Friday, August 12, 2016

Peticus Autem A Fortuna

So, the Great Man is off to Britain on a punitive expedition. Padding his resume, more like! He’s away beating up on a gaggle of bare arsed  shepherds while I’m left behind with 3 legions to keep a lid on this nest of Gallic vipers. I should have been Governor and he should be marching around these cold, rainy forests instead of torturing the Plebeians with his gutter Latin exaggerations. Well, things are as they are, and the Belgic rebel Syntax will rue the day he crossed Peticus Autem A Fortuna!

And so it was that Peticus found himself staring across a hilly, forested field at the barbaric horde of Syntax of the Belgii. The Romans deployed Legio VII on their left, Legio VIII in the center and Legio IX on the right. The barbarians were arrayed with their warriors in the center and a large body of horse on either flank.

                                                       Initial Roman deployment
The broken terrain made it difficult for the Romans to keep their legions aligned, and a good part of Legio VII soon found itself surrounded and fighting for its life. They faced out in all directions and fought back manfully until at last the barbarian commanding in this part of the field decided to lead the charge to break them once and for all. He and his Companions rode their chargers into the midst of the desperate legionaries, and…….died.  The barbarians were taken aback by this turn of events and, just then the rest of Legio VII came up and immediately went into the attack. The barbarians on this wing broke and, aside from a few scattered bands, were swept from the field.

                                                    Legio VII awaits the word to advance 
                                      Advance elements of Legio VII attacked from all sides
                                                   Legio VII breaks the barbarian right
                                                        Barbarian right flees the field
On the Roman right Legio IX adopted a defensive posture to avoid their formation being broken up in the rough terrain. Their opponents did the same, being reluctant to meet the Romans on the level ground.

                                                      Legio IX on the right flank in a standoff

In the center the barbarian leader Syntax led his men in an all out frontal assault against Legio VIII, After desperate fighting , most of the Romans broke and ran, while remnants too proud to flee delayed the pursuit.

                            Peticus views the Barbarian onslaught in the center with concern
                       Syntax breaks the Roman Legio VIII in the center with a wild charge 
On the Roman left, the victorious Legio VII reformed and began marching toward the barbarian center. Seeing the crisis of the battle had arrived the Roman right and their barbarian opponents fell on each other. After a desperate struggle the Romans prevailed. Syntax, seeing both of his flanks  collapse, pressed his pursuit of the unlucky VIIIth and so left the stricken field, to fight again another day.
                                        After a confused melee Legio IX wins on the right

                               Legio VII reforms and moves to envelop the barbarian center



Sunday, August 7, 2016

A simple real estate transaction

This is Good E. Tewshooze reporting for the BBC on the conflict raging in the Middle African Republic. As our viewers will recall, the problem arose several months ago when the government of the country implemented policies seen as oppressive by an eccentric splinter group, the Moslems for Jesus (MFJ). That minority was in possession of the richest farmland in the country, and their leader, the Mahdi,  declared the independence of their region.

 The national army was in no condition to move on the breakaway region but the President of the MAR had another solution ready to hand. For some time he had been in negotiations with the HAWGs (Honorable Association of White Guys), a group of white South African farmers interested in resettling as a community in the MAR.  The President agreed to sign over the lands of the Moslem rebels to the HAWGs if the immigrants could capture the land from the current owners and live there as loyal citizens of the MAR.

"Mad Mike", Commandant of the HAWGs plans his campaign
 On arrival the HAWGs were issued what military equipment the government could spare; A pair of rusty M48 tanks,  an ancient DC3 transport plane, three Panhard armored cars with big guns, assorted jeeps and trucks and small arms. Within a few weeks the newcomers had this motley assortment of weapons in working condition and were ready to move. Their force was organized into 5 companies, Tanks, Panhards, Jeeps with MG, and two infantry. The DC3 was equipped with homemade high explosive barrel bombs.
The defenders of the northern hamlet prepare for action

The Mahdi knew of the government plan and he had not been idle. Those of his people with military training were organized into an infantry company with truck transport. The rest of the male population was organized into four militia companies of infantry, each supported by a technical with AA gun and another with a heavy machine gun.
The Mahdi commands his forces from the central hamlet

The stage was set, the U.N. talked and did nothing. The MAR was of no strategic interest to any of the Great Powers, and so the tragedy played out. At dawn on the 6th of August the HAWGs advance elements of Panhards and infantry moved into MFJ territory. This part of the valley was watered by a pair of rivers, very low at this season. Three hamlets and the MFJ training camp were the major points of interest. Three MFJ militia companies were stationed there, one in the northern hamlet, one in the hamlet in the center of the valley and one in the military camp in the south.
Fort Zinderneuf, the MFJ training camp

The Panhards started shelling the northern hamlet and soon, what sounded like a flying washing machine but was, in fact, the DC3, appeared overhead and dropped a barrel bomb on the defenders. This was all too much for the defenders who started falling back in some disorder toward the central hamlet.
The militia flees the northern hamlet

The HAWG tanks followed on, rolling down the road toward the northern hamlet. Our BBC news crew, determined to expose the use by the central government of these mercenaries, blocked the advancing Panhards and exposed the unit commander to a scathing interview. This allowed the retreating militia to escape, but sadly the unit disintegrated during the retreat and was out of the fight.
Courageous journalists, armed only with cameras confront the HAWGs

The trio of HAWG armed jeeps entered the fray to the East and passed through the eastern hamlet without opposition. At the same time the BBC news crew had moved onto the road between the advancing HAWG tanks and the northern hamlet and brought the tanks to a halt with another withering expose’. The Panhards on the left were slowed to a crawl as they found themselves in a mine field. For the rest of the battle they proceeded with great caution to avoid losing any vehicles.
Gratuitous wildlife

The HAWG armed jeeps crossed to the southern bank of the river and encountered MFJ Regulars and militia advancing from the East. A savage firefight ensued in which the HAWGs lost two of their three vehicles but caused so many casualties among the MFJ that they, as well as the HAWGs were rendered combat ineffective. One of the HAWG infantry units, led by Mad Mike, was able to cross the river in this part of the field and helped to see off the remnants of the two MFJ units that had engaged the jeeps.
Hawgs force the river crossing against heavy opposition

 The DC3 made a pass over the central hamlet where the Mahdi was posted and dropped a barrel bomb on the militia unit there. At the same time the Panhards had managed (in spite of the mine field) to get into position to open fire on the central village. The commander of the HAWG tanks had finally abruptly ended the BBC interference  with his mission and was advancing on the central hamlet.  All of this was too much for the garrison, which withdrew in disorder to the south, toward the military camp. The garrison of the camp began moving up the road toward the fighting. The last of the HAWG units occupied the northern hamlet. The Mahdi surveyed the wreckage of his army and decided to withdraw from the field to reorganize, rearm and fight another day.    
The stricken field