The assignment was risky, no doubt about it. But Ghiottone Contarini rubbed his hands in anticipation of all the money the Serene Republic would pay for successful completion of his mission. The Venetian Garrison at Durazzo was running low on supplies, a previous effort to deliver large quantities of stores by sea having failed (see "The Wearing of the Green "). Ghiottone's wagon convoy was on the final leg of its trip. Once his wagons crossed the Fattoria Citadina River at the upcoming bridge, they had only follow the road past the small Villaggio Unione and on to the delivery area, where his cargo would be broken up and smuggled into the city past the less than vigilant (and eminently bribable) heathen soldiers and small boat patrols. In preparation for the final leg of their journey, Contarini had sent messengers out to the Villaggio, causing the local militia to be assembled. He had also sent a fast rider to the local Venetian magistrate, the Tirano da Bersaglio, requesting him (with the full force of the Dodge and the Senate behind him) to ride out with his retainers and escort the wagon convoy on its way to Durazzo. Hopefully, it would be enough. As a precaution though, the merchant removed his gold earrings and other finery and hid them away in a secret compartment concealed under his saddle.

Tathoud, barely 4 feet tall but swift of foot and his most trusted scout, had climbed the tallest pine tree on the ridge over looking the valley of the Fattoria Cittadina River; such funny names the infidel had given the features of the land! His network of local spies had reported that a major Venetian wagon convoy was headed his way, and he, Hasim al'Najeef, had positioned his raiding force along their route as they passed by the Villaggio Unione. He faced towards Mecca and prayed to Allah that their raid might be more successful than some recent attempts. He'd been dismayed by accounts of the recent "surprise" raid on the military encampment outside Pressburg in the lands of the Hapsburgs. Some surprise that was! The bold Turks must have been betrayed, for the camp, rather than being taken unaware, roused itself to action in less time than it took for his blood to rise in respond to the charms of Malika, his harem favorite. To add insult to injury, the sentries of the German Emperor's force had fought with such ferocious valor that they had defeated the raiders almost unassisted. His own cousin, Timur al'Najeef, had lead the sad affair, and after suffering further setbacks at the hands of the Imperial cavalry, had hastily called off the foot soldiers of his force and withdrawn back into the shelter of the mountains. Hasim counted his cousin lucky to have lost only his little finger to the rage of the Sultan.

"De Wagons! De Wagons!" hollered out Tathoud from his precarious perch at the top of the tree. Scrambling down the trunk and jumping to the ground, he presented his breathless report to al'Najeef. His boss received the news with controlled eagerness. His spies had done their job well. If he could stop the wagons, the Venetians inside Durazzo would be most hard pressed. The Turks had shut off all but a trickle of supplies to the great fortress city, and a recent half hearted Venetian relief attack had been crushed under the heal of the faithful. As he touched his hand to his head in reverence, an opening in the clouds caused a bright beam of sun to briefly illumine the ground where he stood, and then the clouds closed off the light. "Allah be praised!" cheered his men who took it as a Favorable Omen. So, in truth, did Hasim himself. "We will wait until they have started to cross the river and then attack. I'm told that we may claim whatever spoils of battle we may seize, as long as those wagons do not reach their destination!"

The Forces

Colonial Venetians

Wagon Train

  • Mounted Arquebusiers (Mercenary LC)
  • Foot Arquebusiers (Mercenary LI) of Capitano Viola
  • Foot Arquebusiers (Mercenary LI) of Capitano Pellegrino
  • Wagons


  • Provisionatti (Militia MI Spearmen)
  • Schiavonni (Native LI Crossbowmen)

Magistrate: Tirano da Bersaglio

  • Lanze Spezatte (Regular HC, Heavy Lance)


  • Azabs (Militia LI, Advanced Bow)
  • Azabs (Militia LI, Advanced Bow)
  • Sekban (Militia LI, Arquebus)

Hasim al'Najeef:

  • Akindjis (Native LC, Advanced Bow) of Mustapha Sahm
  • Akindjis (Native LC, Advanced Bow) of Bedouin Scohti
  • Gonullu (Feudal LC, Light Lance)
  • Timariot Sipahis (Feudal MC, Light Lance and Advanced Bow)

The Action

Ghiottone Contarini deployed his Mounted Arquebusiers to his left flank, across Cunetta Bestemaire run, a small stream running parallel to the road. The Foot Arquebusiers of Capitano Viola were thrown out to cover his right flank, and the Foot Arquebusiers of Capitano Pellegrino were placed ahead of the wagons.

As the wagons reached the bridge, a horde of wild Turkish Akindjis roiled up out of the hills and towards the Cunetta Bestemaire run, threatening the flank of the wagon's line of advance. The militia of Villaggio Unione shook out, with the crossbow armed Schiavonni skirmishing along the banks of the stream, while the well-drilled Provisionatti, veterans of prior border clashes, stood at ease just outside the town, trying to keep some cover on their flanks and rear.

Well to the south of town, Tirano da Bersaglio led his heavily armed Lanze Spezatte down the road to the north.

Seeing this, Hasim al'Najeef ordered Tathoud to signal the rest of his cavalry to emerge from the hills. "Yes, Boss", replied the scout, blowing his horn with gusto. Contarini crossed himself devoutly as he saw still more Turkish horsemen arrive in the valley.

But worse was to come! Responding to the note echoing off the hills, the Turkish foot soldiers issued forth onto the field from the east! Just as the last of the wagons approached the bridge, the wagon on the middle of the span broke down, a wheel spinning crazily over the cobblestones. "Highway to Hell!" swore Contarini loudly. Magistrate Tirano began to think that aiding the wagons, order of the Dodge and Senate not withstanding, might be inadvisable for his delicate liver, and ordered his column of horsemen to halt. The mess on the bridge seemed to have paralyzed Ghiottone and his men, as little forward motion could be seen. This left the militia of Villaggio Unione by their town, unsupported. A Whirling Mass of Turkish Akindjis approached the Cunetta Bestemaire run and let loose with a shower of arrows, and were in turn met with a flight of quarrels from the Schiavonni across the narrow stream. Very few of either found their mark. Mustapha Sahm ordered his men to charge. In his letter to the Sultan after the action, al'Najeef recounted these events, with Mustapha exhorting his men by saying "We are followers of the True Faith, while they are mere Infidels". However, this author has it on good authority that the actual words spoken were closer to "We have horses and they don't, and besides they are unloaded!" Which ever version, if either, is correct, there is no doubt that the horsemen swept across the stream and engaged the Schiavonni. After a close fight, the crossbowmen were first thrown into disorder and then dispersed. Mustapha and his men pursued the rabble a short distance, being thrown into disarray as a result. They milled about in front of a very solemn looking group of Provisionatti, grimly gripping their long spears.

To the south, Tirano da Bersaglio and his men were beset by long range bow fire from the approaching Azabs. Although the heavy armor of the Lanze Spezatte was very effective against this long range shooting, the Lancers were caught in flank in an extended march column, and were thrown into total confusion. Singing a hymn to his patron, Saint Cecelia, Tirano rallied his troopers like a hero of ancient times, and they regained the cohesion needed to fight effectively.

Perhaps his song did call forth the blessings of the Saint, for the initiative now passed at last to the Venetians. The Venetian foot and horse Arquebusiers advanced south down the valley, the men off the road being hampered by the sodden fields, ploughed in readiness for later spring plantings. Still, Capitano Pellegrino's arquebusiers were able to at last reach the outskirts of the town, and the troop of mounted Arquebusiers, screened from view by a copse of trees, stole a march on the Turkish Gunullu. Disdaining firepower, the ordinarily inferior Arquebusiers quickly routed their lance armed opponents. Despite the temptation presented by the flanks of the Turkish Siphahis about 1000 yards ahead, the Mounted Arquebusiers reigned up after their victory.

Meanwhile, Tirano da Bersaglio shook his men out into Battle Mass, and wheeled to face the annoying Azabs, thus denying them further opportunities for flank fire. The chief protection for the bowmen was the muddy fields, which would be difficult going for the heavy horsemen.

In the center, Bedouin Scohti led his unit of Akindjis across the stream to support those of Mustapha Sahm. Seeing the foot Arquebusiers of Capitano Pellegrino approaching, Scohti led his men into melee. Once again, the letter of Hasim al'Najeef records a stirring admonition to his band of cutthroats, but this author has it on good authority that the exhortation was more like "So what if they are loaded - we have horses and they don't, and besides, look at those fine wagons beyond!" In any event, charge home Scohti's men did, to the accompaniment of a hail of bullets from Capitano Pellegrino's men. Unfortunately for them, the whirling mass of horsemen proved a difficult target, and almost all of the shots missed their mark.

The resulting melee was short but violent, with the mercenary arquebusiers routing towards the wagon train before dispersing, the Akindjis in close pursuit all the while. When the cloud of dust had settled back onto the ancient road bed, the wild horsemen spied the loaded wagon train. Bedouin Scohti and his men decided that it was time to Pillage and Loot the riches to be found therein, and were thus removed from the battle as they enjoyed more amiable pursuits.

Back across the stream, Hasim, along with his Timariot Sipahis, wheeled to face the enemy Mounted Arquebusiers. A medium range shot into the enemy light horsemen produced much twanging of bows but no other impact. Subsequent fire by the Arquebusiers was only slightly more effective, merely disrupting the formation of the Timariots.

The Ottoman foot continued to close in upon the roadway, slogging across the muddy furrows. This lead the Arquebus armed Sekban to come within range of the rear of the Provisionatti spearmen. Their disconcerting fire was enough to throw the spearmen into Disorder. However, the brave militia were up to the Challenge. Rather than running away, they seemed to steel their resolve, and followed the old adage that the best defense was a strong offense. Seeing that Mustapha Sahm's Akindjis to their front were still milling around in disorder, the spearmen charged into them. In a conflict between two bodies of troops already in disorder, there can only be one outcome - someone must end the action in rout!

After a close engagement, this day, it would be the Akindjis who fled the field. Heavily encumbered by their equipment, the Provisionatti declined to pursue the wily horsemen as they melted away across the Cunetta Bestemaire stream and into the hills. Thus far, each side had had 2 units flee the field.

Seeking to make it 3 Turkish units, Tirano da Bersaglio and his heavy cavalry sloshed across the muddy fields and closed upon the opposing Azabs. Unable to quite reach the skirmishing archers, Tirano had his trumpeters blare and his men hurl insults and Challenges at the vastly outclassed bowmen. Seemingly unimpressed by this martial display, the Turks merely backed slowly away, seeking to draw the Lancers away from the key area of the battle.

Seeing this cool resolve, the crisis of the action arrived. Their horses fatigued by the deep mud and the men shaken by the determination of the Azabs, the Lanze Spezatte lost their nerve, descending into Disorder. Unfortunately, the Mounted Arquebusiers also lost heart and became Disordered, while the brave Spearmen lost all hope and routed down the side road, heading towards the nearby village of Disperato.

With the Venetians lacking any further moral reserve after these events, the men thought first and foremost of how to save their own skins from the knives of the heathen. The fate of the wagon train and its drivers was already sealed - the plume of smoke to the north, as well as the screams from the same direction gave eloquent testimony as to the pastimes of Bedouin Scohti and his band of thieves. Therefore, Tirano called upon his patron saint yet again, and received a sign of her Intervention. Kissing his Saint Cecelia medallion, the Magistrate directed all of the troops remaining on his side of the stream to withdraw in the same direction, which plan was carried out unopposed by the Ottoman infantry.

There remained only the fate of the previously victorious Mounted Arquebusiers to be decided. Taking advantage of a lull in the action while the Timariots dressed their lines, the light horsemen went through the cumbersome process of reloading their weapons, sure that they were not done for the day. Sure enough, their formation restored al'Najeef and his lightly equipped Timariot Sipahis thundered down upon the skirmishing horsemen. Skilled mercenaries, the Arquebusiers held their fire until their attackers reached effective range, and belched forth fire, smoke and shot at the onrushing cavalry.

Some shots found their mark, but not enough to have any effect upon the charging Turks. Ordinarily, the light cavalry would have nimbly slipped away, but their Disorder prevented such coordinated action, and they were caught by the rampaging lancers. With their shooting having had so little results, the issue was never seriously in doubt, and the Arquebusiers were soon scattered to the winds.


As the sun set behind the hills, Tirano da Bersaglio admired his distinguished and intact nose in the mirror as he sat warming his back by the fireplace of the tavern in Disperato. Although not pleased by the outcome of the day's activities, the Magistrate could live with it. He hadn't enjoyed being a Target for those lowly archers, and was revolted that, mere peasants that they were, the Azabs hadn't run for the hills at the mere sight of him and his men. Still, most of the Venetian losses were "missing" rather than killed, and many of them would return in the coming week. The wrath of the Republic would likely be greatly diminished by time and distance. The Garrison of Durazzo was becoming increasingly hard pressed, it's true. On the other hand, the Governor was his father in law, and he'd never cared for the old goat - so much the worse for him!

At the same time, Hasim al'Najeef lay back reclined upon some pillows with Malika lying at his side and warming him. His share of the loot was most gratifying, and his popularity with his men was bolstered by the loot and the victory both. His losses had been light - the only one of significance was Mustapha Sahm, found on the field of battle, crushed underneath his horse. He'd miss the Grand Armenian, but one got used to the occasional loss of comrades. Enjoying another sip of the fine red Barbaresco captured from Ghiottone Contarini's wagons, he belched contentedly as Malika drew closer to him. Yes, all in all, a most gratifying day.

This game, played at Joe's house in Unionville (Villaggio Unione) and with his figures, was our first game in almost 2 years not played as a playtest for Band of Brothers 2nd edition. As Joe remarked, it was good to play a game for its own sake again! This also allowed me the leisure of composing a battle report for the action. Some of the previous playtest games are indirectly alluded to in the introduction. The entry of the Ottoman forces occurred when the expended impetus on an appropriate Move card - they all started the game Out of Command. An Other difficulty roll was made for each entry attempt. If I recall correctly, the winner determined where the troops would enter. Joe won 6 of the seven rolls - on the roll that I won, the last Azab unit entered in some rough, wooded ground beyond the Fattoria Citadina (Farmington) river to the North. Not surprisingly, they were unable to reach the action in time to have any effect upon the game, and hence appear only in the Order of battle and not anywhere in the narrative. The Cunetta Bestemaire stream is a rough Italian translation of an insignificant watercourse in Joe's hometown of Bristol, marvelously named the Cuss Gutter Run.

Hasim al'Najeef, a.k.a. Joe Fish: Ottoman Commander

Tirano da Bersaglio, a.k.a. Peter Anderson, Venetian Commander
Page Last Updated On: 18 Aug 2007