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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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Action at Glencoe, 1899

Queen Victoria’s Little Wars, The Men Who Would Be Kings, 28mm

This one was set in the Boer war, amid the campaigning around Ladysmith.  The British had withdrawn, leaving the area occupied by the Boers. However, a couple of wagons containing the regimental whisky supplies had bogged down, and  Colonel Potts ordered their immediate recovery. So, while a small British infantry detachment guarded it, waiting for help, the Boers closed in. The game was played on a 6×4 foot table, with the railway running south to Ladysmith running across the table, together with  road. The rest was taken up with a church sitting on its own in the countryside, and the Shroeder farmstead. Both sides started from the short table edges, with the Boers appearing from the north and the British from the south. In this one, Sean 1 and Marten played the Boers, Sean 2 and Ally the British, while I sort of umpired. The infantry detachment (12 figs) guarding the wagons soon came under fire from Sean’s Boers, baked up by a Pom-Pom, hidden in long grass to the north, while Marten’s two mounted Boer detachments worked their way down the western side of the table towards the farm.  For their part Sean’s British tried to work their way up the eastern side of the railway, their approach covered by long grass. They needed to hurry though – the detachment guarding the wagon were beginning to suffer. Ally commanded the highlanders and a 15-pdr field gun, which tried to keep Marten’s mounted Boers busy. The Highlanders shot well, forcing one unit to dismount near the church. Over in the centre the wagon guards were really suffering now, but Sean’s Leicesters seemed to be walking through clay, and advanced very slowly in their support. Ally’s Gordon Highlanders were doing better though, laying down a heavy fire on Marten’s Boers. The field gun also opened up on the Boers near the church, who were  adding to the weight of fire on the wagon guards. Then, one of the 12 figure Boer units was pinned, and then forced to retire by the Highlander’s fire. A second Boer unit though, made it through to the farm, and occupied it. As it was on the British flank, this could potentially cause Ally some real problems. to ease the pressure though, Sean sent his detachment of 11th Lancers up the eastern table edge, to see what it could do to help.The answer, unfortunately for the horsemen, was very little. As they rounded a big kopje – rock outcrop – they came under fire from a Boer Schneider-Creusot field gun, which took out three cavalrymen with its first shell. The cavalry became pinned, and so were still there when the Boer gun fired again, forcing the cavalry to flee the field. So much for the flank attack. Over in the centre, the wagon guards – a detachment from the Leicesters – was down to just three men, and so were forced to pull back into the long grass, where others from their regiment were firing at the Boers over by the road. Effectively, the steam had gone out of the British advance. Now they just seemed to be hanging on. Still, thanks to Ally’s field gun, they still had some punch. The Boers by the church were targeted by both the Highlanders and the field gun, and suffered badly. In they end they too were forced to withdraw, which eased pressure on the beleaguered Leicesters. By now though, it was the turn of the Highalnders to suffer, taking fire from Shroeder’s farm on their flank. Some good die rolling by Marten saw one of the two units of Highlanders falling back. It was clear though, that neither side had much real strength left. Only the Boers by the Pom-Pom and in the farm were still at a decent strength, along with one British unit in the long grass, and one of Ally’s two Highland units. Both sides also had their field guns though, and the British had a Pom-Pom that hadn’t fired. We said we’d play another turn, to see if anyone could break the stalemate. All that did happen though, is that more figures were killed. Ally’s Highlanders had fallen back to a sanger and the long grass, to counter the fire from the farm. The British near the wagons couldn’t get at them to repair them, and were still taking losses. So too were the Boers though, but no breakthrough happened. So, we ended the game, with the whisky still in nobody’s hands. On the face of it though, this was probably a bloody draw. Despite that it was an entertaining game though, and really fast-paced. 





2 Responses “Action at Glencoe, 1899”

  1. David Henderson
    9th September 2023 at 3:11 pm

    I’ve only played Lion Rampant, Dragon Rampant, The Pikeman’s Lament and Rebels & Patriots from the Mersey stable of rules and it’s always been a fun game. As I don’t have any figures for the period of Empire covered by The Men Who Would Be Kings, I’m therefore very wary of buying them because who knows what rabbit hole I’ll disappear down! In the meantime, I’ll therefore content myself with some vicarious enjoyment reading about your games. Keep ’em coming! 😎
    [p.s. Whoah! I’ve just realised I said “in the meantime” ……. I suppose I could just buy them …. just out of interest …… (I think I’m doomed …) ]

    • 9th September 2023 at 4:54 pm

      Temptation resisted is enjoyment postponed!

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