Monday, February 14, 2011

Boxer Campaign - Battle of the Moon Temple - Part 10 of 12

DAY6 of the Campaign - "Licking Wounds"

They weather was clear and the sun rose like a bloated melon in the sky. This day was good. The Western Trading Station had been relieved and the casualties had been relatively light, except for the Italians. The Western Civilians, wagons, Chinese Christians, the wounded, and healthy soldiers all prepared to move out. The prospect of freedom and safety shown in the smiles of the civilians. They were ready to leave ... now all they had to do was walk to the coast and the safety of the International navies that awaited them there.

The refugee column would consist of the wounded, Chinese Christians, Western Civilians, supply train, along with several thousand European and United States Soldiers protecting them. This column was able to assemble and begin their march around 8AM.

Meanwhile an expedition to save the Italians diplomats was put together and commanded by Generale Adolfo Modladatii. This small force of roughly 3000 Italians, British, Germans, and American moved out at 7AM to the Moon Temple. The temple was not far and should be easily invested by the troops.

Upon arrival at the Moon Temple, negotiators were sent into the compound to secure the release of the diplomats. The negotiations failed to release of the Italian diplomats and their families. The negotiating officers have returned from the stout walls of the temple complex and report that there are thousands of poorly armed monks scattered about the compound. The walls are nearly six feet thick and painted in a garish yellow, which are far too strong for the light howitzers and field guns that have been brought to the battle.

Generale Adolfo Modladatii, Conte de Milan, the commander of the Italians and commander of this operation against the Moon Temple surveys his forces. An eager group of Italians Marines and Sailors, along with the British Royal Marines recently liberated from the Western Trading Station. Two howitzers, one manned by Italian sailors and the other by British sailors. He is happy to have American and German allies here at the Temple as his Italian Bersaglieri forces were decimated at the BATTLE OF WUSEN. The Americans brought two battalions of the 14th Regiment, plus a 3" gun section. The Germans brought their 3rd Seebatallion (Marines) who have seen plenty of colonial warfare in the last couple of years. With roughly three thousand men and 6 guns\howitzers this force should be more than sufficient to smash the militant monks of the Moon Temple and rescue the Italians diplomats and their families that were captured by the monks while they were shopping in WUSEN.

The TEMPLE has only one entrence and the walls are nearly 20 feet high. Looks like the allies will need to blow through the entrence doors and storm the compound as they have no other siege equipment. The interior of the complex has several sanctuaries for praying, several barracks and market stalls, along with a large pagoda in the center, which looks more like a keep than a pagoda. The Americans are deployed on the left flank facing the entrence, the Italians, British and the two howitzer sections are in the center and the German Marines anchoring the right. The Italian baggage train and field hospitals are safe between the attacking troops and the old Imperial Canal which is to the rear of the allied position. There is a small group of trees to the left of the allies position and WUSEN is a couple thousand yards to their right.

Supplies and Medical teams prepare to move out to the Moon Temple

Couriers were dispatched to WENPO, SI-LIAN, and WIE LUNG HOO about the victory in WUSEN and the coming of the column.

Battle of Moon Temple


The militant monks had captured the Italian diplomats and their families while they were shopping in WUSEN. The Italians cobbled together a relief force of Italians Sailors, British Royal Marines, US infantry, and German Marines commanded by Generale Adolfo Modladatii to help rescue the hostages. This force of about 3000 soldiers with 6 guns attacked the Moon Temple around 8AM in the morning after negociations with the monks went nowhere.

As there was only one main entrance to the temple the guns would have to blow down the doors. The allies moved their guns into position and started hammering the old wooden doors. Although the doors looked think and strong they collapsed much quicker than expected and the allied infantry was several hundred yards away from the doors when they were shattered by the light howitzers and field guns.

Howitzers and guns blast the gate to pieces

[We had hidden deployment for the monks as they were outclassed and not visible to the allied positions. There were five wooden blocks representing possible locations of the militant monks locations.]

Monk's view of the attack. Germans on the left, Italians in the middle, and US on the right.

The Italian sailors (Regina Navali), in a complete battle frenzy, launched into the breach without waiting for a concerted effort. Avante! They formed into column of companies and made their way through the chard remains of the entrance door and into the MOON TEMPLE courtyard. The Americans were leery of advancing as there were indications that enemy forces may be in the woods to their left, so they remained behind to cover the Regina Navali and Royal Marine's left flank. The German Marines meanwhile guarded the right flank of the Italian advance.

Regina Navali charging into the compound

As the first companies of Italian sailors passed through the gate they came under withering fire from the pagoda located in the middle rear of the temple compound. The Monk's muskets rattled and a heavy jingal joined in on the killing. Their position in the second and third stories of the pagoda gave them and excellent field of fire. The Italian sailors, just recently filled with bravado and battle lust, is completely shattered by the enemy volleys and seeing thousands of the monks to their flanks in the courtyard turned and fled!

To the shock of the other contingents the Regina Navali came running out of the temple carrying as many of their dead and wounded as they could. Generale Adolfo Modladatii ordered forward the British 3" howitzer to cover the rout and hopefully open up some holes in the enemy positions. The British sailors moved their howitzer into position and started firing rounds into the Pagoda where the monks were located. To gun crews great surprise several hundred monks came screaming out of the gate and charged into the two gun sections. The gun crew, grabbing any weapons they could find, retreat away from the guns before they are slaughtered. The Monks stand among the howitzers cheering and taunting the British sailors!

British Sailors overrun by monks

This only angered the British Royal Marines who had finally maneuvered into supporting position of the guns and they opened up on the ragged mob of monks. Sheets of fire came from the Royal Marines and hundreds of monks fell in big heaps around the howitzers. They falter and break throwing their weapons to the ground and running back into the temple. Once again the entrence way is cleared of Chinese forces, but the MOON TEMPLE is no where near being cleared of enemy troops.

Generale Adolfo Modladatii, face beat-red with anger, orders the Italian howitzers and US light field gun to engage the Pagoda and destroy the monks that were covering the main gate. He also rallied the British sailors who moved back into position with their howitzers clearing off the dead and wounded Chinese monks that were laying about their gun position. The guns barked and large chunks of the pagoda came crashing to the ground. Strangely there was not return fire or chanting from the monk positions in the pagoda, it seems that the monks had slipped down to the ground floors of the pagoda before they could be targeted! The monks are proving to be a crafty opponent that doesn't want to give up their shrines too easily.

Meanwhile the Regina Navali, which are bloodied and tired are rallied by Generale Modladatii and with the British Royal Marines form up into column of companies to do a dual assault on the temple. Suddenly an Italian Aide-de-Camp arrives with a message for the Generale.

"Sir, dust clouds to our rear!"

Wheeling about, Generale Adolfo Modladatii heart leapt into his throat. "Those aren't our forces!" The allied forces rear was protected by the old canal which had two bridges that crossed over it. The closest bridge, directly behind the allies, was an old stone foot bridge which wouldn't be able to handle wagons and such. The other bridge was a larger stone bridge designed for traffic and trade which lead to LIAO FUN. The dust columns were rising from the millet fields on the far side of the canal. The millet concealed both the size and composition of the ominous enemy formations.

First of the Western Trained Army arrives

"Alert the Germans and Americans! We have to take the temple NOW!!! Get the supply wagons moving towards the temple also. They can't be lost!!"

Activity on the left (Americans) and right (Germans) flanks of the allied forces have been quiet all morning until the discovery of the dust clouds. The large dust clouds brought everything into focus and was supposed to be an easy morning dispersing mobs has turned into something sinister. The Americans turned the 2nd battalion to cover the small foot bridge behind the supply wagons. The other US Battalion started moving towards the temple, they had been resting in the field all morning and hadn't bothered to advance leaving them about 800 yards from the temple.

On the right, Captain of Marines - Erich von Burgesshoff ordered his men into open order line and wheeled them to meet the threat of the on coming enemy columns. As the men were turning they saw the Chinese Imperial Cavalry crossing the solid stone bridge. This wasn't ordinary Imperial cavalry, but the Western Trained Army!!! These Chinese were armed with the same deadly weapons the allies had: Mausers and Krupp guns along with the best training from European officers. THIS is a problem!

Erich von Burgesshoff takes command

[All three allied commanders, once they knew what they were up against looked at each other in disbelief. Their small, and now damaged force, was completely cut off from their lines of communication. Their wagons\supplies were vulnerable, they were finally fighting a equal opponent, they were now out-numbered, all reinforcements were heading away from them, and they hadn't even secured the temple yet!]

Chinese form up

The closest German Marines began to fire at the Chinese Cavalry crossing the bridge hoping to hit them while they were not deployed for battle. Their fire was ineffective, but at least they were within range. Meanwhile, Generale Modladatii gave the order and the remnants of the Regina Navali and British Royal Marines rushed the gate and ran into the courtyard. The Royal Marines moving to the left while the Regina Navali moved to the right upon entering the courtyard. Both units immediately come under fire, with the Regina Navali being complete shot to pieces and the Royal Marines taking devastating casualties. Things have never looked so grim for the allies. The United States commanding officer, Colonel A. S. Daggett 14th Infantry Regiment, sent a courier to the main refuge column asking for military assistance as it was likely the international forces would have to hold-up in the temple as they were completely outnumbered and out-gunned.

Royal Marines and Regina Navali storm the temple

Down to only one effective company, the Royal Marines fire into the monks to their front and cut huge holes in their mass. Over and over the Royal Marines deliver deadly volleys at less than 50 yards. The monks break and run away. The situation was still precarious as the Royal Marines had the strongest monk unit to their rear across the courtyard. Thinking quickly the captain of Marines had his Marines run away from the monks at the double to put some distance between them and the overwhelming enemy forces. By this point they were outnumbered nearly 10 to 1 and the distance would create a lot of deadly ground between them and the monk and let them take advantage of their superior firepower and weapon ranges.

The Italians supply wagons and field hospital wagons are making a desperate "charge" to the temple even though it still hasn't been cleared of the enemy, but they had little choice as more and more Western Trained Imperial Army units pour across the canal and onto the battlefield. Von Burgesshoff personally takes command of one unit of German Marines while giving the orders for the other unit to come into line with his unit of Marines so they can better delivered measured Mauser volleys. By now nearly 4000 Western Trained troops had pushed over the canal and were forming up in front of the Germans, with the enemy column showing no signs of ending.

Chinese Krupp field guns and medium howitzers are unlimbered and readied for battle. 

"Feuer!", screamed Captain von Burgesshoff. The Mauser belched fire and Chinese infantry begin to fall.

"Feuer!", the second German Marine battalion joins in the carnage.

In the MOON TEMPLE the British sailors roll their howitzer through the gate to fire on the remaining monks. The Royal Marines form up and reload, while the monks charge the howitzer gun crew. With the monks about to overrun the British sailors the Royal Marines unleash several volleys into the flank of the charging monks and hundreds fall. The Monk leader screams as his last heroic warriors are put ot flight! He has lost his "army", he has lost his temple, but he sure doesn't want to lose his life. His thoughts are distracted by the cacophony to the east.

Royal Marine flank shot

German firing line

"Feuer!", Chinese units begin to break under the deadly German hail of bullets.

"Feuer frei!", the gun crews are crushed by the deadly German Mauser fire.

The entire 1st Brigade of the Western Trained army is in rout. The Chinese guns are silent. The Cavalry brigade is smashed and out of command. Debris, bodies, and horses block the bridge and the Western Trained army begins to withdraw into the millet to lick their wounds.

The monk leader agrees to release the Italian diplomats and their families to the custody of the Royal Marines in exchange for his life. The Royal Marines secure the families and begin the morbid task of burying their dead. A huge sigh of relief can be heard from all three allied commanders. The battle was completed by 9:30AM. The American commander sent a follow-up message to the main refuge column. All it said was ... "never mind".

NOTE: This battle could have been a complete disaster for the allies, but through superior drill and fire discipline (along with some of the worst die rolling ever seen by the Chinese) they were able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. This battle will become legendary for the 3rd German Marines and the British Royal Marines.

Victory Points for the Battle of Moon Temple
Germans = 4VPs (8 Imperial units routed or destroyed)
Italians\British = 17VPs (3 Boxer style units routed or destroyed, 1 Imperial unit routed, +5 VPs for allied help in this operation, +10 for saving the diplomats, -2 Italian Sailors Routed)
United States = 0

Several British Royal Marines pose in front of a shrine after the battle.

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