Prince Selim Handan, fourth nephew to the Sultan of the Ottomans was not happy with his posting to the Ottoman garrison at Cairo. Given a rank that placed him in the company of principle leaders among the military, this still offered grim prospects compared to the Golden Port. The past campaigns against the Hapsburgs took place decades before, so any sort of adventure for a young officer were sporadic conflicts against Cossacks, occasional border disputes along the Balkans or joining the piratical raids off the coasts of Spain or France. All that was needed to make a young lad happy was a war and Selim had a plan.
Somewhere south of Khartoum.
Madness and pointless, thought General Yildiz, still fuming at his appointment to lead this expedition, all the while the Governor assured him, the campaign would bring riches while expanding Egypt’s southern borders and, the order came “directly” from the Sultan. In addition, if rumors were true, Egyptian forces could also deal with the current unrest lead by yet another prophet.
Militarily, General Yildiz was confident; any action against rebel forces would be dealt with and swept away like an irritating horse fly. He had under his command the finest cavalry and artillery, but he was not too keen to call those marching, infantry. The Janissaries were soft and the Azabs and Segbans were no more than bandits and just as likely to steal from your own camp as that of the enemy’s. His thoughts were disrupted when couriers from the advance column, were seen galloping toward him.
The irritating horse fly.
“Enemy approaching in large numbers General” and quickly presented a parchment from the commander of the advance guard. Three columns, two flanking columns are cavalry, several thousand each, and the central column 15-20 thousand. No guns. Two hours distance from you, signed Colonel Hakeem Altan. With the White Nile covering his left flank, hills to his front and open desert to the right, General Yildiz formulated his plan.
Composition of forces:
Colonel 1 x LH (Gen), 12 x LH
General 1 x MS (Gen), 5 x MS, 3 x Art, 4 x Sh, 1 x Sk, 2 x LH
Colonel 1 x LH (Gen), 2 x LH, 4 x Sh
Rebels of the Prophet
Emir 1 x Wb (Gen), 9 x Wb, 3 x Sk
General 1 x Wb (Gen), 9 x Wb, 3 x Sk
Emir 1 x LH (Gen), 6 x LH, 3 x Cm
Photo one Ottomans take up a defensive position with their left anchored on the White Nile. Due to the nature of the terrain, the cavalry wing was positioned closest to the Nile, with the Janissaries and artillery on the hill. In the village and screening the right flank were Segbans and Delli cavalry. With cavalry superiority, the Ottomans could spread mounted units in support of the center and right wing commands.
With a wadi cutting diagonally along their left flank, the Rebels were forced to deploy in two massive blocks facing the Ottoman center, while their cavalry deployed as best as they could to protect the tract of open space between them and the Nile.
Photo two The Ottomans chose to move quickly and deny maneuvering room between the two forces and secondly, to bring the guns to bear on the massive columns and pound them to dust with the artillery. The cavalry wing would do likewise, but keep pace with the central command, time enough to launch their lightning strikes.
Encouraged by their Emirs and mullahs, the Rebels surge forward, while the cavalry fanned out to counter the Ottoman advance.
Photo three The Ottoman formations now content to become one continuous line from the Nile to the desert village. The wadi, on the Rebel left had channeled their massive columns which were moving toward the muskets of Janissaries and the Ottoman artillery. In an hour this should be all over thought General Yildiz.
Photo four Muskets and artillery brought enough damage to disrupt the Rebel formations and a few more rounds would certainly leave the clustered formations easy prey to a general advance. On the Ottoman left, the cavalry became emboldened by the Rebel show of timidity, so the Delli cavalry moved forward sensing their moment for glory had arrived.
The Rebels were placing all their faith on coming to blows with the central Ottoman command, but heavy musket and artillery fire were bringing a number of formations to a halt. The Rebel cavalry formations were now approaching charge distance and certainly the next minutes would tell whose faith was the stronger.
Photo five Ottoman central and right wing commands were content to continue their volley fire while dressing their own lines. The general advance would be sounded soon.
With praise to the Anointed One on their lips, a few units closed and silenced a number of guns and further fortune came when Rebel Camelry destroyed numbers of Delli cavalry and others were sent recoiling. Ottoman dead were now piling up.
Photo six To counter the gaps appearing in the Ottoman line, reserve cavalry were sent forward, while the left wing, surprised at Fortuna’s feckless bearing were doing their best to hold some semblance of a formation. Elsewhere, the reserve cavalry were having an effect to preserve the Ottoman battle line.
Emboldened by their success, rebel skirmishers were brought forward, one to keep the Ottoman right wing from supporting the center and secondly to discourage the Ottomans from turning their exposed central command. With both flanks covered, the Rebel columns quickly bringing the Ottomans to Death’s door (13 – 2).
Photo seven Both Ottoman flanks were now demoralized and it was decided to make a determined stand on the central hill. The hail of lead pouring from the hill held the Rebel central command at bay. Only the Black tribes were able to slowly push the Janissaries back and begin the encirclement of the enemy positioned on the hill. Further comfort for the Rebel cause came with the slow eroding of Ottoman resistance on their flanks; this would surely force the Ottoman central command to surrender.
Epilogue It was a victory of blades, spear and shield over a modern Ottoman field army. No Generals or Emirs were lost, while many were seen on the front line sharing danger with their respective commands. The effectiveness of the Camelry was a surprise. It has been quite some time that I had last used an army with them. When the Camelry were able to breech the Delli cavalry line this opened opportunities for the Rebel cavalry to gain some local advantage in subsequent melees.
For the record, the final score was 19 – 4. With large quantities of weapons including all the guns we will no doubt hear of Rebel advances into Upper Egypt.