The Complete Canal Priests Of Mars is now available!The original publication of Canal Priests Of Mars cut slightly over a third of author Marcus L. Rowland's manuscript to fit GDW's adventure format. The Complete Canal Priests Of Mars restores the cut material, features all new artwork by Paul Daly, and adds many useful player handouts. Enjoy the "author's cut" of a classic Space 1889 adventure, or experience it for the first time!
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Commanding Highland Frontier Force, Moeris Lacus,
I have the honour to report that on the 29th instant after a determined advance across open ground under enemy fire, the fieldworks at Wagner's Trading Post were taken as ordered by my column consisting of Major Sir Giles Smythe-Burrows' and Major Edward Harding's companies of the 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Regiment of Foot, "The Buffs," Major Richard D'Arcy's company of the 1st Battalion of the 24th Regiment of Foot, the South Wales Borderers, and Captain David Barton's gun section of the 11th Battery, 7th Brigade, Royal Artillery. Assistance in the form of Close Air Support was ably rendered by HMS Aphid, commanded by Acting-Captain John Wesley Beckwithe-Austen, Royal Navy.
As you will no doubt have surmised from my previous telegrams, we were able to recapture the fortifications intact, including the Maxim Gun lost by the unfortunate Lieutenant Huddleston, late of the Rifle Brigade. We also captured a Martian Rod Gun, supplies for a brigade for a month, and a rather detailed set of plans apparently describing Shastapshi defenses along the Canal. With aggregate losses of less than 25 percent, including killed, wounded, and missing, my officers and I believe we can hold this position until relieved. Of prisoners, there are survivors of the one company and two gun crews of German "deserters." There are also the remains of four to six Shastapshi infantry war bands, one mercenary cavalry flight, and the crew of the Rod Gun, all of who appear to be regulars.
As we approached the trenches, I ordered the infantry into a skirmish line with the artillery on the Left to cover the road against any Martian attack from that side as well as to shield the gun from counter battery fire from the enemy artillery in the fieldworks.
As my infantry cleared the last of the covering brush, the German gunners opened a murderous barrage on "The Buffs" who made up the Left and Center of the line. The men of the South Wales Borderers kept on advancing, untouched by the hail of lead and steel bursting around their comrades. Meanwhile, a band of "Cutters" forming up on the road ahead was routed by a few well-placed rounds of shrapnel from Captain Barton's 15 pounder.
Suddenly, the crew of the captured Maxim Gun seemed to have gotten the range on "A" company, 3rd "Buffs," as Captain Spalding, Colour Sergeant Mallory, and two privates were killed instantly. The fire from the gun was so hot that the company seemed to waver and would have undoubtedly taken to their heels if not for the conspicuous gallantry displayed by the company commander, Major Sir Giles Smythe-Burrows, and his wounded Adjutant, Lieutenant Thomas Matthews. Both officers, in spite of the obvious personal danger, heroically exhorted their men into once more advancing towards the enemy.
When "The Buffs" forward progress was checked, Captain Barton ordered his artillery to wheel into a position to support the infantry. Immediately they changed position, a band of "Shooters" came charging out of the woods to his rear formerly left front and attempted to close into melee range. As soon as he saw the Martians, the Captain, who was mounted, ordered the gun to be limbered and moved to a position of safety behind the infantry. He then rode out to meet the oncoming foe, dispatching three of them with his saber before they could fall upon the unarmed gunners. This action, above and beyond the call of duty, enabled the gun to be saved.
At the same time, HMS Aphid, which had been delayed by problems involving fuel supplies, arrived on the scene. The quick thinking of Able seaman Samuel Roberts, RN, a Nordenfelt gunner on board the gunship, in firing a salvo at the Martians as they were leaving the woods, and before they contacted the gun section, was directly responsible for the low casualties suffered to our gunners by the surprise attack. The actions of HMS Aphid's crew and their obviously superior marksmanship were critical factors in the successful completion of this mission. Other significant accomplishments include destroying the German 15 pounder cannon and killing or wounding the all of the gun crew serving the captured Maxim Gun on the first two shots from her bow gun.
Because the only remaining Martian artillery was the Rod Gun mounted in the old fortress, Acting-Captain Beckwithe-Austen brought his ship around so he could attack the tower with the Nordenfelt and Hotchkiss guns. As he was doing so, the Martians scored two hull hits on the HMS Aphid, but caused no loss of power or trim.
With the gunship's machine-guns no longer sweeping the trenches, the Martians felt secure enough to emerge, firing rifle-muskets from some sections while "Cutters" charged from others. By this time, Her Majesty's Imperial Infantry was within short range with their Lee-Metfords. In the contest between Science and Pluck, the British Soldier was on the winning side, having more of both. Even the young recruits in the two "Buffs" companies were able to hold their ground, although the odds looked formidable at first.
When the HMS Aphid started to fire on the tower, the Germans in that position decamped at once. They were evidently heading for the supposed safety of the trenches, but were stopped short by a burst of fire from the gunship's starboard Nordenfelt gun. With his allies dead, dying, or retreating, the German commander, a Major Claus von Guntherhof, realized the hopelessness of his situation and surrendered his men. The Martians soon followed, in such numbers that it has been impossible for me to provide you with more than the barest of details until this point.
A final note about the battle seems to be in order here. Although the two companies of "The Buffs" did suffer higher than expected casualties (up to 30 percent killed and wounded), they did not disgrace their regiment or Her Majesty's Army by running away as has been suggested by irresponsible, so-called Special Correspondents who were not themselves present at the time. It is true that their movement towards the enemy was temporarily stopped. This was corrected by their surviving officers. Indeed, the very fact that these companies, consisting of raw recruits and depot soldiers, performed as well as they did is a tribute to their Courage and Sense of Duty.
I have enclosed a Map detailing the salient points of the battle.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant,
(signed) John T. Bailey,
Posted Monday, 04-May-2009 19:51:13 EDT