Simon, Herzog of Erzgebirgskreis was concerned. When joining the so called “Pork war” he had believed that the Herzogtum would be inviolate for some time; the hostile forces were all some distance away, save for those of Russia, and Russian armies were notorious for late starts and short campaigning seasons. So it had come as a terrible shock to his (admittedly robust and usually oblivious) system when the army of Prince Philip Philipovich Akraxin was reported to be crossing the frontier, and to be headed down the road to the bridges of Dorftöpel-am-Dümm.
Loss of these bridges would grievously damage the internal communications of the Herzogtum (to say nothing of putting a terrible crimp in the local duck hunting) so it was imperative that action be taken soonest. Bestirring himself from his usual pastime when under stress of retiring to his counting house and looking at the pretty monies, he had ordered his forces to be gathered in the plains before Dorftöpel-am-Dümm and put in a position of defense. Simultaneously, he had proffered an offer to Prince Philip Philipovich Akraxin that the issue not be settled on the field of Mars, but that of Diana, suggesting that their immediate differences be settled by a series of races among the peasants and serfs, with the winner taking home a splendid cup, which he would provide. For reasons unclear to him, no answer had been forthcoming. It looked as if there was going to be a fight.
Came the dawn, and the Herzog’s forces had been drawn up in a defensive half circle formation, with the center based around an outlying hamlet, and his left lying on a low hill.
Herzog Simon was relying on his superior and well drilled infantry and solid artillery to from the keystone of the defense in the face of the mass of Russian cavalry facing his forces.
Prince Philip Philipovich Akraxin confronted the defensive array with the calm aplomb for which he was well known. A lifetime spent at the Russian imperial court was an excellent school for learning how to conceal one’s feelings and to do the best one had with circumstances. Especially as failure to do so could end up with one being posted to the endless charming vistas of the steppes, or even worse, the mild climate of Archangel.
With great superiority in cavalry, and a large artillery force, the Prince decided that pushing forward his cavalry to the Herzog’s refused left flank, supported by the artillery, would serve admirably. He would keep the Herzog’s attention focused on his hussars and Cossacks in front of the enemy position, leaving his doubtful, and rather
tired infantry (all the marching had been hard on the foot) at the rear. The battle would be won by the arme blanche preceded by a fierce artillery bombardment.
The cavalry set off on its move at about noon; some unanticipated confusion had delayed the Russian forces, but the Prince still felt that there was enough daylight left for the matter to be brought to a successful conclusion.
The Herzog’s forces sat in their lines, their only action being the opening of a bombardment on the Russian irregular horse. which was to continue for the day.
The Russian movement continued, with the guns being dragged laboriously forward, and the cavalry completing their sweep and standing in line, headed by the two guard regiments, ready for their assault.
The gun’s movement ate time, however, and the irregular cavalry was suffering under the enemies rapid and accurate bombardment. Constant messages of anxiety from the hussar brigade commander, and their continued movement to attempt to escape the steady pounding of the Erzgebirgskreis artillery distracted the Prince from the main event, where his cavalry sat in lines, awaiting the orders that would send them forward.
Herzog Simon, however, availed himself of the time to have a comfortable lunch of grouse and jarred hare, insterspersed only with the odd exhortation for his gunners to “Shoot faster, dammit, what!” and noting with pleasure the sky turning overcast. That would end the day that much earlier as the light went, if it continued.
The Prince awoke from his distraction with the irregulars to realise that the sands were running out of the hourglass fast.
He had to act with the horse now, forgoing his wished for artillery bombardment.
Trumpets blared along the line, the Russian cavalry went forward, the gloriously attired guards leading the way.
An Erzgebirgskreis regiment on the hill was overrun. they cavalry fell back as the the Herzog desperately rallied his 3 remaining regiments facing the threat. The cavalry surged forward again, but this time the line held.
Falling back in some disorder, the Russian guard horse was greeted with a devastating volley from the Ezgebirgkreis infantry.
Cavalrymen fell like ninepins. The remnants of the guard moved toward the rear of the field, leaving the contest for another day.
Faced with a continued solid front from the Ezgebirgkreis infantry, and seeing that the overcast had masked the light of the descending sun, the prince decided that falling back was the best option, letting his army lick its wounds before another day of combat was upon them. More training, better staff work, that was what was needed.
The Herzog watched the departing slavs with well concealed relief. For all that, his forces were victorious; his artillery had done well, his infantry had more than held its own, and if his horse had yet to prove its mettle, well, there would be another day for that.
In the meanwhile, the crossings of the Dümm were safe in his hands, and he could consider his next move.