Tuesday 7 August 2018

903 AD, refighting The Battle of Hama

On the 29th of November a Qaramitan covering force encountered the approach of Abbasid government troops moving from the east. Qaramitan leaders unanimously decided to postpone the march on Hama and deal with the government forces first.

In the early morning hours of the 30th, the Qaramitan formed three divisions, placing all their infantry in the central division and placed an even number of mounted troops to left and right divisions. The battle site for the most part was open with rough ground and dunes protecting the flanks.

Facing the Qaramitan, Muhammad ibn Sulayman positioned the bulk of his cavalry opposite the Qaramitan right and deployed his infantry to the centre and right flank. 

The Qaramitan battle line approach at the pace of the infantry in the centre division to which the Abbasid moved their central division forward supported by a line of archers to their right. Sulayman held the cavalry of the left flank back as a precautionary step. 

The Zanj struck the Qaramitan line sending their archers back on their heels leaving the Abbasid spearmen trotting close behind. To the right, the Abbasid archers wheeled their line showering the approaching Qaramitan mounted troops with arrows. 

Within a short time fighting erupted all along the line to include the centre and Abbasid right wing; only the Qaramitan left and their opposing cavalry remained uncommitted. 

Dailami mercenaries on the far right seized an opportunity to strike the exposed flank of the Qaramitan mounted, this was quickly supported by Jund troops. Despite this, the situation on the Abbasid right became desperate as all the archers were cut down prompting Muhammad ibn Sulayman to join the conflict on the far right. The loss of the archer corps was quickly offset by the Qaramitan losing their own archer corps to the Zanj (2 – 2). 

Both sides fell back to assess the situation as dust clouds obscured visibility. Both sides still retained an uncommitted division. 

The sound of horns and drums signalled each side to resume the conflict and the uncommitted troops now moved into battle. This included the Bedouin light horse who seized on an opportunity to attack the Qaramitan leader and Sulayman returned to the fight leaving the Zanj to still plunder the bodies of the fallen Qaramitan archers (poor pip score). 

The Bedouin light horse were dispersed giving the Qaramitan leader a brief respite (3 – 3). However, the Zanj stopped their plundering long enough to discover a richer prize lay within their grasp. Both units of Zanj surrounded the Qaramitan leader to cut him down sending the Qaramitan in panic and flee to the desert (4+g – 3). 

Design notes.
This scenario was tested a few times with both sides reaching victory including a decisive 6 – 3 win for the Qaramitan which was particularly interesting. We selected this battle as a final report as it did reach a historical result to include the elimination of Qaramitan leadership.

Both armies comprised a mix of infantry and cavalry which resulted in games requiring less time to reach a decision as compared to the infantry engagements between Vikings and Anglo-Saxons.  

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