The Army of Georland

The Army of Georland

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Three Fathers - the historical importance of George Alfred Keef and Georland

My thanks to Tim Gow of Megablitz and more and to the late John G Robertson of Dundee, whose copy of Don Featherstone's Wargamers Yearbook 1966/7 has yielded the material for the next few posts.

In his introduction to the Yearbook, Don Featherstone explains that he has used it as an opportunity to publish material which was too long to work in his regular Wargamers Newsletter. The article which really caught my eye, because of my current interest in George Alfred Keef and the History of Georland, was called The Early Days of Wargaming. in fact this is about Robert Louis Stevenson and his wargaming activities in Davos in 1880-1883 with his stepson Lloyd Osbourne. This has been well known through Osbourne's article "Stevenson at Play" in Scribner's Magazine of December 1898, which has led to the generally accepted view that this was the first documented instance of systematic wargaming with figures.

Several impressions quickly emerged:

that George Keef's wargaming activities shared many characteristics with those of RLS;
and that George Keef got into full swing as recorded in the History of Georland in 1872, eight years before RLS games in Davos, and that the collection and wargaming with it hasd started as early as 1860.

Apart from its early date, the other notable features of the Georland Campaigns are how well they are documented, and that they were not known outside the family before this year (2013) when they came to light on the Antiques Roadshow.

In his article Don Featherstone talks about H.G. Wells and the other "DADDY of Wargaming" Robert Louis Stevenson. It now seems clear that while he didn't have the same public impact as the other two, as the History of Georland was not published, that George Alfred Keef now has an undeniable claim to join their company as the third Father of Early Wargaming.

The Early Days of Wargaming

The first part of Don Featherstone's article on Robert Louis Stevenson, taken from the Wargamers Yearbook 19966/7, with thanks to Tim Gow of Megablitz and more, and in memory of the late John G Robertson of Dundee.

The Early Days of Wargaming

There are few among us who do not have an intimate knowledge of the famous Bible of Wargaming “LITTLE WARS” by H.G. Wells. The majority of us possess a copy of the original book or one of the readily available reproductions. But there appears to be very little other information about Wells’ activities in this field – I have never come across any other references to Wells’ Wargames, not in his own writings, nor in those of his associates Jerome K. Jerome or G.L. Chesterton. It would be interesting to know if any information or references exist.

The other “DADDY of Wargaming” was Robert Louis Stevenson, the famous English writer, whose wargames at Davos Platz in Switzerland during the years 1880 to 1883 when he was convalescing from an illness, have been written up by his step-son and opponent Lloyd Osbourne.

An enthusiast who has gone to an immense amount of trouble in investigating these Wargames of Stevenson is Karl G. Zipple of 3514 Devonshire, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007, U.S.A. Back in mid 1965 Karl and I exchanged a considerable amount of correspondence on this subject and sufficient arose from it to make what I consider to be a most valuable contribution to the literature and research of the early days of outr hobby. Some of the material that follows is extracted from letters written by Karl and much comes from an interesting little photo copied booklet which he has turned out on the subject and a copy of which is a pleasing possession of mine. Perhaps what follows will stimulate a reader to delve further into this fascinating subject – his researches would be welcome and would make further excellent reading, I am sure.

The article “Stevenson at Play” by Lloyd Osbourne appeared in Scribners magazine, volume 24, December 1898, pages 709 to 19. It was reprinted in “FURTHER MEMORIES” in the Tusitala Edition of the “WORKS OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON” (published by Heinemann in 1924).

In this connection I quote from a letter from Karl Zipple dated 25th of May 1965:

“Do you know what has become of the original manuscript from which the Scribner article was written? Was the article changed or more complete when it was reprinted in “FURTHER MEMORIES” in the Tusitala Edition of the Works of R.L.S. (Heinemann 1924)? This particular edition is not available ain any of the university libraries near here.

Another book that is not available in this area is “Robert Louis Stevenson at Davos”, W.G. Lockett, Hurst, London 1934. Do you know if this contains any further material?

J.C. Furnas wrote a biography of R.L.S. “Voyage to Windward”, New York 1951. He mentioned that Austin Strong (R.L.S.’s step grandson) played the Davos game in Samoa in 1892-3 under the name General Hoskyns. Strong later produced plays in New York, some with Osbourne. He died in 1958-59(?). Furnas also mentions that he had used previous biographies – especially from the Osbourne Estate (Lloyd died in 1947). It might be worthwhile writing to Furnas to see whether or not he had come across any further war game material – especially maps, as Stevenson enjoyed making maps.

Karl did write to J.C. Furnas and I quote from his letter dated from the 14th of May 1965:

“I wrote to J.C. Furnas in care of his literary agents in New York and they forwarded the letter to him in Georgia. He is travelling and does not have his files available but he gave me the address of a large collection of Stevensonia: if they do not have the original manuscript they may know where it is. I haven’t had a reply yet.”

Leaving no stone unturned, Karl Zipple next got in touch with the Yale University Library and I have in front of me a photo copy of a letter from them to Karl which I reproduce in its entirety:

New Haven Connecticut 06520

20 May 1965

Mr. Karl G. Zipple
3514 Devonshire Avenue
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007

Dear Mr. Zipple:

Yes, we have the notebook, definitely not dog-eared, in which Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the war game published in v.20 of the Pentland Edition of his works as “Stevenson at Play”. The notebook contains a few additional but less complicated maps and some text that was omitted from the published version. We also have a few other and shorter manuscripts of RLS war games. These are described in volume 6 of A Stevenson Library, Catalogue of a Collection… formed by E.J. Beinecke, compiled by George McKay, New Haven, Yale University Library, 1961, pp 1730, 1988, 2042 and 2043.

Yours very truly,

signed Marjorie G. Wynne
The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

I do not know whether Karl Zipple followed up this letter as he later told me that he did not know when he would be able to get over to New Haven, Connecticut.
let us now turn to the article which contains the meat of the subject (here DF reproduces in full the text of the Lloyd Osbourne article “Stevenson at Play”)

Karl Zipple has some comments to make on this article and I quote from his letter of the 25th of March 1965.

“The two maps in the Scribners article must cover only 10% of the whole game map. Have tried unsuccessfully to reconstruct some of the missing portions by references to the text and using the maps from Sir Edward P. Hamley’s “Operations of War” 1872 edition which was R.L.S.’s text book of war. A complete master-map of this game would be interesting – even the names have an interesting sound. The road layout is somewhat odd to me – in this area roads usually are one mile apart and run NS and EW. Hamley’s maps and my own experiences with the Italian maps during the Cassino campaign give me some idea of how it should be laid out.

The 600 troops were divided 360 to Osbourne and 240 to Stevenson; by regiments (4 man/regt) Osbourne had 90 against Louis’ 60. On the two maps, if each unit symbol is a regiment, both generals must have been thoroughly committed, leaving no margin for earlier losses or diversionary tactics – i.e. “the column at Yolo and the small force in the West”. It could be that each side had additional “paper” strength in the form of the numbered cards that “dotted the countryside” – perhaps equal to the strength as shown by the soldiers themselves; then as the tin soldiers were removed from the field as killed, they replaced cards.

Some difficulty, too, is encountered in trying to determine what each soldier counted pointwise in casualties. By adding up all casualty figures in the correspondence, the totals are 55,000 K.W.P. for both sides yet the total is given as 17,600 K.W.P. If each man counted 100 and the lower figure used for the total it might be possible but the 55,400 figure would be out of the question. It might be that a cavalry regiment of 4 men = 600 and an infantry regiment of 4 men = 400: all men of a regiment down meant 600 or 400 killed; if even 1 man of a unit remained upright there would be 600 or 400 “wounded”. Would explain the low casualties – 1 shot per regt and the last man always takes one more shot to get – just like bowling!  It will be noticed that 400 and 600 are the lowest figures given, all other figures are multiples of these – or sums of their multiples.”

John G. Garratt, in his excellent book “MODEL SOLDIERS” (published by Seeley Service and Co. London 1958) writes as follows:

“there now appears, as an exponent of the War game, one of the most gentle of men, Robert Louis Stevenson. It is to Lloyd Osbourne that we are indebted for the preservation of this intimate sketch of ‘Stevenson at Play’.”

All this, of course, occurred during Stevenson’s convalescence at Davos Platz, and thus fixes the date as between 1880-3. Osbourne being an acute observer, does what few writers of reminiscences bother to do – he actually describes the type of soldier with which the games were fought. He says, for instance, that Stevenson “possessed a horde of particularly chubby cavalrymen, who, when marshalled in close formation at the head of the infantry, could bear unscathed the most accurate and overwhelming fire (of sleeve-link, marble or button) and thus shelter their weaker brethren in the rear…. on my side there was a multitude of flimsy Swiss…so weak upon their legs that the merest breath would mow them down in columns, and so deficient in stamina that they would often fall before they were hurt”.

From this is would appear that Stevenson’s troops were semi-solids by Allgeyer, or solids by Haffner, or Heyde, whilst Osbourne’s forces were composed of Heinrichsen or Allgeyer flats. Furthermore, Stevenson’s Commander-in-Chief, “the formidable General Stevenson, corpulent with solder, was a detachable midget who could be mounted upon a fresh steed”, almost certainly a Heyde.

ALLGEYER. Furth. 1800-1896
Flats: 5-7 cm., later 30mm.
Semi-solids (from 1860) and solids: 40mm.
HAFFNER. Furth and Nuremburg. 1838-1898.
Flats, semi-flats, semi-solids, solids 30-40mm, - 7 cm.
HEYDE (Georg). Dresden. 1870-1944.
Semi-solids and solids, 20, 30, 40, 47, 54, 55, 60 mm.

This question of the authentic type of soldiers used in these Stevenson’s Wargames has also troubled Karl Zipple and I quote from his letter of the 14th of May 1965:

“have been trying to get more of the 40mm cast-iron semi-round Spanish-American War Soldiers that I had 35-40 years ago for the Stevenson game. The uniform is close to the Confederate – 1861-65. Garrett mentions them rather unkindly on page 135 – still they are small, durable and I like them. Have about 60 of them now. My brother and I are going to try to make up molds using the G.E. RTV 560 which will resist 1500˚F (better than the RTV 502) and cast them up in solder> Must try to get a few Heydes in 40mm – infantry at attention and make molds from them. Like RLS a mixture of uniforms from 1800-1860 will be reasonable – but will not use flats. Draw a line at the use of pop guns – couldn’t hit anything with one 35 years ago and would be worse today.”

Other literary gems concerning these activities have also been turned up by Karl Zipple and are given below.

(Here Don Featherstone reproduces the full text of Lloyd Osbourne's Scribners magazine article "Stevenson at Play" from  December 1898, and the two posts which follow).

Robert Louis Stevenson - An Intimate Portrait of RLS by Lloyd Osbourne 1924

The second source identified by Karl G Zipple and published in the Wargamers Yearbook by Don Feateherstone was:

by his Stepson Lloyd Osbourne
New York
Chars. Scribner’s Sons 1924

But best of all were our “war games”, which took weeks to play on the attic floor.

These games were a naïve sort of “Kriegspiel”, conceived with an enormous elaboration, and involving six hundred miniature lead soldiers. The attic floor was made into a map, with mountains, towns, rivers, “good” and “bad” roads, bridges, morasses, etc. Four soldiers constituted a “regiment”, with the right to one shot when within a certain distance of the enemy; and their March was twelve inches a day without heavy artillery, and four inches with heavy artillery. Food and munitions were condensed in the single form of printers’ “Ms” twenty to a cart, drawn by a single horseman, whose move, like that of all cavalry, was the double of the infantry. One “M” was expended for every simple shot; four “Ms” for every artillery shot – which returned to the base to be again brought out in carts. The simple shots were pellets fired from little spring-pistols; the artillery shots were the repeated throws of a deadly double sleeve-link.

Here absurdity promptly entered, and would certainly have disturbed a German staff-officer. Some of our soldiers were much sturdier than others and never fell as readily; on the other hand, there were some disheartingly thin warriors that would go down in dozens if you hardly looked at then: and I remember some very chubby and expensive cavalrymen from the Palais Royal whom no pellets could spill. Stevenson excelled with the pistol, while I was a crack shot with the sleeve-link. The leader who first moved his men, no matter how few, into the firing range was entitled to the first shot. If you had thirty regiments you had thirty shots; but your opponent was entitled to as many return shots as he had regiments, regardless of how many you had slaughtered in the meanwhile.

This is no more than a slight sketch of the game, which was too complicated for a full description, and we played it with a breathlessness and intensity that stirs me even now to recall. That it was not wholly ridiculous but gave scope for some intelligence is proved by the fact that R L S invariably won, though handicapped by one-third less men. In this connection it may be interesting to know what a love of soldiering R L S always had. Once he told me that if he had had the health he would have gone into the army, and had even made the first start by applying for a commission in the yeomanry – which illness had made him forego. On another occasion he asked me who of all men I should most prefer to be, and on my answering “Lord Wolseley” he smiled oddly as though somehow I had pierced his own thoughts, and admitted that he would have made the same choice.

One conversation I heard him have with a visitor at the chalet impressed me irrevocably. The visitor was a fussy, officious person, who after many preambles ventured to criticise Stevenson for the way he was bringing me up. R L S, who was always the most reasonable of men in an argument, and almost over-ready to admit any points against himself, surprised me by his unshaken stand.

“Of course I let him read anything he wants”, he said. “And if he hears things you say he shouldn’t, I am glad of it. A child should early gain some perception of what the world is really like – its baseness.”

Robert Louis Stevenson - Voyage to Windward

Another source on Stevenson's wargames, identified by Karl G Zipple:

The Life Of
Robert Louis Stevenson
J.C. Furnas
William Sloane Associated
New York 1951

The second winter at Davos was more private. The Stevensons rented a wooden chalet – rather like a New York elevated station on a mountain slope – near the hotel where the Symondses awaited the completion of a permanent home. The new quarters were as bleak as all else. But they afforded Lloyd room for his printing press and, in the lower story, which was difficult to heat, ample floor space for a new game:

From a military family-friend Louis had received Hamley’s “Operations of War” – a still recognized summary of the strategy, tactics, and logistics that Victorian soldiers developed out of the great campaigns since 1800, rich with maps and resounding names like Wellington and Moltke, written with a leisurely clarity akin to that of Darwin. Louis had been long attracted by, if seldom earnest about, chess, and by the picturesque moral devotion of soldiering – remember, the Charge of the Light brigade still outweighed, in literary convention, the fetid, feckless campaign that had included it. In a famous and unmistakably childish passage, Louis once professed to a consistent ambition to have been leader of a horde of irregular cavalry 34. Deeply as certain phrases of Tolstoi later affected him, he never forgave the great Russian for his disrespectful picture of strategists in “War and Peace”. It is strange indeed to find Louis Stevenson, who had never yet heard anything more warlike than the sunset gun from the Castle, lecturing a former captain of artillery from the siege of Sebastopol on the trenchant niceties of war. 35 (Inconsistently enough, he highly approved of Zola’s war scenes.) Now, in the chilly-to-freezing semi-basement of the Chalet am Stein, gathering hints from professional soldiers relegated to Davos, he set his ingenuity to work on a German-style war game that sounds like immense fun.

It had skill – popguns fired printers’ “ems” from Lloyds font of type, and the boy’s superior accuracy sometimes checked Louis’s superior planning; luck – data on strength and condition of opposing forces were scattered over the “theatre of war” on face-down cards, to prevent reconnoitring cavalry from knowing just where the most valuable information might lie; variations in quality of troops – some corps of lead soldiers, solider on their bases, stood fire that routed less staunch regiments; censorship and misleading news releases – the correspondence that Louis supplied to the Glendarule Times and the Yallobally Record is fine, if sometimes ferocious , travesty of British war correspondence of the period. When the Record suggested that General Osbourne be court-martialed, the editor was---hanged by order of General Osbourne. Public opinion endorsed this act of severity. My great-uncle, Mr. Phelim Settle, was present and saw him with the nightcap on and a file of his journal round his neck. 36 

Louis always loved not so much making believe child-style – some biographers have missed the point – as the fun of making-believe, which is another matter. A child enjoys being a pirate specifically; some adults enjoy the general proposition of dressing up for and acting the part of a pirate: a few can do so without condescending toward either themselves in the part or the part itself. In an anecdote which I hope is not apocryphal, Louis is watching a child play boat and, wearying of it, climb out of the armchair that had been acting as boat, and walk away. “For heaven’s sake,” Louis calls after him, “at least swim!” That is genuine technique in play.

Until sent to school, Austin had been making friends with British jack-tars; proudly conducting pack horses down to Apia; building forts on the lawn with Arrick, that ingratiating cannibal; playing the old Davos war game with Louis and Lloyd, Austin being known as general Hoskyns; taking desultory lessons in history and arithmetic from Louis and Aunt Maggie.


34  Lloyd (An Intimate Portrait of R.L.S. : 37) wrote that, as a youth, Louis once planned to enlist in the Territorials. Possible but unlikely – there is no other mention of such a scheme.
35  Louis’s admiration for Tolstoi seems to have been bestowed on the didactic writings rather than the novels. This was no Russophobia – Louis was mad about Dostoevski in the early French versions.
36  “Stevenson at Play(SS): XXVII, 374
Austin Strong was R.L.S.’s step-grandson.
(SS) is the South Seas edition of the works of R.L.S.

In a short biography at the end of his booklet, Karl Zipple gives the following two references:

Letters and Miscellanies of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1. Published in New York by Charles Scribner’s and Sons, 1902

Lockett, W.G., Robert Louis Stevenson at Davos. Hurst, London, 1934.

Hamley, Sir Edward B., Operations of War, various editions, 1872. This was Stevenson’s textbook on war used to set up the rules. The maps may have been the basis for his war map?

Don Featherstone:

I find this fascinating, stimulating and inspiring stuff and it makes me wonder whether in generations to come other wargamers will look as tolerantly at the literary offerings I have attempted to make in this wonderful hobby of ours.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

More pictures of figures added

Some more pictures of figures from the army have been posted at the head of some of the earlier posts from some of the Epochs recorded in the History.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

More about the army of Georland

The main source of information on George Alfred Keef’s army and collection is of course the 60 or so pages of the History of the Army of George 1. There are however other sources, in particular two notes made by his widow Alice and his son Patrick Keef on the history of the collection, and the collected letters of George Alfred Keef while abroad on military service to mother Phoebe, his aunt Mary, and his brothers Arthur and Herbert.

The original collection were lead toy soldiers of the Franco Prussian War. These French and German figures (including Prussians, Bavarians and Wurtemburgers) were altered and repainted to represent British Regiments. Each figure was marked on the base with its regiment. These figures in the original collection were demi rondes, rather than flats. The original foot figures seem to have been 30mm from foot to eye. The cavalry figures had separate riders and horses.

Artillery were real miniature guns which could be loaded with gunpowder, wad, and lead shot, and actually fired by match. The artillery dominate some of the narratives of battles in the History and it is not hard to see why as they were fairly lethal (although it is difficult to acquire supplies of gunpowder today with no questions asked). A number of the surviving figures show damage consistent with suffering this artillery fire.(others have tried this at different times - see this Vintage Wargaming ink to Franz Stollberg.

There is also a pontoon train, with wagons, horses, pontoon boats which will actually float in water, and wooden sections to make the decking. There are also two wooden forts, one of which was designated as Windsor Castle.

A number of the figures are flats. These seem to be of German troops and were incorporated into that part of the collection deemed “the enemy”. These seem to be slightly smaller than the demi rondes, being more like 25mm measured foot to eye.

The Franco Prussian War took place from 1870-71, a couple of years before the battles documented in the History started – the first, the battle of Prebat, being dated 22nd February 1873. Though it is not clearly stated this helps suggest the dates given in the History are the actual dates of the games when the battles were fought.

The History dates the army back to around 1860 and suggests it was first acquired for George’s older brothers Arthur and Herbert, who together with their friend J Arrowsmith initially used them to recreate historical battles from the Napoleonic and Crimean Wars. It looks as though George was behind the development of the make believe world of Georland to provide a setting for much increased wargaming activity, boosted no doubt by the reinforcements coming from the Franco Prussian troops.

The History (Second Epoch) refers to the army occupying a little more attention from November 1872 due to numerous desertions, mainly to the colours of G Collard (presumably another friend, along with Jack Arrowsmith). The Journal then mentions the raising of 4 Prussian infantry regiments in November, 4 more infantry regiments in December, 8th February the 9th Cuirassiers, and on 22nd February a newly raised Cavalry regiment, the 3rd Dragoons, was present. This seems likely to be the point at which the Franco Prussian War figures joined the army - clearly the original figures on its formation in the early 1860s must have been of different subjects.

The Franco Prussian War being so recent also provided some background to Georland and the History, including the enemy’s alliance with Prussia and the arrival of their expeditionary force in November 1873. The Prussian generals are not mainly fictional characters but bases on actual Prussian generals from the Franco Prussian and in some cases Napoleonic Wars.

There is a slight mystery over the sepia photograph of the army on the parade, used to illustrate this blog. There is a reference to a full parade of the army being held in 1940 by Patrick Keef, and it could be that this photograph records this occasion, though conceivably it could have been earlier. It is accompanied by two diagrams, indicating the unit names for all these figures and the organisation of the army. This shows the 1st and 2nd Army Corps and a Guards Division, totalling 45,000 men.

In February 1874 the History refers to a change in recording numbers in the narrative, previously given in hundreds, to actual numbers (i.e. a number of troops originally given as 10 would now be shown as 1,000). This suggests to me that a scale of 1:100 was being used, and without trying to count all the figures in the photograph it seems reasonable that there may be 450 figures shown as they represent the 45,000 figure given in the army organisation chart.

The final page of the History provides a chronology of all the battles and a list of all the Georland units present at each one. Together with the photograph, drawing and chart, this may provide the basis for further investigation of the structure of the army.

George Keef took the greater part of his army with him on his postings to Burma and the North West Frontier and his letters contain further information, including instructions to his brothers on the movement of units and for example ordering the firing of a 21 gun salute on the occasion of his mother’s birthday. In Rangoon George Keef shared a bungalow with the Regimental Surgeon and they kept the army set up on the floor on a large canvas map. In India the army was kept on shelves in a series of tins on a chalked map of India.

There is a list dated 1st March 1878 showing the station of the various units of the Georland Army, in locations including India, Chatham, Liverpool and Edgehill. The letters also tell us that in January 1878 George bought a Kriegspiel set, minus rules, from a Colonel returning to England, and asked a copy of Baring’s English translation of the rules to be ordered and sent out to him.

The History is silent on the rules used for the games with figures, although as stated above we do know of the use of gunpowder firing cannon.

Further research into the George Keef letters may provide more insights and information in due course.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Antiques Roadshow 8th September 2013

The Keef Family collection made its first public appearance on the Antiques Roadshow from Eastbourne Bandstand: 2 when Oliver Keef discussed it and his grandfather George Keef with Roadshow expert Graham Lay.

The Antiques Roadshow page on this blog (on the menu under the main heading of the blog) also contains the Antiques Roadshow segment (also shown below) together with notes of what was said.

This blog mainly focuses on the contents of The History of The Army of George 1, the Journal recounting the campaigns fought by George Keef, his brothers Arthur and Hubert, and their friends in the 1870s and 1880s.

All orginal material on this site is copyright the Keef Family and may not be reproduced in any form without prior written permission. This can be requested by submitting a comment on this post enclosing an email address. This comment will not be published but you will then be contacted by email.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

History of the Army of George I

The following posts contain the contents of the History of the Army of George 1.

George was George Alfred Keef, the founder of the army. The notes he kept were later bound together by his grandson Oliver Keef. George appears in the pages as King George himself, usually referred to as H.I.M. (His Imperial Majesty) or Imperator. He seems to have been invincible in the field through the many campaigns recorded

After the Epoch XI B, the Journal is written in a different hand and style. If we assume the dates attributed to actions in the Journal are the same as in  real time then this change would take place in 1875. It is possible that this second hand is that of one of his brothers, Herbert Keef or Arthur Keef.

This transcript has been produced from photographs of the pages of the original Journal. As they are foolscap in size they could not easily be scanned. The maps illustrating the posts are from the same source so are not of a high definition - it may be possible to replace these with clearer images at a later date.

The transcript seeks to reproduce faithfully the spellings, abbreviations and punctuations of the original. In a very few cases it has been impossible to identify particular words. Often these are names, either of places or characters, which are fictional. In these cases the most likely spelling is given and we have tried to make this consistent throughout the whole History.

 Where there is an editorial note to help clarity it is given in [square brackets and italics]. Other brackets have been taken from the text.

Some words are spelt in more than one way in the text and this has been repeated here. Words such as honour and vigour are spelt -or in the manuscript and this spelling is repeated here. Capitalisation is slightly erratic in the manuscript. Where necessary extra paragraph breaks have been introduced into posts to make them easier to read on screen. In a very few cases punctuation has been altered the better to convey the author's intentions.

I would like to thank the Keef family for making the manuscript available and helping to decipher it where this has been difficult.

It is intended to add further historical notes and illustrations, along with a gazetteer of place names, a list of characters, and other appendices, at a later date.

The family are also considering whether to make the full transcript available in Kindle or other format.

The wargaming activity of George Alfred Keef and Herbert Keef is remarkable in two ways:

the completeness with which it has been documented and how this information has survived;

the early date (first use 1860, the Journal's campaigns starting in 1872) which is substantially earlier than the 1898 publication date of Lloyd Osbourne's article in Scribners Magazine on Robert Louis Stevenson's wargames, which has traditionally been held to be the first published account of gaming with miniature figures, the publication in 1913 by H.G. Wells of Little Wars, or the early wargames of the Trevelyan brothers.

We hope that you will find it not only historically significant but interesting and entertaining.

First Epoch

The army first originated in the year about AD 1860 all engagements within this period being co-jointly with troops; or army or armies (being allies or enemies as the case may have been) serving under H[erbert] Keef[brother], A[lice] Keef [mother], and J Arrowsmith; no conflicts at this period have been chronicled and as 500 men was the maximum ever obtained by the 3 armies united they were them, not of such a class to cope with those forces of more destructive warfare of the later day Army; no ammunition, and being used they were then neither so grand or so bloody.

Representations of battles gone by as Waterloo + Sevastopol were most frequently practised.

In September 1878 the remaining portion of the original army of Keef stood as follows:


20th Foot, 21st Foot, 22nd Foot, 24th Foot, 25th Foot, 26th Foot. Also the ensigns of the 42nd and 93rd Foot

The 11th Hussars is all that remains of the army of H Keef.

The 8th, 9th and 33rd Regiments of Foot, a captain in the Horse Artillery Battery A, Troop 1, are veterans from J Arrowsmith’s army, enrolled about 1869.

Second Epoch

Prebat - Smatsche - Recknot - Huzmers

Towards the latter end of the year 1872 the Army began to occupy a little more attention as by numerous desertions (mostly to the colours of G Collard the army started to show so marked a deficiency in numbers, material so that it was plain to their General that the time was at hand when either the army should be reorganised throughout, the force increased, the officers augmenting & the staff revising, as the only alternative, that of immediately disbanding the troops under arms to prevent a further expenditure and decay.

The former alternative was chosen and in November 1872, 4 Prussian infantry regiments* (now the 10th, 11th, 12th and 40th Foot) were raised. The following month 4 infantry Regiments*(now the 27th 87th + 88th Foot and 1st Battn Coldstream Guards) were added to the army.

Feb 5th 1873 ushered into the camp the 9th Cuirassiers. The troops were first exposed to artillery fire on the 22nd Feb at which a newly raised Cavalry Regiment (3rd Dragoons) was present. The CG [Coldstream Guards], 27th, 87th, 88th Foot with the 9th C[uirassiers] stormed and took the defiles and fort of “Prebat” from the Prussian Infantry and the 3rd Dragoons.

March 1st The enemy having gathered the remains of the garrison form the battle of “Prebat” took post behind the hill of “Smatcshe”). The pursuing force arrived on the crest of the hill before the fleeing army was discovered. Preparations were at once made for the attack. Both armies had secured reinforcements. The 11th Hussars were added to H Keef’s Army and the 7th Dragoons to that of the enemy (*the 27th, 87th and 88th Regiments who had behaved so well at Prebat had gone over to the enemy). The advance to the right of the enemy’s line having extended too far, and considerably reduced the centre for the purpose of turning H.I.M.’s [His Imperial Majesty’s] Left. H.I.M. rode to the front and led on Drouot’s Artillery, a new and splendid corps.

They moved forward steadfastly with their fine Commander at their head. The Emperor followed with the Old French and Grenadier Guards, new Regiment also the 9th Cuirassiers. Against the weakened centre the steady masses under Drouot’s command threw their all powerful strength. The shock was terrific. Pressed forward by the corps behind (Coldstream Guards), the troops went forward in fine style, the centre was completely crushed. In vain the 4th & 3rd Dragoons endeavoured to retrieve the lost ground, the former were charged and broken by the 8th Hussars, the latter were driven off by the superior Cuirassiers.

H.I.M. having reformed his broken column led on to the attack of the left wing. Mercury so justly renowned here for a time kept his ground but the whole of the force being overwhelmed he took to flight. After this no resistance was offered and 4 guns & 18 prisoners and the greater part of the material of his army was taken. His loss was immense while we had comparatively suffered little. One Regiment (the Grenadier Guard) which took the rear and protected the attacking column was all most [sic] annihilated by the fire of an Armstrong Battery from the enemy’s right. This was the only considerable loss. During the night the Right [were] unable to maintain their position through the defeat of the Left and centre and the loss + want of artillery and ammunition and retired by the road to Huzmers.

H.I.M.’s army came up with the enemy at Recknot where having received a powerful contingent they determined to make a stand.

The Emperor detaching 2 troops of Drouot’s Artillery to open fire on the extreme left of his position. This battery was furiously charged by the 3rd Dragoons and the 9th Cuirassiers. The defection of the latter corps was most unwarranted, as H.I.M. had attached this fine Regiment about his person and loaded them with gifts and honours. (The defection of the 9th C[uirassier]s caused the want of cavalry, especially in the present + severe deplete and such was the urgency of the time that 5 new Cavalry Regts were immediately levied ( +12th)).

The 12th Lancers attempting to support Drouot’s Artillery were hopelessly smashed by the many squadrons of the enemy’s horse. On this H.I.M. ordered the 1st Brigade of Heavy Cavalry of the Guard (1st Life Guards & 6th Dragoon Guards) to charge, with a cheer the men dashed into the thickest of the fray. Cuirassiers, Hussars & Dragoons fled headlong before this splendid force, throwing the infantry of the left into disorder in their hurry to escape the swords of their destroyers. Pell-mell into the disordered ranks the affrighted Cavalry rushed. The opportunity was seized in a moment by H.I.M. to fill up the gap in the broken line. Accordingly, into the midst of the confusion dashed the Heavy brigade followed by the Grenadier Guards and Drouot’s Artillery. At this time the Right wing of the enemy was attacked and driven back by H.I.M.’s Left and finally broken and thrown into disorder by a furious charge of the 6th Eniskillen Dragoons & 2nd Scots Greys. The two wings were now in direful condition and in full retreat.

The Centre then made a rigorous stand but the powerful artillery fire to which they were exposed being too destructive to maintain the position about 5 pm they retreated. The 87th and 88th Regiments, under Mercury, now Major, kept the ground for some time, but H.I.M. advanced that fine regiment the Coldstream Guards, who quickly dispersed the. The 87th and 88th were then the Napoleon + Mercurian Guard.

A large number of fugitives fled along the road to Huzmers but many were cut down by the pursuing Cavalry. But the horses were so exhausted that the pursuit could not be extended over a space of 3 miles, the men having been in the saddle 10 hours.

Owing to this the main body were collated + reformed + the following day fell back. H.I.M. having determined to rest his army bivouacked on the field of battle. A strong rearguard being attached and repulsed by the enemy on the 15th. H.I.M. hurried to the front but the enemy had gone. On reconnoitring it was found that they were determined to make a final stand at the head of the pass of Huzmers  a strong + numerous force being there assembled. H.I.M. at once issued orders + the dawn of the 15th found his division in front of the enemy. A splendid attack of 2 troops of DA [Drouot’s Artillery] + 3rd Bn GG [3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards] in spite of a charge of the 3rd Dragoons and a vigorous resistance from the 11th regiment turned the left wing.

The overthrow of his Heavy Cavalry in the Centre by the Life + Dragoon Guards and on his extreme Right the Light Cavalry by the 12th Lancers + 9th Dragoons annihilated the mounted arm of his force, all this attended with great loss. By 3.30 pm his Centre had begun to give way before the ceaseless + destructive fire of the 3rd + 4th troops DA [Drouot’s Artillery] and the spirited charges made by the Foot Guards. The Left however stood firm. Although opposed to the cannonade of DA the Centre now being supported by the reserves began to retrieve the lost ground. This was the decisive moment.

H.I.M. ordered the Coldstream Guards (who had been in the rear + had not been engaged) to advance and break the opposing lines. With a mighty “Vive l’Empereur” they passed onto the front. What emotions filled each breast as that thrilling shout arose! What emotions filled the Emperor’s mind as the bearskinned warriors went on. On this depended his Rule, his Fortune + Fate. Oh! What a mighty state depending on these veteran troops. They knew the task entrusted to them. And as the cannons mowed them down, as deploying into line they pushed upon the foe, as wounded, dying, bleeding on the ground, as driving on before the defeated enemy, as joining in the universal cry of victory each thought of their General + Emperor alone.

All was now confusion + dismay. All was forgotten in their hasty flight. The splendid charge of the Coldstreams had disheartened each one, fear possessed the routed + overthrown enemy. The whole surrendered including the general. Many who had resolutely fought on and been wounded were taken prisoner. The victory was complete. H.I.M. returned back laden with trophies and spoil from the field. 7 guns + all the material of the enemy was taken and the spirit of mutiny (for a time) broken.

Third Epoch

A band of desperadoes under a leader named Fredrich falling in with the fugitives from the slaughter at Heymers. Fredrich with great skill collected the dispersed survivors, and joining them to his new band, these with many adherents from disaffected districts he assembled and formed into an army of no inconsiderable strength. H.I.M. surrounded by his troops was under the walls of the strong fortress of Biddex, devoting his time in ease + pleasure, not taking measures to immediately put down this rising. It was not till the enemy had reached within 50 miles of the fortress of Nuklehunder, then the strongest in the kingdom, that H.I.M. offered any resistance to the approach of the usurper Fredrich, having taken the title of King Fredrich 1. Into Nukhelhunder were sent therefore a large amount of troops including the Guards + a large convoy of artillery + warlike stores. This force H.I.M. deemed sufficient to defend his dominions.

Owing to a misunderstanding respecting a peremptory order ambiguous + arbitrary between H.I.M. + the Infantry and Cavalry of the Guard, a strong spirit of disaffection prevailed among the ranks. The seductive luxury of the city of Nukhelhunder, who were in communication with the invader, soon to King Fredrich’s side those veteran troops to whom the power of blood + thunder were as nought. H.I.M. hearing of this insubordination and mutinous manifested immediately despatched Colonel Blucher with the Hussars of the Guard (4th) + the Coldstream Guards to enforce the orders + to take military action against those who had been foremost among the disaffected.

The men fearful of their conduct on the approach of Col Blucher shut the gate of the city. Blucher falling back for reinforcements to Cidex, Fredrich and his army appearing before the walls of Nukhel he was joyfully welcomed + hailed as deliverer. The prisoners from Heymers were set free, and Mercury was brought from the dungeons of Nuklehunder to the command of a division in King Fredrich’s army. With this division General Mercury followed Blucher + seizing the village of Littleton made himself master of the whole of the country between Littleton + Nukhel.

On the return of Blucher H.I.M. resumed the Generalship of those forces which remained at Cidex. On the 11th April 1878 he with the greater part of his army passed out of the fortress + crossed the isthmus of Cidex + ascended the plain of Littleton. On reaching the height of the plateau the 11th Hussars deployed + the 20th and 21st Foot extended as skirmishers. The Tower of Littleton Church was soon discovered, but here all further progress ceased. From Nukhel to Littleton a line of troops bespoke the approaching army. In + around the village a very efficient force was massed.

The command of these devolved upon Mercury who had taken up his residence at Littleton Castle. The grand reserve lay within Nukhel under King Fredrich’s immediate command. As all progress to Nukhel would be futile, while Littleton remained in the enemy’s possession, H.I.M. at once attacked that place. A vigorous cannonade upon the village, answered with great spirit by a gun planted at the head of the streets, prepared the way for a grand assault on the village which was successful, although accelerated by the blowing up of a gun killing and wounding many. Mercury being taken, offered his services to H.I.M. which was accepted. The fall of Littleton was followed by the immediate abandoning of his position, it being untenable, not, however, without an attempt to regain the village which was frustrated by the skilful movement of the army at Littleton + a fine flank charge of the 12th Lancers, but this fine regiment was annihilated, five sixths being destroyed. After this attempt he fell back to Nukhel, followed by H.I.M. and the whole army.

A well maintained fire was kept up and cavalry charges decided his retreat.

Fort Resistance an outer battery was stormed + carried by the 7th (now 27th) + a strict blockade maintained. An attempt to storm the Armstrong Battery by DA [Drouot’s Artillery] was defeated by the tremendous artillery fire + charge of the Life Guards. With difficulty the guns were brought off + H.I.M. after decided to wait for reinforcements before making any fresh assaults.  This respite Fredrich occupied in levying fresh troops and reorganising his forces. A strong body of troops raised in the North of Scotland and a new Battalion of Foot Guards were sent out to Nukhel. On the 24th of June these new levies appeared before Littleton in which 2 Prussian Regiments alone remained. The impetuous attack made by the Highlanders + 1st battalion of New Guards was followed by the immediate flight of the garrison.

Having gutted the village, they, on the approach of Mercury with the Mercurian + Napoleonic Guards, evacuated it + proceeded by a circuitous route to the North entrance to Nukhel in safety, As soon as the approach of the Highlanders was known in Nukhel a large sortie was made. The 5th, 1st, 2nd Cavalry Regiments dashed out of the valley, onwards, upsetting all in the way as H.I.M. formed the nearest regiment in one large square. A long line of artillery + infantry (reinforcements rec’d since Littleton) stretched along the left. Between these 2 fires the Reckless Cavalry came on. When within 200 yards of the square the guns commenced firing. A mass of struggling fallen men + horses told how accurate had been the aim.

The shattered Life Guards were at once attacked + flattened by the Heavy Cavalry of H.I.M. the gallant 5th pushing bravely but hopelessly forward met death upon the bayonets of the Coldstream Guards. After this H.I.M. advanced his whole line. The Grenadier Guards, who had followed the cavalry out of Nukhel, unable to withstand the overwhelming force withdrew within the citadel. Along the valley Drouot’s Artillery advanced when half way Mercury at the head of his Guards dashed out to the front, followed by the whole army of H.I.M. in spite of the destructive fire from the Armstrong Battery which mowed the ranks at every fire. The Battery however was at last reached, stormed + taken by DA. Mercury at the front charged with fury the Grenadier + the YB [meaning unclear] Guards. By superiority of force + numbers these brave soldiers were cut down + all would have fell had not Fredrich surrendered to H.I.M.

The scene after this battle was horrific. Never throughout his long experience had H.I.M viewed such a scene of horror + pain. The carnage had been fearful. Within Nukhel the Scotch + Grenadiers lay side by side in the agonies of death. Many were found wasted away with hunger + disease + famine. The bravery + devotion of these troops were such that H.I.M. expressed a wish that they would enlist under his banner. Fredrich therefore induced them to take the oath of loyalty to H.I.M. They were incorporated into his army as the GG/FG + 42nd + 79th + 93rd Highlanders. (How well they kept their oath is shown by their deeds at Firban, Lasterne, Powgen + etc.). For this Fredrich was pardoned and set free. This endeth the Campaign of Littleton.

Fourth Epoch

Firban - Emburg - Lasterne

On the 4th August 1873 H.I.M. crossed the frontier of his territories to attack + invade the kingdom of Fredrichsburg. This invasion after the surrender of Nukhel was a despotic movement on the part of H.I.M.

The enemy had posted his troops in and about the village of Firban. Batteries of great strength were erected at every available spot, just a mile behind a second line of batteries stronger than the first. This strong position was occupied by an army of about 215 men commanded by DM Hasher. His majesty arrived in front of Firban, which lie on the borders, at 7 am on the morning of the 4th. By 9.30 the whole army numbering about 200 arrived on the scene. H.I.M. after an ineffectual attempt to shell the position opened a sharp cannonade but with little effect. At 10.30 Major-General Campbell’s Division with DA were extended to the right in order to turn the enemy’s left. The guns drove all within the fort. The fire of the Batteries was so severe that the troops began to waver. The 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards coming to the support a general rush was made + the Battery (No [left blank]) was stormed + taken the enemy abandoning the intervening space between the 1st and 2nd lines.

A strong body of Cavalry charged the troops who threw them back by a sharp rattle of musketry. H.I.M. leaving command to his generals, at the head of his regiment (5th DG) 10th Hussars with the Enniskilleners and Greys in reserve rode at the enemy. Although superior in numbers, the enemy were cut to pieces, not without hard fighting, frightful loss + the charging of the reserve. The conflict taking place in front of the battery it could not fire + being stormed was taken by the CG 3rd Battalion. At 12 the 23rd Welch Fusiliers 8th + 9th Foot + D’s Artillery advanced to storm the village. At 2 the village was taken + the centre of the enemy’s position was stormed + taken at the point of the bayonet by the grand charge of the Guards under Major Gen Cambridge. The Irish Regt + the Reserve formed in line to receive them were overthrown + put to rout by the irresistible fury of the attack + the solidity of the column.

A trifling advantage on the right was temporarily gained by the defeat of the 8th Hussars by the enemy’s Lancers and Firban for a moment was in the enemy’s hands. But the 1st LG under Mercury charging defeated him with great slaughter the enemy quickly abandoned the position + fled in disorder. By 7 pm all firing had ceased, the victory gained. The enemy had 80 killed + 132 wounded. Our loss was 120 killed + wounded. The Grenadier Guards, 5th DDG + 10th Hussars had lost ¾s of their original complement + H.I.M. was wounded, his life being saved by Lt Col Ellis of the 5 D Guards who was killed in a charge at Abosot at Sep 11 1873.

The enemy were immediately followed by H.I.M. and his whole army. Receiving considerable reinforcements he halted at the next town Emburg where he received r=the second defeat at the hands of H.I.M. The village being the centre of his position the 11th Hussars charges up the main street + gained the place, very few infantry being there. The enemy attacked the town repeatedly with the 12th Lancers 4th Hussars and 2nd Dragoons as H.I.M. sent forward the 5 DG. The town was taken + retaken 4 times but finally the overthrow of his Cuirassiers, who had outflanked Emburg, by the 1st LG and defeat of the whole of his cavalry in Emburg by the final charge of the 6th D[ragoons] and 2nd D[ragoons].

After this severe cavalry contest the enemy withdrew, his position being enfiladed on the left by the severe fire of DA. They were followed so quickly that H.I.M. came up with them near Lasterne whither where they were retreating. Overtures of peace being made H.I.M. was absent attending the conference. This did not however prevent hostilities. General Mercury who commanded in the absence of the Emperor immediately attacked the enemy (altho' in a strong position) with the bayonet. As the troops advanced the terrific fire to which they were exposed broke the column s. At this moment the enemy launched his cavalry into the demoralised ranks. A terrible slaughter ensued. The Guards alone stood firm till the arrival of the Heavy Brigade of the Cavalry of the Guard dispersed the enemy’s squadrons. This cavalry fight had covered the advance of DA and the Armstrong being brought to bear upon the enemy’s massed columns played with dreadful effect upon them forcing them to relinquish the ground.

The victory was dearly won. Out of 35 men the Grenadier Guards left 25 dead upon the field. Other regiments, particularly of the Guard, suffered in proportion. The Coldstreamers were almost annihilated, the 5th Imperial Dragoon Guards lost 5/6ths of their original complement. This battle (Lasterne) was fought 11th August 1873.

 The enemy however showed a great desire for peace. H.I.M. at once entered into negotiation + peace was signed 13th Aug 1873.

A million-and-a-half war indemnity, expenses paid + the large county of Bordrore annexed to the empire were the fruit of the campaign. On the payment of the money H.I.M. immediately evacuated the enemy territory.

Fifth Epoch - The Great Mutiny

Powgen - Aldesk - Horpers - Sopy - Abosot

The troops all except the 12th +18th Foot which were at Chatham, and the 13th + 9th + 25th Foot at Lorkal were now at Horpers Barracks. On the 6th Sept H.I.M. left with the Grenadier + Dragoon Guards for Chatham. Captain Ernest who had distinguished himself at the battle of Lasterne was elected by competition in command of No. 4 Div. at Horpers. On the morning of the 7th he assembled the troops of the div for Drill. A private of the 33rd Regt manifesting a spirit of insubordination Ernest struck him and immediately the whole Regt surrounded him. The 8th HG coming up at the moment Col Hasher demanded his return.

On their refusal to give him up, Hasher ordered the Battalion to disperse them. But forming line they in a resolute manner repelled the attack + Hasher fell back pending the arrival of the other Corps. Disaffection, rapidly spread. The Battalion C[oldstream] G[uards] retreated before a large force from No. 4 Div. The whole of No. 3 was in arms. In No. 3 the Irish also joined the outcry. Hasher having exasperated the rebels by his attempt by force to subdue them, they united and drove him from the Barracks. He took up head quarters at Aldesk and Maj General Campbell took command. Several cavalry skirmishes took place on the 9th.

The rebels having petitioned his Majesty, H.I.M. refused to enter into any negotiations unless they gave up their arms + marched out of Horpers. This they refused to do + prepared for hostilities. The 12th L[ancers] + the 13th H + 25th + 19th H at Jorkal joined + seized Powgen a military town fortified on behalf of the mutineers. As this was of importance to H.I.M. the whole of the force at Aldesk in obedience to orders joined H.I.M. + the united forces marched to Powgen. They had however been anticipated, the rebels leaving a small force in Horpers had proceeded to Powgen where they arrived late on the 12th. H.I.M. arrived before the town on the 13th, his army numbering about 200 Infantry and 80 Cavalry: that of the enemy about 300 infantry and 70 Cavalry. Six hundred and twenty men now faced each other about to enter upon a bloody conflict. The enemy’s left wing stretched along the Left Bank of the river Abasot. The Right extended from Powgen some distance.

The battle commenced at one o’clock by an attack on the enemy’s Right. DA created such a panic by its murderous fire that the reserves of that army were brought up to support, but they too were thrown into disorder and before the reserves were rallied the troops ruched forward crossed the river + maintained their position on the Left bank. The enemy’s Cavalry were repulsed in their endeavour to drive them back. The Grenadier Guards, preceded by the Tirailleurs of the Guard (23rd Welch Fusiliers) followed and proceeded to turn the left of the rebels’ position.

General Black who commanded determined by one grand movement to recover the lost ground and decide the day. The Left wing was marched to the Right, and the whole of the Cavalry including the reserve under LG Hasher dashed headlong on H.I.M.’s advancing column. The extreme right, under the command of Drouot, fell back, DA and the other guns alone remaining. The Guards under Major General Cambridge formed line and delivered a series of rolling fires on the advancing horsemen.  When within 50 yards the artillery opened fire. Lancers Cuirassiers Hussars Dragoons mingled in the death struggle on the grassy turf. The remainder dispersed and H.I.M. rested for the night on the field of battle.

The following day Sunday that 4th September the sun shone brightly on the two forces. H.I.M. however was up and active. He with the officers attended Divine Service in the morning, Colonel Herbert taking Sacrament. The troops were under arms by 6 am and H.I.M. rode to the right and viewed the approaching conflict. Mercury Chief of Staff on the 13th now superintended the Right attack which immediately commenced. The 8th DG at the same time attacked the Right of the enemy who stood their ground firmly till the reserves and elite of the army withdrew by the road to Herbert under the personal command of General Black head of the insurrection LG Hasher being left in command. An immediate assault on the town was ordered. Mercury sent forward therefore the 3rd Battalion of the G[renadier] G[uards], but they received such a galling fire that he ordered them to retreat, perceiving the rashness of such an endeavour. On the Left the RH Guard received in like manner being forced to retire. The enemy were however now in and around Powgen without hope of escape. H.I.M. at once commenced to lay siege to the place.
The veteran Drouot had died previous to the mutiny of Sept 3rd. His constitution had given way in August. His loss was deeply affected by H.I.M. and the whole army. He was the oldest and highest officer in the army. A brief history of his career may not be unacceptable to our readers. He enlisted in the 3rd Bavarian Dragoons, where he rapidly advanced to the rank of Col[onel]. At H.I.M.’s desire he in June 1872 quitted Germany and entered the service as Col[onel] of the Young Guard. His bravery at the battle of Smatsche rendered him conspicuous, and under the eye of H.I.M. he rapidly rose to the rank of general where his career was stopped as death overtook him. He died of an influenza from a cold taken at the battle of Lasterne. He had fought in the battles of Smatsche, Huzmers, Recknot, Littleton, Nukhelhunder, Furban, Emburg + Lasterne. His exploits were chiefly as Colonel Commander of the Battery of Artillery of the Guard which after a while took the name of Drouot’s artillery. DA under his superintendence became far famed the sharp boom of the guns carrying death + consternation in the enemy’s ranks. His successor was his son Drouot + by H.I.M.’s order G Collard late 14th Cuirassiers. This officer had risen from the rank of private in the 1st Life Guards under the able tuition of his father. He first commanded at Powgen on 18/9/78

Sept 15th 1873. Receiving intelligence on the 26th of the assembly of the Corps under General Black at Horpers he on the 22nd despatched Maj Gen Cambridge to attack him at that place with a larger one under his command including the third fifth and seventh battalions Foot Guards and the Fifth dragoon guards. Brigadier General Mercury being second in command. The force arrived at the town of Aldesk on the 24th and immediately marched forward. At Aldesk it was joined by four battalions [of] foot ­­­­­­raised by Captain Ernest who had escaped from the rebels the day of the outbreak. These were called the Aldesk Volunteers, and, afterwards the 29th, 30th, 31st + 32nd Regiments. The enemy had ­­­­­­­­­­­­­occupied the heights above Horpers in a great force. The position was very strong + protected by a powerful Artillery. Against this, he (Cambridge) advanced with 111 Infantry and 16 Cavalry, the force of the enemy was rather less but superior in Cavalry.

The whole line advanced at six o’clock in spite of a vigorous fire which was answered along the whole line. The position was carried by the Guards in the centre, MG’ Campbell’s division on the Right, and BG Mercury’s division of Aldesk Volunteers on the Left. The enemy had posted his reserves too far behind and his lines were in the hands of H.I.M. troops before the reserves could reach the disputed points. Three tremendous cavalry charges were rendered ineffectual by the repulse and defeat of the attacking horsemen, on the right by Col MacConnal concentrated musketry fire, on the Left by Brigadier General Mercury’s well directed fire, altho’ one Regiment being unformed being routed with great loss (29th); and by the centre under Captain Ernest comm[ander] of Brigade pro tem forming square till the arrival of the Dragoon Guards who quickly cleared the field.

The whole army now advanced but the reserves of the rebels discharging a furious that they were ordered back and the enemy immediately fell back to Horpers leaving 35 dead upon the field. One standard, that of the 22nd Regiment, and 16 prisoners with 3 guns were the trophies of the victories. The loss on the other side had been also heavy 29 being hors de combat. Of these 10 were Guards. The officers were for immediately storming Horpers but the Duke of Cambridge apparently satisfied with his victory entered into correspondence with the mutineers in Horpers, and on the 26th Sept signed the Convention of Horpers allowing them a free passage from that place. This exasperated his officers who saw that they must have fallen an easy prey to the victorious and ­­­­­­­­­­enraged army, and Mercury who had been deputed to carry out the terms of the convention resolved to let no opportunity slip which should serve to renew hostilities.

The evacuation took place on the 27th and an altercation took place about ammunition which was not mentioned in the convention. Mercury refused to allow it to be taken and attempted to take it by force. The enemy resisted and drew it off. On this and their refusal to give it up he dispatched a courier to Head Quarters at Aldesk and immediately commenced a vigorous cannonade on the enemy at two o’clock. On securing intelligence of the outbreak of fresh hostilities the Duke of Cambridge despatched the gun boat “Percy” with the 45th Sherwood Foresters on board to the scene of strife. This gun boat was the first of a powerful fleet ordered by H.IM. designed and built by Messrs F Nicholson & Co Ship Builders, Toby. The Percy carried 2 guns + the second, the Wonder frigate of 8 guns.

The Percy arrived off Horpers at 8.10 pm. In the meantime Cambridge hurried to the field with the Coldstreams and reserves. The Grenadiers Fusiliers and DA had already reached the field and commenced attacking the Right. Mercury pressed in on the centre and the 45th having disembarked charged the Left and took the ammunition waggon with the stores, which, catching fire burnt with indescribable fury and finally blew up. The enemy were in direful condition when Cambridge again interfered and they were allowed to march off leaving all their guns in the hands of the victor.* (Such however was their direful condition that out of the splendid army they entered Horpers with only a fortnight before but 43 out of the original 120 original complement remained).

In the interim, the enemy at Powgen discovered the small force bloc[k]ading sallied out, on which H.I.M. retreated to the vicinity of Powgen. On the [left blank] October the enemy having reorganised the multitude in Powgen advanced against the lines which H.I.M. had erected before his position at Sopy. At the same time a strong column proceeded along the Sea Coast towards Hictown to take H.I.M.’s Left Wing. H.I.M. was early on the field, altho’ the foe had taken advantage of the right which was not so dark as they could have desired, and a torrent of orders apparently unconnected poured forth. Immediately the “Percy” with DA and CG set sail.

The force in Sopy marched for the front where the attack apparently was strongest. The Grenadiers and Fusiliers gallantly held the Camp, the Left was ably held by the 23rd Welsh Fusiliers. But the column proceeding to the flank attack being within a mile and a half of Sopy, they sent forward the Cavalry to take the Camp in rear. Already were the Dragoons penetrating the midst of the tents, and H.I.M. was aware of the fact. He instantly ordered the Life Guards to charge. With alacrity they took to horse and being formed by their Colonel (Herbert) in squadrons dashed on with an irresistible force but being attacked by fresh foes (Cuirassiers and Lancers) in succession they being overwhelmed by numbers they were compelled to give way tho’ but slowly. H.I.M. with his great military eye had forseen and [unreadable] flying like the wind.

Quarter of an hour later the 10th H were mingling shoulder to shoulder with the Life Guards in the deadly struggle. Having arrived off the coast where the enemy’s flanking column was proceeding the “Percy” disembarked the troops on which the column retreated to the Left and effected a junction with the army, followed by DA. The Scots Greys who were also distant asked at once made for the raging cavalry fight at full speed. Assaulting in close squadrons the centre of the fight they completely cut off a force of dragoons who surrendered and being now in great superiority over the enemy drove them back within their lines pursuit being prevented by the impenetrable phalanx. With this all fighting ceased and the conflict which had been raging 3 hours was over by 10 pm.

During the night H.I.M. drew off his forces and took up his position in Sopy. The enemy immediately commenced to scour the country round. H.I.M. however having finished the war in Aldesk the enemy having been driven out of that quarter through the victories of his General Cambridge at Aldesk and Horpers was now joined on the 4th October by the army of Aldesk, BG Mercury having been left at Horpers razing the fortifications with his division. The troops arrived in the new frigate the Wonder. H.I.M. had now 130 men under his command. Owing to the bad state of the weather his projected attack on the rebels was postponed and the enemy perceiving the great strength of H.I.M.’s forces withdrew to the protection of their stronghold. The weather clearing up H.I.M. immediately commenced on the great military movements which brought to a close this bloody insurrection. As a precaution, the conscription had been called out and was now in training.  H.I.M. however hoped to be able to finish the war with the forces comprising his army.

On the morning of the 1st October the frigate “Wonder” set sail with a strong force chiefly the army of Horpers being the Highland brigade and 3rd + 5th Battalions Foot Guards and 2nd North British Dragoons. Proceeding southward along the coast they embarked at 10 pm about 15 miles below Sopy. H.I.M. being informed of their safe arrival immediately marched with his army for Powgen, the “Percy” and “Royal George” proceeding into the River Abosot protecting the advance of the columns, having Drouot’s Artillery on board. Arrived before Powgen at 6 pm. They advanced in line upon that hitherto invincible fortification, the key of H.I.M.’s dominions in the North.

The rebels had thrown up entrenchments before Powgen by the Left Bank of the river. Behind these and extending through the town to the rearward a considerable force, but on the Right bank of the river which was unfortified either by Nature or Science, the great bulk of the army reposed. H.I.M. therefore advanced with his army consisting of Guards alone against the entrenched position. DA on the opposite (Right) side of the river occupied the strongest part of his army assisted by a vigorous fire from the “Percy” with her bow and stern chasers the distance being great. The well directed discharges from the guns of the Artillery of the Guard decimated those battalions in front of the Rebel line.

The attack of the Guards was met by a strong cannonade which caused great loss to the Grenadiers + Fusiliers who led the way. At this junction the troops from the “Wonder” after a toilsome march appeared on the Right Bank. With irresistible ardour they advanced and joining DA attacked with the bayonet the shallow lines of the rebels and driving before them both reached the bridge which crosses the river, and enters by the road into the town. Here the rebels made a determined stand and for a long time defeated all who ventured to approach and Battalion after Battalion of Highlanders was forced back in a vain effort to gain possession. At length the Brigade of Guards under Captain Ernest with the 79th Regiment under Colonel MacConnal who had shown great military skill and commanded the whole of the force from the “Wonder”, superceding his late superior MG Campbell, gained a footing on the Bridge immediately strengthening themselves by the advance of a Battery of Artillery.

This with a charge of the Scots Greys throwing the mutineers into disorder prepared the way for a grand assault by the whole of the Corps on that Bank of the river which was eminently successful altho’ this was in a measure owing to the want of Cavalry on the part of the rebels; all their Cavalry being then engaged in a deadly combat with the Cavalry of H.I.M. This cavalry encounter was the most furious and bloody that had ever been witnessed no mercy being given on either side – at length the Heavy Brigade carried all before them.

While this fight continued on the Left of Powgen H.I.M. with the Guards advanced to storm the fortress and Col MacConnal with Drouot’s Artillery having effected the passage of the well contested bridge advanced upon it from behind driving their foes before them till they arrived before the gate of the town. Their ponderous weight was blown to pieces by a discharge from Drouot’s Gun No. 1. The troops formed in columns rushed forward: and the Guard under the Duke of Cambridge, having taken the entrenchments, and stormed the fortification in front; the two armies overturning all who opposed them met in the centre of the town, and after a blockade of 21 days, during which 2 pitched battles had been fought. There were captured 39 prisoners 5 banners; one standard and a vast amount of Stores, Ammunition, Guns etc., with 2 Generals.

This victory decided the complete overthrow of all rebellious machinations altho’ attended with a great sacrifice. A few statistics may be instructive to the reader. The 1st Corps d’armée out of 119 men lost 39. The second Corps lost 13 men. The Heavy Cavalry of the Guard lost above ½ of their number. The Life Guards who went into action 11 strong came out with but 5, the Guard lost 24 out of 90 men, the Highlanders 11 out of 25. The town (Powgen) was given over to the soldiery + a scene of pillage to attendant upon such scenes was continued by Official decree by H.I.M. for 3 days. Powgen paid severely for the hospitable treatment she gave to the army who held her for such a time. H.I.M. immediately commenced strengthening Powgen when the Fredrichsburg War interrupted his peaceful slumbers.

We cannot conclude the Mutiny without bestowing a passing glance to that fine regiment the “Fifth Dragoon Guards” or Heavy Dragoons of the Guard. Their banner with this campaign was full of names, and they had been engaged in every battle except that of “Sopy”; from the Battle of Recknot downward to this ____. These are the names that decorate their glorious flag. “Recknot” – “Huzmers” – “ Nukhel” – “Emburg” -  “Lasterne” – “Hisban” – “Powgen” – “Aldesk” – “Horpers” – “Abosot”.