Sunday, 28 February 2010


Ilse heard the shout and kicked her horse into action, it was not that good a mount, but it was certainly better than it appeared and with luck she could reach the hills before that cavalry could catch her.

After hearing Twyth’s shout the lieutenant responded “After her! Sergeant take six men and swing north and cut off her escape that way”

At first Ilse thought she had a chance of escape, she discarded all the unnecessary bags but she spotted some of the cavalry moving round to her left and cutting off her route to the hills. Worst still was that one of the pursuing party was overhauling her at a fast pace.

Ilse reached into her last bag and pulled out a long barrelled pistol, checked it was still primed then cocked it. Judging the distance carefully, she pulled up her horse, then resting the pistol barrel on her other arm she aimed and fired. Without waiting to see the effect she spurred her horse back into action.

Twyth was shocked; the woman had calmly stopped, and then shot the Lieutenant, who as the best mounted had been rapidly catching up with her. However they were now getting really close and she probably only had one pistol.

Saturday, 27 February 2010


“Right Twyth, I need you to check on the situation. The cavalry claim that they are unable to breach the enemy screens along the Donnep hills except in overwhelming strength. I want you to go out with the next patrol and assess the truth of this, ideally I’d like a view on what lies beyond the hills before I finalise my plans” stated General Bercollin plainly.

“Yes Sir, I’ll accompany the next patrol”

“Oh, and be careful”

The next day Twyth rode out with a patrol from the 12ieme Chasseurs a Cheval led by a Lieutenant with a Sergeant and sixteen men. They then headed towards a point on the hills. As they cleared the lower slopes a shot rang out and the trooper next to Twyth slumped in his seat badly wounded.

“Dammed rifles, fall back” called out the Lieutenant. As they did so another round whistled dangerously close to Twyth. The Lieutenant shouted “I told you that you were too obvious a target in your white uniform.”

Once they were out of range Twyth approached the Lieutenant. “Can I suggest we try a location less covered by woods or copses, where riflemen can hide, how about over there?” pointing further to the east than where they had tried.

The lieutenant agreed and the patrol withdrew heading back to the French lines ready to circle back to the hills again.

They passed a farmers wife on an old nag loaded with bags heading outwards when Twyth’s memory suddenly recalled a face and he shouted “Capture that woman”

Friday, 26 February 2010

Eavesdropping (2)

General Bercollin continued “Now my plan. We will first take the city of Welle on the south of the Pidnem hills, this then allows us the prospect of striking at either the capital Pappenheim or their rich second city Sonnenbad. By this means they will have to split their forces to cover both possibilities”

“However if we were to strike direct at Pappenheim they would be able to concentrate everything against us in the Stonew – Pappenheim gap.”

“I think we should strike directly at Sonnenbad, it will send a message to the Aristos of Europe that they should not threaten the Revolution” interjected Laine. “It’s a nest of vipers”

“Yes Representative, but if Pappenheim falls, Sonnenbad falls as well and the capture of Pappenheim will enable us to establish a strong base on the east of the Rhine and reopen communications with Paris.”

“Why can’t we maintain communications from here?”

“Representative, if I leave forces here they will either be too weak to defend the town against the Kaiserlijks or they will be a significant proportion of our strength and therefore risk failing to take our objective.”

“Now I hope we will be ready in three days time. The advance will be led by the cavalry and light infantry at first light. I expect to be in Welle by the evening of the next day at the latest”
“Colonel Anjou, you will lead the advance guard, you will be backed up by Colonel Claret if necessary”

“Colonel Claret, your men will occupy Bruckewasser until the route is clear and then rejoin the army.”

“Colonel Letort, I want most of your light cavalry to support Colonel Anjou, but with sufficient patrols sent out to provide flank security. Your heavy cavalry can be disposed as you wish to support the advance”

“Colonel Dwizok, your men will guard the baggage train, please don’t consider this an insult as I believe you men are more trustworthy than most. Also since wagons are very limited I want you to ensure that nothing unnecessary is carried. Nothing but ammunition, food and engineer equipment!”

“General, I assume there is a wagon set aside for my equipment?” asked Laine.

“Yes Representative, I’m sure we will find some way to fit it in”

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Eavesdropping (1)

Having been advised by Franz that the French were having a conference in the town hall Ilse accompanied him to the hall and entered through the servant’s entrance. Franz led her up the back stairs and after checking no one was watching they entered a broom cupboard. At the back Franz flicked a lever which opened a door to a small chamber. Turning to Ilse he said “From here you can hear everything that is said in the council chamber, but be careful the wall is very thin and you could be heard if you are not careful.” With that warning he left Ilse to eavesdrop on the French commanders.

Gradually the French Senior officers arrived, and finally the Representative en Mission Laine.

“Ah Representative, I see you have arrived with a large item from Paris” stated the General.

“Yes a motivational aid, I had hoped we could use it on the local nobility, but they have all fled, such a shame. Now what are your plans General?"

”Right. Citizens, we have achieved the first crossing of the Rhine, however unless other armies succeed we will be trapped and destroyed by the Imperial forces. To avoid this fate and assist the other armies we must manoeuvre and distract the Kaiserlijks from their role of covering the river. Now if we consider the map we can see the main Imperial Army is to the south which makes any move in that direction unwise so we cannot conquer the rest of Pommaine as easy as it has been so far.”

“Now to the east is the Landgravate of Ishirwelt, this is tempting but if we head that way we will be unable to support other operations and risk being cut off entirely”

“So north is the real prize, the Frundsberg Frei Stadt, with wealthy cities, and if we understand correctly it has committed most of its forces to the Imperial cause elsewhere. Yes Colonel Dwizok?”

“These are the same Frundsbergers who fought so well when we crossed at Stonew”

“Good point Colonel, they will fight hard, but there are limited numbers of them and in our attack at Stonew we allowed them to concentrate against our inadequate numbers who could cross at one time”

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sent to the front

Friedrich was not surprised when after a week of training dispatches arrived ordering his unit to Welle to be deployed on the southern border with Pommaine. The real surprise was that he would be under the command of Colonel Von Barner. The mobilisation plans were rapidly put into operation and by the next morning the squadron was ready to march.

It seemed that most of the nobility of Sonnenbad had decided to avoid taking the waters that morning and instead turned out to give them a good send off. Various young ladies rushed forward to make last remarks to assorted volunteers. Seeing that the baggage was assembled Friedrich turned to Mariusz Kulenovich his trumpeter and ordered him to sound the advance. The squadron then progressed in good order out of Sonnenbad across the river and up the long hill leading on the beginning of the road to Welle.

Maruisz beamed, probably remembering the yesterday’s incident where a merchant Herr Gelden had demanded payment of his outstanding debts. Friedrich had been called to deal with the problem and luckily took one of the sergeants with him. The merchant poured out his complaints and the extent of the debt and insisted on immediate repayment or that Mariusz was sent to debtors’ prison. The Sergeant had coughed politely and asked “Can I explain the legal position to the gentleman sir?”

“Please go ahead Sergeant”

“Well, the Gentleman, might not be aware, but sub-section 13b of the 1757 debtors code clearly states that as an alternative the offender can opt for military service in lieu of debtors prison. The offender has to continue in service until either the debt is paid in full or death. In the case of the latter, any death moneys will be paid to the debtor, rather than the family. “Isn’t that correct, sir.”

“Well remembered Sergeant” said Friedrich making a mental note to thank the Sergeant Rhetz as soon as possible “Now Herr Gelden, as the offender in question has signed up I will ensure that he fulfils his obligations under the code. Is there anything else?”

“The merchant stood opened mouthed for a moment and then retorted “Just make sure he pays his debts” and then left.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Intelligence gathering

Early the next morning the barges started arriving in Bruckewasser bringing over the rest of the French army. Franz had posted some of his agents to watch progress and keep tally of the size of the French force being assembled.

General Bercollin arrived on their second trip along with some light cavalry and was met by Twyth. “Colonel Jolais has taken over the town hall as our Headquarters and the town seems quiet and resigned to their fate”

“Good, it’s going to take at least three full days to get the army across and I’m sure this will provoke the Kaiserlijks into action. Once the cavalry is assembled I want patrols out in the surrounding countryside”

Twyth led the General to the town hall; it was an imposing building overlooking the main square and well suited to its function. Guards saluted as they entered and climbed the stairs to the council chamber.

“Ah Beau, congratulations on your success, have you got a firm grip on the town?”

Colonel Jolais looked up from a table covered in paper “Yes General, I estimate we can squeeze this place for at least eight days rations and perhaps the equivalent of 20,000 Assignats. More should be forthcoming from the surrounding areas.”

“Excellent, but I don’t intend to stay that long, we need to start baking biscuit for supplies on the march”

“That is one problem, most of the wagons, carriages and horses have all left. It seems the nobility were ready to leave at a moments notice!” “But General, won’t you enjoy some of the fruits of our victory.” The Colonel moved to the door and shouted “Fetch a couple of bottle of your finest wine at once.

Almost immediately a servant appeared with a couple of bottles of Pommaine’s finer vintages and glasses. The servant opened the bottles and poured three generous glasses. “Thank you Franz, that will be all for now”

“Yes sir”

Monday, 22 February 2010

The capture of Bruckewasser (2)

Ilse had made contact with their local agents in Bruckewasser and now she and Hans sat in the back of a bar where they could see out over the main square. They observed the panic caused by the French landing and the flight of most of the nobility from the town once news of the defeat arrived. More disappointing was the local militia who began to vanish whenever they had chance leaving the defences to a couple of companies of garrison infantry plus a few gunners. Of course the biggest loss had been Colonel Faffen who possibly might have held the defences together.

Ideally Ilse would have liked to have seen the bridge across the Farrett to the northern quarter destroyed but there had been no attempt by the Pommaine forces to prepare for the eventuality of French attack.

Hearing a change in the noise level they looked out again on the square and saw the local troops slowly mustering there rather than being on the walls and realised the worse, the town had capitulated. Then to the beat of drums the French marched into the square and their forces gradually surrounded the soldiers in the centre of the square.

The remaining Pommaine commander, a Captain Ockup, surrendered and his troops were marched off to be imprisoned. Realising what would happen next, Ilse and Hans left the bar by a back exit and travelled to a safe house organised by their main agent Franz Ferdinand.

In fact the French were well disciplined, but their commander demanded that sufficient food and drink be brought to the main square for his troops. This was only the start of the requisitions.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The capture of Bruckewasser (1)

Once he had his second wave of troops across the river. Colonel Jolais ordered them to march on Bruckewasse, with the artillery man-hauled. Arriving near noon they found the gates closed and the old walls manned. “Le Beau” walked forward with just a soldier carrying a white flag. The gate opened and a junior officer emerged and approached. He started the niceties, but the Colonel interjected “Tell your commander that if you do not surrender within the hour my artillery will fire shell into the town and set it alight and my troops will then attack and spare no one.

Visibly blanching the officer said he would pass on the message to his commander.
Just before the hour was up Jolais was pleased to see a white flag raised over the walls, replacing the Pommaine flag. The officer emerged again from the gates, and the Colonel strode forward to meet him.

“Now the gates are to be left open, but my troops will not enter for another 30minutes by which time I expect to find all your men assembled in the main square with grounded arms.”
Hesitating at first, the officer agreed and returned to the town, on entering the gates these were then left open.

As soon as the thirty minute were up Colonel called forward his drummers and to the beat of the drums led his troops into the town. Meanwhile Twyth arranged for a message to be sent back to the General notifying him of their success.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Second River Crossing (3)

The critical moment had arrived; three French companies had managed to land and were confronted by an equal number of Pommaine militia backed up by the Imperial artillery.

The militia advanced to throw the invaders back into the river, but their fire was ineffective, however part of the battery had swung their guns to face upriver and enfiladed the nearest Frenchmen with devastating rounds of canister causing them to recoil to the river edge.

The rest of the French fired causing the militia to recoil and then they pressed their advantage and charged the militia facing them. The most southerly militia company ran immediately, whereas their partners put up a stronger resistance against the light company until Colonel Fafffen was hit, at which point they fell back. Unfortunately the 3rd company did not press home the attack on the other French company in the face of their fire.

The effect of the loss of Colonel Faffen was to take the heart out of the defence; even the guns missed an opportunity to enfilade the French again. The French then proceeded to clear away the remaining militia before charging over the rear of the redoubt to take the guns from behind. The gunners then fled in the face of French bayonets, their only saving grace was that they had forced the remaining French artillery barge to retire back to the other bank.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Second River Crossing (2)

There was little drama as the barges cast off and made steady progress across the river with none of the bumping that occurred during the last attempt. As the light began to increase the French barges were spotted in mid river by the Imperial battery that commenced firing on them. This had little effect until a lucky round hit one of the artillery barges causing consternation, the barge then lost position and slipped behind a downstream barge carrying infantry. The effect of this was to prevent any possibility of counter battery fire.

Even more unfortunate was that this infantry barge attracted all the fire from the Imperial battery. But despite losses they continued towards the battery continuing to draw fire but in doing so prevented their own guns in the other barge from engaging the redoubt.

The upstream trio of barges made good progress with the artillery barge grounding first and the light infantry disembarked from it to find enemy infantry appearing to their front.

The Pommaine militia had been on call and Colonel Faffen had managed to muster three companies and then led them to the defence of the battery. The presence of artillery on the landing barges had been a shock despite the warning he had received and it took all his efforts to steady his 2nd company that was the first to be hit by cannon fire.

Meanwhile the other barge had continued up to the front of the battery and the French infantry attempted to storm it, only to be swept away by a blizzard of canister that left barely a man standing.
Shortly after this, the other two barges grounded and unloaded their troops.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Second River Crossing (1)

General Bercollin was please to see the state of the barges when he arrived at the landing stage. “Good robust boats, just what is needed.”

The trial boarding by members of the 56ieme de ligne went uneventfully. Turning to Colonel Jolais he asked “are your men ready?”

“Yes General, they like the solid feel of the barges, I think there might have been a mutiny if we had tried again with rafts.”

“Excellent, then the plan is as agreed and your men will push off just before dawn. Our information is that the Pommaine forces will only consist of the river battery and the rest of their troops will be in Buckewasser, to far away to intervene."

“Now Colonel, when do you personally plan to cross?”

“With the second wave, all being well”

“Excellent, once established ashore, I want you to push on with all speed to Bruckewasser, as our intelligence is that the defences are not too strong and they might give up with a show of force. Twyth will accompany you”

Twyth inwardly groaned, he had joined the hussars as he hated boats and it was the only way to avoid going to sea, now he had to travel across a fast flowing river in a flat bottomed boat propelled by peasants.

The initial wave would be three barges each with an infantry company and a pair of barges each with two guns and half a company of voltigeurs.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Ideas of escape

After a couple of days at the camp Lieutenant Blanc had identified a number of other individuals who were as determined as himself to escape. The problem was how.

The camp was built as a rectangle within a shallow valley with the east side against a sheer overhanging cliff so there was no possibility of climbing this. The other three sides were a solid stockade 3 metres high with a walkway on the outside and this was enhanced by having abatis inside at the bottom. Each of the two corners had a covered tower manned by a sentry with a swivel gun and plenty of ammunition. The entrance/exit was on the north side close to the tower and consisted of two pairs of gates.

Going over the walls had been considered, but no timber long enough was available, the timber for the musket stocks was already pre-cut. Tunneling under was out of the question as rock was not far below the surface except at the lowest point leading from the cliff to the western wall. Presumably at some time a stream had flowed along here. The distance from anywhere concealed from the guards was too far to dig quickly.

Raymond suddenly had an idea and went to the Captain.

“I’ve had an idea of a possible escape route, but I need candles”

“Hmmm, if we are very careful with our supply we could spare some, what’s your idea?”

“Well at some stage water flowed though this valley and it must have come from the cliff. This is limestone country and water carves tunnels through the rocks starting somewhere higher on the surface. Behind the bushes at the bottom of the cliff there are small holes and perhaps they could be widened by digging to allow a man to enter and see if there is a way through the passages and out. We’ve a couple of miners here and I’m sure they will give it a try."

“OK, we’ll try it, but don’t get your hopes up.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The post arrives

A bell tinkled gently indicating it was time for mid morning coffee. Reluctantly Von Barner finished the paragraph he was reading and left his study for the dining room where mid-morning refreshments were awaiting.

“Good morning father” greeted Bettina “I trust the bell did not disturb your studies too much!”
“No, but I’m reading a very interesting article by Van Lenders about the Friesians and their use of forked poles to cross ditches to attack their enemies. I can help thinking a similar idea might help us to defend the Sommerland some day”

There was a knock on the door and a few moments later Von Stupenhagel was announced by a chambermaid.

“You seem shorthanded at the moment” he observed

“As you well know Otto, I sent Hans with Ilse down to Bruckewasser, now what do you have of interest?”

“Some letters, I thought it was best to deliver these myself, first one from Denmark and if I’m not mistaken it’s from Herr Jens” Von Stupenhagel bowed and passed it to Bettina, who opened it immediately.

“He‘ll be here by the middle of the month if his latest voyage is uneventful” she beamed.

“Yes, but he is treading a very dangerous path and things can upset his plans” said her father.

“If I understand correctly, the gentlemen is selling timber for masts and spares from the Baltic to the French in return for other contraband” interjected Von Stupenhagel.

“Indeed, but it is with the connivance of the British, they inspect the timber and any substandard material is placed in a hidden hold. Then the normal timber is loaded on top and delivered to Chatham for the British Navy. Then on the return leg, supposedly unknown to the British, it is delivered to Dunkirk” explained Bettina.

“Excellent, so the French use substandard timber rather than good quality timber from other sources”

“Now Sir, here is your letter from the Stadtrat!” pronounced Von Stupenhagel with a florish.

“Any idea of the contents Otto? Any rumours?”

“None sir, and I wouldn’t dare opening it!!”

“The Major opened the letter “Upon my soul”

“Father?” asked Bettina looking worried.

“I’ve been recalled to duty to command our forces defending the south of the Freistadt, with the full rank of Colonel and pension rights!” “Of course if I don’t succeed then the pension rights are worthless”

“Otto, I’ll trust that you will keep an eye on things while I’m gone, even though Captain Mannerheim will become the official commandant."

“Of course”

The latest French attempt to cross the river has been fought and the report will appear later this week

Monday, 15 February 2010

Raising the Freikorps(3)

As the last of the volunteers departed Friedrich turned to the cadets, “So how many did we get?”

“Eighty Five Sir”

“Excellent, enough for a squadron even given a few losses” “I look forward to seeing you tomorrow along with the sergeants when we’ll find out how competent our volunteers really are”

By ten o’clock the next day a number of exercises had been set up by the sergeants and some of the barracks staff. These would gradually assess the volunteers riding skill, any ability at swordplay both on foot and mounted and finally see if they had any idea of manoeuvring in formation.

By the end of the day Friedrich was reasonably content only as three volunteers had failed to turn up and of these two had sent a formal apology. The good news was that all the volunteers were competent horsemen, most had some experience of fencing on foot, but very few on horseback and the manoeuvres were dreadful. So overall very much as expected and Friedrich now knew the areas to concentrate on in training.

After dismissing the volunteers for the evening Friedrich turned to the sergeants and invited them to the nearby “Rising Sun” tavern. After calling for drinks he turned to the sergeants and asked for their assessment. Overall it was the same; they then pulled out their notebooks where, in Gendarmerie style, they had noted down “The facts”.

“Well sir, we have two gentlemen who are very well trained cavalry officers, both Lieutenants, but they have no combat experience, however by the end of the day they were already gaining respect from the other volunteers.”

“Yes I’d noticed that as well, it’s good news as I would like to split the squadron into two troops each led by one of the volunteers, but with one of you as their second in command and guide.

Now enjoy your drinks and let’s consider now to organise the training

A view of the squadron in a later stage of training with Mayor Von Wettin in the centre.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Preparations for invasion

General Wurst was contemplating the map of Frundsberg when Stammpot announced the arrival of the Baron.

“Thanks you for visiting Sire, we have the latest intelligence about the French plans and it is safer to discuss them and my planned actions here.”

“Indeed General, so what are their plans”

The General then ran through the latest reports he had received especially concentrating on the report from a recent meeting of the French staff.

“So you see Baron, I can be quite confident about the French plans to strike at Bruckewasser.”

“Yes, but at quite a risk to one of our best agents”

“Now as to our responses” “Stammpot please bring the letters we prepared earlier” “I am despatching both squadrons of light dragoons down to cover the Pommaine border, In addition, I will call out a company of the Freishutze to support them. The reserve battalion in Welle is well placed to support them along with the local militia. Of course, all they can do is delay the French advance as long as possible”

“Now the letters, all of which I think we should both sign to add sufficient weight”

Stammpott handed the letters to the Baron.

"Ah yes, to the Imperial Commander General Colberg, the Duke of Pommaine and Colonel Faffen, who is he?”

He commands the Pommaine forces around Bruckewasser where the French are about to cross and if we wait for the Duke to inform him it will be too late”

“Yes indeed”

“The final letter deals with my choice of commander for our forces, I believe he is the right man for the job even though he has retired.”

“Excellent, do you have couriers waiting for the letters”


“Then lets get them signed and on their way”

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Raising the Freikorps (2)

The next morning, slightly the worse for the previous evening, Friedrich rose and prepared himself for the coming big day.

The main salon at the hot baths was laid out for the event; both sergeants would cover the entrance, while the cadets would man a table where the volunteers could sign up.

By the time the appointed hour stuck on the Abbey clock Friedrich was please to see that a large audience had gathered.

Friedrich ascended the stage at one end of the room and waited for silence.

“Gentlemen”, and then paused as another individual pushed through the doors into the chamber.

Feeling the eyes of the assembly upon him the person blurted out “Sorry, my masseuse failed to keep track of the time”

Trying to keep a straight face, Friedrich restarted, greeting everyone, then listing the objectives of the French Sans-Culottes and the devastation of the German lands to the west of the Rhine. Then he moved on to the current peril. “What will happen when the French do cross the Rhine? They are trying down its entire length to find a crossing point.”

“Our forces are limited, but we can resist them, especially if we cooperate. The whole of the Holy Roman Empire is in danger once they get across”

“Our biggest weakness is a lack of cavalry, which is why, gentlemen, I look to you. I am looking for gentlemen of independent means, used to riding and ideally with some experience with the sword. Initially we would have to act as a back up to the regulars, but I believe with our élan and appropriate training we can be their equals within a short time”

“My intention is to start assessment and training tomorrow at the cavalry barracks at 10 o’clock”

“Are there any questions?”

“But what if the French don’t cross the Rhine?”

“Since this is a volunteer unit, members will be free to leave with a weeks notice.”

“Can I bring my servants along?”

“If they can ride and fight then they are welcome to join at your cost. However in that capacity they will be unable to function as servants. That said, we will have a small equipment train with tents, remounts, etc. so individuals to run this will be welcomed especially grooms though I don’t think we will be able to use hairdressers or masseuses."

“How long will get to sort out our affairs?”

“Although training will commence immediately it will be at least a week before we have to depart Sonnenbad, so hopefully this will give you sufficient time."

“Why won’t the Saxons help us?”

“Well as you are aware, they are having problems with the Prussians over Poland”

“Well I’m prepared to join, provided you’ll accept Prussians”

“Any friend of the Empire or enemy of the Sans-Culottes will be accepted”

“Since there are no more questions, Gentlemen are you prepared to help the cause? If so please sign up with the cadets over at the desk”

Friedrich then stepped down and was gratified to see a number of volunteers with the cadets and a number debating their options.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Raising the Freikorps (1)

On arriving back in Sonnenbad Friedrich immediately contacted Colonel Lowe and informed him of his mission. The Colonel’s aide was immediately set to work organising the recruiting event and getting recruiting posters printed. Friedrich then made his way to the Kriegsakademie where he met with the director of studies Herr Dr Griffin O'Patrick. Once informed of Friedrich’s new role, he congratulated him and offered the some junior cadets to assist with the administration and odd jobs.

By the afternoon preparations were well underway and even the principal salon at the baths had been booked for a recruiting meeting in two days. Posters were placed in all the prominent places where the nobility mingled, the salons, baths, gaming halls and Frau Lunns establishment.

Returning to the Colonels quarters, his aide passed Friedrich a large bundle, “Your new uniform I believe and there are two members of your unit next door. Friedrich entered to find two hussar sergeants dressed in a fine hussar uniform in Frundsberg colours.

Sergeants Rhetz & Specht introduced themselves and Friedrich was glad to find that although they were Gendarmes, they had seen substantial service in the light cavalry.

That evening and throughout the next day he toured all the main venues in the city, introducing himself with his full title and his role. Overall he got a favourable if hesitant response, most gentlemen saying they would consider it and attend the event.

At one point he heard a loud voice ”Major if you please”, he turned to face a rather severe looking woman. “I trust you will be attending my little soiree this evening?”

“And you are Madame?”

“Lady Katherine Von Berg. Everyone who is anyone will be there.”

“I will be delighted milady”

Evening arrived and Friedrich made his way to one of the elegant crescents overlooking the old town of Sonnenbad. That this was the right location was immediately obvious by the number of carriages pulling up outside. He entered and was immediately asked by a footman for his invitation. On stating who he was the footman immediately ushered him to the front of the queue of nobles where he formally announced “Major, the Prince Friedrich Von Wettin”

Friedrich was taken aback by the number of ladies who immediately gazed in his direction, spotting Lady Katherine he immediately headed in her direction. “Ah Major” she expressed “There are a large number of ladies present who would like to make your acquaintance, most have brother or cousins who would be interested in joining your Freikorps”

“Indeed milady” this was far worse than his anticipated fate when meeting Major Von Barner or General Wurst. “I will certainly dance with a number of the ladies this evening. Do you indulge?”

“Regrettably Sir, at my age I now prefer to observe, now please mingle”

Turning Friedrich hoped against hope to see Ilse, but spotted an individual in uniform and headed for it as a point of refuge. It was also unusual as it was a red uniform with yellow facings.
“Welcome Major, I am Vicomte D’Arcy and if I am not mistaken you are looking for a drink, follow me”

The Vicomte then grabbed a drink from a passing tray and handed it to Friedrich “This will calm your nerves, then you need to sign a sufficient number of ladies cards for the evening to show willing and thereby encourage their brothers and suitors to join your unit”

“Thank you for the advice Sir, and why are you here? As I understood your French émigré unit was almost complete”

“That is true, but I might as well enjoy the last of civilised society while I can”

Following the Vicomte’s instructions Friedrich passed the evening dancing with eligible young ladies, all obviously looking for a husband with sufficient means and prepared to offer their brothers as recruits.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Arrival at the labour camp

Lieutenant Blanc endeavoured to remember the route taken to the camp but the only really memorable feature was the Inn “Der Alte Fritz” at the point where they turned east off the Hauptstrasse and plunged into a winding series of lanes enclosed by tight hedgerows.

At the end of the second day they emerged into a small valley with a number of timber huts enclosed by a stockade. The guards turned out as they approached and opened the gates to admit them. They were followed into the camp by the guards and an officer, all wearing a green uniform with black facings.

“Welcome to our humble camp” shouted the officer “I am Captain Von Luger, I have to warn you that any attempt at escape will be punished severely and could result in your death. However provided you live by the rules of the camp you will be treated well and hopefully once this war is over you will be able to return to your homes and families.”

“Now Captain Roux will explain the rules of the camp and how they are implemented”

A French officer emerged from the crowd of prisoners and addressed the new arrivals “Mes Amis, this is a labour camp but it is fairly run and you will get more than enough to eat if you participate. We make musket stocks, but we are paid for the work and we can spend the money how we wish within some quite obvious guidelines. We even have our own boulangerie as we have a baker and we can buy flour. A local doctor comes every two weeks to deal with any minor ailments; prisoners suffering anything worse are transferred to the main prison in Pappenheim. One word about the guards, they are all reformed criminals and therefore know about all the tricks that prisoners may try. Finally you are all still subject to French Military discipline; my sergeants will now allocate your accommodation.”

Blanc immediately walked forward to the captain and introduced himself, “Excellent, another officer, you can become my second in command, please join me for a glass of wine”

Over the glass of wine Roux explained how he was running the camp, which seemed run like any business with timber delivered and musket stocks despatched. “But what about our commitment to the Revolution?” asked Blanc.

“You think we haven’t considered escape” responded Roux “do you know exactly where we are, let me explain, We are somewhere in the Pidnem hills, if there is an escape then the local foresters and gamekeepers commonly known as Freishutze hunt them down and they get a bounty for doing so”

“Once a month the Commandant offers up to four men the chance to try and escape. If they make it to a Post and Customs office they are rewarded with a week’s wages. In the year I have been here, only one man has succeeded in achieving it. He was stone drunk when he returned and had revealed to the Freishutze how he had dodged them.

“But I need to get back to my Fiancée, how will she know I’m OK and how long will she wait?”

“Well on the first point I can help, there is a letter service organised with the Danes, who seem to be one of the few nations not at war with France, to communicate with those at home. It takes a couple of months each way, but it seems to work”

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The other side of the River (3)

Twyth had a very sore head as he made his way to breakfast, but looked forward to renewing his acquaintance with the serving wench. However he was served by another girl. “Where is the girl that served us last night?”

“Oh, you mean Anja” she just helps occasionally when it’s busy, she went home last night”

The door bust open followed by Colonel Anjou of the 17ieme Demi Brigade Legere. Oh no thought Twyth as the Colonel stormed over “It’s happened again“ he stormed.

“Please Colonel, can you please explain more calmly” Twyth’s head felt ready to explode. “Very well, you are aware that we keep losing the odd sentry. Well I doubled the guard with the sentries in pairs and last night a couple went missing without trace."

“Have you searched for them?”

“Yes, especially around the point that they were posted, but not a trace, and they were a couple of my more reliable men”

“Thank you Colonel, I’ll pass on your information to the General. Was there anything else?”

“Yes, this note was left in my quarters, it is a list of 93 members of the 23ieme demi-brigade who survived the attack on Stonew and are now captives of the Frundsbergers. No officers were listed except for Lieutenant Blanc who is apparently wounded.”

“I wonder if the two incidents are linked?”

“No, why should they kill some of our men just to deliver this note! It was probably the smugglers”

Meanwhile in Stonew, Major Von Barner had finished discussing Ilse’s intelligence with her and was just finishing off a report for General Wurst and the Statrat.

"Now go and get some sleep Ilse, I’m sure you’ll have more to do in the next few weeks."

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Sent to the labour camps

As he left Stonew on a cart Lieutenant Blanc, reflected on the last few days. They had been treated well, but how much of that was normal and how much due to the action of that lady he wasn’t sure. She had returned early the next day to assure them that they would be well treated while they were in the care of the garrison, which did give him cause to worry about the conditions they would find in the labour camp. A roster was taken and they were informed that a copy would be sent across to river to the French commander. Raymond hoped this was true and that the message that he was still alive would get back to his Fiancée Amelie.

The roster must have been used to call them out individually and gradually the numbers in the gaol dwindled. When it came to his turn he was taken before a couple of Officers and interrogated about his position and role in the French forces. One was the local Posts and Customs commander, which was strange and the other was dressed in an unusual red uniform with yellow facings.

At the end of the interview he was asked if he would volunteer for a mercenary regiment being raised to fight for the British. They would not have to fight their fellow countrymen, but they would be used to garrison British possessions outside Europe. Raymond declined, but appeared that many of his men had volunteered. There were only 37 of them on the road to the camps and 18 of them including himself were still recovering from wounds and travelling on a couple of wagons.

Monday, 8 February 2010

The other side of the River (2)

Ilse had a problem, she had to get back across the river urgently if her information was to be of any use. That meant that she couldn’t use the normal route used by the smugglers. A boat had been left concealed on the west bank for just such a contingency, however a pair of French sentries were positioned close by. She sneaked up as close as possible, but there appeared to be no way to get to the boat unseen, and the sentries showed no sign of moving.

Just as she began to despair she heard a slight rustling and saw Hans appear beside her. Before she could say anything he whispered “If you can distract them I’ll take them from behind” Ilse indicated agreement and Hans disappeared again.

Once she judged sufficient time had passed, Ilse crawled back and then rose behind a copse so it would appear that she was just walking along the riverbank. She then walked towards the sentries.

“Who goes there? Approach slowly!”

Ilse walked towards the sentries, both of whom were watching her intently.

“Have you seen my mule? I’ve lost it and the other sentries said it came this way” said Ilse in German.

As she neared the sentries, one turned to the other and said in French “Jacques it’s my turn first” then said to her in German “Please come closer”

Once she was within a hands reach of the sentry he exclaimed “Don’t move, I need to search you.” A sudden noise caused him to turn and see Jacques with a knife at his throat and before he could react another was at his.

The two Frenchmen then had their hands tied and were gagged before being led to the riverbank. Expecting the worst they found that one of their captors was retrieving a boat from the bushes. They were forced onto the boat and then made to row out and then across the river.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

The other side of the River (1)

As the table was cleared of plates, General Bercollin stood up an address his officers. “We have had a set back but we must continue the struggle and raise it to the next level” He could see the rhetoric was pitched at the right intensity for Laine. “Now in four days or possibly five the barges will be ready. These are far more sturdy than the rafts and can take up to 200 men each, however I had arranged for two of them to have guns fitted so we can have fire support as we land. Our target this time is here” pointing at the map at a point west of Bruckewasser in the Duchy of Pommaine. “There is a battery covering the two possible landing points, but other than that there is no back up, the Pommaine militia are only sufficient to defend Bruckewasser itself.”

Colonel Dwizok the Polish commander leaned forward “But what about the Frundsbergers?”

“Yes Colonel, we know that all that are available to them are just some training units and militia, we were just unlucky crossing the river at Stonew, they certainly can’t help out Pommaine”

Twyth leaned back in his chair, already bored, partly because he had worked with the General on the plan but also he felt very content. As always he had been suspicious of the wine provided as anything half decent had already been pillaged. He was amazed on the first sip to find it was Cidre, one of the pleasures from home, so given the others didn’t regard it with the same affection he had a generous share of that available.

Representative Laine was also bored and he just upped and left the room, once the topic moved onto Logistics. The General continued speaking but signalled to Twyth, who then moved to the door and listened intently to the departing footsteps then indicated the all clear.

“Once again Colonel Claret I must apologise for the loss of your men, I do not intend for this to happen again, the other officers nodded. So please all of you refer any attempt by the Representative to give orders immediately to me, and …..”

“Twyth signalled as he heard footsteps

“Now about these replacements” continued the General as Twyth grabbed the serving wench and indicated to her to open the door. This she did to find Laine standing outside, “Ah Representative, we were discussing training the new levies, would you like some time explaining to them our worthy cause, would before or after musket practice be best for you?”

“After would be best, goodnight Citizens” and walked off down the passage.

The meeting drew to a close and as the officers departed, Twyth buoyed up by the alcohol decided to try his luck with the serving wench as she gathered up the last glasses. Taking an indirect approach he approached from behind and grabbed her firmly by the waist. “Thank you for an excellent meal mademoiselle”

Her response was not quite what he expected as she turned, kissed him, then escaped down the corridor with the glasses.

Ah well thought Twyth, a good start but hopefully better luck tomorrow.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Meeting the General (2)

Stammpot announced “Cadet Von Wettin, Sire” clicked his heels and left the room.

Friedrich saluted but he must have looked pale as the General waved Friedrich to a chair. “don’t mind Stammpot, he’s Dutch and likes to do things by the book, but he’s a very efficient ADC.”

“Now, I’ve scanned your report and its recommendations, it seems very thorough. Did you have help?”

“Well Major Von Barner did give me a copy of another inspection to use as a basis for my report.”

“Just what I thought”

“I did leave a copy of the report with the Major”

“Excellent, then nothing else needs to be done; the Major will send me his responses in due course. You do realise that the Major is a master of the Kliene Krieg and if he had not retired when he did, he could have been a general by now, like his contempory General Hoehmann."

“No sir I had not realised, but now you mention it, all the traps, etc seem to make sense”

“OK, now what I really need to hear from you is exactly what was said by the French prisoners”

Friedrich then explained to the General almost verbatim what had happened, he was particularly interested in the comments about the Representative en Mission and the troops feelings that they were being sacrificed to no purpose.

“Thank you” said the General “Now before you leave Prince Friedrich,there is one more matter to be considered”

“Yes, Sir” said Friedrich intrigued by the change in tone.

“As you are now aware we are about to be invaded by the French and I regret that your course at the Kriegsakademie will be postponed. Therefore as a foreign cadet you are now free to do whatever you wish until your course restarts. Obviously your father will be most concerned and we will write to him accordingly also mentioning that you are one of our brightest cadets and that we hope for your return when the course restarts.”

”Sir if I may, I have a proposal I would like to discuss with you“

“Very well, continue”

Friedrich explained his idea of forming a Frei Korps from the various nobles taking the waters at Sonnenbad who all talked about fighting the French, but seemed more concerned about precedence. “I thought I could use my status as a Prince of the Empire to force them to put up or shut up and hopefully the former, Sir.”

“Interesting, obviously they would only want to serve as cavalry”


“But it takes more than an excellent leader with sufficient status to raise a unit” “Stammpot!”

“Stammpot emerged from his room

“Stammpot, fetch my second letter and please check if we still have those hussar uniforms and equipment available.”

“Now young man, these dandies need fine uniforms as well and I will find you some suitable members of the Gendarmerie who are used to dealing with “gentlemen” to assist you with training, You do realise that we have very little time to prepare, so much of the training will be in the field.”

Stammpott reappeared “There are 100 sets of hussar uniforms available Sir, and here is the letter.”

“Are you certain you wish to do this Prince Friedrich?”

“Yes Sir”

The General took the letter from Stammpot and signed it. “Major Von Wettin, here is your commission in the armed forces of the Frundsberg Frei Stadt. Your authorisation to raise a FreiHusssarenKorps will follow shortly.“

“Thank you for the commission Sir, I had not expected to be appointed as a Major”

“It’s only fitting given your capabilities and besides your dandies wouldn’t follow a mere captain”. “Now, Stammpot will sort everything out that you will need”

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Meeting the General (1)

By late afternoon Friedrich arrived in Pappenheim, already the city seemed to be on a heightened state of alert. Weaving his way through the streets he made his way to the Frundsberg Army HQ.

Outside the HQ the sentry from the Stabskompanie stood at ease enjoying the last of the spring sun. The stabskompanie was easily recognised as their yellow coats had purple facings, but less so was the fact that all the members had at least five years service and frequently decorated for gallantry.

Dismounting and collecting his documents Friedrich strode towards the entrance only to find the sentry blocking his path.

“Ihr ausweiss bitte“

”Sorry, no one issued me with a pass, what is going on?“

“Every since yesterday security has been strengthened and no one without a pass is admitted unless they are known by the duty sergeant“

But I have an urgent report for General Wurst”

The sentry shouted back through the door “Sergeant, we have another problem”

The sergeant emerged and asked about Friedrich’s business and he explained that he had a despatch from Major Von Barner for the General.

“OK, so if you know the Major, what is his son’s name?”

“Ilse” responded Friedrich quickly remembering.

“OK Sir, just go up the stairs and take the first door on the left and you will find the General’s Aide Captain Stammpot.

Knocking and entering Friedrich found a smart but stern individual behind a desk “Cadet Wettin Sir, with despatches from Major Von Barner and an Inspection Report on Stonew”

A surprisingly tall Stammpot stood took the documents from him, gave them a quick scan and stated bluntly “Wait here” and exited through another door. Moments later he emerged. “You will wait here until a decision is made” “Please sit over there and do not disturb me unless absolutely necessary” Stammpot sat down and recommenced work on his papers.

At least thirty minutes later a bell rang and Stammpot exited back through the door again, emerging shortly to say “the General would like to hear your evidence now”

Friedrich blanched, what had the Major written in his report? Well he had nothing to lose so he marched in to the lions den.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


Waking early, Friedrich realised that in the rush of the previous evening he had failed to make a courtesy copy of his inspection report for the Major. Calling for breakfast, paper and a pen, he quickly set to work on an additional copy.

All completed, he enjoyed a final cup of coffee, while his horse was saddled and brought to the front of the tavern. When Friedrich attempted to pay, the owner refused saying that the bill would be paid by the Commandant.

He quickly crossed the square to the Commandants house intending to hand over the report to Hans or whoever else of the staff was up at the time.

He was amazed when the door was opened by Ilse, but even more so by the way she was dressed, just like a tavern wench.

“Good Morning Ilse, I had not expected to see you this early. I forgot to make a copy of my report for your father. I hope he will find it of some use.

“Certainly Friedrich, will we see you again?”

“Hopefully, but I cannot delay as I’m sure the General would like your Father’s report as soon as possible”

“Aufweidersehen Ilse”

“Aufweidersehen Friedrich”

As he was about to leave the square Friedrich looked back to see Ilse still at the door. He gave a wave and was gratified when Ilse waved back.

As Ilse shut the door she saw her sister on the stairs, ”Well you’ve certainly made an impression there.” Said Bettina

“You must be joking to think he’d be interested in a town mouse like me. He must be the son of a Graf or some such. Besides who will look after father, once you have married Jens”

As his horse gently trotted along the Hauptstrasse Friedrich reflected on the last 24 hours. Ilse was quite a character, and he hoped his father would arrange a marriage with someone like her, but he suspected he would end up with some dull Prussian princess or a sickly Austrian archduchess. He now appreciated the strong professionalism and camaraderie of the Frundsberg officers and men.

With the French more than likely to invade the Freistadt, Friedrich felt that he had a decision to make. It was more than likely that his course of study would be disrupted if not ended. Should he stay and fight or just return home. Thinking back to the previous evening an idea struck him and he immediately spurred his horse into a canter.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

A celebratory dinner

After tidying himself up and now wearing his cadet uniform, Friedrich arrived back at the Commandant’s house at the specified hour and was waved inside by Hans to where Ilse was waiting. She then led him into the dining room where most of the other guests were gathered. Last to arrive was Stupenhagel the local commander of posts and customs a very dour individual.

Friedrich found himself seated with Ilse on one side and Bettina on the other and Captain Mannerheim opposite

The Major opened with “Welcome everyone, to my small celebration of today’s victory, but first a moments silence in remembrance of those who fell in battle”

“Now for the benefit of our young guest I’ll quickly introduce you all”
“And now young fellow please introduce yourself”

Friedrich introduced himself as Friedrich von Wettin a senior cadet at the Kriegsakademie and that he hoped to graduate this summer and then either find a position on some general’s staff or perhaps do some travelling first.

”Are you related to the current Elector?” asked Captain Mannerheim

Friedrich dreaded this question, but he had a response ready “Like most Saxons I’m related to Frederick the Strong.”

The room all burst into laughter, except for Stupenhagel who had to have the joke explained as he was not aware that Frederick the Strong, the Saxon Elector, who had died 50 years earlier, had sired over 350 children, all but one illegitimate.

The soup was then served and most of Friedrich’s conversation was with the two sisters, especially with Ilse. Bettina was engaged to a Jens a Danish Trader and she hoped to be married shortly, but Ilse was unattached.

Listening in on the banter between the militia officers, who originated from various parts of Germany, Friedrich realised that the real common factor was that they had all served in the Fundsberg forces and had since settled in Stonew. Quite typical was Captain Mannerheim who now ran the local bank. All of them had a large collection of anecdotes of places near and far.
Friedrich himself described the high life in Sonnenbad and the large numbers of German nobles talking the waters who talked about the need to resist the French. “The trouble is that each and everyone of them thinks they should be in charge”

At the close of the evening, Hans passed around the table handing out small glasses of schnapps.

The Major then rapped the table for silence. “Gentlemen, and ladies, a toast” everyone rose “Frundsberg forever” They all stood, raised their glasses and roared “Frundsberg forever” then downed the schnapps.

A little while later Ilse led Friedrich to the front door. Opening it, she thanked him for being such an entertaining guest “I still don’t know exactly who you are, but I’ll find out!”

“Gnädige fraulein, it has been a real pleasure” Friedrich kissed her hand and left.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Carrying out the inspection

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”