Taken from the journal of Captain Henry Makepeace, commanding officer of the British East Indostan ship, Peafowl, after the events of the rescue of the Company envoy, Mr. Jonathon Smythe. (Click the images to enlarge)
Download the Big Men cards for this game here
Download the Big Men cards for this game here
Having received distinct orders from the Governor, whom had reiterated the importance of my mission numerous times, we left Bumbay with all due haste, heading south along the coast. Our goal was a tiny coastal village some many miles away in the Indostani Princedom of Pisswah, a domain allied to our enemy the French. Here, we had on good authority, was imprisoned a Company envoy, one Mr. Jonathon Smythe, whom had been unfortunately captured some days ago while entertaining negotiations with a rebellious Pisswahan noble. Sparing Mr. Smythe the loss of his head, the local Zemindar instead had been ordered to detain our man and await a French ship, the likes of which would spirit the prisoner away for interrogation. This of course could not be allowed to happen.
On arrival within the vicinity of the village, and after much surveillance, I had the Peafowl’s boats lowered. Fearing an attack by French naval forces or worse still an assault by pyrates, I was forced to keep the landing parties down to a modest size, so the Peafowl would function should she be assailed. I took with me a squad of stalwart Bumbay Marines, under Lieutenant Maggott, and a score of jack tars to orchestrate the landing. There had been no troop movements in the village worthy of note heralded by our arrival, so figured our numbers would suffice.
With ease our boats landed on the outskirts of the deserted village, the place being a miserable collection of native hovels, and the men all disembarked. For a moment I feared our intelligence had been false or at least the natives here had caught wind of the rescue attempt and moved off with Mr. Smythe in tow. But as I ordered the men off to search the village a terrible commotion erupted from the underbrush to our right.
First Mate, Seaman Sprays, ever keen to eject himself into danger had stumbled across a large mob of wallahs secreted amongst the shrubbery. As Sprays closed on their position, all the wallahs sprang up and unleashed a ragged volley into his men, killing two of the sailors where they stood. Caught quite off guard Seaman Sprays pulled the men back into the safety of an outlying hovel, allowing Lieutenant Maggott and the marines to move up and exchange a devastating fire with the blaggards. The wallahs were unnerved by the volley and cowered in the brush, their inferior matchlocks out of range of the marines. Sprays took the opportunity to search the hovel he was sheltered beside but found it void of anyone.
By this time I had advanced into the village myself and was moving to search a nearby building when, from the upper window of a large abode, a hail of inaccurate shot fell upon me and the men. To make matters worse across the village upon the roof of the largest building appeared more musket armed men. Casting a glance through the building where I stood, in the hope of finding Mr. Smythe, I yelled for some tars to assault the closest of the buildings and while they crossed the open ground before it, the other group of enemy perched on the rooftop opened fire, checking them. Again their volley was inconsequential, but by some luck a plume of black smoke slowly rose from their very position, as something caught alight.
As the flames and smoke grew, more of the enemy burst from the building at ground level, spluttering and coughing. Amongst them was a figure of authority, the local Zemindar, and it occurred to me that here at last was the leader of this rabble. The men on the burning roof shimmied down a ladder and joint their leaders own men gathering together in the village center. If only the marines had entered the village proper I would have poured volleys into the devils before they could form, but alas the redcoats were skirting the outside of the village.
Hearing my plight, Sergeant Guthrie on the left, led his marines through the backdoor of the building where the enemy musket men were situated, in an attempt to drive them out. Should he take the upper floor he would control a commanding view of the battlefield. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Maggott, still facing the wallahs on the right, had his own problems, as the enemy havildar ordered the wallahs to charge the marines. It was an ambitious notion, for as the natives led a ragged charge, the marines delivered them a devastating barrage that left many of them dead, forcing the survivors back into the underbrush.
In the interim, Seaman Sprays, had taken his men over a wall in an attempt to flank the enemy, and unknowingly landed himself amongst a herd of goats penned into the area. He quickly loosed his pistol and the nervous beasts, as one, fled from him and his men, out into the village center, to the dismay of their herder. The goats did distract from the fire that the Zemindar and his men were unleashing on us, whom we were now, coming under quite a considerable threat.
Sergeant Guthrie’s men, whom were preparing to mount the stairs to the upper level, were suddenly and without warning charged by a large force of screaming wallahs, whom tore from the trees behind them. The marines were caught unawares and a terrible fight erupted in the confines of the building, which eventually spilled into the village center. Such was the ferocity of the wallah’s sudden attack that Guthrie and his men were ejected and retreated from the crazed tulwar wielding natives. The fleeing marines passed right between the Zemindar’s musket men, and the brute ordered fire onto them, killing several.
Looking to secure their success, the blood crazed wallahs poured from the building in pursuit of the marines, but instead ran headlong into a gang of jack tars. Again a terrible melee ensued, and although the tars were heavily outnumbered, they gave the wallahs their best, and amongst pistol shots and a rousing sea shanty the enemy were driven off and fled. Alas half the sailors had been brought down in the scrap and as soon as the fleeing enemy had passed through the Zemindar’s own line, they fired a volley into the surviving jack tars, which finally proved too much for them, and the brave sailors headed for the boats.
Thankfully Guthrie’s marines checked their flight and pulled up before me, forming a screen between the enemy line and myself. The well drilled men poured fire into the musket men, and then following a rousing beseech for revenge, followed my orders and charged the left of the enemy line. They fought bravely, but had suffered much already and were forced back in good order, a number of them overcome. I was yelling for Lieutenant Maggott and his marines, but the sounds of their own steady volleys drowned out my voice.
Maggott’s men had been pouring on so much fire that a heavy pall of smoke hung in the air between the marines and the wallahs, who although severely beaten still posed a threat. The smoke was so thick that neither group could see the other. Maggott took this opportunity to bring his men into the village, under the cover of the smoke screen, and on seeing the reinforcements finally arrive, I gathered the sailors that still remained and pushed them to charge the enemy line.
It was then that from an alley I spied Seaman Sprays leading an attack against the Zemindar himself. So vicious and sudden was his attack that after a bloody melee the Zemindar and what men he had left fell back running, abandoning the barricade they defended. The butcher’s bill was heavy though and all but two of Sprays sailors lay dying on the ground. The enemy I was charging fired a volley into us, and God be praised only one of us fell. With my battle cry and a sickening thud we smashed into their line.
So desperate a fight, have I never seen. The crew fought like men possessed and Imbelayo, a giant dark skinned seaman, struck the helmeted head of the enemy havildar a bone crunching blow that sent him reeling. I myself was set upon by two of the enemy and after dispatching one, was struck a terrible wound by the other, who dropped his wicked tulwar across my knee, near severing it. Although we did not break them the enemy were on the brink of fleeing, clutching their fallen havildar in preparation to take flight. Alas it was we who fell back, my men half dragging me from the battle, my leg next to useless, if not for their bravery; I would have been surely taken by the enemy.
But while we battled for our very lives, Seaman Sprays took notice of a dog pawing at the door of a small hovel, and did then hear shouts from within in the English tongue. It was none other than Mr. Smythe imprisoned in the tiny room, whom was hoarse through shouting out for help, throughout the entire engagement. Sprays and his men quickly led Mr. Smythe away, back the way they had come through the goat pen.
Truth be told, I remember only parts of what happened next, dropping in and out of consciousness, the pain in my leg so great. I am told that the marines covered our withdrawal from the village and although we were fired upon again, my men helped me get back to the boats without further incident. The marines fell back in an orderly fashion and embarked themselves. From the safety of the boat, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Smythe for the first time.
“Good Mr. Smythe I said, I apologise for not standing Sir, but you see I have suffered a scratch just now. I hope you will do the honor Sir of accompanying me aboard the, Peafowl, where we will endeavor to return you safely to Bumbay at our first opportunity.” Mr. Smythe replied, “My good Sir, I am delighted to meet your acquaintance, and hate to be a bother, but I seem to have been separated from my effects, and wonder would it be not too much of a bother to return to the village for them?” “Why, Mr. Smythe,” I proclaimed “I am sorry to disappoint you but the Company will have to reimburse you for your losses. You see, I have lost many men today, securing you from the enemy and a French frigate could arrive at any moment to apprehend us.” “Jolly good,” Smythe replied, “perhaps then Captain Makepeace I could borrow some of your snuff, I’ve seemed to misplace mine.”
As the Peafowl drew anchor and set sail for Bumbay, I glimpsed through my glass the Zemindar and his men returning to the village to survey our handy work. It would be a long time before they forgot the name, Captain Henry Makepeace and the events surrounding his daring rescue!
This game was played on Friday the 14th of December using the Sharp Practice rules. I played the role of Umpire and the Indostanis, while Christian played the British. We were meant to start the campaign proper and I had painstakingly prepared a completely different scenario (and table), but as usual, we had a late cancellation and were very close to cancelling the entire game outright. Luckily we did not.
This has probably been my most favorite Sharp Practice game played to date. There were so many cool elements that happened and the game ran very smoothly, was fast paced and we actually reached a conclusion. What a great first run by Christian, who played a great game, grasped the rules brilliantly, thought outside the square, and was a very gentlemanly opponent. Hats off to that man!!
My favorite parts were the building catching aflame after a random event, forcing the enemy out of their stronghold, and Seaman Sprays shooing the goat herd out the gates in an attempt to baulk the enemy. Very cool!! Hopefully we will get to play the actual first scenario soon, but this will serve as a great introduction to Captain Makepeace, who I believe we have not seen the last of. Thanks for reading.
|The men of the BEIC ship, Peafowl, disembark at the village|
|The village seems deserted|
|Captain Makepeace makes landfall|
|Sergeant Guthrie and some Bumbay Marines|
|Seaman Sprays and his Jolly Jack Tars|
|Lieutenant Maggott leads the marines off the boats|
|On the left the marines and sailors surge forward towards the village|
|Makepeace leads his men towards the closest building, in search of Mr. Smythe|
|Sprays is undone! Wallahs!!|
|Taking casualties, he beats a hasty retreat|
|Maggott's marines move up and pour fire on the Wallahs|
|The Wallahs shrink from the accurate volley|
|Sprays investigates a hovel - empty!|
|Makepeace enters the village proper and...|
|...searches the nearest abode - empty!|
|Suddenly Makepeace is fired upon from the upper floor of a building|
|More enemy appear before them|
|Jack tars rush for the new threat|
|A whisp of smoke emerges from the large building...|
|...and builds into a large fire|
|Spluttering and coughing the Zemindar appears|
|Guthrie leads the marines against the hidden musket men...|
|...while the rest of the enemy gather before the large building...|
|...and man a barricade there|
|Meanwhile the Wallahs mount a charge at Maggott's men...|
|...suffer a devastating volley...|
|...and the survivors are forced to find cover or flee|
|Over a wall, Sprays lands in a livestock pen...|
|...and loosing his pistol, shoos the goats before him|
|The goats pour into the village center, distracting the Zemindar's men|
|Makepeace falls under fire from the enemy's line|
|A hidden mob of Wallahs rushes Guthrie and his marines|
|The fight pours out into the street...|
|...and the marines fall back, beaten|
|The enemy line opens fire on the marines, killing two men|
|The matelots come into conflict with the victorious wallahs...|
|...but see them off, although they take a beating|
|Enemy fire routes them for good and they head for the boats|
|The goats are off too, and Maggott takes a moment to consider supper|
|Makpeace checks the marines and sets them against the enemy...|
|...they give a volley and charge...|
|...but having suffered already are beaten back again|
|The firing from Maggott's marines cause a thick smoke pall to form between the wallahs...|
|...and they take the opportunity to join their comrades|
|Makepeace leads a charge against the enemy, which falls short|
|While Seaman Sprays leads his man around to the Zemindar's flank...|
|...charges the enemy's flank...|
|...and in a desperate and bloody melee forces the Zemindar and his men to retreat|
|The Zemindar falls back, bloodied, but not beaten|
|Facing a volley, Makepeace forces the charge home...|
|...and battle is joined!!|
|The enemy havildar is struck down, but Makepeace suffers a bad wound also and is dragged from the melee|
|Sprays finds Mr. Smythe at last...|
|...and retreats with him back the way they have come|
|The marines cover the retreat of Captain Makepeace...|
|...and they themselves withdraw in turn...|
|...back to the boats|
|Makepeace meets Mr. Smythe - "Good Captain, I've lost my effects"|
|The day is won, Smythe is saved - Hurrah!!|
|The Zemindar will not forget Makepeace in a hurry|