Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rechburg and Bergatonia consider their next moves.

Near the Capital of Bergatonia

Franconian General Alexis Schnellendorf sat on his horse watching the Bergatonian army reorganising itself after having just marched back from the battle of Ostwald, there was no doubt in the General’s mind he was looking at a defeated army.
It must be admitted he thought to himself, that they had fought very bravely, however despite their bravery their army had been defeated. The General pondered the real value of some of the units he was watching they have twice been in battle and twice they have been defeated.
Duke Rupert rode up beside him, he quickly glanced at the Franconian and instantly he knew what the General was thinking.
“Yes Alexis they are a mess, but we will whip them back into shape, they will be ready soon. He pointed to a Guards battalion that was currently marching by,
“Look at them Alexis; they look like they are on parade, damn good men there”

The General nodded, “Aye sire they do look like a fine body of men, it’s a shame the rest were not as well presented as your Guard.”
“Well my friend” Duke Rupert said “If the damn Rechburgians will stay away for another week we will be ready to face them, especially with your new units.”

“Well Sire that’s the thing,” General Schnellendorf replied. “I am concerned why the Rechburgians are not already here, pushing their swords into our backs why the army is so disorganised.”

Rupert nodded, and then added “Well I am guessing they were as equally battered as my own army and are taking their own time to reorganise.”

The General reached into his pocket and taking out a small tin, he extracted a piece of snuff and inserted it into his nose, the exploding sneeze was considerable,
“Oh god that’s damn good stuff” he said offering some to the Duke.
Duke Rupert declined, smiling to himself he watched the General dry the tears from his eyes.

“Sire at the risk of sounding indelicate, I don’t think the Rechburgians were that badly hurt in the battle, at least not from what I observed before I left with the rearguard. I believe they are waiting for reinforcements, and if so that could create a huge problem for us.”

The Duke nodded his head in disagreement
“No Alexis you are wrong, I know where most of the Rechburgian units are, and they just don’t have the additional men to reinforce their army here.”

“That maybe so sire, but we have reports that Neider and Hollandaise have joined the Rechburgian- Brittanic alliance, we know the Brittanic Government has sent a brigade to Hollandaise and the last reports I read said they were heading to the Rechburgian border, which to me sounds like they are marching to join the Rechburgians at Ostwald. If that is true, we can assume the Brittanic Brigade wont be alone, most likely they will have Neider and Hollandaise contingents as well.”

Duke Rupert smiled at his Franconian friend,
“Why my dear Alexis I do believe you are more worried about your own men than my army. If the Rechburgian are being reinforced, then apart from your army there is little I can do for a week. But in that time I can reorganise the army and prepare defences around the capital, we will beat them then.”
“Sire I disagree, if they are waiting for reinforcements, it is because they feel inadequate to win against what we have here, now that little snippet already gives us an advantage if we take advantage of it quickly.
What I suggest sire, is I take my Division and those of yours that are not in bad shape and whip the Rechburgians before their reinforcements arrive, if we do that then we can defeat them in detail. Whereas sire if we sit and wait in your capital, you risk losing your Duchy, with their new reinforced army the Rechburgians can simply besiege us and ravage your country, how long do you think you will retain the affections and loyalty of your people if their homes and fields are being plundered, while we sit cooped up in New Madrid.”

Duke Rupert did not take kindly to being told what he should or should not do, but in his heart he knew the Franconian was right, if he sat on the defensive he lost all hope of regaining the initiative, especially if the General was right about the Rechburgian allied reinforcements.

“Very well Alexis, I agree, give me a few hours and I will sort out the units that are in condition to march with you, the others I will use to prepare defences back here as a last resort.”

“Nay sire, rather than prepare defences, the ones I leave behind with you, get them back into shape amalgamate the weaker units and send them forward, because once we beat the Rechburgian whelp we will need to go and kick their own damn houses down ourselves In fact I have already written to King Juan requesting another division so we can deal with Neider as well.”

Duke Rupert smiled to himself, “Yes Alexis excellent, I like the idea of squeezing the life out of that damned traitorous Neider bastard with my own hands. Yes indeed my dear friend, I will rebuild a new Bergatonian army to march and join you, together we will write a new history in Europia heh.”

“Yes well sire, first just let us win the next battle before we go writing anything”.

“Very well, come with me back to my tent and we will see what we can take from my army to join yours. When do you intend to march?”

The General looked at Rupert, “Well tomorrow sire if I can, the sooner the better”.
“Tomorrow, good god that could be a problem for some of my units, they are weary Alexis.”

“Well then let them rest tomorrow, we will march the day after, but no later sire”.
“Indeed Alexis no later, they will be ready the morning one day from now, or I will want to know why.”
General Schnellendorf nodded, though he didn’t want to waste a single hour he knew the Duke was right, the Bergatonions will need at least a day to recover.
“Thank you sire, now what can you spare me for my move on Ostwald.”

Near Ostwald

The Rechburgian Prince Leopold sat in his tent, he had spent the last few days reorganising his army and waiting for messages from Rechburg. The appearance of the Franconian Army had thrown an unexpected problem into the mix for Leopold to consider.
He had written to his father enquiring whether the Brittanic Brigade on the Rechburgian-Hollandaise border would be joining him, but the answer had still not come back suggesting there was considerable diplomatic wrangling going on, but for Leopold it was now getting to the point of being too late, he needed to decide his next step.
On their own he had no doubts he could finish the Bergatonions off, but now they were reinforced by a fresh army which suggests they may have as many as 10 new Battalions and a couple of Cavalry regiments, then that was entirely new problem.
Leopold had hoped the Franconians would march against him, but the reports from spies and deserters suggested that Duke Rupert would prepare the defences of his capital, possibly against a direct assault or more likely a siege.
A siege was another problem for Leopold, he didn’t have s siege train and he only had medium artillery, so it was likely to be a long issue, and with Franconia able to send more reinforcements Leopold was worried that his numbers were inadequate.
His only real chance was to move now, strike the enemy before they had prepared their defences fully, he realised he had dallied around Ostwald to long; it was time to move on New Madrid.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Battle of Hister

King Konstantin rode into Hister at the head of his entourage; already the town was a hive of activity with the soldiers of the 3rd Brigade preparing the village for defence, busy loop holing walls and barricading the main roads and alley ways.
Behind him a few miles away the rest of his army was marching quickly to join him, already looking back he could see the dust clouds approaching from the west, however as he looked to the east he saw even more dust clouds coming towards him.
He dismounted in the village square where he noticed a large gathering of his officers, amongst them was General Wrede commander of the 3rd Brigade as well as his old friends General Romer commander of the 2nd Infantry division and the cavalry Brigade General Jeschonnek.
“Well Gentlemen a fine day for a scrap what?”
Konstantin espied a church with a tall tower, he noticed that already up in the tower men were preparing it for defence.
“I should think we need to go up yonder and have a look around, come Gentlemen follow me.”
From the church belfry there was a panoramic view of the area around Hister, the country side was generally open with a few significant ridges and slopes and one or two woods, not ideal country for a defending  force that is likely to be heavily outnumbered.
It was clear that with the forces available his army would not be able to defend here for very long, not that was intention anyway.
As he swung his telescope around to the east, watching the approaching cloud he noticed some Hapburgian cavalry already taking station on Grosser Hill and Manerheim Ridge.
“Gentlemen it seems the enemy have arrived”.

                                                               The Hister Battlefield
The King then noticed two of his own Light Cavalry regiments were moving down from Granner Ridge heading for the Hapburgians on Grosser Hill.
Konstantin turned to General Jeschonnek,
“What the hell are they doing, who ordered them to advance?”
The General was just as puzzled as his King, “I don’t know Sire, I will get them recalled immediately”

“Yes do that general and when you find out who ordered them forward I want them dismissed from the army immediately, now go before it’s too late and get them back.”
The General spoke to one of his aides who immediately gathered a bugler and another trooper and the three men raced after the Light cavalry.

The Hapburgian Light Cavalry had been watching the Wartenburg regiments coming off the ridge before them, Colonel Piesser the Regimental commander ordered forward the Horse battery he had on the reverse slope. He also noticed coming from the village three riders riding for all they were worth,

The Hapburgian Colonel turned to his aide
“Well I am guessing someone is in for a right rollicking.”

Even from up on Grosser Hill they could hear the Wartenburg bugler playing the “recall” for all his life was worth.
Colonel Piesser looked to the battery commander, but the Battery Commander Captain Briel simply shook his head,
“Sorry Sir they are not in range yet”
“Very well, we will have to see if we can entice them to come just a little closer.”
He turned to his aide once more,
“Charles we will move to the bottom of the ridge, if the Wartenburgers are tempted and come into range, the guns may fire, but once you see us moving forward in the charge for god sake hold the battery fire I sure as hell will not appreciate being shot up the backside my own guns.”

The Colonel then lead the 1st cavalry Regiment down the forward slope of Grosser Hill. The two Wartenburg Cavalry Regiments seemed to be ready to accept the challenge, but at the last moment someone must have heard the bugler, because both Regiments came to the halt and then started to move back to Granner ridge.
 Colonel Piesser cursed to himself, he was tempted to launch a charge after them but was mindful of his own orders, he was to screen the deployment of the Hapburgian army as it deployed, not to become involved in personal side issues.
Leaving the Regiment in place at the foot of the ridge he returned to the crest to continue watching, the enemy deployment and his own army as it was now entering the battlefield.

Back in Hister King Konstantin had come down from the church tower; one of his staff had laid a map out on a table, his staff and unit commanders gathered around.

“Right then Gentlemen, time is off the essence as you can all clearly see the bloody Hapburgians have arrived already, they must have damn well run to get here so soon. Now then let me make one thing clear to you all, we are not here to defend or die; we are here to delay and make the bloody Hapburgians die. We are delaying the enemy, buying time for our allies to get closer and every day we can delay is a day’s march closer they will be.”

He looked around the men,
“Gentlemen there are two elements that will make or break us today, they are timing and discipline. As unit commanders you must resist the temptation to get stuck in to the enemy that is unless I order otherwise.
You may threaten to attack, but unless you are certain you can easily disengage do not become involved in a General melee. The idea is to fire, cause casualties and then move out. The Cavalry may find it necessary to charge but only as a last resort, and again I remind you, if you do charge make sure you can disengage quite safely, if you lose your units in pointless general melees fight to the death and make sure you don’t come back. I want officers who know how to obey and control their men; I have no time for glory hunters or self patronizing bastards who think of their own honour over my orders.”

Konstantin looked behind him and was pleased to see the rest of his army arriving.
“Right then Gentlemen, let’s get down to deployments.
General Wrede, your 3rd brigade will hold the village and hedge line to the south, you will hold the village at all costs and you are the one command that will remain in place for as long as possible. There will come a time that the rest of the army starts to withdraw away from the village, when that happens you are to leave the minimum garrison and make sure you leave with your command, do you understand me General, when it is time to pull back you will designate a rear guard commander, you will not stay.”
General Wrede nodded reluctantly, “Yes Sire.”
”General Romer you will place your Infantry Division north of the village, 4th  Brigade to cover the gap between the village and Kliener Woods, General you will ensure the enemy do not take the woods before we are ready to withdraw, if necessary you can withdraw via the Velachill road, so make sure you do not get cut off.
The 5th Brigade, which are your Conscripts will be deployed south of the village, but clearly we can not just yet rely on them to be steady, but the experience will help toughen them, so long as you keep them under tight control.”

General Romer nodded his head, “You can rely on the 2nd Division Sire.”
“Oh I do General, just as I rely on all of you to do your duty, now off to your commands:

The Battle

The Wartenburg moves up into position, the medium artillery is already engaging the Hapburgians.

                                         Map of the Southern Flank of Hister

General Wrede was given 2x9pdr Batteries and a 6pdr HA battery  to help in the defence of the village, with the instructions they were not to be allowed to be captured.
Both 9pdr batteries were deployed to the front of the village while the HA artillery battery was placed on its northern flank.

King Ferdinand
Ferdinand waited impatiently for his army to arrive, his plan was simplicity itself, he would pin as many Wartenburg units as possible into the defence of the village.
He would use the 1st Light Cavalry Division to swing south via Granner Ridge with the aim of taking the bridge crossing the Wiener River and thereby cutting of the Wartenburg retreat to the west.

On the northern flank the 4th Infantry Division with 2nd Cavalry Division in support would take Kliener Woods thus cutting the Wartenburg retreat to the north, meanwhile the 2nd and 3rd Divisions would take the village and the hedges to the south.

The attack began with 3rd Foot brigade (3rd Div) and the 1st Foot Brigade (2nd Div) advancing directly on Hister village.
 To the south the 1st and 2nd Light Horse regiments cautiously began their advance on Granner ridge; they suspected the Wartenburg Cavalry that had been seen on the ridge was still there but on the reverse slope.

On the northern flank the 4th Division was still in the process of forming up, having been delayed in the long march to the battle.

Part of the Hapburgian army moves up to the attack.

                                             Map of the Northern Flank of Hister

As the two Hapburgian Brigades advanced on Hister, the Wartenburg artillery began a very effective fire on them, in particular the 5 battalions of the 3rd Foot Brigade suffered heavily (it has been estimated the five battalions between them lost 400 men in the many attacks on the village that day). By the time 1st Battalion and 2nd battalions (5th Bde) were within a 100 yards of the village both Battalions were in disarray and unable to advance further, they lost a further 200 men in futile attacks on the northern outskirts of Hister, General Kuntzel commander of the Brigade was seriously wounded and would be out of action for 6 weeks.
The 3rd Battalion (1st Foot Bde) suffered heavily from the Horse Artillery battery, the battalion commander attempted to charge the guns but the battalion was halted and then routed back.

The Wartenburg Horse artillery fire in the faces of the 3rd battalion, the 3rd routed from the field.

The 4th & 5th Battalions valiantly charged the village but were repulsed and withdrew in disorder, they were to return to attack the northern outskirts of Hister in no less than 3 more separate attacks, each time they were forced back.

South of the village the Hapburgian 9th Imperial Brigade advanced on the southern outskirts of Hister, the 9th Brigade was unique in that prior to this war it had been a Wartenburg Brigade, however its officers and men remained loyal to the Hapburgian King and crossed the border to rejoin the Hapburgian army when King Konstantin declared he was rebelling against Hapburgia; so in effect in the south it was Wartenburg against Wartenburg.
The first attacks by the 9th Bde were just as unsuccessful as the in the northern parts of the village, however after a rousing speech by the Brigade Commander his men regained their strength and courage went back into the attack, finally successfully taking the southern outskirts of Hister, that attack alone costing approximately 100 casualties.

Further south the cavalry battle was about to open up, as the two Hapburgian cavalry regiments approached Granner Ridge the leading Hapburgian Regiment which was the 1st LC regiment was attacked by the 2nd Wartenburg Light Cavalry regiment and it suffered over 100 men and was routed back, (the 2nd Regt routed from the battlefield to take no further part in the battle).
 The following Hapburgian Regiment (3rd Dragoons) halted in disorder,  however they soon recovered their morale and rejoined the battle.

The Wartenburg Light Cavalry suffered no casualties and returned to the ridge. However now the 3rd and 4th Hapburgian (2nd Light Bde/1st LC Div) moved forward. The Hapburgian Cavalry commander also brought forward a HA battery which began firing on the Wartenburg Cavalry, forcing them back over the Crest of the ridge.
The Wartenburg cavalry decided it was now prudent to pull back to the next ridge line on Welsea Ridge, the Heavy Cavalry Brigade that had been there now moved over to Grossweig ridge as a central reserve. The Hapburgian Artillery now began firing on the Wartenburg Battalions behind the hedge lines they would in the course of the afternoon inflicted a 100 casualties on the battalion holding the hedge lines.

The Hapburgian 2nd light Cavalry Brigade moved on to Granner ridge, it was joined by the 6th Heavy Cavalry Brigade The Wartenburg cavalry now withdrew back to a half way point between Hister and the bridge over the Wiener River. It was clear now that the greater numbers of Hapburgian cavalry swarming around the southern flank would eventually cut the road to the bridge. King Konstantin noticed General Wrede had already started pully units out of Hiser, these included the two medium artillery batteries.

The Hapburgian Cavalry are beginning to move past the Hister Village while the Infantry attacks continue on the village itself.

On the northern Flank the 4th Infantry Division sent the 5th Foot Bde(4th Div) and the 4th Light Cavalry Brigade (2nd LC Division)  to attack the Wartenburg forces to the south of Kliener woods and the 6th Foot Bde with 3rd LC Bde (2nd LC Division) to attack those forces on the northern outskirts of the Kliener woods.

The 5th Hapburgian Foot Brigade moves around Kliener woods trying to cut the Northern escape route, meanwhile the struggle in the village continues.

As mentioned earlier the 4th Infantry Division was late in forming up for the attack, so while they were advancing towards the woods many of the men in the 5th Foot Bde were unnerved by the intense battle for Hister village.
The 4th Light Cavalry Bde came under fire from the same HA Batt that had been supporting the defence of the village; however it had since been withdrawn to cover the northern escape route. It caught the 4th LC Bde in a deadly fire which caused the 2 Regiments in the brigade to halt their advance; the 5th regiment suffered 50 casualties in a matter of minutes. The Brigade Commander ordered the Brigade to attack the Battery which they did and captured the guns, but in doing so they lost a further 100 men to canister fire.

The 4th cavalry Brigade moments before it launched its charge on the Horse Artillery Battery.

The 6th foot Brigade launched an attack into Kliener woods, they pushed the Jagers back and the Wartenburg Brigade commander General Archenholtz was killed.

Another view of the Hapburgians sweeping around the village, the Hapburgians occupied the section of village on the right and the Wartenburg troops held the southern or left side of the village until the end of the battle.

From this point the Northern attack stalled, merely because it was getting late in the day and the men were exhausted from a week’s long hard marching, this hesitation allowed the 4th Wartenburg Infantry Brigade covered by the 3rd Hussars to withdraw down the northern road unmolested.

Meanwhile General Wrede seeing the Hapburgian Cavalry moving around his southern flank and the 4th Foot Brigade moving around his northern flank decided it was time to thin out even more of  his garrison remaining in the northern part of Hister. He had already withdrawn 2 battalions, he now sent the 3rd Battalion to run helter skelter back down the road to the bridge leaving the 4th Battalion as a rearguard. Elements of this battalion did escape but 400 men were taken prisoner when they finally surrendered the town at the end of the battle.

The approaches to the bridge were covered by the Wartenburg medium artillery batteries and 2 Light Cavalry regiments supported by 2 Heavy Cavalry Regiments.

 The Wartenburg heavy cavalry overwatch the retreat back along the road to the bridge.

King Konstantin saw little point in forcing the bridge, he ordered forward his own artillery and he would use them to blast the enemy away from the river line, however this cautious approach allowed the Wartenburgers to withdraw unmolested.

Battle Casualties
Wartenburg lost 355 Infantry killed or seriously wounded and 177 with light wounds which would likely return to the colours in a week, they also lost 634 men captured (which Included the 400 captured in the village) and a battery of Horse artillery was taken.

Hapburgia lost 272 Infantry killed or seriously wounded; they had 528 with light wounds whom would return to the colours within a week. They also lost 338 Cavalry killed seriously wounded and 462 with Light wounds that would return to the colours within a week.

The Wartenburg army was forced to seperate in the retreat, once section of the army moved north while the remainder moved east. The Hapburgians spent the night at Hister reorganising before continuing their advance.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Britannic Perspective

For the Brittanic Admiral James Somerset-Haughton-Beaverton the last week had been a period of total chaos. He had received instructions from the war office that he was to prevent any fleets from landing troops in or north of the Duchy of Neider. His orders gave him the power to block and or fire on any ships attempting to break the blockade, in other words he was given the power to make war on nations that Brittania was still in a state of peace with.
This situation came about because the Brittanic Parliament was to a man so sure of the danger that a rampant Iberia or Franconia would become not only to Brittania itself but more importantly to their continental allies Rechburg and Hollandaise. Once either or both these Empires landed or moved large bodies of troops anywhere near or in any of these allies territory, then there was no doubt there Brittanic allies would struggle to defeat them. Without continental allies Brittania becomes very isolated and therefore very much weaker, not only in the defence of its own realm but for its colonies. This was because Brittania hired troops from its allies to help to defend its vast colonial Empire and without that source of manpower Brittania would simply lose the ability to defend its colonies as well as maintain its role as the leading maritime trading nation.

Due to the lack of a large regular army the only practical way Brittania had of preventing the ultimate defeat of its allies was to ensure they could not transport invading armies by sea so as to land on their allies’ coast. Brittania had the largest Navy in Europia, it was large enough to stop any one of the two Europian Empires but not both together unless quality of seaman ship was allowed to show through.
It was through the strength of this navy, not only in numbers but quality that Brittania could secure trade routes to its colonies as well as limited any grand naval moves by its enemies.

Naturally if they march overland there was little Brittania could do apart from ensuring the existence of Alliances that were strong enough to contain any threat. Thus the principal strategies employed by the Britannic Government were strong alliances on land and the presence of a strong Britannic Navy at sea.

On the 1st of March Admiral Beaverton was sailing in the Brittanic Channel with a fleet of 17 ships of the line, 8 frigates and 3 Brigs. His orders were as always to protect Brittanic and their allied shipping that used the channel from pirates and harassment from Iberia or Franconia naval ships, but more importantly to present a blockade of the northern Brittanic channel.
He also had secret orders,
“His Majesty desires that if the opportunity presents itself to cause severe damage to the Iberian Fleet, you are to take advantage of that opportunity, this applies whether a state of war exists between Brittania or not”.

Every time he read those attached secret orders he smiled, the Government was prepared to take the chance to eliminate or damage one of the two opposing fleets that could threaten Brittanic interests, even at the expense of diplomatic legalities.

Admiral Beaverton was aware that there was another fleet of 8 ships of the line and 3 Frigates at the exit of the channel, they could reinforce the main fleet or interdict a Danemark Fleet that may have orders to become involved.

Then at as the dawn broke on the fateful day the first news- of the Iberian fleet arrived.
The scouting Frigates had reported back that an Iberian Fleet of 12 ships of the line, 7 Frigates and 2 Brigs was approaching from the south, they were followed by a second fleet of 18 transport ships, escorted by 3 ships of the line and 2 Frigates were hugging the Iberian coastline..
Admiral Beaverton immediately dispatched one of the Brigs to the north to warn the second Britannic fleet of the approaching Iberians, they were to remain in position but beware of any attempt by the Danemark fleet to sail south to reinforce the Iberians.
Meanwhile he ordered his own fleet to form line of battle and he set course for the south and the Iberian Fleet.

Commander of the Iberian battle fleet Admiral Francesco Farnese was struggling to keep his fleet in formation. He had always been aware that to sail through the Britannic channel at this time of the year would mean having to sail into the winds coming down from the north, the constant need for tacking his fleet northwards was beginning to cause the fleet to lose cohesion. He had warned his King that this was the wrong time of the year to attempt to sail large fleets through the channel, but his objections were over-ruled as being far too cautious.
He had been constantly reminded that the Iberian Navy had ship for ship  newer vessels than those of the Britannic navy, but his comments that it was the sailors that make a fighting ship not the age of its timbers.
In the end however he had simply been ordered to do as he was instructed, thus he now found himself sailing into the teeth of strong winds blowing down the channel.

Admiral Farnese had received reports from his outlying Frigates that Brittanic Fleets had been sighted, so he knew he was approaching the line in the channel his orders had warned him about.
His instructions had been if he was opposed by the Britannic fleet he was to force his way though with the battle fleet, but to send the Transport fleet into the nearest Franconian port until the battle was over.
So in accordance with his orders the Admiral sent a Brig back to the transport fleet with orders  to make for Boulogne harbour; the 3 escorting ships of the line were to join him, the 2 Frigates to remain with the transports.
Admiral Farnese then set about trying to get his fleet into some sort of battle line.

Two hours later Admiral Beaverton was sitting in his stateroom with Captain Engels, his Flag captain and Admiral Noble who commanded 7 ships of the line in a second squadron in his fleet. They had been discussing tactics for the coming battle when they interrupted by the beating of drums, the ship was being brought to battle stations, moments later there was knock on the door, the First Lieutenant stepped in and
“Sir, lookouts report the enemy fleet on the horizon”
“Thank you Jenkins” the Flag captain said.
The three men stood up, Admiral Beaverton offered his hand to Admiral Noble
“Well Charles its seems it’s time for you to rejoin your squadron, may I offer the best of the day and good hunting”
Admiral Noble took the hand, shaking it vigorously
“Damnation to Iberians I say, and indeed to you sir, the very best of luck.”

With that the three men made their way to the deck, Admiral Noble made his way to the side, turned and saluted Admiral Beaverton, he then nimbly made his way down to his gig waiting below.

Then there was a call from the masthead.
“Sail on the Port Quarter, too far to identify yet.”

Admiral Beaverton and his flag captain made their way to the quarterdeck, once there the admiral was offered a telescope. First he looked towards the new sighting, but it was indeed too far away for now, he then turned to look to the Iberian fleet over to his starboard quarter.
The Admiral turned to his Flag captain,
“By god James they are leaving it mighty late to tack.”
The Iberians had been sailing on a nor westerly course that was taking them towards the coast of Britannia only some 3  miles away from their current position.

Another call from the crow’s nest
“Sail on the Port Quarter is the Brig Bounder.”
The Admiral looked to the first lieutenant,
“Order Bounder to close and report.”

The admiral once more studied the Iberian fleet as they were now beginning to change tack which would set them on a course to bring them back towards the mid channel.

The Admiral turned to his Flag Captain,
“Well James it seems the Iberian Admiral wants to close with us”.
The First Lieutenant then noticed the Iberian Admirals pennant on the flag ship; he quickly checked his records and reported to Admiral Beaverton,
“Sir the Iberian Fleet is commanded by Admiral Farnese, he is aboard the 80 gun ship Cartagena”

“Signal the fleet form on me,”
Admiral Beaverton walked over to the starboard side of the quarterdeck, again quickly raising his glass to observe the fleet; the tacking procedures of the Iberian fleet were shoddy to say the least.

“Well James it seems Admiral Farnese has decided to mix it with us, so let’s not disappoint the Admiral”

The first lieutenant had been watching the Brig Bounder as she was deftly tacking her way towards them, he was able to note the signal flags quite easily now, he quickly noted the message down. He walked over the Flag Captain, handing him the written message.

Admiral Beaverton turned to see the Captain reading the transcript.
“Well James what is it?”
“Admiral, the Brig Bounder reports the Iberian transport fleet is putting into Boulogne, she also reports she is being followed by three Iberian ships of the line, all 64’s.”

The Admiral nodded,
“Well those three ships are of no concern to us for now, they are tacking into a head on wind so will be quite slow; so for now let us deal with Admiral Farnese.
James signal Admiral Noble he is to cut through the enemy line at their tacking point, we will head them off and close on the front of their line.”

The Britannic fleet having the wind on their stern meant they were closing rapidly on the enemy fleet.

The Iberian Admiral had been observing the Brittanic fleet with some concern; they had all the advantages, the wind and better sailing formation.
As he looked back over the Cartagena’s stern he was more than a little worried, his fleet had successfully formed line before tacking  but lost the cohesion once more when they tacked and now with only 4 ships having set on the new course, the remainder were still in the process of tacking or will be soon, except there was now very little time.
The Britannic fleet was increasing its sail and had now split into two; the leading squadron seemed to be intent on closing on him while the second squadron was heading straight for the spot where his own ships were tacking.
Admiral Farnese turned to his Flag Lieutenant
“Order the ships that have not tacked to do so immediately, then they can reform line” he muttered softly to himself, “if they have time.”

The Cartagena was the first to open fire, it was at long range and quite ineffective, several of the other Iberian ships also fired to little or no effect.
The Britannic Battle lines swept swiftly and silently closer to the Iberian fleet, six ships of Admiral Farnese’s fleet had completed tacking, when the Britannic fleet came with effective range, these ships began to fire a concentrated barrage on the leading Britannic ships. Admiral Beaverton’s flagship “Rascal” an 80 gun ship of the line suffered considerable damage to rigging and sails, the worst hit had been the bowsprit which was all but severed creating havoc on board, The forward mainmast was likewise heavily damaged so the Admiral ordered his Flag Captain to lay alongside the Iberian flagship the Cartagena. In closing on the Cartagena the Rascal took further damage but at least so far none of it fatal to the ship. As the Rascal pulled alongside the Iberian ship it fired its first broadside, all the guns were loaded with double shot thus the damage created below decks on the Cartagena when the broadside was unleashed was utter devastation, the main mast fell to the starboard side just as the Rascal was crashing alongside on the port side.
The following Britannic ship behind the Rascal also saluted the Iberian flagship with a broadside as well, the 64 gun “Beaver” sailed past and fired into the stern of the already shattered Cartagena the two broadsides from Rascal and Beaver had all but destroyed the enemy flagship, Admiral Farnese was laying severely wounded on the quarter deck.
The Beaver also fired its starboard battery at the following Iberian ship as it ran between the two Iberian ships, each successive Britannic ship ran in parallel to its neighbouring Iberian ship in the line and for a short while they all were engaged in a vicious firefight, several either deliberately or because of damage crashed into the side of the enemy ships instigating brutal boarding actions.

Admiral Nobles squadron hit the disorganised Iberian ships that had just finished tacking, none of them were in line and all were exposed to Admiral Nobles squadron as the sailed through disorganised Iberian fleet.
Those Iberian ships in the rear that had finished tacking immediately began to wear away with the wind, realising the futility of trying to form a battle line the best they could do was use the wind and escape, but even this was difficult for all of them as the Britannic ships had full sails and closed rapidly.

On board the Rascal the Britannic boarding parties had swept on board the Cartagena, the melee was brief as most of the Iberian crew were already killed, wounded or stunned by the effects of the severe broadsides. Captain Engels lead the boarding party, he knew what he was looking for and with a small group from his crew they fought their way to the Admirals stateroom. As he boatswain remarked at least there was no need to open doors, there were none left standing? The broadside from the Beaver had collapsed all the internal walls and doors right through the length of the Iberian flagship.

 Admiral Beaverton looking over the side of his ship noticed the entire side of the Cartagena was caved in where the doubleshotted broadside had collapsed huge sections of the Iberian flagships hull. The water was pouring into the stricken Iberian vessel. He immediately ordered the First Lieutenant to recall the crew; meanwhile those men still on board the Rascal started cutting the debris that was tying the two ships together. The few remaining crew on the Cartagena were likewise dropping their weapons and fleeing over to the Rascal, knowing full well their own ship was doomed. The fear was now that the sinking Cartagena would take the Rascal with her if they could not achieve separation.

In Admiral’s Farnese stateroom Captain Engels and his men had heard the summons back to the ship, but they continued the search for all or any papers, in the corner of the cabin one of his men found the all crucial pouch, inside they found the weights required to sink it when or if it needed to been thrown overboard, for with the weights inside the pouch were Admiral’s Farnese orders from his King.
Gathering the pouch and all the maps and documents they could they fled back on deck, and then back to their own ship.

Looking over the stern of the rascal Admiral Beaverton looked on the rest of the action with some satisfaction, clearly the Iberian Fleet was taking a considerable pounding, several ships were attempting to escape, a few were still fighting for all they were worth; but the result was now clearly inevitable.

The Rascal did manage to separate from the Cartagena before she went down, taking Admiral Farnese with her, of the 12 Iberian ships of the line engaged 7 were sunk or so badly damaged they surrendered, the remaining 5 escaped along with the frigates.
The Britannic fleet lost 3 ships and 7 ships with severe damage, but as they were only a few miles from the Britannic coast safety was not too far away.
The Rascal suffered the worst damage and would require considerable repair before seeing action again.

The Battle of the Britannic Channel was over, the remaining Iberian ships struggled back to Franconian ports to recover and make urgent repairs.

Back in his stateroom Admiral Beaverton opened the Iberian pouch and began to read the orders the Iberian King had issued to his admiral, he read passages such as

…therefore Duke Anton Louvois by not making common cause with the Empires of Franconia and Iberia has placed himself and his territories outside the protection of the Papal see, therefore you are instructed to land the Army on the shores of Neider and ensure all measures are taken to return the Duchy to its full responsibilities as part of both the mother church and to the Empires of Franconia and Iberia.”

“… it is hoped you will receive full support from local Franconian units which are based near the border, but whether this support is forth coming or not you will ensure the Iberian Flag flies securely over the Duchy of Neider and Iberia remains in full control.”

Admiral Beaverton looked up from the missive he was reading, looking at Captain Engels he said
“For god sake get a Brig alongside, this need to get back London damn quick”.
The Admiral knew that in his hands he had the documents that could change the entire diplomatic settings in Europia, especially those of Neider.

Only being a few miles from the coast by nightfall the Iberian Orders were in the hands of the Prime Minister and the King, the common phrase of all who read them seemed to be “Good God”.

Two days later, Duke Louvois’s own phrase was less delicate when he read copies of the orders, but his actions were certain, he announced that the Duchy of Neider no longer considered itself part of any alliance or agreements with neither Franconia nor Iberia. Instead it had now signed a defensive alliance with the Brittanic Empire, The Kingdom of Hollandaise and the Herzogtum von Rechburg.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hapburgian - Wartenburg Looms.

Kingdom of Hapburgia

For King Ferdinand the winter months had passed in extreme trying times. Hapburgia had lost the Bishopric of Ulrichstein in the war with Rechburg; the Duchy of Wartenburg had  rebelled and was now self styled as the Kingdom of Wartenburg. Within his own Kingdom there were increasing signs of discontent even of rebellion forming, as is usual with most rebellions they were fueld by fear or as a result of Papist propaganda.
The greatest schism of public opinion had occurred when the King took a Protestant wife as Queen, from that moment on acting on the secret dictates of the Iberian Pope many catholic clergymen preached the theme that their King was under the influence of a heretic witch, rebellion began to smolder in the hills and towns of Hapburgia.
As early spring brought warmth and growth to his Kingdom, it sent a chill down Ferdinand’s spine. He realised it was time he put aside the comforts of having a new wife and deal with ever deteriorating  situation in his Kingdom. The first steps undertaken were simply he was forced to deploy a third of his army within his own Kingdom just to quell any signs of rebellion. These units he placed under the command of Archduke Eugene, his younger brother. It was a gamble as his brother had already proved himself as an intriguer, but it was a chance he was forced to take, and it was a chance for Eugene to prove his loyalty.
Queen Caroline suggested that they take a small progress tour of the realm, so she could meet her new people and hopefully allay many of their fears; it was a suggestion fraught with many dangers as there were bound to be many extremists and agitators amongst the rebellious mobs. Initially fearful for his wife’s safety he refused to contemplate such a risky idea, eventually however she persisted and he gave way and they toured much of the Kingdom.
The tour was a great success, Caroline was tonic to many people in Hapburgia, it had been many years since there had been a Hapburgian Queen and many of the nobles fell under the charismatic spell of their new Queen.
Other changes also occurred, for the first time in hundreds of years Protestant churches began to appear in some of the towns and villages, at first the congregations would be small, but it was a sign of new religious tolerance, for others the fanatical minority no doubt it would  lead to the hardening of religious  intolerance.
Ferdinand enacted new laws and introduced new farming systems called the enclosure system which made land far more productive, selective animal breeding schemes would see the animal size and health improve. These were small starts and only time would show how effective they would become, but they were positive signs for his people. Trade was vastly improved with the new allies in Rechburg, Pomonia and Flensburg, products unseen for many years were once again readily available in the markets and village stalls.
Though these changes were sudden, they were effective in that the Kingdom passed from a low point of almost open rebellion in the winter to a growing acceptance of new changes and perhaps a more optimistic view point in its future.

Regardless of what Ferdinand was doing always in the back of his mind was the coming war with Wartenburg.
He had heard that King Juan of the Franconian Empire had openly come out in support of King Konstantin of Wartenburg, maybe even to the point of sending troops.
As Ferdinand stood in his office pondering the maps and orders of battle for his invasion of the rebellious province he knew he was about to cast the dice that could possibly blow Europia apart. If the reports were true and Franconia had come out in support of the Konstantin in Wartenburg, then Empires would be clashing, the first time in hundreds of years.
He heard a rustling behind him, his wife had quietly entered his office, he turned and took her hand, leading her to the window, they stood silently together just looking out on the gardens.

Charlotte knew Ferdinand was deeply troubled, there was little she could do to alleviate his worries, other than be there to support him. She glanced back at the maps on the table, knowing it was time that he settled the Wartenburg issue.
She hooked her arm through his and drew him closer, together they just stood, watching, waiting.

Slowly she let his arm go and stood before him, she did a twirl before him, all the while smiling, Ferdinand looked at her, he knew she was either teasing him yet again or showing off, sadly he was missing the point into regard which one is was.

“What is it, surely you not trying to woo me already, good god we have only been up a few hours?”

She never spoke just did a few more twirls and then went to him putting her arms around his neck.

He looked into her eyes, he had learnt that was a bad thing to do when one was trying to stay strong around her;
“What is my darling?”
She laughed and then said
“We are having a baby.”
Ferdinand stood transfixed to the spot, perhaps a more precise description would have been that he was frozen to the spot.
“What, how, I mean already.”
“Yes my darling already, the benefits of a woman having such a virile husband, is that these things happen sweetheart” she said as she planted a kiss on his lips.

She then gaily danced out of the room, Ferdinand still had not moved, he was looking at the door that she had just passed through, thinking to himself, good god if it’s not wars its babies.

A few days later Ferdinand left Hapburgia at the head of his army, the journey ahead was going to be difficult and he knew it would likely be months before he returned, the parting had not been easy but both he and Caroline knew it had to be done.

King Ferdinand lead five divisions of troops (3 Infantry and 2 Cavalry) through the mountain passes that separated Hapburgia from the Kingdom of Wartenburg, the first reports were the Wartenburg army was actually being led by his brother-in-law King Konstantin, it appeared the Wartenburgers were racing to concentrate at the border town of Hister, the same town Ferdinand’s army was moving on.

Kingdom of Wartenburg

For King Konstantin the winter had been an equally trying time. He had made the decision to declare his provinces’ rebellion from the Hapburgian Empire for as much personal safety as well as the prestige of finally becoming King.
The real difficulty had been negotiating support from Franconia, because he knew with Franconian support he had a chance, without it there was almost no chance his reign would be a long one. As it turned out King Juan I was readily agreeable to supporting him, on certain conditions and generally they meant the Kingdom of Wartenburg would become a client state, but in the world of big Empires and smaller realms sometimes just surviving as a smaller realm was enough; at least for now.

King Konstantin knew that the Hapburgian King (his brother-in-law) was having other possible rebellion troubles, he hoped, nay; prayed that they would increase and expand keeping the Hapburgians busy long enough for the Franconian Army to arrive in Wartenburg.
Sadly it didn’t happen, the rebellious crowds soon disappeared and the country settled down, so Konstantin then knew that in the spring the Hapburgian King would come to reclaim his province and Konstantin’s head.

The first signs of the Hapburgian move came when spies he had placed in the border mountain passes reported the Hapburgian army was concentrating on Konich, the reports indicated that it would only be a matter of weeks before they marched.
For Konstantin, the issue was fall back and wait, either for the Hapburgians or the Franconians, or to march and meet the Hapburgian as the emerged out of the mountain passes near Hister.

In the end he decided on a combination of both, he would meet the Hapburgians at Hister, bloody them and hopefully delay them a little, then he would retreat back to meet his new allies he knew were already crossing his western borders. The main danger for the Wartenburg King was that in engaging the Hapburgians early he would be out numbered two to one, that disadvantage however could be offset if he could reach the border mountain passes before the Hapburgians moved; there the numerical odds would not matter too much.

The focal point for his concentration was the town of Hister, unfortunately for King Konstantin the Hapburgians marched several weeks earlier than he expected and they too were heading for Hister, a meeting Engagement battle is sure to follow.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Letters are exchanged

 Herzog Constantine II
Herzogtum von Rechburg

I am writing this letter the day after the battle of Ostwald, you will by now no doubt have read my reports sent yesterday by courier, on the battle and its disappointing results.  I have no real explanation why our troops did not perform with the usual √Član, the circumstances were ideal for a complete victory. We outnumbered the enemy both numerically and in quality, yet when it came to the fighting the men simply seemed to lack their usual “killer Instinct” of battle.

Other errors that culminated in an average result were my own, I would be the first to admit I was too cautious and deprived myself of the very instrument I needed for the breakthrough that of course being the Guard cavalry.
The reason I deployed them away from the battle is one of the reasons I am writing today. Yesterday I was in a dearth of information regarding the forces of the Duchy of Neider. Just prior to the battle I was told they were only hours from marching on my flank, hence the need to detach a viable force to at least slow them down while I fought the battle here at Ostwald.
Inexplicably an hour or so before the battle, the Neider Army just disappeared and I have since learned they had withdrawn from Bergatonia, however yesterday I had to assume this sudden movement was to go wider around my flanks and to cut communications with Rechburg.

Obviously father something has occurred that I am not aware off, why would the Neider Army simply turn around and march away home, they certainly were at the point of gaining a great strategic advantage?

The other matter I am writing for and off even greater concern is after I sent the battle report off to you I received a visit from a Franconian General Alexis Schnellendorf.
He was an arrogant boastful individual however he came under a flag of truce with a message from King Juan.
The message warned me that if I continued to make war on Bergatonia either by advancing further or even by remaining in Bergatonia that Franconia would be at war with Rechburg. I did point out that it was in fact Bergatonia that declared war on us but that seemed to have little sway with arrogant bastard.
He claims to have an Army taking up positions around the Bergatonian Capital, details of which I have no knowledge.
I sent him off “with a flea in his ear” but I am equally concerned that yet again events are unfolding before me from which I have no knowledge, if there is a Bergatonian/Franconian Army waiting for me at New Madrid it will mean I am most likely outnumbered, so before I act there are several things I require of you:

a)     I would appreciate some guidance on how to react to these new events, in particular to all information that pertains to events happening outside my area of control, for example has our situation changed so much that you desire a war with Franconia? Are we at war with Iberia yet? And finally as mentioned what is happening with Neider.
b)    I know I have all the forces you can spare, but father you may need to apply pressure on our allies to gain some additional forces, particularly if a Franconia Army is indeed a few miles from me. It is imperative I have some reinforcements. Rechburg quite simply cannot fight this war alone; our army is very quickly becoming depleted, particularly when we fight inconclusive battles such as that fought yesterday.

Meanwhile I will remain here until I have word from you, I will reorganise the army and for now prepare some defensive positions. I have sent patrols out in search of information but as I am sure you will appreciate the Cavalry at the moment are a spent force and will need careful handling until we can rebuild their confidence.

I remain your loving Son
Prince Wilhelm.

Written this 6th day of March, at Ostwald, Bergatonia

While Prince Wilhelm waited he re-organised his army and prepared his positions. He had reports back from long range patrols that confirmed the presence of Franconian infantry around New Madrid. A few days later he received a missive from his father.

Dear Wilhelm
My dearest son first let me say just how proud we are all are off you, I know I have not given you easy tasks but then when have I ever been easy on you. As I have explained to you so many times that as heir to the Rechburg throne you will always be required to make difficult decisions. When the time comes to make those decisions, the one thing you must do is try and have all the information to help you in finding an answer. However sometimes those answers are simply not available at the time and you must your decisions based on your own logic and intuition ergo your position prior to the battle.
The moves you made before fighting the battle at Ostwald were perfectly acceptable given the void of information as to events outside your control, so please do not be too harsh on yourself and never, ever second guess the decision once made.

As why troops fight very well in one battle and not the next can often simply be explained by either lack of recent experience or even too much recent experience.
Don’t forget Wilhelm these men have just fought a winter war; they did not have the opportunity for proper rest and recuperation. They were then required to march hundreds of miles from Ulrichstein to southern Rechburg, all on bad spring roads, so my guess is your men are tired. However having said that it is up to the commander to enthuse his men. You should go amongst them and show them you care and make changes that will help them; do these things which are small in nature but will pay dividends in results and you will find you have a much more reinvigorated army.

Now as to events that are all happening very quickly and I am assuming even by the time this courier has arrived events will have moved considerably.

The Duchy of Neider
 Duke Anton Louvois or perhaps more importantly I belief his wife Duchess Matilda did not have their hearts in a war in which  I assume they felt there was literally no profit in it for them. Further more I assume they felt they were becoming drawn deeper into a Franconian grasp for power and influence; something Anton has tried to resist these last few years.
The Britannic Government and their ally the Hollandaise Government gave them a nudge towards neutrality by warning them that should Neider join Franconia in a war against us then Brittania would be forced to declare war and blockade all the Neider Ports, thus in not time Neider would be in desperate economic straits as well as the threat of invasion from Hollandaise.
As you know Wilhelm Duchess Matilda has always been against the Franconian alliance and it seems over the last few years poor old Anton has slipped further under her influence. The choice between fighting in a war where there was no gain to them, and becoming involved in a larger war where all they have done for Neider over the last few years would be cast aside, was no choice really.
At this stage Neider has declared it neutrality in the war, we are waiting for the Franconian response and if they should resort to threats or war against Neider then Brittania and Hollandaise will offer support. So for the moment there is no threat from the direction of Neider.

The Empire of Franconia
In regard to the matter concerning Franconia, no I would prefer not to be in a war with them, but it seems they wish to be in a war with us, clearly there is no running away from this; retreating back to Rechburg merely brings Franconia to our borders.
Britannia has warned Franconia that if they attack our forces they will be at war with them as well, and to reinforce the point the Britannic navy is sailing off all the Franconian ports.
My advice for you Wilhelm is that according to the information you gave me this Franconian General who delivered the demands to you is merely displaying Franconian Bravado. Obviously we are in a state of war with Franconia based merely on his statement that if we are in Bergatonia we will be at war with Franconia; it simply behoves one side or the other to commit themselves to the fray.
So I urge you to stay and reorganise then advance on the Bergatonian capital, we need to end this matter quickly.
I have forwarded the Franconian threats onto to Lord Anders the Britannic ambassador to see what the Britannic reaction will be.

The Empire of Iberia
The Iberian Empire tried to force their way through a Britannic naval blockade with a large convoy of troops escorted warships, however after a brief skirmish the transports headed back to a Franconian port and seem to have disembarked there.
I cannot Imagine King Juan is any too pleased to have a horde of Iberian locusts marching across his land so it will be worth noting what happens, especially of course should they march north either against you or Neider.
In all honesty I now do not believe Juan will want Iberians in neither Neider nor Bergatonia as it is clear he is attempting to put them under his own control.

I received a small message from your sister; it is still hard to think of my little girl as Queen of Hapburgia. She is doing well and is already pregnant, so Ferdinand will be beside himself I think. She tells me King Ferdinand is marching with his army into Wartenburg; I have also heard rumours to the effect that both Franconia and Buchenwald are sending forces to Join Konstantin in Wartenburg.
It occurs to me Wilhelm that our King Juan is immersing himself in a war of Imperial conquest, as such he may ultimately spread himself to thinly.

Now son, in regard to reinforcements, quite simply Rechburg has none, we are training the new recruits but it will be months before they are ready for service. I have urged the Britannic ambassador to plead our case for Britannic troops and he think he will be able to help, the Britannic Government already have a Brigade of infantry in Hollandaise so if we can convince them to release them to you perhaps god willing they will be of help. Our other allies are already committed to the war by sending forces to watch Danemark, as well as protecting Ulrichstein.

I will finish off Wilhelm by offering god’s blessing to you, Leopold and your army, know this, in my eyes and the eyes of our people you can do no wrong.

Your loving and devoted father

Constantine II

Prince Wilhelm placed the letter down on his campaign table, pondering to himself he considered his situation.

At least I now know the extent of the situation, we are or will be at war with one of the largest Empires in Europia, my army is damaged and the prospects of any reinforcements are next to nothing. Before me I have an enemy that could be up to twice my numbers, clearly it is foolish for me to consider attacking them, so I must devise I way of drawing them onto my army instead.

He cleared the letter of the table and rose from his chair to gather the map of Bergatonia, as he sat back down, he paused smiling to himself,

Imagine my little sister with child. As for Ferdinand I wonder how his fortunes are progressing in Wartenburg.