Sunday 28 December 2014

Campaign Game 1 - Where Are All The Horses?

This is the background of the first of the seven scenarios of the Russian Invasion of the Colony of South Australia campaign game:

Where Are All The Horses?

Dawn on Sunday 17th August 1879 found South Australians with a new view off their coastline a Russian invasion fleet! While a frigate acted as lookout for the fleet, an old monitor blockaded the port and four fighting ships bombarded the Fort Glanville building site ‘just in case’ the rest of the ships lay at anchor off Henley Beach disembarking the invasion force by row boat! It was a long and back breaking task! The first troops ashore were two rifle companies from the 36th Division and their task to secure a safe perimeter and they met no resistance. Later in the day the men of the 1st Transbaikal Cossack Regiment were ashore and they were relieved as they were more used to life on steppe than on the rolling waves. Lieutenant-General Lazarev and his staff were ashore by nightfall.

While a few junior officers urged the army commander to push to the city of Adelaide with the four companies he had at hand Lazarev was a wily old bird and was not going to risk his troops in small packets at least not without a complete picture of the South Australians positions. The failure of the fleet to secure an intact jetty was telling and he was painfully aware that to get his full force ashore with all their equipment was going to take at least 48 hours!

Monday afternoon Lazarev was at last confident to move, he looked to the Cossacks who had now rested and were eager for action. They were ordered to advance from the beachhead in small groups and obtain intelligence on the enemy’s dispositions and more importantly begin foraging for victuals, horses and vehicles.

Lazarev's opposite Lieutenant Colonel Downes the commander of the South Australian military forces was meanwhile working like a man possessed he had no sleep in the nights before the invasion as he busily reacted to the initial sightings of the Russian fleet and had instigated the burning of the jetties and the sinking of two steamships in the harbour entrance to block it. While Governor Jervios met with the Russian diplomatic mission that had been sent out from the beachhead Sunday afternoon he garnered all the knowledge he could about his foes. He learnt an important piece of information from various sources viewing the Russians coming ashore they appeared to have brought with them only ammunition and ordinance, there it was crate after crate of bullets piling up on the beach, he opined from this they would be reliant on various locally procured items so immediately dispatched riders and Constabulary to instruct all the residents to the west to withdraw to the confines of the city mile with haste and bring with them every item of food, all their livestock and any wheeled transport they may own so as not to leave them for the invaders. The squares in the city soon resembled farm yards but little was left for the Russians.

Sunday evening Downes spoke with his available company commanders and selected squads of expert marksmen were dispatched westward toward the beachhead to lay in wait for the expected Russian reconnaissance parties ambush them and retire promptly, his aim was to inflict maximum casualties on his foes at the minimum cost while he concentrated his defending forces.

The stage was set, Monday the 18th of August 1879 would see the initial clashes of the campaign and it was men from the Unley Volunteer Rifle Company and the 1st Transbaikal Cossack Regiment who would exchange the first shots...

AAR and scenario forces, set up, special rules and victory conditions to come next!

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