Schloss Neuhaus

Schloss Neuhaus
Seat of the Margrave

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Redo From Start

"Well, Von Smallhausen, what news from the schoolroom?"

"I believe I have given them some food for thought, Your Highness, but how I kept a straight face I do not know!"

"Yes, I had much the same difficulty in facing that group of angry townsfolk! It was like being attacked by kittens, but oh, the consequences, if I had laughed in their faces! Did any of the young rogues admit to being the ringleaders, or in participating in the race? I rather wish I had been there to see it; by report it was chaos incarnate!"

"Just so, Your Highness, but I thought the lesson would be best learned if the perpetrators were given the impression that you were distinctly displeased with their endeavours."

"Of course, of course, it will not do if the youngsters ever think we are amused by their antics! But, the perpetrators? Any body with so fertile a mind as to conceive such a race is marked either for greatness - or the gallows!"

"I did not, Your Highness, ask for the names of the guilty. If they were not present, then we would have been made to look foolish; I do not expect that any of these young gentlemen would be prepared to name another party; for all their faults they are remarkably loyal to one another."

"Yes... although I often receive the impression that they view the world as being composed of themselves and every body else, where every body else is an oppressor!"

"Ah, yes, Your Highness...?"

"Yes?"

"May I beg a leave of absence for two days? I find the continual chess games against Lady Henrietta quite... oppressive, and there is that other matter to which I must attend."

"Other matter?"

"Yes, Your Highness, the murderous swordsman."

"Ah, of course. Do you really need two days, Von Smallhausen?"

"I hope not, Your Highness, but..."

"Yes, there is always 'but', Very well, but no more than two days - the last time you disappeared I had to entertain the lady. I should have stuck to my guns and kept her in solitary confinement!"

"Somehow, Your Highness, I think not, the lady is a most charming companion, and despite her temper has some pretty ways."

"What's this, Von Smallhausen? Are you developing a tendre for Lady Henrietta?"

"Certainly not, Your Highness. She is married; I merely give credit where it is due."

"I am relieved to hear it, Von Smallhausen. very well, two days leave of absence - and do not be late in your return!"

"No, Your Highness."

Friday, 14 November 2008

A History Lesson...

"Abteilung! Stillegestand! Good Morning, Herr Hauptmann, Fahnenjunker von Raubenstadt begs to report thirty-0ne Fahnenjunkern present, as ordered, Herr Hauptmann!"

"Thank you, Herr von Raubenstadt. Class, be seated... Now, you all know why you are here, do you not? .... No, I do not mean why you as part of the army are here in the United Provinces, but rather why you, er... young gentlemen are here in this room at this moment? You do not know? Very well, as the first part of this lesson, I shall attempt to enlighten you. It appears that the recent alarums and excursions have awoken in the breasts of some of you, a desire for more, er... excitement and entertainment than is generally the rule while the army is encamped. While such a thrusting spirit is, generally, to be applauded, the measures taken by a few of you to alleviate the tedium engendered by a prolonged period of inactivity is not, however, to be commended. Therefore your time is to be more profitably employed in the furtherance of your education, to which end this session is the first step. For those of you whom remain in ignorance, I refer to an event last evening, which enabled the populace to be entertained by the spectacle of a race, down the main street of the village, between three of your number, mounted on, I believe, a pony, an ox and a mule, and encouraged by a large number of you. While I applaud the ingenuity that enabled such a race to be run with, as I understand, a fair and reasonable handicap, I regret I cannot say the same for the trail of carnage left in its wake. My lack of amusement is shared by the owners of the animals thus appropriated, by the good burghers of the town who lost their goods and were put in fear of their lives, and also by His Highness, to whom those self-same owners and burghers complained! His Highness remains remarkably unamused by this occurrence, and has expressed his most earnest desire that the event remains as a singular example of, er... let us say, 'youthful high spirits'; I will not sully your tender ears with His Highness' exact words. Gentlemen! This is no laughing matter! Wars have been fought and men have died for far less serious reasons! You doubt me? Very well, we shall examine , as a history lesson, the cause of the conflict between Hesse-Damall and Hesse-Kussall."

"Who can tell me anything of the two states I have just mentioned... Yes?"

"Herr Hauptmann, Hesse-Damall is a small state. situated, mostly, on the eastern slopes of the Teutoberger-Wald. It is endemically impoverished, and its most notable export is young men to serve as soldiers in the armies of larger powers!"

"Good, very good, as far as you go. Perhaps you would care to further our enlightenment?"

"Herr Hauptmann, I regret to say that I have exhausted my knowledge of that state. Of Hesse-Kussall, I have never heard!"

"Tut, tut! What have your tutors been about? Does any body else wish to make a contribution to the lesson? No? Very well. Now pay attention, there will be questions asked at a later date. You may not take notes! Now then. Hesse-Kussall and Hesse-Damall are, or were, moieties of the once-great Principality of Hesse. However, due to the somewhat chaotic laws governing inheritance in that Principality, when the Inhaber dies, his estate, rather than passing to the eldest son, as is usual amongst more progressive countries, are divided between all living male heirs, the ladies are disqualified from inheritance, due to those same laws. Now, gentlemen, picture if you will, a state, well provided with natural resources, blessed with an equitable climate and populated by good, honest, hard-working, protestant workers and ruled by a benevolent Prince. Then, alas, the Prince dies; his state is divided between his two sons; but each of these smaller states has sufficient in the way of resources and workers to remain prosperous. Then in later years, the two sons die, and their estates are split between their sons, and so on down through the generations, until eventually what was a great Principality becomes a patchwork of small, hard-working, peasant holdings barely able to sustain life."

"In the case of Hesse, not all was lost, due entirely to the inability of succeeding Prinzen and Herzogen to raise large families. The cause of which, I am certain, was too many marriages between cousins, which those of you whom are farm-bred will know has a deleterious effect on livestock. How can it be otherwise with human animals? So, for many years, the state remained a unified whole, father passed the state to only son, or where there was no son, to cousin or nephew. However, there came to pass a sudden rise in the fertility of the ruling house, probably caused by the then Herzogin's indiscretion with a passing Schweizer mercenary about a hundred years ago! However, and whatever the cause, sons started to appear in embarassing numbers, with the sad result of the splintering of the Principality. One of those splinters received the name Hesse-Schworeall, headed by a Graf. This Graf and and his Grafin had two sons, and on the death of the Graf, the estate was split between the brothers. One half became Hesse-Dammall and marched with the other half, which became Hesse-Kussall."

"Still, the brothers remained, if not on amicable terms, at least on non-hostile terms. We must now direct our thoughts further down the social scale, and examine one Herr Friederich Plotz, of Hesse-Kussall. Why, you ask? Because, gentlemen, Herr Plotz was in some sense the spark that ignited the conflagration. Herr Plotz owned a... well, I will not call it a farm, but rather a potato patch and a few chickens... right against the border between Hesse-Damall and Hesse-Kussall. His nearest neighbour, a Herr Kuchner, was in fact a citizen of Hesse-Damall, and by common repute the two men, and their families were good neighbours. Neither coveted their neighbour's ox, wife, or chattels - indeed, neither had much that would warrant coveting. They scratched a living, always on the edge of famine, and were always ready to help each other with those little jobs that are just too much for one man."

"Herr Kuchner and Herr Plotz were both typical hill-farmers. Their land barely supported their families, hence each was in the habit of eking out their land's produce by the application of their hunting and shooting skills, and, regretably, by diverting some of their potato crop into the production of illicit schnapps. They were both fiercely independent, and utterly contemptuous of the 'flatlanders' whom, in their eyes, led an easy life on the plains below. Each saw himself as his own lord on his own land, and quite frankly neither gave a tinker's word for duly constituted authority."

"One year, the conditions were just perfect for Herr Kuchner's potatoes, and he grew a bumper crop, far, far in excess of his family's needs. He could, of course, have chosen to take the excess to market, but that would mean a long, slow journey with a heavily laden ox-cart. Unfortunately he chose to reduce the burden by converting the extra potatoes into schnapps, and selling that in their stead. His efforts were well rewarded - did I mention that they both made excellent schnapps? - and he was able, with the money he gained, to buy some badly needed items for both farm and house. Among his purchases was a piglet. Herr Kuchner was of the firm opinion that a potato-fed pig provided the most succulent flesh possible, and looked forward to a winter feast that would become the talk of the Kreis and the envy of all his acquaintance."

"So, Herr Kuchner took his piglet home and built a sty for it. He fed it potatoes, and the pig grew in size, promising to make a bountiful feast. His neighbours were in envy, but he promised them all a piece of the pig when it was full-grown and slaughtered. Did I say that the pig grew in size? I did? Good. Unfortunately the pig also grew in appetite, and Herr Kuchner, having used so much of his surplus potatoes to make schnapps was hard-pressed to satisfy the pig's appetite. Finally, the inevitable occurred. One night, the pig broke out of its sty and went in search of further sustenance. Its wanderings took it to Herr Plotz's potato patch. The pig was in heaven! Here was a seemingly endless supply of its accustomed food, the pig rooted and gorged all night until its appetite was sated. On awakening the next morning, Herr Plotz was not so happy; in one night, the pig had devastated his potato patch. Further, its depredations posed a real threat, it had consumed so many of the potatoes that Herr Plotz seriously doubted whether he could provide for his family through the coming winter. Steps needed to be taken. Herr Plotz armed himself with a length of rope and after some exertion, which did not ease his temper, he caught the pig, and with further exertion, succeeded in returning it to its owner. Great was Herr Kuchner's dismay when he learned of the havoc the pig had brought to his neighbour's farm, but what could he do? He no longer had a suplus which he could offer in reparation. Herr Plotz, was not an unreasonable man, he merely asked for a pound or two of powder and lead, so that he might increase his hunting, and feed his family in that manner. Herr Kuchner was relieved to be let off so lightly, and gladly gave his neighbour what was asked."

"Sadly, this was not the end of the matter. The pig, having learned to escape from his sty, evidently saw no reason why he should remain thus confined and dependent on a man for his food, when there were potatoes to be had merely by rooting them out of the ground. Like any criminal, he returned to the scene of his crime and in the morning was again confronted by a furious Herr Plotz, whom once again returned him to Herr Kuchner. It is reported that the meeting between the two neighbours was not quite so... neighbourly on this occasion, and harsh words were passed to and fro. Herr Plotz demanding that Herr Kuchner keep his damned pig locked up at night, and also demanding reparation; Herr Kuchner, quite reasonably pointed out that if a pig has learned to escape, then it would escape, now matter how securely confined, and regretted that he was no longer in a position to offer any reparations to Herr Plotz. The meeting concluded with Herr Plotz warning Herr Kuchner that if he found the pig on his land again, he would shoot it, keep it and eat it! Herr Kuchner replied that it would much better for Herr Plotz if he did no such thing."

"And so it came to pass, in the fullness of time, that the pig once more escaped, and made a further raid on what was left of Herr Plotz's potatoes. Herr Plotz, being a man of his word, shot the pig. Of course, Herr Kuchner missed the animal, and fearing what might have happened, had indeed happened, he visited Herr Plotz to ascertain the facts of the matter. Whatever his faults may have been, Herr Plotz was no dissembler, Yes, he had shot the pig. Yes, he intended to cure the meat and eat it, and no, he was not prepared to hand the carcase over."

"Herr Kuchner was not a happy man. He returned home greatly discomfitted. He did not quite know what to do, so he sat at home all that day and, sadly with the aid of a bottle or two of schnapps, brooded. That evening, he put on his hat and coat, and mounting his mule, rode to the nearest village, where he ill-advisedly sought further inspiration in the Gasthaus, here he shared his woes, and more schnapps, with some of his fellow citizens, In short order, there grew a ground-swell of opinion that no damned peasant from Hesse-Kussall could be permitted to make free with a Hesse-Damall pig. A Posse Comitatus formed with the intent of confronting Herr Plotz and forcing him to hand over the corpus delecti."

"Herr Plotz, it must be remembered had the reputation of not only being fiercely independent, hot-tempered and proud, but also of being an excellent marksman. This being so, it was felt prudent by the members of the Posse that they should take with them their firelocks. Their approach, complete with the traditional flambeaux, was seen, and Herr Plotz set about barring his door and barricading his windows. The Posse arrived and issued their demands; in reply, Herr Plotz invited them to visit the Wicked One in the fiery regions below. Voices were raised, tempers grew hot, and at last some idiot squeezed his trigger. Herr Plotz fired in return and Herr Kuchner fell to the ground with a mortal wound to his breast."

"The Posse fled, and the next day reported the death to the civic authorities. Letters were written and finally, a rather slanted report of the incident reached the Freiherr Johannes of Hesse-Damall. He wrote to his brother, Freiherr Karl of Hesse-Kussall, demanding that Herr Plotz be surrendered to stand his trial. Freiherr Karl then mounted hs own investigation and in reply to his brother concluded that the citizens of Hesse-Damall had mounted an armed invasion of Hesse-Kussall, and that Herr Plotz, as a free citizen of that state had every right to defend its sovereignty. Freiherr Johannes replied to the effect that if Freiherr Karl continued in his obduracy, then he would have no option but to despatch a file of soldiers to arest Herr Plotz. Freiherr Karl answered this missive by stating that if his brother did any such thing, then an overt invasion of the Sovereign State of Hess-Kussall would mean war. The incursion took place, Herr Plotz was arrested and brought to trial, after which he was duly hanged. Freiherr Karl declared war on Hesse-Damall; over twenty thousand men were killed in the ensuing seven years, Freiherr Karl was killed in battle, Hesse-Kussall was eliminated as a state and its territory incorporated into Hesse-Damall. And all gentlemen, because a pig liked potatoes! So, let us hear no more of appropriating farm animals if you please! Herr von Raubenstadt, take charge!"

"Jawohl, Herr Hauptmann!"

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Orders to the Army

Cases of Men Falling Out from the Ranks During a March

The Commander in Chief desires that the attention of all Officers be drawn to the following:

Men are only permitted to fall out from the line of march when they can absolutley do no more.
The one Exception to this regulation is when a soldier needs to attend to a call of nature, which cannot be denied. Any soldier wishing to leave his company for this purpose is to obtain a written ticket from his Officer, which is to clearly state the date and time of the issue of the ticket and is to be signed in a legible manner by the officer. Any soldier found not in the possession of such a ticket shall be considered to be a deserter.

In those cases where a man can do no more, he is to be examined by a chirugeon, who is to write him a ticket, which is also to be timed, dated and signed.

It is the duty of the Commanding Officer of the rear-guard to gather up such invalids and make arrangements for their transport in the wake of the army.

Any soldier thus excused from further effort by a chirugeon is to be relieved of his firelock, which is to be deposited in the Bataillon arms cote.

Albrecht
Margraf
20 April 1701

Sunday, 9 November 2008

We are not amused

20th April 1701

Herr Otto Flick
Schloss-Neuhaus

Dear Sir,

I write this missive from a feeling of confusion. It is not usual for you to be remiss in your duties, yet recent matters strongly suggests that you have indeed been guilty of an oversight or omission, which had the potential of being disastrous to both the army and to the state.

How did it come to pass that Hannunter was able to mobilise its army and despatch it to join Prinz Eugen without firstly you becoming aware of its posture, and secondly you failing to inform me of its preparations?

By the grace of God, we becamae aware of their presence TO OUR LEFT REAR before the two forces blundered into an accidental action. Had it not been for the diligence of our patrols the outcome could have been very different.

I am not at all content with the turn which events have taken, and I await your explanation for this failure in intelligence.

Believe me &c
Albrecht
Margraf

- - - - - - - - - - -

"Von Smallhausen, please have the goodness to have this copied out in a fair hand and bring it back for my signature... no, please copy it out yourself, make only one copy and ensure that this draft is secured in my files. No-one else is to see it. Is that understood?"

"Of course, Your Highness."

"Now, I understand that Lady Henrietta is most anxious to have speech with me?"

"That is correct, Your Highness."

"H'mmm. Very well, once you have copied that letter, then kindly have the goodness to escort Lady Henrietta to me."

"Yes, Your Highness."

"In the meantime, I understand General Himmelstoss is still awaiting my pleasure?"

"Yes, Your Highness."

"Very well, admit him."

- - - - - - - - - - -

"Good morning, Your Highness."

"Good morning, Herr General. Pray, be seated."

"Thank you, Your Highness."

"Himmelstoss, you have brought me to a point non-plus. I do not yet know whether your are to praise or you are to blame."

"I do not understand, Your Highness."

"Himmelstoss, I appreciate that you are my commissary-general, or wagon-master general for want of a better title, and I am more than satisfied with the manner in which you have, to date, conducted yourself in the performance of your duties, with the zeal in which you formed the wagon train and with the efforts you have made in order to keep the army supplied. I understand that there has not been a single instance of you failing to deliver supplies when and where they were need. For this herculean effort, you are to be commended. I am told that I must also commend you on the thoroughness with which you have trained your command. I do so. However, while I appreciate your attention to detail, and can fully understand the desire which any officer must conceive to ascertain how his command bears themselves once engaged in war-like manoeuvres - yes I know your train soldiers have yet to fire or even hear a shot fired, but, Himmelstoss, the wagon train is the one branch of the service that is, in effect, already at war - what gave you the idea to depart Schloss-Neuhaus and travel with one of your trains? And more to the point, who granted you such permission?"

"Your Highness, I am all confusion... Have I done wrong? I assure Your Highness that my decisions were based solely on the desire to ascertain whether any improvements could be made to the service which my position affords Your Highness."

"Himelstoss, I do not doubt your motives or your loyalty. I do, however, question your methods. It has taken you how long to travel from Schloss-Neuhaus to here? Two weeks? Yes, I thought so. And what if matters had gone awry at the Schloss in your absence? Who is there left behind who has the authority and the capability to resolve any problems in connection with the gathering and despatch of supplies? Do you not see, Herr General, that a failure in supply cripples the army?"

"Yes, Your Highness, I do indeed see matters thus; and that Your Highness, is one of the reasons I decided to travel to the army's present position. I did not, however, Your Highness, take this decision lightly, nor alone. I conferred with Herr General Von Prostler, who agreed that now I had established a comprehensive system for collecting, storing and despatching supplies I needed to examine the transportation of those same supplies. Your Highness has been good enough to commend me for the training or the wagon drivers; Your Highness must also believe then that I have been as diligent in the training of my administrative staff at Schloss-Neuhaus. My second-in-command, Major Von Hauchitsch, is a more than competent officer, who has had experience in campaigning under the command of your late uncle, and knows what needs to be done."

"H'mmm... Von Prostler was aware of and agreed with your scheme?"

"Indeed, Your Highness."

"Very well, we will let this pass for the moment. But there is to be no further excursion without my prior knowledge, is that understood?"

"Yes, Your Highness."

"Now, let us turn our attention to the matter of unanticipated reinforcements. What gave you the idea of gathering in our stragglers? For the most part, the Commanding Officers of Regimente and Bataillonen are content to have shed what they consider to be potential weaklings from their ranks."

"Your Highness, with all respect to the gentlemen in command of your regimente, they are too harsh in their judgement. The army, if I may make so bold, was mustered in haste, and this mustering was delayed by a series of misfortunes, which necessitated the even hastier recruitment of replacements for those who succumbed either to the poisoned flour or to the explosion of the Britannic powder-carrier. It is these new recruits, who for the most part, were those who lagged behind on the march. In many cases, Your Highness, it was an instance of although the spirit is willing the flesh is weak. You Highness, most of those whom I collected on my route were making determined efforts to follow the army, and that despite their lack of food and in some cases shoes on their feet. There were only eight men who required compulsion to continue in their route, and those men I ordered bound, and have handed them over to the Oberleutnant whom you left in charge here, young... ah yes, Von Rabensthal."

"I see, Herr General. Pray tell me, how is that you managed to keep these men going, when the best efforts of their offizieren and unteroffizieren had failed?"

"Your Highness, I have had some small experience in the training of men. Your Highness has, in the past, been good enough to commend my efforts in that direction."

"True... true..."

"Your Highness, in my experience, it has been the fault of the offizieren if men fall out on the march. It is normally due to insufficient training in the discipline of marches. All these men needed was the opportunity to rest and regain their strength. A day or two of unencumbered, easy marches and plenty of food was sufficient to, literally, set them back on their feet."

"Unencumbered marches?"

"Yes, Your Highness. With their packs and their firelocks - where they had them - loaded on to the wagons, and keeping to the wagons' slower pace, the majority of the men were quick to recover. There were alas, one or two, whose bodily exhaustion was too great for their constitutions. I have their names and the names of their families. I will ensure that the families are informed of their sacrifice."

"Very well. Then Herr General, it was indeed well done. But, do I understand you to say that some of these stragglers had with them their firelocks?"

"Yes, Your Highness."

"H'mmm. Thank you, Herr General, you may return to your duties."

"Yes, Your Highness."

Friday, 7 November 2008

I thought I saw a pussy cat...?

"Well, Von Smallhausen, why have we halted this time? Yes, I know you don't know, but go and find out! How in the name of all that's holy can the army take two days to cover seven leagues!"

"Directly, Your Highness."

- - - - - - - - - - -


"Herr General, His Highness' compliments, and he wishes to be informed of the reason for this delay?"

"Well, Von Smallhausen, you may tell His Highness, that we have temporarily halted, to take up assault formation, in light of the news, brought in by a patrol, that the village in which His Highness has seen fit to take up his quarters, now appears to be occupied by a force of unknown size and composition. We are taking precautionary measures so that in the event of the force being inimical, we shall not be taken by surprise! Er... with my respects, of course!"

"Of course, Herr General. May I ask what steps, other than the assumption of a battle-ready posture, you intend. His Highness is sure to ask."

"Apart from forming the advance guard into an assault line, I have requested General Muller to screen our movements and also to scout the North and South approaches to the village. As we close, he is also to reconnoitre the western approaches to the village. Now, are you quite sure you have that?"

"Yes, Herr General. Thank you."

- - - - - - - - - - -

"So... a potentially tricky situation, Von Smallhausen. Those demmed Hannunteran Dragoons trying to remain invisible behind us, and now a possible enemy to our front."

"Not an enviable situation for Your Highness."

"Von Smallhausen... May I take the liberty of reminding you that you too are in the same situation?"

"Indeed, Your Highness. But, I am a mere Hauptmann, Your Highness is the Head of State and the Commander-in-Cief od this armament. I also happen, thanks to Your Highness' generosity, to be most excellently mounted, and not being overly constrained by Your Highness' position, shall have no compunction in making the best use of my steed's paces, should that eventuality become necessary."

"Von Smallhausen! How dare you? You would desert your post at the first setback? I shall, I shall... Von Smallhausen, if you continue to make sport of me in this most unbecoming manner, then I shall... I shall think of some dire fate for you!"

"Indeed, Your Highness, the temptation was overwhelming, but I do, most seriously, make a point. We cannot afford to have you killed, or even worse taken prisoner. Such an outcome would render our political position untenable. We should have no choice but to withdraw to Ober Nord Westfalen and wait for the storm to break around our ears - because, Your Highness, in an unhappy event befalling you, then Ober Nord Westfalen itself would be lost. Your Highness' lady is most highly thought of by the populace, but I seriously doubt that the army would fight for her in the same manner as they are willing to fight for you."

"What! Do you say that the troops would be disloyal? No! I don't believe it!"

"No, Your Highness... the troops would fight, if the order is given. But, would the order be given?"

"Of course it would! Her Highness is totally committed to Ober Nord Westfalen!"

"Yes, Your Highness, of course, but... she is foreign, she was of the Romish persuasion... I have to ask... Would she have the full confidence of the army commanders?"

"Yes! She must have! They are oath-bound!"

"They are oath-bound to you, Your Highness. If Your Highness is lost, or taken, what then?"

"Von Smallhausen. I ask you straightly: Have you any solid grounds for these wild suppositions of yours?"

"Your Highness, I give you my word, I have nothing that would stand the proving of a trial. But, I have worked with Herr Flick for long enough to garner some of his sense of when things are not altogether as they should be."

"H'mmm, very well, Von Smallhausen. You have given me much ground for thought. I will consider your advice very carefully before I take any action. Thank you, Von Smallhausen."

- - - - - - - - - - -

"Your Highness, we are ready to move again."

"At last, General Von Willich! So... do we attack our own headquarters?"

"Er... no, Your Highness."

"I am relieved, such an attack would have appeared ridiculous in the eyes of the world! But, good General, we are to assume, therefore, that the troops in the village are some of our allies?"

"Aah... umm, well, not allies, Your Highness, not as such..."

"Go on, Herr General, go on."

"Well, they are actually our own troops, Your Highness."

"Our own troops? How so?"

"Details are not yet fully disclosed, Your Highness, but it appears that General Himmelstoss took it upon himself to accompany one of his supply trains forward, and while on his route took the opportunity to sweep up the stragglers and laggards from our march. Together with the recruits he conducted hither, he has amassed a force of nearly five hundred men!"

"Good God! Herr General, this is priceless! Seven battalions and eight squadrons thrown into battle order by a motley collection of their own raw recruits and scrimshankers! Herr General, this is a most excellent joke on ourselves! But, it is also a most serious matter. A matter that requires discussion, therefore a General Officers' meeting at seven of the clock this evening. I advise the Generals that they would be well advised to dine early - this meeting promises to be a long one!"

"Jawohl, Your Highness!"
Align Left

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Double Dealing

"Gruber!"

"Yes, Herr Feldmeister?"

"Give orders for the men to eat now. We stay as we are for the present... at least, that is what that clown of Ober Nord Westfalen thinks. We had best give that impression. Once the men have fed, bring one of the Dragoner Schwadronen forward, quietly. They are to lead their mounts, and wait to the rear of Infanterie Regiment Nummer Drei. Once those bastards have disappeared from sight, we march at full speed. The Dragoner are to maintain contact with them. Taking care that they are not seen. Understood?"

"Jawohl, Herr Feldmeister!"
- - - - - - - - - - -
"Well, Herr General, that went rather well, I thought!"

"Really, Your Highness?"

"Oh, yes. The Feldmeister took to his schnapps, and while he thought he was being very clever, he rather let slip more information, I am persuaded, than he had intended."

"In what manner, Your Highness?"

"Well, as an appetiser, he told us that he leads the advance guard of his forces, and that substantial reinforcements are a day's march behind him. However, in the tally of his forces, he has omitted the Hannunteran Guards Regimente. Is it likely that Hannunter takes the field without making use of its so-called elite?"

"Agreed, Your Highness. Most unlikely."

"So... where are the Guards? It seems to me that we had best keep a screen between us and them. Have Herr General Muller arrange for observation patrols to keep watch on Hannunter's past route. If the Guards are anywhere about us, Von Wenigkirche is sure to communicate with them!"

"You are convinced of some duplicity, Your Highness?"

"Of course I am, Von Wenigkirche, for all his bluster and not-so-thinly veiled threats was remarkably accommodating. You will note that despite his protests he accepted all of my suggestions with a quibble. However, I do not trust him to abide by the terms of our agreement. I believe that once we are out of sight, he will move, and move quickly. He is not of the temperament to sit on his hands and wait!"

Monday, 3 November 2008

Confontration or Confusion?

"Welcome, Herr Feldmeister."

"Your Highness."

"Pray take a seat, Herr Feldmeister, a glass of wine, perhaps? Or would you prefer something a little more robust?

"Some Hollands, if you please, Your Highness."

"But, of course, Herr Feldmeister. Bruno, some schnapps for the Feldmeister, if you please."

"Thank you, Your Highness."

"Do tell me, Herr Feldmeister, how are things in Hannunter?"

"All was well, when I left, Margraf."

"All is well at court?... Good. Are you a married man, Herr Feldmeister? If not I can heartily recommend that blessed state."

"Yes, Your Highness, I am married."

"Good, good. And how fares your good lady?"

"She is well enough, Your Highness."

"Good, good. More schnapps? Bruno... Ah, thank you."

"Damn it, Margraf! What do you want?"

"Ah, that famous impetuosity, of which we have heard so much. Really, Herr Feldmeister, I was just trying to establish some sort of mutual ground for our meeting. Through small talk, d'ye see? After all, although we face each other's armies, there is no need for discourtesy between gentlemen, is there?"

"H'mph! That cuts to the chase, Your Highness! What the devil d'ye mean by blocking my path? Hey?""

"Prudence, Herr Feldmeister, pure prudence. After all, what sort of commander would I be if I failed to investigate news of a strange force, a possibly hostile force, hovering to my left and rear? 'Twould be most impolitic, not to mention imprudent, if I failed to... ah... reconnoitre."

"You may reconnoitre all you wish, Your Highness, but I tell you, you push my patience too far when you take it upon yourself to stand between me and my objective!"

"Ah... Of course, that well-known impatience. But, I neglect my duties as a host... Bruno! Yes, thank you. Herr Feldmeister, if I may take the liberty... you really should attempt to curb your rashness, patience, we are told, is after all, a virtue."

"Sir! Are you deliberately trying to goad me?!"

"Not at all, Herr Feldmeister, not at all, merely attempting to carry out these negotiations in a civil manner."

"Do you mean that I am uncivil! By heavens, Sir! You insult me!"

"No, not at all Herr Feldmeister, or at least that is not my intent, if, however, I have by mischance, given rise to an offence, then I, of course, beg your pardon."

"H'mph."

"Now then, Herr Feldmeister, if you are ready, let us discuss our rather peculiar situation. I shall be quite open with you, I do not enjoy having a potentially inimical force, no matter how small, to my rear..."

"Small?!"

"Why, yes, Herr Feldmeister, small. after all, you have, what... four battalions, four squadrons of dragoons and a half dozen or so guns? You must, I am persuaded, realise that my forces here outnumber you by at least two to one."

"Hah! Only temporarily, Margarf! Only temporarily!"

"Oh...?"

"Yes, 'oh'. Let me tell you that I have here merely the advance guard of my command. Less than a day behind me is the main force, consisting of no less than eight full regiments of foot, and four regiments of horse and dragoons!"

"Such a great armament, must needs, of course, give a prudent man pause for thought. But, tell me, Herr Feldmeister, why such a great force, and whither bound and for what purpose?"

"Hah! Yes! You'd like to know that would you not!"

"Herr Feldmeister, between neighbours - and we are neighbours, not so? - there should be no secrets. I am quite prepared to tell you that my troops here, and the rest of my army, are bound for Luttich, where we are to rendezvous with the Englisch Herzog, Marlbrouk, with the intent of handing a... a demmed good thrashing to the Franklanders. You, see, I am quite open with you."

"H'mm... very well, if you are to take the field against the Franklanders, then it seems that for once Hannunter and Ober Nord Westfalen have a common cause! My orders are to take the Elector's Army and join Prinz Eugen Von Sawoie at Maastricht. We, too, are to take up arms against the Franklanders!

"Well, Herr Feldmeister, that was not too difficult, was it? Now, we must both face some rather unpalatable facts. Due to centuries of Hannunteran aggression against my holdings, there has developed a degree of bad feeling between my countrymen and the citizens of the Electorate, and knowing what soldiers are, I feel it would be far too much to expect both armies to march together without some degree of friction engendered by this long-standing ill-will. Now, if, say, one or the other of us was bound to support a rival party, then I would have no hesitation of falling upon you and destroying your army, but, as our common purpose makes that option ineligible, then Herr Feldmeister, we must both take steps to prevent an unnecessary effusion of blood until we do meet the real enemy. Do you not agree?"

"Uh... Well, yes, of course, it only makes sense."

"Good. Bruno, the map if you please. There Herr Feldmeister, if you look, you will see that at present, we are just about... here."

"Agreed."

"Good. Now if you are bound for Maastricht, then your route takes you almost due South. Now,
if you take the most direct road, you should pass through Valkenswaard, and then by Veert and Maaseik to your destination. We on the other hand need to veer more to the West, through Geel and Diepenbeck and then on to Luttich. Which will, of course add some days to our march, but in the interest of peaceful co-existence, this is a sacrifice which I am more than prepared to make. You will see that my proposed route places the Maas between our forces, and I feel, Herr Feldmeister, that this degree of separation will assist in preserving our forces for the forthcoming struggle against the Franklanders."

"H'mm. Why, Your Highness, would you be prepared to make such a deviation from your route?"

"Why, as I have just explained. To keep contact between our force to an absolute minimum. I suggest that we keep the river between us in order that we have a clearly defined line of demarcation."

"Very well. I can see no disadvantage in your proposal. I agree!"

"Good. Now let us turn our attention to extricating ourselves from our current position, which, you must admit tends towards to the farcical!"

"Very well, Your Highness. What do you propose?"

"I suggest, Herr Feldmeister, that you hold your ground, for say, six hours, while I march gaily on my way towards Luttich!"

"No, six hours is too much. I need to get my troops forward out of this bog! Three hours!"

"No, that is too soon. Let us, in the spirit of compromise agree on... four hours?"

"Very well, Margraf, four hours it is!"

"Very well, Herr Feldmeister, we are agreed. Pray let us not detain each other. We each, in our own way, have much to do!"

"Then, I bid you a good day, Your Highness. Wachter! My Horse!"

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Ooops!

"Well, that's bolloxed my plans, Von Willich!"

"How do you mean, Your Highness?"

"Simple, if Hannunter cannot deploy his men to his right, because the ground is too deep, then Muller will not be able to take them in flank, because if the ground will not support foot, what d'ye think the result will be if horse try to charge over that same ground?"

"Ah, I see, Your Highness."

"Good. Send a rider to General Muller, he and his Reitere are to return to the main position, by a covered route, mind you, and are to form up to our left rear."

"At once, Your Highness."

"Ah, Von Smallhausen. How went the parley?"

"Your letter has been accepted, Your Highness. And I believe you will have your meeting."

"Good, good. Who is the Hannunteran commander?"

"Von Wenigkirche, Your Highness."

"Von Wenigkirche, hey? H'mm, Von Willich, what do we know of him?"

"A stern disciplinarian, Your Highness, and somewhat choleric of temperment. A reasonable man would see his position, if not hopeless, is at the least disadvantageous, but Von Wenigkirche is not particularly reasonable, and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that disadvantaged or not, he would still order an attack."

"But that goes beyond choler, into the realms of insanity!"

"True, Your Highness, but Von Wenigkirche may not be entirely sane."

"How d'ye mean?"

"Well, Your Highness, it is commonly held that Von Wenigkirche is of the firm belief that the earth is flat and square in shape. Indeed, it is rumoured that he had an officer cashiered for insubordination, merely for trying to demonstrate, with the aid of a globe, that the world is, in very truth, round!"

"Herr General, are you making game of me?"

"Indeed not, Your Highness, I would not dare! I appeal to you Hauptmann Von Smallhausen, has not Von Wenigkirche this very reputation?"

"It is indeed true, Your Highness, but if I may be allowed?"

"Yes, go on Von Smallhausen."

"Your Highness, Von Wenigkirche, has, in the past, come to the notice of Herr Flick, who has compiled quite a dossier on the Feldmeister; if I recall the case, he has a greater than usual fondness for spirituous liquors, which, together with his red hair, may help to explain his choleric tendencies; however, he is greatly admired and trusted by his troops who habitually refer to him as "Onkel Karl", or even as "Großvater Karl". This respect stems from his concern over their health and welfare, and even survives his periodic attempts at their extermination through pointless attacks. He lacks subtlety, and his most usual - and most successful - method of attack is a headlong frontal storm. He is reputedly contemptuous of all foreigners, and firmly believes that Hannunter has only been deprived of her rightful place as Weltführer through the machinations of lesser beings who are afraid to face her in battle."

"I was right! The man is insane!"

"Insane or not, Your Highness, this is the man with whom you must deal."

"Thank you, Herr General, I had not forgotten that minor point!"

"If I may suggest, Your Highness, that a degree of circumspection may, in dealing with Von Weinigkirche, be beneficial."

"How so, Von Smallhausen?"

"Without wishing to put words into Your Highness' mouth, may I suggest that a conciliatory approach, may best serve our needs. That is, if Your Highness does not wish to take the opportunity of handing the Hannunterans a... a... oh, yes, a 'demmed good thrashing', was it not?"

"As I have had occasion to remark on a previous occasion, Von Smallhausen, you sound more like Flick every day. But your point is well taken. We are here to fight the Franklanders, not other Germans. I will heed your impertinent advice!"

"Your Highness is too kind."

Shall we dance?

"Herr Feldmeister! Herr Feldmeister!"

"Yes, what is it?!"

"Herr Feldmeister, the advance guard reports a force of foot across our path!"

"What! Where? Who? How many? Sound the halt! Order deployment into column of divisions! The Dragoner forward to screen the deployment - and get the guns forward!""

"Herr Feldmeister, the ground..."

"What of it?"

"It is very wet, Herr Feldmeister, if we move off the road, we will bog down!"

"The devil you say! - Locholz!"

"Herr Feldmeister?"

"You are supposed to be my engineer - what of the state of the ground?"

"Bad, Herr Feldmeister, very bad. It appears to have been flooded recently."

"Yes, yes, never mind that... can we move on it?"

"I think not, Herr Feldmeister, however, there is a certain method of ascertaining whether we can or no."

"Well then, get on with it!"

"Yes, Herr Feldmeister. Oberst Kleinschmidt! Have the goodness to deploy your first bataillon to the right, in column of division, if you please. Take them as far as that ditch and then into line facing the enem... er, facing South!"

"Jawohl, Herr General!"

"Now, Herr Feldmeister, let us observe..."

- - - - - - - - - - -

"No, Herr Feldmeister, look at them, the leading ranks are up to their knees, and as they poach the ground, it become worse for the rear ranks!"

"Damn it! Stuck on the road! If they - whoever they are - attack we will be caught like fish in a barrel! - Do we know who they are yet?"

"Herr Feldmeister, they have blue coats and I can see yellow on some of their colours."

"Blue? Yellow? Pommersche? Hess-Damall? Braunsland? Hollanders?"

"I think not, Herr Feldmeister, the blue is too light in hue. I think... I think they may be of Ober Nord Westfalen."

"Ober Nord Westfalen? Impossible, Gruber! We are not at war with them, and besides, d'ye really think that playboy general of a Margraf could have caught us like this? Anyway, according to reports they are at least twenty leagues away!"

"The Margraf? Perhaps not, Herr Feldmeister, but he has some able Commanders, Von Willich, for example, is not to be totally despised, and Muller has a certain reputation for craftiness - and with respect Herr Feldmeister, reports can be in error!"

"Herr Feldmeister, look... a parley!"

"Very well, Gruber, meet this envoy and find out what the devil they want!"

"Jawohl, Herr Feldmeister."

- - - - - - - - - - -

"Halt! That's far enough!"

"Agreed, we can hear each other well enough."

"Who are you, and what do you want?"

"My name is Von Smallhausen, Hauptmann in the service of His Highness, Albrecht, Margraf of Of Ober Nord Westfalen. And you, sir?"

"I am Oberstleutnant Gruber, of the army of the Elector of Hannunter. What does your master mean by blocking our road?"

"I believe he has achieved his aim. Your forces are halted are they not?"

"Temporarily, Hauptmann, temporarily, I assure you."

"Herr Oberstleutnant, I am no great strategian, but it seems to me that while your force is halted on the road, you are unable to deploy in our face. Yes, we saw the attempt to move a bataillon to your right."

"Yes, a pretty piece of deception, was it not?"

"Yes, indeed. Who would have thought that Hannunter had so many accomplished thespians in the ranks of it regiments of foot. You see me all admiration."

"Pah! All very well, but what, Hauptmann is the purpose of this parley?"

"My Margraf wishes a meeting with your commander, who is...?"

"Feldmeister Karl Weiden Von Wenigkirche."

"Von Wenigkirche? Good. I have here a letter for your commander from Margraf Albrecht. You must ask the Herr Feldmeister to forgive the impersonal address, but without a name for the cover, how could it be otherwise? I am instructed to return here in an hour to receive the Herr Feldmesiter's response."

"Very well, Hauptmann, I shall see that the letter is safely delivered."

"Thank you. Now, we meet an again in an hour's time, yes?"

"Yes. I bid you a good day, Hauptmann."