Battle Report: 28th July 1998

Early Chinese ~vs~ Early British Indian & French

(Robert Avery ~vs~ Rupert Avery) .

Early Chinese

Brigade

Unit

Fig.'s Org. Class Weapons Pts/Fig Points
  CinC 1         100
1st Imperial 2inC 1         50
Brigade Tigermen 25 1x25 IrregC sbm, sw   165
  Musketeers 25 1x25 IrregC sbm, sw   165
  Spearmen 25 1x25 IrregC sbm, sw   165
  Archers 25 1x25 IrregC sbm, sw   165
Unbrigaded Tigermen 25 1x25 IrregD sbm, sw   165
Troops Musketeers 25 1x25 IrregD sbm, sw   165
Horse Imperial Lancers 12 1x12 IrregC sp, sw, sh, mlr   147
  Imperial Lancers 12 1x12 IrregC sp, sw, sh, mlr   147
  Tartar Skirmishers 12 1x12 IrregD sp, sw, sh, mlr   111
  Tartar Skirmishers 12 1x12 IrregD sp, sw, sh, mlr   111
Artillery 2inC 1         50
  Imperial Battery 4 1x4 IrregD light mlsb FA   287
  Gingals 4 1x4 IrregD mountain guns   233
  Ammo Wagon 1         50
Villagers One Spot Flag 30 1x30 IrregD sp/sw, sh   105
  Two Spot Flag 30 1x30 IrregD sp/sw, sh   105
  Three Spot Flag 30 1x30 IrregD sp/sw, sh   105
              2581
.

Early British Indian & French

Brigade

Unit

Fig.'s

Org.

Class

Weapons

Pts/Fig

Points

.

CinC

1

 

 

 

  100
1st 2inC 1         50
(British) 57th Regt 40 10x4 RegB mlr   500
Brigade 66th Regt 40 10x4 RegB mlr   500
  Naval Brigade 24 6x4 RegB mlr   300
2nd 2inC 1         50
(British) 1st Bengal Foot 32 8x4 RegC sbm . 304
Brigade 2nd Bengal Foot 32 8x4 RegC sbm . 304
  Ammo Wagon 1       . 50
3rd 2inC 1         50
(French) Marines 36 6x6 RegC mlr   384
Brigade              
              2592
.
. Chinese Allies
Foot 4800 4080
Horse 960 0
Guns 16 0
 

Report

This was an attempt by the Allies to destroy one of the Taku forst: holding up the attempt to reach the Chinese capital.

The Chinese set up with their right flank anchored on the fort. Their guns were either in (the gingals) or next to (Imperial Battery) the fort, followed, running left, by their infantry and, on the far left, their cavalry.

The Allies set up in a long line of mixed line and column formations. The order, from the right, was:  the 66th, the French, the Naval Brigade, the 2nd Bengal Foot, the 57th, and the 1st Bengal Foot.

The battle opened with the Chinese advancing their whole cavalry force, in column, to threaten the British 66th Regiment. These fine troops halted their advance, and both sides spent the next 30 minutes hoping the other would advance and show some weakness.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the field, the 57th Regiment sped forward in column and charged, unsupported, straight at the Chinese artillery. This turned out to be a little over-enthusiastic: as even these strong British troops couldn’t get through the hail of canister resulting from the combined fire of 16 guns and a unit of Tigermen.

Back on the Allied right, the French Marines had allowed a gap to appear between their main line, three companies, and another line of three companies perpendicular to their comrades and tasked to protect their flank. Seeing this, the Chinese commander charged a unit of Tigermen and all their cavalry onto the exposed flank of the first line of Marines. These countercharged, but were unable to resist the Tigerman, no doubt inspired by opium, and so fell back, shaken and disordered. The Chinese cavalry, despite the loss of the CinC to spectacular death, charged these shaken Marines and, despite taking casualties from fire, made them rout, along with their support.

The situation looked desperate for the Allies: with the Chinese now in a position to turn their flank:  rolling them up from Naval Brigade onwards.

The Gods smiled on the Allies:  suddenly two Chinese units turned and ran for no reason. Unfortunately, the commander of the Naval Brigade, unused perhaps to dry land, ordered his men to disengage rather than fall back in an ordered fashion. This proved fatal:  as the Tartar skirmishers smashed into their rear, driving them from the field.

Unfortunately, immediately after this success, another crisis of confidence caused another two Chinese units to flee: and it looked as if, despite looking as if they could win, the whole of the Chinese left flank had collapsed.

Meanwhile in the centre, the 2nd Bengal Foot had been advancing slowly forward in line: taking casualties from the Chinese artillery. Seeing their Naval Brigade support, they halted, shaken: and were charged by three units of Chinese foot. They broke and ran, chased by the Chinese hatchetmen!

On the Chinese right, by the fort, the 1st Bengal Foot were finally in a position to assault the guns. Unfortunately, the charge fell short, and they were peppered by the artillery.

As the battle ended, the entire Chinese left flank had collapsed, but they had broken the British right and centre. However, the 66th and the rallied French Marines were now advancing forward, and the artillery had yet to break the Bengalis, although infantry were rushing to their support.

Casualties

The British lost 300 infantry (mostly the 57th); 300 Sepoys; and one 2inC suffered a light wound. Total 600 casualties.

The Chinese lost 160 Imperial Foot; 240 Horse; and 140 Village Levies. Total 540 casualties. Their CinC was also killed.

At the end of the battle, the following units were routed: the British 57th and 2nd Bengal Foot; the Chinese 1st Spearmen, 2nd Tigermen, 1st & 2nd Lancers and 1st & 2nd Tartar Skirmishers.

Results

The battle was declared a draw.

Analysis

Any tactical errors that the British might have made (the charge of the 57th, the gap in the French Marine line and the disengaging of the Naval Brigade) were more than made up for by the appalling morale rolling of the Chinese. Their whole left flank went through “old snake eyes” whilst rallying troops from shaken!

At the end of the day, the British were coming back strong from their earlier disappointments: and it may have been that the Chinese no longer had the morale to withstand their renewed attacks.