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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Battle of Bukesdorf


What follows is a preamble to a battle that is being fought at the moment, the AAR will follow in a day or so once it has been completed.

Battle of Bukesdorf
Ironically the Battle of Bukesdorf was a battle both opposing commanders wanted to fight, but probably neither expected nor wanted to fight it there near Bukesdorf. The Bukesdorf region was a mess thick woods, hedges and hills, not the ideal country to attack an enemy in; and though neither commander realised it both the Rechburgians and the Franconian/Bergatonian armies were on the offensive.

The Franconian General Alexis Schnellendorf had been advised as recently as yesterday that the Rechburgians were still at least a day’s march away. The last reports suggested they were still recovering from the battle of Ostwald, though the Bergatonian Liaison officer that had brought the intelligence report had also suggested that perhaps the Rechburgians were waiting for the Britannic Army to join up with them. It was after all a reasonable proposition General Schnellendorf thought, the Rechburgian army had been in continuous battles for over a year; both against Imperial troops in Ulrichstein and more recently against the Bergatonions. They had not been given the chance to rest their army throughout the winter, instead they had were forced to hurriedly transfer the army from Ulrichstein to Bergatonia for fear that Duke Rupert ruler of Bergatonia may renew his offensive against Rechburg. However having completed the movement in remarkable time and condition the Rechburgians had themselves opted to gain the initiative and launched their own offensive against Bergatonia. In the early spring they had surprised the Bergatonions by attacking them near Ostwald, though the Bergatonions were defeated it had been a gruelling battle and both armies suffered considerably, it was clear even back then the Rechburgian army was noticeably weaker in numbers than the previous year, though it was amply clear their increased experience levels made up for the lack of strength.
Given that their numbers were in fact considerably less than the previous year it was reasonable to assume that their units might be further worn down by the recent battle of Ostwald. Therefore perhaps the Bergatonian Liaison officer was correct and the Rechburgians were waiting to link up with the Britannic troops. Schnellendorf hoped not because with the vastly experienced Rechburg Army joined by the Britannic veteran army would make a formidable force for him to contend with.  

 Instead he was woken early this morning with news that the Britannic army was not marching to join the Rechburgians, they were in fact moving further sou- west and marching directly on the Bergatonian capital of New Madrid.
The General had quickly dressed and summoned his commanders and staff, while he was waiting for them all to arrive, the Bergatonian Liaison officer Major Cadoudal  brought in further troubling news.
Over night the Franconian patrols had seen the fires of a large army a few miles to the north and this morning Rechburgian piquets had been sighted on Belinka Hill only 10 miles from his headquarters.

General Schnellendorf looked at the Bergatonian Major with disbelief,
“Are you telling me Major that we have been camped here all night only some 10 miles from the enemy army, the same enemy army that only yesterday you told me was some 30 miles away from us. Not only that you imbecile you only now tell me they are just down the road from us.”
General Schnellendorf’s aide Colonel Kemp had just returned with his staff and commanders, he heard the General yelling at someone so decided for the moment to wait outside, it was well known throughout the Franconian army that the General had fierce some temper and it was prudent not to be drawn into the fracas.

Everyone outside could hear the General yelling at Major Cadoudal who was at the moment beginning to tremble under the verbal barrage being unleashed on him.
“So pray tell me Major while your piquets were watching the awe inspiring sights of the enemy fires on the night sky, why didn’t someone think to come and invite me to go have a look as well, perhaps you thought I wouldn’t be interested in the wonders of the twinkling of fires glistening on a summers night sky, or perhaps you didn’t think I might want to know the enemy were damned near camping on my front door. No it seems you decided to wait, and here it is now damn near daylight and I now can expect the bloody Rechburgians for breakfast.”
“But your Excellency” Major Cadoudal stammered, “ I have only minutes ago received the new reports myself, I came to you as soon as I had them from the patrols”.

“So you stayed back here in the comforts of the headquarters, not bothering to go out and check the piquets yourself, to ensure that the army was adequately screened”.

The General paused for a moment,
“Major are you a relative of the Duke?”
“No my general,” the nervous Major answered.
“Then are you a friend of his?”
“No General, sadly I am not”.

“Hmm then major you are in a particularly depressing spot, I will be forwarding a report on your performance to the Duke and I can assure you it will not be favourable, now I suggest Major that in the coming battle you go and get yourself heroically killed, that is likely the only way you will escape the Dukes wrath; for now you are dismissed.”

As the major was about to leave he turned and said,
“General I may not be well connected as you suggest, but remember just one thing; my job is to be your liaison officer, those piquets that failed in their job were Franconian Light Cavalry, not Bergatonian. The officers that failed to report to you were Franconian not Bergatonian. I merely brought the reports to your attention, not because it was my job too; but because some of your own officers failed too. As you have suggested I too will be forwarding my reports to the Duke, and Sir it may well be you who will need high connections.”

With that he saluted and left, as he departed the tent he hesitated as he saw the collection of Franconian officers waiting outside, all of whom would have heard the exchange, he saluted them and continued back to his own tent.
Colonel Kemp lead the officers into General Schnellendorf’s command tent, inside the red faced General stood there obviously fuming with anger. He turned to Colonel Kemp,
“You will send a guard to Major Cadoudal and have him arrested for being a Rechburg spy, it is clear to me that he has deliberately sabotaged the chain of command in order to aid the enemy”.
He then took the Colonel my the elbow and drew him aside from the others and whispered,
“Colonel, I wouldn't be surprised he may try to escape, in which case I expect him to be shot”.

The Colonel looked at his General, realising his meaning he simply nodded and left.

The General then turned to his commanders smiling,
“Gentlemen, come to the map table if you would please, it seems we have a battle to fight today, but by god I hope it is not anywhere near here.”

Some 20 minutes or so later while the plans were being discussed all in the tent heard a distant shot, despite the enquiring glances all knew what the significance of what that single shot meant, moments later the Colonel returned and simply nodded to the General; who continued  issuing his orders.

Meanwhile the Bergatonian courier Major Cadoudal had urgently sent to the Duke back in New Madrid rode hard with the secret dispatch which reported the failings of the Franconian Command and also that he expected to be arrested or killed within the day.


Their attention was drawn back to the map, by the General  tapping the map table.

“Now Gentlemen this is how I intend to deal with the Rechburgian whelp”.

The Rechburg Army
Prince Wilhelm was a worried man, he had hoped to be closer to New Madrid when he meet the enemy, and ideally the Bergatonions anf their allies the Franconians would have chosen a battle on the outskirts of the capital, that way at least he would have been joined by the Brittanic troops. However his wishes were not to be, the Franconian General had clearly decided to push out and seek battle away from the Bergatonian city.
Strategically that favoured the Rechburgians because it meant the Britannic troops should have an unopposed march on the Capital. Reports indicated that Duke Rupert was in command in the city and that all he had was a bunch of conscripts and one battle worn Brigade of regular troops.
However tactically it was not good news for him because it meant the Rechburgians were to have a battle in the Bukesdorf region which seemed to be nothing but a collection of farms, woods, forests, trees and every manner of obstacles that nature and man could throw in front of an army.
Perhaps it was ideal defensive terrain for him but the Prince Wilhelm could not take for granted that the Franconian General would oblige by attacking him, in fact he could at this very moment be slipping away and making for New Madrid, and if that was the case then he would have a Rechburg saber in his back all the way back down the road.

The early reports from patrols seemed to indicated that the Franconian army was not on the main Ostwald – New Madrid road but on a secondary road that join the main road south of a hamlet called Bukesdorf. In fact his piquets up on the ridge before him were watching enemy scouts in the hills and woods opposite them, the problem was were they an advance guard or rear guard. Prince Wilhelm and his younger brother Prince Leopold rode up the gentle slopes of Belinda Hill to gauge the situation for themselves.

“Well Leo it I’m hoping the Franconians are going to oblige you with the battle you have been nagging me about, if the patrol reports are correct then they have stayed in place the whole night, but at the moment all we have before us are his piquets, so I damned if I know what’s beyond those hills and woods. I think we will need to push the cavalry through that mess and test the waters so to speak.”

Prince Wilhelm had just finished speaking when both he and Leopold in the same instant saw dust rising in the distant, and almost as one they reached for their telescopes.

“Good God” Leopold muttered, “They look like they are in a hurry Willy.”
“Yes and praise be to god they are hurrying towards us and not away.”

Wilhelm smiled to himself, Leopold never ceased to amaze him or his father when it came to battle, the young quiet man become quite a different character when he caught the scent of battle.

“Yes well that may be Willy” Leopold said as he turned and watched the Rechburg army approaching behind him; “But first we have to get our army here and deployed before the Franconian does”.
Observations



Both commanders were right to be wary of the Bukesdorf region as a battlefield, it consisted of a number of heavy woods and a few orchards. A number of high hedges limited visibility and would slow the approach or attacks of units as they advance over them.
Both Bukesdorf Hamlet and Bilinka farm would make ideal defensive positions, but they were either too far to the rear or too far away to be of any real tactical use.

The limited visibility will likely restrict artillery to firing between ridges and on units on the valley floor as they deploy, however once battle commences the terrain and the close proximity of enemy units will serious limit the use of artillery.
Similarly with Cavalry, there are avenues that cavalry can use, but again they have terrain nearby where infantry could shelter in.
It is clear this will be an infantry battle, and both armies are quite equal in that arm.
Rechburg as more infantry units, but many of there units are battle damaged thus are smaller than there Franconian equivalents. In fact in manpower the Rechburgians only have 500 more Infantry than the Franconians, where the real advantage lay for the Rechburgian was in the quality of the infantry, they had 4 veteran Battalions and 1 Elite Jager Battalion where as the Franconian army only had 1 veteran battalion.
In Cavalry again the Rechburg units outnumbered the Franconians, but the Rechburgians only had light cavalry and some of the regiments were at half strength and all were regular, whereas the Franconians had a heavy Cavalry Brigade which included a regiment of Veteran Cuirassiers. They also had two Light Cavalry Regiments.

2 comments:

  1. Genl Schnellendorf is a hasty and choleric sort of dude, ain't he? But it don't look good fro his army - not unless he can point to a considerable preponderance in the mounted arm...

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  2. Indeed he is, he is very much a independently minded character, he tends to hold himself above both his superiors and subordinates.

    I am still in process of writing the AAR, the battle was brutal to say the least. Both armies suffered but the Franconians fared very badly in infantry losses losing almost 50% of their infantry manpower.
    The Rechburgians though they may have won the battle are also in a bad way.

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