After the slaughter at the Battle of Issaquena, Captain William Tritchel fled eastward towards the American lines deeper in the Delta. His small desperate band was near collapse when they met up with the remains of his regiment, the 116th Infantry, digging in at the small township of Panther Burn. After his hasty debriefing, Colonel Miller sent him to try to find any survivors of the 119th Armored Battalion that may have escaped Issaquena. The captain was off at first light, and the Colonel gave him strict instructions to return by the following dawn. By then, the Martians would be upon the sleepy little town.
A dusty road split the rural township of Panther Burn down the middle. The road before the Colonel led West, into Issaquena County, and the approaching Martians. Behind him, the road went East towards Yazoo City. All available troops in the area were rushing to Panther Burn, and behind it there was nothing but farmland and bayou, all the way to the Yazoo River. If he couldn't hold the Martians here, there was nothing to resist them if they continued towards the river and the crucial railroads beyond it. Captain Tritchel had told him that a small Martian force had broken away from the main mass and entered the swamps to the North of the town. They'd try to flank him there, but the main thrust would come at him head-on. He laid his plans, gave his instructions, and when the Martians arrived the next morning, he was as ready as he would ever be.
Scenario: Battle lasts up to 6 turns. Whoever holds the most objectives (5 total) wins, unless either side is broken before that. At turn 4, the human player may decide to change the scenario and attempt to retreat in good order from the battle to fight another day (withdrawing more troops off the edge than the Martians manage to kill giving victory). The human player may deploy up to 3 units as blips (with 6 decoys), and place one ambush in any terrain feature per the standard rules for ambushes.
Just after dawn, the Martians arrive, marching in a long line towards the tiny town.
They'd bombarded it during the night, and although there were few casualties, the damage to the town was extensive. Down it's broad, tree-lined avenue, heavy guns were trained on the approaching aliens.
Hasty fortifications had been set up across the town, manned by machine guns and anti-tripod weapons.
The Martians, if they were surprised by the relative paucity of the American force before them, did not show it. They marched forward, in their arrogance underestimating the desperation and resourcefulness of the human defenders.
Infantry had spread out into the fields west of the town, sending decoys out ahead of them. The Martians marched on...
Striking at the closest targets with grenadier launched black dust, they killed some rough riders and the minelayer.
Return fire from the American lines did little, and the Martians continued to advance. A massive Veteran Assault tripod, the Martian Commander that led the assault on the Issaquena defenses, screened a more vulnerable slaver from Artillery fire.
It exchanged fire with the barricades before it, burning one of the Machine gun teams alive. The two remaining held their ground.
The Martians on the left flank encountered some hidden infantry, supported by an AT-Gun.
The Martian force continued inexorably forward, numerous drones clustered about the slaver, the force seemingly unstoppable. Colonel Miller watched through his field glasses as the Martian Commander continued past the farmhouse, waiting until the Slaver followed him. At that moment Colonel Miller ordered the signal given. A bright flare soared up from the American lines, shining brighter than the early morning light.
Hidden troops rushed forward at the center, supported by the near-suicidal rough-riders, charging out of the fields at the lead scout tripod.
At the same moment, brave doughboys poured out from the farmhouse's storm cellar where they'd been quietly lying in wait all through the previous night. The rushed at the slaver as it passed, skirting around the lobototons and other drones protecting it. The ambush was sprung!
Crazed men, their pockets loaded with dynamite, even attempted to scale the beast as their compatriots lobbed grenades at the underside of it's carapace. The slow lobototons, slightly ahead of the Slaver, were unable to react quickly enough to screen the machine.
For all the drama and confusion of the moment, little damage was done. The single unit of tanks available to the Americans pulled around the building and opened fire.
A lucky shot, followed by bursts from the Machine guns downed a tripod!
The momentum of the initial ambush exhausted, the brave doughboys scattered and took cover in the fields.
Some couldn't make it into cover, and ended up fighting in the open. Yet while they'd done little actual damage, they had succeeded in confusing the Martians sufficiently to steal the initiative from them.
Seeing the flagging men's spirits frustrated, the rough riders launched themselves at the Veteran Tripod, managing to tie up its legs with their tow cables.
Another group attempted to do the same with the Slaver, but failed.
But it was enough to inspire another charge from the infantry.
Little by little, the Martian armor was being damaged, but the poor infantry were unable to bring the massive beasts down.
Then, with a loud roar of engines, Captain Tritchel arrived, bringing some much needed friends.
Cheers rang up from the American lines as Captain Tritchel's tanks pushed forward and opened fire on the immobilized Martian Commander. It staggered, and when joined by the artillery, finally fell.
The Martian line, while still strong, was in chaos. The Drones turned back from their advance to deal with the infantry in close quarters.
Black dust from the grenadiers began punishing some of the human defenders hiding in the buildings.
Despite the drones turning back, the tripods on the left flank continued forward.
At the center, a scout tripod, it's navigation systems damage, sat frozen, a perfect target.
The Americans took it down as well.
Captain Tritchel, meanwhile, had commandeered a command tank from the survivors of the 119th, and took personal command of the tank group. He saw two tripods approaching from the North, the small group that had slunk off into the bayou to flank them. Their gamble hadn't entirely paid off - the tripods were arriving haphazardly, piecemeal, when they arrived at all. One fell into his sights. "Take the bastards down!"
And they did...
The Martians, who minutes before looked unstoppable, were knocked back on their heels by the ferocity of the American attack. With desperate soldiers in their midst and even behind them, they turned this way and that, scattering their fire in all directions. The humans swarmed around them like ants. The ambush had been utterly successful. The Martians were no longer advancing towards the objectives, but merely reacting to the human attacks.
Pressing their advantage, the infantry again rushed the Slaver, this time with more success. The Rough Riders' cables finally took hold, keeping the machine in place for American rifles and grenades.
"Keep at 'em boys!"
Bullets and shrapnel tore through the Martian Slaver, it shuddered, stumbled as if going to fall, and then exploded in a burst of light and a sound like thunder.
Pieces of the doughboys' twisted bodies, and of rough riders' motorcycles, rained down as far back as the American artillery. Four full units of infantry and two units of rough riders died instantly, near vaporized by the blast. Only a single group of five doughboys survived the blast in what may have been a miracle. Perhaps it was bravery, or maybe shock, but they even held their ground.
The ambushing American detachment which had caused such havoc to the Martians was destroyed even in their moment of victory. Aside from the slaver, only a group of shock drones perished on the Martian side. The human victory, which seemed all but certain a moment before, was suddenly far harder to imagine.
The Americans were stunned by the blast, but not for long. They continued to pour fire onto the Martians.
In the confusion of smoke and fire, the Martians took a moment to reorient themselves, but the American soldiers didn't give them the time.
Another tripod went down in a hail of machine gun fire.
On the left, ineffectual fire on both sides contributed to a stalemate.
Hoping to break it, some special reinforcements brought by Captain Tritchel moved up and out. Experimental heavy infantry, slow moving in their heavy gas and dust resistant suits, poured out of armored transport carriers and into the heavy woods nearby.
The battlefield had changed, and the Colonel had a crucial decision to make: continue to try and hold the town from the weakened but advancing Martians, or save what men he had left and fall back. Overlooking the battlefield he felt sick to his stomach. His plan, despite being perfectly executed, had fallen apart with that Martian detonation. But the battle was too important. If he fell back here, he'd have to fall all the way back to the Yazoo river, and that he was unwilling to do. The Americans would stay. Yet, could they win?
The Colonel, his decision made, took a deep breath as he watched the previously disoriented tripods turn in unison back towards the town they set out to take.
The isolated bands of infantry remaining to the west of the town were immediately set upon and destroyed.
Martian heat rays, no longer scattered and chasing infantry, now fell solidly forward, destroying the big MKIV tank, and the scrappy clamp tank that guarded the road.
Captain Tritchel's tank group also began taking fire on the right flank.
The drones, finished with the infantry in the west, moved to support the left flank, perhaps to threaten the armored infantry hiding there.
A damaged tripod on the left lost control and wandered off into the swamps, leaving only one tripod and some drones on that flank. The right was still strongly held by the humans and thus far any tripod heading that way had gone down quickly. The Martians now controlled the approaches to the town, but had yet to actually enter it. For all their successes, they hadn't managed to take any objectives... yet.
On the left, the drones and infantry were quickly locked into combat, but neither side would easily budge.
With the human center in shambles, the Martians turned to Captain Tritchel's tank group, and with sweaping heat rays, destroyed every tank but Tritchel's own in mere seconds.
The right flank completely collapsed. With the center also fallen, the Americans began to fall back in chaos and disorder. Somewhere in the midst of the carnage of their flight, the Colonel and his staff was either killed or taken by the enemy. The survivors, of which there were quite a few, melted away into the countryside on Captain Tritchel's orders. The Martians had won, but it was a very costly victory, and as the Americans fled, they were surprised to find that they were not immediately pursued. That would come soon, they knew, but for now, the surviving Martians needed reorganize and lick their wounds.
Captain Tritchel, however, would waste no time on rest. Surviving the battle, he made for the countryside as well. He told his driver to lay steam and they tore across the open country, gathering men where he found them. No organized force now stood between the Martians and the Yazoo River, but he did not intend to allow the Martians to feel safe in their newly conquered territory.
While other forces would race to plug the gap in the line on the river, Tritchel would harass the Martians whenever and wherever he could. It was the beginning of a different kind of war for the young captain.
Despite how outclassed the Americans were, point-wise, they came within 1 kill of breaking the Martians. It was an extremely close battle.
Americans: 7 Infantry (210), 3 HMGs (120), 2 Mortar teams (90), 2 command units (60), 1 AT Gun (80), 1 field guns (80), 3 heavy guns (separately emplaced) (150), 2 rough riders (90).
Captain Tritchel & the survivors of the 119th Armored: 1 MKII Command tank (65), 1 MKIV (190), 1 MKIII (225), 1 MK II (165), 2 armored infantry (130), 1 armored assault carrier (120). Total: 1775
Martians: 2 grenadiers (200), 1 veteran assault (250), 1 assault tripod (200), 2 black dust tripods (500), 2 green gas tripods (500), 2 slavers (200), 1 sniper drones (75), 1 drones (60), 1 scorpion drones (100), 1 lobototon blasters (20), 1 shock drones (65). Total: 2170.