Nevertheless, having worked on my Sikh Wars collection over the past 12 months (but technically the last eight years) and on the basis that they all look very impressive when on the table, the Sikh Wars and the Battle of Ferozeshah it is. Here is a link should anyone wish to read about the battle and the campaign. I thought I'd better give the scenario a rehearsal to make sure it wasn't too one-sided an affair so, playing a short line out so to speak, was joined by Conrad, Paul S and Mike for Saturday's game. Conrad (Gough) and Paul (Hardinge) were the British, while Mike (Lal Singh), aided by my good self were the Sikhs. Full OoB can be found at the end of this post. In this game each British unit in the OoB is represented by a battalion/regiment/battery/troop on the table. Some fudging and stuff was needed with the Sikhs but the ratios were correct.
|Map of the battle. www.britishbattles.com|
Interestingly both armies were pretty evenly matched numerically, but very different in terms of quality. Fully a third of the British army were very tough European infantry, while half of the Sikh infantry were Feudal types. The Bengal Native Infantry were average but nervous facing the Khalsa. The British mounted arm was generally superior to the Sikh cavalry, IF the Sikhs decided to show up for this re-enactment, as in the real battle they swanned about just north of the entrenchment and didn't engage even when to do so would have been catastrophic for the British. The Sikh artillery is however far more numerous, heavier and more effective than the Bengal Horse and Foot Artillery. Of course the British commanders were far better than those of their opponents. Would that be also true of their flesh and blood avatars standing around the table? As usual, I will let the (many) photos and snappy captions tell the tale of how the game unfolded. North is the Sikh long table edge.
|View of the battlefield from the Western table edge. The Sikhs had cleared the low-lying jungle around their entrenchment to produce a killing zone devoid of cover over which the British would have to advance.|
|The most heavily defended section of the entrenchment is the South West corner, held by heavy guns and elite Sikh regulars.|
|The attack begins with General Littler’s division advancing towards the South West corner of the entrenchment.|
|The interior of the entrenchment which included the village of Ferozeshah, the Sikh encampment and artillery park.|
|Vultures (definitely not of the Bedknobs and Broomsticks variety) gather anticipating an evening of feasting.|
|Brigadier Brooke of the Bengal Horse Artillery and in overall command of the British guns overseas the deployment of 9pdr guns as they emerge from the jungle.|
|Lal Singh the Sikh commander on his elephant.|
|Littler's division made good progress towards the entrenchments. Sikh artillery fire was largely ineffective. Paul had ordered the BHA to move with the infantry but they failed their command roll and stayed put.|
|General Gilberts Division (well one brigade) attacks the Eastern end of the entrenchments. Conrad's BHA raced forward and deployed in front of the enemy.|
|In the centre General Wallace's weak division also attacked. There was clearly a cunning plan afoot to overwhelm every part of the Sikh line at once.|
|Littler's infantry begin exchanging fire with the Sikhs, who in return managed to inflict no damage on the British! This wasn't going well for the Khalsa.|
|Littler's leading brigade then launched a bayonet charge. The BNI battalion was beaten back in melee but the European battalion was poised to hit the defenders in the flank while another BNI battalion bravely charged the guns.|
|The Sikh gunners were renowned for fighting to the last around their guns so I allowed them to ignore the result of their first break test in melee should they loose. Their closing fire was abysmal and after two rounds of melee they were overrun.|
|The abandoned Sikh cannon. The battalion of BNI that had destroyed the battery withdrew back into the ditch, shaken.|
|All four batteries of the Bengal Foot Artillery crept forward while trying to inflict a few casualties on the Sikhs.|
|One of Gilbert's brigades then charged the entrenchment. A Sikh Feudal battalions in the angle had been driven off by musketry and artillery fire before the charge was launched. Closing fire from the Sikhs was hopelessly ineffective.|
|The Sikhs rushed to seal yet another gap in their defences, as the whole SE corner of their entrenchment was now completely exposed.|
|The British were still facing stiff opposition in the SW corner but it was unlikely the Sikhs would hold up the advance for long.|
|Back on the opposite wall the Sikh Gorchara were fighting a loosing battle against the 4th Bengal Light Cavalry (Lancers) and the Governor General's Bodyguard.|
|Very quickly and not unsurprisingly the discipline of the Bengal cavalry, supported by the fire of two troops of Bengal Horse Artillery, drove the Gorchara back to the table edge.|
|The only remaining units of Sikh regular infantry were being worn down by canister from two more troops of Bengal Horse Artillery.|
- The Bengal Native Infantry were not especially enthusiastic when it came to fighting the Khalsa and tended to hang back. Most of the fighting and a disproportionate number of the casualties was done by the European regiments. I shall need to reflect this more somehow, perhaps by making them wavering and/or randomising their stamina.
- The Sikh artillery was pretty ineffective in the game even allowing for some unlucky dice rolls. They completely out shot the British guns but this wasn't at all obvious in the game so needs looking at. Indeed the weak points in the defences in the game were where the artillery had been deployed. I need to make them harder to overrun as the rules for artillery in melee are very unkind in BP.
- The Sikhs need to be much harder to dislodge from the earthworks by musketry and cannon fire alone. Cold steel and a charge by European infantry should be the only sure way of clearing the Sikhs from their earthworks.
- The Sikhs need more infantry on the table from the start.
- The possibility of the Sikh cavalry deciding to partake in the action was a very real worry in the minds of the British commanders, so needs to be reflected in the game somehow, even if, unlike in this game, the cavalry don't show up.
Overall it was a great game that presented plenty of tactical challenges, even for the Sikhs. It was certainly a colourful game played with the usual good humour and occasional well intentioned 'sledging'. A very few bits remain to be completed, e.g. a couple of limbers, a troop of BHA and various bits of tabletop ephemera/vignettes and the like plus the edges of the movement trays need painted or landscaped. That, and the usual supporting admin stuff and I'm done.
I might be able to squeeze another game in before the Battleground show on 30 November. I hope so however unlikely, and if not then roll on December. Thanks again to the guys for coming to play the game and be used as guinea pigs to try out the scenario.
As mentioned at the top of this post here are the OoBs for the game.