Battle Report: 23rd April 1991
British Indian ~vs~ Afghan
Norgren ~vs~ Robert Avery & Richard Avery)
Once the battle had started, the Afghans advanced their right flank very quickly: with two units of Fanatics shielded by skirmishers and supported by cavalry.
To counter this, the British commander moved his artillery and the Naval Brigade, Ghurkas and Sepoys to face them. The Afghan artillery, meanwhile, safe behind their works, opened up: scoring a lucky hit on the Naval Brigade gatling gun, and nigh on obliterating a squadron of Lancers.
As the rest of the field remained static, the British artillery came under heavy fire from the Afghan skirmishers: led by Sher Abu Alibi, the Afghan CinC, himself. With their opening volley, the breechloader-armed Marksmen shot fully 1/5th of the artillery crews down! The British artillery and light infantry skirmishers returned fire: but the Afghans, being a large unit of prone skirmishers headed by the CinC, seemed unaffected.
The duel between the Afghan Marksmen and their opponents continued for some 45 minutes (3 turns) until finally the British artillery had had enough (over 50% casualties) and routed off the field, taking some of the infantry with them.
Meanwhile, the Afghan artillery was knocking off British cavalry squadrons at a rate of one per turn, and also beginning to fire at the flanks of the British infantry.
With the guns off the board, more Afghan skirmishers moved up, and the Afghan fanatical cavalry charged the sepoy battalion as it formed square. Although one unit of cavalry was stopped, the other smashed the Punjabi infantry from the board, massacring the fleeing troops.
Afghans began a general advance as the trickle of routing sepoys became a
flood. The British Naval Brigade were next to rout, and the battle ended as
the Highlanders ended up as the only unbroken British unit present!
The Afghans lost 177 skirmishers, 70 fanatics, 74 cavalry and 60 waziri: a total of 381 men.
The British lost huge amounts: about 350 Lancers, 200 Naval Brigade plus the gatling gun, about 160 artillery crew, most of the Punjabi battalion, about 100 Sikh cavalry and 30 ghurkas. In all, about 1300 men.
Most of the casualties were caused by skirmisher and artillery fire, apart from the Punjabis, who were massacred by fanatical cavalry.
A complete and total victory for the Afghans.
The main British mistake was in tying up his guns and infantry fighting against skirmishers rather than advancing them strongly at the Afghans. The British should have tried to clear the marksmen away with company strength charges, risking losing one company to rout the skirmishers.
The other mistake was to expose his cavalry to fire from the Afghan artillery. Horse, while vital to exploit gaps in the enemy line, are very vulnerable to both smallarms and artillery fire.
Also, the Afghan works, whilst seeming strong, are very vulnerable to artillery fire. As the British artillery is immensely superior in knocking out enemy artillery, one should KO the Afghan works the first round, then KO their guns, one by one.