Sunday 15 August 2021

In the Sands of Egypt

Today’s regular Sunday game was set in Egypt in 1801. Having locked the French up in Alexandria, the British forces under Hutchinson have commenced their movement on Cairo. The fortified town of Rahamaniyeh was taken and the army advanced along the fertile edge of the Nile while a flotilla of small boats ferried supplies up river. Near Shubrakhit, some fifty miles north of Cairo,  the Nile bends and a broad island restricts the channel. Here the French have built a redoubt in which they have positioned a battery to dominate the channel. If the advance is to be pressed further the position must be carried. It is known that a significant French force is deployed in support.

The table plan with the Nile off table to the left.  The blue line shows the limits of French deployment. Where the line is on or outside the table edge, it shows a possible point of entry. The red line shows the possible Anglo-Ottoman points of entry.

The French force is made up of three infantry brigades and two cavalry brigades.

  • 22e Demi Brigade Légeré (3 Battalions)
  • 75e Demi Brigade (3 Battalions)
  • Light battery
  • 4e Demi Brigade Légeré (3 Battalions)
  • 9e Demi Brigade (3 Battalions)
  • Light battery 
  • 85e Demi Brigade (3 Battalions)
  • 88e Demi Brigade (3 Battalions)
  • Light battery
Cavalry Brigade
  • 3rd Dragoons
  • 14th Dragoons
  • 7th Hussars
  • One horse battery
  • 22nd Chasseurs a Cheval
  • Dromedary Regiment
  • Horse Battery
Unattached Artillery
  • Light battery
  • 3 x field batteries

The British had four infantry brigades and are supported by an Ottoman force of five cavalry and six infantry units.

Moore’s Brigade
  • 23rd Foot
  • 28th Foot
  • 42nd Foot
  • 58th Foot
  • Corsican Rangers
  • One 12lb gun battery
Craddock's Brigade 
  • 8th Foot
  • 13th Foot
  • 18th Foot
  • 90th Foot
  • One 6lb gun battery
Stuart’s Emigré Brigade
  • De Watteville
  • De Rolls
  • Minorca Regiment
  • Dillon’s Regiment
  • One 6lb battery
Guards Brigade – Stuart
  • Coldstream Guards
  • 3rd Guards
  • One 6lb battery
  • Hompesch’s Hussars
  • 16th Light Dragoons
  • 2 units Dismounted Light Dragoons
  • 2 12lb artillery batteries

Ottoman Forces
Five units Mamelukes
1 unit Jannisary infantry
1 unit Nazim-i Cedid infantry
1 unit of Albanian infantry
3 units of Ottoman infantry 

How the game ran.

The French chose to deploy one brigade with the reserve artillery in and around the redoubt and the two smaller positions. One infantry brigade, supported by the  chasseurs a cheval and dromedaries, was held off table to the immediate left of the redoubts. The third brigade and the cavalry brigade were held off the table opposite the village. 

The British chose to place Moore’s Brigade opposite the redoubts, with Craddock’s Brigade to their right. The Emigre and Guards Brigades were further to the right. Finally the Ottoman troops held the far right, way out in the desert.

The Ottomans swarmed across the long ridge and occupied the village, blocking the path of the French troops on the far left, preventing them from entering the fight.  Meanwhile opposite the redoubts Moore’s Brigade made slow progress on the fertile land, having to cross numerous irrigation ditches. The Guards moved sluggishly but soon got into a position where they could bring superior numbers against the French left. 

However the failure of the French extreme left to arrive sealed the fate of the rest of the French force as the British lapped around their flanks. 

The initial deployment, with the redoubt left centre. 

The Guards and Emigre brigades prepare to advance

The French right

Above and below, Moore’s Brigade advanced on the British left, with the Highlanders leading, against the redoubt 

The Ottoman cavalry swarm forward

The Hompesch Hussars press forward

Craddock’s Brigade advances

Above and below, the Ottomans swarm around the village

The Ottoman cavalry catch the dromedary troops out of square, and eventually break them

The Chasseurs a Cheval about to break the Ottoman cavalry 

Above and below, Ottoman infantry

The Guards and Emigre Brigades begin their swing against the French left

The British artillery preparing to pound the French in the redoubt

The Navy drags up the guns

The final position around the redoubt…the last two French battalions on the table


  1. Gee looks like the French had a bad day at the office....Chris mentioned he never entered the table...obviously seizing the village prevented him arriving??

    1. The French did remarkable well actually, holding out nearly all day against 2:1 odds. Once the entry point was blocked, the reinforcements were given an option to come on in another location.

  2. Wow, what a lovely looking game Mark! Not often one gets to see a Napoleonic game set in Egypt, so a nice treat on the eye candy front. I love the naval chaps towing the gun and I can imagine the last French units in the redoubt saying 'Merde!', a la the Waterloo film.

    1. I always like seeing these troops on the table. The variation of uniform colours is always a joy to see.

  3. A lovely looking game Mark…

    It’s nice to see these toys out on the table again…
    Weirdly I was talking to a friend last night about how attractive this period is…

    All the best. Aly

    1. It is a wonderfully colourful period of the Napoleonic Wars and the desert terrain makes for a very different feel.

  4. Great to see your collection out on the table again. The terrain looks great in action again, and I particularly like those buildings.

    1. And I went to w special effort on the terrain…I bought the three pieces of ruins that no one really appreciated they just moved them out of the way!

  5. Wonderful stuff a tough day in the field for the French.

    1. Thanks Stu. We were fortunate to get the game in as we have just plunged into a COVID lockdown.

  6. Great looking game- I particularly love your Ottoman infantry!

    1. Thanks John. Most of the figures are converted Gripping Beast Arab infantry, except one unit of Perry Bashi Bazouks…which were a borrowed unit.