Monday, 30 January 2012

Saxe Märchen tallies the cost of War

Baron Malthus, commander of the Saxe-Märchen Leib-Dragoner regiment and owner of the largest moustache in the land

"We have to WHAT!" bellowed Duke Werther.

His advisors cowered...the Old Duke in a bluster was not a pretty sight. They all looked to the Head Clerk, who nervously shuffled his papers and the piece of paper that arrived yesterday, the fateful memo of 29th January.

"Erm"..he began.

Werther glowered at him, but - ah well, in for a pfennig, in for a pfund.

"Erm....our contribution to the Reichsarmee is supposed to be two battalions of foot, 2 squadrons of horse, and an Artillery battery. The French message says that they need them to be ready to embark at Koblerz on February 13th to join the French Corps du Vin on the easthern flank of Soubise's army..."

"Well, they can whistle Dixenhausen, I'm not giving it to them"

"The French are sending boats down the river to pick them up. And they want the Bishop's battalion to be ready as well"

"Bah. They can go away empty then" fulminated the Duke

"Erm...your Grace may be advised to give them something, apparently part of this French force is also coming down the Fluss on those boats - they may not take too well to being asked to leave empty handed"

"Well we can blow them out the water if they try anything - make the guns ready on the redoubts at Keinbrucken and the Nordenstrand".

"Your Grace, there are an infantry brigade and a horse brigade of French coming down the river to fetch us.....thats about 5,000 men"

"Pah" the Duke harrumphed, but subsided, realising that Saxe-Märchen was going to war whether he liked it or not. "What can we do?"

"Well, we can send the Driebrucken battalion, they are billeted right by the docks - and your brother is Inhaber and fancies himself a soldier, gets him out the castle. And Baron Malthus has already sent messages daily saying that his Dragoons are ready for action, and wanting to know where he must march to..."

"That old War-Horse - will he ever retire - didn't he fight with De Saxe?"

"And Eugene, if you can believe him....still, the Dragoons will be in good shape I am sure, and that does get your brother and the Baron out of your hair"

"Oh, very well", said Werther, brightening - "and the other battalion - what shall we send?"

"Ah, well thats is a bit more difficult, we have let things slide a bit elsewhere, apart from your own Garde, your Grace, the only actual troops we still have working guns for are the Grenadiers and Fusiliers of the other 2 battalions"

"Have our standards slipped so far?"

"Speaking of standards, we pulled all the army standards out the Rathaus cellar, and the moths have been at them........"

"Gotterdammerung" spluttered the Duke. "How much will all this cost?"

"About a thousand thalers, all in all"

"We have to spend WHAT!" bellowed Duke Werther, apoplectic again

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Worse news reaches Saxe Märchen

News has just clattered into Schloss would seem that the proposed Saxon alliance with France has resulted in the French believing that the Saxe Märchen forces are available for their field army to deploy.

And the French want to see them muster by mid February as they plan to march out of winter quarters early to attack perfidious Albion. The French commander has written to say he will be coming down the Fluss and will pick them up on his way north.

Duke Werther is beside himself......mainly because neither the French nor the Elector have mentioned who will pay for his troops, and while the option of being tardy with the Elector was one thing, telling the French they are not ready when the French have an army parked on your beach is not so easy....

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Skirmish at Mano Cena

Srjan and his merry men had snuck back over the Hungarian border from a succesful night's rustling liberation campaigning and were getting breakfast from  the farmers at the little hamlet of Malo Cena, trading one of their newly liberated ducks for a good feed.

Two of his men had gone to Old Man Popovic's barn to get fresh eggs, and he had posted two men as lookouts at the bottom of the meadow, and young  Milos, his brave but impetuous cousin,  was trying to impress the farmer's daughter next door with his newly "liberated" brass trumpet. Tea was brewing and life was looking good on this clear late winter's day, when suddenly a shot rang out from the cornfields and one of the pickets pitched forward, face downward.

There was pandemonium as armed men ran up the stairs to the top floors of the farmhouses while farmers rushed their families down the stairs and away. From the bedroom of Old Popovic's house Srjan saw puffs of smoke from the cornfields...and advancing men. They were fanning out to reconnoitre all the houses in the hamlet, and moving fast

At that all the men started shooting wildly from the houses. Old Popovic shook his head, took his rifle off the wall, loaded it, took aim and shot - and one of the Hungarians dropped down, dead, at a long range. "That is how you fight" he said.

The Hungarians stopped advancing at that, and then started shifting to their right, clearly planning to stay out of effective range, take the barn as a strongpoint, and then advance. The 2 men in the barn hesitated and then ran for the houses, but one didn't make it, and fell.

What followed was a furious exchange of fire from the Hungarians in the cornfields and the TransSyldavians in the farmhouses. The Hungarians were the better soldiers (Old Popovic, who had been in The Wars, reckoned they were real Grenzers and some even had rifles) but the Syldavians had hard cover and being outdoorsmen were pretty good shots.

After about an hour it was clear the Hungarians had decided the farmhouses were too well defended to take and were retiring, and so young Milos stood up and leaned out the window to see them off with his trumpet (and impress the farmer's daughter). Sadly for him, the Hungarians turned, took one last shot, let a volley fly and Milos pitched over the windowsill and fell to the ground, stone dead.

The cock-a-hoop bravado of breakfast was gone, the only good news was when Timohir got up and limped back from the barn, his leg wound was not too serious, but he had been so shocked by being shot he'd fainted. He still had the eggs, though.

Old Popovic started harnessing his horse to his waggon. "They'll be back, he said, "and I think its time the family took a little holiday with my brother in town"

(We played this opening skirmish game using Songs of Drums and Shakos, the 300 pts of TranSyldavians  were represented by Albanian Irregulars from the Ottoman Napoloeonic list, the 400 pts of Hungarians  were Grenzers and 2 Jaegers from the Austrian list)

Monday, 9 January 2012

Bad News in KlosterBad

The Principality of Saxe-Märchen has slumbered peacefully over the decades since the War of the Spanish Succession, but recently events have started to take an ominous turn.

It all started last year (1756) when the Elector of Saxony wrote a letter to the various far flung small Saxe-Principalities, saying that Saxony could not necessarily defend them against depredation, and to look to themselves. Now, to an extent that had already been the case, so the question was "why is that letter being sent, now".

Well, that is becoming clearer.

His excellent Duke Werther and family has spent the Christmas and New Year weeks taking the Spa waters and snow up at KlosterBad, but this week a confidential epistle reached him, from the Saxon Elector. The gist of it was that:

(i)  There is very likely going to be a war with Prussia this Spring
(ii)  The Saxon Elector was trying to set up an alliance with France and/or Austria
(iii) Saxe-Märchen is now required to make a foot regiment, a cavalry regiment (more accurately *the" cavalry regiment), an artillery battery and a Jäger battalion, available to the Saxon forces this spring.

"So", muses Werther as he rides back down to Schonberg today, "We must look to ourselves but also send troops to Saxony, including our only cavalry regiment and jägers we don't have. This bears careful thought, I had better pull my advisiors together when I get back......"

Saturday, 7 January 2012

A very Merry Christmas from TransSyldavia

..the TransSyldavian Orthodox church follows the Julian calendar, so Christmas is on the 7 th of January of course.

And now it's time for Slaczek and mulled wine, the traditional Christmas fare, so we may forget these troubled times if only for a short while

Friday, 6 January 2012

A Council of War and Piece-Rates

The Bishop rides into the castle courtyard...

The candles are burning long into the night in the Grand Duke of TransSyldavia's castle as the Duke and his cabinet wrestle with the problem of Hungarian manouvres, Pan-Serbian nationalism, Austrian manipulations and Dukely ambition.

"Are we sure the Hungarians will attack"

"No, my Liege, but if they do not, the Serbs will attack them, and will claim that we have shirked our responsibility in Balkan resistance to the yoke and if they succeed, no doubt some ambitious Serb lordling will decide he can ryle us better than you"

"And the Austrians - will they assist us?"

"Unlkely my Liege, though they may send money if we attack the Hungarians"

"Do we have the men to defend TransSyldavia"

"Not immediately my Liege, we have your own Zoauves, the TransSyldavian Grenz regiment will fight for us of course, the State Artillery is ready, our 1st and 2nd Battalions of  Infantry and the Cavalry are being readied from winter quarters and we are calling up the City Militia, but that still leaves us woefully short in the short term. Also, we don't want to alarm the population over nothing, so calling up a general rising out is not yet a good plan".

Just then a horse clattered into the castle courtyard, and an unmistakeable deep bass boom sounded "I must see the Duke urgently"

"Oh no", groaned the Duke of TransSyldavia, "not Bishop Nevamakalos! What does the Mad Monk of the Mountains want now?"

The doors crashed open and in came the Very Bearded Bishop, swatting at the courtiers with his staff, his ivory handled pistols in his belt and his Bible close to his heart (it had already stopped more than one bullet).

"Duke" he boomed "the men of the mountains tell me the Hungarians are on the borders"

"Men Of The Mountains" sputtered the Duke - "If you mean those bandits, bashirs and bashi bazouks you call your flock...."

"Now Now Duke" said the Bishop "banditry is all in the past, they are all honest men now, ever since my grandfather Don Dharko was made Baron"

The Duke started to sputter some more, but the Bishop cut him off....

"Anyway, I know you don't have the men to head them off, but if I railled the Faithful of the mountains" the Bishop raised his eyes piously to the ceiling "we could easily get 2-3 battalions worth of mountain men in weeks, if not days. And God favours the big battalions"

The Duke was still sputtering but General Dinamic cut him off "Splendid idea, my dear Bishop. And I take it that the mountain men will fight for TransSyldavia, Freedom, and keeping whatever they find"

"God helps those who help themselves" beamed the Bishop.

The Duke was about to sputter again, but realised that the Bishop and his bandits on his side meant troops, now, and forced his best Dukely smile.

"Splendid - do take some of this rather good wine with us, my dear Bishop. Bulls Blood, I believe it is called"

"That would do nicely" said the Bishop."To the Mountain Men - long may they defend TransSyldavia from knaves and rogues"

"To the Mountain Men"


"Of course, my Duke", murmured the Bishop, mounting his horse "after this little affaire, I am sure you will support me in my bid to become Archbishop of TransSyldavia"

The Duke groaned, and nodded.....

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Disturbing Daguerrotypes from Dragonica

Our spies have sent worrying pictures of Hungarians massing over the border....Grenz, Line and Honved (Militia) forces have been seen moving up to the Trans Syldavian border. More worrying, we have in our possession another  Telegram To Vienna:

Gruss Gott!

I have some bad news for You Sir! Our enemies have foreign support! Some Polish mercenaries arrived in Hungary. I heard gossip about a Polish Prince Woroniecki, recruiting a Jager-Rifleman battalion, from his own budget, as a gift for the revulotional brothers. He is recruiting hunters and foresters, with hunting rifles, they have their own uniform, the battalion is now around 250 strength. Mieczyslaw Woroniecki served in the Austrian Army as an artillery cadet, then infantry cadet in the rebellious Dom Miguel regiment. Finally He was a lieutenant in a dragoon regiment. Well trained man, about all arms. Meszaros, the Hungarian military minister give him a rank major, and a post to be a battalion organizer.
I met an English born mercenary as well! Richard Debaufre Guyon from Bath (Somerset), after receiving a military education in England, Guyon fought against Dom Miguel in Portugal. In 1832 Guyon entered the Austrian service joining the Hungarian Hussars; and on being attached as aide-de-camp to Baron Splényi (he was the leader of the noble bodyguard, and owner of the 2. Hussar Regiment), married the daughter of that general in 1838. He was a lieutenant, than lived as a noble. But now he became a major of the Home Guard near the big fort Komarom, he may be send to the South Front as well.

The Hungarians are semi trained artillery officers, but they have plenty of 6pdr guns. Also the local horses are much smaller than the horses what the Austrian Army use, so they have a different organization for the batteries. All the batteries have 6 guns and 2 howitzers, and all the guns have 6 horses instead of the normal four. In this case the batteries are quicker and have more firepower, than the Austrians.

The Hungarian hussars are escaping from the other part of the Empire! They all travelling back to Hungary following the national call to arms. That’s very bad news Sir, we  have got no light cavalry at all. They have trained light cavalry 13 regiments. 2 regiments are locked in Italy, they are too far away, and busy on the Italian front. But the rest are going back, bits and pieces. 

Please pay more attention and pay some money to David Krautner Von Thantemburg ,colonel of the imperial army. He is the commander of the local Uhlans. And if I can suggest try to organise more Serezan or Bashi-Bazouk units on horseback, friom the other Balkan states.

This has sent alarm bells ringing in TransSyldavia, and the Grand Duke and his council are debating deep into the night! But it does look as if some Austrian aid may be possible to pay for TransSyldavian cavalry