Friday 29 December 2023

26 October 1899 - Turn 9


White's force at Glencoe will advance and attack the enemy at Dannhauser,
Yule will remain at Ladysmith.
Penn Symons will remain at Helpmakaar.

Joubert, Kock and Meyer will remain at Dannhauser.
De Wet and Botha will again attempt to attack Ladysmith but will now require a 5 or 6 die roll to succeed.


White rolls a 6 (which is a 3 hex move) and arrives at Hatting Spruit mid-morning. Full of enthusiasm, he orders an immediate attack on the Boers who have occupied two kopjes south of Dannhauser and to the east of the railway line.

Men of the Naval Detachment crossing the Ngobiya River at Hatting Spruit. Both sides will have their 'big guns' in the coming action.

De Wet rolls a 3 and fails to attack Ladysmith.

The situation at mid-morning on turn 9.

We will have a battle at Dannhauser!

Saturday 23 December 2023

25 October 1899 - Turn 8


White's force at Waschbank will advance and attack the enemy at Dannhauser.
Yule's Brigade will move to Ladysmith.
Penn Symons will remain at Helpmakaar.

Joubert, Kock and Meyer will remain at Dannhauser.
De Wet and Botha will again attempt an attack on Ladysmith but this time will need a 4,5 or 6 to be successful.


White rolls a 2 and advances to Glencoe.
Yule rolls a 3 and arrives at Ladysmith

De Wet rolls a 3 and fails to attack.

The situation at the end of turn 8.

The crisis at Ladysmith has hopefully passed although it should be noted that Yule only brings with him the understrength King's Royal Rifles and 53rd Field Artillery and the garrison will still be outnumbered by the Boers.

Thursday 21 December 2023

24 October 1899 - Turn 7


White's force at Waschbank will advance to attack the enemy at Dannhauser.
Yule's Brigade will continue to move to Ladysmith
Penn Symons will remain at Helpmakaar

Joubert, Kock and Meyer will stand and entrench their position at Dannhauser.
De Wet and Botha are aware that the garrison at Ladysmith is weak and on a die roll of 3,4,5 or 6 will launch an attack otherwise they will remain in position.


White rolls a 1 and remains at Waschbank.
Yule rolls a 3 and moves to Modder Spruit.

De Wet rolls a 1 and fails to attack!

The situation at the end of turn 7.

A frustrating turn for both sides but with luck Yule will arrive at Ladysmith next turn to bolster the garrison.

Tuesday 19 December 2023

23 October 1899 - Turn 6


White's force at Wessels Nek will advance to Waschbank and attack the enemy at Glencoe. Order of march will be: 5th Lancers, White's Brigade, French's Brigade, Hamilton's Brigade.
Yule's Brigade is to retire to Ladysmith and join the garrison there.
Penn Symons will remain at Helpmakaar.

Joubert, Kock & Meyer at Glencoe will react to the British advance on a D6 roll as follows:
1, 2 or 3 = Stand and fight at Glencoe
4 or 5 = Fall back to Hatting Spruit and stand and fight
6 = Fall back to Dannhauser dig in and stand and fight
De Wet & Botha continue to advance on Ladysmith


Joubert rolls a 6 and the Boer force falls back to Dannhauser.
De Wet & Botha move 2 hexes to hex 0909.

White's force moves 1 hex to Waschbank.
Yule's Brigade moves 1 hex to Elandslaagte

The situation at the end of Turn 6.

There is one contact this turn between De Wet & Botha and the garrison at Ladysmith however neither side takes any action at present.

Interestingly the Boers seem to be trying to lure White's force further away from Ladysmith whilst simultaneously threatening the town with De Wet and Botha.

Thursday 14 December 2023

22 October 1899 - Turn 5

General White, pepped up by the recent Council of War, dashes off a series of orders to his subordinates instructing a concentration at Wessels Nek. I'm letting these orders go straight out without hinderance to reflect the current positivity at British H.Q.


General White - The troops at Ladysmith will advance along the line of the railway to the concentration point at  Wessels Nek. 1st Devonshire and 13th Field Artillery will remain behind as garrison. The Imperial Light Horse will return to join them.
General Yule (with Hamilton) - Your command will move to Wessels Nek to join the main force.
General French - Move to Wessels Nek to join the main force.
Penn Symons - Continue to hold Helpmakaar.

Joubert orders a local concentration of forces at Glencoe. Kock will fall directly back while Meyer retires via Biggarsberg Pass to join the main force at Glencoe via Dundee.
De Wet and Botha are to move to threaten Ladysmith.

General White leads his troops out of Ladysmith and forward towards Wessels Nek.

I'm allowing all British units to move 3 hexes this turn - God Save the Queen!

White, Yule, Hamilton & French all move to Wessels Nek
Chisholm (Imperial Light Horse) returns to Ladysmith

Joubert, Kock & Meyer are all at Glencoe
De Wet & Botha move to Van Reneen's Pass hex 0708

The position of the forces at the end of turn 5.

There are no contacts this turn.


Tuesday 21 November 2023

Council of War

The victory at Biggarsberg is a relief for the British however it still leaves General White in a difficult position. Harrismith has fallen and now both Helpmakaar and Ladysmith are in danger if the Boers can concentrate their strength against one or the other.

These are the three options I believe the British now have:

1. Abandon Helpmakaar and concentrate all forces at Ladysmith in the hope that the Boers can be defeated in battle there.

2. Split the British forces between Ladysmith and Helpmakaar and hope that both places can hold out.

3. Hold both Ladysmith and Helpmakaar with token forces and push the main army north along the railway line with the aim of bringing about a decisive battle on favourable ground.

The Generals ride in for a council of war.

Normally I would roll a dice to decide which strategy should be adopted but I thought it would be an interesting idea to throw this out to the blog readers. Let me know in the comments which of the three courses of action you think General White should take. If there is no consensus after a week then I will resort to a die roll.

Friday 10 November 2023

Biggarsberg - The Aftermath

The casualty recovery dice rolls turned out to be not as bad as I feared for the British although Yule's Maxim Gun was lost (my original recovery rules allowed for full recovery of British artillery but I decided to change this to make it the same as the Boers). The revised strengths of all the units involved are given below:

Following the battle I determined that the Boers would withdraw to hex 1407 and the British would advance to hex 1507.

Victory Conditions

As the campaign has developed I can see that the original victory conditions I set are a bit vague and it's unlikely either side could achieve them so I am reformulating them as follows:

The campaign progresses until one side has 20VP more than the other. VPs are awarded as below:

2VP for each enemy infantry unit permanently destroyed (1VP to the Boers for destroying the Lancers, Naval Brigade detachment or Imperial Light Horse)
1VP for each artillery battery, maxim gun or pom-pom destroyed (1 extra VP if the battery is the Long Tom or 4.7" Naval Gun).
1VP for each named commander who becomes a casualty
5VP for each battle won
5VP to the Boers for occupying Harrismith or Helpmakaar
1VP to the Boers for each turn they lay siege to Ladysmith
10VP to the Boers for occupying Ladysmith

On this basis the current VP totals are as follows:

British = 5VP
Boers = 13VP

The Boers are currently in the lead with +8VP

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Biggarsberg Pass - The Game

The British column approaches the Biggarsberg Pass blissfully unaware that the Boers are waiting for them hidden in the hills.
The Boers are holding their fire waiting for the Tommies to come on.

The men of the Piet Retief Commando raise their rifles in anticipation.

On and on come the British...

...into the valley of death.

Turn 3 and finally the Boers let rip - 15 of the King's Royal Rifles are laid low!

The leading artillery and the King's Liverpool take a few hits too but not to the same degree.

Caught between the fire of the Piet Retief and Vryheid Commandos the head of the column ceases to exist.

But the remainder of the British force are able to deploy and begin to return fire.

The 'first time under shrapnel fire' rule causes 5 Boers of the Piet Retief Commando to flee whilst a sixth is knocked down. This is a lucky break for the British. 

A similar fate befalls the Vryheid Commando.

The British are still taking casualties but are not near their break point yet. 

The Piet Retief Commando withdraw from their exposed position (I diced to see whether they would remain in position or fall back as they were very near their break point) relieving the pressure on the British line. 

The Utrecht Commando (foreground) had so far only engaged in some long distance rifle fire.

Another hit on the Vryheid Commando was enough to see them take to their ponies and flee. If one more Boer Commando breaks the game will be over.

And yep, as the Piet Retief reach the hill they too are reduced (break point is 5 figures) by further British artillery fire.

Incredibly it's a British victory - I bet you didn't see that coming?

So Yule gets away by the skin of his teeth and the column is free to withdraw through the pass. His own brigade however has now been shattered leaving only Hamilton's as an effective fighting force.

Next I will calculate casualty recovery.

Sunday 29 October 2023

Biggarsberg Pass - Scenario

The British are in column of march wending their way through the Biggarsberg Mountain pass in the hope of reaching the safety of Ladysmith. They have no idea that the Boers are occupying the high ground on either side of the pass and are about to ambush them.

The British column about to enter the Biggarsberg Pass
The Boer reception committee

"I don't like it sir, it's too quiet!"
"I know what you mean sergeant..."

Special Rules

1. The British do not spot the Boers until they open fire. Once spotted they may not return fire until they have deployed from column of march. Roll 1 x D6 each turn to see when the Boers open fire, first turn they do so on a 6, second turn 5 or 6 etc.
2. British officers have learnt to hide their marks of rank and the standard fallen leader rules apply.
3. None of the Boer units have been in action yet so the 'first time under fire' rule applies.
4. The British command have learnt their lesson and all troops will deploy into extended order.

Order of Battle

C-in-C Brigadier-General James Yule
1st King's Royal Rifles (22)
53rd Field Artillery
1 x Maxim Gun
Colonel Ian Hamilton
1st King's Liverpool Regiment (21)
1st Gloucestershire Regiment (20)
69th Field Artillery
1 x Maxim Gun

C-in-C General Lucas Meyer
Vryheid Commando
Piet Retief Commando
Utrecht Commando
1 x Krupp Field Gun
1 x Pom Pom

Numbers is brackets are current unit strength.

Victory Conditions
To win the British must force two Boer Commandos to flee. The British will lose if they receive 32 infantry casualties (50%).

Friday 27 October 2023

21 October 1899 - Turn 4


News of Yule's defeat at Glencoe has reached White in Ladysmith where it has caused much consternation both there and around the world. At the same time a rumour has arrived that the enemy have occupied Harrismith.


White orders Penn Symons to send French's brigade north to make contact with Yule and help him to extract his force from Dundee and fall back to either Ladysmith or Helpmakaar depending on the dispositions and intent of the enemy. White fails his command die roll (I'm now only testing when orders are sent and not when receiving them) so the movement does not occur this turn.
White orders Colonel Chisholm to take the Imperial Light Horse from Ladysmith along the line of the railway towards Harrismith to reconnoitre for the enemy.
Yule decides that he should retreat through the Biggarsberg Mountain pass to circumvent Joubert's force at Glencoe. 

Joubert orders Kock to probe south towards Wessels Nek where he will be in a position to intercept any movement of British troops from Helpmakaar towards Ladysmith.


Yule moves 2 hexes but is stopped at hex 1506
King moves 2 hexes to Wessels Nek
Chisholm moves 1 hex to hex 0909

Kock moves 2 hexes to Wessels Nek
De Wet moves 3 hexes to Harrismith

The situation at the end of turn 4

There are two contacts this turn, the first is between Yule and Meyer at hex 1506. These are the options:

1 = Yule is alerted that Meyer's force is blocking the mountain pass and retires back to Dundee.
2, 3, 4 or 5 = Yule's column is ambushed in the Biggarsberg Mountains pass.
6 = Meyer withdraws to hex 1407 and allows Yule to pass.

The die roll is a 3 so there will be an ambush game.

The second is an encounter contact between King and Kock at Wessels Nek and these are the options I came up with:

1 or 2 = King retires to Elandslaagte
3 or 4 = Skirmish game fought out on the table.
5 or 6 = Kock retires to Washbank

The die roll was a 6 so Kock retires in the face of pressure from the 5th Lancers.

Tuesday 24 October 2023

20 October 1899 - Turn 3


Boers - All British forces are located.
British - No Boer forces detected this turn (except that the locations of Joubert & Kock are known to Yule).

Although White has received no direct information on the movement and locations of the Boers he is concerned that the telegraph line to Dundee has gone dead.


White orders Major King to take the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers up the line of the railway to investigate the cause of the break in communications with Yule at Dundee.
Yule finally receives his order to retire to Ladysmith but cannot act this turn due to the compulsory move to Dundee. 
Symons begins constructing defences at Helpmakaar.

Joubert successfully orders Meyer to move south of the Biggarsberg Pass and cut the British line of retreat from Dundee.


Yule must remain in Dundee
Symons remains in Helpmakaar
King (5th Lancers) moves 1 hex to Modder Spruit

Joubert remains at Glencoe
Meyer moves 2 hexes to hex 1507
De Wet moves 2 hexes to 0306
Botha moves 3 hexes to Harrismith

Yule is now in a tricky situation at Dundee with his direct line of retreat south blocked by two Boer forces although he is not yet aware of the presence of Meyer's force.

I'm finding that the intelligence and orders system is getting a bit clunky and I may have to relax things a bit to keep the game moving. One great thing about a solo game is that I can change the rules whenever I want and nobody will complain!

Saturday 21 October 2023

Glencoe - The Aftermath

Following the battle I rolled dice for casualty recovery as outlined in the campaign rules. The Royal Irish Fusiliers were so reduced that Yule disbanded them and sent the survivors to make up the numbers in Hamilton's brigade. The new strengths of the units that took part in the fighting are as below:

Next I needed to decide the most likely course of action for the British to take using a D6 roll against the following list of options.

1 = Yule is so demoralised he surrenders his whole force to Joubert.
2 = Yule surrenders his brigade to Joubert but Hamilton is so disgusted that he takes his own brigade and escapes south across the Biggarsberg mountain pass in the direction of Helpmakaar.
3 = The whole British force retreats to Dundee.
4, 5 or 6 = The whole British force retreats south across the Biggarsberg mountain pass in the direction of Helpmakaar.

The result is a roll of 3 so the British will retreat back to Dundee.

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Glencoe - The Game


Turn 1 and both British brigades failed their Command die test but the Boers had no such problems and immediately opened up with the Long Tom.
The result was a spectacular hit on the Royal Irish Fusiliers that brought down 5 men.
No worries, I ordered the British artillery to reply, except that due to my brilliant generalship I had deployed them 1" short of the maximum range they needed to return fire on the Long Tom! Cries of 'bring up the limbers' rang out.
Hamilton's brigade finally move forward but start to take casualties due to some very jammy die rolls for the Boers.
The view from behind One Tree Hill at the end of turn 2. Both British brigades are now on the move.
The Boer Krupp gun springs into action while the Long Tom is reloading.
The British artillery try to correct their mistake by moving forward and while doing so, the 53rd battery take a hit from the Long Tom. Fortunately this only resulted in the loss of two guns.
Hamilton's lead brigade, the King's Liverpool's, continue to take substantial casualties and by now have two PINs slowing their advance to a mere 2".
The position of the British infantry at the end of turn 3. They are advancing but the boys are beginning to drop like flies.
The Boers on the other hand are yet to lose a single man. The German Corps on the right of the line have extended to bring more fire power to bear.
Ah, that seems to be the end of the Royal Irish. Damn those Boer dice rolls!
By the end of turn 4 the Boers are sitting pretty enjoying something of a turkey shoot (did they have turkeys in 19c South Africa?).
The King's Liverpool's have accumulated 3 PINs so can neither move or shoot this also forces them to go prone (blue marker). All their officers have been hit too!
The Gloucestershire's are moving up behind them while their supporting Maxim is about to go into action.
Things are looking impossible on the British right so I order the King's Royal Rifles to extend their line and lie down.
Everything now hinges on the Gloucestershire's as they pass through the ranks of the Liverpool's in an effort to get within charging distance of the Boer line. They receive devastating short range fire from the Mausers and Pom Pom collecting 2 PINs for their trouble. The British casualties have now exceed 48 figures so the game is called for the Boers. 
This is a pity as the Boers are just starting to show some shaky morale in places with a steady drip of burghers heading for home. 
And finally a few casualties as well.
But the day belongs to 'Long Tom' who thoroughly messed things up for the British.
The table at the end of turn 5 - the British attack has run out of steam. Yule orders the army to retire to Dundee.

The game turned out to be a bit of a shambles for the British and although I can partly blame this on some shocking die rolls, I have to take responsibility for some poor generalship too! My decision to move the artillery forward meant that they didn't fire a shot until turn 4. In reality the Long Tom was not all that effective (it only fires every other turn) but that initial lucky shot got me rattled. The guns could have fired on the Boer infantry from their initial position forcing tests for 'first time under fire' which would have weakened their line and possibly caused at least one Commando to flee.

The casualties for the action were as follows:

Next I need to roll for casualty recovery and then see how the outcome of the battle will effect the campaign.