Game three of our campaign is scheduled for January 24th. It will be the SGoM revenge raid on Shastapsh. It should be fun and continue to have considerable influence on the campaign.

Notes on pictures: The first picture is the initial deployment of the Black Battalion led by "Wee Willie" Fraser, former Regimental Sergeant Major of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. They held the field fortification and hilltop in the opening phases of the battle. Fraser is my personal character in the campaign.

The second photo is of the imperial deployment in their center and the defender's left. The third photo shows the arrival of the walker on turn two. It really made a mess of things for the Martian imperial commanders-Joe, Gene, Chris and Gary. The fourth photos shows the game at mid-point-On the left I'd been forced back to a new defensive position, the bloody assault on the Grand Redoubt in the center and the two legions advancing on the right.

The next photo shows the assault on the right. This is really the most tense moment in the game as the City commanders desperately hope that the Black Legion will follow through on its promised treachery. The last pictures show Joe blowing yet another artillery roll to take out the Walker. Sad, very sad. Finally we see the Gashant-mounted Carabiniers about ride Balaklava like off to attack my Black-Flag militia battalion. They never quite arrived in one piece.

Our thanks to Mark Waddington for conceiving and running the scenario. Pictures are courtesy of Dale Mickel.

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