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Friday, October 26, 2012

Chapter 4 just completed




Chapter 4 - The Bergatonian war


For Prince Leopold this had to be the greatest day of his  life, to ride out of Albany at the head of Rechburg’s own Guard cavalry brigade. To have seen the pride in his father’s eyes was to Leopold worth far more than all the frustrations in the years he had spent learning and training how to command. As his father had pointed out “This is your time Leopold, I know you can make me proud of you; I know you can do this thing.”

Prince Leopold knew his command was only a secondary command to the true offensive in Ulrichstein but to the survival of the Herzogtum it was vital that Bergatonia remain at peace and that would only occur by a Rechburgian show of strength. Essentially all that was required was for Leopold and the 3 Guard Cavalry regiments to ride south from Albany to Pendalcost, once there to join up with the Militia Brigades that will be concentrating there and then to create the impression that the Rechburg army is guarding the southern or Bergatonian border in considerable strength.
It was nearing winter so no one expects the Bergatonian to be so rash as to try anything while the regular Rechburg army was away, this was simply a precautionary move and Leopold assumed his father approved of Leopold commanding on the basis all he had to do was march up and down the border for a few weeks.

Pendalcost
 It had only taken Leopold and his Cavalry Brigade 2 days to ride south to Pendalcost and when he rode over the crest of Laughleys ridge on the northern outskirts of the town he saw sprawled below him and surrounding  the town there were literally thousands of tents and military paraphernalia.
Riding beside Leopold was Lieutenant General Ernst Molyneaux  Leopold’s second in command and defacto advisor, he was a veteran of many wars and no stranger to campaigning for his Herzog, when he saw the militia encampment he just whispered loud enough for Leopold to hear.
“Good bloody God what a damned abominable whorehouse”.

Leopold pulled over to the side of the road, he glanced behind and as far as he could see the Guard was still in perfect formation and all coming to a halt, Leopold leaned over towards General Molyneaux.

“Well Ernst you have 3 days to whip them into shape and then I am moving to the border.”

General Molyneaux simply grunted,
“It’s not the men sire, for Militia they are damned good men, many of them old soldiers I have commanded many times, and if you can’t have regular soldiers I would take Rechburg militia any day, nah its not them.”
He pointed to a rider approaching up the slope from the town,
“The problem Sire, is the like of him.”

Leopold asked “Whom might he be.”
“That Sire is “Colonel Sir Sidney Gentz, late of the Britannic army. It is said he left Britannia just in time before he was shot by his men, I have no idea why your father agreed to employ him sire, but that specimen there is as a big a bloody idiot as you would ever hope to see.”

Leopold nodded “Well we will have to watch him closely won’t YOU Ernst”.
“You can guarantee I will do that sire, him and the other bloody idiot we have for brigade commander is Colonel Antoine Goethe, at least Goethe is Rechburgian and has some fight in him; if nothing he is just a little uncouth.”

“Well uncouth I can live with, as long as he knows his business,” remarked Leopold.
“He does that Sire, just a bit slow in thinking and foul speaking, but his men love him, aye I will give him that.”

Colonel Gentz finally arrived to join Leopold and General Molyneaux,

“Greetings Sire, it is indeed a pleasure to see you this far south, indeed it is. In fact just a few nights ago I remarked to Lady Ambleside that we don’t see the Royal family down here, pon my soul we don’t.”

“Yes Sir Sidney, you are right, it is one of my father’s greatest regrets that he does not get the opportunity to get away as much as he used too.”

Sir Andrew nodded to General Molyneaux
“Greetings to you General, still able to stay in the saddle I see, truly remarkable, pon my soul sir it is.”

General Molyneaux growled a snarl but before he could respond Leopold interrupted,
“Well I have mind to ride down and see for myself this army I have been given to command”.

Sir Sidney answered “Well sire I hope your expectations are not too great, that rabble down yonder is not really a true army, not like the men I used to command back in the days when we really commanded real soldiers.”

General Molyneaux grunted “Aye those will be the real soldiers these men below whipped in Gurania I expect”

Leopold decided not to stay and listen to the two men banter, he simply rode on leaving Molyneaux and Gentz to follow along behind.
As they rode through the northern outskirts of the town Leopold passed the first of the militia, the men were cherry enough and Leopold noted that though they looked older than the regulars he commanded, despite  their appearance which was noticeably a little disheveled at least their equipment was in first class order.
The men cheered the Prince, some nodded, and others bowed while a few saluted, but as he rode through the town without a doubt they were all cheering; one thing was clear  their morale was exceptional Leopold thought to himself.
Turning back on his horse  to face General Molyneaux, Leopold with a huge smile on his face said,
“They will do Ernst, they will do”.
He looked at Colonel Gentz,
“Your men are in fine spirits Colonel.”
 Gentz replied
“These ruffians are not my men Sire, pon my soul if my men yell and cheer as this mob does I would see the bones on their backs I would.”

Leopold pulled the horse up and leant over in his saddle so only Colonel Gentz and Molyneaux could hear
“I will have no un-necessary lashes in my army do you hear me Sir Sidney. These men are militia, they may be ruffians to you but you only have to look at them to know they know how to fight, beat them unfairly general; and you will beat the fight right out of them.”
Having said that Leopold turned his horse once more and rode on.

Colonel Gentz growled “Pon my soul General Molyneaux, that was decidedly uncalled for, what.”

General Molyneaux smiled at the discomfited Gentz he added as he rode away.
“Thems Interesting days ahead Sir Sidney, interesting days indeed.”
He too rode on with the broadest smile.

It took Prince Leopold another two days to finally get his army fully concentrated and Leopold wasn’t surprised to learn it was Colonel Gentz units that were the last to arrive. Using the delay Leopold ensured the men were well supplied and feed.
The Albany Uhlans were out on border patrols while the jaegers were on piquet duty around the entire encampment. Reports came in of a buildup in Bergatonia just across the border, but that in itself was not surprising considering Leopold was here with a concentration of his own.

Leopold had been quartered in the Estate of Baron von Mansfield, it was perhaps the most comfortable quarters available and Leopold felt ill at ease because of it. He would rather his men could see him roughing it as they had too, however he pondered to himself he had to learn that each to their own and Generals and leaders did not rough it unnecessarily.
 He had available 9 militia battalions, 3 Guard cavalry Regiments and 2 artillery batteries or approximately 7,000 men, it was not a large force however  he knew it was enough to do what his father had required of him.
Leopold had learnt another lesson, generals should not go to war without secretaries, he just spent too much time writing out orders and doing mundane tasks.
Having just finished and feeling somewhat dreary with all the paper work he thought that he may take a stroll out onto the court yard, just to refreshen himself. The day was bitterly cold, with the first of the sleety rains upon them, Leopold shuddered in the brisk chill and all of a sudden realised that he was now quite glad he was not roughing it with his men.

He had just walked back inside and was about to talk with General Molyneaux who was waiting in the foyer for his young commander when a courier burst through the door. He was a young Uhlan, obviously he had ridden fast and hard, his face red with being lashed by the icy rain, his uniform and cloak saturated.

General Molyneaux strode up to the courier, who came to a sliding halt and saluted the general, handing him the dispatch.
General Molyneaux scowled at the young man, “That was no way to present yourself in the Royal presence nor to senior commanders, what the hell is this army coming too”. The young officer went even redder in the cheeks and said
“Sorry Sir it wont happen again”.
General Molyneaux quickly opened message he quickly read the contents and smartly handed it too Leopold.

From Lieutenant Karl Meyer, 1st troops second squadron Albany hussars.
This morning a large Bergatonian force crossed the border south of Pendalcost, I estimate a force of around 8-9000 men and seems to include a full Infantry Division, 3 Cavalry Regiments with considerable artillery support.
At their current rate of progress I estimate they will be in Pendalcost by Dawn tomorrow.
I am continuing to screen and probe until I receive further orders.
A deserter has told us that Duke Rupert rides with them.

Lieutenant Karl Meyer.

Leopold looked up at General Molyneaux smiling,
“Well Ernst it looks like we will get to see some action after all, damn beating a full Division of Bergatonian regulars now that will look impressive in the papers back in Albany, but beating the mad Duke now that will be a boast I will gladly hammer home to poor old Willy who just gets to take on a crazy Bishop.”

“Aye Sire, it would, except we have to beat them first don’t you think.”

Leopold slapped the old General on the shoulder,
“Good God Ernst, all I have to do is show them your grizzly old face and have a few of your old comrades out there standing behind you and those damned Bergatonions will be running home looking for their mothers teats, Huzzah we ride to war”.

General Molyneaux shook his head in wonderment at his young Prince, The innocence of the young, god bless him his ignorance… and protect us from it.

It only took a few hours to get the army formed up and ready to move, further dispatch riders had come back reporting  further progress of the enemy advance, it seemed incredibly slow, a fact Leopold and general Molyneaux were grateful for.

In discussions with the two Militia Colonels  Sir Sidney and Gothe both of whom knew the area well it was decided that the Rechburgians would meet the Bergatonions at the hamlet of Briel just a few miles south of Pendalcost.

The Battle



The day dawned crisp and clear, the rain had passed but the chill remained. Leopold had woken well before daylight and had wandered the camp talking with a few of his men who could not sleep. They made him feel proud, and a little daunted because he knew that if they could see how nervous he really felt their confidence would be more than a little diminished.
Once the day dawned properly he along with General Molyneaux and the two brigade Colonels rode out to a small hill locally known as Pepper ridge, it was just a few hundred yards behind the small hamlet of Briel.
From its summit they could see that the enemy camp was largely hidden by the two slopes to the North east and north west, the North eastern slope Leopold now knew was called Pearce’s ridge the other pointing like a long finger directly at Briel hamlet was named after the hamlet. At the foot of Briel ridge was a large building that looked like it had once been a chateaux but was now in some ruin.
Leopold could see the Bergatonions had established two heavy batteries on Pearce’s ridge along with 3 light cavalry Regiments, he also saw 2 or 3 Infantry battalions, obviously supporting the artillery. The bulk of the Bergatonian Infantry were now in the process of forming up, mainly on the road that ran down the valley between Pearce’s ridge and Briel ridge.

Leopold looked back at his own army, he had been assured by General Molyneaux that if put his Militia in good defensive positions they would stay there no matter what. The Militia commanders had by now both returned to their units to ready them for the coming battle.
The Rechburgians had not camped overnight in the Briel Hamlet, that was occupied by piquet’s during the dark, the Rechburg encampment had been just a mile or so behind Pepper ridge. As Leopold looked down from the ridge he could now see the 4th Militia Brigade was forming up to the south side of the Hamlet. The 5th Militia Brigade was forming on his right behind Samuels Woods and Colliers woods both densely wooded areas.

Leopold had decided to defend the centre and Right, the three Guard cavalry regiments would cover the left, he felt the enemy seeing the Guard Cavalry over on the left would hopefully intimidate the Bergatonian cavalry commander and prevent him from moving out that way. Even now he could see the early morning sun reflecting off the Guard Cuirassiers armour. They remained out of range of the heavy artillery for now.

The Battle opened at 9:45am, Leopold had expected a sudden bombardment from the artillery, but instead there had been just 3 shots which obviously signaled the beginning of the battle, the bombardment followed shortly after that signal.



The Bergatonian 1st Brigade was 5 Battalions strong; its objective clearly was first to clear and hold the hamlet of Briel, this move surprised both Leopold and General Molyneaux because it was the Rechburgian Centre that was strongest point of their line, the hamlet was also covered by the two artillery batteries placed on the hills behind.

The Rechburg 4th Militia Brigade consisted of 6 battalions each 700 men strong its commander Colonel Antoine Gothe  had as been instructed sent the 8th Regiment into the Hamlet, the 15th Battalion of that Regiment occupying the buildings and the 16th moving in behind the stout hedgerows that ran parallel with the road that ran east or west through Briel.
The 9th  “Smiegel” Regiment with 17th and 18th battalions formed in line behind the hamlet ready to reinforce either the town itself or the hedgerows where the 16th battalion was currently placed.
The remaining 10th Regiment was further back directly behind the 9th Regiment.

Prince Leopold sat astride his horse on PepperPeak, the artillery battery just to his left was already engaging the Bergatonions that were moving south past the ruined chateau.
General Molyneaux pulled his horse up beside Leopold’s,
“I have no idea what they are doing, why are they attacking straight at our strongest point.”
Leopold pointed to southern slopes of Briel ridge, “There’s your answer.”
The General raised his glass and through it he could see a rather agitated man waving his arms all about.
General Molyneaux smiled, “Good God the mad Duke himself is here”.
 “Who is that General with him” Leopold asked.
“Lumsdorf” General Molyneaux replied, “he is without a doubt one of the best military minds in Bergatonia.”

He watched as the Mad Duke seemingly was still yelling at the general and his aides,
“Well he may be one of their best generals but is clearly he not in command over there”.



The Rechburg artillery  on Peppers Ridge engage the Bergatonian Jaegers, the Hamlet of Briel can be seen in the left foreground.

Meanwhile the Bergatonian Battalions of their 1st brigade were still advancing towards Briel; equally they were taking horrendous casualties from both Rechburgian Batteries with each step they took. Every time the artillery fired Leopold would see entire rows of men fall to the ricocheting cannon balls. Now the 15th  Battalion in the Hamlet and the 16th battalion behind the hedge were firing , the leading Bergatonian battalion shook visibly as they were pounded by the combined fire until it all became too much and they broke, not in a rout but they certainly withdrew is some disorder.
The Battalion behind seeing the leading battalion fall back  also stopped and then started moving back in disorder as well.
The Bergatonions attacked with several more battalions, none were successful and in each occasion they suffered considerable casualties, each time they pulled back to recover and when they did the Rechburg `artillery resumed pounding them.
The 16th battalion which had occupied the southern row of hedgerows along the roadside now leaped over the hedge and occupied the next hedgerow on the other side of the road, all the while keeping the fire on the Bergatonions.

Leopold turned to his right and instructed one of his aides,
“Tell Colonel Gentz of the 5th it is time for him to move, his objective is the ruined Chateau.”
The young Lieutenant wearing a red sash indicating he was one of the Princes aides and he therefore spoke with the authority of the prince rode his horse down the slopes i an expert manner heading for the 5th Brigade.

Leopold looked out to his left, he was wondering why the other Bergatonian artillery Battery was only firing intermittently, he saw the answer. Brigade General Groen Printserer the commander of the Guard cavalry was slowly edging the guard Cavalry around the Bergatonian right flank, ensuring all the while he was just far enough out of range from the guns but close enough to threaten them, every time the Bergatonian guns turned back to fire on the Rechburgian Infantry the Cavalry would move thus forcing the gunners to respond the possible threat. This cat and mouse game was clearly favouring the Rechburgians.
Leopold remarked:. “It seems General Printserer is having an enjoyable time.”
General Molyneaux had also been watching the cat and mouse game, “General Printserer is a good man, he will keep that lot busy, see even the Bergatonian cavalry don’t want to mix with the Guard and those Infantry behind the guns will go to square the moment Printserer moves, so he is tying up their entire flank over there, Good man indeed.”
Their observations to the left were interrupted by an enormous clamour to their front, quickly turning they saw 2 Bergatonian Battalions smash into the 16th battalion. The 16th defending the hedgerow fought back and finally broke the two battalions.
To the rear of the 16th,  the 18th battalion had moved up to towards the Hedgerow the 16th battalion had originally occupied, but now that the Bergatonions had pulled back far enough from the Rechburg line their heavy artillery started firing down upon them, this time with accurate fire. The 16th started losing men and were becoming shaken so Colonel Goethe ordered them to the rear and moved the 18th Battalion up to take their place in the front line. The enemy artillery fire continued but now once more slackened as the Rechburg cavalry had threatened to move.
 “That damned 12pdr battery is doing filthy work Ernst.” Leopold noted.
“Aye sire but it won’t last much longer now, that Bergatonian Brigade is bloody well shot up, Goethe is an unruly bloody Colonel but by God he and his men know how to fight.”

From the Bergatonian side.

Duke Rupert had ridden at the head of his army, it was after all only befitting that he as gods instrument should be the one to hurl death and destruction at the Rechburgians. Part of the Dukes ambition for this sudden invasion was partly to rid Europia of another heretical ruling house, but it was also to seek revenge against his natural father who had spurned him as a child and thrust him out into the world. Unwanted and alone his mother had sold herself in marriage to his stepfather Duke Franz of Bergatonia who was a cold and bitter man. Of course Rupert realised his mother was no better than that heretic Herzog, she was  a whore who betrayed her class, station and religion to bed with a protestant, well she was well taken care of now; she was constrained to roam the Schloss Palace as a virtual house prisoner as she had done for many years.
So now here he was, without a doubt pinnacle time of his life, admittedly it was sooner than expected and perhaps not the right time but god had created the opportunity to smash the heretic and now Rupert would be Gods instrument.

It was fitting that the Herzog had created the opportunity by sending his army into neighbouring Ulrichstein thus leaving southern Rechburg clear of any real opposition. Of course there were militia, but they were not a problem to his army, they were not real soldiers.
General Lumsdorf and that whining Baron Schaeffer both had been constantly irritating him with problems and reasons why they shouldn't invade. According to them it was either too soon, not enough time to prepare, too late in the year and winter was coming; the objections just came and went like water on a ducks back. For all the reasons why he shouldn't invade they also applied to Rechburg, thus if his army has not had time to prepare then Rechburg’s will not either. If the winter was an issue for his army, it was doubly so for the armed Rechburg farmers and peasants calling themselves militia. No this was his time god created and in all things he was proudly god’s instrument.

The progress of the army had been very slow, much slowly than the Duke liked. He had threatened and cajoled General Lumsdorf to move quicker, but the issue was the collection of wagons in the baggage train, they were simply so ill prepared for this operation that they broke down or were so slow. The bullocks pulling the carts and wagons just seemed to crawl across the Rechburgian border.
On crossing the border the scouts had reported seeing Uhlan patrols, naturally General Lumsdorf took this as evidence that elements of the Rechburg army were already on the border. However as Duke Rupert told him "he had expected this", in fact it was because his agents warned him that Prince Leopold would be in the area with Cavalry that initially he had intended to raid into southern Rechburg to take or kill the Prince, but when news arrived that the Rechburg regulars had gone to Ulrichstein that Rupert turned the raid into an invasion. So yes, naturally the regular cavalry were expected, what is more it was proof the Prince must be near so equally the time for revenge was near.

On the evening of the first night they had crossed the border they were  some 4 miles south of a small town called Briel, all day they were warned the enemy cavalry screen was getting thicker, that they had suffered some losses, possibly due to desertion. That night as Duke Rupert sat alone, he glanced out of the window of the squalled house he had commandeered, looking at the skyline as it was flickering with the lights from thousands of small campfires, fires that General Lumsdorf claimed to be from several Brigades of Militia. To Duke Rupert they were the fires of the devil and they were proof that his step brother Leopold was nearby, waiting for his destruction.

On the new dawn Duke Rupert was up early and he instructed his staff including a very unwilling and unhappy Baron Schaeffer to follow him as he went out to look over the enemy army. He rode up a long narrow ridge line that the map said was called Briel ridge, from its northern extremity he had an excellent view over the battlefield. Almost directly opposite just behind a small hamlet which Rupert assumed to be Briel, was a small hill, and on that hill he could see Rechburg artillery forming up. As he looked through his telescope he could see horsemen riding along the crest, clearly staff officers.
General Lumsdorf was also watching the group, first he pointed out the man on the left as General Molyneaux, he was the Chief of Staff to the Rechburg army, he muttered to himself,
“What the hell was Molyneaux doing here?”
He looked at Rupert,
“The Rechburgians had to know we were coming, otherwise what would bloody General Molyneaux the Chief of staff to the Rechburg army would be doing on a hill in southern Rechburg”.
The Baron had the answer as he also swiveled his glass along the distant ridge line,
“Your answer General is in the name of the man beside him, that is Prince Leopold and I expect the Herzog has sent the General along to watch over him.”
On hearing Prince Leopold’s name mentioned Rupert once more concentrated his glass on the group, yes indeed there he was, the youngest son of the man Rupert most despised in all the world also his step brother.

General Lumsdorf began eyeing the Bergatonian troops as they came up, Lumsdorf plans as he described them to the staff and Duke Rupert the previous night was for a swinging flank attack around the enemies left flank, with pinning attacks against the enemy centre at Briel.
Duke Rupert was also watching the columns of troops coming up and yet in another one of his sudden mind changes he announced,
“I’m making a change, I want those 5 battalions below to move near that old chateau, they will form up there and we will attack straight through that damned village and up that hill where the brat sits, the other 3 battalions will take place on the right along with the Cavalry and artillery.”

General Lumsdorf was dumbstruck for a moment,
“Sire you cant… it would be….”
“Quiet Lumsdorf I am sick and tired of your whining and objecting to everything, which of us is in command here you or me.” Rupert demanded.
General Lumsdorf started once more
“Sire naturally you command, I wish only to explain that for our 5 battalions you will allocate to the attack on that village below, they will have to fight their way through hedgerows, the village and then up that slope against the artillery, even before we attack there sire we are outnumbered two to one. I count 5 or 6 enemy battalions around the village and over behind those woods on the left I see flags of what is probably an entire Brigade. I see no other infantry elsewhere sire, we are attacking them at the exact point they expect us to, and with inferior numbers”.

Duke Rupert squirmed, “If they expect us to attack here General then we won’t disappoint them, in fact all the better to break them sooner, after all they are only militia are they not. Goddamn Prince Leopold is sitting not a half mile from me on that ridge over there, so you will attack it and take him”

“Yes Sire they are militia, but Rechburg militia are not just a collection of farm boys, the majority of those men over there have been serving in the Regular army, they are trained soldiers sir and we should expect them to fight as such.”

“Lumsdorf” Rupert said” I sometimes wonder why you are not a Rechburgian General; you sound like you prefer their abilities over ours. I tell you they are a rabble, and my army will brush them aside.”

He turned to face the collection of officers, “The plan is simple, there in front of you is the enemy, attack them there, take that damned hill over there and kill that bloody brother of mine, anything else is failure and I will not brook failure, so get it done.”

The other staff officers looked to General Lumsdorf but he just quietly shook his head realising the futility of argument.

It was only a matter of two hours and the army was ready to begin the attack, the 1st brigade was 5 battalions strong they were lined up on the road below Briel ridge, the 2nd Brigade really only a regiment of 3 Battalions was to the right and intended to cover the right flank of the 1st Brigade attack. There were another 2 battalions on the ridge known as Pearce’s ridge, they were to cover the two 12 pounder batteries placed on the slopes of that ridge. On the extreme right of Pearce’s ridge were 3 Light Cavalry regiments, they were there to watch the Rechburgian cavalry which had been seen lurking out there.
General Lumsdorf let out a huge sigh and signaled to his aide to wave the signal flag to the battery to fire 3 rounds, the signal to start the attack.

No sooner had the echo of those shots resounded around the valley below and the Bergatonia army advanced to attack.
The 1st brigade advanced with 3 battalions in line and 2 in reserve. One Battalion occupied the damaged chateau and immediately came under fire from the Rechburg artillery, the old damaged walls not taking kindly to the concentrated fire became more of a hindrance than shelter to the men inside. Within minutes the battalion commander ordered his men out, they had suffered almost 50 casualties and they were still not in musketry range.

The other 4 battalions numbering 1-4 continued their march past the old chateau towards the hedge line just south of Briel village.
The Rechburg artillery had obviously seen this concentration of troops and they changed targets. This was the first real battle the Duke had seen and he shuddered as his men were mown down by the rain of shot against his battalions, then from behind the hedges a line a fire knocked down the leading ranks of the attacking battalions.
The 2nd Battalion lost over 150 men killed and wounded in less than 10 minutes so accurate was the enemy fire.

As they neared the hedge line the 2nd Battalion stopped clearly shaken they made to the rear, but the 1st and 3rd battalions charged the hedge line attacking the single enemy Battalion defending the position, but both battalions were repulsed. One of the Battalions the 3rd  now broke and made for the rear, the 1st fell back in good order facing the enemy, it was joined by the 2nd Battalion which had quickly reformed itself and both battalions began a firefight with the stubborn Rechburg battalion.

From the ridgeline above, the Duke was clearly agitated and started fuming at the repulse; turning to General Lumsdorf he started pushing him physically,
“Get down there Lumsdorf, do something man I want that bloody town taken”.
The General was clearly frustrated by the Duke,
First he ignored my advice, then he ripped my plan to pieces and now he wants me to act the junior officer, well I am probably better off down there for all the notice he takes of me up here.

The general made his way to his horse and without a word he saluted the Duke and rode down to the mess below, as he did so the baron strode up to the Duke.
“Sire, do you really think General Lumsdorf can do anything down there on his own, I mean sire surely you are the man the men look to, it is in your presence the men are ignited in their righteous mission and dare I say it sire you are the man they look to, the man they need.”

The Duke stood watching the general make his way down the slope, he nodded in agreement.
“Yes baron you are quite right it is only proper that I lead this attack myself”.

With that he mounted his horse, then looking at the Baron, “Well come on man, this is your chance to prove your worth to me.”

“Me” squealed the baron, “what do I know about soldiers sire, surely I will better used up here co-coordinating things for you.”

Duke Rupert sighed, “Get on your horse now Baron or leave the horse and start walking home now.”

With that the baron and the Duke rode down to join the General. The area around the old chateau was a mass of wounded and stunned men, General Lumsdorf was moving amongst the men creating order out of the chaos. The men responded well and before long he had 3 Battalions ready to resume the attack on the hamlet.

He heard the men cheering and when he turned there was Duke Rupert and that damned Baron riding through,
The Duke was ready to give the men a speech, when the drums rolled and they quickly formed up and began to move on the attack, so his message of the righteousness of their cause when unsaid.
All three men watched the three battalions go forward once more, only yet again to be repulsed.
“What the hell is wrong with our men” demand the Duke, he started swinging out at some of the unfortunate infantry that had wandered to close.
“God damn you, they are only Militia over there, what the hell is so hard about moving Militia from the hedge.”

The battalions that had charged had returned and general Lumsdorf was busy reforming them yet again.
The Duke rode up,
“The next unit that retreats I will have 20 men taken out of it and I will have them executed.”
“God damn you sire, these men are doing all we can ask of them, don’t forget this was your brilliant bloody plan to advance into the face of a strongly defended line.”
Duke Rupert’s jaw dropped open, “How dare you speak to me like that, how dare you.”
The battalions were reformed once more and their officers were preparing them for yet another attack. General Lumsdorf mounted his horse.
“I dare because sire I don’t give a damn anymore, if you want to squander your army that’s your bloody business, but I will be damned if I will just sit by and watch you do it”
The General turned his horse to move towards the battalions ready to attack.”
“Where the hell are you going Lumsdorf?”
“Sire I am doing the only thing I truly know, being a soldier.”

The 3 Battalions moved out once more the General turned to follow when all of a sudden the air was filled with thud and ringing of shot from enemy artillery falling all around them.
General Lumsdorf turned to the Duke,
“Now god’s sake man you must not stay here, I will command here, he pointed back to the hill the Duke turned to see where he was pointing, there they both saw the Baron as he scampered over the ridge line clearly heading for Bergatonia.
“I fear sire you have a greater enemy there, than what I face here….”
He didn't finish the words, as the generals head was blown from his body by a cannon ball, the bone and brains splattered all over his Duke.
The men around him saw the Generals headless body remain on the horse for a few moments before it fell off at the feet of the Duke's horse. Then more artillery fire was tearing through the stunned Battalions, what organisation and discipline remained died with the general. The men had bravely fought for the hedge line but the combined artillery fire and the deadly fire from the Rechburg infantry was just to much. The death of the most beloved General in the army was the final straw, many of them screaming with horrific wounds and shattered nerves started simply walking away and before long a few started to run and minutes later the entire Bergatonian Brigade was simply melting away. The duke was stunned with fear unable to move, he just kept muttering amongst his tears.
“My brave, General, the whore-sons of heretics killed him, why, what was he doing down here, he was one of my closest friends you know; he loved me,” one of his aides took control of his horse and the Duke was led muttering and weeping through the fleeing remnants of the Bergatonian army.

Duke Rupert’s dream of conquering Rechburg was over, he was led from the field, beaten, blood covered and in shock.
The army was fortunate that the 2nd brigade and cavalry covered the retreat, for any enemy pursuit would have created huge damage to this army.

Over on the Rechburg Lines.

The 5th Militia Brigade commanded by Colonel Gentz was making a real mess of its advance; from up on the hill Leopold could see the Colonel was clearly creating confusion out of order, he spoke to General Molyneaux.
“Ernst go down there and tell Gentz to get himself sorted.”
Prince Leopold didn’t add anymore because the men of the battery were cheering and pointing and when he looked to where they were pointing he saw an army in panic, the Bergatonian army was fleeing and retreating from the field. It was just starting to rain with light sleet, which was probably just as well as no one could see the tears of joy on their Princes face.
He looked at General Molyneaux,
“Good God Ernst we have done it, we have beaten them, we should pursue them.”

The General rode back to Leopold, “Sire I would advise against it, pointing to the dark clouds threatening, we are due for a storm and we have to get the men under cover, I would think it will snow soon and I would rather the weather kill off Bergatonions and not our men.”

Prince Leopold nodded, and realised that he had won a great victory and there was no reason to push these men any further.
“You are right Ernst, get the men back under cover quickly”.

By the time Leopold rode down from Pepper hill snow was beginning to fall, he glanced back at the battlefield and thought that in an hour or two of this and that bloody battlefield will look a pristine picture of beauty once it was covered in snow, how quickly nature hides mans folly.

The Bergatonions lost 900 men in the battle some 200 may come back from recovered wounds. The Rechburg militia lost 150 men, some of whom will also return. They do not pursue as the snow that had been threatening all day finally begin settle in


The next chapter will report on the battle that was fought in Ulrichstein on the same day as Bergatonian Battle of Briel was fought.






2 comments:

  1. Doing the rounds of pubs and bawdy houses in Bergatonia:

    'The Mad Bergatonian Duke,
    His neighbour to rebuke,
    Marched his army up to the town,
    Where they were all shot down.

    When he saw his army destroyed,
    A sight much to deplore,
    The Mad Duke grew wroth and cried:
    "Flog me those layabouts sore!
    "Death does not excuse
    "these corpses to refuse
    "To go into battle once more!"

    A song of great antiquity in Rechburg has been amended in accordance with current events. You might recognise it:

    "Mad Duke Rupert had a hundred thousand men;
    Mad Duke Rupert had sixty thousand men;
    Mad Duke Rupert had twenty thousand men;
    And the whole dam' lot got shot!"

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