The Saxe-Märchen contingent of the Corps de Vin was still watching the Hesse Hatlands for signs of Prussians, and life in the billets was agreeable albeit dull. They had protected the far north west flank of Soubise's army from a Prussian sortie in the summer, but that had been it. The great battle of Rossbach had been fought and lost, and the mass of the army had now retreated into winter quarters.
Young Werther was riding out with Graf Malthus as he inspected the dragoon piquets. "You're a Proper Saxon, aren't you" said Werther "What made you settle in Saxe-Märchen?"
"Ah, dot voss due to der Var off Ostrian Succession" said the Graf. "It iss a long story"
"We have lots of time" said Werther, who knew that the Graf would be in the saddle until nightfall and beyond. The piquet posts were to be inspected, and so every one would be, come rain, hail or hellfire.
"I tell you vot" said the Graf "I vill tell you now vere it begun. Ve voss falling back after der Ostrians hadt beaten us, I voss vith the Saxon cavalry in our army, undt ve fell back towards the French positions at some town or other. Howeffer, ve hadt not been zere more than a day or so ven news came in that an Ostrian army vidt Rossian support voss going to attack the town. The French vere fortifying it undt our force voss to move up to take some high groundt that French lights vere holdink, undt protect the right flank. Der Saxon cavalry voss in the second line on the left."
The Graf lit his pipe, a vessel the size of a cavalry horn
"In frondt of us voss a brigade comprised of the small Saxon duchies, Saxe-Märchen among them. They vere not ferry experienced, but i tink no von expected a big attack on the far left. Next thing ve knew howeffer, the Ostrians hadt launched a huge flank attack undt these amateurs ver in the firing line. Ve hadt to reinforce them, but also hadt to buy them time. You can giess vot that meant, eh?"
The Graf looked at Werther, one huge bushy eyebrow raised.
"Er...no" stammered Werther.
The Austrians assault the flank, Saxon cuirassiers (bottom of picture) put in a charge to delay them
"Der cavalry - dats uss - voss ordered to charge. Ve didt. Ve hadt some impact at furst, but then der Ostrians regrouped undt mit bigger numners started to force us back. Ve retired, undt that turned into a rout. It voss eferyvun for demselfes. My shortest path voss to run for de Saxe-Märchen units undt try to get behindt them, undt I ledt my squadron at der gallop tovards them, but ve vere exhausted undt the Ostrians vere closing on us."
The Graf smiled, reminiscing
"Den your Grandfotter - der Oldt Duke, may he Rest in Peace - rides in frondt of uss, yells "follow me" undt leads us to der left, tovards der guns, and leads uss into a gap between der batteries, undt ve thundered through. The pursuing Ostrians hadt dere view obscured, so they didn't see der gunss until too late undt they vere nearly on them. Boom! Boom! Boom! You neffer seen Ostrians run avay faster!"
Saxon brigade including Saxe-Märchen troops hurries to deploy their guns as the last of the cavalry is thrown into the melee vs the Austrians
"I see" said Werther - "but how does that explain anything"
"Patience yung Paduvan - vell, I saidt to der Oldt Duke, may he Rest in Peace - "You safed my life! I am foreffer in your debt" Undt the Oldt boy vinked undt said - "Ah, but now I order you to form up behindt us, so you can safe mine. I hear you are quite good at that! Der Austrians are alrady on der heights, aundt ve are goingk to retire soon - undt some cafalry to screen uss then vould be a lifesafer"
"But I still don't see....." started Werther
"Ah, look" said the Graf. "Dere is the next piquet station. Ve vill finish this story later" and he spurred his horse towards a cold looking group of dragoons, huddled in their greatcoats on a windswept spinney.
(The overall battle report is over here)