On entering the dining room Ilse became the perfect hostess pouring the tea into fine china and offering Friedrich the choice of cakes.
“H’mm these are good”
“Yes, my sister excels at these things”
“And your mother also?”
“I don’t know, mother died when I was five just before father returned from the Americas”
“I am sorry” Friedrich regretted raising the subject.
“When Bettina my older sister was fourteen she sacked our house keeper and took over the running of the household.
“And yourself, apart from interrogation, what do you excel at?”
Ilse smiled and Friedrich realised how attractive she was.
“I’m the son my father never had, I help him in all his work, I can shoot better than most foresters, ride with the hunt and even fence. Now what would you like to inspect?”
“Well let’s start with a walk around the outside of the town while the weather is fine”
Ilse led Friedrich back out through the north lane, pointing out how the ambush had been arranged. Once outside the town she pointed out the water filled ditch.
“Doesn’t seem much of an obstacle and there are no town walls here”
“Ah, but you can’t see what’s in the bottom. A few years ago during a long dry spell my father had the militia place sharpened stakes in the bottom and if you look carefully behind the bushes you can see the chevaux de frises that can be used to block the lane where it crossed the ditch”
Further on there were the remains of the old medieval walls and gate where the Hauptstrasse entered the town.
“I assume that one of your father’s surprises is a cauldron of boiling oil up there!”
“No, but let’s climb up as you get a good view from there”
After a stiff climb they reached the top of one of the twin turrets, the gates and brickwork were all sound and would certainly resist any attack except by artillery.
Ilse then pointed out the all major features and explained the strategic position of Stonew, covering the gap between the river and the Pidnem hills.
“Now you see that wood over there" said Ilse pointing at a distant clump of trees by the Hauptstrasse “that was where you were spotted”
“How exactly, I didn’t see anyone on the walls?”
“Well if you look behind you at the church steeple about half way up you will see some missing tiles. Inside is an observation post with a telescope, but young Ernst didn’t need that he has very sharp eyesight. Once he knew which way you were heading he informed the militia on duty who prepared the trap”
They then worked their way to the south where Ilse pointed out where some of the French had landed.
“It was exactly where we had expected them. Captain Tettau’s company of Freischutze had marched over from the hills and were waiting in ambush at Kleine Slatz, that’s the village with the large barn”
“But how did you know they were coming?”
“That’s another one of our surprises, we were lucky that this morning’s rainstorm occurred after the crossing, otherwise it would have been more difficult to stop them. Also once we knew what was planned the General sent us a couple of guns from the Garrison Artillery.”
“Now if you look slightly to the left you’ll see the temporary footbridges used to cross the ditch for Captain Rhetz’s counterattack, normally they’re hidden, but they haven’t done that yet.”
“So General Wurst was aware that there would be an attack”
“Yes…….but I can’t tell you any more, come let’s go to the quay”
The couple re-entered the town, Friedrich carefully looking out for traps and spotting one.
On the quay there appear to be a group of fishermen intently casting their line into the river.
“There must be large stupid fish here from the look of the hooks and lines being used” said Friedrich
Ilse laughed, lifting his spirits “It’s quite simple, when you know about their target. The French lost a lot of muskets and equipment in the water and they are well worth recovering. Now, did you notice anything on the way here?”
“Only a mobile chevaux de frises on the south lane”
“OK, now walk back up the passage to the first gate and tell me what is unusual about it”
“Hmm, it’s higher than usual for a garden gate, and ……. it swings across to block the passage, and it can be bolted shut.
“Good, now look at the gun positions”
“Each has excellent all round fields of fire, including the quay, and abbatis to prevent attack, presumably the crew enters via the adjoining building”
“Yes, but if you look they have no access from the quay”
“OK, so where were you during the battle?”
Ilse pointed to a high window “I was up there with an old fowling piece, all that was available, but I shot at least three Frenchmen.
“Thank you Ilse, it has been a most pleasant and informative inspection”
“But. I could muster the militia, so you could check their equipment”
“No, they have already done more than enough today to demonstrate their abilities. I think the best thing now is for me to write my inspection report”