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
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.
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.
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.
Major T.J. Ryves (retired of the 1st Madras Fusiliers)
Mr PO Snow – Railway Engineer
Mr J. Rose
Mr. Leithbridge – Railway employee
Mr. J Keymer
Mr R Keymer
Mr Smyth – Railway Inspector
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.
3rd Oudh Irregulars – cavalry from Allahabad
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.
The British all start in the Ryves Bungalow. The Indians all start off-board.
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.
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
- 1 Action
- Zemindars rally and reform recoiling mobs
- Generate more Indians
It costs one action to;
- Shoot (includes throwing things)
- Search location
- Reload Weapon
- Foot 6 inches
- Horse 12 inches
Rough = half movement
Buildings = 4 inches, cavalry must dismount
||Lost if thrown
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
- 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
- Fire Poker
- Shot Gun – Snow Bungalow – 2 handed
- Fire Poker
- Parasol – cancels effect of sun on British (1 handed).
- Fire Poker
- Rifle – 2 handed
- Parasol – cancels effect of sun on British (1 handed).
- 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
- 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!
- Commanding Voice
- Native Infantry
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.
The figure cannot fight or fire guns. Whenever confronted by a mob the child will flee towards a hiding place.
Elderly figures fail sun tests on a 4 or higher
The character may use any weapon without penalty
May use muskets without penalty
Must take a moral test whenever wishes to advance towards enemy figures
Suffers -1 to all moral tests