Battle of Gaza 1799 revisited

At OrcCon 2017 LAX convention Daniel and WR replayed out the Battle of Gaza 1799 scenario featured in WR back in 2011. Same scenario format, the tabletop action lasted for twenty turns of back and forth miniature conflict, out of the twenty-one scheduled scenario turns. Mid game WR had Daniel on the ropes after a grand mameluke cavalry charge, but in the end the French, having higher morale and combative abilities won out. Following is the blow by blow narrative for those interested. This scenario game really shows the back and forth action common for our napoleonic (republican) era games.

Opening scenario deployments. Levant Ottomans at left in Gaza and on the background low-rise. Arriving French at right crossing the Gaza wadi.

GD Lannes infantry command and General Murat’s cavalry cross the Gaza wadi toward Gaza and along the coastal road. March orders for both at start, Murat’s cavalry in battle mode formations.

Levant Ottomans defend Gaza village and the low-rise. Four commands present (l to r): Aga of Jerusalem on rise, Mameluke cavalry, Hassen Aga El Arish, and Adballa Pasha Palestine at Gaza.

The scenario map shows the basic open terrain for scenario. Coastal road to Gaza and beyond to Acre. Palm or fruit orchards, the town or village of Gaza, low rises or hills, and the Gaza wadi. The Mediterranean sea with coastal dunes edge one side of the tabletop. The ridge crest prevent vision across if on the lower ground. Scale to 12″ per square of tabletop, typical for the WR scenario maps.

Gaza 1799 game map. Each square is 12″. full scenario details in scenario notes file.

At start set up and deployments: Forces involved in scenario are two small French divisions, a cavalry “division in name” really a brigade, and attached HQ units. For the Levant Ottomans, they have four commands or “groups”. One mameluke cavalry group, the Palestine group, the Jerusalem group, and the former El Arish garrison group, plus HQ attachments. Overall, sides are about even with points (1185 vs. 1135). For miniatures count, the Levant Ottomans have 178, the French 101 present on the tabletop.

French 1). Lannes’ division at D4 map square.  2). Murat’s cavalry at C4.  3). Kleber’s division off map at C4, with two-hour delay, arrives at 1400 hours turn.  4). General Bonaparte and his HQ enters map C4 at 1340 hours turn.

Ottoman 1). Adballa Pasha Palestine group at C1 and D1 map squares.  2). Hassen Aga El Arish group at E1.  3). Aga of Jerusalem group at E2.  4). Mamelukes group at E2,  5). Ahmed Jezzar and his HQ enters map at C1 (Gaza) on 1340 hours turn.

Order of Battle: French (1185 points)

Bonaparte’s HQ:

Bonaparte’s guides (1×3 miniatures)

Sapper & Pioneers with engineer officer (1×4)

12lb positional battery (8 cannon)

Cavalry (Murat)

Converged light cavalry* (1×3)

1st Converged Dragoons* (1×3)

2nd Converged Dragoons* (1×3)

Regt de Dromedaries (1×3)

  • Converged light cavalry had 7th Hussars and 22nd Chasseurs a cheval
  • Converged dragoons had 3rd & 14th Dragoons and 18th & 20th Dragoons

Infantry Division (Lannes)

22nd DB de Legere (2×6 battalions)

13th DB de Ligne (2×6 battalions)

69th DB de Ligne (2×6 battalions)

8lb foot battery (8)

Infantry Division (Kleber)

2nd DB de Legere (2×6 battalions)

25th DB de Ligne (2×6 battalions)

75th DB de Ligne (2×6 battalions)

8lb foot battery (8)

Levant Ottomans: (1153 points)

Ahmed Jezzar HQ:

Zembuk camel artillery (1×5 plus dismounts)

Jaffa 6lb positional battery (10 cannon)

Palestine Group (Abdalla Pasha)

Anatolian Sipahi (1×8)

Anatolian Sipahi (1×8)

Nizam-i-Jedid infantry (4×6 battalions)

Sekhan infantry (1×10)

Levant Corsairs (1×10)

El Arish Group (Hassen Aga)

Bedouin Irregular cavalry (1×6)

Egyptian militia (w/spears 2×10)

Bedouin tribe (1×10)

Jerusalem Group (Aga of Jerusalem)

Bedouin Irregular cavalry (1×6)

Arab infantry (3×10)

Sekhan infantry (1×10)

Bedouin tribe (1×10)

Mameluke cavalry (Bey of Mamelukes)

Mameluke cavalry (1×6)

Mameluke cavalry (1×6)

The complete scenario notes file: Gaza 1799 Scenario Notes

Little opening movement on scenario first 1200 hours turn. The French infantry stay in place so that Lannes’s division can shake out from strategic march mode to battle mode and take stock of their opponents near Gaza. Murat’s cavalry slowly cross the wadi and approached Gaza along the coastal road (March order). The Ottomans just hold still, go into battle mode, except Hassen Aga’s group retains strategic mode in Reserve, and change their orders to Engage or Attack for the groups (divisions). No need to rush into battle thinks WR as the Levant Ottoman player.

Turn 1220 hours: Lannes’ infantry division cross the wadi (March order) since the Levant Ottomans were still distant. Levant Ottomans for their turn basically remained in place with their infantry, except for the Jerusalem and Palestine groups send their cavalry or Bedouin skirmishers forward. The mameluke cavalry group rides forward to corner of the low-rise. No artillery or small arms firing, the armies are still some distance apart.

Note: Reserve order is strategic mode, stationary in place, resting, pending orders to advance etc.. To advance, the Levant Ottomans changed their initial order chit from Reserve (blue) to Engage (yellow) or Red (Attack) and convert into battle mode to receive those order selections. These orders permit unit movement and combative actions, with some restrictions if using the Engage order. Both French commands are still under their initial March (green) orders, allows movement but only column formations and poor combative ability. They will change order selection, like the Levant Ottomans, upon nearing the enemy. Each command has one free change from their initial order choice to another before requiring a specific order change by their senior commander in person (or his ADC riding up). Order chits are color coded on their edge and placed under the commander’s miniature base.  Orders Table

Levant Ottomans break camp for some commands and advance. Mameluke cavalry near the corner of low-rise and Palestine group cavalry ride forth.

Turn 1240 hours: Having changed their command order from March (green) to Engage (yellow) during the command phase of the Levant Ottoman’s turn half, the French continue their advance. Murat’s cavalry change into linear formation to confront the advancing Levant Ottoman cavalry. WR should note when French last turn movement phase ended, the Palestine sipahi cavalry (within 8″) didn’t get carried away with their “Impetuous cavalry” rule and charge without orders to charge.

Note: For this scenario the mamelukes and sipahi cavalry suffer from the Impetuous cavalry rule. Any close order Ottoman cavalry marked with “ ! “ has a chance to involuntary declare / start a charge if an enemy formation completes it’s movement phase within the Ottoman cavalry’s charge angle and within 8” of the Ottoman cavalry front.

To determine if the close order Ottoman cavalry does impetuous charges, roll a 10D in the up coming shock phase, during the first shock option. If the number is less than the current unit CMR, then the Ottoman cavalry goes into a state of charge for that shock phase. Commander or officers can modify the CMR roll with a “positive value” to prevent the impetuous charge. Impetuous charging is similar to a “declared charge” for the shock phase and not a countercharge. The Ottoman cavalry may angle as per the declared charge cavalry rules.

French advance. Murat’s cavalry forms line and confront the advancing Levant Ottoman cavalry while their infantry under Lannes advance behind them, tossing out a skirmish line. Ottoman reply was match up their cavalry and stare at the French for now.

Turn 1300 hours: A turn of cavalry charges. The French declare offensive charge with only one converged dragoon regiment (one dragoon failed to charge). The single charging dragoon regiment triggers an Levant Ottoman sipahi countercharge, which gives the other French dragoon regiment second attempt their countercharge (and failed again).

WR marks declared offensive charge with red arrow marker and countercharges with blue arrow markers as shown in photos.

Start of the cavalry melee. The single dragoon regiment charges, triggers a sipahi countercharge. The second French dragoon regiment failed twice to charge or countercharge.

French dragoon regiment impacts the moving Palestine sipahi cavalry and is broken (retires away). Continuing forward, the sipahi cavalry crash into the morale disorder second dragoon regiment and send them in rout. Before the shock (charge) resolution, the French infantry under GD Lannes climb the low-rise nearby and formed several battalion squares with skirmishers out front. Two battalions are marching towards the coastal dunes with the 22nd chasseurs a’ cheval nearby.

Defeat of the 1st dragoon regiment charge. They are sent back retiring to reform.

Palestine sipahi impact the morale disordered second dragoon regiment.

The second dragoon regiment loses the fight and routs to the rear (second morale disorder result). Having only French square in front, the sipahi pull up and stop their forward charge.

Turn 1240 hours completed. Lannes infantry on low rise in squares and two battalion, with chasseurs heading for coastal dunes. Bedouin irregular cavalry in Gaza wadi.

Turn 1320 hours: Having blunted the French cavalry advance, Levant Ottomans watch as the French movements are slow and steady with their infantry demi-brigades. Infantry enter the dunes (two battalion legere) and occupy the nearby low-rise. French foot artillery unlimber and bombards some nearby poor Bedouin skirmishers. French cavalry reforms and gingerly trot forward again.

Levant Ottomans don’t push forward but send one sipahi regiment to counter the French advance into the coastal dunes. The rest of the Levant Ottoman cavalry retires to avoid any “impetuous charge” testing or French teasing them to charge.

French enter coastal dunes, occupy the low-rise, try out cannon on Bedouin infantry, and enjoy square formation. Levant Ottoman cavalry retires having stalled French advance for the moment.

Turn 1340 hours: Seeing the irregular Bedouin cavalry (in the wadi) working around the open French flank, the regiment of dromedaries ride over, formed up, and charged them. Touched by the sun, the Bedouin matched their charge and countercharges for the moment… but were soon sent flying in retirement. Along the coastal road General Bonaparte and his headquarters arrives, following the sole 12 pdr. battery along the coastal road. The Coptic legion battalion column forms flank protection for the road bound headquarters column.

General Bonaparte’s headquarters arrives with the Coptic legion, the Bonaparte personal guides, and the army 12pdr battery. Dromedaries vs. Bedouin melee at top.

The rest of the French have slowly pushed forward, across the coastal dunes for the two legere battalions, cavalry near the coastal road, and Lannes’ infantry descend from their low-rise. For the Levant Ottomans on their half of the turn the cavalry reform and form battle line besides Gaza village. Bedouin skirmishers keep their French opposite at bay.

After six turns or two hours, the French army has arrived and prepares to assault the Levant Ottoman front lines. They just need Kleber’s large infantry division to arrive next turn.

Turn 1400 hours: Arrival of the last French infantry division. GD Kleber arrives with his six battalions or three demi-brigade regiments and their attached 8 pdr. foot battery, all march by the coastal road. The dromedaries keep watch for those pesky rallied Bedouin cavalry in the wadi out on the right flank. The rest of the French position holds firm awaiting the artillery to reach their position and bombard the gathering Levant masses.

Kleber arrives on the coastal road with his division. The rest of the French hold position awaiting the artillery to bombard the Levant Ottoman infantry and cavalry massed before them.

General Kleber and his three demi-brigades and foot battery march on the battlefield still in strategic march mode and March orders.

Levant Ottomans have their own reinforcement arrive behind Gaza. Ahmed Jezzar with his artillery arrives from Acre to bolster the defense of Gaza. Skirmisher pop shots sound off in the front lines.

Zembuk camel artillery arrives from Acre in foreground. Bedouin skirmishers fire upon the French infantry, backed by a unit of Levant corsairs.

Turn 1420 hours: Kleber continues his strategic march forward to the French front line. He still hasn’t paused to form into battle mode and change his March order either. A bit daring Daniel….. the mamelukes are watching with the Palestine sipahi. French artillery bombards the fleet-footed Bedouins skirmishing before them. French legere battalions pressure the Levant Ottoman units along the coastal dunes. French artillery batteries gather along the coastal road to prepare a “grand battery” of 16 cannon.

French pressure increases slowly in the coastal dunes. Otherwise only the massed march of Kleber’s division just behind the French front line. French artillery massing in center.

Levant Ottoman response is tempered. Their cavalry hold position, Bedouin skirmishers out front. The massed ranks of Aga of Jerusalem group hold ground behind their ridge crest while Hassen Aga El Arish group has mostly spear armed Egyptian former garrison troops, standing under reserve.

Levant Ottoman await the French advance. Aga of Jerusalem group holds the ridge crest. Hassen Aga El Arish group stands still in reserve, armed mostly with spears.

Turn 1440 hours: French assault the Bedouin skirmishers in the dunes, who rout back to maybe rally. Having positioned the massed artillery battery within bombardment range, the French cavalry retire behind the battery, which now opens fire. GD Kleber’s division boldly advances alongside their artillery, still in strategic march mode.

Levant Ottomans, seeing their Bedouin skirmishers routed back, bring forward the Zembuk camel cannon, small 1 pdr. cannon swivel mounted on camels and fire dismounted. French skirmishers are amused by this new unit of Ottoman warfare. As the camels “roar”, two other Nizam-i-Jedid units exit Gaza and join the Levant corsairs in the dunes hopefully stop future French advance.

Nizam-i-Jedid battalions join the Levant corsairs in the dunes as the Bedouin skirmishers rout past. Zembuk camel artillery “unlimbered” to send small shot at the French skirmishers.

General view of the battlefield. Kleber’s division risky advance, the French battery, and the dunes fight.

Turn 1500 hours: Nine turns of play or three hours. The French continue to pressure the coastal dune Levant Ottoman defenders. They assault the Nizam-i-Jedid battalion, forcing it to retire. French skirmishers chain across the front lines, trading shots with Bedouin or corsairs in the dunes. GD Kleber continues his march forward in massed columns, supported by the French central battery covering the coastal road with round shot. A game pause…. the sounds of massed horses is heard at the start of the Ottoman turn as GD Kleber’s is lightly wounded in the arm. His command influence loss will test the French morale tests forthcoming.

Ahmed Jezzar sees his opportunity. Ordering forward all his battle cavalry, the mamelukes and sipahi line up and trot forward, closer and closer to the French skirmishers. But their eyes are on the massed French columns of GD Kleber behind the skirmishers. All those battalions are unprepared to receive charging cavalry. Only the thin skirmisher line, some bouncing round shot and stray French cavalry are between them and the French column heads.

Sipahi cavalry ride forward past the Zembuk camel cannoneers. Out on the coastal dunes the Nizam-i-Jedid battalion forced to retire while French skirmisher trade shots with corsairs.

Aerial view shows the massed Levant Ottoman cavalry forming up to charge French center. Kleber’s division is still in strategic mode and cannot form square next turn.

Turn 1520 hours: Massed Levant Ottoman cavalry sound their charges. Sipahi trumpeters cause trotting movement forward as the mamelukes need no encouragement to cut down the infidel invaders. French legere skirmishers look up… see the cavalry movement in front, and start retiring. This is no place to be as a skirmisher caught by cavalrymen, especially sharp swords of mameluke cavalry.

Red charge markers placed, morale tests taken, the Levant Ottoman horsemen are coming. One French battery is unprepared and limbered. Kleber’s men are still in strategic mode, nervous.

Mameluke charge from their viewpoint. Two units of mamelukes with sharp swords.

Start of French charge receiving tests taken. Most French skirmishers bolt for the rear or rejoin their parent unit. But one very brave legere group hold their ground and form back into linear formation, standing before the charging sipahi cavalry. They cannot form square from skirmisher formation, only line or column… just hope firepower stops the sipahi charge from overrunning them.

French skirmishers have bolted or returned to their parent unit. One very brave group held their ground and changed back to close order line (cannot go to square) before sipahi regiment.

French Movement phase completed after the Ottoman Charge declaration phase. French dragoon cavalry moves half speed into position to countercharge against the flank of the charging mameluke cavalry if they go for the artillery. Bonaparte’s mounted guides wheel about to stem the charging mameluke cavalry, behind them, and before they reach GD Kleber’s remaining infantry battalions, who are changing from strategic to battle mode (standing stationary in battalion columns). Several battalions of GD Kleber’s division have already routed, caused by the charge declaration tests. French artillery unlimbered in place or prepares to fire point-blank firepower, hoping to stop the swirling charge of mamelukes with hot canister rounds but one crew falls in morale disorder. This could become very ugly for the French…

Note: Units in strategic mode automatically start in morale disorder, So when they had to check morale to receive charging Ottoman cavalry (in charge zone), any simple morale disorder converts to rout status and battalion rout movement to rear, causing addition rout morale test for nearby units. Four of Kleber’s battalions rout from the charge check or nearby friendly battalion routing away during this turn. Movements in a charge zone is done at half unit normal speed.

Shock phase and the option process starts. Ottomans first choice of shock option. WR moves the first mameluke charging cavalry and goes for the French artillery batteries. But first the Bonaparte mounted guides need to be cleared away. The mameluke cavalry crashes into Bonaparte’s finest as they countercharge forward. the lines close and savage melee erupts. Quickly the mamelukes gain the upper-hand and break the guides, sending them towards the rear. Having no shock option, the French must pass the option back to the Levant Ottomans who now charge wildly into the French artillery battery. Calmly, French gunners touch off the cannon and blast one mameluke miniature to his awaiting 72 virgins. Passed morale with colorful aplomb, the mamelukes saber down the first battery’s French gunners losing another mameluke to the desperate French crew.

After blasting through the Bonaparte mounted guides, the wild mamelukes charge into the cannon. The mounted guides retire upper right while Kleber’s battalions seek defensive posture.

Having crossed the frontal face of the two flanking converged dragoon regiments, both try to countercharge the mameluke regiment before they continue their charge into the next morale disordered French battery. One dragoon stood paralyzed and failed to charge. The other charged forth to impact the distant sipahi regiment straight ahead before they charged the linear legere battalion since their facing prevented impact on the mameluke regiment. No doubt a bit surprised to find French dragoons charging them, the sipahi, earlier ready to charge the French legere battalion, meekly put up a defense and are thrown into morale disorder by the French dragoons. Many thankful legere stand in line and shout thanks to the dragoons as they retire back to the low-rise. Later on, the sipahi completed their morale disorder charge into the linear legere battalion, whom singly sent them packing with firepower.

The French dragoons cross the battlefield between mameluke charges and disorder the charge pending sipahi regiment, thus saving the French legere battalion a worse fate.

Having dodged the dragoon charge in the flank, the leading mameluke regiment ploughs into the French battery and nearby dragoon regiment led by GD Murat himself. The dragoons quick roll their countercharge, led by Murat into the swirling melee around the cannon. Mameluke morale rises (+1 CMR) and the French dragoon become overly enthusiastic seeing Murat before them and suffer -1 CMR adjustment in shock combat. Another savage melee, both sides loses miniatures as the French dragoons are repulsed and gunners chased away. Murat barely ride away with his head from the sharp Damascus swords.

Note: During Shock phase, units taking first morale test in phase, and roll a natural d10 “0” (zero), are “wildly enthusiastic – uncontrolled, ill-disciplined like actions, and suffer temporary -1 CMR adjustment for the remaining Shock phase combats. If a natural “1” (one) rolled, the unit is +1 CMR for being cool and calm, well-disciplined, and fights with grim determination for balance of Shock phase only. This rule also gives a little CMR adjustment to every unit during shock combat and prevent players “working the chart”.

Passing the paralyzed dragoons, the mamelukes crash into the disordered French battery as Murat’s overly enthusiastic countercharging dragoons arrive. Green die +1, red -1 CMR for shock.

Having defeated Murat and his dragoons, chased away the artillerymen, the mamelukes pause for the moment as the second mameluke regiment charge optioned forward to impact the morale disorder battalion in close column. Weak musketry fails to halt the pending carnage as mamelukes chop apart the French infantry battalion. Charging further, another French battalion, in good order this time, still suffers loss from the sharp swords of Damascus as they retire too.

Dead French litter the sandy ground as one French battalion is carved apart. Another battalion directly ahead.

Second French battalion, this time in good order but close column, are better able to defend themselves before retiring. The mamelukes keep riding forward disordered from the last melee.

Seeing retiring Bonaparte mounted guides ahead, the second mameluke regiment gives chase to cut down the fleeing Frenchmen (extended charge distance – lose one mameluke automatically).

Wildly seeking Frenchmen, the mamelukes find the Bonaparte guides again and send them routing again. Sign these mamelukes up for my future Imperial Guard thinks Bonaparte.

The grand charge is over. Two half strength and worn mameluke regiments regroup among many French dead as several French battalions rout before them. Two entire battalions were cut down to one miniature, Bonaparte’s mounted guides flee in inglorious rout. a legere battalion destroyed, two batteries overrun and crews killed, and Murat almost clean-shaven at the neck. A good Levant Ottoman moment. Can the Ottomans hold Gaza for the win now?

The charges over, the battlefield landscape has changed from the previous turn look.

Kleber’s division is running hard for the wadi. Several single miniature battalions will never rally and soon removed the tabletop.

Little Levant Ottoman movement in their back half of the turn. Mamelukes turn and slow trot back to the Levant Ottoman front lines at half speed. Fighting still in the dunes between the French infantry missed by the Ottoman cavalry charge and the Nizam-i-Jedid infantry, joined by the Levant corsairs.

Fighting in the coastal dunes continues as the worn mameluke regiments retire slowly at half speed to their own front lines.

French infantry fails to rally but for one battalion. Kleber’s division will need more time to recover and rejoin the battle. The burden of battle falls squarely on Lannes and his infantry.

Turn 1540 hours: Levant Ottomans have a chance to stop the advance into Syria. Just need to hold on to Gaza and block the French from securing clear access to the coastal road till scenario end. For the French, the process of regrouping, restoring some order and clearing the coastal road is the path to victory, even after the last turn of disaster.

So, in the French turn, the process starts with regroup the two infantry divisions and bringing order to the battered cavalry of Murat. General Bonaparte sends Lannes’ division forward to occupy the open ground before Gaza. He directs the assault on the coastal dunes to continue and then turn inland towards Gaza. Clearing away the last sipahi regiment is ordered by charging the 22nd chasseurs a’ cheval regiment down the coastal road.

Levant Ottomans send the last sipahi forward to meet the charge, are repulsed and retire behind Gaza. On the coastal dunes the Nizam-i-Jedid give ground to the French assaults. Zembuk camel are soon threatened and will have to retire if French advance outflank their position in front of the coastal orchard.

Lannes division forms up and descends the low-rise forward. The 22nd Chassuers a’ cheval regiment charges forward to clear out the Sipahi cavalry. The French advance continues.

Sipahi retire through the coastal orchard along with the defeated Nizam-i-Jedid battalion and Levant corsairs. Zembuk camel battery feels very exposed out front.

General view after 1540 hours turn completion. Both armies look battered and require several turns to regroup and reform. Still, the French hold their central ground with Lannes division.

Turn 1600 hours: Nine turns to go till nightfall. Taking stock of the situation both Murat and Kleber’s division are over 20% loss level. GD Lannes’ division is intact so will have to perform the duty of taking Gaza via the coastal dunes. On the Levant side, the Palestine group in Gaza has 20% loss, the sipahi regiments especially taken losses. The Mameluke command over 40% loss, both mameluke regiments near half losses. Only the Aga of Jerusalem group up on the low-rise and El Arish group are untouched, but their ranks are mostly poor quality infantry or worse…. spear armed and lacking muskets.

As the Levant Ottomans rally units near the coastal orchard, the French with GD Lannes’ infantry advance again. French skirmishers dot the open ground before Gaza as one battalion assaults the Zembuk camel battery in flank. Without their cavalry, the Levant Ottomans are weak to repulse the French in open ground now.

French assault the Zembuk battery in flank while pushing forward in the coastal dunes. Lannes’ division controls the open ground before Gaza with French skirmishers darting about.

Levant Ottoman reaction is limited. While units rally in the coastal orchard, the Zembuk camel battery rises up and “camel trots” to the rear from the French assault, chased by French musket fire. Several Nizam-i-Jedid or Sekhan battalions occupy the Gaza village building, including the “stone fort” in front of the village. Token 6 pdr. artillery fire from the unlimbered “sand sledge” battery, adjacent to the “stone fort” building, cause no French loss. Aga of Jerusalem prepares his battalions of arab infantry to advance, but holds his ridge crest position for now. Bedouin skirmisher venture forth to contest the French skirmishers.

While the sand sledge 6pdr battery fires, the Zembuk camel battery soon arise and trots to rear from the French assault coming down on their flank. Nizam-i-Jedid and Sekhan in Gaza.

Turn 1620 hours: The French coastal dunes push continues. Slowly the weak Levant Ottoman battalions start to fall into disorder or worse retreat, especially after seeing the Zembuk camel battery retire. A brave but foolish beach sand charge by the rallied sipahi cavalry will soon end in inglorious retreat. Basically the Levant Ottoman right flank just collapsed in gaming terms.

Pending the foolish sipahi beach sand charge, the rest of the Levant Ottoman right flank has just collapsed and streams to the rear. Gaza is now exposed to French assault from the coastal dunes.

While the Levant Ottoman coastal right collapsing, the Aga of Jerusalem infantry hold the inland ridge crest. Mostly poor arab infantry, Bedouin and one Sekhan battalion, they really cannot face formed French battalions in musketry. Even worse, Hassen Aga’s command behind them is mostly the former El Arish garrison without muskets, armed now with wooden spears. Their morale, as it can be told, is very questionable in a fight.

Aga of Jerusalem’s group or command atop the low-rise watches the French in distance. Hassen Aga’s command off photo at right. Sipahi cavalry belong to the Paliestine group in Gaza.

Turn 1640 hours: Starts with the ill-fated sipahi beach sand charge after the French finish their movements. One French battalion forms square after passing their charge test morale. Sipahi cavalry bounce from the French bayonet wall after losing several miniatures. French suffer no loss. Meanwhile the French battalions form a column to assault Gaza from the coastal dunes.

Sipahi charge goes in and impacts the French battalion square. After losing two miniatures, the rest of the sipahi rout from the tabletop. At top, the French battalions form a column for Gaza.

Seeing the arab infantry masses atop the low-rise, Lannes’ turns part of his division to face their threat. A lone French converged dragoon regiment, still somewhat intact from the earlier charges, charge to clear away the thin Bedouin skirmishers before them.

French dragoon regiment charges to clear away the Bedouin skirmishers of the Jerusalem group.

In Gaza Ahmed Jezzar tries to rally his army to hold Gaza. Outside, Adbaila Pasha (Palestine group) rides about in the vacant coastal orchard looking for his battalions. Pretty French column.

French column enters Gaza and assaults the first building held by a Sekhan unit. Musketry erupts but the French infantry set about the grim task of clearing Gaza lead by Lannes himself.

Atop the low-rise, the French dragoon regiment with Murat chased away the Bedouin skirmishers then impacts the front of the sole Sekhan battalion. Ottoman muskets down one Frenchmen.

Two melees. The French dragoons are forced to retire from the low-rise Sekhan battalion. Murat escapes again from being wounded. GD Lannes leads his column into Gaza and clears out the first building structure from the Sekhan defenders.

French have taken the first building of Gaza and wave their battalion standard for the French army to see. Ahmed Jezzar has a serious problem, no good infantry and his HQ now threatened.

Turn 1700 hours: With the first Gaza building taken, the French battalion consolidate their hold of the coastal orchard. Bonaparte’s mounted guides, having redeemed their honor by rallying, have ridden fast to rejoin their fellow infantry near Gaza. Before Gaza, in the coastal plain, the rest of GD Kleber and Lannes’ infantry battalions protect their advancing 8pdr. foot battery, while it shelling the exposed Levant Ottoman unit outside Gaza. French are winning the battle and Ahmed Jezzar sees his nearby countrymen (Palestine group now at 60% loss level) starting to break ranks. He rides back to his deployed headquarters base, positioned behind Gaza, to order its pack up (3 turns) and move before the French arrive.

Note: Commands or groups at 20% loss level suffer -1 CMR adjustment, 40% is -2 CMR, and 60%+ is -3 CMR. When the Levant Ottoman infantry starting fresh they have 4 or 5 CMR, having -3 CMR means the battalion is 2 CMR on a d10 scale for testing. Rolls over 2 means the battalion becomes disordered or routs. Rolls of “0” means zero, not ten. 

Loss of the army HQ base will cause further negative morale (-1 CMR for loss of LOC) above any command % loss level adjustment.

French reform to continue the Gaza assault next turn. Bonaparte’s mounted guides have rallied from their combat with the mamelukes and approach Gaza. Admed Jezzar joins his HQ base.

Seeing the French pressure on Gaza, the Aga of Jerusalem sends his arab infantry battalions down the low-rise to threaten GD Lannes’ open flank. Also Hassen Aga El Arish group changes in battle mode and has orders to Attack (red) given. The Egyptian “spearmen” must win the battle for Admed Jezzar it seems thinks WR. The Zembuk camel battery arrives atop the Gaza low-rise east of village and prepares to dismount into action.

Aga of Jerusalem sends his arab infantry forward towards Lannes. Hessen Aga and his El Arish group activate, go into battle mode from Reserve, and change orders to Attack.

General view of the scenario endgame situation. French infantry approach Gaza via the coastal orchard or stand before Gaza in the open plain. Arab infantry descend the low-rise at Lannes.

Turn 1720 hours: With only five turn remaining in scenario the situation is very fluid to say the least. Levant Ottoman groups are either fresh and generally untouched or, like the mamelukes and Palestine group, at over 60% losses. French are hurt, both infantry divisions and the cavalry at 20% loss level but they start with higher CMR values in scenario. Daniel, like WR, see the challenge ahead for either side to win, and look forward to the endgame situation.

Seeing the Aga of Jerusalem arab infantry approach from their low-rise, battalions of GD Lannes and his 8 pdr. foot battery pivot to engage the advancing infantry with bombardment. Movement from the wadi, the fresh dromedary regiment threatens the arab infantry exposed open flank.

Lannes turns his battalions and battery in the plain to check the arab infantry forward movement. Recalling the dromedary regiment, they threaten the open flank.

In Gaza, French battalion columns assault the rest of Gaza. Bonaparte’s mounted guides ride down main street to charge the Levant Ottoman HQ base behind the village. The remaining Nizam-i-Jedid battalion fires wildly their muskets at every Frenchman seen.

Bonaparte’s mounted guides ride down Gaza main street, preparing to charge the Ottoman HQ base behind Gaza. French infantry columns assault the Nizam-i-Jedid held building.

Seeing his HQ base will be overrun, Ahmed Jezzar abandons his HQ staff to their fate. The charging guides will overrun the base and cause Levant Ottoman -1 CMR loss of LOC hereon. Rolling the defense of Gaza, the Nizam-i-Jedid battalion, like their sipahi in the scenario, are wildly enthusiastic again for their defense and suffer. The French infantry, calm and cool, assault the doors and window with grim determination, taking the last Gaza building.

The mounted guides make short work of the Levant Ottoman headquarter base and staff. French infantry, grim with determination, easily take the last Nizam-i-Jedid held Gaza building.

Another spoiling charge by the French 22nd Chasseurs a’ cheval regiment against the arab infantry causes disorder and one battalion to rout. Seeing the arab infantry in difficulty, the sipahi attempt to block the Chasseurs charge up the low-rise. Breaking the Chasseurs charge, the sipahi countercharge into the French 8 pdr. battery before them. Overrunning the foot battery, but suffering additional losses from canister fire and nearby square musketry, the sipahi are spent and just rally out of musketry range.

The French Chasseurs charge home but soon are driven back by the larger sipahi regiment. After breaking the Chasseurs, the sipahi head for the French battery directly ahead.

Charging home, the sipahi are blasted at close range with canister. One miniature removed but the sipahi are determined to cross swords and lance with the gunners. (Note +1 Shock marker).

Hassen Aga sends his poorly armed infantry forward with Bedouin support (if they can be considered support). Not all goes French way, the dromedaries failed to charge home.

Turn 1740 hours: French control Gaza village. To secure victory, the French need to push the Levant Ottoman units away from the coastal road (18″), securing transit. Both sides are one their last ounces of ability to fight. Both sides will exceed their army morale fatigue level starting with the 1800 hours turn, causing automatic -1 CMR adjustment for every unit on the tabletop. Being higher starting CMR, the French battalions can take the adjustment, but every morale test taken hereon out will stress test the units. Morale disorder will become common and out right unit routing a possibility, especially if the unit has taken losses or within a battered group or division. Remember the Levant Ottomans also have the loss of communications (LOC) due to their loss of army headquarters base too for another -1 CMR. they cannot hold ground…. and slowly will break off from combat.

French exit Gaza heading for the low-rise east of gaza. The Levant Ottoman army seems to try to hold that rise and remain within scenario victory distance of the coastal road. Levant Ottoman in their turn move to combat along the battle front. Some units break, but others hold ground and seek combat with the infidel.

The battle lines have shifted to parallel the coastal road. Can the French push back the Levant Ottomans?

Turn 1800 hours: Three turn left in scenario. French infantry start to assault the low-rise east of Gaza. Bedouin cavalry charge the approaching French. The sand sledge battery fire their last rounds. Things must be desperate when spear armed militia are the reserves. Seeing the charging Bedouin irregular cavalry, they trigger countercharge by the Bonaparte mounted guides regiment. With excellent morale, this unit will crave a revengeful path in the upcoming Shock phase. Up on the larger low-rise, the troops of Jerusalem are breaking from French musketry. A valiant charge by a spear armed Egyptian unit causes melee with a French column.

Gambling charge, the Bedouin thunder forward. But the French infantry shrug off the threat. Bonaparte’s guides promptly countercharge, aiming for targets beyond the Bedouin.

Having sent the Bedouin flying to the rear, Bonaparte’s guides over run the Zembuk camel battery from the flank. Camels and gunners are cut down. Then into the unsteady ranks of spearmen.

Stepping back in history, Bonaparte’s guides fight the poorly armed former garrison El Arish unit. Spears vs. Bonaparte’s elites. The contest is quick and brutal.

El Arish Egyptian spearmen are broken and saber drip blood. Shattered, the Egyptians scatter across the desert sands but not before causing loss in Bonaparte’s guides.

Aga of Jerusalem units are running for the “hills”. Chased by the dromedaries, several are cut down. Only one valiant Egyptian spear unit is fighting, trying to flank a French column.

Another view of the battlefield. Completely changed in one turn…. the Levant Ottoman morale sinks like a rock.

Turn 1820 hours: That’s it. Levant Ottoman units cannot rally and keep running to the east, away form the French. Nothing is holding position, many will rout off the tabletop. French battalions ground their muskets and hold position, tired, worn out, and thirsty. Cavalrymen dismount and stand exhausted besides their mounts, many wounded during the battle.

Picture sums up the last of the Levant Ottoman army as wholesale unit perform rout or retirement eastward. French units hold positions and seek water after fighting a battle for the ages.

Scenario end for a French victory.

The score board says all…. Both armies are over their army MFP levels, Ottomans at -2 CMR for every test plus negative adjustment for group or command % loss level.

Well, that was the hardest battle WR and Daniel have played out in recent years. Twenty turns played complete in about six hours real time (11am to 5pm). WR thought he had Daniel on the ropes after the mameluke charge cut their way through Kleber’s French battalions. But, the French rallied, regrouped, and with their higher CMR values, came back to win the victory. Once the Palestine group was over 40% losses, the Levant Ottoman headquarter base overrun, the combined -3 CMR caused WR problems just to maintain a battlefront near Gaza. French occupied Gaza with three assaults forced total Levant Ottoman commitment, and they just ran when morale tested. The jig is up when your better units are poor Egyptian spear armed battalions. Great game Daniel. You earned your baton for that game.

Previously, WR’s first scenario Gaza 1799 background article, links, and AAR can be read at Battle of Gaza 1799 Bonaparte vs. Ahmed Jezzar, played back in December 2011.

Cheers from the warren. If interested to play someday, contact WR via the contact infomation posted under “About the WR” menu tab. Games are always scheduled in the warren.



5 thoughts on “Battle of Gaza 1799 revisited

    • Thank you again Phil. A “different scenario” from the typical FRW or napoleonic game. I believe… “till you play Ottomans, you haven’t lived”… motto. Small, compact and wildly different forces for each side.


  1. Just catching up – I love this battle with the di\verse units, the desperate charges, and the eventual triumph of disciplined infantry over an unusual foe. Plus who can resist the opportunity to feel the french Dromedary cavalry!

    • Peter,
      Camel drivers give you a new perspective on the scenario tabletop… we sit higher than the lowly cavalrymen…. but there is the smell. Ottomans had a chance to win…. a smelly chance.

      Same here…. catching up with your articles this morning. Had a major HVAC job done on the warren which sidelined me for a week. Plus… for reasons unknown, I have been building a lot of Russian KV I or II kits on the modeling table. Each day I find more unbuilt kits (20mm 1/72) in the garage storage boxes. There must be a bottom to this madness.


      • “There must be a bottom to this madness”
        LOL! In some ways, though, I hope not!

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