Friday, 22 October 2010

2mm Colonial: The Battle of Ginnis 1885

I've been looking around for a while now for a suitable battle to make use of the fledgling Colonial forces in 2mm that have so far left the workbench. It doesn't seem fair to have them just sitting waiting for some VSF themed vehicles or some such to appear, so in the meantime I am thinking about using them in a small-scale battle set in the Egyptian Sudan.
Given that I haven't quite achieved the hordes of units originally envisaged, the Omdurmans, El-Tebs and Tel-El Kebirs of this world are a little out of range as yet, so I've settled on the more diminutive Ginnis, circa 1885.

This took place in the aftermath of the fall of Khartoum and the loss of Gordon, when the River and Desert Relief Columns had withdrawn over the border, leaving some small garrisoned outposts in the Northern Sudan.
These forts had increasingly come under harassing attacks by local Emirs loyal to the Mahdi, in particular the one located between Kosh and Wadi Halfa on the Nile at Ginnis, held by a detachment of the Cameron Highlanders and the Ninth Sudanese Battalion. General Sir Evelyn Wood therefore despatched a force of two infantry brigades and a cavalry brigade to push back the Dervishes.

This battle is interesting in that the force under Grenfell was a combination of Egyptian, Sudanese and British forces, including mule batteries and Camel Corps, and was one of the last outings for the scarlet tunic for British troops - certainly, anyway, the OOB seems to roughly match with what I have happened to have painted up, so it fits the bill!

The always excellent Savage and Soldier website has a brilliant article by Doug Johnson that sets out the background and narrative to the action, as well as providing details on the units involved and the aftermath of the engagement:

Johnson makes the important point that it was ironically the fear on both sides that the armed presence in the Northern Sudan border areas was a prelude to invasion that lead to the engagement and in spite of the success of the Anglo-Egyptian force, the Mahdists were eventually left in possession of a longer stretch of the Nile than they had previously occupied once the isolated garrisons were withdrawn to Wadi Halfa.

In any event, I think the battle is interesting in that it should allow the use of separate brigades of an all-arms force to engage the Mahdists, who in contrast to perhaps the conventional Wargamer's idea of a headlong charge, carefully deployed around the besieged fort.
Indeed, they had pre-placed captured Artillery pieces in batteries along the Nile, had taken command of the dominant feature with riflemen, and once the battle had begun, were able to mount a credible flanking manoeuvre into the Anglo-Egyptian flank.

I've got to do some more work and put together some scratch-built scenery, principally village buildings, before this battle can become a table top reality, and of course could also do with lots more Mahdist infantry, but it should be fun, particularly as it also gives me an excuse to deploy the Nile River Steamer, here in the guise of the HMS Lotus - Huzzah!

Stay tuned for more on this in the coming weeks.......

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