Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Raid


With sincerest apologies for terrible pictures, I didnt have a good camera available on the day and had to rely on a cheap pocket one Grrrrrrr.


The Raid




It had been drizzling for two days now as Captain Barkdale and his men infiltrated into Lyndhurst county, they had travelled in a variety of disguises, some as merchants, traders, refugees from London and others as Lyndhurst soldiers, they crossed the border at a number of points. All meeting at a point called Weillen Woods; it was a deep thick forest, ideal for hiding a number of men not wanting to be discovered.
For two days the Romney men had drifted in from various directions all but 3 men arriving, 3 men out of 50 was not a bad result Barkdale pondered to himself. The men he had with him were an assortment of
rogues, thugs and pirates all to a man experts in hand to hand fighting. He had given them the rather grand name of Barkdale’s Marines, which was reasonable he assumed as they were more marines than soldiers. In fact all of them were from his ship the “Rosalie” a vessel which was once a renowned Pirate ship, but now just laying idle in Southampton.
It had been one Barkdale’s biggest curses the day his employer Duke Ferguson of the Duchy of Romney had gone all respectable, in being given the Knighthood he so long cherished, the Duke had to forgo his infamous piracy expeditions. Those expeditions had made all of them rich, the Duke received a huge bounty, Barkdale had amassed a reasonable fortune, and his crews were extremely loyal as they were extremely wealthy by the standards of other normal sailors, however almost overnight Piracy had gone out of fashion.
The Duke had explained that the Nobles didn’t want to antagonize France or Spain and as they were the ships Barkdale and his Rosalie usually hunted his piracy days ended in a whimper. So since he couldn’t hunt ships Barkdale and his men had gone into business for themselves, hiring themselves out to Nobles who needed some dirty work done, discreetly but for a price. His favourite employer was always the Duke, as long as Barkdale and his men completed the mission they were employed for the Duke turned a blind eye to Barkdale’s side ventures which was generally a bit of robbery, larceny, murder and protection work. He was also becoming a well known wrecker, which these days was becoming his main business. He and his men would entice trading vessels travelling along the coast to enter bays which the unwary captains assumed were entrances to ports, the bays were usually deathtraps to ships with rocks and shallows aplenty. Barkdale and his men would then loot the ship as it founded, again the Duke taking a cut if necessary.
The operation also had its dark humour side because the Duke also employed Barkdale as an excise agent, which meant it allowed him to put the other wreckers on the Romney coastline out of business.

However tonight they were on the biggest mission of all, he and his men were to attack the North Park estate in Lyndhurst, North Park was the new home to General Sir Leopold Anders, brother to Sir Edward Anders the ruler of Lyndhurst County. However tonight they were to kidnap or kill a young 15 year old boy the Duke said was there, he told Barkdale that the boy was a royal and had to be eliminated. The Duke had offered a Bonus if Barkdale and his men could kill Sir Leopold and the boy’s mother Sophia. The Duke wanted no trace of the family to survive, which made Barkdale’s job easy because it meant his men just killed everyone.

Barkdale knew there were other Romney men further to the west in Cauldron Forest, but these men were regular Romney Light Infantry, their job was to sneak in close to the Barracks near New Park estate and ensure no reinforcements from the Barracks reached the estate while Barkdale dealt with the Estate Guard which he was assured would be 30 men.
There were roving patrols all round the area, in fact Barkdale had been watching one just an hour ago, but it seemed the men on patrol were more keen on getting out of the rain and back to a warm fire than doing their job properly, a lapse he would ensure they paid for, very dearly.

Barkdale checked his vest pocket watch, it was time, he signalled to his men that they were to follow him. As they left the woods they could just make out the distant lights of their objective the New park estate, it was some distance and mostly in the open so the men moved swiftly but cautiously, always watching for patrols and sentries.

New Park Estate
General Sir Leopold Anders was troubled, over the last 24 hours he had received reports off a host of strange travellers crossing into Lyndhurst, in fact 3 of them had been taken into captivity in Lyndhurst
city, tomorrow he intended to go in and question them.
He had urged the Estate Guard to be more diligent but he knew what soldiers were like once out of view of their officers, they would drift around fires and generally be negligent in their duties which was why he was riding his watch officers so hard. 
As he looked out the window of his office in the distance he could see the lights of the barracks, his nephew young Colonel Andrew Anders was commander of the Garrison over there, he was a real young  fire-eater and Sir Leopold was sure he would have his men out and about.
He walked back to his desk and gathered his pipe, as he began loading it with rich Virginia tobacco he wondered how his son James was doing in London.
He had sent secretly sent James and his mother there for several reasons, first if James was to become King the people and nobles of London would need to see him, but secondly he had a feeling the boy was safer in London than here, especially as a large part of the Lyndhurst regular troops were in London as well.
He had received a message from his brother advising him the Council of Nobles was no longer, he also advised Leopold to expect trouble, which was why Leopold was troubled about these reports of strangers; but tomorrow he would sort it all out.
He walked back to the window and was about to strike a match when lightning flashed across the moors, in the light of that flash Leopold was sure he saw men moving, but now it was dark once more could see nothing, but his instincts told him something was very wrong, he called out to his aide Captain Johnston

The young Captain came in and Leopold told him he was sure he had seen movement out on the moors, but the captain assured him it was probably one of the patrols, Leopold nodded his head; he was probably right. But there was still that nagging feeling.
“John come here” the Captain walked over to the window, the General was pointing out towards the moors.
“ I want you to get the officer of the watch to send out a patrol to the outskirts of the moors just to the east, just over there” he said pointing to a point where the road ran through the moors and then  I want them to check right along the boundary of the estate down to Weillen woods”

Just then there was another flash and then another, but this time it wasn't lightening, both the General and Captain Johnston knew musket fire when they saw it.
“Jeeesus Christ general, there’s men down there firing, some more coming over the walls.”
The General was already rushing to his desk taking the loaded pistol out of the drawer and placing it on the desk; he then went to the closet where he kept his sword.

“John get the house guard to watch the doors and windows, they are not to go outside, the outside guard will have to manage until the garrison arrives. I want men up here on the landing, let’s assume they are either after me or they think James is here, which means they will have to come up the stairs.”

Captain Johnston saluted and rushed out the door, calling for the sergeant of the guard.


Captain Barkdale
His men made good progress, despite the fact that they once again had to hit the ground laying in sodden mud as five Lyndhurst dragoons rode down along the road making their way out on patrol.
 My god this mud stinks thought Barkdale as he lay motionless watching the patrol pass by.
Barkdale knew they would not come back this way for sometime, maybe sooner once the firing started but by then it would be too late.
His men extracted themselves out of the mud and continued to make their way towards the estate, they were close now, perhaps only a hundred paces away from the wall. They could see two sentries sheltering in the guard house by the gate, he signalled his first mate Harris to take 4 men to deal with them. He then signalled Colin’s another reliable hand to take the ropes and twenty men and scale the walls about two hundred yards from the gates.
Once the guard post was dealt with Barkdale would take 30 men to deal with the troops who should be in the small Guard Barracks near the gateway, Colin’s and his men would break into the house and deal with whoever was inside, enemy troops or civilians. Though the Duke had told him to try and take the boy alive, he wasn’t going to be bothered with dragging a boy across the moors and through Lyndhurst County while the whole damn Lyndhurst army was out hunting him, no he was getting the same money dead or alive, so dead it was.

The two parties just moved off Harris towards the gate and Colin’s heading to the walls, just then Barkdale’s luck deserted him for a moment, a flash of lightening lit the whole of the moors up and for about ten seconds they were all exposed, all the men hit the mud again and they lay waiting in the dark to see if there was to be another strike or any reaction from the Estate Guards, they lay there for a few minutes and+ when there was no movement from the Guard posts nor from anywhere else his men once more slowly rose up covered in mud and began creeping to their objectives.
Barkdale took out his small telescope, a magnificent piece he had liberated from a Spanish merchant ship; with it he surveyed the tops of the walls and the house. He stopped when on the top floor he could make out two men in the light of the room; one of them was waving his hands out towards them,
“Damn” Barkdale cursed silently, “Had they been seen after all.”
Well it didn't matter he reasoned it was too late now, Harris’s men had just dealt with the guards at the gate and Colin’s men were going over the wall.
Barkdale whispered to the men nearest him, “Come on lets go earn our pay.”

He had only gone twenty paces when the firing started, obviously not all the guards were asleep after all, so now it was harder, but they still had the advantage of surprise so forgetting all caution he and his men stormed through the gate.
The Estate Guard from the small Guard house near the gate were already struggling with Harris and his men,  they were severely outnumbered and were in the process of being overwhelmed, when Barkdale arrived with his reinforcements, now they could care of the guards much easier.
.Barkdale ran into the melee thrusting his sword into the back of a Lyndhurst soldier and then parrying a bayonet that was thrust towards him.
“Can I join in number one, or is this a private party.”
“Bloody hell Cap’n helps yourself there seem plenty of the buggers to go around that’s for sure.”

The Main Barracks
The firing in the Manor was heard from the Main barracks some four hundred yards from the house, Col Andrew Anders immediately rushed out of his office, yelling to Captain Swanson who was following behind him to get the infantry formed up and ready to move to the manor house, he saw five sodden Dragoons sitting on their horses, clearly having just returned from patrol, he told one of the men to get off his horse which the Colonel then duly mounted himself.

He yelled down to Captain Swanson
“Erich get the men over to the manor house as quick as you can, I am heading over there now”
The Colonel swung his horse around and waved to the gate guard to open the gates, he then along with the four dragoons rode out off the gate into a fusillade of musketry coming from the bushes along the road. Colonel Ander’s one and only thought before his body was riddled was,
“Who the hell are these….” He and the other four dragoons were killed outright.”

The Fifty Romney Light infantry men had  been hidden in the bushes along the outskirts of the track to the manor for most of the night, waiting in ambush for such a moment.

By now a large number of Lyndhurst infantry were gathering in the parade ground, when they heard the firing just beyond the gates they rushed to the gates, where many were cut down as well.
Trying to take command of the chaos that was threatening the garrison Captain Swanson ordered Lieutenant Kiley to take his men out of the east gate and come around and outflank the enemy troops, the
rest of them would man the walls.
It became clear to him that the General had to make do on his own for a while yet.


                                              

North Park Estate

As Colin’s and his men scaled the wall more by luck than skill they happened to land exactly where they should be.  in front of what was obviously a formal garden, beyond the garden were the glass doors that lead to the interior, his men stormed through the gardens making for the doors when a fusillade of shots came out through the glass from inside, Five or six of his men were killed, the rest dove down behind bushes and hedges.
Inside through the broken doors and windows Colin’s could make out about 7 or 8 Lyndhurst infantry, he glanced to the north and the Captain along Harris were still struggling with what seemed far more enemy troops than there should have been.
The oddity was for that brief moment as he lay behind a hedge Colin’s could smell the lavender from nearby bushes, odd how small things register on your mind he thought. That instant the smell reminded him of his home many years ago when as a child he used to help his mother dry the lavender to make soaps.
Glancing once more he saw the enemy in the house were busy loading their muskets, so he ordered his men up, together yelling and cheering they charged over the broken glass to attack the startled enemy. Colin’s smiled to himself, just like the old times, going over the side and take the bloody ship, only this time it was a bleedin house.
The Lyndhurst troops saw the men charging and knowing they didnt have time to load nor get their bayonets on they took to their muskets like clubs they charged out of the broken doors and windows, the once beautiful formal gardens now became a bloody battleground.

The battle for the gardens was brief, though Colins had lost five or six men to the initial fire he still outnumbered the enemy and what was more his men were experts at hand to hand fighting, lousy at musketry but great with axes, pikes, cutlass and swords.
They poured through the broken doors, to their front across the foyer they saw the stair way and began rushing up when from almost nowhere about ten Lyndhurst infantrymen rose up and fired into the crowded pirates as they climbed the stairs, Colin’s was one of the first to die, then there was a melee on the top of the stairs as the remaining few of Colin’s men charged the enemy before they could load, but these soldiers had bayonets on their muskets and the fight was a much more difficult one.

Outside at the gatehouse miraculously Harris and Barkdale had overcome the enemy guards, seeing Colin’s men fighting on the stair way Barkdale ordered Harris to keep 5 men at the gate, get some of the enemy muskets and shoot any bugger that comes down that road. Meanwhile taking the remaining men, now only around fifteen in all he charged up the stairs into the melee.
The sheer aggression of Barkdale’s men was slowly pushing the enemy back from the top of the stairs, Barkdale saw a young Lyndhurst Infantry captain slash at one of his men cutting a huge gouge out the side of his face, taking a pike from the floor that one of his men must have dropped he thrust the point of the long shaft between two of his men to his front into the midriff of the enemy officer, The young captain looked surprised as he slowly sank to the floor looking down at the long spear protruding out of his stomach.
Finally reaching the top of the stairs Barkdale realised he only had about five or six men left, he saw a elderly man in a blue uniform as he walked out of a doorway, clearly this was the Genera;  he had pistol in one hand sword in the other. Barkdale drew his own pistol from his belt and shot the General, he saw him go down but was then hit by a shot from the General's pistol as he fell to the floor, then again a shot from behind and below he stumbled as he felt the second shot hit him high on his shoulder, he dropped his sword, staggered down the stairs, glancing outside he saw 4 enemy dragoons with muskets, on the ground nearby lay Harris and his men. It occurred to him, this must have been the patrol that rode out just before he attacked, damn his luck he silently cursed. He then tried to run, but his legs gave way and he collapsed two of the dragoons grabbed him pinning him to the floor, before he passed out he heard someone scream,
“The Generals been hit bad”.

Summary
The fight around the main barracks was rather brief, once the commander of the Romney Light Infantry realised that some of the Lyndhurst infantry were coming around his flanks he knew it was time to flee, he done his job and created the delay, he just hoped it was long enough.

General Leopold Anders was severely wounded; he would lose his arm but would recover. Colonel Andrew Anders youngest son of Sir Edward Anders had been killed as well as over 20 Lyndhurst troops dead and 20 wounded.

The following day the last of Barkdale’s marines were taken prisoner, the Romney Light infantry escaped but lost ten men.
There were other raids along the Romney/Lyndhurst border but these are generalized and will not be played.

The third English Civil war had started.

The skirmish rules I used were homegrown, I used a number of tokens placed around the estate, each token represented a possible force of Lyndhurst troops from 1 to 10 men. In the roll of a die I would determine whether it was a dummy token and then if an actual unit the number of men as then determined by 10d die roll.
I determined there were 15 men within the house and up to 35 men around the estate.
All Barkdales “marines” were rated Elite, thus they fought to the last and were excellent in Melee.

At the end of the fight for the manor house all Lyndhurst troops inside the house had been killed or wounded and only 5 Dragoons remained outside.

Die rolls determined whether patrols located any of the raiders which didn’t occur except for one patrol that returned to the Manor house during the melee.


The Lyndhurst infantry that attempted to get out the gate of the main barracks lost 7 men to musketry and then failed the morale throw, thus they were unable to advance, which meant they could stand fire only until they recovered morale which took two turns.



   


4 comments:

  1. Far out, Barry: that was a bloody little action and no mistake. I have a feeling the Bad Old Duke of R won't be all that unhappy over the result. He didn't gain the outcome he desired, but on the other hand, dead men tell no tales (snh, snh, snh) and the world is that much a better place, shortened by the Anders whelp (snigger).

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  2. Blimey that was exciting! I really need to read the rest of this story, this is terrific stuff!

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  3. a bloody little raid... though a daring one, that now one armed general is going to be mightily pissed. I think there is going to lots of blood spilt in revenge for this incident!

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  4. Thank you chaps for your encouraging comments. The skirmish rules I developed tend to fall on the bloody side, but in this instance they worked out very well. Lots of tweaking to be done none the less.

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