Thursday 31 August 2017

Historical Matches – Abbasid vs. Christian Nubian

After 750 AD, Nobatia is under Makurian control and later, the Christian Nubian march into Upper Egypt to confront the Abbasid. The composition of the Nubian forces has not changed since the time of the Umayyad. Their archers are still held in high regard as are the infantry, while the mounted troops still retain the camel mounted spear they also have Arab light horse. 

Like their banners, the Abbasid are now uniformly clothed in black; this is in sharp contrast to the pristine white of the Nubian army.  

Game 1
The Abbasid made use of the rocky ground to secure its infantry line. With the exception of the general’s bodyguard, all the Abbasid mounted formed on the right flank to face the Nubian light horse. The plan was to sweep them aside and engage the Nubian second line while the Abbasid infantry engaged the enemy from their front.

The Nubian left wing kept the Abbasid flank attack in check. Advancing slowly, the Nubian archers were able to lay down an effective barrage of arrows.

The Abbasid flank attack had been neutralised which gave the Nubian an impetuous to attack the main Abbasid battle line. The camel mounted units added their weight to the effort to gain a victory. Score 4 – 3 for the Christian Nubian.

Game 2
The Abbasid deployed their line closer to their camp. This afforded ample space to deploy the spearmen flanked by equal number of Jund cavalry. The archers and the Mutatawwi√° volunteers formed up on the slopes of the difficult hill.

The ground effectively channelled the Nubian advance. The advance by the infantry was stalled as the expected support from the archers had difficulty in crossing the rocky terrain. This delay would cost the Nubians the initiative.

The situation had taken a serious turn as the Abbasid general committed himself and his guard to stem the Nubian assault.

The effort was well timed as up to that moment, the battle was swinging to and fro (3 – 3). The Nubian spearmen were decimated but had lost their camel mounted troops. Seeing the battle lost, the Nubian general called a retreat. Score 4 – 3 for Abbasid.

Game 3
The final engagement took place near an oasis which the Abbasid used to secure their right flank. Abbasid infantry formed the first line supported by mounted forming a second line. The Nubian army deployed in an extended line to meet the Abbasid.

This was a desperate action with both sides meting equal number of casualties. Unfortunate, the Nubian general was unhorsed and carried off the field. Both sides lost equal numbers, but the Abbasid held the field. Score 4g – 3 for Abbasid.

III/12 Christian Nubian 550 AD – 1500 AD
1 x General (Cv), 2 x Camel warriors (Cm), 2 x light horse (LH), 3 x warriors (4Bd/4Ax), 3 x archers (3/4BW), 1 x levies (7Hd) or archers (Ps) or camel riders (LCm). Allies: II/55b or c, or IV/45

Monday 28 August 2017

Historical Matches – Umayyad vs. Khawarij

In addition to the modification of existing army lists, the Khawarij, among others, were added. Their list begins in 658 AD or the later period of the Arab Conquest and ends in 873 AD during the Abbasid Caliphate. Their differing views on religious and political matters brought them at odds with the ruling dynasties resulting in frequent open rebellion over the period of two centuries.

In DBA terms, their fanaticism is noted by the preponderance of impetuous troop types; their cavalry are classed as knights (3Kn) and the infantry are warband (3Wb) with a unit of mounted scouts, either LCm or LH. 

Game 1
Arabic manuals prescribe caution when dealing with the Khawarij. Following the examples set, the Umayyad were deployed in a deeper than usual formation with most of the infantry positioned forward of the cavalry. The Khawarij formed two wings, one of infantry and the second of cavalry. A small detachment of cavalry protected the right flank.

The Umayyad opened the battle with a retrograde movement toward their camp. Thinking that the enemy was in flight, individual columns of infantry pressed forward. Khawarij cavalry held their position smelling trickery here.

Looking at the Umayyad forming a solid battle line, it was the cavalry that sprung a surprise attack catching a column of Khawarij infantry unawares.

In less than 30 minutes (two bounds), the battle turned to an Umayyad advantage. Umayyad archers positioned on the hill now moved closer to let loose their arrows. At this moment, the Umayyad infantry moved forward to finish the scattered units of Khawarij swordsmen and win the battle. Score 4 – 0 for the Umayyad.

Game 2
The Khawarij formed their infantry on the left to clear the Dailami positioned on the forward slope of the hill. From there, the Khawarij would sweep down on the Umayyad line leaving their Jund cavalry unprotected.

Emboldened by their victory in the previous battle, the Umayyad dispensed with the manuals and attacked. Unfortunately, what followed was exactly written as a consequence. Despite the superior number of cavalry, the Khawarij cavalry bested the Umayyad by killing two units of Jund and the general. Score 4g – 1 for the Khawarij.

Game 3
On the left flank, the Umayyad moved their archers forward taking advantage of the scrub brush. On the right, the Dailami supported by skirmishers held the hill leaving the remainder of the army to form up in front of the camp. The Khawarij kept their two wing formation.

Leapfrogging from scrub to the hill, the archers were in a good position to rain down arrows on the enemy cavalry. Out of picture, a unit of Umayyad light horse was quickly approaching the Khawarij camp.  Undeterred by this, the Khawarij cavalry remained nonchalant in position to await their infantry attack.

At this point, the Khawarij infantry had made their assault only to be repulsed along their entire front. This was the moment the Khawarij cavalry made their move and charged the Jund cavalry.

Redoubling their effort, the Khawarij renewed their attack bringing down two Umayyad spear. A third, a unit of Umayyad cavalry fell in the ensuing melee while at the Khawarij rear, the Umayyad light horse were ambushed and destroyed by camp guards ending the game. Score 4 – 2 for the Khawarij.

III/31 Umayyad Arab 661 AD – 750 AD,
1 x General (Cv), 3 x jund cavalry (Cv), 3 x spearmen (Sp), 3 x archers (3Bw), 1 x Bedouin (LH), 1 x Ghazis or Turkish horse archer (LH).

III/25c Khawarij 658 – 873 AD,
1 x General (3Kn), 4 x Khawarij horsemen (3Kn), 5 x Khawarij swordsmen (3Wb), 1 x archers (3Bw) 1 x Bedouin horse (LH).

Friday 25 August 2017

Historical Matches - an Umayyad civil war

During the 90 years rule of the Umayyad Caliphate, old tribal rivalries generated many stumbling blocks. The changes not only influenced the social order among the Arab tribes but the restructuring of the military had a far greater impact. Up to this time, armies were organised by tribal divisions, but the need to hold existing frontiers against external threats required a permanent military force. 

During the later period of the Umayyad, they began restructuring the army by creating permanent paid military force. As the military expanded, so did the need for funds to maintain them and taxation became one of the many sources of friction leading to open rebellion within the Caliphate. Our civil war brings to the field the forces of the Caliphate to meet the usurper.

Game 1
Troops of the Caliphate are deployed on the left of the picture and rebels are on the right. Dunes, an oasis and rocky ground are the only features to break up a relatively flat and open battlefield. Rebel forces have thrown their archers forward in advance of their battle formation.

Caliphate troops adjust their lines to make an effective approach.

The ensuing clash results in both sides stepping back to reform their lines. Rebel light horse have moved from the left to the right flank to support that effort; but doing so left the rebel archers to fend for themselves; a calculated risk.

The rebel forces did inflict casualties on the government troops, but it was not enough to earn them a victory. Score 4 – 2 for the Umayyad Caliphate.

Game 2
The rebel forces, picture on the left, deploy in an extended line with their right flank resting on rocky ground. Government infantry take advantage of the larger rocky ground to position their archers and Dailami infantry there. Spearmen and Jund cavalry extend their line to reach the dunes.

Both sides closed the distance between them and previously neat lines are shredded leaving many flanks exposed. The rebels were quick to take advantage of the opportunity and made up for their previous battle. With heavy losses, the Caliphate general called for a retreat. Score 4 – 2 for the rebels. 

Game 3
Pictured at the top, the rebels form two wings with Dailami mercenaries holding the rocky ground in centre. Having no such obstacle to contend with, the Caliphate troops form on unbroken line with a small reserve.

The battle took a strange turn as Caliphate infantry changed their approach and targeted the rebel cavalry. Caliphate troops on the left fanned out to keep the rebel right wing. occupied.

The spearmen held the rebel cavalry at bay leaving government’s Jund cavalry to destroy the rebel units on the outer wings. Score 4 – 0 for the Umayyad Caliphate.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Historical Matches – Umayyad vs. Alan

Following the end of the Sassanid Dynasty and the setbacks suffered by the Byzantines the Caspian Gate and other routes crossing the Caucasus Mountains were no longer adequately guarded. Watchtowers and defensive posts fell in disuse which offered an invitation to the nomadic tribes of the north to invade. The Alan did just that and met the Umayyad.

Game 1
The Alan, to the left of the picture, deployed three skirmish formations ahead of the heavy cavalry. The Umayyad infantry took positions along the slope of a hill on their left and placed their archers in the proximity of a wood. The Jund cavalry formed a reserve behind the infantry line with the light horse were placed to guard the left flank.

Alan light horse probed the Umayyad left and to support the effort a second group was sent. By drawing off infantry to contest the flanking maneuver, this hopefully would weaken their centre.

The flanking maneuver did have the intended effect as the Alan heavy cavalry were able to charge the Jund cavalry and effectively destroy them. A 4 – 1 victory for the Alan.   

Game 2
The Umayyad, caught in the open, deployed their spearmen on the left and archers on the right of the Jund cavalry. The Alan positioned deployed their lancers opposite the Jund cavalry. Skirmishers were positioned on both flanks, with those on the right would occupy the spearmen and those on the left would support the nobles.

The battle was brief as the lancers bowled over the Jund cavalry. Further to the right, the supporting light horse destroyed the Umayyad archers ending the battle. Score 5 – 0 for the Alan.

Game 3
The situation looked grim for the Umayyad as they were caught again in the open. The Alan formed one long line along the crest of a gentle hill. A second group of light horse would encircle the Umayyad position and draw off their reserves. The Umayyad anchored their left on a small wood and protected their right with half the Jund cavalry.

The Alan battle line approached at a walk to give the flanking column time to execute their task, the Umayyad countered by withdrawing their line back in the direction of their camp. This caught the Alan by surprise and through a mis-communication (low pip score) allowed the Jund cavalry slip away from a dangerous predicament.

This time, the Umayyad fought like demons and even the archers were hitting the mark. Things looked desperate as the Alan were 3 – 1 down.

Both sides inflicted casualties on the following bound, but for the Alan it was not enough. Score 4 – 2 for the Umayyad. 

Thursday 17 August 2017

Historical Matches – Umayyad vs. Later Moors.

After the conquest of Egypt and brief expeditions along is southern frontier, the armies of the Umayyad continued their conquest of regions bordering the Mediterranean . They overran Byzantine held strong points but the Berber tribes (Later Moorish); problematic. Of these, the Zenata tribe proved the most tenacious.

The Later Moorish are for the ;most part light skirmishing foot and mounted troops. Although they lack troop types capable of delivering a decisive punch, their speed and mobility more that make up for that deficiency. With practice, they can generate some nasty surprises. 

Game 1
The Umayyad stiffened their first line with Jund cavalry. To their right all the archers were deployed with the remaining cavalry formed behind them. Moorish infantry took advantage of the rough ground and hill leaving the open spaces between them for the cavalry.

The Moorish infantry moved quickly to seize the hill flanking the Umayyad left while other foot threatened the Umayyad battle line.

The hill however, was hotly contested by Umayyad skirmishers and Dailami infantry. This changed the battle as the Umayyad infantry were getting the better of the struggle. Moorish cavalry unfortunately remained inert (low pip scores) leaving the Moorish commander no further option than to add his presence to the battle. Too little and too late, the Moors conceded handing a 4 – 1 victory for the Umayyad.

Game 2
The area between hills and rough ground allowed both sides to deploy extended formations. The Umayyad retained a similar plan by placing all their cavalry in the centre. All the Umayyad archers were placed on their right to support their assault on the Moorish centre.

The Moors surprised the Umayyad with an audacious seizure of the rough ground in front of their spearmen. This move was ably supported with more infantry and Moorish light horse.

The struggle that followed developed into a tenacious fight with both sides losing heavily. However, the Umayyad edged out the Moors to win with a 4 – 3 victory.

Game 3
As defender, the Moors made use of a dry river bed to secure their left flank while positioning their infantry on both slopes of a difficult hill. Constrained by the limited space the Umayyad formed up in two lines.

Mountain warfare is characterised by a number of small independent actions and commanders must be ideally placed to maintain a constant link with their troops. For both sides, this battle developed into a surgical operation with gains of ½ BW is a small victory.

With Moorish infantry well contained with the fight on the hill, the Umayyad cavalry clear the field around the hill of any enemy cavalry.

As the Umayyad cavalry were fully engaged, the signal for a general assault was given and the Umayyad spearmen began their attack up the hill. This was risky, as the ground would disorder their ranks but such was the nature of the fight. The last bound saw five casualties removed from the board. Score 6 – 4 for the Umayyad.

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Historical Matches – Umayyad vs. the Christian Nubian

The Arab armies had conquered Egypt in 640 AD effectively cutting the Christian Nubian from the Byzantine Empire. Two years later, the Arab armies probed the frontier region of Nubia but that expedition met a disastrous end at the first Battle of Dongola in 642 AD. 

Nubian resistance was to be tested a second time at Dongola (652 AD) with the Arab force meeting a similar result. The Umayyad, would continue their expeditions up the Nile to test Nubian strength. Army lists for both forces can be found below. 

Game 1
The Nubian army would attempt to clear the rough ground ahead of enemy and pin the Umayyad against the dunes at their rear.

This plan succeeded well, but it was a combination of well aimed archery and poor communication among the Arabs that gained them a victory. Score 4 - 1 for the Christian Nubian.

Game 2
The terrain offered both forces good defensive positions, however it was doubtful if the dunes were a viable option as the Nubian army had camel mounted troops among their number.

The Umayyad moved forward in left echelon and archers placed on the left flank would hopefully deter the camel troops from entering the dunes.

The timely assault by the Umayyad cavalry secured a well earned victory. Score 4 -1 for Umayyad.

Game 3
The Umayyad made good use of an oasis and rough ground to deploy between. The Jund cavalry formed a second line to serve as a reserve. The Nubian army would try to seize either the rough ground or oasis to turn the Umayyad line. 

The Nubian army performed a right wheel and would attempt to pin the Umayyad spearmen against the rough ground while Nubian camel troops and light horse moved around the Umayyad left to draw off their reserve cavalry.

Behind the oasis the mounted troops of both sides clashed as the battle lines of both armies moved forward and closed to combat. The Umayyad had the better of the hand to hand to secure a second victory. Score 4 – 0 for 

III/31 Umayyad Arab 661 AD – 750 AD,
1 x General (Cv), 3 x jund cavalry (Cv), 3 x spearmen (Sp), 2 x archers (3Bw), 1 x Bedouin (LH), 1 x Dailami (4Ax), 1 x archers (Ps). 

III/12 Christian Nubian 550 AD – 1500 AD,
1 x General (Cv), 2 x Camel warriors (Cm), 2 x light horse (LH), 3 x warriors (4Bd), 3 x archers (3BW), 1 x archers (Ps).