Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Here are some more of my photographer neighbor's pics.
The first focuses on the red-coated, Turcoman-hat wearing Heratis in the back, with red-coated, black turban wearing mutineers from the Wali's army out in front of them...
The second shows massed Kabuli (including one unit of "Highland Guard" who in all likelihood were not actually present at the battle but look too good to leave off the table) and Herati Infantry regiments, as well as the Wali's mutineers, moving South from the North-East corner of the table, where they entered the game, with 2 of their 4 three-gun batteries of Regular Artillery out in front.
The last shows just the brown-coated Kabulis, while what I believe are the lethal battery of 3 Armstrong RBLs out in front, opening up on the British guns to the South, which remain out of range for returning effective counter-battery fire at the Afghans (long range for the British guns was 48", while for the Armstrong battery it was 60"). During the course of the game, as in the real battle, the Afghan artillery in general and the Armstrong battery in particular, rained death and destruction on the British lines.
Nick Stern -- my Maiwand brother from up in Northern California -- sent me 2 pictures I had sent him, which he Photoshopped backgrounds and a saturated light effect into. I think they look incredible. Here they are:
The only problem is that during the game I placed the left forward crewman of the gun in the foreground WAY TOO CLOSE to the barrel! His position worked for "loading" but it's a precarious spot to stand in while FIRING!
These two are low res but I as soon as possible I'll send him hi-res versions of my originals so he can upgrade his f/x versions.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The game began with Lieutenant Hector Maclaine of the Royal Horse Artillery having already set up his 9pdr Field Gun (one gun w/4 crew, representing his 2-gun Section) within long range of the Northern-eastern edge of the table, where the Afghans would be entering. The remainder of the British brigade was laid down in their historical order of march, arrayed on the plain between the Western and center nullahs, with the Scinde Horse and 3rd Bombay Light Cavalry in open order skirmish line, one behind the other, another 2 RHA RML (Rifled Muzzle Loader) and 3 SB (Smoothbore) guns, all limbered up and advancing amidst march columns of 30th Bombay Native Infantry (Jacob's Rifles) on the left and 1st Bombay Grenadiers and 66th Regiment on the right.
The half-company of Bombay of Bombay Sappers & Miners (10 figs w/1 leader) followed the advance up the West Nullah, moving in March Column...
The Combined Baggage Guard (10 Brit. Inf. & 10 Ind. Inf. w/2 leaders each) took up position atop the South edge of Mundabad Ravine.
The Afghans brought in all 12 of their guns -- 3 Armstrong Rifled Breech Loaders and 9 lesser pieces -- literally as their "advance guard," allowance of which was a bit of an oversight by the collective brain of the players and Game Master in particular, but still probably didn't change all that much other than slightly speeding the time it took for them to get their artillery into action. As it was they were able to bring their guns -- particularly the Armstrongs, which outranged the best of the British guns by 12" -- to bear on the British immediately.
Afghan counter-battery fire proved painfully effective against the British guns set up on the plain, less so against the one RHA piece that dropped the trail of its limber in the center nullah, making it a CLASS IV TARGET. In fact, by TURN 6, three British guns -- 2 Royal Horse Artillery RMLs and 1 Smooth Bore -- had been put out of action by counter-battery fire alone.
The Afghans sent their TRIBAL CAVALRY (4 units, total of 50 figs) in on their left, down the East Nullah...
Afghans sent their REGULAR CAVALRY (3 units, total of 37 figs) in on their right, where it rode to the far Western edge of the table before turning South to face both units of British cavalry which had come up via the West Nullah and the flat plain...
Afghan REGULAR INFANTRY entered in two massed brigades, each comprised of four 20-fig units & 5 additional leaders.
The first Afghan Infantry brigade was comprised of 3 brown-uniformed Kabuli and 1 khaki-uniformed Kandahari regiments; the second Afghan Infantry Brigade was comprised of 2 HERATI, 1 HIGHLAND GUARD & 1 WALI'S MUTINEERS regiments.
The brown-coated Kabulis & Kandaharis entered in multiple successive ranks of OPEN ORDER, moving 3xD6 down the center of the Maiwand Plain, stretched in open order line between the West and Center Nullahs.
The mixed -- and mostly red-coated -- brigade was brought in behind the tribal cavalry on the Afghan left, stretching from the East to Center Nullahs.
For three turns the British continued to advance, trading artillery fire with the Afghans. It quickly became clear that the British would not do well in this exchange, being out-ranged and outnumbered.
THE BRITISH PLAN CHANGES
After advancing for 3 turns, the British began an orderly withdrawal towards the potentially strong defensive position of Mundabad Ravine and the villages of Mundabad and Khig to the South.
On TURN FOUR the British on their own LEFT FLANK turned the 66th Infantry and 30th BNI (Jacob's Rifles) around, marched them up out of the West Nullah -- where they were slowed down by moving through ROUGH TERRAIN and sent them marching in column atop the West edge of the table back towards Mundabad Ravine.
But in the center of the table, on the British RIGHT FLANK, the Bombay Grenadiers could not extricate themselves from the face of the Afghan advance so easily and so -- rather than fall back atop the plain where they would be easy targets for the powerful Afghan artillery -- they hunkered down in the Center Nullah and opened fire on the swarms of Tribal Cavalry approaching down the East Nullah. They were supported with fire from one of the RHA 9pdrs. and 2 of the 3 Smooth Bores. The combined efforts of the Grenadier rifles and the 3 British guns inflicted many casualties on the Tribal Cavalry --
ON TURN FIVE
3 remaining tribal cavalry units all CHARGED the Grenadiers in the Center Nullah.
At this point the Officer was WIA and the NCO was KIA, leaving the Grenadiers LEADERLESS in the face of looming hand-to-hand combat.
The only officer within reach of their lines was BRIGADIER GENERAL BURROWS himself.
General Burrows found himself in a heated debate with his escort and staff, all of whom argued he should NOT ride over to take command of the Grenadiers due to the terrible increase in personal risk and fear of the potential command & control disaster which might befall the entire brigade if he were to become a casualty. But the General disregarded these arguments, made for the Nullah and took command of the Grenadiers as they opened fire once more on the approaching ranks of Tribal Horsemen, supported once again by artillery fire from one RHA and 2 Smooth Bore guns...
These combined efforts wiped out nearly all that remained of the Tribal Cavalry and when it came time for the handful of survivors to roll to CLOSE INTO COMBAT with the close order line of Grenadiers in the Nullah below, they failed, turned tail and galloped away.
A cheer went up from the somewhat thinned-down (due to continued long range Afghan artillery fire at their covered position) ranks of the Grenadiers...
MEANWHILE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BATTLEFIELD --
The Bombay Light Cav and Scinde Horse played a slightly odd game of cat & mouse with the 3 Afghan Regular Cavalry regts. opposing them. At first it appeared as if the British would launch an all-out 2 against 3 charge, sending both units against their 3 afghan opposite numbers -- but at the last moment the order was rescinded and the British Cavalry were kept in hand, the plan being for them to maintain a protective screen across the Left Flank of the British lines for several more turns in order to slow down the Afghan advance on that side of the field. But the Afghans took matters into their own hands and CHARGED the Scinde Horse -- but the Scinde Horse then managed to EVADE THE CHARGE and got away, and since the Afghan cavalry had charged they were unable to open fire that same turn.
saw matters reach a critical point for the Bombay Grenadiers in the Center Nullah. At the very end of Turn 5 their OFFICER had recovered from his wounds and returned to ACTIVE DUTY, making it possible for Brigadier Burrows to head for Mundabad Ravine, where he needed to be in order to direct preparation of the defensive positions into which the rest of his brigade would soon hopefully by falling back.
A BLACK CARD was pulled and a horrible cry (to British ears) went up from the East Nullah, where masses of GHAZIS had been moving from the North-East corner of the table. 61 Ghazis -- 3 x 20-fig units plus their Mullah -- all CHARGED the thin khaki line of Bombay Grenadiers in the Center Nullah.
Now General Burrows faced a difficult decision. The Grenadiers were weakened but still a viable unit with 14 of their original 20 figures remaining in the fighting line. With enough support it could be possible for them to hold on, defeat the Ghazi onslaught and then retire along with the rest of the brigade back to the Ravine, using the Nullah to lessen the effect of Afghan artillery as they did so. The units that could provide this needed support were the 3 guns already set up in position to do so, the same guns which had helped preserve the Grenadiers in the face of dozens of Tribal horsemen.
But there was a difference. In one turn the situation had changed. Whereas before there was no serious threat of the British guns being overtaken by the enemy, now the general Afghan advance made such a threat very real and the number of Ghazis about to possibly close with the Grenadiers was far, far larger than the number of irregular cavalry who had threatened them last time. In his most difficult decision of the battle to this point, General Burrows chose to order all 3 guns to limber up and extricate themselves from the possibility of being overrun by the Ghazi charge. In doing so he preserved one of the strongest remaining assets on the British roster... but he also condemned the men of 1st Bombay Grenadiers to near certain death.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Yesterday was one helluva day of wargaming. A lot of fun for a lot of people, I think. Having had to get up this morning at a decent hour for work-related reasons after another super-late night (the game itself ran until 1:30am!), I am simply too fried to do a legit write-up or post many of the pretty dang impressive pix right now. But Maiwand Day has come and gone, so I MUST POST SOMETHING!
First up are 3 of the many pics I took while we were playing...
And now for the really good stuff -- some pictures taken by a friend and neighbor who is a talented photographer. He used some digital "antique" process on the shots and I think they look incredible...
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Well, it's the eve of Maiwand Day here in Southern California, but in Maiwand and the rest of Afghanistan, Maiwand Day has arrived. For all those Americans and allied troops currently serving in that nation, I am happy to note it will arrive far safer than it did for General Burrows' brigade 130 years ago. In 1880, right about now, the Anglo-Indian fighting line -- under tremendous pressure, especially from intense close-range fire of Afghan regular artillery, was about to break and head for Mundabad Ravine. We got done setting up a short time ago and everyone but me has retired to grab some well-deserved sleep before arriving tomorrow morning for the big game. I think we pulled it off -- the set-up at least. Now we have to see how the actual GAME turns out. I suppose in a way the tail wagged the dog on this one, but hey, the table does look good and I think the game will actually be a lot of fun, hopefully for everyone involved.
In the meantime, I have 2 new pics to post. No more than that, because I need to get to bed myself! If possible I will post some updates as the game progresses. At the worst I will post after it's over. Then over time will come tons more pics of the game itself and of the terrain construction and figure conversion processes in more detail.
For now, here's a shot looking down the length of the Western-most nullah --
-- and another of the whole table, all laid out for the start of the action --
Monday, July 26, 2010
Here's my converted mini of Colonel Galbraith, Regimental CO of the 66th, down on one knee, with sword in one hand and Regimental Colour in the other, beside regimental dog Bobbie, in one of the walled gardens of Khig, as he is pictured on the bas-relief sculpture commissioned by his siblings after his death at the Battle of Maiwand. The figure started out as an Empress Miniatures kneeling British Infantryman from their Anglo-Zulu War range. Some day soon I hope to post pics of the conversion process, which was a bit tricky.
Friday, July 23, 2010
This last pic is of a figure meant to portray Lieutenant Beresford-Peirse. During the lead-up to the Last Stand of the 66th, the Regimental Commander, Colonel Galbraith, helped halt the retreat of some of his men and organized them to make a stand against their Afghan pursuers, within cover of one of the walled gardens behind the village of Khig. Some men continued to route away, slipping through an opening in the garden wall. Colonel Galbraith instructed Beresford-Peirse to block the exit. This the Lieutenant did, drawing his pistol and sitting on the wall beside the opening. Apparently the sight of his pistol did the trick, as there is no record of him having to shoot anyone other than Afghans. Beresford-Peirse survived the battle, living to fight another day, at Kandahar. Colonel Galbraith did not.
Last night, with more help from my son, we finished putting 2 to 4 highlight colors onto all four of the remaining terrain boards. I think they look pretty good.
Here's a pic:
Here's a sketch I did on the wall of the office I share with my partner at work, before I started working on the boards. It's kind of cool for me to see it now, since the finished 6'x10' tabletop looks just about exactly the way I had laid it out...
Thursday, July 22, 2010
A month or so ago I happened across this item on eBay and -- thankfully -- was able to win it at auction. There was only one other bidder and I doubt they wanted/needed it as badly as I did!
It arrived from England soon after and turned out to be somewhat in scale with 25mm-28mm figures. It's a bit on the small side compared to the real thing (might be more perfectly in scale with 20mm or 15mm figures) but to me it still looks fantastic!
See for yourself:
It's a porcelain souvenir version of the MAIWAND LION monument to the men of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment who fell at the Battle of Maiwand, which stands in Forbury Gardens, a park in the English town of Reading.
Here's a pic of the real thing:
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I finished the last texturing of all 5 terrain boards tonight -- gluing down sand, dirt & pebbles over just about everything in sight. Last night my 13 year-old son made a huge difference, making it possible for us to completely cover one entire board, from the very first grain of sand 'til the very last, in only 2 hours. This morning my wife, my son and his 2 sisters all helped out before I left for work, then much later tonight, after they were all asleep, I finished up.
Next job: base-coating 4 boards in chocolate brown. I'm hoping that will go pretty fast.
Here's a few pics of the boards as they look now...
First is a pic of all the empty glue bottles I've gone through:
Next is a pic of the ROTATED boards, with the plain flat Northern board shifted to the South end of the table to make room for the walled gardens below the village of Khig. The plan is to shift the board towards the end of the battle, if the game follows the general plot of the original, with the British retreating across Mundabad ravine, then through the villages of Khig and Mundabad...
Above is the view from the North of the table laid out for the start of the battle...
...and below is the view of the same layout from the South:
Monday, July 19, 2010
The British and Anglo-Indian troops on the field at Maiwand were faced with several times their own number of regular troops as well as swarms of Ghazi fanatics. They were fighting across under-reconnoitered terrain and most of them had not eaten a hot meal since the night before. They fought in the devastating heat for several hours without water, running low on ammunition, under a Commanding Officer with no experience leading a brigade-size formation in the field and little if any tactical acumen or vision.
But even when faced with all these handicaps, the Anglo-Indian army on the field at Maiwand might still have emerged victorious -- or at least undefeated -- were it not for the fact that they were outnumbered and outclassed by overwhelming numbers of enemy artillery.
In the aftermath of the defeat, some British officers who were present spoke and wrote of how the Afghan guns had been so well served, their artillery fire so accurate, that they were convinced it was commanded by Europeans. In this context, "European" was clearly a euphemism for Russian. But in the 130 years since the battle occured there has never appeared -- be it in Afghanistan, the UK or Russia -- one hint of evidence to point to the presence of a single Imperial Czarist Russian officer serving with the army of Ayub Khan.
In fact, most of the Afghan artillery corps came from the Qizilbash or Kizilbash minority population, a Shiite community with roots in Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan, most of whose ancestors had settled in Afghanistan after arriving with the army of Nadir Shah Afshar (Shah of Iran from 1736-47) in 1738, when he besieged and conquered Kandahar.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
"Soldiers of the true Faith! We march to the conquest of our city of Kandahar, now in the possession of our bitter enemy the Feringhi [foreigners], whom we will drive back with our steel, and win back the capital of the south. The garrison is weak and we are strong; besides, we are fighting for our homes and native land, and our foe is not prepared for us with either food or ammunition for a siege. The bazaars of the city are full of British gold, and this shall be the prize of the conquerers when we have chased away the invaders from our soil. Let us march on, then, day by day, with the determination to conquer or die!"*
*As quoted on p.51 of: "Maiwand - The Last Stand of The 66th (Berkshire) Regiment in Afghanistan, 1880" by Richard J. Stacpoole-Ryding
To learn more about this excellent and relatively new (just published in Feb. 2009) book at AMAZON, click here.
Just added another, slightly wider, view of the same scene. Wish I could really nail down how Blogger positions pics within posts, so I could get everything laid out exactly the way I want it!
...well, actually, I should have said "THE AFGHAN BUILDINGS HAVE ARRIVED!" Just as I was headed out to work late this morning the mailman dropped off a large box. I opened it and was very happy to find 9 scratch-built buildings and 2 gardens, all courtesy of GAMER-X, also known to me as THE BLIND ARCHITECT (he is not actually blind). The buildings turned out quite nicely, especially if you know that Gamer-X has never built anything larger than a medieval siege tower before, at least that I know of, and that was putting together a model, not fabricating from scratch. And there are SEVERAL MORE GARDENS yet to come!
Here's a few pics: