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Raid on Key West by Gaslight Recap

By Dave Markley

In the morning twilight, the first wave of the combined Texas American assault landed on the beaches.  Major Sam Bridger’s Texans quickly moved out towards the western gun emplacement.  The first unit of sailors landed in the center of the beach and moved to capture the pier.  LT Medgar Hedley led his Marines ashore and started the advance towards the buildings housing the Prussian barracks and the telegraph station.  There was no response by the Prussians.  As the second wave landed, a shot rang out from the German observation post atop of the water tower.  One of the newly landed sailors went down and the alarm was sounded.  Chaos reigned within the Prussian compound as the officers collected their soldiers and the artillery crews raced for their guns.  On the lonely pier, Soldat Schmidt ran to the guard shack on the landward end.  He didn’t stay for long as Ensign Jerome’s party of sailors charged the building.  Faced with overwhelming odds Schmidt beat a hasty retreat towards the Prussian base.

 

The action heated up on the third turn as the final wave of Americans hit the beach.  This wave included the vehicles Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the Texas Tempest, and a refueling truck.  The Allied overall commander, Major Digby, fired his signal rocket and a green flare exploded over the beach.  This was the signal for the monitor SCIOTO to commence bombarding the German batteries.  Overhead the Curtis Rotary Conveyance crossed the beach and then drew first blood for the allied forces.  Despite the vibrations from the rickety flier’s engine, “Hummingbird’ Jones managed to hit the western Krupp Tri-barrel defense gun with a shell that damaged the recoil mechanism, putting the gun decisively out of the action.  This victory was short lived.  The Zeppelin Z-7 entered the southeast edge of the board and taking a long range shot that managed to hit and destroy the engine of the Curtis Rotary and crashed the flier.  The Marines continued forward along the eastern edge of the beach while the sailors advanced in the center.  The Tempest opened fire on the second Krupp Tri-barrel but missed.  The Prussian SWA Troops collected themselves and the Sea Battalion moved out towards the water tower. 

 

SITUATION REPORT: TURN 3

Figure 1: Situation by end of Turn 3 (slightly compressed)

The Texans continued forward into the gap in the dunes between the west battery and the water tower.  With the Sweetheart close behind they moved towards the Zeppelin field.  The sailors pressed on in the center with the Marines continuing their advance.  The Tempest engaged the Z-7 in a long-range duel but failed to hit the Zeppelin.  The Prussian gun crews neared their positions while the infantry units slowly moved forward.  Still in his nightshirt, Doktor Mueller raced from his sleeping quarters to the fenced enclosure hidden behind the western gun position.  He would soon reveal one of the islands secrets.  Major Digby attached him self to Ensign Dokes’ unit of sailors and sent Gunnery SGT Taneyhill to the other naval landing party.

 

SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO, ARMORED GALVANIC COACH USED BY RECONSTITUTED TEXAS REPUBLIC FORCES AT KEY WEST, SULACO AND OTHER BATTLES

Herr Doktor Mueller threw open the gate and ordered his “kinder” to attack the invaders.  With a roar of defiance, the adolescent Tyrannosaurus led his three younger siblings towards the Texas infantry.  As the Texas steadied themselves for this monstrous attack, CAPT Hugh "El Loco" Meechum threw the Sweetheart into action.  The air smelled of ozone as the lightning cannon discharge bolts into the large dinosaur.  But this attack only angered the beast who charged forward.  Just before the monster reached the Texans, the Sweetheart gun crew fired a 3-inch shell at the T-rex.  The explosion killed the dinosaur, but shrapnel killed one of the Texas infantry.  Despite their loss, and facing fang and claw, the Texans never hesitated but moved up the hill to the destroyed gun position.

 

On the eastern side of the battlefield, Leutnant Dorfmann moved his troops to the base of the hill with the functioning Krupp Tri-barrel.  Hauptman Kruger joined this unit after dispatching Feldwebel Dunklebrow to assist the artillery in moving the Krupp 7.5 cm gun forward.  Kruger knew he needed the gun’s firepower to stop the American armored vehicles.  In the air, Kapitan von Mertz ordered the Luftschiffetruppen to prepare for action and directed his gunners to fire at the Marines below.  Several Marines of 1LT Buckley’s unit fell to the cannon fire. Leutnant Seelowe positioned the Sea Battalion along the east side of the center hill and commenced a long-range firefight with the American sailors.  The SCIOTO continued its ineffective bombardment of the Prussian positions and the heavy shells began landing close to the advancing Marines and Texans.

 

 

SITUATION REPORT: CIRCA TURN 6

Figure 2: Situation around the end of Turn 6 (compressed)

Corporal O'Higgins slowly followed the Sweetheart of the Rodeo with his fuel truck.  This was not the action he’d signed on for.  The view from the truck cab showed that the Navy Boys couldn’t hit a barn with a shotgun.  Someone was going to have to do something about that Prussian gun battery or it was going to be a long day.  O’Higgins remembered how his sarge had once used a couple tin cans of coal gas to create a diversion during a raid on a Prussian outpost.  That’s how to get rid of the danged big gun!  Throwing the engine into high gear, O’Higgins aimed the truck at the gun emplacement and opened up the throttle. 

THE TEXAS TEMPEST, STEAM TANK ON LOAN FROM THE TEXAS RANGERS.  TOOK PART IN KEY WEST, CHALUPA FLATS, RED RIVER 2  AND MINOR SKIRMISHES

As the truck sped past, Soldat Schmidt continued running to rejoin his unit.  In his haste he failed to notice the sun coming up over the eastern horizon.  He also failed to notice the American sailors aiming at his retreating form.  Having no other targets the sailors coldly gunned down the lone trooper.  Soldat Schmidt would never see his beloved Black Forest again.

 

As the Texans moved up the hill stopping short of the gun emplacement, the Prussian naval crew moved up the slope to the gun position and prepared to defend their damaged battery.  Doktor Mueller screamed to his biological monstrosities to kill the Ameikanische Schweine.  The young dinosaurs filled with hunger charged into the Texan flank.  The action was now cold steel against claw and fang.  At first the victory for the young T-Rexes seemed assured as two Texans went down under their initial attacks.  But in making their kills a gap between one dinosaur and the Texans appeared.  Major Bridger seized this opportunity and ordered his unengaged troops to fire on the giant reptiles.  Many Texans drew their peacemakers and opened up on the exposed T-Rex, killing him in a fusillade of lead.  The Texans then charged into the remaining dinosaurs and managed to dispatch both of them proving the value of a good Bowie knife.  Their relief was short lived as the Artillery Crew and an enraged Doktor Mueller opened fire killing more of the Texans.

 

On the Prussian right, the Zeppelin continued to fire on the Marines while searching for a spot to land the Luftschiffetruppen.  The SWA Schutztruppen and See Battalion opened fire on the speeding fuel truck having determined the suicidal attempt to destroy the remaining shore battery.  However their fire didn’t slow the truck at all.  The Tempest and Sweetheart opened fire with their cannons at the Zeppelin.  Most of these shots missed but the Sweetheart’s gun crew managed to hit the side of the gondola, but the round simply penetrated the side, rattled around a little then exited without harming the craft or crew.  Despite the hail of gunfire, O’Higgins managed to crash the truck next to the shore battery position.  In response the Schutztruppen charged the truck.  O’Higgins wisely ran away from the impending explosion and Prussian bayonets and was later seen manning an oar on one of the whaleboats.  All of the allies within range of the fuel truck opened fire on it.  Under the weight of shot and shell, the fuel finally ignited and the truck exploded, killing the poor SWA Trooper who was desperately trying to start the engine.  Fortunately for the Prussians, most of the burning coal gas was propelled over the hood of the truck and into the gun position.  Thus only one soldier was killed, but the Krupp Tri-Barrel was severely damaged.

 

The Texans engaged in a firefight with the artillery crew, but soon decided to end the matter by charging the remaining gunners.  After a brief hand to hand fight, the Texans defeated their foe.  Despite being down to two figures, the Texans in the tradition of the Alamo sustained their high morale and began to move towards the Zeppelin landing field.  It was looking good for the Allied right when disaster struck, the galvanic engine suddenly failed leaving the Sweetheart of the Rodeo unable to move or use the lightning cannon.  Seeing how close the expedition was to the now defunct Prussian Shore batteries, Major Digby detached from the sailors and fired off the red rocket to signal the SCIOTO to cease fire.

 

Having escaped the fireball of the exploding fuel truck, Kapitan von Mertz ordered the Z-7 into a hover. Leutnant Merkle and his Luftschiffetruppen descended to the sand below and prepared to engage the Marines.  Perhaps they descended too soon or maybe the allies were prepared for the aerial assault. Upon landing, the Prussians found themselves in a murderous crossfire from the American Marines and Sailors.  In minutes the pride of the Prussian army was destroyed to the last man, with only a couple of American casualties to show for their sacrifice.  Later the surviving Marines would liken the Prussian assault to shooting fish in a barrel.  The remaining Prussian ground forces continued to engage the Marines and Sailors with long range fire and slowly whittled down the American Sailors.

 

In the center, Major Digby ordered Ensign Dokes to charge the Prussian water tower positions and the Sailors charged up the hill.  Realizing that he couldn’t add any value to the 7.5 cm gun crew, Feldwebel Dunklebrow joined the Sea Battalion and led them into the sandbagged observation post on top of the water tower.  The Sea Battalion reached their goal first and opened fire on the sailors below causing severe casualties.  The Sailors morale broke and in crazed anger, Ensign Dokes led a suicidal charge towards the SWA troops. LT Hedley’s Marines quickly killed off the remaining Prussian sailors of the Krupp Tri-Barrel battery and moved forward to outflank the barracks and telegraph station.

 

The Texas Tempest and Sweetheart continued to fire at the Zeppelin without effect.  However, the Z-7 managed a fire a lucky shot, which pierced the Tempest in one of the vision ports.  The round exploded the Tempest’s ammunition destroying the armored vehicle.  After killing the Tempest, Kapitan von Mertz directed the Zeppelin to maneuver to bring the sailors of Ensign Jerome’s command under cannon fire.  Unable to effectively return fire, the sailors soon found themselves taking numerous casualties.  Gunnery SGT Taneyhill collected the remaining sailors and Marines from 1LT Buckley’s platoon, forming a small ad hoc unit.

 

Sam Bridger sighted the crazed Doktor Mueller reloading his pistol and knew he had to get that so and so who unleashed the reptiles on his men.  The Texans charged and Doktor Mueller stood firm, his anger at the loss of his “kinder” overcoming common sense.  The Texans, in righteous indignation, made short work of the Doktor.  Meanwhile, in desperation, CAPT Meechum bleed off the capacitors of the lightning gun and managed to get the Sweetheart’s galvanic engine started.  The Sweetheart of the Rodeo moved forward ready to attack the Zeppelin facilities.  Not having a better target, the Sea Battalion opened fire on the Sweetheart, killing both exposed gunners of the 3 inch mount.  Hearing their death screams the Sweetheart’s driver panicked and threw the vehicle into reverse, charging away from the Prussians.  This was as far as the Texans would advance in this battle.  Their numbers were small, but their contribution to the battle was superb.

 

On the slopes of the burning gun battery hill, the final drama of the day would occur.  Hauptman Kruger, confident in his many years of fencing at Heidleburg, drew his saber and charged Ensign Dokes to prevent him from firing on the Schutztruppen.  Kruger ordered the SWA troops to stop the Marines from reaching the telegraph station. Leutnant Dorfmann directed his men’s fire at the Marines killing all but two of Hedley’s platoon.  One Marine froze in panic while the other with a deep sense of duty charged into the building compound search for the telegraph office.  Krueger sneered as he faced young Ensign Dokes, who dropped the rifle he was carrying and drew his own sword.  Soon rang the clang of steel on steel.  Ensign Dokes used every trick he had learned during his academy fencing classes, but was outclassed by the Prussian Officer’s greater experience.  In a flurry the two exchanged blows, which were parried or deflected.  Dokes saw the grim determination in Krueger’s face and knew he had but one chance.  In a surprise move born of desperation, the young Ensign lunged at Krueger.  Simultaneously, the young Prussian nobleman launched his own thrust.  Neither man was able to counter the other’s stroke and both went down.  Ensign Dokes had sacrificed his life in exchange for removing the Prussian commander.

 

SITUATION REPORT: TURN 7 TO ENDGAME

Figure 3: Final Turns and End Game (highly compressed)

Knowing that discretion is the better part of valor, the Allies retreated back to their boats and returned to the SCIOTO waiting offshore.  The Prussian, in shock over the loss of their leader, did not attempt to pursue.  Instead they tried to minimize the damages to their base and bring the Zeppelin in for a landing.  Thus ended the game.

 

The results were a tactical draw for both sides but a strategic victory for the Allies.  They had failed to destroy the Zeppelin facilities and only put the telegraph station out of commission for a few days.  However, the destruction of the shore batteries caused the Prussians to dispatch two cruiserand a destroyer flotilla to patrol the waters around Prussian Schlüsselwesten until the batteries had been repaired and replaced.  No one could calculate how the loss of an entire unit of crack Luftschiffetruppen would affect the Prussian offensive in West Texas, but many Texas forces were able to escape the Prussian attacks.  In a greater sense, the raid had demonstrated the Texans could operate effectively against the invaders with their former countrymen.  This fact was little noted at the time, but it would bear bitter fruit for the Prussians in the following year’s campaigns.

 

The heroes of the battle have to be the Texas infantry.  They single handedly defeated the Prussian left flank and almost overran the Zeppelin Field.  To do so they had to fight off the Prussian dinosaur horde, a shore battery crew and the angry Doktor Mueller while dodging the large caliber shells from the SCIOTO’s guns.  Corporal O’Higgins suicidal attack with the fuel truck was also noteworthy.  On the Prussian side, Kapitan Von Mertz and the crew of the Z-7 performed heroically.  They shot down the Curtis Rotary Conveyance, destroyed the Texas Tempest, and nearly wiped out two units of the American landing party.  For a civilian, Doktor Mueller performed well as he directed the Tyrannosaurs attack, shot and killed one Texan, then stood his ground when the remaining Texans charged him.

 

Decorations:

 

USA

 

Ensign Dokes: Silver Star (posthumous)

LT Buckley: Bronze Star (posthumous)

LT Hedley: Bronze Star (posthumous)

LTjg Jones: Congressional Medal of Honor (posthumous)

Several Purple Hearts

 

Texan Republic

 

MAJ Sam Bridger: Thanks of the Republic, Alamo Legion Medal

CAPT Hugh Meechum: San Jacinto Medal with Yellow Rose Cluster

CPL O’Higgins: Texas Lone Star Medal of Valor

 

Prussian

 

Kapitan Von Mertz: Pour le Merite

Hauptman Krueger: Iron Cross w/. Oak Clusters (posthumous)

Luftschiffetruppen: Unit Citation for Bravery (posthumous)

LT Dorfmann: Iron Cross junior grade

LT Seelowe: Iron Cross junior grade