April 4, 2020

A Scrimmage in a Border Station

Colonial gamers are a freewheeling lot as you’ll find if you hang around dedicated forums. Questions about uniforms or orders of battle are often met with, “They are your toys! Paint them however you like!” Now this should be the case in ANY period, but the button counters and fashion police are much quicker to raise the hue and cry in other periods.

That said, when building an army I always try to find a brigade on which to model my collection. Not only does this establish a realistic force composition, it lets me point to at least one circumstance where my units served together. I also set out to find a brigade with a measure of variety (mixed coat colors, allied troops, or supported by an unusual detachment). I knew I wanted my first units for TSATF to be Highlanders, so that helped me narrow my choices (but not by much... there were four or five battalions of these kilted heroes scattered all over the Sudan).

Now, I’m not planning on ever recreating whole battles. My games will be raids, patrols, and other skirmishes. While orbats could be useful, I was more interested in remote garrisons and the like. I found EXACTLY what I was looking for when I stumbled on ‘A Scrimmage in a Border Station’ (taken from Historical Records of the 79th Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders by Captain T A. Mackenzie, which I now have in my possession).

Kosheh was a small brick fort 113 miles to the south of Wadi Halfa, and was the most advanced British post in the Sudan. The garrison of Kosheh now consisted of 1 troop of the 20th Hussars, 1 troop of Mounted Infantry, a few British and Egyptian Artillerymen, the Cameron Highlanders, and 100 men of the 9th Sudan battalion... 150 (men) from the same battalion occupied a zeriba (improvised stockade) on the west bank. Mograkeh (3 miles north of Kosheh) was held by the 3rd battalion of the Egyptian army and some of the Egyptian Camel Corps. The armed steamers Lotus and Shaban patrolled the river (stern wheel paddle steamers).

This garrison was involved in multiple skirmishes with the Madhists in the month leading up to the Battle of Ginnis (December 30th, 1885). They were part of a frontier force and the literally tip of the spear at this time. Not only is there a wonderfully diverse mix of units, the force is small enough to collect the entire detachment for TSATF:

1 Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders (4 units + command)
1 Company of IX Sudanese (2 units + command)
1 Troop of 20th Hussars (1 unit)
1 Troop of Mounted Infantry (1 unit)

Plus guns (although they would most likely stay with the fort for most of my games), a gunboat (only useful if the game is on the banks of the Nile, which turns out is pretty common), a battalion of Egyptians, and a unit of camels if I wanted further reinforcements. There are also three more battalions of British and the rest of the 20th Hussars nearby. My one deviation would be to field a detachment from the British Camel Corps rather than the Egyptian one, because Perry Miniatures only offers those at this time. I may make further alterations to my fictional force. For example, the British Camel Corps are essentially mounted infantry so I may replace the troop in the fort with these and substitute some regular Egyptian cavalry for support at Mograkeh.

I said one deviation, but there will be a second in that I will postpone events that led to the Battle of Ginnis. In the Quindia Studios timeline there will be a more substantial period of sniping and mayhem that serves as the backdrop for my campaign. It may be a year before gathering Madhists force the conflict at Ginnis. There will also be details added to the surrounding campaign that will be decidedly ahistorical.. a lost mine, a forgotten temple to dark powers, and other equally pulp style tropes.

My first order of Perry Miniatures (two platoons of Highlanders - a Captain, two Lieutenants, three Sergeants, and thirty-six Privates) just arrived and I hope to have painted examples soon. Wish me luck with the tartans!

Next time we’ll talk about Madhists...


  1. Sounds very exciting. It's nice to have found a multi-unit force with variety as much as this one. Good luck with your endeavour

  2. I have about 40 chaps in Indian service dress. So I guess they can be from one of 3 Regiments (Royal Irish,York and Lancaster, and The East Surrey Regiment). Might use that a excuse to do something similar. Part of the Suakin Expedition or Field force. They where even reinforced with a contingent of Australians, to build a railroad before Gladstone diced to pull the plug on the Sudan.