The Author's Views
The Author's Views
Colonel Smith watched as his troops crossed the small but deep river at one of the two crossings they had identified. How far behind him were the pursers? For two days now they had been retreating if they did not delay the Kellerites soon the whole army would disintegrate. The cavalry and the Nordsboccan troops where god knows where but as commander of the rear guard he had to stop somewhere and give the rest of the army a chance to escape. This looked as good a spot as any he remarked to nobody in particular.
Turning to his aide he gestured to a hill a way back from the river.“I will form the brigade up there. Inform General Garrot we will hold as long as possible if we last until night I will resume the retreat.” The aid had hardly disappeared up the track they had been following before shouts and gunfire could be heard. The Kellerites had caught them.
Sure that the infantry nearby were on the move he turned his horse and rode around the low marshy ground between his position and the other bridge. Too late, in horror he watched as the infantry battalion in march column hurried towards the hill but the artillery battery was blocked. a regiment of uhlan crossing the bridge swarmed around the guns in a swirl of lance and swords the guns were lost! If only he had been here rather than at the other bridge.
The infantry struggled up the slope of the hill with the bullets of the Kellerite pursuers winging around them, Smith was amongst the last to gain the oh so illusionary sanctuary of the hill. Finally glancing at a rough map he had copied that morning at Garrod's headquarters he noted the name Rorkesberg, Rorke's Hill. “Ok now what?” he studied the disposition of the men and the terrain. The 1st where over in a small wooded area to his right engaging in a lively fire with some Kellerite skirmishers. The 72nd and 64th had managed to get to the hill top position and were drawn up in line awaiting events. Unfortunately the Kelleites had,rather than assault the hill, thrown their skirmish line forwards offering no target for the volleys of minie balls his men stood ready to unleash, and casualties were mounting. Behind the Kellerite skirmish line massed 3 battalions of infantry waiting in attack column.
The sun seemed to hang suspended in the air with no urgency to set, according to his watch however time was passing it was already mid afternoon.He need more men to hold out so ordered the 1st to rejoin the rest on the hill top. It was then disaster struck. One of the enemy attack columns by-passing the woods struck the 1st in the flank. While simultaneously a combined attack on his left of cavalry and infantry smashed the 64th. The top of the hill was a mass of struggling men but the once proud Britannic infantry fell in a combination of bayonet and needle gun fire.
The end was glorious but doomed. Surrounded the 72nd turned to face of the uhlans while the enemy infantry swarmed around their flank and rear. The cavalry then withdrew as two Kellerite battalions hit the 72nd in the flank and rear the battalion was destroyed.
The Smith's gallant brigade was no more but as the Kellerites celebrated the victory the sun finally set. Yes the hill was theirs but perhaps the rest of the fleeing army had had enough time to escape. And of course Smith's men would go down in the annuals of Britannic glory.