Battle of the Vorgebirge

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Colonel Rochefort did not particularly enjoy dinners with Cardinal-Elector. Firstly, while Rochefort could not be described as a gourmand, he did enjoy his food. His palate was not complicated; a good garbure with a decent vin rouge ordinaire would bring him as much pleasure as a state meal with such delicacies as Turbot saute à Maitre-d’hotel, Poulet Vol au vent avec Béchamel sauce, and Grand Imperial Tokay. The Cardinal-Elector, however, regarded meals as irritating interruptions in his work day, and would rapidly consume whatever was in front of him, without much bothering as to what it was. So the fare at the Electoral table tended to the erratic, at best.
Secondly, an invitation to dine with the Cardinal-Elector tended to create a certain degree of stress in the invitee, for while Bonplace was indifferent to food, he certainly was a connoisseur of grief, pain, and traditional knife-in-the-back diplomacy. The stress of wondering exactly how unpleasant the after dinner conversation was going to be (or indeed, how painful the results of that conversation might be) did not do much for the appetite or the digestion, even for as trusted a henchman as Rochefort.
This evening, however, had passed better than usual. Though the chef had managed to do something fairly terrible to the fish (or Rochefort thought it probably was fish lurking under that blanket of over salted sauce, but he did not care to bet on it) a gentler hand had managed the vegetables, making them simple, but fairly appetizing. The Cardinal-elector himself was in a reasonably buoyant mood, as his forces’s victory over the Landgrave Simon (a figure much despised and ridiculed in Western Germany) at Heimburg had provoked something almost akin to acceptance of the new régime in Trèves (not enthusiasm, though, certainly not enthusiasm).
“So, Rochefort, what news from the army’s camp?” asked the Cardinal, warming himself before the fire, in a humor of great benevolence (for anyone else, it would have been a humor of restrained bitterness and deep sarcasm, but Cardinals do not operate on the same plane as the rest of us. Or at least this one didn’t).
Rochefort was fairly sure not a flint was struck in Toulouse-Laurtrec’s camp without the Cardinal being aware of it, but honestly nothing of interest (other than the usual depraved activities of idle soldiery; you could not even say it kept them out of trouble and off the streets at night, because it did the opposite) seemed to be going on there.
Rochefort offered the only worthwhile piece of news he had :
“Le duc de Clarkeshire has been joined by some old retainer of his, a Sir Theodore Creasy.” He knew he mangled the man’s name, but it did not overly concern him.
“A professional soldier of some repute, liked by his men. Does not appear to have any ‘interesting’ habits, other than a fondness for the bottle and the playing card, and for a man in his career, those are almost required, never mind expected. My sources disclosed no political or social connections on the continent.”
Rochefort had to be careful with the last part; if there had been some embarrassing omission, he certainly wanted to point the finger of responsibility elsewhere, on the grounds that an omission of a matter of any importance would certainly lead to broken fingers for the responsible party, at best.
Even with this precaution, he relaxed slightly as the Cardinal said “I have heard not different of him either…” and then broke off as a servant came to the fireplace holding a gilt box and discreetly coughing to attract attention.
The Cardinal reached for it with an upraised eyebrow, as Rochefort once more tensed, an reached for one of the sharp objects concealed around his person. A lifetime spent doing unpleasant things in dark places had caused him to be very cautious of the unknown. He sat back as the gold proved to be some sort of paper, covering a small box, from which the Cardinal extracted a small note.
While looking at it, he tipped the box toward Rochefort, muttering, “Chocolate, Rochefort?”
Rochefort was still enjoying his sweet when the Cardinal finished the note and looked up.
“Apparently, the army of Groß-Holsten is wending their way north through the Swiss passes, having returned to Genoa, disconsolate at having their oriental adventure terminated by some rowdy Mohammedans.” The Cardinal grinned sardonically before continuing “If memory serves, they are on the other side in this little brou-ha-ha. Does your military experience indicate a preferred course of action, Rochefort?”
Rochefort chewed absently. “As your Eminence knows, my military experience is about the same as yours.. none at all”
The Cardinal shrugged in agreement, while regarding Rochefort’s much hated and gaudy hussar uniform with humour, and waved for him to continue.
“A lifetime’s experience, your Eminence, would indicate that now would be a perfect time to rob their houses, while they are no-where near them. Mind you, that does not seem to get us any foradder.”
The Cardinal nodded in agreement.
“Also, then,” continued Rochefort “sometimes the best time to assault a man is not in the dark alley, but when he leaves it and catches sight of his house.”
The Cardinal raised both eyebrows, nodded, and called a servant to bring his gazetteer, and to send his regards to Marshal Count de Toulouse-Laurtrec and ask for the pleasure of his and his staff’s company at the Cardinal’s chambers in the chancery in Trève at nine of the clock in the morning.

—oOo—-

Rochefort looked out the chancery window. It really was a marvelous view of the river and the wharves. And it precluded looking at the beribboned and be-laced noblemen who were greeting the Cardinal’s information with glances at a map, then at each other, then producing the General officer’s equivalent of the horse coper’s teeth sucking noise, the one that preceded you being told that “It was a big job, guv” and “Might be better to get annovver horse, and he knew where you could find…..”. Le Duc had gone into some sort of noble’s fugue, engrossed with the lace protruding from his cuffs. The French officers, more aware of the Cardinal’s reputation, were trying to put a decent face on their denial, at least. The only one who seemed to be making an effort to get the plan to work was Creasy, the new man, and even he looked like an accountant who’s abacus this not go up that high.
The Cardinal-Elector was pale (not a good sign, Rochefort knew. He decided to rapidly acquire business elsewhere for the rest of the day) as he spoke.
“So, it appears that we cannot take advantage of our enemy’s difficulties?”
Everyone looked at his feet, and shuffled. Except le Duc, who looked at his cuffs and yawned (catching this in the reflection in the window, Rochefort mentally lowered the man’s life expectancy, thinking it might be as much as by decades). Only Creasy spoke up, his french rather thickly accented, but clear enough.
“Yes, your Eminence. It is just too far. No way we can get the army up there ‘fore they are out of the passes, out of the forests, and half way ‘ome. And that would leave us a long way from here, thin on supply, and them close to supply and re-enforcement. I’d like to do it, ye see, but I cannot make it come out.”
The Cardinal nodded in pleasure at an explanation that made sense to him.
“Thank you, Sir Theodore. Colonel Rochefort, do you have anything to add before we adjourn?”
Rochefort could see the faces turning toward him in the window, with various degrees of sneer visibile. One young staff officer at the back of the room caught Rochefort’s attention with an ill concealed snigger. “Right,” thought Rochefort to himself “that lads going to have a nasty accident before the week is out. If only to keep my hand in”. Then he sighed.
“Your Eminence, Gentlemen. I have little to add. I have just been listening, and watching the river, and the docks………..”
He saw Creasy stiffen and the man lumbered to the window.
“Lot of barges out there, Colonel” grinned Creasy, joining Rochefort at the window. “How fast are they moving?”
Rochefort smiled at Creasy “Even the ones going upriver seem to be going at a fair old clip, Sir Theodore.”
He turned around to see Cardinal-Elector re-opening the maps, gather the reluctant generals with his eyes, and announce “I suspect you are going boating, gentlemen”.

—oOo—

The trip up the Rhine was not particularly comfortable, everyone being cramped on the commandeered barges. However the troops appeared to enjoy the novelty of not having to march, and it all went fairly painlessly. No incidents were reported, save for one unfortunate young staff officer who somehow contrived to get himself caught between a loaded barge and a pier (So sad, thought Rochefort).
For Rochefort, the real discomfort was that the Cardinal-Elector had not joined them, claiming important political obligations in Trève, leaving Rochefort as his representative. This sat well with neither Rochefort or the army officers, but there was little either party felt they could safely do about it. The staff treated Rochefort with distant courtesy, and he responded with blank faced monosyllables.

The march to the area where the Groß-Holsten forces were to be found proceeded without incident, but the disappointment of the staff was clear when the enemy was found to be well formed up in a defensive position in the midst of quite rough ground.
Rochefort wondered absently who had let news of their approach out, and how to find him, while the staff conferred.

Toulouse-Laurtrec shook off his disappointment, briskly ordered an approach march on the right flank of the enemy with the infantry, while the cavalry was to be held on the Trève right to counter any movement by the enemy horse, which sat rather somnolently behind a stream.

In the hope of being told what was going on without any social idiocy getting in the way, Rochefort attached himself to Sir Theodore Creasy, who he was actually starting to like as a fellow professional.

As the infantry columns moved forward, under desultory artillery fire, Creasy kept up a commentary, remarking himself “Theres not bloody much for me to do here”.

“That bloke over there has picked a good spot” Sir Theodore spoke loudly over the guns.

“Its going to end up rushin’ them from the front, looks like.” His face, much as Rochefort’s, showed distaste at such a rash proposition “No stoppin’ these noble blokes once battle is started.” Creasy’s distaste for amatuerism endeared him to Rochefort even more. No point at all in giving the opposition the slightest chance seemed to be a motto that applied to all endeavors equally.

Columns of Fren.. errr Trèvians (Trèviots, maybe?) move accross the enemy front

“Mind you, some of those lads” Sir Theodore gestured with his spyglass to the Groß-Holstenians and continued “look none to steady to me. Might be the best idea is to show a strong face and chase ‘em off.”

On this queue, the columns of French .. errr.. Trèvian infantry formed line, and moved forward, the two elite units on the left suffering steadily under galling artillery fire. The Groß-Holsten line wheeled toward the advancing Francophones (there, thought Rochefort, found an unexceptional term) bringing more and muskets to bear; However the german fire seemed very desultory, while the engaged francophone units seemed to be giving better then they got, even though outnumbered.
The gunners had been driven away from the Groß-Holsten guns, and the Francophones were pushing forward again when a disturbance from the middle of the line indicated that an unexpected marsh had slowed two battalions.
“That’s put the cat among the pigeons” muttered Creasy. Apparently coming to the same conclusion, the colonel of the leftmost battalion had a rush of blood to the head and threw them into a charge against two enemies, against all odds falling back in good order while the enemy struggled in confusion.

“I dunno what happened to this lot in the east” said Creasy “But they got no heart in ‘em”. He pointed to where individual enemy soldiers, and indeed little clumps, were falling back from the firing line.

“One sharp push now ‘ll see them gone”. Creasy stood in his stirrups and yelled for an

Sir Theodore leads the charge forward, with a marsh in the rear. Quite risky, really….

advance. Three battalions followed him, smashing into the enemy and driving two hostile battalions into flight.

As the Creasy rallied his men for another advance, a staff officer came galloping up from Toulouse-Laurtrec.

“Monsieurs” he called, giving Rochefort a look that was a warming compound of fear and loathing “The Groß-Holstens have asked for the honors of war, and they have been granted. Victory is ours.” Waving his hat over his head he galloped away.

“Idiot” Rochefort and Creasy said simultaneously, and then looked at each other in surprise.
“We had ‘em cold” Creasy grumbled “Could ‘ave smashed ‘em for the year.”

A victory still, thought Rochefort. At this rate there was some small risk of the citizens of Trève actually liking the new régime… nah, that was never going to happen.

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A Bloody Campaign and a Pestilent Season: The Battle of Kovel

Fresh from routing the Anglo Hanoverian forces of Sackville-Baggins, Count Hardin resolved to take his army into Poland quite late in the season to seek battle with the Russians. Perhaps the Pork War could be ended before the close of the year?

Count Akraxin the Russian concentrated his forces near the magazine at Kovel, where the fodder in the surrounding fields had yet to be exhausted. The Russian cavalry was still in excellent form after its recent defeat at the hands of Wolfenbuttel. With five elite regiments of horse present, The Russians were confident of their ability to hold against all comers.

Akraxin Eyes the Hungarian Appoach

Count Hardin was understandably apprehensive. He resolved to attack the Russians rapidly, approaching from the northwest by march column, with his own horse sweeping in from the west of Kovel. These maneuvers ran afoul of a large detachment of Zeity Hussars posted as a piquet northwest of the Russian camp.

Zeity Hussars Harrass Esterhazy-Hardin

The Zeity’s, in the best traditions of the Empress’ cavalry, deployed to threaten the Hungarian infantry columns which diverted their march slightly to the north before deploying into line. The Hungarian horse moved in from the west but did not rush the hussars, instead Count Hardin directed his artillery and foot to clear them out with fire. The Zeity’s for their part had some hope of running down the Hungarian batteries posted to their front, but these maneuvers came to nought. After a brief skirmish, the Hussars were cleared out and the way was clear for Count Hardin.

The Russian Guns Are Laid

With the hussar skirmish concluded, Akraxin turned his attention to readying his main forces for the Hungarian attack. The artillery was positioned east of Kovel, facing the Hungarian foot north of the town. The feared Russian horse was moved up behind the guns. But the Russian foot was left in its postions south of Kovel, facing west. Even before these preparations were completed, the Russian guns opened a bombardment on the Hungarian foot.

Esterhazy-Hardin’s Horse Join the Attack

Count Hardin moved his infantry forward deliberately, while his horse swept in from the west. His own guns joined in to encourage an exposed Russian cavalry regiment to fall back, safegarding the advance. Fortunately for Hardin, the Russian artillery was not having a good day. Concentrating their fire on the guard infantry on the extreme left of the Hungarian line, the results were much below average throughout the fight.

Hardin seemed to have the Russians fairly outmaneuvered and was in no hurry to close the deal. Possibly there was no need to hurry as the Russians did hold a compact position and their elite cavalry was an obvious cause for concern. Akraxin, for his part, trusted to his elite horse and artillery to hold the line. The artillery was having a bad day, but the elite regiments of Russian horse proved a hard nut to crack even when the Hungarian foot moved up to musketry range.

Akraxin Launches half his Horse at the Hungarian Right

Count Akraxin joined contact with a cavalry charge that met the Hungarian horse head on with two regiments while a third aimed at an infantry battalion bogged in a field further north. The charges were held. Ultimately two of the regiments on this wing of the Russian cav were broken, the third continued to stop up Hardin’s advance. Count Hardin continued to play it cool. Pausing to rally, slowly grinding back against the elite Russian horse, the Hungarians had all the right cards to play and meant to play them in their own good time.

With day Light Failing, The Hungarian Foot Closes the Russian Horse in a Vise

But the light was failing. The shorter September day was coming into play. Akraxin was fully prepared to sacrifice his elite horse to hold the line and use all the tricks he could muster to slow the Hungarians down in front of Kovel. Hardin dispaired of taking the town. But he had not lost a unit yet, and the Russian army had been pushed to the point of collapse.

The crises in the battle was reached. The Russians, within an inch of breaking, saw the last of the sand run from the glass. Darkness decended on the field. Count Akraxin had held.

The Russian victory was a costly one. The finest cavalry in Europe had been hard used. In contrast the Hungarians only suffered slight loss. The battle allowed Hardin to improve the quality of his forces substantially. It is now up to the Russian allies to capitalize on Akraxin’s sacrifice and win the war before the anti-Pork Camp can rally.

A Summer Cruise

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Mehmed-beg Ahmed Pasha, Sanjak of Avlona, relaxed on his balcony in the morning sun, rather to his surprise, enjoying the sunlit vista before him. Despite his best judgement offering misgivings, he could not control a feeling of well-being. He would certainly not admit it publicly (people might think he was losing his grip), but he had been wrong after Grocka.

There had not been a stream of impeccably dressed and drilled European armies streaming south to crush his ill assorted band of scruffy bandits. Indeed, all the fighting seemed to be taking place well to the north. Even more remarkably, Istanbul had been supplying sufficient food, supplies and money to actually keep the “army” (he supposed he could use the term, though Baker Pasha, his military commander, still tended to twitch when he heard it)  together, fed, and clothed, even with a degree of “inventive accounting” taking place. Mehmed-beg looked indulgently at some workers putting in a new grove of imported fig trees as he thought this, and made a note to send some of the first crop to someone military, somewhere. The first crop were always a bit bitter, anyway, so no real loss.

Added to this, the Aga of the Janissaries had returned to Istanbul by easy stages, relieved of a good portion of his body weight, and a number of members of his  entourage whose digestive systems had not proved equal to some rather dodgy seafood. So much body weight that he had heard his domestic staff had received a nice honorarium from the local tailoring guild, as all the Aga’s clothes had to be remade, and the man did seem to dress rather well. Or at least copiously. The tailors did not seem to be in any doubt as to where their good luck stemmed from.

In any case, the departure of the enfeebled Aga was another load off his mind (he did not wish the man to shuffle off his mortal coil in the Sanjakate; much better, if it were to happen, to be in a mountain pass somewhere, and for the ensuing investigating, and possibly vengeance, to fall on some more deserving party). On top of these matters, his intelligence network was finally getting re-aligned, and starting to produce useful information about the opposition in this ridiculous “Pork War”. What these Europeans thought of the sudden influx of Balkan and Turkish cobblers, merchants, grooms, horse copers, bookies, three-card-monte merchants and out and out confidence tricksters he had no idea, but there did not seem to be any hostile reaction as of yet.

Looking at the sun, he realised that he had idled a good portion of the morning away, and that Faisel should be coming with the intelligence report.. even as he thought this, Faisel appeared with a bundle of papers, an amiable expression, and a servant bearing coffee. No tension there. Excellent.

Indeed, the report was unremarkable. Herzog Mark had taken to calling himself “Light of  Europe” (apparently Europe was a fairly dim place) and was marching toward Russia…. The Cardinal-Elector of Trèves-sur-Rhin (there was a bloke to avoid in a dark alley, or a card game, by all accounts) was marching toward Erge…..Erzbirgs….Ezgebir…. oh some dammed Saxon place…… and the Kietlen Pusztaság lot, still smarting from their defeat at Grocka, had beaten up some west german bunch somewhere, redeeming, no doubt, their honor from whatever pawnbroker Crveni Lopov, the commander of Avlonya’s foot levies, had sold it too after the battle. That brought them to Groß-Holsten. Apparently, their forces were marching south, and had even negotiated passage through Switzerland. Why….? Some sort of critical coo coo clock or chocolate shortage? There was more, as Mehmed-beg started to frown (he hated not knowing things. Not understanding things was even worse, and the domestic staff had learned to keep a respectful distance when he was puzzled). Apparently, Gaspard de Gitaine, the frenchman they had just hired to command their forces, had some sort of falling out with the plan, and while retaining his post, had claimed to be too ill to accompany the army. But the next letter had de Gitaine attending the horse races with his newly arrived family, in rude health (and, as the bookie/spy ruefully reported, apparently with an excellent eye for horseflesh which his young children had inherited. Must send that chap some extra dinars, he sounds badly out of pocket).

Papers in hand, Mehmed-beg looked unseeingly at his new fig trees, while Faisel waited.
“I do not understand these last reports, Fiasel. I do not see a pattern here. Switzerland? and south of there… Italy? If they are coming here, they are taking the very long way around.” ruminated Mehmed-beg.
Faisel shrugged. Not saying anything when he had nothing to say, along with a remarkable selection of sharp objects secreted around his person were just two of his secretary’s sterling attributes, Mehmed-beg thought.
“Let us have Baker Pasha’s opinion on these”
Faisel’s eyebrow rose. He quite like Baker Pasha, by all appearances, but had a rather low opinion of the Englishman’s insight.
Mehmed-beg answered the unasked question “Yes, Faisel, I know, he appears to be as thick as two short planks. But he is remarkably informed about this warmaking business, and it would be remiss to underestimate him. Especially as it is not a subject we are well informed on.”
Nodding, Faisel asked a servant to have Baker Pasha join them, and shared the Sanjak’s quiet contemplation of the plant life while they waited.
The wait was not long; Baker Pasha bounded onto the balcony, clearly full of good cheer and a thoroughly annoying exuberance. The was cheerfully eating baklava while the activities of Groß-Holsten were revealed to him.
Licking his fingers, Baker asked “Where are they going?”
Casting is eyes upward, Faisel answered “Switzerland, apparently.” Clearly his opinion of Baker’s wits was being confirmed.
“No, No. Genoa or Venice, probably. Leghorn maybe. They have hired ships and are sailing somewhere.” Baker countered, stickily.
Mehmed-Beg tensed. “Here? Avlonya?”
Baker looked amiably at the steep limestone cliffs, the rocky foreshore, and the walls of the town. “Don’t think so, old bean. This place would be terrible, and the landing opposed. And, from what i have heard, de Gitaine would have come, it it was here. I’ll wager he is avoiding a long sea trip to somewhere tropical, he has always hated sand. Who is in charge of the army?”
Concealing his alarm at being called an aged vegetable, Faisel answered “Kurfurst Braun, Excellency”.
“Never heard of him” answered Baker. “No clue there where they are off to.”
Mehmed-beg ground out “We need to acquire a clue, I suspect. Faisel, contact our men in Venice, and Genoa. Get one of the traders in Rome to find out about Leghorn. Immediately”
Faisel rose, bowed to both men (deeper to Baker than Mehmed-beg had seen previously) and left the balcony at such a fast walk as to be almost a trot. He and the Sanjak at least understood the urgency. And getting rapidly out of the Sanjak’s presence when his lips had turned so white, and his eyes closed to such narrow slits seemed very advisable.
Completely oblivious, of course, Baker picked up another pastry, and observed that the new trees were coming on nicely, what?

—oOo—

Untold amounts of horse sweat was shed on the basis that “The Sanjak really REALLY wants this information soon”; his representatives had a very clear idea honed (appropriate word, that) by much past history of what the result of perceived dilatoriness would be. So the news returned to Avlonya quickly.
Venice was a blank. Leghorn also. But Genoa…..
Baker, Faisel, and Mehmed-beg Ahmed Pasha sat quietly over the remains of a simple lunch, and considered the tidings.
“So, to summarise,” Mehmed-beg concluded “The genoese have been hired to transport Kurfurst Braun to Egypt.”
“Yes, Excellency” answered Faisel.
Mehmed-beg looked down and swore, not quite under his breath.
Baker Pasha, clearly lost, asked “Excellency, I do not see the problem. Surely the Khedive of Egypt has sufficient forces to deal with such an expedition? It’s a terrible idea on the part of Groß-Holsten.”
Mehmed-beg looked at Baker and twitched. Faisel flinched, almost invisibly.
Gathering himself, Mehmed-beg answered the question “It does not matter if the Egyptians win or not. The very fact they have to repel an invasion that is part of my war will be enough to bring about huge discredit, notice from the highest in the Empire, and probably some large thugs with bowstrings to apologise to the Khedive for his ‘inconvenience’. The Sultan is very protective of the Egyptian tax revenue. We need to make it not happen. Where are they going to land, Faisel, and who is in charge of the fleet?”
Faisel answered without hesitation “Alexandria, Excellency, and Luigi de Calzone”.
Mehmed-beg actually relaxed slightly from his quivering tension.
“Luigi de Calzone? Luigi de Calzone fo the terribly illegal and hugely profitable hashish trading enterprise? That Luigi de Calzone?”
Faisel grinned “Yes, Excellency”
“Look at a map, Baker Pasha, and find a place that is very far from anything of interest in Egypt. Tell Faisel when you have found one. Faisel, my respects to Signor de Calzone, and he needs to land Kurfurst Braun whereever we specify. I am sure the Germans are expecting three mud huts, some camels, and a palm tree; we will provide them that. Indicate to the gentle signor that a failure to oblige us will result in his regrettable trading activities being first shut down, and second better known in Italy than the name of the Pope’s latest mistress. Then we need to assemble the local shipping to get our blokes there before their blokes. So Luigi will need to take the long way around, alright?”
“Yes, Excellency”
“Yes, Excellency”
“Baker Pasha” Mehmed-beg said as Faisel left “I hope you like sea voyages”

—oOo—

The Sanjack and his forces line up for the battle

Mersa Matruh was a terrible place, even by the standards of Egypt, Mehmed-beg though. The sea was pretty, but the town itself full of camels, cesspools, and the attendant flies for both. So bad the conditions, that they had actually moved out into the desert while waiting for Kurfurst Braun’s forces to arrive, as it would be more comfortable.

Mehmed-beg swore. The desert, more comfortable. He had spent a lifetime in Ottoman service avoiding the desert, and here he was. The sooner these germans showed up the better. Four days and he was already sick of it.
No sooner had he thought that, then shouts from the camp indicated that the genoese had been sighted. It would be over fast enough anyway.

Baker Pasha, as always, had a plan.
“We won’t fight ’em on the beach, we’ll wait for them to get off, and hit them in the town, such as it is. We’ll push the cavalry and levies forward, and shoot the guns at them. That should sort them out, as seasick and all as they will be.”

Indeed, as the battle started, Baker Pasha’s prediction seemed to be correct. the Avlonyan levies and cavalry moved forward to pin the Groß-Holsten force, and the

The Groß-Holsten cavalry takes cover

artillery opened fire on the mass of cavalry facing it. Remarkably swiftly, surprising even the gunners (and really, really surprising the Sanjak) one unit of cavalry had dispersed, and the most of the others taken cover behind the mass of infantry.

Baker Pasha rode to the top of a small rise and spoke conversationally to Mehmed-beg Ahmed.

“Now”, he said, “The trick is to find a place we can hit them were they cannot hit back. Those lads on our right” he gestured to the levies facing a Groß-Holsten grenadier battalion, among other enemies “are not going to last all that long. We need to make an advantage elsewhere. Like there.”

A messenger scurried off to one of the Deli units, and shortly, in response, the cavalry shot out of the woods into some unsuspecting

Look! no guns!

Groß-Holsten gunners patiently waiting for a target. The gunners fled, the guns hauled away to the cheers of the Avlonyan artillery, who were clearly hoping for the replacement of some of their more antique equipment.

Still, the issue appeared unresolved, and Mehmed-beg assured himself, via Faisel, that a discreet, yet swift, method of retreat was available.

Baker Pasha and Kurfurst Braun fenced still. Avlonyan units would move to an unprotected area, Groß-Holsten ones would counter. the Avlonyan units on the right, outmatched by their elite opposition, had started to stream back to the camp in the desert. Mehmed-beg was concerned, even though Baker Pasha did not seem worried.

Then things changed.

A gap was opened in the Avlonyan lines, by moving some deli to the far left to threaten the remaining Groß-Holsten cavalry. Through this gap could shoot the ottoman guns, and advance one sole unit of levies on the left. While the Deli found themselves countered, the steady fire of the guns and the flanking fire of the levies broke unit after unit of Groß-Holsten foot, all of them streaming back into the port where confused Genoese stevedores were still unloading cargo.

As the sky purpled toward evening, the remaining Groß-Holsten units formed up and fell back into town, joining their comrades on the ships. Baker Pasha sighed, and drew his troops back into the desert, not wishing to risk night fighting in the close environs of the town. A Genoese seaman in any case slid up to Mehmed-beg and reported that the order had been given to evacuate, so pursuit was unnecessary.

As dusk fell, Mehmed-beg Ahmed Pasha and Faisel looked at each other in resignation behind Baker’s Pasha’s back. As soon as he gave the last order concerning the army, the man collapsed from competence into some strange form of upper-class-twitdom which was completely outside their experience. However, as the Sanjak quietly said to Faisel, the man was becoming a huge asset (besides being decent company). It would seem appropriate to assign a few of their best men as guards for Baker Pasha, because he had saved their “Pork” a couple of times now…..

Action At Heimburg

News came late in the week that the Landgraf Erzgebirgskeis held the key to a successful conclusion of the Pork War. The forces of the Cardinal Elector of Treves-sur-Rhin were closing in on the Landgraf’s forces in the neighborhood of Heimburg in a rash attempt to buoy the fortunes of the Pork camp.

The Cardinal Elector Approaches the Saxon Camp

But the Landgraf was not a man to be trifled with. He made it quite clear to his assembled officers that the victor of the Dorftopel-am-Dumm affair vs Count Akraxin was not going to be rushed into any heroics on behalf of his allies. The bold approach of the French demanded circumspection. They would be no unecessary heroics today. The Landgraf would concentrate his forces to await upon events.

The Saxon positon stretched between two garrisoned villages and a spinach field in a highly constricted area. It was readily apparent to all that this dense area allowed the Saxons little room to fight properly. Perhaps the Landgraf had some clever trap in mind for the Cardinal? Who could question the victor of Dorftopel-am-Dumm?

The Cardinal Elector, as per his usual style, leaned heavily on Colonel Rochefort to coordinate his forces. He directed that an assault be made on the Saxons in all haste: The colonel marked the approach of the French infanty outside the field of fire of the Saxon batteries and completed their deployment in perfect security against the enemy left. The French horse was placed beyond the Saxon range to observe the battle in reserve. Very quickly, battle was joined.

Denied the use of his guns against the approaching French, The Landgrave attempted to deploy his forces to face the threat. Infantry was brought forward into the spinach field on the left, and the cavalry was marched out of camp on the right. With these adjustments begun, the battle opened with the crash of French musketry into the Saxon left flank.

The Fortified Saxon Camp

A lively exchange of fire continued for some time. The French guards, leading the attack, moved against the left wing of the Kollowratz infantry that had been left holding an exposed position of the line. Rochefort followed the guards forward. At the critical moment he removed his hat signalling the charge. The guards surged into the Kollowrats, the pride of the Landgraf’s army broke! And the breakdown opened a gaping hole in the Saxon positions unnerving the Landgraf’s line.

The Saxon response was quick in coming. The Landgraf, a man of compassion wishing to avoid an unecessary loss of life, called for the honours of war . Colonel Rochefort returned the Landgraf’s compliments, and accepted on the part of the Cardinal Elector.

Colonel Rochefort has restored the fortunes of the Cardinal Elector, vanquishing the might of the Saxons with parade ground efficiency. The Pork War goes on.

French attack the Saxon left

Battle of Linz, from the Austrian Side

Count Esterhazy-Hardin, eager to regain some of his lost reputation after the disastrous battle of Groka, turned on the slow moving forces of Viscount Sackville-Baggins. Baggins, who had failed to turn up to engage the army of Friedrich-Wilhelm von Manhumpel, leaving it to be turned back by the forces of Holy Mother Russia at the battle of Hoseausmaulwurfsfellburg, had little battle experience  but had taken the time to drill his foot in the superior British platoon fire drill giving a decided edge in a firefight.

Ezterhazy-Hardin, whose conduct in the battle against Mehmed-beg Ahmed Pasha’s Ottomans, had been rumored to be influenced by the arrival the day before of a large delivery Scotch whisky from his friend Captain James Lockhart, was clear of mind and dressed in his best Hussar finery for the day’s work.

Viscount Sackville-Baggins deployed his strong infantry forces in a long line with his left flank lying past Linz, his center thru the walled gardens and town intself extending quite some distance, in echelon, to the right. His relatively weak Horse was drawn up in two ranks to the extending the line to his foot’s right.

Esterhazy, sensing an opportunity, placed his cavalry on the far left with his foot in the center opposite Baggin’s right. The Austrian artillery anchored the right flank. Baggin’s left and the village was unopposed.

After a brief bombardment from the Austrian artillery, Viscount Sackville-Baggins took the initiative and moved his left flank infantry forward across the wall gardens around Linz hoping to force the infantry fight. Sensing Baggins was not as placid as first thought; Esterhazy gave up on the bombardment and launched his army forward.

The Austrian horse quickly closed on Baggin’s horse while Baggin’s infantry formed their line and advanced on the Austrian Infantry and guns.  Esterhazy won the race, his horse, massed in deep lines and led by the Guard O’Donell Cuirassiers crashed into the thin lines of British and German horse, destroying one regiment, beating another and capturing some supporting artillery.  The gallant Count Joseph Bunge, leading O’Donell’s horse was cut down just as he saw the enemy break. The Austrian horse, full of fury at the death of their gallant notable, and flushed with victory, launched a second charge against the disorganized British horse and its conscript second line. Nothing could stop the charge with a full three enemy regiments running from the field.

Desperate to engage with his foot, Viscount Sackville-Baggins ignored his crumbling flank and launched his infantry against Esterhazy’s line. A vicious firefight erupted, but wait! The Baggin’s first volleys had a high rate of misfires and generated an inordinate amount of smoke blinding his infantry’s vision. The gallant 87th, Keith’s Highlanders, holding the right of Baggin’s line fell in droves to volleys from the regiments of Harsch and Herzog Karl.  Their morale broken Baggin’s army retired from the field to fight another day.

Interesting side note, Esterhazy-Hardin’s army captured vast quantities of gunpowder left behind by the retiring army. It was found to be Ottoman gunpowder sold to King George and sent to Baggins for use on campaign. Austrian tests revealed the gunpower generated many misfires and produced an inordinate amount of smoke. Esterhazy-Hardin had the army use it for fireworks to celebrate the victory!

The Battle of Linz

Sackville-Baggins rubbed his temples and sighed in exhaustion as he sat down at the edge of his field cot.  It was the end of a very long, very bad day.  He contemplated opening a bottle of porte but thought better of it.  Tomorrow was going to be another very busy day.

He had been mildly concerned about the quality of some of the German troops he had recruited.  They would eventually be solid troops, but in the meantime were in need of more training.  The Hanoverian cavalry that his father-in-law had raised for him was more concerning as his British cavalry arm was very small.  But time was of the essence and he figured the core of solid British troops would be enough to see Count Esterhazy-Hardin off and reclaim the honor of his dreadful sister-in-law.

Having finally gotten his army together, Sackville-Baggins had marched south to engage the army of Count Esterhazy-Hardin, finding them outside of Linz.  Sackville-Baggins set up on the edge of Linz, extending off to the right with his cavalry holding his flank.

Esterhazy-Hardin set up his infantry centrally with his cavalry extending his left flank.  The Austrian cavalry had stormed forward and engaged the right wing of Sackville-Baggins army, namely his cavalry.  Hardin’s infantry had stayed back to watch the cavalry fight unfold.

Having seen the danger, Sackville-Baggins had sent his infantry forward to engage the Austrian infantry, hoping to decide the battle before the cavalry were deeply engaged.

His line of British line infantry, supported by Grenadiers and Highlanders, had begun volleying with the Austrian infantry and artillery.  At the same time, his two troops of British dragoons, supported by the shaky Hanoverian cavalry, had quickly fallen in a series or coordinated charges by the Austrian cavalry.  With the quick collapse of his entire cavalry wing, the morale of his army had fallen quickly and within an hour is army was retiring from the field.

His next task was to fall back on Gerolstein and await the outcome of the other campaigns that were currently in motion.

The Battle of Grabow

The Deployment at Grabow

The defeat of Gros-Holsten’s army at Hosausmaulwurfsfellburg by Count Akraxin had exposed the lands of Wolfenbuttel to the ravanges of the cossacks. The Pork War had entered a new darker phase.

Wolfenbuttel, the light of Europe, responded by mobilizing his forces on the eastern marches in the district of Grabow. The ground had been chosen carefully. Virgin forests, swamps, hills, and potato fields covered the ground. All limiting the ability of Akraxin’s vaunted cavalry to maneuver.

The Herzog’s infantry attacked though a woods defile covered by a large detachment of the Zeity Hussars on the right of the Russian positions. This line of approach limited the usefulness of the Russian guns sited to cover the more open ground on the Russian left and it also avoided the mass of regular Russian forces deployed in the same area.

Zeity Hussars Delay the Advance

A spearhead of grenadiers and the elite von Kliest regiment moved through the defiles and deployed to face the Hussars with the remainder of the infantry filling in behind. The infantry quickly opened up a fusilade on the hussars. Akraxin used the time to reposition his guns and slowly redeploy his regular horse. The hussars sold their lives dearly for time as Wolfenbuttel pressed on toward the Russian flank.

Russian Line Faces the Onslaught of Wolfenbuttel

By time the hussars had collapsed, the Russian guns were in position to cover the Herzog’s approach; but the bombardment was only partially effective. The Herzog’s infantry pressed hard on the Russian horse that had turned to meet the threat. Michael von Pfanenstiel, commanding the Russian horse, found himself trapped between the approaching enemy infantry and his own. He ordered a charge by half the Russian cavalry present to cover the withdrawal of the other half toward the Russian infantry positions.

General Pfanenstiel led the charge personally into the right wing of the von Kleist Regiment breaking it! Unfortunately, in his monent of triumph von Pfanenstiel rolled from his saddle dead, struck down by a musket ball.

General Pfanenstiel Killed Leading Charge

The Herzog recovered the order in his infantry line and called for GL Koreckzi to bring the reserve cavalry into position behind the infantry to cover any eventuality. Wolfenbuttel’s infantry had by now reached the Russian infantry and began to pour volleys on it. This forced the victorious Russian cav to retire after recovering Pfanenstiel’s riddled body.

The Herzog pressed his advantage. Von Sydow’s Grenadiers lead the advance foward on the declining Russian line. In the course of their attack, the grenadiers came upon Count Akraxin himself, no doubt distracted by trying to restore some fight to his infantry line.

Count Akraxin Captured by Advancing Grenadiers

Surrounded by the grenadiers, Akraxin yielded his sword to nearby corporal of Sydow’s command who proceeded to help himself to the count’s purse before losing interest and allowing the Russian commander to slip away.

Soon after that, Akraxin sent word to the Herzog, seeking the honours of war. The Herzog, enlightened man that he is, sent word back that the army of Braunschweig-Wolfenbuttel would stand down and permit the Russians to recover their dead and wounded.

An Affair of Honour

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With the armies of Empress of Russia and the Herzog Wolfenbuttel closely encamped on the eve of the Battle at Grabow, the intrigues of one Sven Diamond, ADC to Count Akraxin came to a head. Generalleutnant Koreckzi, cavalry commander to the Herzog, sent word to the Russian camp demanding a meeting with his former friend Colonel Diamond.

The Herzog, who retired early to an evening of drink and philosophical disputations on the nature of the one and the many with his assembled savants, heard nothing of the adventure until after the conclusion of the battle the next day. But that evening, the gossip in the camp was full of the news that Koreckzi had departed to meet with Diamond and likely accept a commission to command Akraxin’s formidible horse, the most powerful cavalry in Europe.

With many convinced that Koreckzi left the camp fully intending to take up with the Russians, Colonel Diamond, had no serious offer to tempt Koreckzi. Instead, after greeting his old friend, Diamond took a up a rather sensitive matter involving the settlement of an old familiy debt involving 17 chickens, 2 Cossack ponies, and a particulary fine pair of English riding boots.

Koreckzi flatly refused to pay. Surprised that no offer for defection would be forthcoming, he challenged the colonel to a duel to erase the stain on his honour! Diamond, never known to back down from a brawl called for French sabres, and after the requisite exchanges of pleasantry, the two were hacking each other half to death with half a dozen aides standing by to officiate.

The next morning, Korecki was back in the Herzog’s camp with a few scrapes for wear. It was probably a good thing that his cavalry was never called from the supporting line to take part in the fight at Grabow. Colonel Diamond was absent from Count Akraxin’s staff the day of the battle. He is believed to be recovering from more serious wounds in a nearby village.

 

 

The battle of Hoseausmaulwurfsfellburg

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Gaspard de Gitaine, new lieutenant general of the army of Der Herzogtum von Groß-Holsten, looked out over the wet slate rooftops of Hoseausmaulwurfsfellburg glumly. The town, in the dawn light, was grey and damp. Heavy mists covered the surrounding fields like a carpet.
“Don’t need to see more damn cabbages anyway” grumbled de Gitaine to himself, deeply out of sorts. He had ridden into town with his small staff late in the previous evening to take up his command, only to be greeted with the charming prospect the soldiery of Groß-Holsten disporting themselves under the genial leadership of General Sapt, the current garrison commander, and a tired meal at the inn that consisted of dumplings with hearts of stone, and a roast haunch of some indeterminate beast that alarmingly managed to be simultaneously stringy and strangely soft.
He had not slept well.
De Gitaine would have been happy to blame the noise created by the licentious soldiery and their victims partners, but he was self aware enough to realise that his wakefulness was caused by a combination of indigestion and nervousness about his new post.
A long and reasonably successful (or at least mostly blameless) career in the Armee Du Roi had finally developed a solid enough reputation that he would get offers of commission from (usually the smaller) European powers. Most he ignored; the offer of command from Groß-Holsten had arrived just as he had returned from his last posting in New France, though, and a rapid survey of friends and acquaintances at court and the ministry indicated that a new posting might not be forthcoming anytime soon. Apparently , funds were tight due to a new stress on shipbuilding (de Gitaine wondered why they bothered, the boats always seemed to come to bad ends) and, it was whispered, Louis had carried out a dramatic increase in the number of royal mistresses, which required a reallocation of the state budget.
All this meant that a minor noble with a long military career spent overseas, out of the sight of “the great and the good” could not expect a worthwhile posting anytime soon. While he was not destitute, he would like to have some income so that his wife and children could settle back down in France after years overseas, without any financial pressure. So the decision was made easy for him. Off to Germany, where, apparently they had managed to start a war about pieds de proc marinés (a dish he had no personal objection to, he had eaten such often enough in his younger days when funds were tight, but a war over them seemed… Excessive).
He had been greeted well by the Herzog, and the small court did exhibit some charm. It did alarm him somewhat (a feeling that he did his best to conceal) that quite so many of the officers in the Groß-Holsten army were relatives of the Herzog. More alarmingly, it appeared that the local nobility had been marrying itself for ummm quite some time. There was a noticeable lack of chins, and surfeits of overbites and cousins in the officer corps. That would certainly have to be watched, although the officers he had met to this point appeared to have functioning, if uninspired, intellects.
He would have stayed longer had word not reached the court of the possibility of the Russians advancing on the duchy. He knew Akraxin, the russian commander, to certainly be capable of rapid movement, and decided to get his force in hand before the campaign started in earnest. Thus the grim morning in Hoseausmaulwurfsfellburg, and the prospect of an early meeting with General Sapt, whose globular mass had briefly boomed at him the night before.
Preparing for the day did not take all that long, and he was about to ask for coffee when an invitation to breakfast with Sapt for himself and his staff was forthcoming, so he decided to meet his new subordinate as soon as possible.
The walk to Sapt’s quarters was a touch alarming; rather more military equipment was strewn about the streets than he was comfortable with, and rather more solders also. The couple of billets he passed seemed to be overcrowded with men from a mixture of units, and he would have thought he would have seen more details marching around by this time of day. Clearly the camp arrangements for the army were lacking, and he would have to address it as soon as possible.
Some people’s quarters where certainly well equipped, however, mused de Gitaine as he was ushered in to eat with Sapt and his staff. A room crowded with men, full of tobacco smoke. A sideboard groaning under the weight of coffee pots, schnapps and brandy bottles, and a lone bowl of fruit that looked completely out of place, and indeed, unused. Seeing more use were three huge tureens, dwarfing the fruit bowl. One appeared to contain a mass of sausage, one either bacon or ham, and one a huge pile of fried eggs (on inspection improved to be a moderate pile of eggs, sitting on yet another pile of pork products, sausages of a different ilk, it seemed ). The smell of the tobacco smoke was just barely enough to overcome the smells of burn coffee and grease.
Sapt’s staff seemed to have been chosen to match him both in loudness and girth and de Gitaine marveled that sufficient stout horseflesh could be produced to move this lot around. Always assuming they moved at all, of course.
Sapt was quite amenable the talking about work while he ate (quite possibly because the man never stopped eating, de Gitaine noticed that the tureens on the sideboard were constantly replenished. Not the fruit bowl though). As the conversation proceeded all his worse fears from the walk though town were confirmed. No-one had organized a camp, units had just “found a place” as they arrived. No one was entirely sure where all the commanding officers were, except for Colonel Von Achselhaare, commander of the 2nd grenadiers. And everyone knew where he was, from the glances and furtive nods, because he was as crazy as a loon, and best avoided as he was also the Herzog’s brother-in-law.
As the discussion continued, de Gitaine’s chin weighed heavier and heavier onto his cupped hands. This was, indeed, a big job.
Just as he was rousing himself from his torpor to begin issuing the orders that might bring some sort of form from the chaos, his eye fell on a rather nervous looking sergeant by the door, who had not been there previously. De Gitaine decide to discover why another professional soldier might have entered the room and approached the man, who braced immediately to a quivering attention, still eyeing the room full of gold lace over de Gitaines’s shoulder.
“Sir, looking for the officer of the day, sir!” exclaimed the sergeant.
In his rather basic german, de Gitaine replied that he was the commanding general, and that he thought he could fill that role. What was the problem?
“Sir, lad outside I think you should see, Sir!”
De Gitaine waved permission for the object of interest to be admitted. He was rather surprised when a dragoon trooper shambled into the room, and and looked around interestedly.
The presence of the enlisted men in the room had now been noticed by the assembled be-gilted gentry, and a pool of silence was spreading out from the door rather like the ripple caused by a stone thrown into a still pond (or, as de Gitaine was starting to think, into a huge pool of algae). The duo were being studied like they were a different species (de Gitaine was unsure had enough inbreeding actually happened in the nobility of Groß-Holsten for this to be the case).
A raised eyebrow to the sergeant was enough enquiry, and it was volunteered that trooper Schmidt ‘ere ‘ad seen something worthy of attention. Everyone looked at trooper Schmidt, who the sergeant now realised was in a room full of officers, leaning on the wall, looking around interestedly, while picking his nose.
The fusillade of orders, abuse, and speculation about parentage that the sergeant immediately spouted did not serve the purpose of bring the recalcitrant trooper to quivering terror and attention, but only in making him fall over in surprise, and then rise from floor with blood in his eye muttering something like “wot you said ‘bout my mum”. Seeing trouble in the not-too-distant future, de Gitaine interposed with a question; what was it that the trooper had seen that would be of interest.
Distracted from his need for immediate vengeance for the parental slight, the trooper volunteered wot he ‘ad seen some blokes down the road a bit.
The silence spread a bit further into the room.
“Really,” de Gitaine answered “Some.. blokes. Had he been on piquet?”
The trooper looked at his finger for a moment, clearly wondering if he was being asked to continue his nasal excavations. Then some dim memory took hold, and he said
“Nah, he was just coming back from ‘ome.”
“Have you been on leave?” asked de Gitaine, wondering mildly where this was going, and noting the sergeant had just turned an interesting shade of puce.
“Nah,” said Schmidt “I goes ‘ome ev’ry nigh’, s’more comfy den ‘ere, ‘nd no-one seems to mind”.
The sergeant changed colors again, and the pool of silence widened.
“And how long have you been enlisted?” asked de Gitaine. It was rather like watching a very valuable vase fall off a very high shelf. Everything seemed to be happening very slowly, but he was unable to stop the progression of events.
“Wot dayie is i’?”
“Never mind” said de Gitaine “these ‘blokes’, what were they?”
“The ovver lot. Da enemas.” De Gitaine thought of correcting him, and then gave up “‘’bout as many as der ‘re ‘ere”.
The pool of silence had engulfed the room. The sergeant gave a gasping breath (his first for some time). It was so silent that the sound of pork fat congealing (and arteries hardening) could be clearly heard.
“As many as are ‘ere…er…..here?” de Gitaine hazarded “As many as are in this room?”
A slight sigh of relief was heard, he could not place where from.
“Nah, yer lordship, as many as we gots in our army, innit?”
The room had gone from quiet, to tense.
“And how far were these blokes?” de Gitaine gestured for his aides de camp.
“ah, by ol’ Humperdincks farm.” Looking at de Gitaine’s raised eyebrow with incredulity, clearly not believing anyone could not know where that was, he volunteered “‘bout 10 miles down yon road”
The silence was absolute. The tension thick as lard. De Gitaine thanked the enlisted men, rewarded them suitably, and had them ushered from the room. He then rounded on his subordinates with a volley of instructions akin to the sergeants previous tirade. There was probably no salvaging the situation, but there was a certain satisfaction in watching these people scatted like spooked chickens.
It was going to be a bad day.

—oOo—

Prince Philip Philipovich Akraxin looked at the field of the oncoming battle with some confidence. Having been rebuffed at Erzgebirgskreis, he had marched his forces hard toward once more hoping to catch his enemy before they were prepared. His haste was not entirely for military reasons; the Empress wanted a victory, and patience did not feature at all in any rational list of her qualities. Vindictiveness, ill temper, and ruthlessness did feature on the list though, so it behooved the Prince to provide a victory lest an appointment counting snowflakes followed this one. And soon.
Looking at the field of battle, though, things looked hopeful; he did not have the same terrible feeling he had when he beheld the formed ranks of the Erzgebirgskreisers before Dorftöpel-am-Dümm. The Groß-Holsten infantry was spread somewhat, not grouped together, their formation broken up by a town. Only their cavalry was massed, and less in quantity, and, he assumed, in quality, than his. His artillery should dispose of the village garrison. The horse should be able to beat the two isolated battalions to the left of the village. He would spread the hussars and cossacks on his right to mask the rest of the hostile force, and let his horse do the work.
Waving his riding crop, he snapped the orders to his staff….

—oOo—

De Gitaine was in trouble, and he knew it. His infantry was formed up, but more or less where they had camped. only his horse was properly grouped, and that was only because they had bivouacked close to one another. Already a huge mass of horse was approaching his weak right, held only by two battalions of foot and the rest of his infantry was too spread to react. The conscripts in the village were being pounded by the Russian guns. In front of him was a mass of light horse, beyond them some Russian foot, clearly waiting for their horse to win the battle.
With a grunt, he took the only chance he saw, ordering his cavalry to drive though or drive off the hussars to their front, and to swing around to the flank of the Russian infantry.
Another scribbled note sent the two grenadier battalions forward; with any luck the Russian infantry would be caught between horse and foot.
De Gitaine looked nervously to his right, where a cloud of dust and a distant sound of combat presaged the defeat of his right flank. Now it was a race.

—o0o—

The Russian cavalry sweeps around the left.

Prince Akraxin was pleased. The first of the Groß-Holsten infantry had been beaten by his cavalry, and stragglers from the second indicated that it would be following soon. Despite multiple charges, and steady fire from the infantry both in the open and in the village, his horse had not suffered appreciably. He just needed the guns to drive those people from the town, and all would be well.
He needed it quickly though. Already the Groß-Holsten horse had driven forward, and some hussars could be seen streaming to the rear. As he galloped his staff to the right of the field he could see that the hussar screen had been broken though, and the enemy cavalry, in some slight disorder, were headed on toward the redcoated block of infantry in the center. Added, to this two enemy foot battalions were pressing forward.
The colonel of the rightmost battalion was turning them to face the threat, but the fire from the enemy infantry was beginning to tell. They were partially protected by a small marsh, but things could certainly go ill very fast there.
Akraxin spurred his horse onward.

—o0o—

All was not lost yet, thought de Gitaine. If he could coordinate his horse and foot against the Russian foot, now in some confusion, he might be able to hold the field.
He looked in nervousness at the grenadier battalions, wreathed in smoke. One of them as clearly struggling though some soft ground, but they bother seemed to be doing well enough. He turned his attention to the cavalry, which was a little blown, and a little ragged, but certainly where he needed it to be. Timing would be everything here.
He was just turning to an Aide to issue the orders, when a rattle of drumming and screech of fifes came to his ears. He looked back at his foot, seeing some idiot capering around on a horse in front of the 1st Grenadiers
“Mein Gott, Von Achselhaare” he heard a murmur from his staff.
Then, to his horror, he saw the grenadiers lumber forward into the unshaken line before them, floundering forward though the soft ground. a brief scuffle, and the grenadiers fell back through the marsh again, becoming a mob, ignoring the shouts of their officers and NCOs to reform.
De Gitaine set his jaw. He issued brisk orders for the cavalry to charge, though now they

The last gallant (but futile) charge of the Groß-Holsten horse

were disadvantaged. They might break one battalion, but the other foot would surely see them off, unsupported as they were. He looked at the sun. Night would not save them.
Accepting the inevitable, he started issuing orders for reforming the army a days march back, and wondered would he still have a job tomorrow.
“Shortest commission ever” he muttered to himself….

—o0o—

Prince Akraxin smiled to himself. The Empress, he thought, would be pleased. His infantry had reformed, driving off a suicidal foot charge, and seeing off the Groß-Holsten horse with significant casualties, and trifling losses to the russians. The enemy was falling back, and his his horse were still in reasonable order, ready for the pursuit. He smiled in the sun, again, composing his victory dispatch in his head. A great day for Russian arms, and no snowflakes in his future.

In memory of Charles XII

From Sven Diamond, ADC to Count Akraxin

One longs for the days of Charles XII. It’s not that service to Russia is bad, but some of the practices of the Europeans offends the sensibilities. These kinds of things would not have happened in the army of Charles XII. No, they would not have happened!

A recent incident in the battle with the army of the Kurfurst Braun will illustrate my point. At the height of the battle a commander of one of the prized grenadier battalions of the Kurfurst became overly enthusiastic and charged our infantry through some difficult going. They were so disordered when they made contact that they were pushed back easily and then disintegrated in the retreat. This was clearly a morale blow to the Kurfurst and his army and shortly thereafter a rider was dispatched from the Kurfurst’s headquarters under flag of truce, most certainly to ask for the honours of war. I watched the Count’s delight at this turn of events as his subordinates began to congratulate him. “Grant them the honours!” he said, and turned to retire to his quarters.

But at about this time, another rider bolted from Braun’s presence, this one dressed oddly in Turkish attire. (It is odd, because I thought the Ottomans were on our side). He stopped the first rider and in a rather animated manner pointed towards the Kurfurst’s cavalry regrouping on our right flank. The rider turned around and the Kurfurst’s cavalry prepared to assault our infantry. When we recalled Count Akraxin his fury was hardly to be contained. He sent orders to cover the right and prepare for the cavalry attack. Making preparations in time the cavalry were repulsed with great loss. At which point Braun again dispatched an emissary who did indeed ask for honours. This time it was not to be. The Count was furious, made it clear that the battle was not over and the pursuit would not be lazy. Our armies finished dispatching Kurfurst Braun’s forces and our cavalry pursued relentlessly for two entire days after seeking out and dispatching as many of the enemy as possible.

I would like to think that in a Scandinavian army more consistency would be found, hopefully followed by less carnage.

But sadly this is only one example of the kind of temperamental behavior the rest of Europe displays in its making of war. Another horror has come to my attention. As you know it seemed that it might be possible to recruit one of the nobility from the camp of the Ecksitz coaltion. This evening I have learned that the colonel dispatched to escort Koreckzi for negotiations about the possibility of joining our cause has so offended him that Koreckzi has challenged him to a duel! A duel! It is amazing such practices are still tolerated but I am told we must honor the request. The colonel, a rough customer named Stalin, is somewhat uncouth. Although I don’t know the specifics, I’m not at all surprised that offense was given. So sadly, there will probably not be time for any kind of negotiations between us and the General as the duel is to take place at daybreak, and it appears the armies will clash shortly thereafter.