The Battle of Candia

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The Venetian Republic’s efforts to remain liquid in the eighteenth century spawned a number of interesting actions, and mercenaries, indeed mercenary armies, were much employed. This allowed the smaller European states to defray the costs of the prestigious armies, while allowing Venetian citizens freedom not to indulge in anything as low class as fighting.

One of the last examples of this was the invasion of Crete by the Landgraviate des Erzgebirgskreis. The Landgrave was currently at war with the Ottoman Empire, as part of those obscure and interminable wars that characterized “The age of enlightenment” and appears to have seized the opportunity to have his military operations subsidized by the Most Serene Republic by agreeing to a contract for the invasion of Crete. it is not clear what was to happen if the effort were successful; records are spotty from both sides, and even what survives is tainted by mendacity. Suffice it to say that both parties were out for what they could get.

The transport of the Landgrave’s forces went without a hitch, as would be expected with the venetians doing the sailing. The army was disembarked across the beach at Panormo without serious issues.

As the force advanced east along the coast to Cania, the first bad news has received. It appears that the Sanjak of Avlonya, along with the ottoman field army, under the command of Valantine Baker Pasha, an English émigré had beaten the Landgriavate forces to the island and was forming up for battle to contest their advance.

The Landrave's forces form up tightly

The Landrave’s forces form up tightly

The Landgrave and his officers consulted, and formed a plan of assault. They were clearly au fait with the doctrine for fighting the Turk; they formed up massed, resting one flank on the sea, and with their superior cavalry on the open flank. The artillery was placed in front of the lines, in order to bombard the suburbs.Ottoman irregulars The ottoman forces put forward a screen of a mass of irregulars, with the core of their regular troops and artillery forming up around the outskirts of Candia.

The Candia Garrison

The Candia Garrison

The field, however did not favor the Landgrave; along with some rolling hills, both in front of their lines, and on the ottoman right flanks there was patches of rough ground, a marsh and a wood obstructing their line of advance.

At eleven o’clock the Landgrave’s guns commenced fire into the mass of horse opposite. No effect was seen; and the horse moved forward toward the guns, along with a general surge forward toward the invading force. In response, the Landgrave’s infantry advanced, masking their guns, slowly picking their way through the marshes, and indeed, discovering a patch of quicksand that was not obvious from the initial survey of the field.

The irregulars delay the advance

The irregulars delay the advance

Firing broke out along the line, with the honors about even, but once more forcing the Landgrave’s troops to rally, slowing the advance further.

The stately advance began to reveal staff work lacking in the Landgrave’s army; twice during the day officers in command of battalions misinterpreted their orders and advanced or even fell back into difficult positions. Even more time had to be spent to rectify the line.

Rather to the surprise of the westerners, the Ottoman irregulars were standing up under the sporadic fire that was brought on them; Baker managed to maneuver his command so that  none of his bands were particularly exposed,

The right flank Ottoman horse prepares to decamp

The right flank Ottoman horse prepares to decamp

although at the cost of having some of the cavalry screen the suburbs of Candia, and their janissary garrison, being driven from the field.

Losing patience with the advance of the infantry, which the dubious terrain and the Ottoman sniping seemed to have reduced to a crawl, the Landgrave loosed his cavalry on the

The ottoman left flank is seen off too

The ottoman left flank is seen off too

few ottoman irregulars obstructing them. One band was destroyed, and another retired. However, the Landgrave’s cavalry now began to suffer from sniping from  piece of rocky ground. Baron von Swalnaki,  commander of the elite Thum Kavallerie decided to advance his regiment into the bad ground to chase off what he declared to be “a handful of bulgarian banditti”. He was rather horrified to find on advancing his regiment into the bad terrain that every rock seemed to conceal a croat with a musket, and the cavalry regiment fled the field.

Musing on this, the Landgrave returned to pushing his infantry forward, probably making a mistake in not exploiting the advance of his cavalry. And here Baker made an error in turn.  Seeing that he Landgrave’s forces were beginning to spread out, he pushed his irregulars forward. While they had stood against a desultory fire, face to face combat was beyond them, and two bands departed to the rear in short order.

The Landgrave’s left wing had reached musketry range of the village, and were now rather unsuccessfully exchanging shots with the Janissary garrison. Seeing no hope for immediate success here, and feeling the onset of evening approaching and the pressure of being on an exposed foreign coast, the Landgrave ordered a charge on the weakened irregular line in front of the central wood. This proved fatal. The elite first battalion of the Amtsberg regiment surged forward confidently, followed closely by their supports, in order to exploit the inevitable breakthrough. Much to the horror of the assembled staff the irregulars held, driving the attackers back through their supports, and dispersing them toward their landing place. Almost at the same time the battalion which had been exchanging fire with the village garrison broke, leaving the Erzgebirgskreish line in 4 separate pieces.

A fatal gap. Grenzers prepare to move into the invader's rear.

A fatal gap. Grenzers prepare to move into the invader’s rear.

Encouraged by Baker, the irregulars surged forward, taking the Landgriaviate troops in the flank and rear. Routed battalions streamed toward the ships, as night fell, allowing the remainder of the dispirited army to retire.

Almost half the Erzgebirgskreis  units were broken; Although a large number of the ottoman irregulars were dispersed, the Landgriave immediately boarded ships and returned to the much more congenial surroundings of the lagoon. The attempted reclamation of Crete had been defeated.

C. M. Turnbull. “18th Century Amphibious Operations” RUSI Vol. XLVIII

Another Summer Cruise

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Mehmed-beg Ahmed Pasha, Sanjak of Avlonya, winced as the stomp of marching feet echoed from the courtyard to his comfortable seat on his balcony, accompanied by all the yelling, screaming and cursing that seemed to be obligatory to any sort of military operation. He was beginning to believe Faisel’s claim that they made all that noise so that the opposition would hear them coming, and get away, thus avoiding a fight.
He should be used to the noise by now; Baker Pasha had drilled the regular troops endlessly since their return from the west. He would have drilled the irregular ones just as thoroughly, but they had disappeared back to their doubtless unlawful occasions as soon as the army had straggled back to Avlonya as quickly and tracelessly as quality food passing through the army commissary.

Probably just as well, thought Mehmed; while the Janissaries might grumble about the drills, drilling the irregulars would probably result in a knife on a dark night or a heaping helping of ipecacuanha in Baker’s evening meal.

Baker had taken the defeat by Trève very hard; he was displeased by his performance in a manner that was completely opaque to Mehmed. The Sanjak supposed that being part of the Ottoman army in his formative years, rather than the English one, he had become accustomed to defeat as a natural state of affairs. The current “Sword of the Sultan” still had to overcome a feeling that military victory was somehow suspicious and had to be regarded with the same caution as one of those sleeping Nile crocodiles he had seen in his youth, or an unsolicited box of turkish delight, gifted to him by a rival.

Besides, the thought to himself happily, any residual unhappiness he might have experienced from the defeat was completely assuaged by the profit he had made by the purchase and resale of pork processing facilities in Trève he had engineered before the battle.

And things were, even he could admit, looking up. He had agents positioned now, so that he could get good warning of any force approaching Avlonya (hopefully in sufficient time to clear out and get safely away if anyone ill intentioned was coming). He was not sure that all the effort was necessary; most of his enemies (and allies too, unfortunately) seemed to be suffering from financial exhaustion, and the campaigning season had been quiet so far.

The network was even widespread enough that he knew in the next hour or so the weekly courier from Istanbul would arrive with dispatches; his progress had been tracked through the mountains and passes and some ill intentioned locals dissuaded from acting in a hostile manner. He could trust Faisel to deal with the letters, there was almost certainly nothing of interest there.

—oOo—

Mehmed-beg was almost right. When Faisel appeared, he dismissed most of the correspondence with a wave. The secretary did have one concern, though. At the bottom of one report, buried in the gossip passed on by merchants and traders, was a indication that a Venetian trading house was setting aside funds to reestablish their house in Candia.

“Candia?” the Sanjak said “They lost Crete to us a hundred years ago, or more. Do they think we are going to let them move back in?” Mehmed and Faisel exchanged a concerned look.

“It may be nothing, Excellency, or not our problem” murmured Faisal, dubiously.

“Maybe so” answered Mehmed, “but get on to our people in the lagoon, and see what is going on there. If my memory does not fail me completely, the Sultan’s favoured wife’s family has large interests in Candia.” Fiasel’s eyebrows rose in a manner that betokened great concern; he was usually completely impassive. “It might be best to get a good head start on any action that needs to be taken”.

“Yes, Excellency.” the Secretary rose, bowed and left, making a note as he did to make sure shipping was available, and supplies for an expedition.

—oOo—

Caution might not be a good guide, but it was an excellent prop. News percolated back from Venice; Serious enough that what Mehmed-beg (rather disgustedly) referred to as a council of war was assembled in the dining room about a week later. The sanjak and his secretary were present, as were Baker Pasha, and Di Tripodi, the chief of staff.
Mehmed-beg addressed the small group.

“Gentlemen, news has returned from Venice, and they are not glad tidings. Truly, we should of know about this before now, and to start I am going to ask Faisel to deal severely with this… lapse.” The secretary nodded, and Baker saw him do something that looked like the scoring out of a name on a list.

“That being dealt with, this appears to be the situation;’ continued the sanjak “It appears that the Serene Republic and the Landgraviate des Erzgebirgskreishave come to an agreement in order to invade Crete. Vencie will supply transportation, and the Landgraviate the troops. The are clearly both trying to betray the other by grabbing the territory when the island is captured, but that does not concern us here. And besides, I cannot think of a way to sow any real dissent between them, because reports are that nether side trusts the other further than they could throw a fully laden war galley.”

“So” continued the Sanjak “due to political and harem complications, we need to stop the landgrave’s army on the island itself, as the Venetian fleet commander is much too well off for me to usefully bribe. Another sea trip appears to be in the offing, Gentlemen. I trust you can organise the transport?”

“Of course, Excellency” said Di Tripodi.

Baker Pasha was shifting his feet nervously, and looking at them.

“Something the matter, Baker Pasha?” enquired Mehmed-beg.

Baker hemmed and hawed for a moment, and then spoke.

“I was wondering, Excellency, would it please you to propose another commander for the force, as I did so poorly in Trève? I would of course, understand.”

Mehmed-beg and Faisel looked at the man in horror, as Di Tripodi looked to hide a grin behind a coffee demitasse that was much too small for the task.

“Replace you? Why on earth would I do that? You expect me to find someone who can best your record? You have won battles with an Ottoman army; unless my memory fails me that makes you a minority of one in the Ottoman officer corps. No, I will not replace you.”

Mehmed-beg spared a glare for Fiasel at his sotto voce comment “Officer corpse, surely, Excellency” while simultaneously trying to be gracious to Baker’s stammered thanks. The glare was adequate, but it seemed that his “gracious acceptance” muscles seemed to have atrophied from lack of use. He decided to practice the expression in his quarters on the voyage; one never knew when one might need it again.

All dash and no brains

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“Why” grumbled Rochefort “do we have to be here?” He kicked the tussocks of grass irritably.  “Its cold, damp, and uncomfortable”

“Why to see those nice hussar boys” answered Madame d’Hiver. “It is always amusing to see them in their tight breeches..” she discreetly covered her grin at Rochefort’s discomfiture behind her fan. They had been baiting each other for years, so she was not particularly worried; but she also knew that Rochefort’s revenges were byzantine. And sometimes gruesome.

Mixed cavalry brigade. Be sure to stay downwind...

Mixed cavalry brigade. Be sure to stay downwind…

The Cardinal glanced at them both “Because we are probably going to have to fight a battle with the linen merchant shortly. It is best to pay attention to soldiers, it boosts their morale, or some such. It is a shame that attention to their commanders cannot boost their insight, but we must make do, I suppose. So we review a cavalry brigade. I made sure they were downwind, and it will not take long”. The Cardinal tucked his book under his arm as the brigade approached.

The trio watched as a regiment of hussars galloped by, waving their swords in the air, followed more sedately by two regiments of Chevaux Léger, one French and one German. And then it was over.

Tight pants have cut off bloodflow to the brain…

Rochefort, his humor recovered as he could now go indoors, waved the carriage toward them and Madame d’Hiver asked ‘Why were the hussars galloping, and waving their swords? Is there an emergency somewhere?” A malicious gleam came into her eye as she continued “Colonel Rochefort, you are a hussar, tell us.”

With complete aplomb Rochefort answered, holding the door of the coach so the others could mount  “Why Madame, they heard there is a new barmaid at the local inn. Just do not get between them and the door to the taproom..”

D’Hiver smirked and the Cardinal’s mouth twitched as they got settled in the coach. The Cardinal answered “All dash and no brains, Rochefort…..”

The Battle of Pluwig

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Due to the distance from France to the Ottoman Empire, and, indeed the on-and-off alliance that existed between the two powers throughout the century, battles between the two powers were rare in period (excepting, of course, the invasion of Egypt right at the end of the century, and even then the Mamlukes were the opposition, not the ottoman forces as such).

One of the exceptions to this was the battle of Pluwig, where a proxy French army, acting for the Electorate of Trèves, fought with a marauding turkish force. Why the turks were so far west is unclear; records from the period ascribe motives that are frankly unbelievable, but the fact remains that they were there, and that the battle took place.

flank march

The French infantry move toward the flank.

The French force, consisting of 4 cavalry regiments, 2 batteries, 8 infantry battalions (2 of them guards) and some irregulars under le Comte de Toulouse-Lautrec deployed in standard fashion, with the usual objective of bringing their infantry into range with the utmost dispatch. Toulouse-Lautrec was regarded  by his peers as a workmanlike commander, and here he once more followed standard doctrine.

regulars

The ottoman regulars

irregulars

The Ottoman levies consider their options

The Ottomans, with the usual mob of levies, bolstered by 5 infantry battalions, and 5 batteries, under the guidance of Baker Pasha (an emigre Englishman) deployed in a long line, with the irregular troops on the left, and the regular infantry and artillery on he right. This was to prove his undoing. Interestingly Baker had performed adequately previously with the same army; his failure has been ascribed to stress from the before-battle conference, a vidid, if not entirely believable, account of which appears in Sir Thomas Creasy’s memoirs, “Fifty years with the colors”.

The french infantry surged forward, with the guns and cavalry held in reserve, facing the ottoman levies. The turkish regulars moved forward to cover their guns in a desultory manner, and the french infantry charged forward into them confidently.

Rather to everyone’s surprise, the turkish line held. The melee continued for a considerable time, with the french charging forward, and being driven back. A Turkish infantry battalion broke and a battery was captured, but another battery caused such execution on a guards unit that it retired from the field.

Toulouse-Lautrec (or possibly Creasy, who was in command of the infantry force; both claimed credit) did manage to bring infantry up on the left of the turkish regulars. The turkish levies were fed in against the flanking infantry, but in dribs and drabs, constantly finding themselves outmatched by the regulars, and falling back.  Here was where Baker’s deployment defeated him; by causing the levies to be employed individually, rather than en masse, he ensured their defeat in detail.

With no aid in sight, a lone turkish battalion of Nizam i

The Nizam I cedit hold the line, for a while

The Nizam I cedit hold the line, for a while

cedit stood against three charges of a guard battalion and a battalion of La Sarre. For so long, in fact, that the left flank french infantry battalion was put to flight.

However, a final charge swept the remnants away; with his line in disorder Baker begged for the honors of war, which were granted by de Toulouse-Lautrec.

A noble victory for the french army, though much conversation was caused in the coffee houses and around camp fires by the stoic resistance of one battalion of turkish regulars. Clearly the ottoman army was no longer dwelling entirely in the 16th century.

C. Winehouse

From Louvois to Carnot : The French army in the 18th century

OUP 1994

The long march

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Mehmed-beg Achmed Pasha was disgruntled. This was not a terribly unusual occurrence;  indeed his intimates and friends, of which very few survived, would claim that he was never gruntled (if that is a word; well it should be, if it is not). Baker Pasha had insisted that there should be a “proper parade” as the army left Avlonya. The

The Sipahi move past the staff. They should be out scouting, but they would get lost.

Sanjak’s nature was much more inclined to lead him to a quiet departure in the the depths of the night, preferably with some nice dense fog to mask his movements. To his disappointment, fog was a rarity on the sunny Adriatic coast, and the rules for the military seemed to be different. They seemed to require bands, loud noises and bright sunshine to do anything, and “subtlety” was not a word that seemed to appear in the military lexicon.

So there he sat, oppressed by the fact that they were going to have to march across

Nizam march past, lead by the band, and followed by disgruntled Janissares

Europe to stage a pointless battle, and now he had to watch a bunch of idiots walk around in lines, just so that, as Baker Pasha put it “they could begin in the right state of mind”. Mind you, the man had proved himself to be rather good at this sort of thing (as shown by the two rather well armed and LARGE men who now accompanied the general, Faisel had done well there) so Mehmed-beg was not going to gainsay him.

They waited in the warm sunshine as the army began its march past. Baker saluted each unit smartly, the Sanjak waved his fly whisk, Faisel glowered. Di  Tripodi was with them also, but seemed to be wrestling some intractable supply problem with his Janissary staff officer. Idly casting his ear in the direction of their animated discussion, he discovered that something dreadful had happened to some shipment of bulgur wheat. As the Sanjak had a strongly held belief that the worst thing that could happen to bulgur wheat was him having to eat it, he sat back with a smile, and waved Faisel over.

Crveni Lopov leads the local levies past. At a discreet distance, because they would steal the horses if they were closer

“I hear that some of the supplies have been ruined. Do you have any idea how such a dreadful thing might have happened?”

Faisel replied, with a straight face “Excellency, as I understand it, your palace cook’s nephew has a post in the army commissariat. The cook apparently made clear, at a family gathering, your views on bulgar wheat. The young man acted on his own initiative from then on.”

“Ah” replied the Sanjak “could you make sure that they both receive a suitable reward?” He did not bother to add the word “discreetly” as he had never known Faisel to be indiscreet.

“Of course, Excellency. While I have your attention, some dispatches have arrived from the west. Herr Fugger in Hamburg writes that the funds were received, and that he has already disbursed some to Kyrios Papandriou. Kyrios Papandriou writes thathe has arrived in Trèves, and that he was successful in his purchases; some eight parts of the coopers, stave makers and briners in the west of Trève and its surrounding areas have been sold to him, or an interest in the larger ones purchased. The news of this expedition seems to have had a very depressing  effect on prices.”

The Sanjak waved his fly-whisk, acknowledging yet another salute. “Excellent” he said.

Faisel hesitated. “Excellency” he said “I did think we were going to burn those places. Ummm.. why are we buying them?”

The Sanjak grinned at his secretary. “Because, Faisel, even that optimist Baker thinks we are not going to win this one. If he does not think so, I am going to agree with him. Seems likely that we will be driven off before we can do much damage. So.. we buy those businesses for cheap…. and then sell them when we return home.”

Faisel’s face cleared. “Sell them? not keep them, Excellency?”

The Sanjak answered briskly. “I am already starting a new career as a soldier, which I never wanted to do. Starting one as a a meat packer at my age I want to do even less. I doubt the gentle Kyrios wants to run businesses so far from home. We’ll split the money, and be happy with it.”

Faisel nodded, and withdrew, watching the parade end and the baggage begin to move by.

—oOo—

Mehmed-Beg looked around at the assembled crowd. They had marched almost across Europe; with promises of huge pigsties full of gold Baker Pasha and Di Tripodi had restrained the most egregious of the looting while crossing notionally “friendly” states (more on the grounds that they were going to have to come back that way, rather than some excess of humanitarian zeal) and the army had arrived in the electorate of Trève.

Of course, completely forewarned, the Cardinal-Elector’s army had been more or less waiting for them, so very little destruction of swine-related industry had occurred before the two armies came into contact.

Thus this meeting. Apparently it was tradition for the leaders of both armies to gather, to arrange things like the time the battle would start, and the rules (!?!) that would be followed. Or at least Baker and Di Tripodi informed him, with the nodding agreement of von Frechting. For someone whose career had started with by knifing people in the back, and had more or less continued that way, with the odd detour into poisons and lethal livestock, this attitude was incomprehensible to the Sanjak and also to Faisel who had followed a similarcareer plan, but if that was what was to happen, they would let it go. They both agreed on the need to look like good civilised, rules following individuals before they subverted the rules of the game.

So here they stood, in the pale morning light. His own group, himself, Baker Pasha, Di Triodi, von Frechting, and some others, with Faisel standing in the background. The group from Trèves was interestingly broken up, he thought. There were a cluster of similarly uniformed officers (he had been told that the most gorgeously uniformed one was Count de Toulouse-Laurtrec who was notionally the commanding general; however his stance indicated deference to the two other groups); there was another group of three men, one gorgeously attired and languid to the point of sleeping, another older, heavy individual, and a third, younger man whose glowering looks and glares around  betrayed either a terrible temper or a terrible hangover. Possibly both.  The third group was just two men, one in red cleric’s robes, and the other in an outlandish uniform that would fit right in with the most gayly attired sipahi. A glance at the man in the red robes  told who was really in charge, but he seemed content to let others do all the work.

The discussion started amiably enough, with Baker Pasha speaking with Count de Toulouse-Laurtrec in french (the Sanjak thought) presumably the necessary courtesies and arrangement of whatever-it-was they thought should be arranged.  Mehmed-beg looked around at the town of Pluwig, behind him, and idly wondered which bits of it he owned now, and how on earth he was going to stop those particular bits being too thoroughly looted. A change in voices, and indeed languages, from the group made him snap back around, and he saw things had changed.

The choleric man, shaking off the hand of the heavyset individual on his arm, was snarling at Baker Pasha, in a language that the Sanjak did not know or recognise. Baker Pasha was turning red, with an alarming whiteness around his lips. Mehmed-beg glanced at Di Tripodi, who responded “English. The aggressive bloke is insulting Baker, calling him .. some form of deviant maybe.. my English is not that good, but we should break it up, I think.”

Mehmed-beg, agreeing, waved Faisal forward to escort Baker Pasha, and looked around again, telling Di Tripodi to conclude the meeting. He noticed that Count de Toulouse-Laurtrec had stepped back, and his staff looked embarrassed; he noticed also that the Cardinal and his man seemed to be in the dark also. The red clad cleric spoke, and gestured to his man; to the Sanjak’s surprise, the approached him, not Count de Toulouse-Laurtrec.

Faisal moved forward to escort Baker Pasha, as the gayly clad man with an eyepatch spoke with the Sanjak and Di Tripodi, first in french, at which both of them shrugged, then in Italian (with an accent of the Genoese docks, which made  the Sanjak smile in reminiscence of previous bad times on hearing)

Signori“, the man began “my name is Rochefort, and the cardinal asked me to discover from you what is happening, if you would be so kind?”

The Sanjak waved “It appears that your excitable gentleman” indeed, the fellow was now completely red in the face and stomping his foot in excitement, gripping the hilt of his sword “has some sort of personal history with my general. I am unsure what the matter is.” Though, Mehmed-beg admitted to himself, he could hazard a fair guess. “Can you translate for us, Di Tripodi?”

“Burgess ain’t one of mine” muttered Rochefort, causing a raised eyebrow from the Sanjak.

“Si” answered the chief-of-staff ” as there was a pause, Burgess apparently being out of breath, and maybe inspiration. The his eye fell on Faisal, who was guiding Baker Pasha backward, and his excitement hit a whole new level.

“You scurrilous arab bastard, I have been looking for you for years!” Di Tripodi translated the rant, now aimed at Faisel. “Give me my money immediately, you cheat! I was stuck in debtors prison in Malta for a month because you cheated me. I demand my money, or satisfaction immediately!”

“You cleaned that up a bit, Signor, I think.” said Rochefort, out of the corner of his mouth. Di Tripodi shrugged, and nodded in agreement.

“Faisal is unlikely to give the man money” observed the Sanjak “Satisfaction is…?”

“A duel” said Rochefort. “The whole swords in the dawn light thing. Stupid as can be.”  He looked at Burgess, who was now having to be physically restrained by his two companions “Though it looks like we might not have to wait that long…”

Faisal joined them, leaving Baker Pasha in the hands of his staff. Mehmed-beg looked at him and asked in italian “Faisal, are you going to give that man money?”

Faisel raised an eyebrow “No, Excellency”. He looked at the other group. Burgess had stripped off his coat, and drawn his sword, and was stamping and swishing it trough the air. They were being approached by the languid individual.

Rochefort looked at Faisal “You’ll probably have to fight him then” Faisal shrugged. Rochefort added, as he noticed Faisal’s unarmed state “You can borrow my sword, if you like, its fairly sharp.”

Faisal took the offered weapon, and balanced it in his hand. “Many thanks, effendi” he said quietly.

Rochefort looked at the approaching dandy, and spoke out of the side of his mouth “How much did you take him for?” he asked.

“Effendi, we played dice in a tavern in Malta, some years ago. Unfortunately, his dice appeared to be lacking the 3, 4, 5, and 6. So sad. He lost to me a nice large purse of gold, enough for a good Arab stallion, and two mares”.

Rochefort whistled, while di Tripodi and the Sanjak grinned. “Nice, very nice, good job” Rochefort said, as they all turned toward the dandy, who indicated that the duel was to take place right here and now, and he was acting as a second for Burgess. Rochefort shrugged, said he would act for Faisal (rather to the surprise of everyone) and promised to explain the rules. The dandy moved away, nodding to Burgess, who prepared himself.

Rochefort turned to Faisal. “I am supposed to explain the rules to you, Signor” he said.

Faisal raised his eyebrow. “Rules effendi? There are rules?”

“One” replied Rochefort. “You kill him, and then we are done here.” He nodded, bowed slightly, handed Di Tripodi his scabbard and swordbelt and said “Keep the sword, I hate the thing.” Then he smiled as he moved away.

Faisal nodded all around than then walked toward Burgess, swishing the sword in his right hand. Which was fairly odd, the Sanjak mused to himself, because Faisal was left handed…

Ten feet from Burgess, as the man was just taking up his pose, Faisal did something complicated and too fast to see with his left hand, and started withdrawing back toward the Sanjak, who turned to BakerPasha and Di Tripodi and said quietly “Time to leave.”

They both looked a little confused, but not half as much as Burgess, who was contemplating the knife hilt sticking out of his chest in deep confusion. The Sanjaks’s party was just mounting as Burgess collapsed forward, surrounded by his party, some of who looked confused as well, a couple more starting to look outraged.

As they rode off, Mehmed-beg noticed that the Cardinal-elector and Rochefort looked neither. The cardinal seemed to be hiding his mouth behind his hand, and Rochefort was clearly grinning, though facing away from the rest of the group. The Sanjak cheerily returned his wave as they rode off.

And now there would be a battle to fight.

Are they all insane?

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Colonel Rochefort ambled across the marbled entry foyer of the Trèves Rathaus, following the Cardinal-Elector up the broad staircase to the council rooms on the first floor. He did find the evolving interaction between the Cardinal and the good Burgers of the city interesting, usually; their attitude had evolved from fear and disgust toward the Cardinal to a deal of respect. Still accompanied by a healthy portion of fear and disgust, it must be said, but at least some progress was being made. And fear of the Cardinal, mused Rochefort was definitely a survival trait, in any case.

At the moment, as he followed the Cardinal through the ornate doors of the council room, he was concerned about the army. Or at least the leadership of the army. He had received word that another notable had joined the Staff the night before; one Thomas Burgess. Another Englishman. Rochefort’s naturally paranoid nature had started to wonder what was going on. What was Le duc de Clarkeshire up to? Assembling a team of Englishmen, his cronies maybe, to run the army? Count de Toulouse-Laurtrec was oblivious to any political issues;  then again, the man was oblivious to lesser issues also, like the fact that the sky was blue. He certainly could not be relied upon to keep some nascent coup d’état in check. The whole thing was troubling, and Rochefort could not see an obvious way to intervene. He would just have to watch and wait.

As he came to this conclusion, he looked up and reviewed the gathered council. Something was…off. The usual assemblage of plump germans, yes. The usual guarded expressions of fear and anticipation, yes. But there was something else. Rochefort tensed, looking around the room. No, it was the people.

It took him a moment. Angry. They were angry. it was clear on the faces of a couple of the less guarded individuals. What had the Cardinal done to annoy them? No, that list was too long. What had the Cardinal done that they knew about to annoy them this much, there was a better question. He had really no idea. If he had been asked ten minutes ago, he would have said things were settling down nicely. Just last week he had been able to half the number of Cardinal’s guard arrest squads.. umm, no, Patrols, yes, Patrols that he was sending out. The Cardinal had noticed the attitude in the room also, and raised a quizzical eyebrow at Gert Thuringer, head of the council, and known to his friends as “hog butcher to Europe”. To his enemies, Rochefort thought, it was something more like “what-the-hell-has-that-bastard-put-in-this-sausage”.

Herr Thuringer’s jowls quivered in indignation. He grabbed a piece of parchment from the council table and began to speak. Unfortunately his emotional state, coupled with his colossal jowls, terribly fitting false teeth, and the panting caused, presumably, by moving his bulk around made his speech completely incomprehensible. He was also spraying the Cardinal with spit as he tried to enunciate, something that promised to rapidly resolve all his health problems.

Herr Eklantegauner, chief lawyer for the city, took pity on his chairman and began to speak, in his usual dry as dust manner, taking the parchment from Thuringer (who was becoming alarmingly red in the face), and easing him back into his seat.

“Your Eminence, Colonel. what has my colleague so excited is this misdirected communication from the Sublime Porte. It came to the council in error; it should, of course, have gone to your Eminence.”

The Cardinal glanced at Rochefort, but he was already making a mental note to find out how these people had possibly got a letter that he did not know about.

“And what, dear Sir, does the communication say?” asked the Cardinal, glad to be dealing with someone he might actually get an intelligible answer from. Not of course, a straight answer (Eklantegauner was a lawyer, after all) but that could be allowed for.

Rochefort did not often get to see his boss surprised. He rather relished those occasions, it must be admitted, though he did try and hide his pleasure. He would remember the Cardinal’s expression on hearing the answer to that question for a long time, using it to warm himself in a variety of cold and unpleasant places.

“The Sublime Porte has declared war on us, your Excellency, apparently because of our shipments of pork products, which they regard as a religious affront. They say an army of the Sultan will be sent here to cleanse the land of the offensive food.”

It took the Cardinal a moment to recover, and even then puzzlement was visible on his face.

“Rochefort, Herr Eklantegauner,” ground out the Cardinal “did we not just fight a war, in alliance with the Turks, so that our shipments of pork products would be… untrammeled? Did our side not win that war? And now.. they wish to reverse the result? Is this some form of joke? Is it a forgery? Are they insane over there?’

Eklantegauner answered “I can only answer some of that, Your Eminence. Yes to the first, yes to the second, it appears so to the third, as they claim to be coming here literally with fire and sword, and I think not, to the fourth. As far as I can see the document is genuine. I cannot help with the last question.” He glanced at Rochefort, who shrugged, and spoke.

“We do not know all that happens on the Golden Horn, Eminence. But the reports we can assemble just make the place look like a madhouse. Innumerable factions, with goals that change by the hour, and alliances that come and go in minutes. It does not seem impossible for the Sublime Porte to have a significant policy change.”

The Cardinal sighed and looked at the golden cherubs beaming down on him from the ceiling.

“Rochefort” he asked quietly “would you be so kind as to ask Count de Toulouse-Laurtrec to put his army on notice to march, and for him and his covey of Englishmen to join me in the Chancery this afternoon. It appears we are fighting again.”

Rochefort bowed and left. As he did so, he noted without surprise that the Cardinal had noticed the profusion of foreign officers also, and wondered what would come of it.

As  he walked onto the square, he thought to himself that at least it was not damp and foggy this time. and maybe boats could be avoided…..

Recklinghausen: Ode to Old King Pyrrhus

Generalleutnant de Casside was looking for a change. In the service of Wolfenbuttel for only a few short months, he had already had enough. The late nights attending the Herzog, the endless philosophical discussions, the electric blue uniform regulations, the marathon snail eating luncheons…it was all just too much. Korecki, the Herzog’s cavalry commander and de Casside’s sometime friend, was rarely sober enough to even mind; but de Casside as chief of staff, a gentler soul perhaps, doubled as ringmaster in the electric blue circus more often than he could long endure.

Lately he had taken to lobbying for the infantry command to gain a little more distance from the Herzog’s excesses. To his surprise Wolfenbuttel listened: As the Braunschweiger army drew up to face the forces of the Landgraf at Recklinghausen, de Casside was assigned command of the infantry.

Braunschweiger forces are compelled to attack by the cautious Landgraf

The Braunschweiger army, fresh from winter quarters, was not all that it had been before the Pork War. The elite infantry units had been frittered away in the late battle vs. Sackville-Baggins. Wolfenbuttel was privately concerned that his forces were in no shape to attack the forces of the Saxon Landgraf that had been carefully husbanded throughout the last war and hardly risked at all. Surely it was time for a well planned defensive fight where the pork fed Saxons could be forced to attack at a disadvantage?

But the Landgraf would have none of that. The Saxons drew up in a well considered defensive position in the Recklinghausen Forest; their right covered by the course of a small river crossed by what passed for the main road in the region; their right, more exposed, was carefully refused back protecting the village the Braunschweigers aimed to take to force a decision. The Saxon cavalry was formed in column behind the their infantry line, the Saxon artillery was dispersed to bolster the line.

Wolfenbuttel looks on as the forces deploy

Wolfenbuttel placed his infantry in march column under GL de Casside to approach the Saxon left. Korecki’s horse was drawn up facing a regiment of Saxon horse left covering the Landgraf’s flank. The Braunschweiger guns were placed on Herzog’s left on the further bank of the river, while the rougher ground between the guns and the horse was covered by three freibattalions.

GL Korecki drives off the Saxon horse to open the battle

To open the battle, the Braunschweiger horse was given its head, quickly advancing to drive the Saxon horse behind their infantry. This cleared the way for GL de Casside to march the infantry up against the Saxon left. The Landgraf responded by closing his line of bayonets and marching his horse off to his right with an eye towards crossing the small river by the main road and threatening Wolfenbuttel’s left. Later the unengaged part of the Saxon infantry joined in this demonstration to the right, but ultimately the Landgraf’s attention was diverted and the move never reached fruition.

Braunchweiger Freikorps advance to harass the Saxon line

In the center Wolfenbuttel pushed his freibattalions forward in an attempt to harras the redeploying Saxons. This move met a strong response from the Landgraf who pushed infantry forward to meet the freikorps in the broken ground in the center. The movement brought Wolfenbuttel’s irregulars under fire from the Saxon battalions, and one of the units melted away under the pressure; but Saxon progress was checked when they discovered marshy ground blocking the way forward.

Saxon infantry uncover a more extensive marshland near the river than they had bargined for

At this juncture, the left flank of the Saxon line erupted in an intense fusilade that dominated the fighting until the battle’s end. Wolfenbuttel’s trained regiments pressed hard against the Saxon elites.

GL de Casside’s infantry pitches into the Saxon elites holding the left

De Casside fought the infantry well. Twice a passage of lines maneuver was utilized to replace tiring troops at the front with a fresh supporting line. The Saxons were hard pressed, but the Landgraf skillfully brought guns forward to bolster his line. Volley, rally, charge, the fight went on and on. As the Braunschweigers began to lose monemtun, Saxon cavalry came forward to charge. The line held. The Braunchweiger horse was also brought up to fill a gap as three of Wolfenbuttel’s units collapsed in turn.

Saxon horse spurs to the charge!

But the Saxon line was failing faster. Two elite infantry units were in turn cut to pieces along with an elite cavalry regiment and line regiment. The Landgraf fell back towards the objective. De Casside drove his men forward.

Wolfenbuttel admires the work of GL de Casside, the Saxon line falls back

A short time after this, the Landgraf sent word to Wolfenbuttel that he would like an armistice. The Herzog, appreciating the fragile state of his forces, accepted. Possibly de Casside thought otherwise: Another few moments and the Braunschweiger foot may have put the Saxons to rout. But we will never know.

Generalleutnant de Casside left the Herzog’s service after the battle.

The Snail War Begins

The Evil Slug

The following proclaimation was posted today outside the Herzog Wolfenbuttel’s palace:

“It is disgusting to note the increase in the quantity of foriegn snails used by my subjects and the amount of money that goes out of the country in consequence. Everybody is eating snails. If possible this must be prevented. My people must drink beer. His Majesty was brought up on beer, and so were his officers. Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer; and the King does not believe that snail-eating soldiers can be depended upon to endure hardships or to beat his enemies in case of … another war.”

Two hours later, soldiers of the newly raised Freibattalion Wolfenbuttel closed the stalls of all the snail mongers in the capital, confiscating their goods. The officer in charge directed that the contraband slugs be removed to the Herzog’s kitchens where they could be properly destroyed along with a good supply of Champagne taken in the recent victory over the Cardinal Elector.

Once more, on a balcony

The morning spring sun glittered on the water of Avlonya harbor. One again, Mehmed-beg Ali Pasha sat on his balcony, looking out over his gardens, and the groves beyond them. But he stirred restlessly, unable to find much in the way of comfort in the view.

Mehmed-beg (as is probably clear by now) was a man who could consistently find the one rotten olive in a whole bushel; and, he felt, that his current bushel was rather over-provided with bad fruit.

Yes, the ridiculous pork war was over, and even won by his side. Though the memory of the last battle in the campaign made him shiver once more……

He cast his mind back to the previous autumn. Simon, Landgrave of Erzgebrigskreis had moved his army south, into Ottoman territory. The Sanjak’s forces, led by the (much to Mehmed-beg’s surprise) redoubtable Baker Pasha had spent endless days slogging through the growing mud and penetrating rain of a balkan autumn, performing (as far as Mehmed-beg could see) some sort of endless dance with the enemy. They had been joined by a new gentleman, an italian of Mehmed-beg’s acquaintance, named Giovanni di Tripodi. He claimed he had joined the Sanjak’s army in search of military fame and glory, the Sanjak privately felt he had joined because he fancied a quiet retirement somewhere warm by the sea. Which he certainly was not getting now.
Mehmed-beg rather enjoyed having him with them, though, because he was a ferocious backgammon player, and did do his best to explain what the purpose of this bizarre Kaşık Oyunları dance was. His efforts were pretty much futile, because the Sanjak was too cold and wet and uncomfortable to care, but at least he tried.

Finally, in the hills above Stari Grad (yet another collection of festering mud huts that passed for a town in these parts) one side had been brought to bay. Mehmed-beg was not entirely sure which side, but certainly one of them was.

The battle began with the Erzgebirgskreisers slogging forward through the endless mud,

Baker Pasha’s deployment. The Sanjak can be seen behind the Nizam i Cedit, facing the rear for a rapid escape

confronted by the cavalry and Crveni Lopov’s irregulars, who fell back steadily through the same mud. Baker Pasha had the Janissaries and guns formed at the rear, and seemed unconcerned at the enemy’s advance. Desultory fire ran up and down the lines of troops.

Baker Pasha remained sanguine, despite a raised eyebrow from the Sanjak as some irregulars and even a battalion of janissaries streamed to the rear, declaring in various terms that “They had had enough of this”. Baker did point out amiably to the Sanjak

Subjected to a hail of rusty nails from the ottoman artillery, a unit breaks

that a couple of the Erzgebirgskreis units had fled too, one having been subjected to a hail of artillery fire, and there was nothing to be concerned about.

Just at this moment, when Mehmed-beg was about to remonstrate with his commanders, feeling more and more nervous about the approaching troops (they were once white coated but everyone now was covered with a gluey patina of mud) he was distracted by one of his sedan chair bearers falling hip deep into a seemingly bottomless puddle, decanting him very damply onto the ground. As he called for Faisal to bring him a horse (feeling a passing pleasure at the expression of horrified terror on his litter bearers faces; at least he had not completely lost his ability to impress) the grey clouds above finally burst. Weapons were useless, no-one could see anything. With (most likely) a sigh of relief from the troops involved, the armies withdrew to their starting positions.

And that was it; the last engagement in the “Pork war”. As futile and meaningless as the war itself, mused Mehmed-beg. Though he had received some very nice letters from the other powers involved, some of which he could even read. He had trusted di Tripodi and Faisal to answer them appropriately.

So here he sat once more, on his warm balcony. All was not well, however. One matter that worried him was that the Emperor had not withdrawn the Janissaries to Istanbul for the winter. Indeed, sitting on his balcony, he could hear them being drilled in the courtyard by Baker Pasha (nothing like drilling via an interpreter to add a certain element of surprise to the whole process, thought the Sanjak). Also, though the Delis had been withdrawn to return to their homes, they had begun returning to Avlonya with the coming of spring, showing orders that they were to assemble there. Finally, he had received word that the Emir of Rumelia (a distant relative, and possibly the instigator of all his troubles) was on his way to visit from Istanbul, and this could only be bad news. Mehmed-beg grinned as he thought at least it was not the Aga of the Janissaries this time, though his sources in the metropolis said the was still suffering from some form of undiagnosed gastric problems. So sad.

All he could do now is wait for the bad news. At least the Emir was a gentleman of the old school; and it would be a pleasure to drink a coffee with an old enemy.

—oOo—

It was even worse than Mehmed-beg supposed. Instead of being merely a proxy for the Sublime Porte, the Emperor, Selim the Supine (not to his face) the Emir of Rumelia had come bearing a sword. He was to be the general of the empire’s forces, a circumstance caused by his recent successes, he felt (he also felt that he was going to have to have a word with Baker Pasha about the advisability of not doing so well; the fall from a high place is so much more damaging than one from a low). At least the Emir had the grace to look rueful about it; as soon as they observed all the proprieties of being selected the Sword of the Empire, and had cleared the flunkies away, they sat down on the Sanjak’s balcony for a coffee and a discussion.

“I am sorry about this, Mehmed” the Emir said quietly. “We have messed each other around enough in the past, but this is more than I would have had done to you.”

Mehmed-beg nodded his appreciation, and asked quietly what had happened.

“Two things, I think.” ruminated the Emir. “Firstly, you did much too well. Istanbul is fairly unused to getting news of military success, and it appears to have gone to their collective heads. Of course, if has not made the Aga terribly happy (about which I would not normally complain) and this may be his way of getting revenge.”

“Not just that, surely?” asked Mehmed-beg.

The Emir answered “No, not just that. There has been a massive glut of pork products coming down the Danube…”

“Indeed, that is why we fought the stupid war, I thought” interrupted Mehmed-beg.

“Yes; unfortunately….. look, a huge majority of the pork is marked as coming from the Cardinal-electorate of Trèves-sur-Rhin. And some of the local Mullahs have added two and two and come up with twenty-two, deciding that the Cardinal is attempting, by application of delectable foodstuffs, to suborn our good Mohammedans into Christianity, or some other infidel religion. There has been more rioting in Istanbul then usual. Selim is concerned.” The Emir’s face clouded with sympathy.

“Your are instructed to take the forces under your authority, therefore, and march to Trèves-sur-Rhin and there lay waste the pork.. fields… and bottling plants….. or whatever they are.” concluded the Emir.

“Sties, I think, and pickling plants. Would it not serve if they just all mysteriously burnt down? That, I think I could arrange.” sighed the despondent Sanjak.

“I fear not” concluded the Emir “that would be much more efficient, but, apparently, we need to be seen to act..”

Oh well, thought Mehmed-beg, as he bid the emir a good evening, and summoned his growing military staff (now there was a disgusting though). Maybe we could get thoroughly hammered by this lot, and it would be over with. Making sure it was not “over with” on a permanent basis would be the trick……

Battle at Onsabruck

The best weather had passed, the rains had begun, and still Sackville-Baggins could not be brought to battle. Wolfenbuttel’s forces had marched and countermarched through all of October and looked forward to winter quarters and a good rest. If only one more battle could be won and the Pork War prolonged into another round.

Sackville-Baggins had good reasons to bide his time. His inexperienced forces had been hard handled at Linz. His cavalry in particular was in wretched shape and could not be trusted to hold the line against the Braunschweiger horse. But there was no choice. The Anglo-Hanoverian army had to make a stand to support its allies, and the plains in front of the town of Onsabruck seemed as good a place as any.

The Anglo-Hanoverians deployed there solid foot in a compact formation behind the town where a single battalion of conscripts was placed in garrision supported by artillery in good defensive positions nearby. The cavalry was placed in reserve behind the infantry, ready to respond to any Braunschweiger approach march.

Wolfenbuttel Approaches Sackville-Baggin’s Position

Wolfenbuttel placed his horse under Generalleutnant Korceczki on the right behind a rise to observe the Anglo-Hanoverian line. His infantry was formed in a large column aimed at the enemy right. Generalleutnant de Casside, new to the army, was retained close by as chief of the Herzog’s staff.

The Herzog opens the battle.

Wolfenbuttel directed the infantry approach march to avoid the marshy ground and a small stream to the left. Speed was of the essence in opening the battle and no delay would be tolerated. The Braunschweiger infantry grumbled forward. Sackville-Baggins’ right did not look like an easy nut to crack with his line refused back towards a suburb of Onsabruck towards the southwest. But at least the Herzog would have numbers on his side as he brought the whole of his infantry into position opposite the enemy right.

Wolfenbuttel deploys his columns as Hanoverian horse emerge from the reserve to threaten the Braunschweiger foot

With the line deployed the grenadiers spearheading the Braunswcheiger approach opened a lively fusilade against the Hanoverian horse to their front. The rest of the line maneuvered cautiously, delaying their assault on the Anglo Hanoverian line. Sackville-Baggins for his part rearranged his infantry, simultaneously closing up his right flank against the suburb to the southwest, while on his left he stretched his line to meet the threat of the Braunschweiger horse. These preparations were still underway as the delaying Hanoverian cavalry broke and the Braunschweigers pushed their lines forward.

In the heat of the monement a German colonel in Sackville-Baggins’ service called his regiment out to advance into an exposed position in front of Wolfenbuttel’s line. Sackville-Baggins immediately called the unit back to its assigned place but not before the Braunschweigers had opened an ineffectual fire on it. The line was repaired just in time as the Herzog’s infantry came into range all along the front. A deady exchange of fire was opened. The exchange proved much more deadly for the numerically superior attackers than for the well positioned defenders.

The infantry lines come to grips.

Wolfenbuttel’s options narrowed. His musketry was having no sustainable effect against the enemy line despite his numbers. There was no point in any delay. The Braunschweiger infantry would need to repair the situation with the bayonette. The drums beat the charge.

Wolfenbuttel looks on as his infantry line begins to crack.

The Herzog’s attack was held all along the line. The von Kleist Regiment managed to overrun a single Hanoverian battery, but elsewhere no headway could be made. A fighting retirement was ordered with hopes of repairing the line. The battle raged on. It was clear that it was only a matter of time before the Herzog’s infantry would entirely collapse. Sackville-Baggins seemed ready to offer terms to preserve his own forces, but Wolfenbuttel was not finished yet. He nodded to GL de Casside that he meant to loose Koreczki against the unengaged enemy left where the Herzog’s horse fronted an elite unit of Highlanders beside a unit of German conscripts. The Braunschweiger horse, husbanded throughout the long campaign season, spurred to the charge.

Koreczki’s charge.

The Germans broke, but the Highlanders held fast. Even Wolfenbuttel had to face the bitter truth: Sackville-Baggins had broken his assault.

“Send word to the Viscount, de Casside, I am ready to accept his gracious terms.” The Herzog retired to his coach with his medical staff. The battle was over.

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