Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Post Apocalyptic Battles Series 2 part 2

If you wish to start at the beggining, you should start here.  If your search engine took you here because you are looking to go duck hunting at Gregory Lake, this is not likely to help you much.
Part Two
We kept a close watch to the North from that point on.  We did have some short range radios.  We sent our scouts further afield, and George used the wandering old man trick to talk to people and gather more information.  The news of the fight had pretty well made the rounds.  Our involvement in it was clear, but they did not make the connection to the earlier horse raid.   George learned some details, already told, of how the SuraKings came to be involved.  With our enemies not understanding that we were still close by, we lived in peace until mid-June.
As we were preparing for the early harvest, I walked in to camp to pick up some tools  and heard the young ones cheering and laughing.  Our brothers in Tennessee had sent an escort, lead by Rich Ortin, and  Ashwin (Stronghorse) Evans,   out to make sure we made it home.   There arrival also had the advantage that, with the extra hands, we could finish the work quicker.
Of course we had many stories to share.  The story about our battle with the Roadsurfers and the SuraKings obviously was high on the list.  We were still not completely happy about how it had turned out.  Yes the Roadsiders had been made to pay, but the SuraKings had interrupted out battle and we felt that that result should not be left to stand.  The Captain flouted the idea of taking vengeance on the SuraKings.  Well both Rich and Ashwin were all for it:  enthusiastic really.  They had been involved in some military type fighting,  patrolling, and police work, but this was almost like old-time Indian fighting.
We knew pretty much where they were at.  So it was just a matter of some close reconnaissance.  We had 125 rifles (combatants), and 100 mounts.  There would be some doubling up.  At my suggestion we took some of the older kids along so they could act as horse-holders.  Hopefully they would not get too close to the action.  They did have light pistols and 22LR rifles so we thought they could at least make some noise.  Some of them were pretty decent shots, so if they kept their cool and the bad guys weren’t too careful, they could put someone down.

Gregory Lake Layout

Its natural setting.  The thin red line across the causeway is 100 meters.

The SuraKings, like the Roadsurfers, had several principal camps-villages:  favorite places of refuge.  Generally they were chosen for some useful feature, a fine springs of water, abundance of fish and game, a still viable travel corridor, etc.   The one we were after was at a small reservoir called Gregory Lake.  It was about 10 miles as the crow flies from our winter encampment.   But these are Arkansas miles, not Texas miles.  Ten miles in Arkansas can be a bit of traveling.  Their camp had fresh water springs and the lake, which fed into the Pointe Deluce Bayou.  The Lake was maybe 200 meter wide, and about 1200 slightly bowed meters long.   It had a causeway that crossed the middle of the lake, and at the western end of this causeway was a 100meter by 100 meter promontory about 10’ above reservoir level.  It is possible that there may have been a mill there at one time.
The SuraKings had built themselves a blockhouse-bunker of sorts on the promontory.   The walls were about four feet high, made with reinforced cinderblock.  They left occasional spaces in the wall as firing points.  They had heavy sheet metal that they used as a shield behind the windows.  Over the top they placed poles and spread old tin roofing.  A person lying flat on the ground, or back a little bit behind one of the shields could send their arrows or bullets through the apertures whenever an enemy came within range.   From the attacks of small arms such a protection, however primitive, was generally quite effective.
At the base of the promontory they had a foxhole line.  Briar bushes anchored the lake ends of the foxhole line, so you could not easily sneak past it at water’s edge.  A straight-pull barbed wire fence was run about 50 yards in front of the foxholes.  There were trees throughout, but they had cleared the underbrush.  They had the usual collection of tents near the blockhouse, but no trailers.  The coral was a little beyond the fence line.
If attacked, their woman and children would retreat into the block house.  With a little warning, the horses could be moved to the causeway. They would first man the outer foxhole line.  When it got too hot they could retreat to the blockhouse.  If it got really hot they could run/ride out the back way over the causeway.
The approach to Gregory Lake.

The Surakings kept an eye on the roads and expected to be forewarned of an advance by any sizeable force.   The large military remnants and gangs they were used to fighting had been road bound.   We of course did not take the roads.  So while there were too many of us to completely surprise them, their women, they did not have a lot of time to plan.
We would again come from an unexpected direction.   The main force would go slowly around the lower elevation northern section of the lake.  It was swampy, but our scouts had blazed a trail dry enough to get us through.    My smaller team would leave our horses with the main group, and drop off at the east end of the lake.  The rest of the group would swing around until they got to the edge of the wood line and dismount.  At that point they could run in a line straight across the neck and then do a left face.  There were enough small trees in the fields that it was not quite the mad dash across open ground that it sounded like.
My group had seven men, myself, and our medic Sara Parker.  The group had the standard collection of .308 rifles, sidearms and type 2 body armor, except that I had I had my XM 2010 .300 win. Mag., and Will and Jaylan and I all had our type 3 body armor.  Probably just as importantly, we also had one of the radios.
We were dropped off as planned and crept near lakes edge. When at the edge we realized that there was an overgrown pathway  that went around the lake toward the causeway.  By staying at the very edge of this path we could approach the causeway more quickly, but stay in the shadows of the woods behind us.  At near dawn we made our approach toward the causeway. 
We crawled.  As we got closer we saw that they had a standard 21’ long chain link fence topped with 45° barbarms and barbwire, about 10’ high to the toprail.  There was a wide gate with some sort of combo-lock on the inside.   We stayed away from the gate, but could put ourselves at a good vantage along the lake about 30 meters north.
While we were crawling our main force deployed.
The SuraKings were playing ball when the larger force swung around and got into position.   The ball-players, promptly ceasing their amusements, rushed the women and children into their retreat.  Our main force did their left turn and moved toward the fence line.
They had quite a large village, and we were again outnumbered in combatants.  Our main group, in a rather business like way, made their advances from tree to tree with caution. A random firefight commenced.  Staying calm, their aim, using the trees as rests, was effective.  One by one, notwithstanding a lot of yelling, threats and general confusion, the SuraKings were biting the dust.
The plan had been for the young horse-holders to stay back in the trees, but the woods had been too full of brambles and they had swung out behind the main line and had positioned themselves at the inside turn of the long entrance drive.  They SuraKings had had a couple of guards posted out toward the main road.   When the guards heard the shooting, they came running back toward camp, and ran right into a young but deadly accidental ambush of 22LR and .32 pistol rounds.   Being a bit excitable our young ones started to cheer.  During a lull in the firing, I could hear them on our side of the lake.  Later, the Captain told me the he thought the cheering had rattled the SuraKings as they began to speed up their rate of fire.
When the shooting first started my group held fire and waited.  Sure enough we saw a “guard” at the gate pop up his head and starting to look back over the causeway.  He was talking into his radio.  I ended the discussion with one shot.  We waited a moment to see if there was a reaction on our end, and then slipped up to the gate.  We would not be easy to see back-dropped by the trees, but the first one through the gate could have problems if there was a sharpshooter on the other side waiting.  Well the lock was no problem, and we made it through the gate without a problem.  We kept low, and I told everyone to hold fire until told otherwise.
The south side of the causeway was blocked along its entire length from the view of the blockhouse.  The handful of small trees along its top also tended to breakup outlines.  We crossed until we were fairly close to the other side.  There was a break in the causeway, with a bridge across the top, but you could wade across without exposing yourself.   They had four flat bottom boats tied up at the gap.  While we covered her, Sara, our best swimmer, quietly swam over and brought back the boats.  We did not need them to cross, but they would give us more options, and take away some of theirs.
After Sara was done with the boats, we waded past the gap and continued down the shielded side of the causeway.  Because of the differences in elevation, we could not see anyone at the foxhole lines unless they stood straight up.  We could fire into the blockhouse windows, but nobody was visible so it would be blind fire.  However, we only had a moment before the action came our way.
The firing at the front had continued.  They had numbers, but were outgunned.  It winds up that they did have some body armor, but most of it was Level 2 pistol-proof type armor, and they had not had time to put it on in any case.  Their numbers were slowly dwindling.  The moment one was wounded, unless a very brave fellow, he would crawl into the hiding-place among their women and children.  Since the crawl back was not under complete cover, not all of them made it back to the blockhouse.  The fight continued this way an hour or more, when, upon a signal, the whole body withdrew into their fortifications.
At this point we around back caught a group of about a dozen heading along the south face of the building.  Whether they were going to go in a back window, or keep on heading toward the causeway is not clear.  With them upright in the open,  and with eight of us firing, they were all down in a flash.  A couple of them tried to use their fallen comrades as cover, but bodies don’t make very good cover against rifles.
Our group out front, elated by what they supposed to be a victory, charged upon the open holes, hollering furious war-whoops.  But they were soon convinced that though concealed, the besieged were not powerless, for here they received a shower of arrows and bullets that tumbled them down amongst the left behind SuarKing bodies.  Unfortunately, excited as they had become, they were not easily convinced that prudence in this case was the better part of valor.
On the contrary, they maintained the unequal contest for some time.  The Captain, who had been going over the situation by radio with me, was eventually able to call them off.
They withdrew a short distance, and held a consultation.  Some of the younger men from Tennessee were not happy at being called off.   They had come here for revenge and they would not stop while any of them were still left standing.   To go back to Tennessee with the job unfinished would be a disgrace.
The Captain calmed them down, and made a suggestion which was agreed to by all. He proposed that one group stay at the front, and another group be sent the long way around to the opposite side of the lake.  They were to cut and collecting great amounts of dry grass.  On our side they could use the boats to transport it.
 The block house had two (somewhat) blind spots.  One was the corner near the causeway, and the other was the opposite corner.  With rifles laying down covering fire, the men, loaded with this combustible material, would cautiously approach each hole in the breast-works going to the closest holes first.  The windows were to be stopped up with the grass.   At the required moment, the grass would be set on fire. By this simple process the inmates would be suffocated or compelled to throw off their tin roofing and leap out, breathless and more or less blinded by smoke.   With us stationed around the house in a circle, we would have an easy time in butchering our gang-banging friends.
This was a popular idea.  Delighted with the anticipated excitement on their part, and prospects for the misery of our enemies, all arrangements were quickly made and everyone got into position.
The imprisoned SuraKings had been driven back from the very front of the firing ports which limited their field of fire.  What they thought when they saw all the grass being shoved in is not real clear.  They fired a few shots but we were not required to expose ourselves to get the job done.
The grass was placed in the required position, and at the same time, set on fire. For a moment or two no response was heard from within; but very soon the smoke was seen escaping, through the rocks and from under the roof.  No doubt there was much gasping, wheezing and panic.  They could stand the smoky strangulation for only so long.  Howls and screams were heard, followed by a significant up heaving of the roof, and a rush of confused gasping victims, blinded by smoke, leaping over the walls.
We let out a yell, and killed them with rifles, hatchets, and knives, until all were either dead or had made their escape by headlong flight. Quite a number of the women and children, and a few men, had been unable to rise, and died from suffocation inside the works.
This was the final scene of our little war.  A few of the escapees were chased down, but we did not want to stay in the neighborhood too long. 

We gathered all of their corralled horses, and as much of their gear as was still serviceable.  A lot of it was smoky, but most of it was still useful.   Using their wagons, we were able to haul off just about everything useful.  The surviving women and children stayed with us.   Apparently they only trusted a few of their “wives” with weapons.  After the looting was done we burned the bodies in the blockhouse.
As the afternoon was getting long, we headed back toward our encampment, careful to lay a few ambushes and to leave as little trail as possible.  One of the older women was seen marking a trail; after she drowned in the muddy bayou water, we had no more problems and made it back to camp.


Waldow said...

It would seem this last paragraph is a sort of typo that got pasted in under your proof reading radar.

Thanks for the post.

russell1200 said...

Yes it was. Blogger has a way of moving things around on you.

I think I have that back where it belongs.