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Gordon at Khartoum: Part 2

Posted by John Simmons on 19 May 2023, 21:04

The destruction of the machine gun defending the Masallamuja gate allows the Mahdi's forces to overwhelm the defenders in the redoubt and to advance along the inside of the ramparts in both directions. Those on the ramparts have to turn or descend in order to avoid being taken from behind.

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With the Mahdists inside the walls, the defenders all along the ramparts are forced to re-position as well. As a result, the Kalakla gate and the muddy White Nile end of the defenses quickly give way to the Mahdi's renewed attacks there. This leaves small groups of Gordon's defenders isolated and attacked by overwhelming numbers. The forces holding the Burri gate redoubt fall back as well, in order to avoid being surrounded.

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With the Mahdi's forces within Gordon's defenses, our rules permitted Gordon to relocate his reserve force that had been guarding against a river assault across the Blue Nile. He positions them to block access to the main road through the city, placing most of his strength in front of the Governor's Palace. And seeing that Fort Burri is already compromised by his men's retreat from the Burri gate, he moves his small steamer downstream to Fort Mukran, where it will be safer from capture and it can use its one small gun to support the lower city and the west end defenses. Two accounts of the siege maintain that Gordon had reserved one small steamer for a last-second evacuation of the Europeans who remained in Khartoum. So we decided to give Gordon's forces the steamer.

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Outside of the city, Gordon's Krupp batteries are taken by the Mahdists, and the small remaining groups of Egyptians, armed slaves, and Bashi-Bazouks who had held the outer defenses are destroyed by the hordes of Ansar.

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The Burri gate is forced and Fort Burri is quickly surrounded.

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Only at the west end of the outer defenses are Gordon's forces able to conduct an orderly retreat, falling back on the lower town and Fort Mukran.

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Fort Burri falls when the attackers are able to batter down the fort's gate with point-blank artillery fire.

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After capturing Fort Burri, the Mahdists move on into the city, heading towards a collision with Gordon and his small reserve force, who are determined to hold Khartoum's main road.

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Gordon's fire is particularly effective in the narrow streets. But the sheer number of attackers forces Gordon to retreat through the souk. He establishes a final line between the main mosque and the Coptic church, while his forces from the White Nile end of the line pull back around Fort Mukran, using the flood dike and the buildings of the lower city as defenses.

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Fortunately for the two of us who were gaming Gordon's forces, the agreed-upon turn limit put an end to the violence at precisely this point in the battle. The game's end was represented by the arrival of one of the two gunboats of Wilson's relief expedition, which carried some of the Sussex regiment's troops, clad in their specially issued red coats.

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The gunboat in the pictures, of course, in no way resembles Wilson's Bordein, but none of us had the energy to craft a proper model. The end of the game was a bit anti-climactic, I thought, and all four players agreed that Gordon's victory in the game was only a "technical" one. Even Wilson's two gunboats would not have been sufficient to drive the Mahdi's forces out of Khartoum at that point. That Gordon was able to hold on (just long enough) to Fort Mukran and to the seedy lower town surrounding it was credited primarily to Gordon's effective positioning(s) of his reserves and the timely retreat and reorganizing of the defenders along the White Nile end of Gordon's defenses. In the actual historical battle, it was through the muddy White Nile section that the Mahdi's forces were able to break into Khartoum. In our game, Gordon's mistake was corrected by putting a stronger force (and a machine gun) in that important spot.
John Simmons  United States of America
 
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Posted by Peter on 19 May 2023, 22:13

Great pictures and game report! Thanks for sharing! :thumbup:
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Peter  Belgium

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Posted by Ochoin on 19 May 2023, 22:56

Much respect to Gordon Pasha. And more respect to the creators of this fabulous wargame.
It just looks so good and captures such excitement.

And as for the inability "to craft a proper model", well, that's just nonsense. Your two boat models are great.

donald
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Ochoin  Scotland
 
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Posted by k.b. on 20 May 2023, 00:32

What a truly fantastic game report John.

I thought in part 1 that the Dervish Army looked a bit sparse and the same for their opponents. However, that all changed in part 2 and I congratulate you for the sizeable armies of the Mahdi and of Gordon's allied Anglo-Egyptian troops who resisted bravely against overwheming numbers.

Your retelling of the game really brought it to life and was an absolute treat. All i can say is that in real life it must have been petrifying to be defending the city against such a mighty force. Thanks a million for such entertainment, t'was thrilling stuff indeed.
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Posted by MABO on 20 May 2023, 03:18

I second that. Your report part two was a great final chapter of this story and I really like to look at the pics of all the cool figures on an impressive table top. Thanks for your report.
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MABO  Europe
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Posted by C M Dodson on 20 May 2023, 06:33

Brilliant stuff with echos of Khartoum and The Wind and the Lion.

The scenery takes you back in time, I love the minaret, and the views of the surge through the streets .

Sweeping visual treats in the Grand Manner!

Excellent work.

Best wishes,

Chris
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Posted by Bill Slavin on 20 May 2023, 13:33

That was an excellent report! Well told and with loads of pictures to communicate the action. It must have been very gratifying to play this game with all the purpose built models you created especially for it (the boats were terrific!) And the the shots of the Mahdists pouring through the streets, surrounding the little knots of defenders, really gave one the feeling of being in the centre of the action.
I agree that the ending felt anti-climatic with the arrival of those few soldiers hardly seeming enough to turn the tide, but the defenders retreat to a new position that they successfully sealed off within the town was nicely done. Wargames are often like that, though, right? Months or years of preparation, hours of tension and excitement, all often ending in a poof as one side or another is forced to throw in the towel through sheer attrition. Or worse, hitting a time limit!
Thanks so much for sharing.
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Bill Slavin  Canada

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Posted by Iceman1964 on 20 May 2023, 15:52

wow, it's like watching an hollywood movie, with the happy end of Gordon saved !
great report of a great game, well done !!
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Iceman1964  Italy
 
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Posted by Minuteman on 20 May 2023, 21:29

A really marvellous display and a multitude of pictures. All most impressive and inspiring, great stuff !! :-D :yeah:

And good also to see the way that history can be 'altered' on the wargames table.....so Gordon in this case is saved by the arrival of a couple of gunboats and a detachment of the Sussex Regiment. The great man lives to fight another day!
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Minuteman  United Kingdom
 
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Posted by Rich W on 21 May 2023, 22:28

Great report, thanks for sharing. Top marks for your scenery!
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Posted by chen on 31 May 2023, 11:19

Great modelling and great photographing. What an epic project!
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chen  China
 
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Posted by Beano Boy on 31 May 2023, 23:40

What a picture to cast before little me,
i adore those little paddle steamer boats! :thumbup: BB
Beano Boy  England
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Posted by John Simmons on 20 Jun 2023, 20:44

Thank you all for your very generous commentary. Our group has gamed mostly North American wars, so a desert game was an entertaining change. Everyone enjoyed it enough that we are talking about trying another battle in the Sudan, possibly one of the El Teb battles. That would give us a chance to put on the table the most notorious of the Mahdi's leaders: Osman Digna.

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Along with his hordes of Beja "fuzzy wuzzies::

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John Simmons  United States of America
 
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Posted by Minuteman on 21 Jun 2023, 15:11

Those Beja 'fuzzy wuzzies' look splendid, and a threatening horde indeed! I look forward to seeing them in action, led by their notorious commander. :yeah: :-D
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Posted by MABO on 08 Jul 2023, 06:32

Minuteman wrote:Those Beja 'fuzzy wuzzies' look splendid, and a threatening horde indeed! I look forward to seeing them in action, led by their notorious commander. :yeah: :-D


I am late but I second that! Write another report, please. :yeah:
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MABO  Europe
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