Thursday, 29 July 2010

A strange conversation

As Friedrich led his men out to re-establish a picquet line he saw the Freishutze clustered around a barrel presumably of ale from the inn in Landsberg village. Spotting Ilse among them, he diverted his route slightly to pass by.

Friedrich rode up to Ilse, “Thanks for that shot, it certainly saved my life”

“Now we’re even and we’ve things to finish discussing”

“Ilse, this is not the time or place”

“Well…. I’m waiting for a proposal”

“I had to ask your father first”

“Pathetic excuse”

“So will you marry me Ilse”

“About time…. yes”

All the Freihussaren and Freishutze burst into loud cheers as Friedrich swept Ilse up onto his horse and kissed her.

Seamus O’Malley nudged Mariusz Kulenovich – “I know what’s that’s like” but Mariusz was busily counting the contents of a purse he had recovered from a French officer, it would more than cover his debts.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


General Von Barner breathed a sigh of relief as he watched the French start to withdraw, it had been touch and go, but the late arrival of the French guns and the fortuitous explosion of a caisson had swung the balance. He had a feeling that the latter had not been a matter of luck and he would question someone later about it.

He then rode over to Colonels Meyer and Pringle. “Gentlemen, I believe we have won and saved Sonnenbad” “Colonel Pringle, your Militia fought well, they held the ground far longer than I thought possible. I see the Stockrad militia are still fairly fresh, could you order them to collect the wounded from the battlefield.” “Ah here are Majors Kummel and Von Wettin”…”Gentlemen congratulations, I’m glad to see we still have some cavalry left”

“My apologies sir, some of my Light Dragoons fled and caused a minor panic in Sonnenbad, but all is calm now” explained Major Kummel.

“Apology accepted Major, these things happen”.

“Colonel Meyer and Major Von Wettin can you establish picquets in case the French have a change of heart”

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The benefits of firepower

The French artillery arrived at last and opened fire on the militia occupying the corner of the wall; unsurprisingly they fell back leaving Colonel Pringle the only defender for a moment. However the 1st Line Battalion had reformed and marched forward to fill the gap.

“Excellent, that’s what I want to see” exclaimed General Bercollin as his artillery shredded the defenders of the wall. “Just keep that up for a while then we’ll send the infantry forward and the cavalry can mop up afterwards".

“But sir, Major Brioche said that he doesn’t have a lot of ammunition left so if we fail we will have no reserve to cover our retreat” said Twyth.
“We won’t need to retreat, Ah here come the reserve ammunition, there will be no excuse” he watched a heavily laden caisson move up close to the gun line.

The General looked in horror as he saw the Representative en Mission Laine nearby lighting his pipe, quickly moving towards him, he shouted out “Representative Laine, please put that pipe out at once”

Laine looked up and at that moment a gunner opened the caisson lid.

Twyth watched as the caisson exploded and all the men around it were tossed aside in the blast. Rushing forward, Twyth found the general was badly wounded but still breathing.
“How is he Twyth?” asked Colonel Claret.

“Alive but unconscious sir”

“Right get him to the surgeon. We are going to withdraw while we can”

Under the watchful eyes of the Frundsbergers the French carefully disengaged and withdrew back to the Gottberg where they had started that morning.

Monday, 26 July 2010

The last gasp

Colonel Pringle breathed deeply then shouted “There’s nothing like the smell of gunpowder in the afternoon lads” then continuing “We’ve held them this far and it’s not long till nightfall” with a roar of “Frundsberg Forever” the remaining Frenchmen were driven back from the wall.

General Bercollin had already decided that his men needed to regroup again so the infantry fellback just out of musket range from the wall. At long last his artillery had arrived and they would surely pound the Frundsbergers into submission. On the right the French cavalry had cleared the field of the Frundsberg cavalry and could now sweep forward into Sonnenbad if he gave the order.

One squadron of Chevau-légers had even swept round behind the Landsberg village pursuing the routing Frundsberg cavalry.

General Von Barner recognised the risk to his rear and rode back to try and rally his cavalry, but just as he arrived both the Heavy Dragoons and Freihussaren halted and reformed facing the pursuing French cavalry. The Chevau-légers saw the opposition they had to face and wisely retreated back around the village.

Before returning to the wall, Von Barner managed to shout across to Fredrich “If we can hold them till nightfall then we’ll win”

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The pressure continues

Despite their set backs the French continued their attacks, the inevitable then occurred, first the remaining light Dragoons were routed and then finally the Heavy Dragoons and some of the French cavalry set off in pursuit. Luckily the Frundsberg Horse Artillery was now close to the field wall and the supporting fire from the militia there, and the Freishutze were safely holding the wall further down towards Landsberg village.

Shot flew thick and fast across the stone wall. The French were constantly pushing forward to find a weak point. Then suddenly the French infantry charged and pushed back the 2nd line battalion from the wall threatening a complete breakthrough. Colonel Meyer rushed up to rally his men and managed to prevent a rout.

Bitter fusillades continued and then the 1st line battalion devastated by the crossfire in its exposed corner of the wall fell back to reform. However the French point unit, the 1/23ieme DB de Ligne was exhausted and their commander decided to fall back behind the wall. Immediately before the other French units could exploit the position Colonel Pringle led two battalions of Militia forward to fill the gap.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

An all-out assault

At long last General Bercollin had his forces where he wanted them. He ordered the Infantry forward on his left to take the wall and, ignoring their mixed performance so far, the cavalry was sent forward to clear the right. Under pressure the Frundsberg line would crack somewhere.
On the left the French infantry were stalled again by the fire from the walls defenders.

On the right they were no more successful. One squadron of Chasseurs attacked the Heavy Dragoons and were ignominiously routed; the only success was that the Chevau-légers succeeded in routing one of the Light Dragoon squadrons. The weary Heavy Dragoons continued the combat with the other squadron of Chasseurs, but were forced to rally back.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Cavalry combat

Still eager for glory, the Heavy Dragoons quickly rallied and immediately charged the French Heavy Cavalry while they were still disorganised by the canister fire. They smashed into the heavier French cavalry at full speed, immediately routing them, then calmly reformed their ranks.

However once the two French dragoon squadrons had reformed and once their heavier comrades were out of the way they charged at the Heavy Dragoons. Their left hand squadron as expected took canister fire causing their charge to falter. The real shock was experienced by the right hand squadron as huge cannonballs unexpectedly ripped through their ranks. It was a stroke of luck that there was a clear line of fire from the village to the Dragoons and Jens and his seamen fired their siege guns as soon as they had a clear target. The dragoons involved routed almost immediately.

On the right two squadrons of Chevau-léger charged forward attempting to catch the Freishutz as they withdrew but the Freihussaren and the second squadron of Light Dragoons counter charged. The Light Dragoons succeeded in driving back the squadron facing them, but the Freihussaren were pushed back and broken. Assailed by two Frenchmen, Friedrich parried one thrust and then stabbed his sabre into his enemy’s chest, but turning, saw the other Frenchman’s sabre was swinging towards him when a shot rang out and the Frenchman fell in mid swing. Looking around Friedrich was convinced he saw Ilse calmly reloading a rifle. He spurred his horse onward to distance himself from the French and to try and rally his men.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Clash of the heavies

Before General Bercollin could rebalance his forces Colonel Letort had sent in his Dragoons and Heavy Cavalry to deal with their Frundsberg counterpart. At the same time Colonel Jolais made another push towards the wall.
Side by side a squadron of Dragoons and Heavy Cavalry sped towards the Heavy Dragoons. A swathe of canister swept through the Heavy Cavalry causing them to falter. The Frundsbergers counter-charged their French opponents on equal terms and after a confused melee both side fell back to reform. On the wall the French infantry met a hail of musketry and canister and Colonel Anjou decided to rally back.

Now back in his second line position, Friedrich looked across to the Freishutze on the extreme right flank, they were now extremely vulnerable as French cavalry continued to arrive on the plateau. He was even more concerned when he spotted Ilse in amongst them calmly loading and firing.

Ilse had left Jens as the guns arrived in the village of Landsberg and made her way to join the Freishutze. Spotting Hans’ pack mule she retrieved a rifle and a bag of cartridges and joined the firing line. Moments later came the command to withdraw as two squadrons of French light cavalry appeared over the crest.
A gruff voice announced "You shouldn't be here Miss"
Spitting a ball down the barrel Ilse replied "Yes Hans" and calmly rammed the ball home and primed the pan. "Now we had better withdraw before those cavalry come to get us"

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

A brief lull

The success of the Heavy Dragoons was loudly cheered by the infantry massed along the adjoining wall, but the cavalry had no time to waste celebrating as they had to reform ready to face the French who were spilling over the crest in ever increasing numbers.

From General Bercollin''s perspective the whole operation was becoming a mess. His subordinates had thrown their troops into action in an uncoordinated fashion as they arrived. At last they seemed to be getting a grip now that the whole army was assembled. Now all that was needed was a coordinated push now they had driven the enemy back from the crest. His feelings changed once he personally saw the situation on reaching the crest and viewing the Landsberg plateau. The Frundsbergers were drawn up in order and their left flank was firmly fixed behind a stone wall.

He needed to rebalance his forces to cope as he had too much infantry on his left and the cavalry on the right were incapable of tackling troops behind walls.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Crunch time

The French Hussars had obviously decided it was time to act on their left flank. One squadron readied to renew the struggle with the Freihussaren, while the other targeted the horse artillery. Luckily the horse gunners realised their peril in time and swung their guns round to meet the oncoming Hussars with a blast of canister. Every other unit that could see them also opened fire on the Hussars bringing their attempted charge to an end.

On the hillside, the French Heavy Cavalry and Dragoons formed up ready to attack the victorious Frundsberg cavalry, but before they could act the Frundsbergers disappeared back over the crest.

With the hussars faltering in their charge now was the moment for Friedrich and his Freihussaren to exploit their disorder. It was just as well Friedrich looked around before giving the order, because he saw the Heavy Dragoons heading at full pace into the flank of the hussars. One squadron bolted immediately, but other was trapped and after a futile attempt to defend themselves threw down their weapons and surrendered.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Hussars to the rescue?

It was only a matter of time before a square cracked under fire and it was the 2/56ieme DB de Ligne, who taking a chance rallied back in the shelter of the hill crest. Luckily it was at the same moment that the Hussars, seeing their compatriots fleeing from the hill top, charged over the crest. The right hand squadron met a hail of fire from a line of militia and artillery and came to an abrupt halt. The other charged straight into the 1st Light Dragoon squadron.

The Hussars smashed into the Light Dragoons, who were slow to react as they were preparing to charge the 2/56ieme DB de Ligne. The Light Dragoons routed and the Hussars pursued following up and heading towards the 1st Sonnenbad Militia Battalion, that General Von Barner was rallying. All was not lost as both the Heavy Dragoons and Freihussaren had moved up into supporting positions.

This was also the moment at which a gap appeared in the other French square. Both the Heavy Dragoons and the remaining Light Dragoon squadron attacked at once. Friedrich looked around at his men, his numbers had been made up with some recently trained Light Dragoons and he hoped they would perform as well as the rest of his now experience Freihussaren. At almost the same time as the rest of the cavalry they charged into the French Hussars. After a number of minutes of confused melee both sides rallied back to reform. At least he had bought enough time for Von Barner to reform the ranks of the militia. Looking to his right he could just see French bodies and the rest of the cavalry pursuing what must have been left of the French infantry, to his left he could still see fleeing militia and Light Dragoons.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Dragoons strike

Picking his moment Major Kummel launched the Light Dragoons forward, the 1st squadron headed straight for an infantry column, which fled back town the hill, while the 2nd squadron swept away some light infantry. Both squadrons then halted rather than continue after the fugitives.

The other French flank was also in trouble the sustained fire from the two militia battalions plus the foot artillery caused most of Colonel Jolais units to fall back out of musket range to reform and one detachment of light infantry that had been badly flayed by canister fire fled on down the hill.

This left the French with a very tenuous hold on the top of the hill, on the right only the 2/56ieme DB de Ligne remained and on the right the 3/17ieme DB Légère and a detachment of skirmishers. Both columns had no choice but to form into square to resist the cavalry, even though it left them vulnerable to the Frundsberg guns.

The good news was that the hussars had nearly reached their position and that the rest of the army was now working its way through the valley bottom.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Meeting at Trouds

Once again Ritter Hugo von Schwillensaufenstein had been sent off with urgent despatches. He was now in the headquarters of Brigadier Sir David Linienblatt of the Beerstein Foreign Legion in Trouds(#). After perusing the letters from General Von Barner, Sir David questioned Hugo carefully on the state of the roads between Traubs and Pappenheim or alternatively from Sonnenbad.

“So it seems if your General is successful he expects the French to retreat along the Stocwald altweg as the open ground will favour cavalry operations”

“Yes sir, and it’s only one days fast ride so they would be here within two days”

“Of course if we march that way we are liable to be attacked and defeated as the Legion is not strong enough to stand up against a whole French division, even if it has been defeated”

“Ohh, yes if you say so sir, I don’t know your exact strength, just what general Von Barner told me to say”

“He says I should wait here and act like a stopper in the bottle to prevent the French reaching the Rhine, is this true?”

“Well sir, from my observation, after the direct Pappenheim to Berlin road there is no easy way down the Stocwald escarpment until this point. If they abandon their wagons and guns they could do so, but not otherwise.

“OK thank you von Schwillensaufenstein. My despatch will inform your commander that we will do as requested, I trust he is confident on the result of the battle, otherwise our assistance will be delayed by at least two days”

# Trouds is the first major town north of Frundsberg in the Electorate of Glowstein and lies at the end of a long valley leading down from the Stocwald hills. It is renowned for its woollen mills.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Up the hill

Once the French broke cover they were subject to everything the Frundsbergers could throw at them, but they kept advancing up the slopes

All the while the French artillery deployed on the Gottberg endeavoured to provide covering fire, while the hussars trotted forward down the lane to be ready to support the infantry once they had cleared the crest.

The 1st and 2nd Sonnenbad Militia battalions had been positioned in the centre of the line and were the main targets of this French fire and were forced to fall back to reform. Recognising the danger of not maintaining formation Colonel Pringle ordered the rest of the formation to fall back from the crest line. The French cheered and surged forwards but were met with further volleys as they breasted the crest. Unnoticed Major Kummel brought forward the two squadrons of Light Dragoons in case of need.
The French drove forward shattering the Welle/Fromel select militia on the right and also the 1st Sonnenbad battalion. The 2nd Sonnenbad battalion was pushed back. However the Light Dragoons were ready for a counter strike.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Clearing the hedgerows

The Légère advanced cautiously ducking whenever they heard a shot and only a few bodies lay behind them on the slopes by the time they reached the first hedgerow. Obeying the shouts of their officers and NCOs they crossed the hedges into more open ground and advanced.

Casualties began to mount but they continued forwards. On the left they paused to fire, whereas on the right they charged the enemy hiding behind the hedgerows. In both cases the results were the same, the riflemen fled up the slopes towards their main line.

Colonel Anjou, was pleased, the enemy had been quickly cleared from their initial positions, but where was the rest of the army? Colonel Letort was equally anxious as he couldn’t launch his cavalry forward until the crest line of the ridge was cleared or at least checked for other surprises.

It was a while later that Colonel Jolais arrived with the 56ieme DB de Ligne. Immediately the four battalions available were sent forward. As they advanced the enemy guns opened fire, and as a round shot ploughed though his men, Colonel Jolais spotted markers that had been placed earlier by the enemy, presumably to mark the range. Luckily his men realised the benefit of speed and rapidly descended to the valley floor and crossed the hedge to join the Voltigeurs beyond.

Meanwhile, the whole of the artillery had arrived, and opened fire at extreme range and elevation at the Frundberg militia on the opposite hill.

Once in position on the valley floor Anjou and Jolais split the force between them Anjou took the left which was mainly légère backed up with a battalion of Ligne, whereas Jolais took his second and third battalions and some légère.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The other side of the hill (2)

It turned out that Jens’ appearance was the result of a debate with General Wurst and Jens’ challenge that sailors could shift heavy guns where landlubbers failed. As a result General Wurst challenged him to move 4 siege guns to the top of the Landsberg. The first part was easy, just river transport upriver from Pappenheim to Sonnenbad. The move through the old streets was easy, but then the slope steepened for a long way.

The rational for Jens’ assertion was the regular use of winches and pulleys by sailors to move heavy objects carefully at minimal effort. His approach had been to establish winching points high up the slopes and move the guns up slowly using a pulley system, then repeat the same progressively higher. However, he had not expected this level of continual effort, but at least the road was already levelled. He had debated leaving two guns behind and continuing with only two, but decided that it was all or nothing.

Ilse listened to Jens’ story and decided that for her too, it was all or nothing and resolved to return to the battle.

On the French side of the hill Colonel Anjou had arrived with his 17ieme Demi-Brigade Légère and saw the problem even before Colonel Letort pointed it out. He deployed both of his first two battalions in skirmish order and kept the third back in reserve and sent them forward to clear the hedgerows.

Friday, 9 July 2010

The other side of the hill

As Ilse left the Landsberg, she alternately felt angry then worried. Why had she been sent away? Did the Baron really want to see her? What for? Who had she upset now? What might happen to Friedrich and her father?

She was so engrossed that she almost rode into a web of ropes stretching across the road and a shouted warning “Watch out miss” Dismounting and walking down the hill she met a large siege gun travelling slowly uphill pulled by the ropes. Shortly after she encountered two large groups of men either side of the road hauling on the ropes obviously pulling the gun up the steep slope of the Landsberg. As she passed she heard her name and turned to see Jens, her sister’s betrothed, hauling the ropes with the others.

“Jens, what is happening?”

“Isn’t it obvious? We are using a pulley system to move the guns to the top of the hill”

“I know it’s not far now, but the battle is about to start”

“Yes but we are working as hard as we can, some assistance would be useful as the men are tiring”

“I’ll find you some help” With that Ilse descended to the nearest houses and began banging on doors. This being one of the wealthy areas of Sonnenbad she was invariably met by a flunky, who she immediately informed that “The Baron needs your immediate assistance, inform your master to met me in the street and then get up the road to help the sailors with as many of the other servants as possible.”

Gradually a mass of people gathered in the road and some servants headed off up the hill. At least a start thought Ilse.

To calls of “What’s going on?”, “who are you?” and various other comments. Ilse projected her voice “Ladies and Gentlemen. On the authority of Baron Wilhelm I am asking for your assistance. Just up the hill are a number of guns that need to get to the top of the Landsberg”.

“The French won’t harm us we are no threat to them”

“Tell that to the inhabitants of Welle, Fromel and various other villages I have met. The French will pick your properties clean of anything of the slightest value”

“It might not work”

“Yes, but it’s worth making the effort to stop the French otherwise you’ll lose everything.”

There was a general murmur of assent, so Ilse continued “Ladies, can you please pass the message onto your neighbours. Gentlemen, please muster your servants and follow me.”

Within 30 minutes Ilse was back and the workforce on the ropes had been tripled.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Will they fight?

Following the Freihussaren breaking through the Chasseurs, the French cavalry rallied and set off in pursuit. At first it appeared that the Freihussaren were fleeing in the direction of Pappenheim, but they suddenly veered southward down into a dip. Following closely the French saw their chance, a bottleneck where a narrow lane passed through a hedged valley bottom. However as they rode up rifle fire commenced and they immediately pulled back up onto the crest. Similarly their opponents work their way up and onto the height on the opposite side of the valleys and disappear from view. At this point General Letort arrived.

Surveying the position he could see the Jaegers occupying the hedgerows and then behind them Frundsberg militia and artillery occupying the Landsberg opposite.

So where were the infantry this time would they arrive in time before the Frundsbergers slip away again?