Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Battle of Viehdorf - Finale

The End.

The resolution in Viehdorf village.
Away to the left of the brigade Regiment Brabenachel was suffering mixed fortunes. A heavy volley felled many a man, although its colonel was miraculously untouched. The grenadiers, tried beyond the endurance even of those stalwart men, fled to the rear. Colonel Brabenachel gritted his teeth, waved his sword once more and led the remainder forward into the retiring enemy. Another enemy volley seared the air but it was too little, too late. The Brabenachel regiment closed with sword and bayonet and soon the enemy company broke and fled.

General Rauppen-Schlepper rode forward slowly, accompanied by his staff. All across the front the enemy was retiring or fleeing, and his fine regiments were following up. “It seems we have a victory, gentlemen,” he said with a quiet smile.

“Thanks be to God!” Captain Scharfe said.

“Amen! And thanks be also to these stalwart fellows!” the General said heartily, encompassing the Hetzenberg army with a sweep of his arm.

Scharfe nodded. “Indeed sir.” He peered through his telescope. “The main body of the Gravies appears to be withdrawing in some disorder, but that mercenary regiment is approaching from the right. They and their cavalry will help shield them.”

“I wonder why our guns do not fire upon them. It would hasten their retreat.”

Scharfe swung his telescope over to the right. “It appears a company of Brabenachel’s regiment has advanced into the field of fire.”

“Colonel Sechs-Meilen-Scharfschütze is a gentleman. He won’t open fire with our own troops in the way.”

“I think he’s addressing the situation now, sir,” Scharfe grinned, his eye pressed to the instrument.
Colonel Sechs-Meilen-Scharfschütze walked over to the color party of the nearby infantry company. The captain looked round in surprise at the appearance of the grimy, sweat-stained officer, but recognized his superior rank and saluted. Colonel Sechs-Meilen-Scharfschütze returned the salute. “My dear chap, you would oblige me extremely if you would draw your men back just a little.” He gestured to the battery. Some of the men there waved cheerfully. “You see, artillery rounds have right of way on any battlefield.”

The Captain assessed the situation and bowed. “Forgive me, sir, I see we are sorely amiss in crossing into your path. I shall withdraw my company. Would fifty yards be sufficient for your purposes?”

The Colonel smiled. “It will be perfectly adequate, I do assure you.”

“Then fifty yards it shall be. Your servant, sir,” said the Captain with a bow.

“Much obliged, sir,” said the Colonel, responding in kind.
Now the action was all but over Mary Amadeus was taking a well-earned break from her labors. Colonel Sechs-Meilen-Scharfschütze approached. She saluted and he responded. “My dear Lieutenant, it occurred to me that you’ve been laboring most heartily for the cause, and I’ve a mind to reward your labors.” He gestured to the battery. “Would you care to direct the last salvo of the day?”

“I would be delighted, sir!” she grinned.

Wiping her hands on the seat of her britches she followed the colonel to the gun line. The gunners stood waiting, teeth shining white in their black-powder stained faces.
The Colonel addressed them. “Lieutenant Amadeus will direct the last salvo, gentlemen. Pray heed her words and obey her directions.”

Mary took a deep breath and moved to the first gun. Stooping, she peered along the length of the barrel. Calculations began to flow through her mind like a silver river of light. “Right, fifteen inches; elevation another eleven degrees…”
Lieutenant Klopfer walked his horse toward General Rauppen-Schlepper and his command group, savoring the feel of the springy turf beneath his feet after so long in the saddle. He was satisfied that he could file a good report with his superiors on the cavalry action, although it seemed he was too late for the infantry battle. The firing there was dying down but as he joined the command group he saw their attention was fixed on the Hetzenberg artillery.

“May I ask what’s happening, Captain?” he asked of Captain Scharfe.

“It appears Lieutenant Mary Amadeus is going to direct the last salvo of the day!” Scharfe grinned, lowering his telescope to look at him for a moment.

Klopfer blinked, astounded. “So it’s true! You do have a woman officer in your ranks!”

“Oh yes. She’s a new appointment, courtesy of Graf Philip. Now we’ll see what she can do.”

But Klopfer was already mounting up. Setting heels to flanks he spurred his mount across the field. I hope I’m in time! I’ve got to see this!
He was. Lieutenant Mary Amadeus was just straightening up from aiming the last gun as the hussar officer appeared with a clatter of hooves. As he leapt from his horse the artillery Colonel waved for him to remain quiet, apparently so focused on the Lieutenant’s efforts he didn’t even pay heed to the sudden appearance of a man wearing such a garish uniform. A tall young man close to Klopfer’s age stood quietly nearby, his hands behind his back, watching the Lieutenant with what seemed a proprietary air. Klopfer recognized him as Graf Philip von Hetzenberg, the heir to the Grand Duchy no less. How curious!

Everyone seemed to be holding their breath, although there seemed to be an underlying air of hilarity Klopfer had seldom experienced on a battlefield. He watched the young woman wearing the claret-colored uniform coat with bated breath.

Mary stepped back, away from the guns and took one last glance along the length of the battery. “Make ready!” she shouted. Linstocks hovered, poised to sweep down at her command. “Fire!”

The battery roared. Immediately heads turned to follow the line of shot. The cannonballs themselves appeared as short streaks of black as if a giant pencil had drawn lines in the air. And then after a heart-stopping pause they fell directly upon the enemy battery.

A collective sigh went up. Every shot had struck home. The surviving enemy gunners fled, abandoning the guns. The battery was no more.

Heads turned as everyone regarded the plump young woman with awe. She gave a little shrug, as if to say What did you expect? and walked back to where Graf Philip stood.

Philip’s heart glowed with pride. Abandoning propriety to the four winds he hugged Mary and swept her up and whirled her around. She laughed and clung to him as she swung through the air then as he set her down she smiled up at him. “I think you’d better walk over and take possession of those enemy guns, dear,” she told him. “It’ll save having to buy guns for our own battery!”
* * *
Pressed to the utmost the men of the surviving Dunkeldorf-Pfuhl infantry regiments fought off close pursuit, taking punishment but dealing it out in turn. With their cavalry and Babbington’s veterans screening them they withdrew from the field as the afternoon light began to wane. The last shots died away and the battle was over.
* * *
General Rauppen-Schlepper gave directions for the wounded to be gathered and tended to, before gesturing to an aide. “Rudi, take a message to His Excellency Count Ostenberg in Kimmelsbrücke.

“To Your Excellency, greetings. God has sent us victory this day upon the field of Viehdorf. The enemy is withdrawing northwestward in some disorder, screened by their surviving cavalry and some steady infantry. I intend to pursue for as long as daylight lasts. Casualty lists to follow. Please oblige me by forwarding this dispatch to His Grace. I remain your devoted servant, etc, etc.”

Rudi wrote the last words, Rauppen-Schlepper applied his seal to the folded paper, and a keen young aide rode away to spread the good news. Rauppen-Schlepper looked around. “Maybe I’m not too old for this scheiße after all.”
And so ends the Battle of Viehdorf with a convincing Hetzenberg victory. Tomorrow I'll post a series of photos supplied by Will showing the overall course of the action. All the figures involved were his, and the rules used were his own set for SYW/AWI. I'll also post a poll asking my readers which regiments on either side should be awarded battle honors.


Bluebear Jeff said...

And a hearty "well done" to Mary Amadeus!

-- Jeff

littlejohn said...

Great battle report and the annotated photo was super cool!

Fitz-Badger said...


Citizens in the Soweiter League are celebrating the news of Hetzenberg's victory this evening. Although deploring the violence of war, at least this time the "good guys" emerged as the victors.

Snickering Corpses said...

Beautiful and very well done. Lieutenant Klopfer's report shall be read with great interest in the Principality of Hesse-Engelburg.

A J said...

Thank you, gentlemen! I'm glad you enjoyed it. =)