Monday, 30 March 2009

Battle honors.

The Battle of Viehdorf.
A busy day today, so only a short post and a new poll. Having read the battle account below, which regiment(s) do you think should receive battle honors for Viehdorf? I've included all but the artillery batteries for both sides (which have their own system of recording deeds) and Babbington's Legion mercenary regiment. The poll is set for multiple answers.
I hope to write an account of the aftermath to the battle and a "how I write" article on the Chronicle in general at a later date. Cheers! A J

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.

Friday, 27 March 2009

The Battle of Viehdorf - 2nd Movement.

The climax of the battle.
After the terrible punishment inflicted by the enemy artillery the various companies of Regiment Storschen rallied and stood to their front. General Kuchler rejoined General Kaffe-Klatch and they exchanged a glance packed with a wealth of information. Kaffe-Klatch turned to look at the rallying cavalry. “It appears Bellev has matters under control there.”

Kuchler nodded. “Yes, and if we can hold on here there’s a chance of victory.”

“Just so.” Kaffe-Klatch thought deeply then drew up straight in the saddle. “We shall continue to fight. The day has not gone well but all is not lost.”

Close by the two infantry regiments had completed their maneuver. The shaken first company of Storschen’s command formed a second battle line behind the front companies while the fourth company of Jertz’ regiment adjoined the flank of the grenadiers. Together they presented the oncoming Hetzenbergers with a united front in some depth.
* * *
Colonel Wohl saw this and glanced up and down the ranks of his regiment. Order had been restored. And if we can outflank the nearest regiment without suffering under the fire from those guns, we shall prevail.
Colonel Sechs-Meilen-Scharfschütze had noticed the imminent danger from his enemy counterparts. “Gentlemen, I think it’s about time we paid our rivals a courtesy call,” he shouted, his ears ringing from the repeated gunfire.

His men cheered; their voices sounded tinny in his ears. They labored with a will to redirect their pieces. The gun captains checked alignment, elevation, loads, and stood clear. “Fire!” he shouted and the linstocks swept down onto touch-holes.

Across the field the gunners of Dunkeldorf-Pfuhl were laboring at their own pieces when the storm of shot arrived. Solid timber carriages shattered, barrels weighing a quarter of a ton hurtled into the air along with fragments of men and equipment. When the storm ceased half the battery had been wiped out and the survivors too shocked to do their duty.
Encouraged, Regiment Brabenachel opened fire on their counterparts, that valuable first volley of the day blasting into the close ranks of the enemy.

Colonel Jertz felt two bullets pluck at his coat and hat. One caromed off his sword scabbard with a diminuendo whine. All around his men fell, struck down by enemy fire, yet he was untouched.
* * *
Heartened by the demise of the enemy artillery, Colonel Wohl gauged the situation. For a moment he toyed with the idea of sending his grenadier company through the woods which now lay on his flank but instead sent them directly at the guns. With luck those fellows won’t recover before my boys fall upon them!
* * *
At Viehdorf the aide galloped up the slope and into the small village. Colonel Babbington tossed the chicken bone over his shoulder as he stood up to greet the man. “Your orders, sir!” the sweating aide cried.

Babbington took the proffered message and scanned it. “Thank you. This is clear and I shall comply immediately,” he said courteously.

The aide saluted and galloped away. Babbington glanced around. Even the clod-hopping McGill seemed to have sobered up somewhat. “Companies form up!” Babbington shouted. “Ah, Captain Tobermory!” he said as the officer came up for orders. He clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Take Fourth company and form our rearguard. Those ‘Bergers look inclined to close.”

Tobermory responded with a calm salute and strode away, bellowing for his sergeants. Babbington took one last look around then called for his horse. A nice interlude. What a pity there wasn’t much loot here.
* * *
General Rauppen-Schlepper sat upon his horse to the rear of the battle line and considered the situation. Over to the left the cavalry was under control and ready to repel any renewed attempt by the enemy cavalry to outflank him. To his front both infantry regiments were closing with the enemy line, their musketry and the guns having dealt several shrewd blows. To the right – He sighed. Regiment Sleibnitz was still not responding to his order. I’ll have that cocky bastard’s codlings for breakfast once this is over!
The cocky bastard had more immediate worries. His lead company was now closing on the village and there was an enemy company blocking the main street dead ahead. “Rush those fellows!” he shouted. “They’re only mercenaries!”

The officers barked their commands, the first company drummer beat his skins, and soon the men were charging into the attack.

In the village the mercenary company calmly awaited the onslaught. They waited until the Hetzenberg company had closed to a mere fifty yards before unleashing a volley that stopped it cold.
* * *
In the center the Dunkeldorf-Pfuhl artillery had recovered from their frightful blow. The gunners resumed their work with grim determination, resetting toppled guns and throwing water over the powder scattered from burst cartridges. Soon they were relaying their pieces, and the gun captains hunched over the barrels, sighting at the oncoming grenadiers. Satisfied with their aim they stood back, swept linstocks down to touchholes…

The Grenadier Company of Wohl’s Regiment shuddered under the blast of canister. Fully a third of its men fell dead or wounded. Over on the other flank Jertz’s Regiment served up a telling volley upon the nearest company of Brabenachel’s regiment. Colonel Jertz danced with the excitement of it all. “Hit ‘em again!” he yelled, waving his hat. His cries of delight turned into a wide-eyed stare of dismay as the Hetzenberg infantry leveled their muskets and charged.

Jertz’s left-most company gave way immediately, their flight to the rear bursting through the supporting company from Storschen’s regiment. The Grenadier company moved to block the advance of the Hetzenberg troops and a mass skirmish broke out.
Colonel Storschen frowned as the volley from his own regiment failed to have much effect on the enemy, who kept coming on. His men wavered in the face of their resolution. “Steady!” he shouted but to no avail. A trickle of men heading to the rear turned into a flood, with officers and NCOs being swept aside as the companies broke and ran.
* * *
The Grenadier Company of Colonel Wohl’s regiment was made of stern stuff. They resisted the terrible slaughter and in the face of such bravery some of the enemy gun crews took fright. As the infantry from Jertz’s regiment fled some of the gunners too began heading to the rear. The relief Wohl felt was palpable. I’ve been so fortunate this day. God has protected me. But his blood chilled when he saw the artillery officers rally some of their men and force them back to their duty. The barrels were being swabbed, new powder loaded. Dear Lord! Again?
* * *
Colonel Jertz worked his way into the combat, exchanging sword cuts with an officer, parrying bayonets that seemed to appear out of nowhere. “Rally boys and at ‘em!” he yelled. “Did you come all this way just to lose?”

His rallying cry worked. Gradually the enemy was forced back until they broke contact and retired with some speed. Hot and sweating with exertion Jertz leaned on his sword and looked around. This is not a good situation. We beat them back but they’ll come on again.
Not far away the same thoughts were passing through the mind of General Kaffe-Klatch. He sat upon his horse, surveying the field and feeling the gloom of defeat settling upon his shoulders. “Orders,” he said, not bothering to raise his voice. An aide stepped forward. “Message to all commanders. Retire northwestward, facing the enemy. Cavalry to screen retirement. Go.”

The aide saluted, his face grave, and trotted off about his duty.
Over on the levee Babbington’s Legion continued to withdraw from the village. From the vantage point Babbington could see most of the Hetzenberg lines. Those fellows are a lot further forward than they should be if we’re winning this battle, he thought. A sharp volley echoed down the street from behind him and he fancied he could hear yells and screams. It seems that bothersome regiment has closed at last. And that flotilla is still lurking out there on the river. I’m glad we’re leaving this place and heading inland somewhat.
* * *
General Kuster nodded approvingly as the last of the dragoon squadrons rallied and began to reform. “This is good, Werner,” he said to his chief of staff. “Those fellows across the way won’t try matters now we have parity of numbers.”

Werner nodded and pointed. “And it appears their infantry is withdrawing too, sir. I caught a glimpse of a rearward movement when the smoke cleared a little.”

Kuster began to breathe easier. “God send that it’s a victory at last. Too many of these poor fellows died this day.”

“And they did their duty to the last, sir.”

“They did. We shall remain here for a while longer, and allow the troopers to regain their breath and their wits.” He smiled. “I can see a time not too far hence when we’ll be required to press upon the enemy’s retreat.”
Colonel Sleibnitz rode through the ranks of lead hat company and seized the colors. “Rally, men!” he cried, waving the staff. The colors flew over his head, the silk pierced in several places by bullets. “Would you let those mercenary devils despoil our land? Rally and sweep the scum away!”

His men cheered. Sleibnitz felt the thrill of battle come upon him. “Fix bayonets!” he cried and the men drew the vicious blades and set them in place. The regiment suddenly took on a more vicious guise. Sleibnitz looked around, ensured all was ready, keeping his back deliberately toward the enemy, daring them to shoot him in the back. The men looked to him now, awaiting the word. He gave it to them.


Sword in hand he turned his horse and charged forward, his men following. The mercenary company leveled their firelocks and the red-coated ranks almost disappeared behind a gust of dun-colored smoke. Bullets zipped and sang past Sleibnitz. A man running alongside him jerked and disappeared with a gasp but then they were amongst the enemy ranks and he was cutting and thrusting, his habitual coolness coming to the fore again. Bayonets were plied, men hacked, slashed and swore in two languages before the mercenaries began to turn and flee.
The men of Sleibnitz’s regiment pursued them through the village, sparing none who fell or asked for quarter. Soon Sleibnitz was standing at the top of the rise, looking down the lane to where the rest of the mercenaries were withdrawing. Indeed, the entire enemy battle line seemed to be withdrawing too. He rested his sword across his lap, heedless of the blood that began to seep from it into his britches, and regained his breath. Perhaps there will be trouble from Rauppen-Schlepper over my interpretation of his orders. But driving the enemy from here will serve me well indeed.
The Dunkeldorf-Pfuhl artillery fired again, and the air sang and buzzed with canister rounds. Colonel Wohl flinched as men fell all around but again, he was untouched. A new confidence surged through him. “Press on, men!” he shouted. “Press on and let’s finish this!”

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Battle of Viehdorf - 1st movement

Overview, looking North.
Cavalry clash...
As his enemies fled Colonel Rumptopf found himself in something of a quandary. Beyond the routing hussars lay the serried dark blue ranks of the Seinfeld Cuirassier Regiment, advancing in good order and apparently untroubled by the misfortunes of their sister regiment. To rally back, or attack? That’s the question. But he soon saw it was all academic. They’re too close. If we move away they’ll catch us.

At least the squadrons were starting to regain some cohesion after the fury of battle. One man was riding to the rear bearing the guidon of the beaten hussar regiment, to the acclaim of all. “Well done, lad!” Rumtopft called. “But there’s no time to spare. Charge those tin-bellies, boys!” His voice cracked. “At ‘em, by God!”

And his men, his poor tiring men responded magnificently. The horses were close to blown but they raised sufficient momentum to crash into the oncoming heavy cavalry. The dreadful sounds of battle rose once more. Rumtopf regained control of his passion and rode back to join the third squadron. I hate to let the men fight without me, but we’ll need reinforcements. He was glad to see the steady advance of the Bishop’s Horse. Good, I think we’ll need ‘em.

Behind him the fight was swift and brutal. The first squadron of heavy cavalry troopers gave as good as they got against the second squadron of dragoons but the fight turned against them elsewhere. The men of the dragoon’s first squadron broke their opponents, sending them whirling to the rear. But even as they leaned on their saddlebows, exhausted almost beyond measure, they saw the third squadron of cuirassiers calmly open their ranks to allow their beaten fellows through – before coming on at the trot. When contact came it was too much. The dragoons broke and fled.
* * *
Beyond the hill Infantry Regiment Jertz continued to advance, although its colonel was aware of the confusion sown by the enemy’s artillery among the ranks of his neighboring regiment. So too was General Kuchler, it seemed. That worthy and his headquarters party were riding toward the hapless Storschen, and as they passed Jertz saw the General’s face was as black as thunder.

But something else distracted him then. Hooves pounded the turf and around the Windmühlen-Hügel came a cloud of colorful cavalrymen, all riding hell for leather toward the rear of the Dunkeldorf-Pfuhl lines. For one heart stopping moment Jertz thought they were enemy cavalry before remembering that there were no Hetzenberg hussar regiments in the vicinity. Even as he thought this his foot plunged into a void and he fell flat on his face.
General Kuchler rode up to the color party of Infantry Regiment Storschen and was met by a harried colonel. The General regarded him with severe disfavor. “Mere cannonballs should not have created such disorder,” he said in tones of iron. “You will oblige me, sir, by restoring discipline to your regiment!”

What the hell do you think I’ve been trying to do? Storschen wanted to say. Instead he came to attention and saluted. “Yes, sir,” he replied meekly.
A roar of laughter sounded from the regiment as Colonel Jertz extracted his foot from the rabbit hole and got to his feet. For a moment he was tempted to sentence them all to a dozen lashes for insubordination. Then his better nature took over, he saw the funny side, and realized his inadvertent tumble had raised the spirits of his men at a time when it was most needed. Giving them a solemn bow and doff of his hat, he turned and marched onward once more.
The Tuhellenbach Regiment flowed around or over all obstacles in its way until it reached a broad area northwest of the Windmühlen-Hügel. Feeling shamed by the way they’d broken and routed the officers and better NCOs got to work restoring order, but their efforts were wasted upon the third squadron. Those worthies continued their flight to the rear - but General Bellev was on their tail. By supreme effort he overtook the blown horses of the light cavalry and stood four-square in their path. “Would you flee when the task is only half-done, gentlemen?” he bellowed. “Rally, rally now! Show the world hussars are worthy to fight on the field of battle!”

The third squadron began slowly to coalesce out of the chaos, shamefaced but willing to restore order and perhaps some honor from the situation.

Not far away the routed cuirassier squadrons rallied on their guidons, the men savoring the brief moment of relative quiet as they recovered their wind. Closer to the enemy Colonel Seinfeld sat upon his horse alongside the color party of the first squadron and assessed the situation around him. We’ve broken those dragoons, but they’re not broken enough. That reserve squadron still looks full of fight. He cast a glance back over his shoulder. The wretched hussars had disappeared around a shoulder of the low hill but he could hear their trumpets sounding the rally in the distance. They don’t need our protection then, he thought facing front. That means we can concentrate on those gentlemen over there

“The squadron will advance!” he snapped, and the trumpet sounded. A few hundred yards away the enemy dragoons flowed into motion too, mirroring the actions of the cuirassiers.

General Kaffe-Klatch studied the overall situation and sucked his teeth thoughtfully. The mess which the supposed-elite Regiment Storschen had fallen into was not encouraging. Regiment Jertz had slowed its pace to allow the now recovered First Regiment to catch up. That’s commendable action on Jertz’s part; it shows he has a grasp of his part in the battle, but again, not encouraging to the overall situation. The cavalry are holding their own, which is not quite as I hoped, either. I must get the infantry working for its pay.

“Message!” he snapped. An aide sprang forward, pencil poised over his pad. “To Colonel Babbington, immediate effect. I require you to withdraw your regiment from the village and join the main force in the center. Take up position on the left of Regiment Storschen and support same.”

The aide sped away and Kaffe-Klatch looked over to the right, where the cavalry melee continued with shrewd blows traded by both sides. But now the situation seemed to be altering…
The second dragoon squadron broke before contact when the reserve cuirassier squadron entered the melee. The dragoons had fought well but now they were tired, their horses blown, and the prospect of another roughhouse with the heavy troopers did not appeal.

Colonel Rumtopft gritted his teeth and led his own reserve squadron forward at the gallop, grimly determined to stop the rot. The clash came with the all too familiar screams and cries. Pistols banged and flashed, men yelled and cut or were cut down. All too soon the tide turned against the dragoons. “Withdraw and rally!” Rumtopft shouted, standing in his saddle. A cuirassier appeared from nowhere and lunged, his long heavy cavalry sword piercing Rumtopft’s coat and the flesh beneath.
* * *
No sooner had Colonel Jertz resumed his march than a salvo of artillery fire landed in and around his regiment. The shock was near total and although casualties were few the men wavered. “Steady my boys!” Jertz called. “Just a little longer then we’ll be at ‘em with the bayonet!”

A weak cheer rose but it was some time before the officers and NCOs restored order. Oh well, Jertz thought. It’ll give those sluggards of Storschen’s time to catch up.
* * *
Mary Amadeus tipped half the contents of her canteen down her throat and the other half over her head. Flicking back her wet hair she wiped water, sweat and grime from her face and gazed out over the field. The guns aren’t doing as well as they might, she thought. I wish I could direct them! But the good Colonel had been firm: out os some misplaced gallantry he had directed that she could assist with the munitions but nothing more. The battery fired again, the concussion shaking the earth. She could see the officers directing the guns, the men with trail-spikes heaving the great weapons around by brute force. A thick pall of smoke hung over everything, seemingly too heavy for the breeze to move. The powder boys ran back to the caissons for the next charges and she took a deep breath and got back to work.
This will not do, Colonel Schenk thought as the dragoons broke and rode to the rear. He glanced across to his right-front and saw the nearest enemy infantry regiment had stopped in apparent disorder. And yet there are possibilities.

He called to his aides. “Take a message to the squadron commanders. First and third squadrons are to follow me against those cuirassiers, the second squadron is to attack that nearest infantry regiment.”

The aides sped off. It would be ideal if I could tie down the enemy cavalry with one squadron whilst the others direct their attention to those fellows over there. And yet, needs must. He glowered at the oncoming foe. They shall not pass!

Once he was sure the messages had been received Schenk called for the canter to be sounded. Second squadron peeled off, heading to the east of the Windmühlen-Hügel. Grasping his sword in his right hand, his Bible and reins in his left, Schenk waved his sword above his head to attract the troopers’ attention then thrust it forward. “Charge!”

The trumpet sang its clarion call and the black horses began to stretch out. Ahead of them one of the cuirassier squadrons responded in kind; the other took one look at the advancing Horse and rode away in a panic. Schenk smiled quietly as the ground flowed beneath the hooves of his mount. One down, one to go

Colonel Brabenachel looked up with a frown as the enemy artillery fired directly at his regiment. Or directly at me. There’s something so personal about being under artillery fire. Thankfully the salvo went wild. He nodded thoughtfully. Quite a relief, that.

And one-sided too, it seems. As he watched the Hetzenberg artillery made good practice among the ranks of the right-most enemy foot, and a company of grenadiers broke and ran. His excitement was stoked higher still when he saw a squadron of the dour Bishop’s Horse cantering toward the left-most infantry regiment, which was still in some disorder. Or is it..?
Colonel Jertz felt his heart give a lurch when he saw the black-clad troopers ride toward him. Positioned as they were with the small wood behind them their dark tunics seemed to merge with the gloom under the trees. No time for fanciful thoughts!

“Grenadier company! One step forward, march!” The grenadiers stepped out smartly, coming to attention again with a stamp-crash! of boots. Jertz walked out of the line of fire and watched the enemy cavalry come on. “Present your firelocks!” The weapons were held out, almost as if they were being offered to the oncoming horse. “Shoulder your firelocks!” The muskets came up, an almost unwavering line of wood and steel. Three, two, one… “Fire!”

The first infantry volley of the engagement roared out. Through the smoke Jertz could see enemy saddles emptied, stray horses running, others falling. They’re hurt – but are they hurt enough? Ah! A black-clad cavalry officer saluted him with his sword. Jertz responded, and the enemy turned and retired out of range.
Over on the right General Bellev watched the cuirassiers charge. I wish I could support them with these fellows, but it’s not a good idea to let light horse anywhere near heavies. He gave the rallying hussar squadrons a thoughtful glance. Especially not these fellows. They’re rallying, which is always a good sign. Give these boys a full campaign and they’ll make something of themselves. I wonder what happened to that blasted idiot Kramer?
Colonel Seinfeld didn’t like the situation but he had no recourse but to offer fight to the oncoming Horse. Those black and purple uniforms! It’s like being charged by a bench of bishops!

The two sides met in a clash and clang of sword and popping of pistols. The Horse were shaken by the impact and Seinfeld took advantage to press home the attack. Soon the black-clad troopers were breaking off and heading to the rear, their colonel falling back with them, his shouts of encouragement heard even above the battle’s roar. This won’t do, Seinfeld thought and pressed his men to continue the melee. The Horse finally broke, but an urgent shout directed Seinfeld’s attention to the left. Damn!

The squadron of enemy Horse which had been detached was now moving back into view, directly upon his flank. He dimly recalled the sounds of musketry coming from that direction. They attacked, were repelled – and now they’re menacing us!
The hat companies of Regiment Storschen rallied at last and General Kuchler moved to rally the Grenadiers. He left just in time. Colonel Storschen flinched as yet another enemy artillery barrage stormed into his regiment, tearing bloody gaps in the ranks. We can’t take much more of this!

* * *

Mary Amadeus heard the cheers ring from the battery. There was too much smoke in the way to see much now but she guessed they’d pulled off some remarkable shooting. It’s hard to think that men are dying out there, thanks in part to my efforts, she thought as she filled cartridges. But those same men knew the score when they enlisted, and no one invited them to invade my country! Something in the air told her there’d been a slight change in the weather. Good, perhaps the breeze will get up and clear some of this smoke away.


General Rauppen-Schlepper drummed his fingers on the head of his cane and considered the situation. A brief glance through the telescope was sufficient to tell him Colonel Sleibnitz was not obeying orders. We’ll see about that! He fumed. “Orders!” An aide sprang forward. “To Colonel Sleibnitz. I demand your immediate compliance with my previous order to join and support Regiment Wohl.”

The aide rode off and Rauppen-Schlepper turned his attention back to the situation on the left. There at least the situation had stabilized. The cavalry had administered a thorough check on their counterparts and he could see General Kuster riding back and forth, busily rallying the dragoons. And yet some of the Horse has broken too. He rubbed his jaw. The crisis is getting close, if it’s not here already. He called for his horse.

* * *

Colonel Seinfeld realized his situation was now perilous in the extreme. Although he’d broken one squadron of Horse he now had two others menacing him, one on either flank. “Sound retreat!” he yelled and set an example by hauling his mount’s head around by main force and setting spurs to its flanks.

Cuirassier sandwich...

General Bellev watched the retreat out of the jaws of the trap and pounded his saddlebow in exasperation. We nearly had victory there! The third squadron of cuirassiers was still heading back to their own lines at speed, although their second was beginning to rally, along with the third squadron of hussars. It’s not entirely lost, although I’d hesitate to lead these men forward now.


This place is a haven of calm compared to that, Colonel Babbington thought, munching a fried chicken leg as he sat and gazed at the distant battle. The smoke; the smell of powder, the sight of broken and rallying troops! Ah, but war is exciting. He turned his attention at the small figure of a mounted aide, who was drawing closer to the levee at the gallop. His men in turn were watching the slowly advancing column of Hetzenberg infantry but the enemy didn’t seem inclined to close with the village. This situation will soon change when that messenger arrives.

In the center General Kuchler managed to rally the shaken and routed companies of Regiment Storschen by a combination of brute force, bad language and terrible threats. Colonel Storschen sensed the disapproving gaze of General Kaffe-Klatch upon him and felt thoroughly dispirited. I wonder if Uncle Theodore will let me join his export business. A nice posting to some remote factory would suit me down to the ground just now.

“Don’t stand there daydreaming sir!” a stentorian voice thundered and Storschen flinched and saw General Kuchler riding up, his face like an angry god. Storschen came to attention in the face of his wrath. “I have restored your regiment to you,” the general growled. “Now it’s up to you to redeem its honor!”


“Deploy into line with your right companies adjacent to Jertz’ regiment. And don’t balls this up!”


The general rode away, muttering. Storschen had only just begun to shout commands when another salvo from the enemy artillery howled out of the sky. The execution was terrible. Entire companies writhed under the onslaught and Storschen flinched away, thinking his end had come.

And yet…and yet the regiment survived. Perhaps it was fear of another tongue-lashing from the irascible general that did it, but they held their ground and reformed. Storschen gathered his wits and barked his orders. A factory really far, far away…

* * *

With Generals Rauppen-Schlepper and Kuster rallying the men both cavalry regiments began to reform. Colonel Rumtopft had been carried to the rear, a sword thrust having pierced his side. With the blessing he would survive but his work this day was done. Lieutenant Klopfer had also survived, and was walking his horse away from the scene of the skirmish, patting the animal's neck affectionately.

Satisfied that his valuable left flank was stable once more, Rauppen-Schlepper left the final work to Kuster and rode back to supervise the coming infantry conflict. He was not a moment too soon. Under the steady direction of General Schmaltz the Hetzenberg infantry closed with the invaders. The Margraf’s men opened fire first, a brisk musketry rippling down the line but with little effect.

Colonel Wohl strode forward, his sword held out by his side to keep the line straight. He felt calm, even resigned now. A sudden blast and flare of light and smoke came from his right and the air filled with shrieking metal. All around him men jerked, twisted, fell and the colors twitched and shook as if pulled at by invisible fingers. And yet he still stood, unharmed. Muttering a quick prayer of thanks he directed the efforts to restore order.

“Close up! Close up!


General Kuchler continued to fume, even as he worked hard to steady the men. The two broken cuirassier squadrons were rallying now. But are we in time to do any good?

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Battle of Viehdorf Mill. Overture.

The armies begin to deploy. Hetzenberg on the right of the picture, Dunkeldorf-Pfuhl to the left. The Windmühlen-Hügel dominates the center.
All figures and photos credit: "Fire at Will."
The trumpets sounded. All over the encampment regiments formed up into their companies and began to march, in accordance with General Rauppen-Schlepper’s plan. Colonel Sleibnitz rode at the head of his men, the pristine un-blooded colors fluttering over the heads of the color party marching behind. Un-blooded? That will soon change he thought as he led the regiment out of camp and turned to the right, a perfectly-executed wheel in column to the position of honor, the Right of the Line. At least we shall see action. General Rauppen-Schlepper is a fussy old stick although competent in his way. Whatever happens, perhaps this will be his last campaign before he retires. And glory awaits me this day! I will have my place in the sun!
The remaining two regiments of the brigade formed up into column and marched toward the field of battle, the steady tramp-tramp tramp-tramp of booted feet raising the echoes from the nearby woods. Between them the artillery rattled along with a jingle of harness and the rumbling of wheels. From somewhere behind the army in the direction of the small village of Martinsdorf a dog barked. A cockerel responded, sounding startled. Colonel Wohl marched at the head of his regiment, feeling strangely calm and unflustered. Whatever will be, will be. At least I don’t have to tolerate that ninny Sleibnitz directly on my flank. Regiment Brabenachel marched, keeping pace with its sister regiment and the artillery. Their Colonel was wary. The men were nervous, perhaps even brittle, although they marched smartly enough. I wish I’d had more time to shape them into proper soldiers, he thought. Oh well, the die is cast.
Mary Amadeus rode with the caissons as the artillery battery rolled onto the broad plain. All those bright banners! She thought, looking around. There is a kind of glory to be found in war. Her earlier nervousness was melting away as the sun rose higher. I’m actually looking forward to this now.
Away beyond the woods the two cavalry regiments rode onto the plain side-by-side. General Rauppen-Schlepper took post in front of the wood between the two brigades and watched their deployment with a critical eye. Much depends on those fellows, he thought as the cavalry deployed into line. Indeed, much depends on us all this day. He smiled quietly. And around this time last year I was already thinking I’m getting too old for this scheiße!
The early morning mist was disappearing slowly due to the cloudy skies shielding the sun but soon the army of the Margraf of Dunkeldorf-Pfuhl appeared across the field, regiment by regiment. To some extent their deployment was the mirror image of his own plan, save that their artillery was to the left of the regular line regiments. Rauppen-Schlepper viewed the situation through his telescope then swung the instrument to scan the far right of his own line. “Message!” he snapped. An aide rode to his side, order form out, pencil poised. “To Colonel Sleibnitz, effective immediately. I desire you to ignore the village directly in front of you in favor of supporting an attack by Infantry Regiment Wohl upon your left. Go.”

The aide sped off, clods of damp soil flying up from the hooves of his mount. Rauppen-Schlepper looked to the right, watching the deployment of his other two infantry regiments. All was going according to plan. Regiment Wohl remained in column, but Regiment Brabenachel was beginning to deploy into line. The artillery moved into the space between the two and came into battery. Good, good, he thought. Nice smart practice there. We shall begin to pepper them within minutes. To the south the Hetzenberg cavalry deployed into a two-up one-back formation of squadrons. The Bishop’s Horse was closest to his position, and he remembered the deep, resonant psalms that had sounded from their camp before dark the previous evening. They were experienced troopers – but experienced mainly in escort and patrol duties. We shall see if the Lord watches over them today.

As he gazed in their direction a solitary horseman came into view, rounding a corner of the wood and heading toward the headquarters party. His gaudy pink and purple hussar uniform made a bright splash of color against the greens and browns of the plain. As Rauppen-Shlepper watched the horseman stood in his stirrups, looked intently in his direction, gave a cheery wave then sat back in the saddle and put spurs to his horse. “Who the devil is that?” he inquired of Captain Scharfe.

Scharfe raised his telescope. His time with the intelligence service had exercised his already formidable eidetic memory. “I would say it’s a hussar officer from the Principality of Hesse-Engleburg, sir: Their Garde du Corps Hussars, Prinzessin Gertrude.”

The Hussar galloped up and reined in his mount in a way that combined flamboyance with a care not to spray mud everywhere. He fired off a sharp salute. “Do I have the honor of addressing His Excellency General Rauppen-Schlepper?” he cried.

“You do, sir,” Rauppen-Schlepper replied in guarded tones as he eyed the man. His horse is very fine. He must’ve ridden hard, yet it looks fit for another twenty miles. They breed a good light horse in Hesse-Engleburg. But that uniform! It can only have been designed by a woman.

The hussar fished in his sabretache and produced a document which he proffered. “I’m Lieutenant Klaus Klopfer, Garde du Corps Hussars, Prinzessin Gertrude Regiment of Hesse-Engleburg, sir. My credentials, if you please.”

Rauppen-Schlepper took the document and scanned it. “This is in order. What do you here, Lieutenant?”

Klopfer gestured to their surroundings, his rich purple dolman flapping with the movement. “If you’d permit, General, I would like to observe the coming battle on behalf of Their Graces the Fürst and Fürstin.”

“You’re very welcome to observe, young man,” Rauppen-Schlepper replied, noting the mad gleam in the fellow’s eye. “You may attach yourself to my headquarters, or roam at will, as you please. But understand that you do so entirely at your own risk.”

“I do sir!” Klopfer replied cheerfully. “Anyone mad enough to ride across Urope dressed like me is quite at home with risk!”

Rauppen-Schlepper stared at him then gave a bark of laughter as his staff grinned. “Just so, and well said, Lieutenant!”

“Sir!” Scharfe exclaimed just then. “The enemy cavalry is on the move.”
* * *
Across the field and beyond the Windmühlen-Hügel, General Bellev rode at the head of his cavalry brigade. He was feeling rather annoyed. The cause of his ire rode not far away at the head of the Tuhellenbach Hussars. That popinjay! Bellev snorted, watching the gaudy cantering figure of Colonel Kramer. The hussar looked the epitome of the dashing cavalryman, in his crimson britches, gray coat and black busby. His moustaches and ringlets fluttered in the breeze as he rode, eyes fixed to his front, teeth bared. He’s getting ahead of the line! What does he think he’s doing? For a moment Bellev toyed with sending an order to rein-in the overeager hussar, but stayed his hand. Let it be. We outnumber the ‘Bergers anyway, so launching into them from the word go may do some good. He glanced at the cuirassiers alongside. These fellows are far steadier, I think. We shall see.
General Kaffe-Klatch rode with General Kuchler alongside Infantry Regiment Jertz. The Windmühlen-Hügel rose to their right-front and would mark a demarcation point between the infantry and cavalry action. Kaffe-Klatch eyed his subordinate. I don’t think this fellow wants me here to hold his hand, but this battle’s too important for me not to supervise closely. I wish the Margraf – the old Margraf – had allowed me more time to train these men. Politics! He sighed and nearly spat but refrained. Thanks to that dratted flotilla I shall have to press the battle today. We’re about par in terms of infantry, but at least our cavalry is superior. He glanced over at the cavalry, which was now peeling away to round the hill. It will be interesting to see what those new-fangled hussars can do.
Colonel Jertz marched with the color party of his regiment. He was aware of the negative feelings in his general, hinted at in the command conference the previous evening. I’ll show him! He thought. There’s more spirit in these boys than he credits them with!
Alongside Colonel Storschen strode with an insouciant smile, feeling surprisingly happy. All the waiting is over, no more doubts or fears. Just the glory and bloodshed of wonderful battle! Behind him marched the men of his grenadier company, good, tall fine fellows and proud members of the First Regiment of the Line. We’ll show them what we can do!
Away to the left Colonel Babbington sat on a chair outside the inn of the tiny village of Viehdorf, enjoying the view of the unfolding battle as his men peacefully completed their looting. One man staggered by, a bottle in his hand and an earthenware chamber pot on his head. Babbington sighed. McGill again! These men may be fine Catholics like me, he thought. But it doesn’t stop them acting like idiots when they plunder a Protestant village. “Sarn't-major?” he called.
Sergeant-Major Bruce came up, stamped and clashed to attention. “Sah!”

“My compliments to Lieutenant Tobermory and he is to curb the depredations of his men forthwith. We have a battle to fight ere long.”


Bruce spun on his heel and strode away. Further up the street Private McGill stumbled and fell on his face, the chamber pot shattering when it met the ground. Babbington looked then closed his eyes. The idiot didn’t even empty the thing first…
* * *
The Hetzenberg artillery opened up upon the oncoming enemy but to no discernable effect. Behind the gun line Mary Amadeus worked quickly but with care, handling the fat flannel cartridges like babies as she packed them into carrying boxes. Already a steady line of powder monkeys was flowing between caissons and cannon, keeping the deadly weapons supplied. She spared a brief glance at the target, the nearest of the two enemy infantry regiments. The air was filling with dun colored powder smoke already. Oh well, we’ll keep trying. The battery fired again. The incredible concussive thump striking up through her feet as the sound wrapped her entire body felt almost… well, interesting! She grinned as she worked. I’m enjoying this!
Regiment Brabenachel continued its stately deployment into line, the grenadier company acting as an anchor point on the right. To the south the Hetzenberg cavalry completed deployment just as the Dunkeldorf-Pfuhl artillery opened upon the Bishop’s Regiment of Horse. General Rauppen-Schlepper winced then scowled as men and horses fell there amidst the second squadron. The regiment’s trumpets sounded, and NCOs and officers dashed to restore the dressing. There was no sign of panic or flightiness. They’ll do very well.

“With your permission, sir!” Klopfer cried, saluting.

“Indulge yourself young man,” Rauppen-Schlepper replied, his thoughts already turning elsewhere.

The bold hussar galloped off toward the cavalry, his natural habitat.
* * *
Infantry regiments Storschen and Jertz continued their steady advance in column. The excitement of battle was beginning to appear, but both colonels kept a close eye on their commands, ensuring that discipline was maintained. Colonel Storschen noticed the drummer boy’s timing was getting somewhat ragged. He turned to address the matter when the air was filled with a terrible roaring and flying metal plunged into his command.

He watched wide-eyed as men were flung apart, like marionettes under the touch of a mad puppeteer. The shot plowed through the ranks, striking deep into the grenadier company and rebounding into the hat company directly behind. Screams and cries filled the air.

“Close up! Close up!” the sergeants and ensigns began to shout. After an animalistic shudder the regiment obeyed, men closing the bloody gaps in their ranks and files and marching onward once more. The colors flew; the drummer boy pushed his little bearskin back on top of his head and picked up the beat once more. Colonel Storschen gave the boy an approving nod. We’ll get through this!

But confusion still reigned amid the ranks of the hat company. “Halt!” he roared, pushing through the grenadiers to address the problem. Swearing rose on all sides as officers beat at the men with the flats of their swords in an uphill struggle to restore order. Behind the battered company the other hat companies had come to a halt. Even as Storschen began to push and pull men back into the ranks another salvo came howling out of the sky.

“Oh, that oaf! Oh that bloody oaf!” General Bellev fumed as the Tuhellenbach Hussars increased their pace, aiming directly at the enemy cavalry across the plain. His thought that a swift attack would send the enemy flying was proving erroneous. The ‘Bergers heavy Horse regiment had taken a hit but was reforming. The Dragoons were untouched, waiting quietly for their moment. Even as he watched the Heavy Horse took another hit from the artillery. Again they closed ranks and waited, under superb discipline. Bellev shook his head as he cantered forward. If Kramer thinks he can take them all on by himself he’s got a nasty shock coming!
* * *
A left wheel and Regiment Sleibnitz found itself at the foot of the levee and facing north-west, the four companies in column of pairs. A plume of smoke rose above the village a quarter mile away and Sleibnitz’s lip curled as he saw red-coated men moving among the houses and cottages. Looting, by God! They shall pay for that! As he led his men at the slow march up the slope he heard the sound of galloping hooves. An aide clattered up alongside, saluted and thrust a dispatch form at him. “Orders from the General, sir!”

Sleibnitz took the missive, wincing as the movement tugged at the scab forming over the sword cut on his right forearm. “Regiment, halt!” he snapped, unfolding the paper and reading. To Colonel Sleibnitz, effective immediately. I desire you to ignore the village directly in front of you in favor of supporting an attack by Infantry Regiment Wohl upon your left.

“Support..?” His lip curled even more and he thought quickly. “Acknowledged.” The aide saluted, swung his horse around and clapped his heels to its flanks. Sleibnitz ignored him. “The regiment will advance!” he snapped. Just then the opening salvo of the battle sounded away to his left. He glanced over from the advantage of the height and saw smoke blossom from the muzzles of the artillery battery positioned between the other regiments of the brigade. Let the cannon-cockers support that upstart bourgeoisie, he thought. I know where my duty lies.
Colonel Casimir Kramer was having the time of his life. He cantered forward across a level plain, beautiful country for cavalry maneuvers. His enemy lay before them, along with a bright and glorious career. He saw the artillery strike at enemy’s heavy horse and throw their ranks into confusion. Kramer’s heart soared like an eagle and he stood tall in the saddle and whirled his saber above his head. “Now, my lads! To death or glory!”

A full throated roar came from his men. As one they broke into a full gallop, their horses stretching out, the trumpet casting silver notes into the heavens.

Colonel Rumtopft watched the hussars come on. “The silly buggers,” he growled, and set his tricorn square upon his head with a sharp tap. “Right, my lads,” he called to his men, “we’ve a score to settle with these popinjays. Let’s finish this!” He drew his sword, held it high. “The regiment will advance.”

The trumpet pealed and the men spurred their horses forward. Rumtopft became aware of hooves galloping up to his headquarters troop and yet another hussar was suddenly riding alongside. He stared at the exotic creature with surprise. “Do you have room for a little one, Colonel?” the man cried cheerfully.

“Who the hell are you?”

“Lieutenant Klaus Klopfer, Garde du Corps Hussars, Prinzessin Gertrude Regiment of Hesse-Engleburg, sir!”

Rumtopft shook his head with perplexity as he glanced to see to the dressing of the trotting lines of horsemen. “I’ve no time to inquire how or why you come to be here, sir, but if you must fight alongside us, be my guest. To the canter, gentlemen!”

The trumpet call sounded and they rode forward. Klopfer drew his saber, a gleaming sliver of light. Rumtopft eyed the oncoming hussars. Any second… Now! “Charge!

The trumpet pealed again with urgent, strident notes. The ground shuddered as over six hundred hooves pounded the turf. A great shout rose from the throats of the regiment as they closed with their enemy at a full gallop, the colors snapping in the wind.

The regiments met with a crash, clang and a roar that pounded the senses. Men and horses fell, overturned by sheer impact. Within a second the scene dissolved into a whirling melee of blue and crimson and gray. Swords rose, plunged, hacked and slashed. Pistols banged and cracked, and screams and foul incoherent oaths sundered the air. Rumtopft brought his sword across to open the face of a hussar ensign and the youth dropped away without a sound. A pistol flared and the muzzle blast scorched his face. Faces appeared before his blurred vision and he fought them, cutting and thrusting with mad abandon as his blood rage rose to fever pitch.
Klopfer found himself in a press of men and horses from both sides, all struggling to close and kill their enemy. He slashed at his hussar counterparts, a constant incoherent scream bursting from his lips. Something plucked at his dolmen but he disregarded it, thrusting instead to unhorse an enemy sergeant who’d proved an obdurate foe.

The man fell and suddenly the scene opened up. Klopfer saw the color party of the enemy regiment directly ahead. Their colonel was fighting like a fury but as Klopfer closed the man was unhorsed. Somehow he managed to kick his foot clear of the stirrup and roll away from the flashing hooves as his maddened mount bucked and fought to escape the melee. As Klopfer watched a big dragoon sergeant dismounted and walked over to the hussar colonel. The man struggled to his feet but the sergeant plucked off his fur busby and with a beatific smile brought a gauntleted fist down square upon his head. It made a sound like a mallet striking a beefsteak. The colonel’s eyes crossed and he fell over like a pole-axed calf. Klopfer laughed out loud at the sight, even as a small part of him sympathized with the fallen hussar.
But now the action was falling apart. Colonel Rumtopft wiped a sleeve across his sweaty brow and saw the hussar squadrons were fleeing back to their own lines. “Straight through their support squadron, by God!” he cried, and whirled his bloodied sword. “Rumtopfts! Follow up, follow up, follow up!

As the hussars fled the dragoons heard their leader’s call and pressed onward, pursuing their beaten foe to their own lines. One of the hussar support squadrons, beset and disordered by their fleeing comrades and faced with an oncoming foe broke and joined the rout. The other held for a while and Rumtopft and his men plunged in amongst them, the battle rage still flowing strong in his veins until they too broke and ran.

Colonel Schenk of the Bishop of Guggenheim’s Regiment of Horse patted his horse’s neck to soothe the beast after the artillery fire. “We will advance,” he said to his command party. “Those stalwart fellows will need our support ere long I dare say, and I like not the play of the enemy guns upon our regiment.”

His pronouncement was greeted by grave nods. Schenk frowned at the dressing of the regiment and found it serviceable, although he lamented the deaths of so many of his men. “Advance!” he called. The trumpet pealed and the black horses of the regiment began to move forward at a stately walk...
* * *
A late post today. I've been a snail-mailing fool this afternoon due to the closing of an eBay sale. I'll post four chapters recounting the Battle of Viehdorf in narrative form, and a fifth with mainly photos. I hope y'all enjoy!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


I've completed the first draft of the battle dramatization, and the action has a name - The Battle of Viehdorf Mill.
The Duke of Wellington once said something to the effect of "Trying to describe a battle is like trying to describe the motions of everybody present at a grand ball." I've got some idea of what the old boy meant! Will kindly supplied a wealth of information about this clash, along with some excellent photos. I've followed the action through, writing dramatic vignettes to illustrate each scene. Mary Amadeus plays her part. The word-count at the moment is a trifle over 11,000. Editing should alter this. I'm not sure how much of a download blogspot can take in one go. I may have to post the account in two parts instead of one. Would my audience tolerate this? Inquiring minds need to know..!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Prelude to battle.

The battlefield, viewed from the south. Photo by Will.
Something pulled Mary Amadeus from a deep sleep. As she lay in the darkness of the tent she gazed up at the pale light seeping through the canvas and tried to identify what had woken her. Then a cockerel crowed, the harsh noise echoing across the fields. Dawn at last.

All around she could hear the sounds of life beginning to stir as the men of the artillery battery woke to the new day – a day that would see battle and perhaps the death of some or many of those now waking. Mary sat up and rubbed her face. Such morbid thoughts so early in the morning! But it had been difficult to get to sleep last night in spite of the tiring ride. Those same morbid thoughts had been haunting her mind. Army life didn’t seem such an adventure with the prospect of violent action now at hand.

A trumpet began to peal; the notes of the reveille rang loud and clear. Somewhere a dog began barking furiously. A man laughed. Another cursed. Mary had heard worse words uttered by Ursula when she was feeling out of sorts. She smiled at the memory and wondered where her friend was now.

A polite cough sounded beyond the canvas flap. “Are you awake, Lieutenant?”

“Just a moment!” she called.

Rolling out of bed she pulled on her new uniform coat, shivering at the cold touch of morning air. She’d slept in her clothes last night. It had been too cold to sleep with just a couple of blankets over her. As she pulled a brush through her hair she noticed how long it had grown; the nuns’ crop was all but gone now. “You’re in the army now, you’ve left behind your vows…” she sang softly. Satisfied that she was at least presentable, she called “come in!”

Someone untied the door tapes and a camp servant entered, carrying a pewter tray before her as the sentry held the flaps open for her to pass. A sentry: That was another thing, Mary thought. Colonel Sechs-Meilen-Scharfschütze had ensured that any woman guest would not be molested while in his care. Not all soldiers were gentlemen.

“I’ve brought you a mug of coffee, Ma’am, compliments of His Excellency. He desires you to join him for breakfast at your convenience.”

“Thank you,” she said to the woman as the heavenly scent of fresh coffee filled the tent. Mary could feel her brain beginning to fire on all cylinders thanks to the scent alone. “Do thank him for me,” Mary said, reaching eagerly for the steaming mug. The servant curtseyed again and departed. So Philip couldn’t sleep well either, Mary thought as she sipped and listened to the camp coming to life. I can’t blame him. That action on the river after our rescue happened so quickly we didn’t really have time to think. Is it the anticipation of battle that drags at the spirits so?
* * *
Half a mile away General Rauppen-Schlepper had been awake and moving since an hour before dawn. He sat upon his horse now, surrounded by his staff and junior commanders and gazed out at the scene revealed by the growing daylight. The sky was partially cloudy but he could see everything clearly enough. A post mill stood upon a low hillock a quarter mile away. It was a modest elevation but it dominated the low-lying flood plain. Small woods dotted the plain here and there, along with small fields surrounded by low hedgerows. It was cattle country, the beasts feeding upon the lush grass that covered the plain in the summer months. For now all was sere and brown after the winter die-off. In the distance he could see a small village squatting upon the levee that bordered the Eisenwasser at this point.

“What is that village?” he inquired.

Captain Scharfe, his chief of staff consulted a map. “Viehdorf, sir. Our scouts report it to be occupied by the enemy.”

“Hmm.” He directed his telescope upon the village. The huddle of buildings appeared in the roundel, their thatched roofs lit by the rising sun. Someone was stirring there. He saw flashes of red coats among the cottages. “Quite correct. It is occupied by Babbington’s Legion.”

Scharfe made a note of this. Rauppen-Schlepper swept the field with the telescope, pausing here and there to scan other points of interest until he settled upon the distant tents of the Margraf’s camp, the counterpart to his own army’s. The Dunkeldorf-Pfuhlians were stirring and he could see enemy cavalry pickets replacing their infantry counterparts now daylight was growing fast. They would guard against a surprise attack: Not that I will oblige them there…

Closing the tubes of the instrument with a decisive snap he turned to face his commanders. “Gentlemen, we shall fight here this day. The Gravies are in a bind. Their line of communication across the river has been cut, thanks to those stalwart fellows of the riverine flotilla. They must either attack us or follow the river to the bridge at Wentwitz, which is some thirty miles north of here as the crow flies. Should they do so, they will be forced to fight a continual rearguard action, for we shall harass them all the way.

“I propose, therefore, to fight a defensive battle along this line.” He gestured to a small field to the left that lay a short distance south of the mill then across an area encompassing a wood, another field and thence to the river bank. “We shall anchor our battle line on the river. Infantry Regiment Sleibnitz shall hold the place of honor, as is its right. I shall require all our cavalry to assemble on our left.”
“A sound move, sir,” Brigadier-General Küster rumbled. “We are outnumbered by a significant margin. Colonel Rumtopft’s dragoons fought an excellent delaying action these last two days but it has left his regiment sorely depleted.”

Rauppen-Schlepper gave him a keen look. “Are they still willing to fight?”

“Very willing, sir.” Küster smiled, showing stained teeth. “They have a real desire to kick the Gravies out of our lands.”

“Excellent. That’s the spirit. Rumtopft and the Bishop’s Horse shall take post between that field and the wood. Infantry regiments Wohl and Brabenachel shall occupy the ground north of the wood and south of that other field, with the artillery between them. I think a slow advance coupled with a peppering from our guns shall convince the Gravies they’ve found a fight. Our cavalry will guard our left flank and deter any moves by the enemy cavalry to outflank us.”

“Do you think they’ll attempt that, sir?” Brigadier-General Schmaltz asked.

“I think they will.” Rauppen-Schlepper surveyed the terrain. “This is excellent cavalry country. I hear good things about their cuirassiers but that new-fangled hussar regiment is an unknown quantity.”

“We shall try their mettle,” Küster growled.

Rauppen-Schlepper smiled. “If anyone can do that, it’s you, my dear fellow.” As the assembled officers grinned at the sentiment he cocked an eye at Scharfe. “Is that all clear?”

Scharfe read back the battle plan verbatim, and Rauppen-Schlepper signed his approval. Scharfe disappeared in the direction of the headquarters pavilion to copy and distribute orders, and the general regarded his commanders. He pointed at the distant river. “Consider our situation analogous to that levee. If a leak were to appear there it would be vital to plug it at once before the levee gives way and the whole plain is flooded. So is it vital that we must plug this breach and prevent the Margraf from taking our whole country. We shall beat the Gravies here, gentlemen, or die trying.”
* * *
Mary Amadeus found Philip sitting at a folding table set up before the Colonel’s command tent. The table was covered with crockery bearing food and drink, and her stomach rumbled as her keen nose detected the smell of bacon. Philip looked cheerful enough, although a certain shadowing under his eyes spoke of an uncomfortable night. He rose to his feet when he saw her and she saluted.

“Good morning, my dear… um, Lieutenant!” he said, and gave her a keen look. “Now I see you in the context of a military camp, I can say that uniform suits you all the more.”

“Thank you,” she said, feeling shy at his obvious fervor.

“Do sit and take a morsel of food.”

“We'll have to endure the rigors of campaign, I see,” she said, sitting on a folding chair. Without waiting for further invitation she attacked the food.

“So I gather. War may be a beastly business, but there’s no reason at all to make it uncivilized.” He scanned the sky. “A touch cloudy but no rain due, I think.”

“A good day for battle,” she said, not meeting his eye. Even my appetite seems to wane a little at that prospect, she thought.

“Yes. Let us not dwell upon that just yet, my dear,” he said softly.

They sat and ate, and watched as the camp busied itself for the coming conflict. Gunners worked on their pieces, the bulky cannon taking on the appearance of bronze idols with a bevy of supplicants tending to their needs. All along the encampment men were busy and the air rang as armorers put a keener edge to swords and bayonets.

Colonel Sechs-Meilen-Scharfschütze came up, and doffed his hat to Philip. “I trust I see you well, Excellency, Lieutenant?”

“You do indeed, Colonel,” Philip said cheerfully. “Won’t you join us?”

“Thank you.” The Colonel sat and a servant came forward to pour him coffee. When the man stepped back the Colonel sipped at the brew then set down the cup. “I must raise a delicate matter with you, Excellency,” he said, including Mary in the discussion with a glance. “I would appreciate it if you and Lieutenant Amadeus stayed well back during the battle. It would be most grievous to me should anything happen to either of you.”

Mary and Philip exchanged glances. “I appreciate your candor, Colonel,” Philip said. “As we are not part of your command, we shall reluctantly bow to your wishes.”

“May I at least help with the ammunition?” Mary asked, trying to keep a plaintive note out of her voice. “I have the expertise. I know it may seem silly for a mere woman to wish to fight in this battle, but it’s my country too. I was there when it all began and I wish to see it through.”

Sechs-Meilen-Scharfschütze considered the matter then nodded. “I’ll agree to at least that much, Lieutenant. It’s a responsible task and I’d rather have competent souls in charge of it.”

Mary smiled. “Thank you.”

Just then an aide came galloping into the artillery camp and the three became aware of the sound of trumpets stirring the air. “Here we go,” the Colonel said, rising to greet the aide.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Battle has been joined!

A report that battle has been joined between the forces of Hetzenberg and Dunkeldorf-Pfuhl north of Kimmelsbrücke reached Reich Chancellor Ostenberg in the city this morning. The Chancellor meets with others of his delegation in the Bishop's Palace to discuss the import of the news. The Bishop himself is absent arranging for a service of prayers for the success of Hetzenberg arms.
Will the brave men (and one woman!) of the Grand Duchy prevail against the forces of the sly, patricidal Margraf? Or shall the devious dog succeed in taking precious Hetzenberg land? Tune in soon to find out!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

On the eve of battle.

The Hetzenberg army marched north over the flood plain of the Eisenwasser, screened by the surviving squadrons of the Rumtopft Dragoons. The regiment had fought a strong defensive action and had retired from direct contact with the enemy only when night fell the previous day. Now they were heading into harm’s way again, probing ahead for the foe.

Infantry Regiment Number One Sleibnitz led the main column. The Colonel rode at the head of the men, his wounded arm tucked into his coat. The injury had hurt less than his wounded pride but the events of the duel were fading into the past as he anticipated the glories to be won in the coming battle. I’ll show that puffed-up bourgeoisie Wohl how a real soldier fights! He thought.

Colonel Wohl himself rode at the head of his regiment, behind that of Sleibnitz. He felt less than his normal calm as he anticipated the coming fight. Am I afraid? He wondered. No, not as much as I expected. He raised his eyes heavenward and murmured a brief prayer. “I commend my future to you, Oh Lord, and pray let me acquit myself well on the morrow.”

General Rauppen-Schlepper rode with his staff and Brigadier-General Schmaltz. Conversation revolved around the charms of Senorita Carmina Intaglio, lead soprano of the National Opera and her coming performance in Herr Wömfondlach’s Der grüne Ritter.

Behind them came Infantry Regiment Brabenachel, with its Colonel striding along at their head with the colors. Joachim Brabenachel had seen action before in service with other armies. Although young he was far from foolish, and was looking forward to the coming battle with a keen anticipation.

And behind them trundled the artillery battery with its train and the army’s baggage. Colonel Wilhelm Sechs-Meilen-Scharfschütze was entertaining Graf Philip and that extraordinary young woman Lieutenant Mary Amadeus. At first he had reacted to her with a degree of stiffness in spite of the Graf’s exalted rank. A woman fighting openly as a soldier? The very idea! The Colonel had thought. It was true more than one woman had fought in disguise. There was a ribald song about the phenomena, titled Woher versteckten Sie Ihre Tits? But within a few minutes of beginning a conversation with her and the Graf, the Colonel’s antipathy had melted away in the face of her charm and their combined erudition on all matters explosive. Indeed, he began to feel a warm glow of anticipation. Can it be we cannon-cockers will gain the recognition we deserve after so long? He wondered. The coming battle will be a chance to show what we can do!

Bringing up the rear was the Bishop of Guggenheim’s Regiment of Horse. With sober black coats and sober officers and men, the regiment reminded more than one observer of the English General Cromwell’s Ironsides. Indeed, Colonel Schenk was said to ride into action with his heavy cavalry sword in one hand and his Bible in the other. Of all the soldiers marching north in the closing hours of the day, he and his stern troopers were the most experienced.

As the daylight began to fade in the west trails of smoke could be seen rising into the air from numerous camp fires, the smoke rising and drifting north on the breeze. To the right, near the river, more smoke rose from a small village. Some distance from this a solitary windmill could be seen, the sails still, locked in place until the next harvest. A number of bright splashes of color amid the natural greens and browns of the countryside denoted the existence of enemy cavalry scouts. They seemed to be aware of the Hetzenberger's approach, but in no mind to contest their advance.

General Rauppen-Schlepper reined in his horse and looked at the scene, using all his long years of experience to judge the ground. “Gentlemen, it appears we have found our enemy and our battlefield.”

General Schmaltz nodded thoughtfully. “I concur.”

Rauppen-Schlepper ordered an aide to ride ahead and order the lead regiments to make camp. As the other regiments came up Schmaltz directed them to their places. All colonels were under standing orders to report to the headquarters tent as soon as their men had been settled. “I shall address a few words to you all,” Rauppen-Schlepper told Schmaltz. “It’s as well to remind everyone what they shall fight for.”

He rode off the trail to allow the artillery and baggage to pass, puffing on his pipe and casting a keen eye over everyone and everything. Graf Philip rode up with his – what, protégé? Even lover? in tow. Rauppen-Schlepper mentally shook his head at the sight of the young woman wearing a gunnery officer’s uniform. What is the world coming to?

“So here we are, Rupert!” Philip said cheerily, as Lieutenant Mary Amadeus saluted him.

“Yes, here we are,” he replied equably, returning the young woman’s salute. “And where do you propose to see the coming action, young lad – ah, Lieutenant?”

“Wherever I’m directed, sir!” she said crisply.

“Colonel Sechs-Meilen-Scharfschütze has offered us both the chance to join him for the action, Rupert. I think we shall avail ourselves of his kind invitation, my dear?”

“Oh yes!”

Her grin was infectious and Rauppen-Schlepper mentally shook his head again, although he was now feeling mellow toward the odd young woman. “Just remember one thing, Lieutenant. On the battlefield incoming missiles have right of way!”

“Yes, sir!” she said, blinking.

“Good. Take post wherever you wish tomorrow; and God go with you both.”

Graf Philip shook his hand. “Thank you, Rupert. Take care yourself. You’re too valuable a man to lose.”

Rauppen-Schlepper inspected his pipe and gave him a quiet smile. “I’m an old soldier, my boy. We never die; we just fade away.”

“Don’t fade too soon!” Philip said cheerily, and rode away with Lieutenant Amadeus riding alongside in obvious discomfort.

Rauppen-Schlepper watched them go. I wonder what warfare will be like when those two young scamps reach my age? Then he sighed. It’s useless to speculate on such things. I have enough to think about in this day and age!
* * * * *
Only a short excerpt today as I'm still busy. Will has returned from holiday and has kindly agreed to fight the coming action soon. Expect a battle report in the next two weeks...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Spring cleaning.

I hope to have another episode of the Chronicles ready before the weekend. These last couple of days were spent in clearing my workshed of the detritus of some 30 years of gaming and modelling. In the frenzy (huh!) of spring cleaning I discovered around a hundred copies of Miniature Wargames and Wargames Illustrated, along with even more issues of Dragon, White Dwarf, Arcane, and Role Player Independent magazines. Can you guess I was a big D&D player at one time?

One pleasant surprise was discovering my lead mountain is a lot smaller than I thought. I have the remnants of a large batch of ACW figures, a box full of Plains Wars figures for both natives and US cavalry/settlers, and another full of French Napoléonic. A less pleasant surprise was the sheer number of unmade kits I found. I lack the time and patience to construct and paint these, so I reckon on offering them to my group of gamers. If they don't want them, I'm open to suggestions on how to dispose of them.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

The coming storm.

The wind was blowing from the south but the heavy concussion of big guns at work made it across the miles to Kimmelsbrücke. Ursula sat and tended to Konrad and listened to the faint thudding, the occasional rattle of the window glass as a heavier than normal salvo sounded. Her throat felt tight as she worried for Horatio, out there on the river, fighting against the enemies of their realm. Come back safe to me, dear one! She thought, wiping Konrad's brow.

He was in a heavy fever now, moaning with delirium. As much as she hated seeing her old friend like this, tending to his needs served to distract her thoughts for minutes at a time. There were few other distractions. The barracks was quiet now the regiments had marched. She supposed Mary Amadeus was with Philip, both of them officers without a command. Ursula smiled. No doubt Mary A will get involved somewhere, to the betterment of all she meets.
The doctor entered the room and came to the bedside. He took Konrad's wrist and timed his pulse by a fat fob watch, making soft tching sounds under his breath. "What's the verdict, doctor?" Ursula asked.

The doctor tucked Konrad's arm under the blanket and looked thoughtful. "The crisis draws near, Excellency. He's a strong man, healthy too. With luck and the blessing he should pull through, but the next few ours are critical. Continue as you are doing. It's all anyone can do now." He sketched a bow to her. "For myself I must leave. I'm attached to the army and must hasten to catch up with it before battle is joined. I cannot tarry, Excellency."

"No, Konrad is but one man. If you can help many others hurt in battle then please do your duty. Thank you and good luck."

Ursula turned back to Konrad and mopped his brow. She heard the door close quietly behind her. "It's just you and I now, old friend," she said.

The dull thudding of distant gunfire sounded again and the windows rattled.
* * *
"Bother!" Mary Amadeus exclaimed looking at the horse brought to her in the courtyard. "Do I have to ride?"

"It's best that you do so, dear Mary," Philip said, trying unsuccessfully to hide a grin. "The roads north of here are not really suitable for carriages."

"I've only just recovered from the last mad ride I had to make," she grumbled, giving him a scathing look before stepping up onto the mounting block. "My body won't forgive me this, I'm sure."

"We only have to ride some ten miles," Philip replied, mounting his own steed, a snapping black stallion.

"Only, he says!" Mary sighed and straddled the horse, thankful she was wearing britches. He attire had drawn more than one scandalized stare but she quickly grew used to them. With all the grace of a bale of hay she took control of the docile little mare and they rode out together.

Their escort was provided by the Bishop of Guggenheim's Regiment of Horse, the troopers falling back into their customary duty with apparent relief. The town was alive with people thronging the streets, of companies of green-clad militia marching hither and yon. Philip and Mary were cheered as they passed by, and Mary smiled and waved.

"Do we know where the Gravies are yet?" she asked.

"According to the latest intelligence they have but three regiments of foot across the river, with perhaps two squadrons of hussars and a gun battery." He smiled grimly. "Apparently our friend in the riverine flotilla has succeeded in striking the Gravies' line of communication. They will receive no further reinforcement, so they must do or die from where they are."

"And what shall we do when we reach the army?"

"I have no regiment to command as yet, but I'll be hanged if I stay safe at headquarters!" Philip shook his head. "No, I'll attach myself to our guns. It's where I'm happiest."

"Me too!"

He grinned and reached over to squeeze her arm. "War can be a grim business, but with you alongside me I'm sure it'll go well."

They passed through the town gates and headed out on the road to battle. Mary rode alongside Philip, her heart soaring at the prospect of striking back at those who'd captured her.
* * *
Horatio dashed a cupful of water from the scuttlebutt into his face and wiped away the sweat and grime. The sting of powder smoke receded from his eyes. He blinked them clear and looked around.

The river was full of debris. Bodies and the shattered hulks of pontoons drifted with the current or lay grounded in the shallows. Ashore a line of tents had been shredded and were burning merrily. Distant pops and crackles showed where ammunition was cooking off in discarded cartridge pouches. Occasionally some brave soul took a potshot at the surviving gunboats of the flotilla. The range was long, the bullets all but spent if they struck the boats, but it was only a matter of time before someone took a hit.

"Our job is done here," Horatio said. "Bosun, we shall retire upriver and recover the survivors from Styx. Once that's done I think we can spare a boat to run dispatches back to town. Hail Cocytus and have her standing by to do so. The rest of us will maintain our post there until nightfall. If the Gravies try to cross again, we shall drop down and interfere with their plans."

"Aye aye, sir," the bosun said, touching his cap.

Horatio thought he looked stunned at the scale of destruction they'd wrought this morning. I know how he feels, he thought.

The flotilla came about and the oars beat the water into foam as the gunboats headed upriver. A plume of smoke was rising from a spot amidst the trees on the west bank. I wonder what that is. We didn't engage any targets that side. They drew closer to the wreck of the Styx, her mast poking above the water. When this is over we shall have to do what we can to salvage her, Horatio thought. If nothing else we should save her guns.

A distant shout attracted his attention. He looked up and saw figures waving from the west bank. A glimpse through the telescope was enough. "There are our shipmates," he said, pointing. "Helm, four points to starboard. Oars, easy ahead both."

They closed with the bank and Horatio saw a large bonfire was burning there, with figures huddled around it. The weather was sunny but still cold. Most were sailors from the Styx but there were others who wore army uniforms. Captain Creighton was waiting on the shore, his uniform crumpled and stained, but an expression of fierce satisfaction lit his face.

"Well done, Lieutenant!" he exclaimed as Acheron's bows kissed the little strand. "Well done, indeed! Those beggars took a hard blow."

His German is improving! Horatio thought, as the gangplank was run out. He saluted the Captain. "Thank you, sir. I'm glad to see you safe."

Creighton waved his arm at the men huddled around the fire. "We lost a good few fellows when poor Styx went down. What was your butcher's bill?"

Horatio walked down the gangplank and shook the Captain's proffered hand. "The flotilla lost ten all told, sir, including Midshipman Kurt."

"The poor little fellow!" Creighton shook his head. "Such is war."

"Yes, sir. I have Cocytus standing by to take dispatches back to town whenever you're ready."

"If you can give me pen and paper I shall make out my report presently, Lieutenant. For now. We shall take our ease for a while. There's a fellow I'd like you to meet."
He led the way to the bonfire. A man stood up from the fire and came around to meet them. Creighton introduced them. "May I present Lieutenant Derigueur, of the Rumtopft Dragoons?"

Horatio exchanged salutes and shook hands with the soldier, noting his powder-stained face and torn clothing. "I'm pleased to meet you, lieutenant. You look as if you've had a hard fight."

"We have, sir," Derigueur said as they took a seat by the fire. Although nominally both lieutenants, Horatio as commander of a naval vessel was the equivalent of an army major and so outranked Derigueur. He accepted a mug of coffee produced by some miracle by the survivors and listened to Derigueur's tale. The man spoke German with a soft French lilt, and Horatio guessed he hailed from one of Gallia's Rheinish provinces.

"We were bivouacked for the night when we got word the Gravies were trying to cross. Our captain got us down to the shore in time to see them launch pontoons loaded with men. Of course we opened up on them with our carbines as soon as they came within range but we were bounced by a company of light infantry." Derigueur scowled. "They must've got across by small boats earlier in the night, and drove us away from the shore. After that we could only mount up and keep what contact and pressure could on the Gravies, but it was galling to see them come ashore in such numbers."

"What have they managed to get across?" Horatio asked.

"Three regiments of foot, including Babbington's Legion, a gun battery and a couple squadrons of hussars. I think they were trying to get more guns and horse across but your action put paid to that."

Horatio gestured at their surroundings with his mug. "So how do you come to be here?"

"The light infantry moved inland with the rest of the army and we slipped through the gap, hoping to get across their lines of communication." Derigueur held up his mug in toast. "Thankfully our pitiful efforts weren't required. We've established a picket line some hundred yards out. If the enemy comes this way again we shall have warning." Derigueur smiled. "For now, we can enjoy our librated coffee and take our ease."

"I'm glad to hear it," Horatio smiled back, liking the Frenchman's capacity for relaxing in the midst of war. "And where are the Gravies now?"

"They're just to the south and west of us, perhaps five miles off."

"Then they shall engage our army tomorrow," Horatio said, meeting Creighton's eye. The Captain nodded. "What are your orders, sir?"

"You have everything in hand, Lieutenant. For now, as the lieutenant says, we can take our ease." He sipped his coffee then smiled. "No doubt our services will be needed again soon."
* * * * *
I've now brought our heroes to the point where battle must be joined between the forces of Hetzenberg and the Margravate. Will, you volunteered to fight the battle by proxy for me. If you can still do so, could you raise two armies of three regiments apiece, with attached light infantry, one cavalry regiment and a gun battery, and fight out the encounter sometime? I'll leave the direction of it to you to fight solo or for you to take one side with another volunteer commanding the other.