Brigadier Sommerville drew a red sleeve across his brow, catching several droplets of sweat as they were about to fall. Twice in 5 days he had suffered at the hands of the Turkomen, all thankfully now withdrawn back across their borders awaiting, well awaiting who knew what.
As if that weren't enough, now this, from the General. This!! A more stinging slap across the face, a sharper rebuke, could not have been delivered had General Caruthers been here in person. He picked up the dispatch once more, the edge sodden and crinkled from his grip.
"To Brigadier Sommerville, Officer Commanding, Eastern Task Force
"Blah blah blah ...
"Blah blah blah ...
"Either come back with news of a victory, news that might affirm my confidence in your abilities, or don't come back at all.
"Yours.. blah blah
"Major General Caruthers"
The cheek of the man, the gall, pomposity personified .... but action was required.
"Mason" he called. "Mason, where the hell are you man? Mason" he yelled, and he jumped to his feet sending camp table and tea pot flying.
"Ah Mason, summon the officers. We have work to do" and Sommerville disappeared inside his tent.
A swift advance to the south eastern fringes of the known lands, to the boundary that marked off the heathen barbarian tribes, the 'dark lands', and the opportunity for quick conquest.
"Major General Sir Chelmswood Reginald Augustus Piers Caruthers
I have the pleasure of reporting to you the outcome of the opening engagement between the Eastern Task Force under my command, and the forces of the eastern barbarian tribes under the command, as I understand it, of the Chieftain named Dumnorix.
Advancing in the early morning, we had the good fortune to catch the enemy barely out of their encampment. The direction of my advance upon his stronghold caused the enemy to have to navigate some disruptive terrain if he were to come at us and halt our advance. In doing so he split his forces.
"I ordered my troops to advance. The young hero Lieutenant Winstanley was eager to seek redress from his unfortunate battlefield incident of some days ago and asked to be released from the main battle line (where he was accompanying the wonderful Doctor and his magical contraptions), in order to join the Lancers. I granted his said request.
"In the meantime the enemy threatened our left flank with such wondrous mammoth beasts as you are ever likely to see - magnificent animals, but particularly nasty to behold when they have taken fright of those around them. The animals were urged forward in support of a large group of the barbarians clumped together to navigate the awkward terrain to their front.
"The enemy commander Dumnorix meanwhile lead a group of riders forward to answer the obvious challenge laid down by our advancing lancers.
"Dumnorix deployed his riders facing Lieutenant Winstanley and the gallant men of the 21st.
"Dumnorix seemed to think that fancy manoeuvring might keep him and his men safe from the merciless steel of British lances.
"Your gallant nephew Lieutenant Winstanley charged forward directly at the barbarian hero general, and they had it at each other in a most frenetic to-do the like of which one rarely sees. Sir, you would have been most proud.
"The barbarian hero was vanquished in a most extraordinary stoush. Such sudden loss of their leader left the barbarian horde most extraordinarily flummoxed, and they left the field with all speed.
"I believe this, Sir, is the victory that you most earnestly requested.
"I remain, Sir, your most obedient servant
"Brigadier Francis Mulholland Sommerville"
So ended the next battle in the annals and adventures of the pioneering British army lead by Major General Caruthers.
Where to next? What perils would Sommerville and Caruthers face?
This was the third game that Nick and I played taking advantage of his all too brief stay with us over the Christmas break.
The barbarian army consisted of:
2 x Behemoths (Mammoths)
1 x Hero general
2 x Riders
4 x warband
Sommerfield's force consisted of:
1 x Hero
1 x Magician
1 x Mechanical Dragon
2 x Knights (Lancers)
2 x Shooters
1 x Blade
1 x Blade General