On The Road North
Leopold, commander of the Saxe-Märchen contingent, galloped up to the Comte de Syrah as the Reichsarmee Brigade marched up the North road. The cavalry was already a few hours gone to clear the way, and now the infantry battalions stretched in marching columns along the road, interspersed with guns, supplies, coaches of officers' mistreses and waggons loaded with everything including the kitchen sinks.
"So what is going on? - why North to the Hessian lands - Saxony is due North-East, surely"
Leopold was merely repeating word for word what Werther had asked him a while earlier.
"Well, I had a word with (Le Duc de) Pinotage last night" said the Comte de Syrah, "and its all very, well, confusing. Apparently, Soubise's main army - which moved off some days ago - found the countryside abandoned, the Prussian garrisons were ordered to send off the artillery and stores, to blow up any suitable works, and to join the "Britannic Army of Observation" which is apparently now assembling to the North. This army is under British pay and consists of various stripes of Hanoverians, Brunswickers, Bückeburgers, Hessians and Sachsen-Gothaers".
"I see - but what has this to do with us - why are we being sent to go stomping around up in the Hessian heart-and-hat lands?" Leopold was brave, energetic, and a fine figure of an officer, but without Werther he found the not-totally-obvious slipped tenuosly from his mental grasp.
"Well, Soubise is concerned as he doesn't know what this army will do, and he doesn't know what the Prussians are really up to. So, he has ordered the Corps du Vin to screen his main army from all this lot - until he hears from Richelieu about what is happeneing to the other invasion , of Hanover itself. And we have in turn been ordered to screen the Corps du Vin on its North West flank, by grabbing some strateghic river crossings - so here we are....."
"The other Invasion?"
"Ah, yes....You would not have known - another French army is due to invade Hanover from the Low Countries as well, with various Reichs armee contingents joining it too. It was actually a toss-up as to which army the Saxe-Märchen contingent would join, but it was decided you would come with us and then join the other Reichsarmee units against Prussia."
"I see - and what prompted that decision"
"Tails, I think...." said the Comte.