Right: A map for this wargames scenario, a made to fit a 8.5 x 8.5 foot table of four 6 ft. x 2.5 ft. tables arranged as shown.
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The day after the debacle at Turuturu-Mokai, on 13 June, Lt. Col. McDonnell, the government militia commander in the Taranaki district, rode up from Waihi Fort, and paced the inside of Turuturu-Mokai Redoubt, its walls sagging, its interior littered with dead Pakeha, and saw his friend Captain Ross stone dead and mutilated at his feet. He then walked outside with his subordinate Captain Roberts. "When they had gone a short distance he said, 'Sit down.' Drawing his sword, he extended the blade, gleaming brightly in the winter moonlight, and brought it back up to his lips, kissed it, and said dramatically, 'Roberts, I shall have revenge for this'" (James Cowan, The New Zealand Wars and the Pioneering Period, vol. 2, p.201 [evidence of J.M. Roberts]).
In truth, he had to do something - Titokowaru's mana was growing, and neither the government's men nor their allies the Whanganui were eager for another pan-tribal revolt like that of the Hau-Haus a couple of years before. Having only recently "confiscated" the land in a bitter and expensive war, the government could not well tolerate hostile Maori hapu within its borders. McDonnell's solution: destroy the Ngaruahine.
Over the next two months he and his men made three sorties against their main village of Te Ngutu o te Manu, a collection of huts situated in a large forest clearing not far to the southwest of the main Armed Constabulary base at the Waihi Redoubt. The first attempt, on 11 August, was abortive: the main body of the Constabulary lost their way in the bush and never made it to the clearing. They shot an old Ngaruahine man from a nearby village before they left. In the second attempt, on 21 August they went straight up the main Pungarehu track, so as not to repeat their earlier mistake, and reached the huts themselves, albeit not without casualties from well-directed Maori sharpshooters who had mostly disappeared back into the forest by the time the troops reached the village. They torched the place all right, but on the way back the rest of the Ngaruahine made their appearance, and pursued McDonnell, encumbered with his many dead and wounded, all the way back to Waihi Redoubt, infliucting so many casualties and making such a show of it afterwards that in the end it was more Titokowaru's victory than his.
McDonnell, now madder than ever, decided to make one more assault on 7 September, and this time teach Titokowaru a lesson he would not forget. This time he to avoid all tracks, and circle round to the Raururu clearings north of Te Ngutu, then wheel to the south to approach Te Ngutu opposite from the Pungarehu track, and take Te Ngutu from the rear.
His men reached the Raururu clearing and encountered an old man and two children. His nervous men fired on them; the old man and one of the children were killed but the other made it off towards the clearing to warn the others. The game was up.
As it happened, Titokowaru did not need the child's warning to know the Pakeha was out there in the trees - the foolish gunshot sounds were warning enough. Anticipating an attack from the bush, the Ngaruahine had prepared hidden firing positions in the bush all around the clearing: platforms up in trees with rifle slits, hollowed-out trees, and pits concealed by fallen trunks, ferns, grass, and scrub. They were well out from the edge of the clearing, and were widely spaced, but had interlocking fields of fire.
As the militia streamed into the bush, they were shot at with an accurate, deadly fire from all directions, but could see no enemy save for those in the palisading in the clearing. Indeed, they could not determine where the enemy positions were. Major Gustavus Von Tempsky led his division into the Mangotahi creek bed for shelter but was met by a shattering volley from the opposite bank and enfiladed from a hill to his right. The newly-raised Wellington volunteer units, unused to the bush, clumped together and took heavy casualties. The Wellington Rangers disintegrated entirely and its men routed in all directions. The rest of the force would neither advance nor retreat.
McDonnell was shocked and would not sound an advance. Kepa got permission for Kawana Hunia, his second in command, to move round the edge of the clearing towards the Pungarehu track. to outflank the Hauhaus. Kawana’s Wanganui warriors went well back and took no further part in the fighting, suffering no casualties. Von Tempsky, too, was growing impatient, and after arguing with McDonnell, took matters into his own hands and moved out along the western edge towards the village with as many men as would follow him, followed by Captain Harry Hunter, Captain Hastings, and Roberts and Buck with their remaining troops.
McDonnell was now left alone with Major William Hunter, Kepa, and 100 men. He had suffered at least 20 casualties already, which would require 60-70 men to carry back. Rather than charge and suffer more, he decided to withdraw. However, his force was now split and he was out of touch with Kawana and Von Tempsky.
Von Tempsky had circled the clearing and halted near the western edge during a pause in the shooting. Von Tempsky was indecisive, as he had received no orders to attack. Roberts suggested that he and Buck should continue around the rear of the village to the eastern edge to link up with Kawana, so that should the order come, they could assault the village from both the front and the rear. Von Tempsky agreed, and off they went.
At this point, the faltering Col. McDonnell gave the order to withdraw the entire force. But his command was split into four parts all around the clearing, out of touch with one another and under heavy fire from an enemy they could not see.
It is in this hellish situation, at this very point in the battle, that our scenario begins.
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The following OOB is scaled down roughly to 1 figure for every 2 actual men in the battle.
All officers are assumed to have a six-shot revolver and a saber as a melee weapon. The Armed Costabulary and the Patea Cavalry troopers are armed with single-shot breech-loading carbines, the other units having Enfield muzzle-loading rifles. Some of the Whanganui might have shotguns instead if they like.
The Armed Constabulary count as European Regulars.
The Whanganui are treated as a Maori hapu.
All other colonial units are Settler Militia.
Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas McDonnell:
Lt. Col. McDonnell - European Commanding Officer
Major William Hunter, 3 Div. AC
Major Kepa te Rangiwhinui, Whanganui Contingent
Captain William McDonnell - Whanganui Contingent, attatched
Captain D. Brown
Captain William Newland
18 Armed Constabulary of No. 3 Division
6 Patea Cavalry
Major Gustavus Ferdinand von Tempsky:
Major Von Tempsky, 5 Div. AC
Captain Palmer, Patea Rifles
Captain Harry Hunter, Wellington Rangers
Lieutenant Hastings,Wellington Rangers
Ensign C. Hirtzell
18 Armed Constabulary of No. 5 Division
20 Taranaki Rifle Volunteers and Patea Rifle Volunteers
Captain John M. Roberts:
Captain Roberts, 2 Div. AC
Captain George Buck, Wellington Rifles
Lieutenant J. Livingston
18 Armed Constabulary of No. 2 Division
20 Wellington Rifles
Kawana Hunia - Subsidiary chief
Based on a (very liberal) estimate of about 120 warriors in the bush and more in the village.
In the Bush:
Hauwhenua -Bold principal chief, single-shot breech-loading carbine
Toi Whakatata - Bold subsidiary chief, breech-loading shotgun
Katene Tuwhakaruru - Bold subsidiary chief, single-shot breech-loading carbine
Tautahi Ariki - Bold subsidiary chief, breech-loading shotgun
50 warriors - mixture of breech-loading shotguns, smooth-bore muskets, and Enfield rifled muskets
In the village, coming as reinforcements after Turn 3:
Wairau - Bold subsidiary chief, breech-loading shotgun
10 warriors - mixture of breech-loading shotguns, smooth-bore muskets, and Enfield rifled muskets
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Terrain, Starting Deployments, and Special Rules:
The scenario is meant to be played on an 8.5 foot square table, but the clearing in the center need not be represented, since it was never entered by government force. The map shows how this can be arranged using four 2 1/2 foot x 6 foot tables. All except the clear part and the stream is forest and considered Rough Going. As forest, figures may hide behind individual terrain clumps as per the rules but nobody can see farther than 12 inches into it. The Mangotahi stream bisects the table. It is really more of a banked ravine - there is some a little water in it but it is shallow. One would cross it at half rate, but moving up and down its length costs nothing. For cover, being behind it or behind the banks is like being behind earthworks - however as soon as you fire out (or in), you lose that cover for the following enemy turn. The knoll is gentle and is no different from the forest except in melee.
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Before the game starts, i.e. before the Ngaruahine players know where the government forces set up, they are to be given 30 "pit markers." These each represent a concealed rifle position which can hold two men. They should be discrete markers, and the Ngaruahine players should hide them in any positions they like anywhere on the table outside the clearing in the centre, probably tucking them under tree bases or lichen so the government players can't see them. The Ngaruahine might want to draw a sketch map so they can remember where the pits are.
These positions, and any figures in them, are completely invisible to the Colonial and Whanganui players, even when the figures in them shoot. Outside the pits, normal visibility rules apply, but the moment a figure enters a pit, he disappears. Remove him from the table and mark his position on a map - no marker appears. A clever government player, therefore, might note where they see Maoris "vanish into thin air."
The only way the government players can discover these pits is to walk right into them, or within 1 inch. If there is no GM, Titokowaru's players are obliged to tell the government player whenever he discovers such a position. Once a position is discovered, no marker may be placed, but again the Governement players may mark them on a map or remember where they are however they like.
The bulk of the Ngaruahine force (40 figures) must begin the game concealed in these positions.
In addition, Titokowaru has some men in the village who can sortie and reinforce the concealed positions, or else fight as normal. They may enter the board by making a normal move from any point on the edge of the clearing in the centre starting Turn 3 or after.
Tip: Don't squander your warriors out in the open by moving carelessly - read the visibility and concealment rules and use them to your advantage!
-No 50% Break Point!
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There really must be at least 4 Government players for this game to work, at least one each representing Col. McDonnell, Major Von Tempsky, Captain Roberts, and Kawana Hunia. They start in the dispositions shown on the map in open order. For the sake of the fun of the game, they are allowed to chat and give low-level tactical advice. The other players' orders are to hold their positions, though they are free to fan out, and root out and disperse any hostile Maori within 24 inches of their starting positions. However,
For these topics, couriers are necessary:
The withdrawal order given by McDonnell which starts the game
Objections/modifications to the withdrawal order
Requests for reinforcements from other players
News as to the sway of the fighting in other quarters of the table
These must arranged in the most literal manner possible - the Government player wishing to send a message one of the above subjects must delegate one of the officer figures of his own command, along with however many energetic guards he feels he can spare to escort the courier up to 10 men, to go pay Von Tempsky or Kawana a visit, moving at the "European Ranger" movement rate and using the same visibility and concealment rules - i.e., as a unit through the forest turn-by-turn - until he reaches within 1 inch base-to-base of whomever he is supposed to talk to, or else his replacement.
The couriers must be officers or allied chiefs - an enlisted man, warrior, or NCO is not considered reliable and would probably simply run away.
This means that if the courier dies, the order is lost and the surviving guards, if they pass their morale have the option of either proceeding or turning back at their next opportunity. Neither will effect the passage of the information.
Note that the same officers may be required for leading men as well - a leaderless unit is a risk the Government players may have to take. High officer casualties and leaderless units were a feature of this battle. Note also that Kawana has no subordinates he can delegate - this is to reflect that historically he apparently never tried to contact anyone.
The Government Maori:
- The Whanganuis act as two Maori hapu, not European troops.
- Both hapu must observe the 50% Break point – i.e. when either is reduced to two-thirds strength, it must abandon the fight and retreat off-table.
Pakeha officer casualties:
Roll a D12 instead of the usual 2D6 during the Firing phase when determining pakeha officer casualties from shooting:
1 = officer is dead
2 = officer is wounded
1-10 = officer is unharmed
Carrying Wounded and Dead:
There is a great concern to carry both wounded and dead back to camp - the failure to bring them all back is thought to be one of the greatest disasters of the battle, for in mutilating and eating Von Tempsky and the others, Titokowaru proclaimed his mana over the pakeha to all, and his following grew, while the pakeha militia and constabulary became demoralized listening from Waihi redoubt to the whoops and hakas of the Ngaruahine boasting of it.
There were no stretchers available and the flooded Waigongoro stream had to be crossed to get back to the Waihi redoubt, so the seemingly large ratio of four men to carry each wounded man is used. For a wargame this seems severe so I am making it two fit men to carry one wounded or dead man. While carrying a casualty, a figure uses the normal open-order rate for his class but may not shoot or fight while doing it. If attacked in melee, he always fails his contact check and takes an additional -2 penalty for not having his rifle ready if overtaken.
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The Government Players have to withdraw off the northwest corner of the table along the Pungarehu track without entering the clearing. They are advised to carry their dead with them - otherwise they will be mutilated and eaten by Titokowaru's followers. The game ends when all the unwounded government figures are off the table.
The whole object of the battle for the government, and especially once the retreat is sounded, is to maintain credibility; or, in Maori terms, prevent the rebel Titokowaru's mana, or life-spirit, mystical power and personal prestige, from growing.
How Titokowaru can gain mana points:
|Each government figure killed or wounded* but carried safely off the field.||+1 point|
|Each government figure fled off the table in a rout:||+2 points|
|Each dead or wounded* Government figure that falls into Ngaruahine hands:||+2 points|
|Each dead or wounded* Government leader that falls into Ngaruahine hands:||+5 points|
Determining the Winner:
||A major Government success - "Ngutu attacked and burnt this day. Enemy well thrashed... behavior of all ranks splendid - could not be surpassed. Great success. Very tired, can say no more." - Col. Thomas McDonnell, 21 August, 1868.|
||A minor Government success - "This gallant officer was awarded the New Zealand Cross, by his resolute bearing on 6 [sic] September 1868, at Te Ngutu o te Manu, where owing to a miscarriage of order issued by Colonel McDonnell to retire, he and his men were left behind, and eventually had to fight their way back through standing bush closely pursued by the enemy. To his coolness and determination on this occasion may be attributed the saving of the force under his command. To his fortitude as a soldier and the confidence he inspired, was mainly due the discipline of his men who kept their ranks in a dense bush in spite of the repeated efforts of the enemy to close with them, and so enable [sic] the force, encumbered with the wounded to draw off in good order." - New Zealand Cross citation for Lt. Col. John M. Roberts, 1869.|
||A notable Ngaruahine success - "Cease entirely travelling on the roads that lead to Mangamanga (Waihi camp) lest ye be left upon the roads as food for the birds of the air and beasts of the field, or for me. For I have eaten man - I have begun to eat the flesh of the white man; I have eaten him like the flesh of the cow, cooked in the pot; all have eaten him, even the women and children. My throat is continually open for the eating of human flesh by day and by night." - Titokowaru, 19 June, 1868.|
||A major Ngaruahine success - "In the days of the past you
fought here and you fought there, and you boasted that you would always
emerge safely from your battles to the bright life of the world. But when
you encountered me, your eyes were closed in their last sleep. It could
not be helped; you sought death at my hands. And now you sleep for ever."
-- Titokowaru, evening of 7 September, 1868.
What Really Happened:
Captain William McDonnell was sent to order Von Tempsky to retreat. He did so, but moments afterwards, Von Tempsky was shot dead, as was Hastings.
Kawana was still hidden in the bush, and when some time had passed and he had received no orders, he realized which way the wind was blowing, and began to withdraw on his own, without knowing that Roberts and Buck were trying to meet up with him. Lt. Colonel McDonnell still believed that Von Tempsky’s division still had a full quota of officers and prepared to retreat. He ordered his brother William to hold a gorge leading to Te Manu te Whenua where an ambush might be laid, and then started moving back towards Waihi himself with Kepa and the wounded.
Upon reaching the eastern edge and failing to find Kawana, Roberts and Buck waited for the order to advance. Upon hearing nothing for some time, Roberts alone went back to reestablish contact with Von Tempsky, only to find Harry Hunter dead and Von Tempsky missing. Unaware of Von Tempsky’s fate and returning back to Buck, he found Buck had been killed. It is likely that the Ngaruahine had already dragged Von Tempsky’s body away. Not long before, Titokowaru had sent the Mawhitiwhiti sub-chief Wairau with ten men from the clearing down behind the far bank side of the stream bed to take advantage of an ambush opportunity - Von Tempsky had evidently been pacing up and down the stream bed in the open by himself and was shot in the head by one of Wairau's party with a double-barreled tupara, probably by the warrior Rangihinakau.
Roberts got together all the men he could, formed a half-moon formation and stared firing volleys. Soon, he had to retreat, carrying the wounded, as it was getting dark. Corporal James Russell of the AC, Roberts’ best man, was so severely wounded that he had to be left behind propped against a tree with a pistol. He shot dead a Hauhau who ran up to him, discouraging the rest so that they waited until he finally bled to death. By this time Roberts had only 58 fighting men left.
Roberts’ troops made it back to Waihi Redoubt navigating by the position of the moon, carrying the wounded and being pursued by Hauhaus most of the way. Lt. Col. Thomas McDonnell made sure he was the last man to arrive at Waihi.
All in all, the Government had lost 24 pakeha dead and 27 wounded. Kepa and Kwana's losses are unrecorded. The dead included five officers, Von Tempsky, Buck, Harry Hunter, Hastings, and Palmer; these and 15 others were left on the field to be ritualistically eaten and burnt that evening. At least 40 of the Wellington Rangers had fled the field entirely during the battle, some of whom were found dead later. The number of Titokowaru's losses was unclear, but estimated at 27 dead. The blow to the Government forces' morale was enormous - 5th Div. AC mutinied, McDonnell was replaced and subjected to Parliamentary inquiry, and many others were now described as "worse than useless" by McDonnell himself. The long and bitter campaign continued South Taranaki.
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Belich, James. The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian Interpretation of Racial Conflict. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1986.
Cowan, James. New Zealand Wars and the Pioneering Period, The. Wellington: Government Printer, 1922.
Finlay, Niell. Sacred Soil: Images and Stories of the New Zealand Wars. Auckland: Random House New Zealand, 1998.
Gibson, Tom. The Maori Wars. London: Leo Cooper, 1974.
Maxwell, Peter. Frontier: The Battle for the North Island of New Zealand, 1860 - 1872. Auckland: Celebrity Books, 2000.
Ryan, Tom, and Bill Parham. The Colonial New Zealand Wars. Wellington:
Grantham House, 2002.
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Back to the first scenario: Turuturu-Mokai 1868
On to the third scenario: Maraetahi 1870
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