Monday, 29 March 2010

Leaving Bruckewasser.

Colonel Claret had received instructions to leave Buckewasser and rejoin the rest of the army now that the Sommerland had been secured. His orders also included an instruction to destroy the bridge across the Farrett to that the Imperial troops could not easily follow.

The platoon of engineered had set to work and the bridge had been prepared for demolition, it only needed the fuse to be lit once the troops were across. By 10 o’clock his regiment was across and marching up onto the Dennep hills leaving only the engineers a company of infantry and a few cavalry.

Arriving on the far bank the Colonel turned to the engineer sergeant said “Right light the fuse and let’s get going.”

Across the river Ilse, Hans Franz and a number of militia were watching anxiously.
Having lit the fuse the colonel and sergeant retired to a safe distance and awaited the explosion. All that occurred was a muffled thump and a cloud of dust. “Must have been a partial detonation sir” said the sergeant “I’ll go and check it”

As the sergeant approached the explosives Hans took aim with his rifle and shot him down before he could discover what had really happened.

Colonel Claret called forward his infantry and considered his options. He had no one else capable of resetting the charges, where there was one rifleman there might be more and rushing the bridge would achieve nothing of value. “Right captain set fire to the houses then rejoin the column, but cover the bridge while you do so in case of more trouble”

As the French left the northern suburb the fires had begun to take hold. However Franz and a large body of locals rushed across the river, organised a bucket chain and got the fires under control before substantial damage was caused.

A picture of the bridge at Bruckewasser showing the minor damage to the bridge.

There will now be a short break while I visit London

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Welle falls (2)

The General rode into Welle to a scene of chaos with drunken legere in all directions and officers and NCOs trying to restore order. Colonel Anjou appeared “it’s impossible sir, they seem to have left plentiful alcohol and the men have lost all control. There is a garrison in the Bishops Palace, but I can’t find enough men to assault even that.”

Moving through the city Twyth and the general arrived close to the cathedral, nearby was a small moated fort flying a white flag. Leaving the Generals side Twyth rode over to investigate. A priest appeared and called out that the palace was only occupied by women, children and old men who needed refuge from the rampaging troops. They would happily lower the drawbridge once they knew it was safe.

Reporting back to the general, Twyth was glad to see fresh troops arriving part of Colonel Jolais’ command and some guns as well. “Right Twyth go and tell them that if they don’t let down the drawbridge and admit you personally to check their claim we will open fire.”

Dismissing his doubts Twyth returned and summoned the priest. To his surprise the drawbridge was lowered and he could ride across, through the gate into a spacious courtyard. It was filled with women, children and very old men. For a moment Twyth wondered if he could find the mysterious women amongst them, but he couldn’t see her getting trapped in this position.

Reporting back to the General that all was as it seemed he was sent to check on the cavalry’s progress.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Welle falls (1)

By the end of the day only one last ditch separated the French from Welle. Despite their best endeavours the French had failed to make faster progress.

General Bercollin called Colonels Letort and Anjou to discuss the next days action. “Now what we need to do is strike hard and catch the Frundsbergers as they withdraw. I can’t see them defending the city as it has no defences. But take no chances. Letort swing round the city as soon as possible and drive towards Pappenheim and keep the rabble on the run if possible. Anjou, don’t let your men stop, Colonel Jolais’ men will follow through and clear any resistance.”

Early the next day the French crossed the final ditch, the militia and rifles then fell slowly back from hedgerow to hedgerow allowing the population time to either disperse or find shelter in the Bishop's palace. The last militia company was almost cut off by the French cavalry as they reached the open ground before the steep slopes of the Pidnem hills, however the Freishutze were well posted and luckily the French didn’t press their attack.

The légère stormed into an empty city and discipline was lost as most of the men dispersed looking for loot. Only a couple of companies skirting the city remained under control and joined the cavalry for the thrust up into the hills.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Flying rifles

Twyth awoke early to a cool foggy morning. There was a thick mist covering the levels, so he made his way up the Glasserberg to try and get a better view. Part way up he emerged into sunshine and from the top he had a clear view north across to the Pidnem hills with the spires of Welle cathedral beneath them. To the south he could see the ridgeline of the Dennep hills.

However as he looked closer he could see figures advancing from the east across the levels towards the road leading back from the Glasserberg. The road that was their lifeline. The figures seemed to fly across the ditches in giant leaps and as he looked closer through a telescope he could see they were carrying pikes.

“Now Twyth, this is a fine morning” said the General slightly out of breath from the climb.

“Sir if you look down there I think we are being attacked” replied Twyth pointing down at the meadows.

The Frieshutze stuck at the wagon escort unexpectedly through the mist, and the majority fled in panic allowing the riflemen time to set fire to the wagons and then they withdrew before any counter attack could be mustered.

General Bercollin stared open mouthed as the attack took place. “Right Twyth, check on the damage and get Colonel Anjou’s troops on the move, we must get to Welle by nightfall.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

The great escape (1)

Over the last few days Raymond and his miners had widened the passages wherever possible, positioned candles and moved the biscuit stocks close to the surface. Friedrich himself had exited the system and laid out some stones to provide orientation once they emerged.

AS night fell, the message was passed from hut to hut and the escapees assembled behind the nearest hut to the cliff before being quietly guided across to the hidden entrance. Once inside the way was clearly lit by candles so there was no mistaking the route. On emerging each pair/trio of escapees was given a bag of biscuit and a rough idea of where to go. The choice was either east to the river bank in the hope of finding a boat or south if the French army had possibly landed. North was far too dangerous as it must lead towards the cities of Pappenheim and Sonnenbad.

Once the last of the escapees had emerged and been dispatched Raymond set off in the opposite direction, north east intending to gradually curve round to the south and meet up either with a French army or find a stretch of river that was not as well guarded.

Once daylight had broken Raymond had dodged from cover to cover trying to remain unseen. By mid morning he had arrived at a point where he had to cross a large area of open ground. Carefully he scanned the area trying to spot any foresters that might be on watch. As he was about to break cover he saw a couple of figures emerge from the woods a couple of hundred paces away heading away from him.

There was a sudden shout “Hande Hoch”. One of the figures stopped, but the other started running. Raymond heard the crack of a rifle and saw the running figure tumble into the dirt.

Moments later a couple of Freishutze appeared from a copse and moved towards the two escapees. The running man had been hit in the leg and the hunters made his companion support him as they escorted them towards the nearest village.

Raymond reflected that the prisoner was lucky that the foresters were good shots and that the bounty was higher for live prisoners. Once quiet resumed he dashed over the open ground to the copse. As expected he found a concealed hide used for hunting deer or escaping prisoners. From now on he would have to be even more careful.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

To the rescue?

Colonel Meyer had planned well, each company had been allocated a light wagon, this would enable any footsore troops to have a break thus enabling the units to maintain a good pace. Once the order to depart was received they set off with the cavalry and jaegers in the lead followed by the two line battalions. Hopefully they would arrive in Bruckewasser within three days.

The big question was whether the town would be occupied and could the Farrett be crossed. The colonel hoped that the alternative option of contacting the garrison at Burndorf and arrange for them to ferry his troops across was still possible, otherwise there very little his men would be able to do.

The order of march was quite simple with the light dragoons leading backed up by the jaegers then followed by the two line battalions. General Kraut had drawn on the Frundsberg letters of credit with the Rothschilds and given Meyer enough cash to pay for rations from the local population as they progressed, so there was no need to waster time foraging.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The problem with bridges (2)

General Bercollin returned to his HQ positioned where the road left the crest of the Dennep ridge. It was a fine position with good visibility, which only enhanced his view of the massive backlog of men and vehicles all the way back to Bruckewasser. Now when should he order Colonel Claret to leave Bruckewasser?

Twyth tapped him on the shoulder “The gun is in position sir”

The General turned to observe a 4 pdr fire a first shot at one of the houses. Looking through his telescope no damage could be discerned yet, it would probably take five or six rounds to dislodge the garrison of each house then the way would be clear. Beyond the stone bridge there were only another two ditches before they reached firm ground.

“Sir, did you see that” cried Twyth as the sound of an explosion was heard.

“What now?”

“They have a howitzer firing on our gun”

“Don’t worry about that, those things are only good for setting fire to buildings”

At that point a second round could be seen rising in the air and then descending. The gun crew could be seen running, but all were caught in the explosion that wrecked the 4 pdr.

“Merde, Twyth, get several guns sent forward at once, we need to show the canaille they can’t mess with us”

Eventually by evening the French had crossed the final ditch and reached a hamlet at the foot of a hill, locally called the Glasserberg. The General and Twyth arrived shortly after and tried to climb it but there was too little light left for them to be able to see anything. The Light Infantry deployed around the base of the hill wondering what the next day would bring.

Precious time was ebbing away, the Imperial forces must be reacting by now and there was still no news of any other successful French crossings of the Rhine.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The problem with bridges (1)

By late morning General Bercollin descended to the plain to inspect progress “Well Colonel how is it going?”

Colonel Anjou responded “Well General we have got into a system of crossing the ditches with artillery support, our main constraint is the time it takes to bring up the timber and build the replacement bridges. We have now reached a more substantial stone structure over one of the small rivers, it’s quite intact, but they have covered it with abbattis and are occupying some stone buildings covering the bridge. Once the bridge over the ditch behind us is complete we’ll bring up the guns and drive them off like before”

“Excellent, is there anything that can be done to speed progress?”

“Not really, everything has to pass up and down this road and we haven’t enough timber to assemble additional bridges”

“OK carry on”

About an hour later the first gun was manhandled across the temporary bridge and dragged forward into position. Meanwhile the engineers continued strengthen the bridge so it could take heavy traffic.


On the other side of the bridge behind a number of buildings garrisoned by militia Von Barner was chatting with an old gunner.

“Oh yes zur, this ere mortar may be old, but it’s still accurate. I got the apothecary in Welle to reblend all the powder and weigh out the cartridges so they are all exactly the same weight. Therefore once I know where the first shot lands I can easily adjust to hit the target."

At that point a young militiaman came running up exclaiming “They have brought up a gun”

“Yez, yez, now take you a deep breath and tell me where it is compared to the markers”

“The captain said it was 20 paces to the left and 8 paces back from the 300 pace marker”

“Now then if both you gentlemen would leave I will get on with making the final adjustments. Oh and when would you like me to fire zur?”

“As soon as possible after the enemy gun starts firing, thank you Bombardier"

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Fireworks (2)

General Bercollin believed in suffering like his men so when night fell he just wrapped himself up in a blanket and slept under one of the wagons. He was soundly asleep within minutes whereas Twyth lying against one of the wheels was pondering why the campaign was going so badly. He was startled awake by a bright object floating in the sky, that suddenly descended into a party of troops causing panic. Further to the west another object had appeared and headed into the troops there.

Waking the general Twyth pointed out the objects that were still alight illuminating the surrounding troops. Then he saw a glow down on the plain before another flaming ball flew over his head into the horse lines causing mayhem.

The General stormed over to the nearest group of troops and grabbing the first officer he found shouted “Take your men down and deal with the pests.” The officer immediately gathered his men and led them down the slope. Even as this happened more globes appeared and fell into different areas of the French lines.

Render was having a great time, once he had worked out the necessary torsion for the range; he concentrated on spotting possible targets. Seeing some wagons he sent several projectiles in that direction. Preparing the next shot he was surprised by his commander saying “Time to leave now, can’t you hear the muskets”

“Just one more shot”

“Right just one then pack up”

The final ball arced up into the air and descended onto the wagons. Moments later an explosion rent the air as an ammunition wagon exploded.

Render whooped with you and then helped the others to dismantle the catapult before falling back to the horses and returning to Welle.

Checking with Lieutenant Pilner on the return it appeared that the whole operation had gone smoothly with no loses to the Freihussaren.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Fireworks (1)

“Now Friedrich, I have a little mission for your men” explained Colonel Von Barner. “I want you to scare the French encampments along the ridge”

“But how can I do that and get away safely across the ditches?”

“You don’t need to cross them all; I have a local guide who will take you round and back through various hidden crossings to the nearest ditch to the hills. Then you will use these old fashioned devices to ensure that the French don’t get a good nights sleep”

Selecting Lieutenant Hans von Pilsner’s troop for the mission, they practiced assembling and disassembling the two small torsion powered catapults. The ammunition they would be using would be naphtha balls, evil smelling bundles of rags impregnated with coal tar and phenol. Route finding would not be difficult as it was near a full moon, but hopefully cloud would prevent them being spotted. The help with assembly they had a number of lanterns that could be shielded to prevent them being seen.

Render Fhart was quite enthusiastic as he had built a catapult as a child and claimed he was very proficient in their use. Given that no one was particularly keen on operating them he was given charge of one.

As the sun was setting they rode out of Welle and headed down the road to Burndorf. After an hour their guide turned off the road and led them down various winding tracks enclosed by hedgerows on either side and periodically crossing drainage ditches” After more than an hour they arrived close to the last ditch. Leaving their horses the party split into two groups each with a catapult and moved about 500 paces to the left and right respectively along the ditch until they found some suitable vegetation to hide behind while assembling the catapults.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Into the Freistadt (2)

General Bercollin could see that virtually no progress was being made as most of his command was still spread out along the road following the ridgeline of the Dennep hills. Arriving at the point where the road turned downhill he found Colonel Anjou in some agitation.

“What seems to be the problem Colonel?”

“Those thrice cursed ditches” he expounded pointing down the road “it’s spring and they are full of water and too deep to cross. The Frundsbergers have taken up the bridges and are defending the other side of each one.”

“Well just blow them away with your artillery”

“Yes but the artillery can’t get too close because they will be picked off by their riflemen, so a full division is being held up by at most sixty men. So far we have managed to get across the first ditch, but we can’t continue until we get the artillery across as well, which means we need to build a new bridge and that needs timber.”

“Well just cut some trees down”

“Yes, but look around, all the trees here are willows and they are regularly cut and they cannot provide long enough lengths of timber. Therefore we have to go to the other side of the ridge to find anything long enough”

Turning to Twyth in despair, he asked “Well can you think of any quicker solution?”

“No Sir, and it would have been worse if we had tried to use the other roads as they cross wider areas of this flat ground. Perhaps if we had managed to view this side of the ridge we might have seen the problem and therefore have made preparations”

“Yes, Twyth if you had not chased off after some woman, you might have seen this”


By evening by when General Bercollin had expected his advance guard to be in Welle it had only just secured the far side of the second drainage ditch.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Sabotage (1)

After arriving in the safe house Ilse set the signal so their local agents would know they were present and then settled down for a few hours sleep till dawn. They were woken by a great deal of activity and not long after Franz arrived by the back door.

“The French are on the march to Frundsberg. Cavalry and infantry have already left but there is still a considerable garrison here”

“Yes Franz, we expected this, but we now need to ensure that the French cause the minimum damage to Bruckewasser so the imperial forces can pass through easily and find any way of reducing the effectiveness of their forces. Have you found out anything new?”

“Yes, they are storing a lot of supplies in the warehouses down at the docks and I have found where they are keeping their ammunition”

“Interesting, an army without ammunition would be in trouble”

“Yes, but we can’t destroy it without destroying that part of the town. I know the owner of the warehouse and he says it is possible to get into the warehouse from the adjoining building”

Shortly after the curfew was sounded they made their way to the docks and entered the back of one of the warehouses. Moving to the front Ilse looked out to see several Frenchmen guarding the next building. Franz meantime with Hans’s help had been moving a number of sacks, boxes and barrels to reveal a door. Opening it carefully they found large numbers of chests filled with musket and artillery ammunition. Also there were a large number of barrels of gunpowder.

“I’ve an idea” said Ilse “We can’t remove the ammunition without the French finding out and getting additional supplies from across the river. However we could remove the gunpowder and replace the contents with sand covered with a layer of gunpowder. They won’t find out until they try to use it.”

Using the barrels from the next building they transferred the contents of gunpowder barrels into boxes and barrels from the other warehouse and replacing the contents with sand and a hands depth of powder. The task took three hours and they took turns with the transfer and keeping watch on the street.

Once they had finished they made sure that nothing looked disturbed and then returned through the door and repositioned sacks, boxes and barrels to block it again.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Into the Freistadt (1)

The French offensive was spotted shortly after it left Bruckewasser. The advance guard progressed as a mass with neither the light infantry nor the cavalry taking the lead. This made it easy to provide adequate warning to the Frundsberg Freishutze and Militia to retire and make final preparations. They advanced up the first of the Dennep hills and then turned east to follow the main Haubtstrasse along the ridgeline. Colonel Anjou looked out to the north and saw a flat fertile landscape stretching away to distant hills. To the northeast was a hill emerging from the plain, speaking to no one in particular “Yes that is the Glasserberg and behind that is Welle, this should be an easy conquest”

To his front he could periodically see the enemy horse and occasionally light infantry withdrawing in the face of his advance.

Friedrich turned to Mariusz “Sound the horn as the Freishutze need to withdraw”

Mariusz pulled out a hunting horn as used by the jaegers and played “Retire”

The jaegers emerged slowly in pairs and alternately covering each other withdrew to the foot of the ridge and crossed the first drainage ditch.

Seeing the French coming closer Friedrich decided it was their turn to withdraw and Mariusz sounded his trumpet and Von Pilsner’s troop retired in good order to the bridge. As they dismounted to cross Friedrich hoped he had timed it right as the bridge was now only three timbers wide. The last few men were still waiting to cross as the lead Chasseurs galloped up. However this was why the Frieshutze had withdrawn first, as they fired and accurately felled all the lead riders. As soon as the last Freihussar had crossed the Militia tipped the remaining beams into the ditch and withdrew behind a stockade.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Back to Bruckewasser

Ilse and Hans arrived back at Burndorf less than 36 hours after departing and immediately contacted Major Adamski. “We have to get into Bruckewasser as soon as possible”

“Right stay here and I’ll see what can be organised”

About an hour later the Major returned with some boatmen. “These men are prepared to take you upriver to the other side of the Farrett immediately it gets dark this evening. I think it may be the same place where the French landed a week ago.”

“That will be fine, we know how to get into the city from there.”

“Will you be able to get back safely?” Ilse asked the boatmen.

“No problem your ladyship, it’s quicker getting back and the Frenchies don’t like being on the water at night. We’ve also got a delivery to make”

Once the sun set the boatmen pushed off and rowed up river against the current. It was quite a large well built boat, but there was a large heap of cargo covered by tarpaulins in the centre of the boat. They’re probably smugglers thought Ilse.

After a couple of hours the boat pulled into the shore and Ilse and Hans were helped to disembark almost dry foot.

“Thank you gentlemen”

“Our pleasure Miss” and the boat rapidly headed off towards the French bank.
Ilse and Hans picked up their belongings and headed towards the town and the safe house.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Another farewell

The next morning as Friedrich was organising the Squadron for the day ahead as a couple of horsemen rode into the camp, he immediately recognised Ilse and walked over to greet her.

“Good morning Ilse have you come to inspect us?”

“No I have to check on a few things for father and I can’t delay so thanks again for the rescue”

“Thanks for rescuing Seamus, his experiences have helped to cool a few of the hotter heads and hopefully it means that they’ll not be as impulsive in future. Will I see you again?”

At that moment a cheering mob of Freihusaren appeared led by Seamus. “There she is. That’s the lady that saved me. Three cheers for the lady Ilse”

After the cheering died down Ilse spoke “Thank you for the complement gentlemen, but Hans here was also involved, and it wasn’t that difficult. I’m sorry but we cannot stay as we have urgent business to take care off, so Aufweidersehen”

As the cheering died down and Ilse rode off Friedrich hid his regret and applied his authority. “Gentlemen, if you please. We have the French to fight”

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Invasion planning

“Now gentlemen back to our plans” said the Colonel.

“Obviously our first step will be to delay the French as long as possibly while crossing the Sommerland. Clearly the French will try and develop a systematic approach to crossing the ditches, so we must come up with some innovative ideas to keep them guessing and slow them down as much as possible”

The discussion then covered all sorts of potential stratagems that might work depending on the French approach.

“Excellent gentlemen, I’ll sleep on your creative ideas and consider how we can best use them but please let me know if you have any other thoughts. Now once the French have crossed the Sommerland, which they will eventually, I will retire with the regulars up onto the Pidnem hills and continue a fighting withdrawal. Ideally I would like all those militia without family commitments to assist”

Major Grabner the Welle militia commander spoke while Major Liebnitz from Frommel nodded in agreement “We have already split our men to be able to do this. The result should be that you have a battalion capable of moving with your main body”

“Good, so those who remain in Welle and Frommel will hide their equipment and disperse until the time is ready to strike at the French rear.”

“Major Stollen, what is the situation with the Freishutz?”

“Very much the same sir, two companies of the younger men will accompany me with the main body and the older men will support the local militia.”

As the meeting drew to a close Friedrich’s thoughts wandered to what excuse he could use to drop by the Weisse Rossl on the way back to camp.

As the officers departed the Colonel turned to him. “Friedrich, I would normally invite you over to the Weisse Rossl as well, but this evening my daughter and I have much to discuss, so I hope you will indulge me”

“Of course sir” said Friedrich

Saturday, 13 March 2010

A family reunion

As they arrived at the outskirts of Welle, Seamus halted and thanked Ilse and Hans for his rescue and pointed out his squadron’s camp. “I have to rejoin the Squadron; you are welcome to visit me anytime”

Ilse hesitated, wondered whether to go and see Friedrich, but instead wished Seamus “better fortune in future” and rode on.

“So Hans, where do you think we’ll find my father?” asked Ilse.

“I expect he will be at the Rode Leeuw tavern, it’s the best establishment in the town, although the cider is better in the Weisse Rossl.”

“Right I’ll go to the Rode Leeuw and find father, you book us a couple of rooms at the Weisse Rossl, hopefully there will still be some cider left” and flicked a gold coin to Hans who nodded appreciatively.

Entering the Rode Leeuw, Ilse saw at once it was the headquarters and headed for the main banqueting room, the obvious place to find her father. A young lieutenant blocked her path saying “There is an officer’s conference you can’t.....” then staggered backwards.

Ilse, apologised, and then opened the door. A large group of officers looked up from the map they had been studying. “Ah Ilse, what a relief to see you” expressed the Colonel. “Gentlemen, my daughter and the means by which we have received our intelligence on the French”

To a murmur of approval Ilse’s father introduced her to the officers present, finishing with “and I think you know Major Von Wettin.”

“Indeed father, the gallant gentleman rode to my rescue yesterday, Oh and your missing hussar has returned safely to camp”

“Now if you gentlemen will excuse me I’ll leave you to your deliberations” “Father I’ll be at the Weisse Rossl when you have finished”

As she left Friedrich was sure that she winked at him, perhaps recognising that he had shaved off his moustache.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Execution Day

Representative Laine was awoken early as requested and after meticulously preparing himself he strode across to the council chambers passing his infernal device all set up in the centre of the town square. Most of the officers were gathered in the main council chamber and as the appointed hour was struck Laine moved out onto the balcony overlooking the square

Looking down Laine observed the prisoner being brought out, looking the worse for being imprisoned. The guards virtually dragged him across to the middle of the square

A small crowd of locals had gathered intrigued by all the activity, but were kept back by some Grenadiers. The Lieutenant appointed to manage the event then read out the charges, which could be summarised as being born to the wrong mother. The prisoner was asked if he had anything to say and he cried out something in German

Looking to the Council chamber balcony the Lieutenant received confirmation and the prisoner was forced onto the device face down. He was then slid forward until he faced a bucket. The crowd was silent as the operator looked to the balcony and received confirmation from his master. A collective gasp was heard from the crowd as the blade was seen to drop and in the following silence a thump was heard as a head hit the bottom of the bucket.

Twyth vomited over the balcony as the Representative shouted out “Death to all tyrants” and the executioner waved the severed head in the air.

After the Representative had left Colonel Letort turned to Twyth “It was just as well that Laine doesn’t understand German, so who was sacrificed to keep him happy
Twyth explained what had happened and the Colonel then thrust a large brandy in his hand telling him it would settle his stomach. “Don’t worry I won’t tell anyone”

Thursday, 11 March 2010

A Friendly Welcome

On arrival in Burndorf the trio were escorted to a large house on the sea front. They were shown inside and then Captain Adamski appeared with his wig slightly askew and trying to hide his ear trumpet. He welcomed the fugitives and immediately called for a hearty breakfast to be served.

Ilse turned to Frau Admaski and asked if she cold provide her with a change of clothing. “Let me help” shouted the Captain. He received a received a cuff from his wife and told to use his ear trumpet. His wife said “I’m sure we can find something for you and the young gentleman.”

Once they were changed and fed the Captain explained his local preparations against the French marauders and that he had sent some boatmen to recover the barge before the French could retrieve it.

“Oh and have you heard about your Father”

“No, is anything wrong?”

“Only he is now in command of me and the rest of the southern forces. His HQ was in Welle the last I heard. We are preparing the bridges ready for quick removal.”

“Can you provide some horses so we can get there?”

“Yes I’m sure the post and customs can provide some”.

By mid morning the trio were on the road to Welle and observing the preparations to slow the French crossing of the Sommerland.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Prison Break (3)

I had been another bad night for Twyth, he had been woken in the early hours with the news of a prison break out. Luckily the duty officer had ordered all the gates closed, but most of the prisoners were local so they probably knew the gaps in the defences or where to hide. But that was only a minor concern, where was O’Mally? The General was unconcerned just telling him to take whatever measures were necessary.

Interviewing the prison guards, gave him a sense of déjà vu. “It was an attractive woman”.

“Right arrest all women on the streets and particularly find someone in a yellow uniform”

By dawn half a dozen ladies of the night were hauled in, plus a very dirty smelly individual.

Inspecting the “ladies” Twyth asked who asked who else was on the streets and not hearing anything useful released them.

As he turned to the man the sergeant guarding him triumphantly opened a bag to reveal a hussar uniform. Twyth paled, how would they now catch O’Mally? Then an idea stuck him, turning to the sergeant “Dress him in his uniform then report back to me at Eight thirty.”

“But it’s not mine, I stole it”

“Carry on Sergeant”

Representative Laine awoke early and taking a brief breakfast he arrived at the town hall by ten minutes to nine.

Accepting a proffered coffee he walked to the balcony of the council chambers to check that everything was ready. The executioner was calmly sharpening the blade on his device and various locals seemed to cast anxious glances at the structure in the square and then scurried away.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Prison Break (2)

Seamus quickly changed into a French uniform. Ilse gave him a musket and explained that he had to look like a French soldier in order to escape. Before leaving she shouted to the prisoners “Give us 5 minutes and then escape”

Ilse and her two escorts walked calmly down the road from the prison, and took a couple of turnings before hearing a commotion behind them presumably caused by the prisoners escaping.

Shortly afterwards a French officer came running round a corner followed by a large number of French infantry obviously heading for the prison. Ilse took Seamus in a passionate embrace while Hans waved a bottle asking “Wha’ssssssss the problem Sirrrrrrr……!

The officer and men rushed on past and Hans just caught the comment “Useless drunkards” as they passed.

Disengaging Seamus, who seemed to have forgotten why they were kissing, Ilse led them down several back alleys before emerging on the town quay.

Careful avoiding the sentries they slipped onto one of the barges. Ilse then cut the mooring ropes then very slowly the barge moved out into the river Farret and then downstream. Once they were sure they were out of sight of the sentries, Ilse took the tiller while Hans took a barge pole and they gradually steered the barge downstream towards the Frundsberg bank.

The barge eventually grounded and the party had to wade through very muddy water to get to the bank.

“Right. Burndorf, should be over there, only a couple of hours walk, so we should be there before daybreak” said Ilse. Hans, the lucky one, still had his clothes in his knapsack so he could discard his sodden French uniform.

As day was dawning they approached the bridge into Burndorf. Hans said “It’s guarded, leave this to me” and he then walked up the road to the bridge.

“Who goes there? Give the password”


“How do you know that?”

“Because Captain Adamski can’t remember any others”

“OK, come over, are there any others?”

“Just two, a woman and a man in French uniform”

Monday, 8 March 2010

Austrians in action?

Situation: Imperial HQ

General Kraut commanding the Frundsberg contingent arrives to see the Imperial army commander Graf Von Grunt.

“Sir I had to come at once, the whole camp is rife with rumour and speculation about the French crossing of the Rhine.”

“Yes General, it’s true and confirmed by various despatches”

“I have heard that they intend to strike north into Frundsberg where there are minimal forces available to resist them”

“Yes, this is serious news but I have to decide carefully the course of action. These French may have crossed, but who knows what other French forces may strike if our entire army moves north to deal with this crossing. I am thinking of sending a brigade or possibly two to deal with it. These reported figures of eleven battalions, nine squadrons and two batteries seem very high estimates.”

“I have organised a flying column under Colonel Meyer comprising the fittest men from my infantry battalions, some jaegers and light dragoons who should be able to move within two days.”

“Yes but we don’t want to move in small bodies that can be easily attacked, besides the army is still in winter quarters and will not be able to support this force for at least a week.”

“But sir, my country is under threat”

“Yes I know I cannot directly stop you, but the Hofkriegsrat will look disfavourably on your actions if it has adverse consequences.”

“Despite this, I will give you authorisation to send Colonel Meyer with two battalions of infantry, a company of jaegers and a squadron of cavalry as far as Bruckewasser as a reconnaissance to discover the French intentions”

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Prison Break (1)

The sentry paced up and down and immediately responded as a woman turned the corner. A comely wench and certainly dressed to impress a young conscript.

“Who goes there, what do you want?”

“Are you looking for some fun?”

The soldier considered and remembered that the officer and patrol had just passed and wouldn’t be back for a quarter hour or more. “How much?”

“Fifteen Assignats”

“Ten” he responded, thinking my pay is worth less every day.


“OK, just come over here where we can’t be seen”

As he turned the corner, led by the woman the conscript remembered very little, except a painful blow to the head and then waking up the next morning stripped and bound in a back yard.

Hans then quickly changed into the sentry’s uniform putting his own clothes in his knapsack. Receiving an all clear signal from an observer, he grabbed Ilse’s arm and force marched her up the road to the prison.

The two guards saw him coming “What have we got here?” said one lecherously.

“It’s a spy, just stick her in with the rest, that’s what the officer said”

“She’s too pretty to be a spy, aren’t you darling” said one guard, pulling at Ilse’s blouse.

“Look the officer said to lock her up and I’m not getting in trouble when he turns up shortly”

“Oh, alright, spoil sport” the guard reached for the keys and turned to open the door.

As the guard turned to open the door, his partner continued staring at Ilse’s cleavage only to receive a heavy blow knocking him unconscious.

Almost simultaneously the guard at the door had a knife at his throat and the instruction “Open the door quietly and you’ll live”

The prisoners were aroused when the door opened and two guards were pushed inside, followed by a woman and another French guard who called out in German. “Right who’ll strip these Frenchies and where is Seamus O'Malley”, At once several prisoners rushed forward to strip the uniforms off the Frenchmen.

A dishevelled individual in a hussar uniform staggered forward. I’m Seamus”

The guard gave some rope to the prisoners instructing them to tie and gag the Frenchies before returning outside. The woman looked at a rather battered Seamus and said “I’m here to get you out so change into one of those French uniforms”

“But, I can’t change in front of a lady” spluttered Seamus

“If you don’t I’ll leave you here” she responded.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Plans for Escape

Just as the light was fading Lieutenant Blanc entered Captain’s room exclaiming “We’ve found a way out! It’s taken quite a time, but we have found a way through the underground passages that lead to the surface beyond the camp”

“Very good but how will you use it, given that all the Freishutze will hunt you down as soon as you escape?”

“Yes, I’ve given that some thought. We are counted each morning and evening so we have to escape shortly after the check to give us the maximum time to get away before any alarm, also we will need light to find our way so the best time is after morning roll call, so we have the maximum daylight to get away”

“No you are not thinking clearly, daylight will also aide the pursuit, you are better to escape on a moonlit night, so you can move, but most people will be in their beds”

“Good idea, but my other idea is to organise a large escape with prisoners heading in different directions so that some of us will avoid the patrols and make it home. After all if we use this route once the guards will realise and prevent its reuse so it is an all or nothing plan”

“Hmm, it might just work. What do you need?”

“The main need is bread for at least a couple of days per man, so they don’t have to forage for food on the way.”

“So how many men are you planning to escape in this attempt?”

“Twenty five more or less”

“So I have kept a reserve of biscuit for emergencies and it might stretch that far. It’s a full moon in a few days can you be ready by then? Also can your escapees be trusted?”

“Yes, and apart from a few trusted individuals the rest won’t know until the last moment. Can you also keep a watch out for informers?


Friday, 5 March 2010

Despatches for the General

Late afternoon in Pappenheim.

General Wurst looked up as Stammpot knocked then entered. “Some despatches for you sir”

A young hussar marched in stood to attention then opened his sabretasche and handed the despatches to the general. “I was told to hand these to you personally sir, they come from Bruckewasser”

“Excellent, and what’s your name young fellow, you look familiar?”

“Ritter Hugo von Schwillensaufenstein III, sir”

Any relation of General Hugo von Schwillensaufenstein of Raubenstad?

“His grandson sir”

“Well the next time you see him give the old rascal my regards and remind him he still owes me a drink. If, as I expect he will claim I owe him one, just ask him about the Baroness Michelle."

"Ahhh. yes sir"

"Now I’m sure you will want to get back to your squadron as soon as possible so report back here tomorrow at 8 o’clock and you can take some despatches back to Welle”

“Stammpot give the fellow a pass for food and accommodation at the Admiral Tirpitz Inn.”

Stammpot and the hussar left and when Stammpot returned he found the General beaming. “Excellent information, this gives us the complete breakdown of the French forces and their route of advance. Towards Welle as expected”

“The question is can we get the Imperial forces to support us in time?”

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Urgent dispatches

As he watched Ilse riding away behind the ridge, Friedrich wondered what role she was playing, so he opened the dispatches to see the contents. He found a complete copy of the parade state of the French army and details of their planned thrust to Welle. Thrusting the despatches back in the bag he called out “Otto, who’s our best available rider?”

Von Zendabrau responded “Hugo von Schwillensaufenstein”

“Right give him these despatches and instruct him to ride with all haste to General Wurst in Pappenheim”

For the rest of the day all seemed quiet and as the sun began to set the FreiHusaren rode back to their camp in Welle, leaving a piquet under Sergeant Specht to watch the road overnight and give warning of any French activity. It was important to still have sufficient light as all the timbers on the bridges across the dikes had been loosened ready for removal and the horses had to be led across.

Arriving back, Friedrich dismissed his men and went to report to the Colonel at the Rode Leeuw tavern. He quickly explained what had happened, to the Colonels obvious annoyance “But I need to know what has been seen and I’ll have to wait till General Wurst copies the details of her despatches.”

“Begging your pardon Colonel, but following staff procedures I skimmed the despatches first before sending them to General Wurst”

“Excellent, thank you Friedrich, but I’m still concerned about my daughter’s safety, her anonymity was how she could move around easily, now she has been recognised I’m worried”

“Now quickly tell me what you remember as we are invited to dinner with the Bishop this evening and we are already late.”

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The Prisoner

Seamus suddenly realised that he had made a big mistake. He saw French infantry either side of him and as he pulled up he saw that no one had followed him. As he turned to escape a number of the French Chasseurs rode up and surrounded him. Seamus dropped his sabre, but he was uncertain as to whether this act would save him from the Chasseurs revenge. Luckily an officer rode up shouting something in French.

The officer then turned to him and spoke in German “Any trouble and my men will gut you, slowly, so tell me who you are”

“Not thinking he knew anything important, Seamus revealed that he was a recently recruited member of the Freihusaren recruited from the nobility”

In further questioning Twyth could get anything else of use out of him so he instructed the Chasseurs to deliver him to the prison in Bruckewasser while he reported to the General.

“Hmm, not very good news Twyth” said General Bercollin “You lost a Lieutenant and four men killed and another five wounded out of a patrol of fifteen”

“Yes, but I have discovered how the enemy know what are plans are. Just before the ambush I recognised the serving wench from when we had our staff meeting after the abortive river crossing at Stonew. When challenged she rode off at speed and she was the one who shot the Lieutenant, just before those hussars came to her rescue”

Representative Laine entered the room. “I hear you have an interesting captive Captain”

“No just a hussar, but because of his status we may be able to trade him for one of our officers”

“I think not, he is an Aristo, and we need to set an example”

“Representative Laine what do you mean?” asked the General.

It is a chance to test my new equipment sent from Paris and thereby persuade our enemies that resistance is useless”

“This is dishonourable and I won’t permit it”

“In the name of the Republic, I insist”

“I will comply only if I receive a written instruction”

“Very well, Captain bring pen and paper, the execution will timed for 9 o’clock tomorrow

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


The Freihusaren swept down on the French in the traditional uncontrolled hussar fashion just like wolves. Most of the French saw them coming and turned back in time but quite a number were sabred badly.

As the French were now fleeing as fast as they could away from the onslaught and recognising the perils of uncontrolled pursuit Friedrich turned to Mariusz to call the rally. It took three attempts before everyone seemed to respond.

As Friedrich watched his troops rallying back to the ridge line the scout drew up alongside “Thank you for your intervention Sir”

“Ilse?” and turned to look at her.

“Friedrich” then Ilse burst into laughter

“What’s so funny?”

“Your new moustache, it doesn’t suit you at all and…”

“And what?”

“It’ll tickle when I kiss you” and did so before Friedrich could react. “Thank you for my rescue”

“Excuse me Sir” shouted Lieutenant von Zendabrau.

“Yes Otto, how are the men?”

“Only a couple of minor wounds, however Seamus O'Malley is missing, he was last seen chasing after the French.” We managed to kill four of the Frenchmen and wound a number of others before they escaped”

“Hmm, that means he’s probably been captured by the French”

“Friedrich, who are these men?”

“They are my FreiHussaren, pledged to defend Frundsberg, I am now a Major in the army.”

“So they are all nobles and do they know what the French might do if they are captured?”

“They all understand the risks they are taking and what might occur if that happens”

“Well I may be able to help, if you can take these dispatches back to General Wurst urgently”

“Certainly, but what can you do?”

“I have ways, aufweidersehen Friedrich”

“Aufweidersehen Ilse”

Monday, 1 March 2010


The last few days for the Freihussaren had been fairly uneventful just providing backup for the light dragoons, with one troop on duty while the other continued training. However today, Friedrich led a troop up to a more exposed position behind the low Donnep hills as they had to provide backup to the Aufklarungskorps who were scouting towards Bruckewasser.

Friedrich along with Lieutenant von Zendabrau were positioned where they had a clear view to the south but not quite on the crest of the ridge. Friedrich’s trumpeter Mariusz was just a few paces further back. Just as boredom was beginning to settle in, and Friedrich was wondering how to keep his men alert, a scout from the Aufklarungskorps emerged from a copse to his front and rode up to report to him.

“Sir, one of our scouts has been found by the French and is being pursued in this direction”

At that moment the scout and the French appeared in view.

“Right Lieutenant, take half the men and deal with those closer French, the rest will follow me”

Then calling to his trumpeter “Mariusz, you stick to me like glue, now sound the charge”


Ilse could see that the French were still gaining on her and that unless she could think of something she could be captured shortly. Looking to her left she could see the flanking party was directly between her and the hills, but suddenly beyond them she saw a mass of yellow cavalry sweeping down from the hill.