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.
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