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, October 16, 2021


THE NIGHT OF AUGUST 17th, 1890...

At 5pm 17th August, in keeping with his orders from Peshawar Division C.O. Major General Whitsend, Captain Elliot Hardigan led E/B Battery Royal Horse Artillery out of the city on a 60-mile forced march to reinforce 1st Brigade at their Dargai Cantonments.  Towards the end of the first leg of the route, the road would line up with the Swat River...

Route of E/B's march:  

Capt. Elliot Hardigan, RHA
(rumored to be an aspiring artist)

A Troop of 3rd Skinner's Horse (12 figures) under command of Lt. Jerome Bigby was assigned as escort.  At Lt. Bigby's direction, one section of 6 Sowars led by Jemadar Gaurav Singh would take point, while Bogby and the other 5 Sowars serving as rearguard.

Lt. Jerome Bigby, 3rd Skinner's Horse

Jemadar Gaurav Singh, 3rd Skinner's Horse

At standard cavalry & horse artillery rate of 5 mph (including one 5-10 min. halt per hour) the plan is to reach Dargai in approximately12-hours, just before dawn.

Coming along for the trip was one civilian: NEVILLE CRISP, newly-appointed Correspondent-at-large for the Peshawar Tribune, just arrived from Merry Old England...

Though Crisp was a decent horseman himself and was an established writer for "Horse & Hound" before relocating to India, because of the darkness and the elevated risk of encountering the enemy, it was decided he would accompany the crew of the 2nd Limber rather than ride his own horse.

I used a combo of card flips and die rolls to control E/B Battery's progress and the actions of their ambushers.

As seen in the MAP above, the route had 3 separate legs.  Fate decreed the ambush would be set along the FIRST LEG.  It further decreed the ambush party would consist of ONE 20-FIGURE UNIT OF PATHAN TRIBESMEN, 50% armed with rifles, 50% with swords & shields.  However I decided to give them a slight but significant upgrade of a SECOND LEADER, which would enable them to split up into 2 sub-units if the situation called for it, without suffering movement or morale penalties.

The attackers chose -- smartly -- to erect a ROCK OBSTACLE across the road.


Moving fast down the road in the dark of night, the lead section failed to spot the obstacle until they were virtually upon it, which led to them CRASHING INTO the rock wall and suffering 1 WIA.

The three limber teams all pulled to a halt, but the lead limber was so close they were unable to stop before HITTING THE ROCKS...

Things were not going so well for the British, but luckily for them, when the lead RHA crew climbed off and inspected the gun, it turned out the damage to their 9 Pounder was minor...

...but just as they discovered this the CRACK OF GUNFIRE & SPOUT OF MUZZLE-FLASHES sprang at them from across the Swat River, running parallel to the road...

View from ambush position across the river...

This opening volley from the 10 Tribal Rifles inflicted 1 WIA on the lead RHA Crew...

On the first turn when the ambush was triggered the Anglo-Indians were not allowed any return fire, having been taken completely by surprise.

TURN #2 began with a movement card flip, signifying a PATHAN MOVE...

The 10 Tribal Sword-&-Shield Men launched a CHARGE at the 5 remaining 3rd Skinner Horse in the forward element.  The lead RHA Crew was positioned so close to them that depending on how things went, they too might be drawn into the potential melee.

The Tribal Rifles remained in place along the far side of the river.

Lt. Bigby led the 3rd Skinner's Horse rearguard forward as fast as possible to engage the enemy, but their not-so-hot movement dice left them too far back to lend fire or melee support to the developing fight.

TURNB #2 FIRE PHASE arrived, neither the 3rd Skinner's Horse vs. charing Pathan Swords-&-Shields nor the Pathan Rifles vs. the Skinner's and RHA limber crews were able to inflict any casualties.


Under the "AMBUSH" circumstances I did not require the Charging Pathans to pass a CLOSE INTO COMBAT die roll morale check, but I did require the 3rd Skinner's Horse to pass a "Stand & Fight" morale check.  They need 1-4 on a D6 and rolled a 3 = PASS. 


Charging Pathans WIN TIES;

Charging Pathan +1 for "Attacking Regular Cavalry by surprise in the dark" (my invention);

Defending 3rd Skinner’s Horse get +2 for "Reg Cav mounted" but no + for lances, since they were not 

If the RHA were to be drawn into the melee, I gave them a +1 for being Reg. Horse Art. Crew (as opposed to the +2 for Reg. Cav.)


Skinner’s Horse getting +1 modifier to their head-to-head D6 rolls;

RHA crew getting a straight roll-off;

But in both cases the Charging Pathans would win ties.

Let the head-to-head melee die-rolls commence...

1.      Pathan KIA

2.    Pathan Fall-Back

3.     Pathan Fall-Back

4.     Pathan Fall-Back

5.     Pathan WIA (by sowar who survived crash)

6.     Skinner's Horse hat same Sowar KIA

7.     RHA Sgt Fall-Back (vs Pathan Ldr)

8.     Skinner’s Horse Fall-Back

9.     Skinner's Horse Fall-Back


 10.     Pathan Fall-Back

11.       Skinner's Horse Fall-Back

12.       Pathan Ldr WIA

13.       Pathan KIA

14.       Pathan WIA

15.       Skinner’s Horse Fall-Back


16.       RHA Fall-Back

17.       Pathan WIA


British Victory;

4 Pathan fall-backs ROUTE away to riverbank.

2 RHA & 4 Skinner’s Horse Fall-Backs rejoin their units.


Black movement card - Pathans try to rally the Routing Swordsmen, need 1-2 on D6 - roll a 4, Swordsmen continue Routing into the river; Pathan rifles remain in place in their firing position along the far bank.

Skinner's Horse advance into better firing position...

BLACK FIRE CARD flipped first

6 Pathan Rifles @ 4 Skinner’s Horse, need 1-4 on D20;

4 Pathan fire @ 6 rearguard Skinner’s Horse approaching in column, need 1-6 on D20;

0 hits by first 6;

2 hits by second 4 - both WIA. 

Lead element Skinner’s Horse 4 shots @ Pathan Rifles across the river, need 1-4 on D20; get 2 hits - inflict 1 x KIA, 1 x WIA;

Rearguard Skinner’s Horse 4 shots @ Pathan Rifles on opposite bank of the river, need 1-4 on D20; get 1 WIA.


Red movement card flipped first.

Skinner's Horse advance to new edge of the river.

Across the river, Pathan Rifles withdraw to the table-edge, still within range to fire on Skinner's Horse (& to be fired back at)…

RED FIRE CARD flipped first...

Skinner's Horse fire 8 Mtd. Carbines, need 1-4 on D20, score 1 x WIA.

Pathans RETURN FIRE with 6 Rifles, need 1-4, score 1 x WIA.


Black movement card flipped first - Pathan Rifles WITHDRAW OFF THE TABLE, live to fight another day...

Towards the very end of the battle, Neville Crisp climbed up off the ground, to which he had leapt from his seat on Limber #2, and moved to assist the wounded RHA crewman from the lead gun...

Then found himself frozen in his footsteps at the sight of the wounded bombardier, laying on the ground, illuminated by the nearby muzzle-flashes...

This was the first man he'd ever seen wounded in anger, as opposed to having been thrown from a horse.

Though Neville Crisp's body was frozen, hiss writer's mind started working away at the double........

The professionals proceeded saw to the injured Bombardier as well as the damaged gun wheel.  Meanwhile Captain Hardigan informed Lt. Bigby that their force would depart the moment the damaged limber wheel was repaired.  Notwithstanding another ambush, they might still reach Dargai just after dawn.



1 KIA Pathan Rifle

3 WIA Pathan Rifles (including Leader)

2 KIA Pathan Sword-&-Shield

4 WIA Pathan Sword-&-Shield

4 Routed Sword-&-Shield

10 total Pathan casualties + 4 routed off the field  (14 lost all told)


4 WIA 3rd Skinner’s Horse

1 WIA RHA crew

5 total British casualties


NOTE: the lead RHA  9 pounder was NOT seriously damaged.



  1. Brisk little action ,could have been much worse for the Beits!
    Best Iain

  2. Agreed, Iain -- and for the Brits too!