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Building Gordon's Khartoum

Posted by John Simmons on 12 Sep 2021, 20:45

Our next wargame will be the siege of Khartoum, so I've been working on preparing my table. Because the city was destroyed after the siege concluded, there is not much evidence of the city's appearance or structure in 1885. Slaton Pasha's map of Khartoum was my primary resource, along with a few period sketches and photos. Using these, I made a scale map with the principal items I wanted to represent. I did not have a desert cloth for my table, so I made one from a couple of old sheets, painted and sanded. I added the two Niles, cut from an old plastic drop-cloth and painted, along with some modest elevation for the central town.

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For a wargame, of course, the most important features are the city's defenses. Khartoum is often portrayed as a walled city (in books, pictures of wargames, and even in the film Khartoum). It in fact had no walls. Khartoum was surrounded by an arc of dirt fortifications between the Blue and White Niles, supported by Fort Mukran at the west end and Fort Burri on the east end (both scratch built here by me, with almost no guidance as to their actual appearance). The fortifications were ramparts fronted by a ditch and with catwalks behind, interrupted by a series of "forts" or redoubts through which the primary roads passed over the ditch on wooden bridges. There was a small dirt dike that protected Fort Mukran and the lower town from the annual flooding of the White Nile.

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There were three roads leading into the city (going through the Burri, Masallamuja, and Kalakla "gates"), the Burri road turning into the city's main street (which ran parallel to the Blue Nile). The main weakness of the city's defenses -- besides their decrepit state when Gordon arrived in Khartoum -- was the west end, where the fortifications reached the White Nile. There the defenses were reduced each year by the floods to a small sea of mud.

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Most of the buildings I used here were either scratch built or heavily modified to approximate the few sketches we have of actual buildings. I couldn't fit a whole city's worth of buildings onto my table, of course, so I focused on the major ones we know about: the Governor General's palace, city hall, Austrian consulate, and coptic church along the river; and the main mosque, prison, and bazaar on the other side of the road. The rest of the buildings just fill in the main neighborhoods, including Burri village, the lower town, and the European section, with the boatyards, landings, and quays along the Blue Nile.

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I added a bunch of palm trees, especially in the places indicated by Slaton's map and shown in the sketches. Other trees, grasses along the rivers, and other foliage completed my version of Khartoum, now ready for civilian and military occupation.

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And last: a bit of drama next to the White Nile.

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John Simmons  United States of America
 
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17 Apr 2020, 14:12


Posted by Ochoin on 12 Sep 2021, 21:25

This is amazing.

Is the crocodile/antelope vignette symbolic of the Mahdi & Gordon?

donald
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Ochoin  Scotland
 
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Posted by Minuteman on 12 Sep 2021, 22:56

Remarkable! Once again some very good-looking terrain and buildings here.
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Minuteman  United Kingdom
 
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Posted by OwenChpw on 13 Sep 2021, 01:33

Okay, this looks really cool. I haven't had a proper wargame in months, let alone left the house because of lockdowns...
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OwenChpw  Australia
 
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Posted by MABO on 13 Sep 2021, 17:53

Great table, I am looking forward to read the battle report.
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MABO  Europe
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Posted by Bill Slavin on 14 Sep 2021, 13:15

Very nice! That is a super ambitious build and I always have the greatest respect for people who put effort into their gaming tables. The cut blue drop cloth is very effective for the water - good idea!
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Bill Slavin  Canada
 
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Posted by Peter on 14 Sep 2021, 19:52

Wonderfull table! :thumbup:
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Peter  Belgium

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Posted by Susofrick on 15 Sep 2021, 09:27

This is totally über-cool!
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Susofrick  Sweden
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Posted by Harry Faversham on 15 Sep 2021, 09:46

That looks superb, really well done.

:yeah:
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Harry Faversham  England
 
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Posted by C M Dodson on 15 Sep 2021, 10:01

Brilliant as always Bill with a real ‘feel’ of the place.

You might find this of use

https://www.geschichte-in-miniaturen.de ... .php?t=893

You are the master of war gaming terrain that is practical and pleasing to the eye .

Best wishes,

Chris
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Posted by PaulRPetri on 15 Sep 2021, 20:44

I still can't believe you made painters drop clothes look like the Nile in one turn and a desert in the next!! Stunning!!
PaulRPetri  United States of America
 
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Posted by Beano Boy on 16 Sep 2021, 22:59

It all looks first rate superb. :thumbup: BB
Beano Boy  England
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Posted by John Simmons on 26 Sep 2021, 14:34

Thanks to all for your very encouraging comments. And thanks to Chris for the link to the construction of that remarkable Sudan diorama. Far above my pay grade, but genuinely inspiring. I'll be posting some pre-siege pictures and a battle report on our Khartoum game soon.
John Simmons  United States of America
 
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