Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Indian Mutiny - Battle of Rogan Josh

In line with naming some of the early test battles after curry dishes, the Battle of Rogan Josh was fought in August 2009 against my old wargame buddy Tim Hall.  In the style of the period, he wrote this highly biased account of the battle.

The Illustrated London Gazette.

The action at Rogan Josh, India 2nd September 1857.

From our special correspondent, Mr. Jasper Hardly-Standing.

On the road to Lucknow, a large force of mutinous sepoys and their cowardly leaders awaited our brave British boys, who were marching there to assist in lifting the siege. Rogan Josh was to be the point at which the column joined the road to Lucknow, and as such was vital for the safe passage of our force.

The enemy was present in strength, and arrayed in front of the small hamlet of Rogan Josh. They had word of the arrival of our column and were there to stop its progress. At least ten regiments of rebel Company infantry, and two cavalry regiments were present, as well as large mobs of ne'er do wells and Delhi gutter sweepings. The enemy leaders, Tantia Topi, Nana Sahib and the vile Rhani of Jhansi had whooped their troops into a frenzy with liberal amounts of Bhang and other narcotics. The hamlet was occupied by rebels, of the Rhani of Jhansi's personal army, and also held two artillery batteries. On the enemy right flank, a mob of unsavoury Afghans had garrisoned a ruined fort, and held the edge of the Aloo marshes. The enemy made use of a large nullah, or shallow gully which ran the length of the front. It was occupied with irregulars from Delhi, and could prove a formidable obstacle to our lads.

Our force was formed into four infantry brigades, each with an artillery battery attached. The famed Hodson's Horse accompanied the fourth brigade. The British plan was to refuse it's left flank, and thus avoid the dangers of the marshes, and to sieze the high ground on it's right flank before seizing the road and cutting the enemy army in half. Once this was done, the gallant British force would destroy the pandies in detail with concentrated musketry, and well positioned artillery.

British force:

Sir Henry Havelock, CinC, (accompanied 1st Brigade)

1st Brigade. 60th Regt. 75th Regt. Ferozepore Regt, (Loyal Indians.), One battery of Royal Horse Artillery.

2nd Brigade. 61st Regt. 2nd Bengal (European) Fusiliers. 1st Sikh infantry. One battery of Royal Horse Artillery.

3rd Brigade. 25th Bengal Native infantry. 1st Bengal (European) Fusiliers. 32nd Regt. One battery of Royal Horse Artillery. (Sir Colin Campbell commanding.)

4th Brigade. 1st Madras (European) Fusiliers. 90th Light Infantry Regt. 1st Punjab Native Infantry. Hodson's Horse, one battery of Royal Horse Artillery.

Sir Henry Havelock led his brigade quickly along the road leading into Rogan Josh, and was able to form a battle line at the junction facing the hamlet, the loyal Baluchi tribesmen of the Ferozpore Regiment occupied the ridge on the British extreme right flank, and were supported by the artillery. Very soon this force was pouring well disciplined fire into the mutineers, and inflicting grave casualties on them. The 1st Sikhs of 2nd brigade, were also quick to form up alongside 1st brigade and support their musketry with several well disciplined volleys of their own.

As this fight developed, on the British left flank, the advancing 4th brigade were threatened when the treacherous scoundrels of the mutinous 3rd Light Cavalry advanced towards them. Hodson's Horse were dispatched to intercept the enemy cavalry, who charged them. A fierce melee ensued and the gallant troopers of Hodson's regiment cut the mutinous dogs down to a man. Fitting revenge for the actions of this unit at Meerut, during the outbreak of the mutiny!!

However, in their triumph our brave cavalrymen were fired upon by the Delhi irregulars who were skulking in the nullah, and several gallant souls were lost. When a mob of Afghan tribesmen emerging from the marshes joined in with their fire, Hodson and his troop were obliged to withdraw to safety. Luckily the 90th arrived and were able to drive off the Afghan foe with sustained and deadly fire. The brigade was ably supported by the artillery which destroyed the enemy battery opposite and inflicted casualties on the Afghan foot. The fourth brigade was succesfully holding their own on this flank. The 1st Punjab Infantry pushed forward to the nullah and engaged the Delhi irregulars.

In the centre the ponderous mass of rebel infantry was moving forward, but the deployment of this huge body did not allow it to manoeuvre with much grace. Sufficient enemy regiments were able to form a line of battle at the edge of the nullah, but these were soon engaged by troops from 2nd and 3rd brigades. Smoke hung heavy over the field as the air was filled by the din of steady British volleys crashing into the mutineers. The Delhi irregulars were forced out of the nullah,and started to retreat into their comrades.

On the British right flank, our musketry was starting to tell and after one tremendous volley many mutineers began fleeing the field, taking their allies with them as they ran. Our boys continued to pour fire into the retreating enemy to compound their confusion.

On the left flank, a ragged unit of horse belonging to the Rhani of Jhansi charged the 90th, and these courageous fellows stood their ground, fighting hand to hand with these savage warriors, with many casualties on each side, until both sides disengaged, tired and bloodied. Seeing their opportunity the remains of Hodson's valiant troop charged the enemy horse, and a vicious fight followed. I am saddened to report that this gallant band was wiped out, but in that last glorious action, they drove off the foe. Fighting on this flank then petered out, and the remnants of the mutineers slunk away from the field.

On the right, things had now reached a climax, in a last throw of the dice, the mutineers sent forth their horde of badmashes,( a rabble of thieves, murderers and cuthroats,) in the hope of engaging our lads in combat. Unfortunately for the mutineer commander, this ill disciplined mob failed to reach the British lines, and instead the heroic 60th regiment fired a crashing volley into their flank and charged them, to be rewarded by the sight of the whole mob turning tail and fleeing, taking all their allies with them. The whole mutinous right flank had crumbled and was in disarray. In this chaos the 60th captured the rebel leader Tantia Topi and slew him with bayonets.

Now the rebel line was cut in two, and with British regiments enfilading the rebels and inflicting heavy casualties, the mutineers spirit crumbled, and those that could fled the field. The last desperate gamble was the charge of the one remining unit of mutineer cavalry towards the Baluchis on the hill. Those magnificent fellows did not falter, and cut down the rebel horse with one thunderous volley.

Rogan Josh was ours, and the road to Lucknow open.

God Save the Queen!!!

A rather more balanced view of the battle was written by me in response:

Despatch from Lakshmi Bai The Rani (Queen) of Jhansi.


A crushing blow has been inflicted on the Servants of the Company, the foul de-spoilers of our Land and our religions.
Eleven fine regiments, ably supported by soldiers from across the continent mustered at Lucknow and marched to destroy the columns of Infidels and their deluded allies at Rogan Josh.
Nana Sahib, at the head of my own Royal Guard, ten foot tall men on steeds the size of bull elephants slaughtered the foul creatures than called themselves Hodsons Horse. These creatures are known by all to be slaughterers of women and children, they will burn in Hell.
Tantia Tope, a selfless servant of his People, fell as victory was sealed leading his brave warriors as they sliced into the ranks of the Infidel.
Having inflicted grievous loses on the Infidels, the Army of Freedom executed a planned and well-timed strategic withdrawal from the battlefield. We are not savages as some would believe and did so in order to allow the Infidel to bury their many dead and perform their barbaric religious ceremonies.
It is with sorrow that so many of our fellows died at the hands of the Army of Freedom. It is not too late to repent and to join us and taste freedom once more.
To the families of the patriots that fell on the field, may I tell you that they died with smiles on their faces, bathed in the blood of their enemy and safe in the knowledge that Paradise awaits them.
To the Infidels I say, forget the misunderstandings at Cawnpore and surrender your arms, we are magnimous in victory and will be merciful.
To those who have not yet mustered to the Flags of Freedom, be you Moslem or Hindu, or barbarian, riches beyond your wildest dreams await you now and in death.
Until the next time on the road to Lucknow. Come Infidels if you dare.

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