Tag Archives: 1st Bengal Fusiliers

August 25th 1857 – Battle of Najafgarh

      Battle of Najafgarh

August 25th 1857

On 25th August a British force led by Nicholson engaged a Mutineers force around 30 kms west of Delhi in a pre-emtive strike.  The Mutineers sought to intercept the siege train heading towards the Delhi ridge and then to come upon the rear of the British positions on the Ridge.

The British march towards the Mutineers has been treacherous as the ground had turned to a quagmire in the rain.  Nicholson came upon the enemy at 4pm but despite the time decided to push on an attack.

The Mutineers had occupied an old serai with infantry and 4 guns.  On either side and to the rear of the serai  were three villages which the Mutineers had occupied with infantry and more artillery.  A deep drainage cut or ‘nulla’ went around the Mutineers right and on around their rear with a stout bridge crossing directly to their rear.  The nulla was swollen with the recent rain and even at the ford the water was chest high.

The Battle

The British forces advanced across the ford and deployed to the south of the serai. Nicholson sent the infantry brigade of the 61st Foot, the EIC 1st Bengal Fusiliers, and the 2nd Punjab Infantry to capture the serai. He kept his cavalry along with elements of the infantry in reserve whilst he split his limited artillery between facing the serai and the remainder addressed the enemy to the west.

Despite the muddy ground significantly impeding their advance in the face of the Mutineers artillery the British forces stormed the serai and routed the enemy. The fighting in the villages was more sustained but within an hour the enemy had been routed and their guns captured.

“As the Infantry were about to advance, Nicholson thus addressed them: ‘Men of the 61st, remember what Sir Colin Campbell said at Chilianwala, and you have heard that he said the same to his gallant Highland Brigade at the Alma. I have the same request to make of you and the men of the 1st Bengal Fusiliers. Hold your fire until within twenty or thirty yards, then fire and charge, and the serai is yours.’ Our brave soldiers followed these directions to the letter, and, under cover of Artillery fire, carried the serai. Front was then changed to the left as had been arranged, and the line swept along the enemy’s defences, the rebels flying before them over the bridge.”

Frederick Sleigh Roberts

Forty-one years in India – From Subaltern To Commander-In-Chief

With the enemy routed Nicholson consolidated his position before heading back to the Delhi lines the next day.

Nicholson’s force captured 13 enemy guns as well as large quantities of ammunition, stores and animals; all of which were sorely needed by the British troops on the Ridge.

Mutineers Force – Commander Bakht Khan

  Bareilly Brigade

    4 Regiments of Mutineers – each of 6 bases

    2 Artillery

  Nasirabad Brigade

    4 Regiments of Mutineers – each of 6 bases

    3 Artillery

  Nimach Brigade (General Sudhari Singh & Brigade Major Hira Singh)

    4 Regiments of Mutineers – each of 6 bases

    3 Artillery

Estimated Strength 8,000 troops and 13  to 16 guns

British Force – Commander Brigadier Nicholson

  61st Foot (Colonel Rainer)

  1st Bengal Fusiliers (Major Jacob) – 5 bases

  400 of Cokes Rifles (400 Men) – 5 bases

  Punjab Infantry (Green) (400 men) – 5 bases

  1 Sqn 9th Lancers (Captain Sarel) – 3 bases

  Linds Multani Horse (200 men) – 5 bases

  Sqn Guides (Sandford) – 3 bases

  Troop of 2nd Punjab Cavalry (Charles Nicholson) – 6 bases

  3 Troops of Horse Artillery (Major Tombs) (16 Horse Artillery) – 8 guns

Approximately 2,500 ‘good troops’ – 1,600 infantry, 450 cavalry, and 16 guns.

Game Length: 7 Turns

Initiative: 1st turn British

Set-up

Mutineers deploy 1 of their brigades in and around the Serai.  The Other 2 Brigades deploy into the 2 villages nearest the Najafgarh Drain.  2 Sepoy units may be detached to occupy the village of Nagli.

The British set up is assumed after they have started to cross the ford across the nulla.

Battle Najafgarh Map

Notes about the terrain

Bridge – 84 foot long and 27 foot wide.

Nulla – can only be crossed at the ford, and even then difficult going due to the high flood.  The Najafgarh Drain can only be crossed at the bridge.

The Serai is on a slight rise

Scenario Special Rules – The Sword and the Flame (The Sword in India variant)

The Serai counts as class IV cover, whilst the villages and sandbagged artillery are class III. The treed garden is class II.

The Mutineers have limited ammo.

The Mutineers deploy their entire force first.

Scenario Special Rules – Black Powder

The British European troops are treated as ‘Elite’ to represent their continued advance through the Mutineers defensive fire.

For Queen and Company Rules (and Fast and Furious)

Special Rules:

I think I need to be somewhere else‘ – As soon as the British get troops between the Mutineers positions and Delhi the Mutineers suffer a -2 to all subsequent Moral tests.

It’s bloody wet!” All movement should used the variable movement rates due to the waterlogged and flooded ground

 

Winning the Game

British Major Victory – The British must occupy uncontested the Serai and the three villages, as well as hold the bridge at the end of the game. To be uncontested no steady Mutineer infantry or artillery units can be within the serai or village.

British Minor Victory – The British hold both the Serai and the bridge uncontested and ensured that none of the Mutineer guns are in operation (captured, or either un-manned or reduced to one crew)

Mutineer Minor Victory – Hold the bridge and one of the villages uncontested

Mutineer Major Victory – Mutineers hold the bridge and both the Serai and two of the Villages uncontested.

Otherwise a draw which would be a Mutineer moral victory and still able to claim bragging rights.

Black Powder

Old Rosters created for Black Powder soon after it came out – I’d do them differently now and fix the org and command structure for the Brits, and address the overly generous command ratings at the same time.

Battle of Najafgarh Rosters – British copy

Battle of Najafgarh Rosters – Mutineers copy

Notes:  

Indian Forces: I’ve made estimates about the Indian forces by dividing down the 8,000 strength estimate across 3 brigades to get approximately 12 units at an assumed strength of approx. 600 to 700 men per unit.  You could easily modify this by having more units if desired.  I’ve taken the higher estimate of 16 guns and assumed that 3 were removed or destroyed before capture.

British force numbers based upon Roberts and Trotter

Fighting the Battle

This battle was fought using Black Powder with the British being ably led by Paul ‘Nicholson’, whilst the Mutineers were commanded by Steve ‘Bakht Khan’. We used an 8’ by 6’ table and 28mm figures in units of 24 infantry and 10 cavalry.

The Indians were deployed across their wide front with the major blocks of units being situated between the three villages. The guns were deployed in the sandbagged defences before the serai, as well as between the villages on either side the bridge. The British placed their cavalry on the right of their deployment zone with their artillery facing the serai. The infantry were placed to the left of the artillery.

The first turn opened with the Indian artillery bombardment doing little in the way of casualties but managed to disorder the 61st Foot. With the British movement Paul successfully passed the ‘Elite’ test a cleared the disorder from the 61st who were then able to advance towards the bridge whilst the remainder of the British foot advanced towards the Serai. The cavalry started to loop around the serai to the right. British fire managed to cause some casualties to the units within the serai as well as disorder one of them.

Turn two saw Steve attempt to move some of his infantry from the East towards the British but failed his command roll. He then started to take out his frustration on the British with his artillery. One unit of the Native infantry became disrupted whils the 61st took some casualties. The Briitsh responded and successfully charged the serai.

Within the next two turns the serai had fallen and the Indian brigade holding the area was broken. The British then focussed their attention on the forces around the bridge. Within a couple of turns the bridge was taken but not before the British 3rd Brigade was shaken and the the majority of the cavalry were also shaken following an ambitious attempt to confront the third Indian brigade to the east whilst unsupported by infantry. The end of the game all came down to Steves attempts to reinforce the troops around the bridge which unfortunately failed to recapture the bridge or force the British back. He did take some consolation from the situation when he finally broke the British cavalry brigade.

As the dust settled the Mutineers still had their third brigade almost intact and their second one was just hanging on but they were forced to concede a minor victory to the British having lost the serai, the bridge and all of their artillery.

Battle of Badli-ke-Serai – 8th June 1857

Battle of Badli-ke-Serai – 8th June 1857

With the fall of Delhi to the Mutineers in May 1857 the British scrambled around to assemble a force capable of dealing with the threat. Sir Henry Anson, the commander of the British forces, was based in the cooler climbs at the Simla Hill Station over a thousand miles away from Delhi. He hastily cobbled together a relief force at Ambala. Unfortunately Anson died from cholera a little over two weeks later and command of the the assembled relief force fell to Sir Henry Barnard. In an attempt to regain the initiative Barnard set his force marching towards Delhi with the intention of linking up with the Meerut garrison under Archdale Wilson.

The two forces met on 1 June at Alipur and headed towards Delhi to confront the Mutineers holding the city. Before they had advanced very far though their force came upon Mutineer forces on 8th June dug in at Badli-ki-Serai (alt. Badlee Serai). Whilst estimated for the Mutineers strength vary wildly from a conservative 4,000 men up to a significant 30,000 it would be safe to say that the British force was likely outnumbered by the opposition in their defensive positions. The inflated numbers were likely a due to large numbers of ‘native rabble’ joining the Mutineers. The Mutineers were also supported by a few batteries of very proficient heavy artillery which was to prove to be a significant obstacle to the British during the battle.

The Mutineers had established themselves within the village of Badli-ki-Serai which included a walled caravanserai. The infantry had taken up position within the village behind the perimeter stone walls outside the periphery as well as the caravanserai which was on the British left flank. The majority of the Mutineers guns were positioned within the caravanserai which was on a slight rise above the trunk road to Delhi.  A separate section of guns consisting of 4 heavy artillery pieces and a heavy howitzer had been situated behind hastily erected sandbag earthworks on the British right flank outside the village walls. The land to the east and west of the village was boggy and considered a likely obstacle to any British attack, though the area covered was fairly limited which was to be later exploited by the British when they finally assaulted the Mutineers positions.

The initial British attack was launched in the morning but due to the Mutineers effective use of their emplaced artillery the initial attack faltered. The British cavalry was ordered around to the Mutineers rear, whilst an infantry brigade was dispatched around the opposite flank. With the forces redeployed Barnard renewed his assault and his infantry brigades stormed the village and took the enemy positions after severe fighting among the buildings.

Once the Mutineers became aware that their route to Delhi was soon to be cut off by the flanking cavalry the defense quickly dissolved as the units abandoned their positions and fled back towards Delhi rapidly pursued by the British horse. Unfortunately, for the British, the Mutineers were able to evade the British pursuit and joined the defenders in the city whilst the British were forced to clear the Mutineers from the Delhi Lines on the escarpment outside the city and settle in for a long siege.

Game

The British have deployed outside Badll-ki-Serai where the Mutineers have taken up defensive positions with support from local mobs. The British must take the Village and Seria within 7 turns before the mutineers are reinforced by further troops on their way from Delhi.

Game Length: 7 turns

Map

Battle of Badli-ke-Serai - map

The Mutineer deployment zone is 4 foot across by 18 inches, with a 6 inch gap to their rear.

The British may deploy anywhere along their baseline up to 6 inches in.

Delhi Board Edge

The Serai counts as class IV cover, whilst the walls around the village and sandbagged artillery is class III. The Marshy ground provides no cover but is rough ground for movement purposes.

Scenario Special Rules

The Mutineers have limited ammo.

The Mutineers deploy their entire force first.

Wavering Mutineers – Whenever a Mutineer unit wishes to move (or not move) during the movement segment of a turn it must check to establish whether any British forces are between it and the Delhi Board edge. If there aren’t any British troops in the way then the unit may act as normal. If there are British troops between it and the Delhi Board edge then the Mutineer unit most take a Major Moral test. If passed then the unit moves as normal, if failed the unit breaks and heads towards the Delhi Board edge avoiding British troops.

British Flank Marches – The British may detach two flanking forces. One can consist of either one or both of the British Cavalry units, the other may consist of one of the Native Infantry Regiments. These are identified before the game starts and are designated against one of the flanks, either ‘A’ or ‘B’. If two flanking forces are taken they must come on upon different flanks. From the start of turn 3 onwards the British may attempt to trigger the arrival of these reserves on any one British unit movement card (max one attempt per turn per flanking force). A roll of 4+ is required for the troops to arrive. The troops are positioned up to 2 inches into the table and may move and charge as normal.

Winning the Game

British Major Victory – The British must occupy uncontested both the Serai and the village at the end of the game. To be uncontested no steady Mutineer infantry or artillery units can be within the serai or village.

British Minor Victory – The British hold one of the Serai and village uncontested and none of the Mutineer guns are operation (either un-manned or reduced to one crew)

Mutineer Minor Victory – Contest both the Serai and Village

Mutineer Major Victory – Mutineers hold both the Serai and Village uncontested.

Otherwise a draw which would be a Mutineer moral victory and still able to claim bragging rights.

 

Forces – The Sword And The Flame – The Flame in India Variant Scenario

  British Mutineers
Commanders CIC Major General Sir Henry Barnard2IC – Wilson CIC – Unidentified
Cavalry 1 EIC Cavalry Regiment6th Carabiniers     (includes Hodsons horse)

– 9th Lancer Regiment (lances)

    (includes elemnts of 4th Lancers)

1 Mutineer Cavalry1 unit camel guns (1/2 unit)
Infantry 1st Infantry Brigade– 75th Foot

– 1st Begal Fusiliers (European)

2nd Infantry Brigade

– 2nd Bengal Fusiliers (European)

– 60th Rifles

– Sirmoor Battalion of ‘Ghoorkas’

6 Mutineer Infantry Regts. 
Artillery 3 Light Guns – 

3rd Brigade Horse Aty.(Includes EIC horse artillery as well as 2 18lb guns but treated as 2 light guns for scenario)

2 Heavy Guns1 Heavy Howitzer

2 Medium Guns

 The EIC Fusiliers, HM 75th Foot, the Ghoorka Infantry and the Mutineers are armed with Muskets

The British HM 60th Rifles are armed with the Enfield rifle.

The Mutineers Camel Guns are classed as Gingals

Despite the common missconception, the British forces in India were not universally armed with the Enfield Rifle (and so not better armed than their Mutineer opponents); it was only later in the war with the arrival of troops from Britain that troops arrived with the rifles.

Unit Treatment for Black Powder

Unit Armament Range H2H Shooting Morale Stamina Special
6th Carabiniers Swords 8 4+ 2 Ferocious Charge, Marauders, Small
9th Lancer Regiment Lances 8 4+ 2 Ferocious Charge, Lancers, Marauders, Small
75th Foot Smoothbore Muskets 18” 6 3 4+ 3 Sharpshooters, Stubborn
1st Begal Fusiliers (European) Smoothbore Muskets 18” 6 3 4+ 3 Sharpshooters, Stubborn
2nd Bengal Fusiliers (European) Smoothbore Muskets 18” 6 3 4+ 3 Sharpshooters, Stubborn
60th Rifles Rifled Musket 24” 6 3 4+ 3 Sharpshooters, Stubborn
Sirmoor Battalion of ‘Ghoorkas’ Smoothbore Muskets 18” 6 3 4+ 4 Tough Fighters, Sharp Shooters
EIC Horse Artillery Light Smoothbore 1 3-2-1 4+ 2
Mutineer Foot Smoothbore Muskets 18” 5 3 5+ 4 Wavering
Mutineer Cavalry Swords 8 3+ 3 Ferocious Charge, Marauders
Mutineer Heavy Artillery Heavy Smoothbore 1 3-2-1 4+ 2
Mutineer Medium Artillery Medium Smoothbore 1 3-2-1 4+ 2
Mutineer Camel Guns Gingal 24” 1 2 Marauders, Wavering, Small

 

Force Commander Command Rating
British C-I-C Sir Henry Barnard 8
British 2IC – Wilson 8
Mutineers Mutineer C-In-C 7
Mutineers Mutineer Sub-Commander 6

 

Note for Black Powder table set-up. If using largish 28mm units (20+ infantry figures) then use 6’ by 8’ table and adjust terrain placement and deployments accordingly.

 

Fast and Furious and For Queen and Company Special Rules

I think I need to be somewhere else

– if any British units get behind the Serai then Mutineer Infantry units holding the Serai suffer a -2 to all subsequent Moral rolls.

– if any British units get behind the Village then Mutineer Infantry units holding the Village suffer a -2 to all subsequent Moral rolls.

Marshy areas – all troops use variable movement