The Siege of Barwarie June 1857 – Indian Mutiny

This is one of a few participation games which I created for the Indian Mutiny.  Hopefully I’ll get the others up shortly.

 

The Siege of Barwarie

June 1857

Indian Mutiny

 

Overview

From 7th June 1857 until 9th June a small party of British railway officials held off a reported mob of 3000 Indian rebels from the rooftop of a railway water-tank before they were eventually rescued by loyal forces from Allahabad.

 

Background

On 10th May native troops rose up against their British officers in Meerut and their actions quickly encouraged others to join their cause as a general mutiny and popular revolt spread throughout the region. The revolt involved all levels of Indian society as well as all aspects of the British rule, both military and civilian.

Whilst much has been written about the significant battles of the war there is a vast source of untapped material covering the many small actions and incidents that occurred. This article covers one such small event.

 

The Siege of Barwari

In the small village of Barwarie about 23 miles from Allahabad the news that the 6th Bengal Native Infantry in Allahabad had mutinied and massacred their officers in the cantonment before rampaging through the town killing Europeans sent shock waves through the local British ex-pats. When they heard that the local inspector Mr Lancaster had been murdered near by

The local British residents assembled at the house of the retired Major Ryves as they hastily formulated a plan. The fort at Allahabad was assumed to still be in British hands even if the city wasn’t but getting there was going to be difficult for a small group of poorly armed civilians. They decided to find the strongest place in the vicinity that they could defend whilst they tried to get a message to the garrison at Allahabad for rescue.

As they were formulating their plan the local villagers were assembling so the Brits hastily escorted their families to the relative security of the water tank of the local station halt. No sooner had they got there than riotous mobs started to arrive so stopping any opportunity for them to get additional supplies.

The Indians quickly pillaged the British bungalows breaking anything that they couldn’t steal, then burning the remainder. After initial assaults against the station failed they started to throw bricks and stones to little effect. The British sought safety behind the walls of the water-tank as well as under a few mattresses that they had managed to carry there prior to the attack. The station was surrounded by a mob of 3000 rebels who were being directed by the local zemindars.

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The Indians tried other tactics to get the British down. They promised safe passage for money and after they were given all of the money the Brits had they reneged on the offer. They then promised that if the British converted to Islam they would be released. In the tradition of a Boys Own tale the Ex-pats shouted down their refusal and continued to hold out.

On the morning of the 8th another ex-pat arrived. Mr Smyth, a rail inspector, had left with two others but they had been set upon by rebels and killed. Only Mr Smyth managed to get to the station but he had suffered so many wounds that he was to prove to be of little help in the stations defence.

Over a total of 52 hours the British held out against assaults and missile file. The rebels even attempted to burn them out but were thwarted by the brick construction and simply caused a lot of discomfort with the smoke.

Eventually a troop of the 3rd Oudh Irregular Horse arrived from Allahabad and took them to safety. Unfortunately Mr Ryves died of her wounds soon after.

 

Recreating the Station Defence

This incident can easily be recreated using period skirmish rules such as Legends of the Old West (If you can get hold of them), or The Rules With No Name from Foundry. It wouldn’t take too much to alter the TV7 rules to run the game.

As an alternative a simple set of rules have been included below.

 Map

 The Scenario

Key Players

British

Major T.J. Ryves (retired of the 1st Madras Fusiliers)

Mr Ryves

Mrs Ryves

Mr PO Snow – Railway Engineer

Mr J. Rose

Mr. Mathers

Mr. Leithbridge – Railway employee

Mrs Laithbridge

Ms Laithbridge

Mr. J Keymer

Mrs Keymer

3 Children

Mr R Keymer

 

Late arrivals

Mr Smyth – Railway Inspector

Mr Lancaster

Mr Thomas

In the actual incident both Mr Lancaster and Mr Thomas were killed on their way to the Barwari station whilst Mr Smyth suffered such severe injuries such that he was not to play any significant part in the subsequent defence of the station.

 

Relief

3rd Oudh Irregulars – cavalry from Allahabad

British subaltern

 

Indian Villagers

3 Zemindars – local lords. These are single based commander figures, which should be suitably dynamic as they urge the mobs on.

10 Bases of Mobs – all unarmed

 

Each mob has three figures, and with the loss of the third figure the base is removed.

The mobs may acquire weapons by ransacking the bungalows.

 

Starting Positions.

The British all start in the Ryves Bungalow. The Indians all start off-board.

 

Objectives

The British must survive until they are rescued by the garrison at Allahabad. Each British figure who is rescued is worth 1 point to the British Player, however they lose 2 for each child lost.

The Indians gain 2 points for each Adult killed.

Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins.

 

Key Events

The original siege lasted 52 hours, but for gameplay this has been compressed into 10 turns.

 

Start – Brits at Ryves Bungalow, Indians arrive from starting points

Turn 4 – arrival of the ‘Late Arrivals’ at eastern end of rail line.

Turn 8 – arrival of the Allahabad garrison at Eastern side of table.

Turn 10 – final turn

 

Between turns 4 to 8 the Brits suffer from the effects of the sun.

 

The Siege of Barwarie – Simple Skirmish Rules

Turn Sequence

The British

  • 2 Actions
  • Melee

 

The Indians

  • 1 Action
  • Melee
  • Zemindars rally and reform recoiling mobs
  • Generate more Indians

 

Actions

It costs one action to;

  • Move
  • Shoot (includes throwing things)
  • Search location
  • Reload Weapon

 

 

Movement

  • Foot            6 inches
  • Horse            12 inches

Rough = half movement

Buildings = 4 inches, cavalry must dismount

 

Weapons

Weapon Range Missile Value Melee Value Shots Notes
Cricket Bat 4 1 +3 2 Handed
Bricks 6 2 1 No reload
Fire Poker +2
Sword +4
Knife 8 3 +3 Lost if thrown
Stone 10 1 No reload
Hunting Rifle 32 3 1 2 Handed
Shot Gun 18 4 2 2 Handed
Blunderbus 12 4 1 2 Handed
Crockery 12 1 1 No reload

 

Shooting

Each figure has a shooting skill which represents the minimum number required to hit an enemy figure on a modified D6. Each successful hit causes one wound on the enemy.

  • Hard Cover                         +2
  • Soft Cover                        +1
  • Over half range            +1

Modifier amends number required to hit

Each weapon has a range and an associated shooting modifier.

When characters throw an item at someone and miss there is a chance that they will hit someone else near by. If a character is within 2 inches of the original intended target roll to hit again but modify the roll by +2. If there are multiple possible targets near the original intended target roll for each in turn until one is eventually hit. The throwing player determines the order for accidental tests.

Throwing items or shooting into combat is generally a bad idea. Unless the character is a ‘cad’ they are not permitted to deliberately throw or shoot into combat.

 

Combat

Each base rolls a number of D6s as defined by the character cards. Certain weapons allow additional dice to be rolled.

Each die which exceeds the highest die roll by the opposing figure causes one wound to the enemy figure.

Example

Major Ryves rolls 3 dice plus an additional 4 for his sword. He rolls 1,1,2,3,5,6,6

The enemy mob is armed with a cricket bat so roll their base 3 plus 3 for the bat. They roll 1,2,3,3,4,5. Major Ryves inflicts 2 wounds on the enemy mob as he has two rolls of 6 which are both higher than the highest roll by the Indian mob.

Unless otherwise stated a draw is a draw and no wounds are caused. However certain situations amend this.

If the figure is defending the water tower then it will win any draw.

If the character card identifies that it wins all draws, then they win any draws.

If the character card identifies that it loses all draws, then they lose any draws

Certain weapon cards also enable a draw to win unless overridden by the above criteria.

 

Moral

If a mob loses combat it takes a moral test based upon the number of figures remaining.

  • 3 – good, no test required
  • 2– breaks on roll 1 on D6
  • 1 – breaks on roll 1 or 2 on D6

Any Brit on the station roof does not take moral tests. Any Brit which takes a test and fails elsewhere will flee towards the station roof. If it reaches the station they will clamber onto the roof. A Brit takes a test whenever they suffer a wound, and fails on a 1 or a 2 on a D6.

Mobs which fail their test will head towards one of their village muster points. Once they arrive at the muster points the Zemindars will reinvigorate them. The Indian player consolidates the figures by merging the incomplete mob bases to make up complete bases. Once a base has been repopulated back to 3 figures it can re-enter the fray and act as normal in the next Indian turn.

 

The Sun

The siege lasted for some 52 hours. The Brits retreat proved to be a mixed blessing for although it provided them protection from the rebels it provided scant protection from the elements. To reflect this every British character must take a test against the effect of the sun. Roll a D6 and subtract their current number of wounds. If the number rolled is 3 or higher then they have overcome the debilitating effects of the sun. If the number is lower then the character suffers a wound.

 

Character Item Cards

Preparing the Card Decks

Each bungalow has a deck of cards specific to that building.

Any equipment carried by British Characters is identified on their character cards. If they wish to grab any other items they will need to search for them. Each Character knows where items are within their own bungalows (but not in anyone elses). They may go to their own bungalow and spend one action to retrieve any one item. They may spend multiple actions to retrieve multiple items.

Any character or mob which attempts to search a bungalow, which isn’t theirs, must take a random card from that bungalows deck. If they find an item they may retain the item, otherwise must follow the instructions on the card.

Ryves Bungalow

  • Hunting Rifle – Ryves Bungalow – 2 handed
  • Pistol – Ryves Bungalow – 1 handed
  • Sword – Ryves Bungalow – 1 handed
  • Helmet, – save wound on 4+ on D6.       Cancels effect of sun
  • Crockery
  • Fire Poker

 

Snow Bungalow

  • Shot Gun – Snow Bungalow – 2 handed
  • Crockery
  • Fire Poker

 

Leithbridge Bungalow

  • Parasol – cancels effect of sun on British (1 handed).
  • Broom
  • Rupees
  • Crockery
  • Fire Poker

 

Keymer Bungalow

  • Rifle – 2 handed
  • Parasol – cancels effect of sun on British (1 handed).
  • Broom
  • Rupees
  • Crockery
  • Fire Poker

 

Specific Character Cards

  • Bible – save wound on 4+ on D6, lost after first successful save
  • Hip Flask – save wound from missile on 4+ on D6, lost after first successful save

 

General Cards

  • Broom – may be used before melee to fend off attackers against the station roof. Roll as many dice as a mob base in contact with the wielder, each 5 or 6 dislodges an attacker before the melee round. The dislodged Indians are removed from the mob base and returned to the nearest Zemindar. – 2 handed
  • Rupees – attempt to bribe mob. On 5 or 6 on D6 successfully bribe the mob who then act as if they had failed a moral test. May be used multiple times however if any attempt fails the rupees are lost!

 

Character Traits

  • Commanding Voice
  • Child
  • Elderly
  • Military
  • Native Infantry
  • Unreliable
  • Wavering

Commanding Voice

Can issue a Command as an action. Any targeted military or native infantry figures must take an immediate Moral test otherwise will halt where they are for their entire next activation.

 

Child

The figure cannot fight or fire guns. Whenever confronted by a mob the child will flee towards a hiding place.

 

Elderly

Elderly figures fail sun tests on a 4 or higher

 

Military

The character may use any weapon without penalty

 

Native Infantry

May use muskets without penalty

 

Unreliable

Must take a moral test whenever wishes to advance towards enemy figures

 

Wavering

Suffers -1 to all moral tests

4 thoughts on “The Siege of Barwarie June 1857 – Indian Mutiny”

  1. I was very interested to read this and see your recreation of the water tank! Thomas James Ryves and his wife who died as a result of exposure in the water tank were my great x 4 grandparents.
    If you didn’t know already, you may be interested to hear that Mrs Ryves was born Juliana Louisa Colebrooke, daughter of Robert Hyde Colebrooke, surveyor-general of Bengal and his half-Indian wife Charlotte Bristow (who had the misfortune to be shipwrecked for many months on the coast of Madagascar while sailing aboard The Winterton in 1792).
    Juliana was born on 22 May 1805 and baptized at St.Swithin’s, Walcot, Somerset on 6 Nov 1805. She married Ryves at Walajabad on 31 Mar 1828 and their ten children were all born in India.
    Ryves was born in London on 17 Jul 1805. His paternal grandfather had served in the British Army in North America during the American war of independence and had gambled (and lost) a colossal sum of money on a game of cards which resulted in the old family seat at Ranston in Dorset having to be sold to pay off the debt.
    Less than three years after Julianas death T J Ryves married Georgiana Eliza Griffin and had four more children. After her death in childbirth in 1865, at the age of 62 he married Georgiana’s 22 year-old sister and fathered two more children including a posthumous son. Living at Allahabad Lodge in Kent House Road, Sydenham, by 1872 he was bankrupt and escaped to France. He was never good with money – in 1847 he had been found insolvent for 52,000 Rupees. and was “awarded” with one years imprisonment. He was buried at Boulogne in 1875.

    1. Hi Anon,

      Very interesting history

      I see in this link https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Ryves-101 that his address is stated as: ” Allahabad Lodge, 9 Kent House Road, Lower Sydenham, Kent”. I currently live in 9 Kent house road and wondered if this is the same property? The current 9 Kent house road may not have been built at that time, it is hard to say, probably not the same, but wondered if you might know?

      1. Sorry, I don’t know if Allahabad Lodge was definately at the present number 9, as houses were sometimes renumbered. But if your house predates 1870 I guess it’s possible!

  2. Thank you for your comments. It’s often easy to overlook that these were real people and not characters out of a Boys Own story. This piece was originally driven by an article I found in a newspaper from 1887 and it’s good that you’ve been able to add more substance to some of the people involved.

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