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Thursday, June 6, 2024

Indian Army Suggestions for the 1897-1898 Frontier Uprising


My favorite set of rules for the Colonial period is The Men Who Would be Kings by Daniel Mersey. I like the ease of play, the feel and let's face it - I love the Hollywood gaming style! As I have raised forces for the army of the British Raj, I really have collected units that I thought looked cool. As a result, my forces are uniformed as units from the 2nd Afghan War to the Northwest Frontier uprising of 1897-1898.

The debate is ongoing: Did Jacob's Rifles where red during the 2nd Afghan War? Who cares for gaming - they look cool on the tabletop! Figures by Perry Miniatures.

My serious research over the last 2 years has been the Northwest Frontier Uprising of 1897-1898 and like most gamers, I have some definite ideas on how my Indian Army should be represented when they go up against the tribesmen in the hill.

Figures are hard plastic Perry Miniatures painted as a Rifle Regiment with one Artizan Design officer.

By the time of the uprising, British Imperial (Anglo) units had been issued with the Lee-Enfield rifle which is a bolt action, magazine fed rifle. It gave Imperial units a significant fire power advantage. In the rules for The Men Who Would be KingsThe Men Who Would be Kings gives a suggestion that magazine fed rifles could be represented by giving Regular Infantry the Sharpshooters Option at 2 points which increases the Firing Stat from 5+ to 4+. This definitely gives increased firepower but at 2 points (ouch!) if you are deploying a standard 24 point force that will be 8 points for that unit Lieutenant Churchill. Another idea is just to leave the Firing Stat at 5+ (Modern Rifle) and give Indian (Native) units Obsolete Rifles as Regulars. Since the Indian Mutiny it had been the policy to give Native units rifles that were one generation behind the Imperial units; at this time the Native units carried the Martini-Henry bolt action rifle. Cavalry units had the carbine versions of what the Imperial or Native units would carry.

The 1st Madras Pioneers as they looked during the Frontier Uprising. They are one of the few Engineer units expected to fight as regular infantry and as an added bonus for gamers, still wore their regimental turban in the field. The Colors were not carried in the field; but heck, I like flags. Figures by Perry Miniatures.

Let's talk leadership. After the 2nd Afghan War the British Army recognized the shortcomings of their training of Indian (Native) officers and non-commissioned officers. As a result the professional training of the Native officers and non-commissioned officers was improved. There are to many instances to count where British (Anglo) officers were killerd (more on this later) or put out of action and the Native officer and/or non-commissioned officers step in the middle of the action without a pause in leadership. In fact there are numerous instances of Native officers and non-commissioned officers taking the initiative without guidance from British Officers. So where is this leading to? I recommend that if a British officer is killed in a Native unit, instead of it being leaderless, a Native officer takes charge and roll for his Leadership Value but do not give him any Leader Traits.

Sikh Infantry from Artizan Designs.

British officer casualties (see Arithmetic on the Frontier, by Rudyard Kipling). Wow. An extremely high percentage of casualties in Imperial and Native units. It has been suggested, that after years of fighting on the frontier, the Pashtuns knew how to recognize the officers easily and that is one of the reasons for the high casualties. In addition, many Pashtuns had served in the Indian Army and knew where to look for the officers and understood the bugle calls. For the Frontier Uprising, I have added an additional rule that if any casualties are taken, check for Leader casualties as normal but a double "1" and a "1 and a "2" will remove the leader as a casualty. In an Imperial Unit, an NCO can replace the leader and role on the Leader table as usual but no Leadership traits.

Here are some recommend Unit Profiles:

1. Imperial Infantry:

Regular Infantry at 6 points. Feel free to add any Options for Regular Infantry. 

2. Highlanders:

Regular Infantry at 6 points.
    Elites +1 point which makes the discipline +2.
    Bagpiper +1 point. Allows Piper to shot lightning from his arse every turn (adds extra die to shooting) and on a roll of +3 laser beams are fired from the pipes to . . . okay, I got carried away. You can add a bagpiper for +1 point which allows the unit to reroll one failed Rally roll per turn. If there are any casualties, roll to see if the piper is one and he is eliminated on a double "1".
    Total: 8 points with piper option; 7 without.

The 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders. Figures by Perry Miniatures.

Indian (Native) Infantry:

Regular Infantry at 6 points.
    Poorly Armed -1 point and give them Obsolete Rifles. Add any other options you wish.

20th Punjabis. Figures from Artizan Designs.

Ghurkas: Yep. Tough and dangerous little guys.

Regular Infantry at 6 points.
    Poorly Armed -1 point and give them Obsolete Rifles.
    Fierce at +1 point and Fighting becomes 4+.
    Not slowed by Difficult Terrain at +1 point. (I've gone back and forth on whether I should charge +1 point for not being slowed by Difficult Terrain as in real life they could move just like the Tribal Infantry; however, by adding the +1 point prevents an Army of Ghurkas unless you are playing one figure represents one man).
    Total: 7 points.

Yeah . . . they are still at their depot.

Punjab Frontier Force Infantry: 

Regular Infantry at 6 points.
    Poorly Armed at -1 point and give them Obsolete Rifles.
    Elite at +1 point and Discipline becomes +2.
    Total: 6 points

Guides Infantry, Punjab Frontier Force:

Regular Infantry at 6 points.
    Poorly Armed at -1 point and give them Obsolete Rifles.
    Sharpshooters at +2 points and Firing becomes 4+ or Elite at +1 point and Discipline becomes +2.
    Not slowed by Difficult Terrain (heck, many were Pashtuns who were loyal to their salt so I say, based on history too, that they get this for free)>
    Only one unit of Guides Infantry Allowed.
    Total: 7 points if Sharpshooters and 6 points if Elite.

The Queen's Own Guides, Infantry, Punjab Frontier Force. Figures by Artizan Designs.

Imperial Cavalry:

Regular Cavalry at 6 points.
    Can choose Elite for +1 point and Discipline becomes +2. No lancers or Guard Regiments.
Figures by Perry Miniatures.

Indian (Native) Cavalry:

Regular Cavalry at 6 points.
    Poorly Armed at -1 point and give them Obsolete Carbines. No lancers or Guard option.
    Guides Cavalry, PFF is Elite at +1 point and Discipline is +2.

Total: 5 points or 6 points for Guides Cavalry.

The 3rd Bombay Light Cavalry. Figures by Artizan Designs.

Bengal Lancers:

    Regular Cavalry at 6 points.
    Poorly Armed at -1 point and give them Obsolete Carbines.
    Lancers at +2 points; they get two attack dice per figure when they are the attacker.
    Total: 7 points.

The 10th (The Duke of Cambridge's) Bengal Lancers (Hodson's Horse). Figures from Perry Miniatures.

Crewed Weapons:

Well drilled at 6 points. Personally I would go with artillery though the Maxim was used effectively in a few engagements. I'm still working out some ideas for star shells fired by the artillery during night actions.

Sikh Mountain gun. Figures and gun from Artizan Designs and the figure with the rifle is a converted Copplestone Castings figure.

Later this year I will publish a post with some additional ideas and scenarios for gaming the Frontier uprising.

1 comment:

  1. Great work, you have a lovely collection, some super figures on show as well,