maandag 26 december 2011

Beja-Hadendoa of the 18th century

Of all my rebasing projects of this month, the Colonial Sudanese were the most difficult; not so much for the work involved, but how should they be rebased.

Originally used for the WRG rule system, I wanted to add these to our growing DBA horse and musket games. I did not want to use them for a 19th century Colonial anymore, but fit them some how into my collection of armies from around the world set in the 18th century. You have only to look at the Battlegames Magazine website under 18th century conflicts and you will find no shortage of possible themes from around the globe.

How do you fit a 19th c. Fuzzy/Ansar collection in the 18th century? Using the DBA-RRR book 3 lists as a benchmark, I searched the internet for more background information of the Funj Empire, Sultanate of Sennar, Kingdom of Darfur and the Beja-Hadendoa. The information I found more than substantiated the transition; not only did the Beja tribes fight amongst themselves, they did hire themselves out as mercenaries and had an occasional scrap with the Ottomans.

Size of armies

Armies were small by comparison to the European theater. Several factors restricted the movement of large numbers of troops; one, poor soil conditions produced insufficient quantities of grains to be requisitioned, two, the ever present disease which kept pack bearing animals to small number and basically, the population was not large enough to sustain a large army. A standard 12 element sized army would be perfect, however, I have more than enough for a dozen armies.

Typical armament

The tribesmen were typically armed with bow, javelin, spear and sword; not much different than what we see modeled as “Fuzzy Wuzzy”. By the early 18th century, trading matchlocks and later flintlocks for slaves brought small numbers of these weapons into the hands of the “Sudanese”. Further reading underscored the advantages of combining all weapon types as those forces solely armed with firearms were helpless against traditional weapons during inclement weather or night attacks.
Army list

As I mentioned above, the DBA-RRR offers a number of useful army list for the region; the Sultanate of Sennar and the Funj Empire, but the Beja are not to be found. Only do the Hadendoa appear as mercenaries on the Funj list (4Wb). For our purposes we need to create some tribal lists for rebel forces to fight the Sennar Sultanate and eventually the Ottoman garrisons (Massawa).


The majority of the Beja tribes were pastoral nomadic folk. Infantry would be primarily armed with bow, javelin, spear and sword and with the exception of chieftains or leaders, none would be found mounted although some tribes would use camels to cover long distances and dismount to fight.

Bedouins could supply small numbers of cavalry as would mercenaries bring small numbers of firearms.

For campaign purposes, these could be added to an army as the prestige level of the tribe reaches a certain level. Likewise, the number of Hadendoa troops present as mercenaries on other lists would disappear when the prestige level descends.

A hypothetical list

The tribal force might have the following:
1 Cv or Cm or Bd (general)
6 – 10 Wb Tribesmen
0 – 2 Bd Swordsmen
0 – 4 Ax Spearmen
0 – 3 Bw or Ps Archers
1 – 2 Ps as Scouts or Cattle guards.

To add variation between tribes, I might base the Tribesmen as 3Wb, 4Wb or 5Wb. and their style of dress would add a further distinction; Arab clothing for the tribes along the Nile and traditional wear for the tribes of the interior.

Further, Bedouin allies can supply mounted elements (Cv, Cm, LH and LCm) and mercenaries, the firearms (3Sh or 2Sk)

Possible campaign participants: Funj, Sennar, Darfur, Beja, Hadendoa, Desert Arabs. Ottomans could replace the Kingdom of Darfur.


4 opmerkingen:

abdul666 zei

A great idea!
As a 'tricorne' fan I always appreciate when one uses minis intended for another period in a 18th C. setting.
Looking eagerly forward to enjoy the developments.

Best wishes,

PS: and European maritime powers were already involved in Africa, hence possible 'What-if?' campaigns -'Victorian' Colonial gaming pushed back in time.

A lifetime student zei


Quite correct about the European involvement. The Portugese were present in small numbers as mercenaries, the Dutch sold gun powder by the ship load and of course the East India Company were on the lookout for trade.

A lot of open doors for creative scenarios.


Eli Arndt zei


I to have used figures from another period for my imagi-nation, but I thoink yours is even more exotic than mine being st in Africa.

I used 17th century Russians, Poles, etc for an 18th C. imagi-nation.


Timurilank zei


17th c. Russian and Poles would offera a good foundation to move further south and add the Ottomans with plenty of Imagination buffer zones in between. The Other-lovania could be inhabited with the usual fare of changelings, vampires and the like and are not adverse to some tourism.