The Boxer Rebellion Project Play Test
By Larry Bertoia
As has been mentioned by Chris Leach on this site, the White Rock Wargamers started a BFE project in the spring of 2001. You can see the original concept in Chris document, however this changed as the project went on. We decided to test the skeleton of our scenario at a local NHMGS convention held this year in Surrey, BC, Canada.
The scenario does not represent the 55 Days of Peking but rather the 2nd relief expedition, and on this it is very loosely based.
The Chinese are blocking the river with a large chain and two redoubts filled with Bannermen and a few western trained and armed units, as well as a hodgepodge of artillery, some modern Krupps and gatling guns along with ( in this case) a massive smooth bore. The Imperial powers have unloaded their units from river boats up river from the chain and being unable to decide on which side to attack have decided to attack both redoubts. Unknown to the Imperial players ( although suspected) there are very large numbers of boxer hordes roaming the country side spoiling for a fight.
The Chinese in the upper redoubt decided to put all their troops in the redoubt to protect the chain, while those in the south split their forces for a mixed defend and attack strategy. The allies ( each contingent played by a different player) placed the Austrians, Germans, Royal Marines, Americans and Russians on the upper side of the river and the Italians, Regular British, and Japanese on the lower side of the river. The Imperials also had a River boat that was crewed by Italians ( believe it or not)
THE BATTLE FOR THE UPPER REDOUBT
The allies on this flank moved cautiously as on the second turn a unit of Tartar cavalry made an appearance and spooked them abit. As they moved forward the Chinese artillery did some damage to them, but the biggest challenge was the large number of boxers that appeared from the upper edge of the table. The allied forces then split their attention with the Germans and Americans moving to fight the boxer troops that had formed into a very large cohesive force. The Austrians and Russians continued their attack on the redoubt. The Austrian sailors for the Vesta were the first to the redoubts and as they crested the walls the Chinese let fly with their smoothbore monster and it exploded in their faces but they were able to rally and a battalion of Austrians was wiped out attempting to breach the fortifications. The Royal Marines continued where the Austrians had failed but were unable to reach the chain before events on the lower side of the river overtook them.
THE BATTLE FOR THE LOWER REDOUBT
The Japanese were of the mark quickly here they surged forward scouting with their cavalry and moving their artillery into forward positions. Then the Boxer hoards appeared. The cavalry was quite discomfited as they were attacked dismounted by a unit of Bannermen, however Japanese Úlan prevailed and they were able to survive what looked to be a sure rout. But the appearance of so many Boxers had taken the fire out the Japanese belly and they spent the rest of the game maneuvering to protect their artillery and flanks from the hoardes. The Japanese artillery did yeoman service however , inflicting severe casualties on the defenders of the redoubt.
The British troops moved up very cautiously under the protection of a Maxim machine gun and were never able to make contact with the defenders or the fortifications. The Italians both on the gunboat and on land moved up quickly . The gun boat was able to obliterate the defenders in front of their country men leaving the Italian ground forces the task of negotiating the redoubt walls and spikes and making their way to the chains.
After seeing the defending Bannermen unit leave the redoubt the Chinese commanders attempted to rush in a number of boxers but these had significant trouble getting over the barricade walls ( they were timid) and were unable to stop the Italians from cutting the chain and allowing the riverboats to make their way toward Bejing.
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