Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Setting the Nepean ablaze: 1816

The year is 1816, the place is Smith's farm in the Nepean valley, in what is now New South Wales, Australia. We are using the rules Smooth and Rifled (with some house rules) as they work very well for this level of skirmish. We are using a scenario from A Grab Bag of Games.

At first the Darug people though only a few didjurigura garraway (white men) would come. But more than could ever have been imagined come up the river and the roads.

Fearing trouble, Governor Macquarie sends soldiers of the Veteran Company under Lieutenant Rivers, that loyal public servant, to Smith's Farm. 

A Darug leader, known in Lieutenant Rivers' journal as 'Ecstatic Traveller', or to the settlers as Happy Wanderer, or to the soldiers as just Happy decides enough is enough. He decided to gather the warriors and attack the place where the "fluffy-white kangaroo mob" lives.

Smith's Farm near the Nepean River
Smith's family and assigned convict labourers tend to their herd.

This industrious scene is shattered as some hostile Darug warriors  approaching from the north east.

Even more are approaching from the north west.

Today, the Darug, normally friendly, do not look happy.

At this point Lieutenant Rivers and his company happen to come swinging up the road from Parramatta.

Farmer Smith looking from soldiers to warriors and back to his family, instantly decides to get his family, and importantly his sheep, out of harms way.

The Darug warriors, however move incredibly quickly and throw a shower of spears as they run, wounding or terrifying the settlers.

The other war party start throwing spears and terms of abuse over the fence.

At this point the Darug warriors stop in amazement for two reasons. Firstly they make a terrible command roll. But secondly, the soldiers all simultaneously turn as one man. One end of the 'snake' stays still, the other marches forward. "What is this" cries Happy, "some sort of dance". 

Recovering their composure, the warriors resume throwing spears and creative insults over the fence.

Offended and hurt, the convicts run away, or sink to the ground wounded. Warriors jump the fence to round up the white-fluffy kangaroos.

Then the soldiers stop their weird dance, and at a cry from their officer raise their djarraba (Darug for musket) and all fire at the same time. The warriors are appalled and watch in shock as the soldiers do the ritual that makes the djarraba shoot again. This volley happens to kill Happy, throwing the warriors into more confusion. A third volley is somewhat more ragged, but sends the warriors fleeing down the road.

At a shout from Lieutenant Rivers, the drummer play a different tune and the soldiers stop firing and start to reload. The strange snake-dance begins again and the soldiers advance on the larger body of warriors. The warriors see no point in hanging around near these weird people, and fade back into the bush.
Here we see Happy's spirit nervously measuring the range to his warriors.

Lieutenant Rivers has not noticed that behind the enemy skirmish line, warriors have made off with most of the sheep.

The aftermath

Lieutenant Rivers reports back to Governor Macquarie the great great victory over the restless tribe. Farmer Smith, gingerly pulling a Darug spear out of his posterior, vows to leave the Nepean for good. Soon most of his neighbours follow him back to Sydney and the Nepean Valley once again becomes the unfettered hunting ground for the Darug. The Darug elders reflect on the events of the day and vacant spots around the fire, and vow never to fight against djarraba in the open again.