Monday, January 28, 2008

Dawn Muster at Spawnheim

SPAWNHEIM, Aug. 16--In the grey half-light of the dawn, the two squadrons of the Leib-Kürassiere under the command of Maj. Rutger Freiherr von Fischbach parade before the mustered von Bacharach regiment of foot and single troop of the von Schirnhausen Dragoner for review. The parade was ordered by Oberst von Dornfeld as a boost to morale prior to the final officers' consultation before setting forth in pursuit of the Waldrecker supply convoy last seen approaching the nearby Waldrecker town of Niedersohren.

Valuing celerity of approach over firepower, Oberst von Dornfeld will announce to the assembled officers his intent to detach one company of his foot to remain behind in Spawnheim with the battalion guns, both in deference to his standing orders to fortify and garrison the crossroads at Spawnheim, and in calculation that speed in pursuit of the Waldrecker convoy, which may already be aware of the presence of the Herzogerheer in Spawnheim and stands no more than two days march from possible relief from known Waldrecker forces at Kirchschloß, will be decisive to the success of the operation.

The countryside around Niedersohren, once over the Hochwald ridge, is fairly open and rolling country, sloping down to the Rohrbach bridged at Kirchschloß. Oberst von Dornfeld briefs both the Dragoner and Kürassiere officers on the importance of closing swiftly with the convoy, and driving off the drovers with minimal damage to the wagons themselves, hoping not only to disrupt the convoy, but, with good fortune, to capture it and drive it back over the Hochwald to Pfalz-Kognat-Obersayn.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Prinz Friedrich von Waldreck

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.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Intelligence Report of Kapellmeister Volker

HUNSRUCK, Aug. 16--Having recomposed herself with the assistance of the Prinzessin Maria-Aurora, Prinzessin Sophie-Vittoria led her cousin back to Sophie-Vittoria's chambers on the second floor, and called for a tea from a chambermaid. While waiting, she took the opportunity to thumb through the documents, which proved to be mostly additional promissory notes from notables of her father's court, payable either to Prinz Friedrich von Waldreck or to the Kapellmeister himself. Included in the papers, though, was the attached document unaddressed, but in Kapellmeister Volker's handwriting:

Generalmajor Gerhard Graf vom und zum Riesling, Generalquartiermeister
Major Trait: GOOD NATURE(3) Other traits:Very charismatic and persuasive; Sometimes loyal; Very good temper; Highly energetic. RATING: Elite, Steady

Oberst Otto Freiherr von Thurgau, Generalinspekteur der Kavallerie
Leib- Kürassiere; 3 squadrons, established strength 515 men
Major Trait: LOVE OF WAR (8) Other traits:Very gregarious, if condescending; Disloyal intriguer; Rather proud; Good looking; Unreliable, a liar and oath-breaker. RATING: Trained, Political.

Oberst Jakob Freiherr von Silvaner
Von Schirnhausen (1st) Dragoner; 4 squadrons, established strength 745 men
Major Trait: GOOD NATURE(10) Other traits:Very jealous of family honor; Resolutely loyal; Somewhat lazy. RATING: Elite, Steady.

Oberst Bruno Freiherr von Scheurebe
Von Kostenwand (2nd) Dragoner; 4 squadrons, established strength 745 men
Major Trait: LOVE OF WEALTH(8) Other traits:Very jealous of family honor; Inclined to mercy; Rather proud; Very courageous; Average looks. RATING: Trained, Aggressive.

Oberst Heinz Graf von Trollinger, Generalinspekteur der Infanterie
Vom und zum Riesling (1st) Infanterie: One Battalion—Five companies musketeers, one company grenadiers; established strength 810 men.
Major Trait: GOOD NATURE(3) Other traits: Very charismatic and persuasive; Sometimes loyal; Very good temper; Highly energetic. RATING: Trained, Careful.

Oberst Josef-Maria Freiherr von Spätburgund
Von Bernkastel (2nd) Regiment Infanterie: One Battalion—Five companies musketeers, one company grenadiers; established strength 810 men.
Major Trait: LOVE OF WEALTH(10) Other traits: Touchy about family honor; Can be cruel if provoked; Sometimes loyal; A bit of a flatterer. RATING: Trained, Aggressive.

Oberst Hermann Baron von Dornfeld
Von Bacharach (3rd) Regiment Infanterie: One Battalion—Five companies musketeers, one company grenadiers; established strength 810 men.
Major Trait: AMBITION(7) Other traits:Resolutely loyal; Great lover; Not easily angered; Generous if in a good mood; Highly energetic; Inclined to mercy RATING: Elite, Steady.

Oberst Leopold Prinz von Rebholz, Generalinspekteur der Artillerie
Herzoger Artillery Regiment, established strength 625 men
2 batteries 6-pounders
2 batteries 3-pounders
Major Trait: GOOD NATURE(7) Other traits: Very Good looking; Disloyal intriguer; Very courageous;Very good temper; Very clever and far-sighted. RATING: Trained, Steady.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Von Schirnhausen Dragoner

BAD SANKT NIKOLAUS, August 15--The von Schirnhausen Dragoner Squadron 2, posted at Bad Skt. Nikolaus, is the one of the two squadrons of the regiment currently on detached duty from the main body of the Herzogerheer. Posted with the city's two companies of the Herzoger Militia and commanded by Capitän-Lieutenant Ritter Franz O'Donnell, the squadron is tasked with drilling the local militia to some semblance of military competence and reconnoitring the valleys beneath the northern Hochwalder ridge forming the frontier between the lands of Pfalz-Kogant-Obersayn and those of Waldreck, from Alter-Klutz just south of the Waldrecker slate-quarry town of Winterberg, south beyond the crossroads town of Spawnheim.

The uniform of the von Schirnhausen Dragoner is illustrated.

Early this afternoon, a courier from the patrol sent out yesterday to the southwest to screen the movement of the Leib-Kürassier to Bad Skt. Nikolaus, came galloping past the Kurhaus to deliver a report to Capitän-Lieutenant O'Donnell.

O'Donnell returned the courier's punctilious salute with a vague wave and opened the dispatch case. He skimmed through the report once with trained dispatch, and then, reaching the final paragraph, furrowed his brow and sat down. Helping himself to a pinch of snuff, he gathered his quizzing glass from the lanyard by which it hung from his lapel and reread the dispatch through again closely.

Moving west of Spawnheim encountered foraging party of Waldrecker hussars; burdened with their loot, they were unable to evade us and we were able to close and engage them. Unhorsing two by musket fire we were able to secure them as prisoners. Pursuing the fleeing Hussars we continued along the Höhenstraße across the Waldrecker frontier, approaching the Waldrecker town of Niedersohren.

Leaving the road to avoid the Waldrecker militia company known to be garrisoning the town, we rode cross-country around the town to confirm the garrison's presence. From a hill overlooking the town we observed the presence at least a full company of hussars in the town in addition to the militia.

Observing orders, we began a withdrawal back across the frontier, putting the hill between us and the town, but cresting the hill to the south, we observed a significant dust cloud along the road south of town, perhaps four miles distant. Closing the distance to investigate, I was able to observe the source of the dust cloud by spyglass, and observed a wagon convoy approximately 200 yards in length, perhaps 30 wagons, escorted by at least a full dragoon squadron and several companies of infantry.

Falling back to Spawnheim before dusk, we encountered the leading elements of Major von Fischbach's Leib-Kurassier moving through the town en route to Bad Skt.Nikolaus. Reporting our intelligence to Oberst von Dornfeld of the von Bacharach infantry garrisoning the town and to Maj. von Fischbach on his arrival in town, the two field officers conferred at length and determined to seize the opportunity to attack the Waldrecker supply convoy. At its current rate, it is believed the convoy will overnight within Niedersohren tonight, and then proceed north towards Kirchschloß tomorrow. Oberst von Dornfeld has seconded our patrol. and the Leib-Kurassier in Spawnheim for the time being, but expects our return in less than a week.

Yr. servant,

Corp. Dittmar Becker

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Infanterie Regiment von Bacharach at Drill

SPAWNHEIM, Aug. 15--As negotiations with Duke Kristian von Pfalz-Zwiebacken proceed to determine the extent of his support for Duke Ignaz's claim to the Herrenschaft of Dolmen, the regiments of the Pfalz-Kognat-Obersayn Herzogerheer make demonstrations along the Waldrecker frontier to mask the true intentions of Duke Ignaz for the relief of Festung Dolmen.

Here, the entire von Bacharach regiment concentrates in the village of Spawnheim, now merely a strategic crossroads along the Waldrecker frontier, but the historic seat of the now-extinct, ill-starred Counts of Spawnheim-Obersayn, whose sinister reputation even today seems to cast a gothic shadow over the village.

Oberst Hermann Baron von Dornfeld, a rational and modern man, discounted the superstitious warnings of the villagers and bivouacked his regiment within the very ruins of Schloß Spawnheim, parading his men under the brooding walls of the fortress. Awaiting further orders from Generalmajor vom und zum Riesling, Oberst von Dornfeld then set pickets along the Höhenstraße and Kognat roads, and set his men to work salvaging a redoubt from the ruins, determined to hold the village at all costs.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Pfalz-Kognat-Obersayn Leib- Kürassiere Advance

KOGNAT, Aug. 15--While nearly all the field officers of the Leib-Kürassiere accompanied Oberst Otto Freiherr von Thurgau, along with the Rittmeister and troopers of the Leib-Compagnie, to the debut of the Prinzessin Sophie-Vittoria, two squadrons of the regiment yesterday began an advance from the main body of the Herzogerheer to reinforce the Dragoner squadron and militia forces at Bad Skt. Nikolaus, who have reported an increase in contacts with Waldrecker Hussars along the Hochwalder frontier.

The habit of the Leib-Kürassiere is illustrated for the information of foreign readers.