SCHLOß BRUTTIG, Aug. 15--Prinz Friedrich, Pfalzgraf von Waldreck, was not a man to suffer fools, and meditated upon the travails of fate in his library before dinner. His cavalry commander, Generalmajor Franz von Berlichingen, had assured him that Waldreck's light horse would be able seize the fortress of Dolmen by a coup de main, surprising and overwhelming the understrength garrison before its commander could secure support from the townsfolk of Dolmen or otherwise organise an effective defence. Instead, an overly-aggressive advance by the von Sombreff Hussars, commanded by Oberst Hilchen Graf von Hutten, attempting to force the western city gate from their upriver crossing before the main advance of the Waldrecker artillery and infantry, had alerted the garrison and allowed the commander to call out the local militia. Now, ten days later, works were still being thrown up about the fortress, and the defiant attitude of the garrison commander suggested that the covered way at least would need to be bloodily stormed before any realistic likelihood of capitulation would be gained.
Prinz von Waldreck normally would have cashiered such a disobedient subordinate tout de suite, but the von Sombreff Hussars had only received their new Oberst last month, after the mysterious and still unexplained shooting of his trusted aide Götz Graf von Sickingen, Generalmajor of the cavalry and architect of the initial assault plan for the annexation of Dolmen. The gifted and impetuous von Sickingen had been a lightning bolt, reorganising the entire Waldrecker Heer after years of decline under the command of field officers who had grown rigid and inflexible in their reflexive obedience to Prinz von Waldreck's every command. While the Pfalzgraf demanded such obedience, the cost over time to the initiative of the officer corps had been clear. Young von Sickingen had worked tirelessly to reverse that tendency, and the campaign plan for the assault on Dolmen had been the chef d'oeuvre of that effort.
Now the primary operational plans were completely in shambles, and Generalleutnant Graf von Rudesheim had reverted to old, hidebound form, mechanically grinding through the siege contingency of von Sickengen's operational plan with the conservatism typical of the Waldrecker command structure prior to von Sickengen's reforms.
But no matter. Siegecraft was at least satisfyingly geometric in its principles and certainty of outcome. With the three infantry battalions of Generalmajor Prinz von Furstenberg ringing the fortress and Oberst Baron von Turckheim's artillery battering away at the fortress, the capitulation of Festung Dolmen was merely a matter of time. And the occupation of Fuggersheim, in the Eifel foothills north of the Mosel had proceeded exactly according to plan, with the entire estate and its suburbs occupied by von Zollern's dragoons with neither destructive resistance from the villagers or looting by the Waldrecker forces.
His engineering officers reported that the excavations at Schloß Fugger were proceeding ahead of schedule; the true prize of Dolmen would likely be in his hands even before overt victory at Dolmen vindicated the reputation of Waldrecker arms and forced the effete Herzog Ignaz to sue for terms. Prinz von Waldreck was well pleased, and helped himself to a second pinch of snuff before pulling the bellrope to summon his chamberlain and the new coloratura soprano at the Bruttig Opera whose presence at dinner had been requested for the evening's entertainment.