Sunday, 31 January 2010

Meeting the Commandant

The young woman grabbed Friedrich by the arm pulling him in the direction she wanted him to go.

“If you don’t mind I can walk and I’m still quite sore from that beating by the Frenchies.”

“Sorry, please follow me” she swept off with Friedrich and the militiaman in her wake. They crossed the main square to a moderate sized building where the door was opened by a footman.

“Ah Hans, sorry about kicking you earlier, will you please tell father that I have a prisoner for him to interrogate”

“Very well miss, but please don’t kick so hard next time”

The footman disappeared.

Pointing at a mirror the young woman exclaimed “well you could at least try and make yourself slightly presentable”

Looking in the mirror Friedrich saw the human equivalent of a scarecrow, thinking if she’s this bad then I’ll be roasted by her father. He attempted to tidy himself up while Ilse seemed to be attacking him with a broom to remove the worst of the prison straw. He also noticed that all the gold lace had been stripped off his uniform.

The footman returned “The Major will now see you”

“Sorry about the mess Hans”

The Footman nodded and led them into an airy study overlooking the river, the window had two prominent bullet holes in the glass and an old officer in militia dress was busily writing at the desk. “Miss Ilse and the spy, Sir”

“Thank you Hans, can you bring some refreshments and perhaps some of those cakes, which I think Miss Bettina has been baking”

Then looking up sternly from the report “Well Ilse, what stray dog have you brought home this time, I assume it’s the same spy that Captain Mannerheim has been talking about?”

Before Friedrich could respond Ilse stated “yes and no father”

The major looked up at the ceiling in dismay “Ilse can you give me a straight answer, and you young fellow, should keep quiet until she has finished”

Ilse then gave chapter and verse on how she found Friedrich and interrogated him and her conclusion that he was just a foolish cadet attempting to carry out an inspection. Turning to Friedrich she asked “do you wish to add anything?”

“Nothing, except to apologise”

“Very well, I can’t see any further action required here”. “Ilse as I have to finish this report for the Stadtrat will you do the honours and show Von Wettin around our defences, but don’t show him all our surprises”

“Certainly father”

Hans appeared at the door, “refreshments have been laid out in the dining room sir”

“Excellent, thank you Hans.” “Now will everyone leave so I get on and write this d*****d report”

Friday, 29 January 2010

An angel of mercy?

Friedrich crawled into the furthest corner away from the Frenchmen. He was battered, bruised and robbed on anything of value and he was still not quite sure why. At first the other prisoners were quite forthcoming about their ordeal crossing the river, and then they seemed to decide he was asking too many questions and turned on him.

A while later the door opened and a determined group of militiamen with fixed bayonets pushed the prisoners away from the door. A young woman strode in and asked in impeccable French “Who is in command here?”

The prisoners shuffled to one side to reveal a wounded officer.

“Ah lieutenant, can I have your word that your men will not cause trouble if we provide you with a fire and some food”

Amazed that a woman could identify his rank, he quickly responded “Certainement mademoiselle, votre servant, Je m’appelle Lieutenant Raymond Blanc”

The lady turned and saw Friedrich “what about his man here?”

“He is not one of my men and they do not like him, perhaps he is one of those spies from Paris”.

Ilse then turned and addressed the militia sergeant. Herr Willemson please have your men bring in the wood and food. Oh, and I think my father should see this man, pointing at Friedrich, immediately, I just need one of your men as escort.

Luckily for Friedrich, or so he thought, a militiaman helped him to his feet and he followed the young woman through the door.

They waited while the wood and food were provided to the prisoners and the door to the goal securely fastened.

“Thank you Sergeant”

“You are too kind my lady, shall we now provide you with an escort”

“No Private Godfroy will be fine”

“Do you think that's wise, Miss”

“Thank you Sergeant but you and your men have plenty of other duties to see to”

Ilse grabbed Fredrik’s arm saying “this way”

As they turned the corner and the rest of the militia were out of sight Fredrick said “but I could escape” but immediately regretted it as a glinting blade appeared at his throat.

Ilse then said “so now tell me exactly who you are and what is your mission?”

Friedrich then rapidly explained that he was a senior cadet at the Kriegsakademie, then after a series of probing questions on the members of staff and the syllabus she said “OK, I believe you, but you had better apologise to my father for causing such trouble”

Ilse turned to Godfroy and told him to go back to the others, but he refused saying he’d get in more trouble that way and he’d just follow along to the Major’s house and not get in the way.

Friedrich now realised that this was the commandant’s daughter and he was now out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

An unwelcome interruption

Major Barner, the Commandant of Stonew, welcomes Captain Mannerheim into his study. “Well Captain, apparently you have something to report”

“Yes sir, my men think they have captured a French Spy”

A commotion occurs outside the study resulting in a footman being flung through the door in some distress followed by a young woman.

“Yes Ilse! can’t it wait till I have finished with Captain………

“No it is quite intolerable, those poor prisoners are freezing to death in the goal, you must do something” “They need warmth, and food, how would you feel having been in the river at this time of year”

“Yes Ilse, we must show some compassion, even though they tried to invade us.” “Captain, will your men assist?”

“Of course, if her ladyship would contact Sergeant Willemsen, he will assist her in her mission”

Ilse then swept out of the room mouthing a sorry to the footman, who was still attempting to stand up straight after what must have been a vicious kick below the belt.

“Daughters! Now Captain about this spy, please tell me more”

“Well he was spotted on the main road from Pappenheim, but he pulled over into cover”

“Who saw this?”

“Oh just young Ernst Udet, he likes climbing the church tower, he thinks one day man will be able to fly like the birds, I asked him to keep watch while most of the militia were resting”

“Excellent, you must reward him for his vigilance, I think a schilling would be the least you could give him”

Mannerheim winced “very reasonable Sir”

“And what else?”

“He clearly had on some sort of blue uniform, without any Frundsberg brassard and his accent did not match the way he was dressed.” “He also attacked one of my men and it was discretely observed once he was put in goal that he could speak French fluently”

Very well, let’s leave him there until tomorrow when everything has calmed down and interrogate him then”

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

A report for the Captain.

A young militiaman bursts into the Militia HQ (A small room just by the church).

“Captain Mannerheim, Oncle Artur, I mean Sergeant Willemson, says we’ve caught a spy”

“And how do we know he is a spy?”

“Well he sneaked in by the north lane after being spotted on the main road from Pappenheim, and he was dressed in a blue uniform just like the Frenchies”

“Stupid boy, Prussians and others wear blue uniforms. Did he speak French?”

“No, but he tried to attack Godfroy and he had a very posh accent compared to his uniform”

“Where is he now?”

“Oncle… Sergeant Willemsen has put him in the goal with the other Frenchies, as he didn’t have a Frundsberg brassard.”

“OK Pike, I’ll discuss this with the Commandant, when convenient. Now tell Sergeant Willemson to make sure he doesn’t escape.”

After a short interlude, another militiaman appears

“I thought you might be interested in some extra information”

“What is it Walkure?

“Well if the lads could just turn a blind eye…”

“Just spit it out”

“Well that spy was gabbling away quite happily in French to the other Frenchies once he thought we had gone away”

Very well Walkure, was that all?”

“Yes, unless Frau Mannerheim would like some fine French silk lingerie?”

“Get out Walkure”

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Assault River Crossing (3)

To the south the company formed up and advanced on some skirmishers who were being to open fire with rifles. However these men were not intimidated and took carefully aim picking men off including officers and NCOs. Attempting to reform they fell back towards the riverbank. Meanwhile on the quays one raft had managed to land and was now involved in close range fire with the surviving militia company and the gunners were pivoting once gun round to bear. The other raft was closing fast, but as it neared the quay it was met with a fusillade of fire from the quayside houses packed with militia and canister from the other gun. The raft spun out of control back into the river.

On the southern flank the riflemen followed up the companies attempt to rally back continuing to gall them with fire and then they were charged in flank by some militia. Within moments it was all over as the Frenchmen threw down their muskets in surrender.

On the quay Lieutenant Blanc led a charge off the raft onto the quay shouting “Vive La Republique” the opposing militia took to their heels and disappeared up various passageways sweeping Major Von Barner along with them.

Too late Blanc realised that they had advanced into a killing ground as fire erupted from all the buildings around them with canister added in. Blanc and many others were felled by the fire meanwhile those still standing ran back to the raft hoping to escape, but the flimsy structure capsized as the men attempted to board it dumping most of them in the river.

General Bercollin folded up his telescope and handed it to Twyth. “C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre ” “There is nothing more we can do here today except help the survivors” Out of nearly 400men who set of across the river just 75 returned and they were cold and wet.

Twyth asked “What about the two remaining rafts”

“I have an excellent idea use them as firewood to warm the men up”

Major Von Barner caught his breath and looked back at the quay, no organised resistance remained. Raising his voice he shouted. “OK, lads round up the survivors and put them in the goal”

At the same moment a young Freishutze came running in “Sir we have captured the Frenchies who landed to the south and locked them up in Herr Kesselring’s barn”

“Excellent that will give Albert something to smile about”

As he walked onto the quay Von Barner noticed that the guns had fallen silent letting the sole remaining French raft return unmolested. “Good, those survivors will help dissuade the French from trying this trick again”

Turning to Captain Mannerheim of the 4th company who had just walked over “Captain as your men were the least involved may I request that your men take over security duties until this evening”

“Certainly Major I’ll see to it right away, it shouldn’t be necessary, but who knows?”
The idea for this scenario came from the French attempt to cross the Rhine at Huninque on 11th September 1793 covered in paddy Griffiths book "The Art of War of Revolutionary France"

The rules were my French Revolution variant of my AWI rules and I've added the the rules used for the rafts on my AWI blog

Monday, 25 January 2010

Assault River Crossing (2)

The rafts set off reasonably OK, but some crews seemed to be better at rowing than others and a gap appeared between the rafts. Initially this was OK, but as the rafts moved into the stronger currents away from the bank one raft swung badly and almost swamped another. The crews struggled to control their craft in the turbulent waters boosted by the melting snows of the alps and moments later the raft that had hit another was hit in turn, almost sinking it.

By now all the rafts had passed the halfway mark, but most had been driven further downstream than planned. Then the church bells were ringing, the rafts must have been spotted it was now a matter of time before the Frundsbergers reacted

All except the most southerly boat were struggling to break out of the fast current and were continuing to drift downstream right in front of the guns whose crews were beginning to appear. In addition Militia were beginning to line the quays. The most northerly raft moved to almost point blank range of a gun, but it was fired hastily and didn’t have the fully devastating effect expected. The crew badly reversed direction, but only ended up creating a tangle with the other two rafts now drifting past the quays. All came under fire from the artillery and militia.
Meanwhile the southern raft had beached almost exactly in the planned location.

The French artillery had not been idle and once there was enough light they started supporting fire, this first drove one of the militia companies off the quay and back into the houses. Slightly later the got the range right and both guns sent rounds through the packed ranks of the remaining militia company on the quay. Almost immediately the Frundsberg Artillery responded by hitting and sinking one of the rafts

General Bercollin looked on in dismay, his forces were dispersed, one company had been lost on the raft, another had landed to the south and its raft was heading back for reinforcements. Remaining in front of the quays were just two rafts facing at least two companies of militia and two guns. There was nothing he could do except hope that the militia would rout at the sight of French steel as they landed.

On the other bank Major Von Barner steadied the men of the remaining militia company on the quay. They were badly shaken but they were defending their homes and they were greatly cheered by the sinking of one of the rafts. Hopefully his ambush to the south of town near the expected landing site would hold any Frenchies landing there giving him time to deal with these to his front first.

An Unpleasant Interlude.

As Twyth left the General to check on the reserve companies of the 23ieme DB, he was dismayed to be approached by the Representative en Mission.

“Well Twyth it’s time we had a little chat”

“What about?”

“It seems that the General is not showing enough revolutionary commitment, wouldn’t you say?”

“I don’t understand, the General is attempting to carry out the war aims of the Directory”

“Come now Twyth, is the General showing any sympathy with Aristos and other enemies of the Republic?”

“Not that I know of”

“Of course not, a lot of you Bretons are Chouans, I’ll be watching you”

With that the Representative stalked off.

Twyth hastened over to Colonel Claret who enquired “What did that odious man want?”

“I’m not sure, but he seems to suspect us all of being Aristos”.

Claret laughed “You an Aristo! I thought all Bretons were peasants I bet your father is a swineherd or something”

Twyth felt his gloom lighten and responded “and Bordeaux peacocks are chickens with feathers up their……..”

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Assault River Crossing (1)

General Bercollin turn to his aide Twyth and expressed "and you know what that man said to me?.... it's all a matter of mathematics so that the rafts arrive in the right place on the other shore so it's no problem crossing at night". Across the river the horizon was just lightening as the troops of the 23ieme Demi Brigade began to file down to the river edge. The boatmen looked very nervous, as well they might. They had declared the rafts unsafe and had refused to sail them until Representative Laine pointed out that they only had one other option available and it was more unpleasant.

Ah Colonel Claret, I hope your troops are all prepared.

"Yes General, I carefully was out of the way while many of them went to mass earlier, they wouldn't normally bother, but I wouldn't blame them as this time they are about to be sacrificed on the Champs de Mars.

Yes, Claret the river looked very hostile yesterday. I have posted dragoon picquets downstream so that any unfortunates who fall in can be rescued from the river if at all possible. I have also posted a gun battery opposite Stonew to try and provide some support.

"Thanks for that General, now I must send off my men"

Four large rafts were moored on the riverbank and each would carry a company of 100 men. There had been another raft, but it broke up on entering the river.

"Well Twyth I have made the best preparations possible to complete this mission, I hope it goes well, but I really hope that our losses are not too great"

"Yes Sir" said Twyth formally while looking over the general's shoulder.

"Ah there you are general" Representative Laine appeared from the gloom "I trust everything is ready, although I thought we had agreed that the crossing would be at night"

Representative Laine, I explained that a river crossing in the dark would be extremely hazardous as the boat would have no sense of direction and if they arrived on the far shore the troops would have no idea of where they were and would have difficulty forming up. This is the best time, the rafts will have just enough light to see where they are going, but as the sun will rise in the east our troops will be hidden from enemy observation in the gloom. Once landed they will be able to identify their objectives and coordinate their actions."

"Hmmff I shall be watching carefully the conduct of this operation" Laine retorted as he walked off down the river bank towards the rest of the 23ieme who would cross in the second wave"

The boatmen pushed off into the river.

Friday, 22 January 2010

A surprise visit?

Erprinz Fredrich studied the town of Stonew ahead of him, he realised that to check the defences he should not just ride up the Hauptstrasse and ensure that the guard checked his credentials before contacting the militia commander. The best test would be to circle round to the north and enter there as the most likely direction for the French would be from the south. Attempting to keep well out of sight he rode across country to a lane leading into the town. He then rode into town observing keenly the lack of preparation.

The street seemed very quiet until he turned a corner and hear a quiet voice demanding "W..would you please give the password" and looked down at an old man in a grey militia uniform hesitantly pointing a blunderbuss at him. Looking more carefully he saw that the old man had a Hilfekorps brassard and could be easily be disarmed.

Deciding this would be a useful example of the lack of preparedness of the garrison he moved his hand towards his sabre.

"We would rather you didn't do that" said a cultivated voice almost immediately followed by the cocking of a number of muskets.

Fredrich turned to see a group of determined militia led by a more smartly dressed sergeant all pointing their muskets at him.

One of the militia then started waving his bayonet at him shouting "they don't like it up em!"

"Yes Johannes" said the Sergeant "but we are fighting the French now, not the Turks"

"Now, if you wouldn't mind dismounting sir" said the sergeant

"I don't think that is at all necessary" said Fredrich planning to show his papers. "I am...."

A small youth suddenly ran out from behind the militia and ducked under Fredrich's horse before running off. Moments later Fredrich realised what had been done as his saddle slipped and he tipped into a pile of manure at the side of the road.

The militia burst into laughter, but one said "We're all doomed, he's a French spy"

The sergeant then seemed to get a grip and ordered one of the militia to inform the captain, while the rest seized him and marched him off to the town goal. Fredrich might have tried resisting but Corporal Johannes was following close behind with his bayonet a bit to close and he seemed to be prepared to use it.

Fredrich was then pushed into a large cell with a number of malodorous individuals. The sergeant then stated "I hope you won't mind, but this is the only secure accommodation available and at least these are your compatriots."

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Enemy plans?

The Baron and General were in conference

General Wurst, just explain the likely French options to me again

Simply put Sire, we expect them to land to the South in Pommaine probably near Bruckewasser and then strike north into our territory as these French armies solely exist by pillage. Their aim will be to capture Pappenheim as swiftly as possible before the Imperial army under General Schnapps can react.

Yes, this is consistent with our spies' reports from the French army camp, but what about this new person from Paris, Representative on Mission Laine, will he continue with the same plan?

Hopefully yes Sire, as it is the only credible military option. Once ashore in strength, the French have two possible options either the direct route to Pappenheim, or a slightly longer route via Sonnenbad.

General, the later would cause us real problems as the old town walls are only capable of withstanding an attack by light forces.

Indeed Sire, but it is also the more likely option as the French survive by pillage and Sonnenbad is an easy target. They would then have sufficient supplies to be able to besiege Pappenheim

So, what preparation can we make?

Militarily, all forces can be alerted quickly and we will have to rely on the Militia and Cavalry to belay the French advance as much as possible. I have discussed the situation with Colonel Lowe to ensure that Sonnenbad cannot be taken by a Coup de Main.

Good, and the Gendarmerie has been advising the peasants that a Prussian army will be arriving soon, which means that they will hide as much of their crops as possible as they remember that the Prussians always requisition food and forage with their promissary notes, which are never paid until months later if we are lucky.

And what of my idea Sire, of storing some spare weapons in the Pidnem coal mines, which are close to the road to Sonnenbad?

Yes, an excellent idea, I have arranged a meeting with Herr Kohl of the mine owners association to discuss how it can be done.

And what about communications?

The Glasserberg signalling station is back in operation and arrangements have been made with the post and customs department to have spare couriers always available at key points.

A damp squib?

General Bercollin was still in a bad mood as he waded through another patch of swamp to get to his troops waiting close to the riverbank. Captain Twyth was sure that the General would have called the whole stupid idea off before now, but here they were about to send several companies across the river on flimsy rafts, just to convince the Representative on Mission that they were making every possible effort to spread republican ideas to the oppressed masses on the other bank.

They had managed to round up a few river-folk to steer the rafts and explained that it was either that or face prison/Madame Guillotine for refusal. They had attempted to point out to Representative Laine that the current would be too swift and that the rafts were unlikely to make the crossing and that if they did they they would probably not end up where intended at Stonew on the other bank.

The plan was simple enough the troops would cross the river secure Stonew and its boats and these would be used to transfer the rest of the army across. In vain General Bercollin had argued that it was better to wait the larger barges promised by the powers that be in Paris.

Very little was known about the opposition, but it was expected to be just militia, who would just run at the first appearance of French troops.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

On the road

Erprinz Fredrich pondered his future as he rode on the highway to Stonew. He was still frustrated with his father for condemning him to a period of exile in a foreign land, albeit as training to command the electoral forces. As the second son this was the normal role, but to send him to Frundsberg! and with the specific instruction that he should be treated as any other entrant to the Kreigsakademie with no respect for his status. However he had shown them he was more than capable, especially having won the coveted silver orb for fencing.

He was now in his final year as as a senior cadet and to his dismay sent, like all the other senior cadets, to check on the status of the militia garrisons. The assignment couldn't have been worse as the garrison was over a days ride away and the wench in the Saracenerkopf Tavern was just succumbing to his charms. He couldn't argue his way out of his mission as all the tasks were written out on paper and then put in a large ancient urn for the cadets to select in turn.

OK, so the mission was to check on the garrison's alertness, therefore rather than use his cadet uniform he took the opportunity to wear his uniform as a captain of the Liebgarde, an expensive blue uniform trimmed with red and gold lace, and therefore he would not be so obviously carrying out an inspection.

He suddenly broke from his thoughts, as a horseman came pounding up the road, and pulled up his horse expecting the horseman to stop. But to his surprise the man just galloped by splattering him with mud from the puddles in the road.

"Verdamm" passed his lips "these bourgeois need to respect their betters" and contemplated the fast receding back of the rider dressed in the green uniform of the post and customs department. Frederich decided not to chase after the man and chastise him, although he was sure his horse was more than capable, after all his mail was delivered on time and seemed to be unopened.

It was then that the heavens opened and his fine uniform lost it's sheen as the rain evenly spread the mud splatters into a more even pattern. As he rode on even his bicorne began to droop and by the time he was approaching Stonew he was feeling damp, cold and angry.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Frundsberg Militia (French Revolution era)

The uniform of the Frundsberg militia is quite different from that of the line infantry with grey coats with yellow cuffs. The collars and turnbacks differ by district enabling the units to be readily identified. The rest of the uniform is based on whatever stocks are available, but by the Revolution era they had standardised on a plain black bicorne with a green tuft and white breeches with dark grey gaiters.
No flags are officially permitted.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

A new threat?

Baron Wilhelm paced his office impatiently.

Flunky "General Wurst, Sire"

"Excellent, show him in"

General Wurst commander of the reserve army enters.

Ah General, some mulled Apfelwein to dispel the chills of this unseasonably cold weather?.

Thank you Baron, that would be most welcome.

A wave of the hand and a Flunky obliges another wave and he exits.

Well general was my request clear?

Yes baron, very much so, I had been considering the exact same issue.

So please let me know your thoughts and any possible actions.

The General opens a large folder on the desk and spreads his papers, before selecting one.

This covers our current status within the Freistadt, it is limited as we have provided extensive support to the Empire both on the Rhine and Italian fronts.

Hmm, this document is very comprehensive in terms of numbers, but what about morale and training?

Exactly my concern, especially with regard to the militia, so I have taken the liberty of assigning a special task to the senior students of the Kriegsakademie to check on their preparedness.

An excellent idea and neatly fits into the curriculum that they should gain some field experience.

But what of our enemy? or spies are currently reporting activity, but their intentions are not yet clear.

Baron, as a military man I would guess that the most likely direction for the French to take is to cross the river where they think we least expect it. My best guess is that they will cross into the Duchy of Pommaine and then move North into the Freistadt. This would also correspond to their logistics capability, which seems limited at this time.


General Bercollin paces his room waving his latest communication from Paris in disbelief

Ah there you are Twyth!, have my orders been issued to my subordinates?

Yes, Citizen General, and they have all expressed their revolutionary zeal to engage with the monarchists reactionaries again.

Excellent, but what are they really feeling?

Captain Twyth hesitates

Well, spit it out.

They like the idea of conquering new lands, but they don't think the troops are that enthusiastic. In fact they might mutiny unless they get their pay soon.

Given that Paris is so slow in providing support we need to motivate them in other ways. Twyth. I want you to draft a proclaimation to the troops promising them access to the riches that lie on the other side of the river.


Twyth, even a simple Breton will understand the need for action, when you see the contents of the latest letter from Paris. Citoyen Laine has been appointed as Representative on Mission to the Army of the Lower Main.

Aaa. but that's us? and Citoyen Laine has an unfortunate reputation

Yes Twyth, we are not producing enough results to keep Paris happy, and Laine has a reputation of producing results, so get to work.