Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Wuppenhas, the First!

Wherein the army of the Empire of Fenwick, commanded by Marshal Ignacio Grace-a-Dieu Cavandish, encounters the army of the Palatinate of Saukopf-Bachscuttel, commanded by General Redmond Barry-Eylund.

Near the village of Wuppenhas, the Fenwickian army moves into position. En route to relieve the siege of Fort Pippin, Marshal Cavandish has found his march blocked by the troops of the Palatinate of Bachscuttel. Clearly, a battle is in the offing! The marshal surveys the terrain. It is a mark of the seriousness with which he takes this coming encounter that Cavandish is still not abed. He's never literally been a bed, of course: rather, we mean that, surprisingly, we find that he is not actually snuggled under his coverlets dreaming about hot chocolate and even hotter actresses. (Below) As his staff officers converse amongst themselves in hushed tones, the marshal exhibits the loneliness of command: upon his head rests the responsibility for the Fenwickian plan. Also upon his head rests a night cap. Indeed, the loneliness of his position is only partly due to his responsibilities. The rest is a result of the unwillingness of his staff officers to stand near him when the marshal is in his night attire. Whilst a light muslin fabric might indeed be, as Cavandish swears, marvellously comfortable, it isn't quite so easy on the eyes of those that have to behold the marshal at close quarters on a bright and breezy day.


As Cavandish calls over Captain Fabius Nitzwitz, his staff officer, the captain himself can attest to this. Looking at his commander in his nightgown is rather like squinting at a butcher's shop through a net curtain. There is certainly very little entendre, double or otherwise, in the poorly obscured movement taking place under Cavandish's nightgown. It is all as obvious as Prussian joke about sausages.
'Now then, Nitzwitz', says the marshal jovially, 'are those pamphlets distributed as I asked?'
'Yes, my lord', replies the captain. 'Yes, indeed. We had some of the men throw them up into the air, and the wind carried many of them into the Bachscuttel lines'. Nitzwitz pauses. 'But ... sir, can I ask - what was on those sheets of paper; and why is it so important that they should be seen by the enemy?'
'All will be revealed!' chuckles Cavandish; ironically, as it turns out, since he then bends over to tuck in some of his covers.
'Gark!' utters Nitzwitz.
'Yes!' says Cavandish, 'Brilliant isn't it!'
'I was going to use the words "hairy" and "long"', chokes Nitzwitz.
'I think, captain, that when you see the enemy deploy, you will soon also see the excellence of my stratagem!'
'I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to see again' croaks Nitzwitz. 'Or unsee!' He rubs his eyes. As a loyal staff officer, however, he struggles manfully to regain his composure. 'My lord ... what, then, is so cunning about the pamphlets that you have delivered upon the enemy?'


The marshal nods knowingly. 'Nitzwitz - who are we to fight today?'
'Well, sir', replies the captain slowly, 'that would be the Palatinate of Saukopf-Bachscuttel'.
'Exactly. Commanded by General Redmond Barry-Eylund. And what is he famous for doing as a general?'
Nitzwitz nods. 'For turtling, sir.'
'Exactly!' says Cavandish, snapping his fingers. 'Turtling. He is "Der Turtle Koenig". There are ancient obese turtles with shells five sizes too small that would look at one of Barry-Eylund's deployments and say "Oooh, that's a bit tight, that is". Not even with five hundred weight of fruit preserves would it be possible to jam a force in tighter than he can.  So I have devised a ruse that will solve that little problem, and open up his position in some very interesting ways!' Again, ironically, as he says this, he throws up his arms in a manner that opens his nightgown in ways that could also be construed as "interesting"; if, that is, definitions of the word "interesting" included "frightening", "nauseous", and "certainly illegal".

It would no doubt warm the marshal's heart to know that, at this very moment, ructions are emerging in the headquarters of General Redmond Barry-Eylund as the general and his staff peruse some of the Fenwickian pamphlets ...

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Wuppenhas!

'Damn and blast, von Fecklenburg, why am I disturbed?' Rupprecht Von Saponatheim, Prince-Palatine of Saukopf-Bachscuttel, waves irritably as he enters the council room.
Fecklenburg nods, sagely. 'A question many, surely, have asked, my lord', he says with  a knowing wink to his compatriot Count Geyr von Voeltickler, Minister for Finance and Other Tedious Things. 'But', continues the chamberlain, 'your presence is required, sire!'
'Bah!' says the Prince shutting the door behind him; shutting it, in fact, in the face of an elaborately dressed lady. 'Who the devil is that woman who keeps following me around, Fecklenburg?'
'As I've said several times before, my lord',  replies the chamberlain, 'that is your wife, the Princess Caroline'.
Rupprecht pulls a face. 'Why did she marry me?'
Voeltickler interjects. 'She is a perceptive, educated, intelligent woman. So I really have no idea, sire'.
'Did I agree to marry her?' says the Prince.
Fecklenburg nods. 'You did, my lord. You seemed quite enthusiastic about it at the time'.
'Was she enthusiastic?'
'As enthusiastic as could be expected, my lord. It was thought best not to tell her that she was marrying you until the actual wedding itself. She thought she was going on holiday to Rome'.
'But she went through with it'.
'Yes, my lord. She had a commendable sense of duty. And also, of course, a blindfold'.
'Did I find her attractive?'
'I think at the time, my lord, you commented unfavourably on how skinny she was'.
The prince nods vigorously. 'Well, it's true: you've just seen her - if she turned sideways she 'd be invisible'.
'Actually, my lord', says Voeltickler, 'she's rather plumper now than she was then'.
'Really?' scoffs Rupprecht incredulously. 'I find that hard to believe. Putting on a pound or two really hasn't made much difference at all!'
'It's eighteen stone, my lord' replies the chamberlain. 'She has put on eighteen stones'.
Voeltickler nods. 'She has, I believe, tripled her weight'.
Rupprecht snorts. 'Well, I still think she'd be improved with a bit more on her'.
'And also a little curly pink tail, no doubt', says Fecklenburg under his breath. More loudly, the chamberlain says: 'It is time, sire, to inspect the new grenadier companies! They are waiting for you in the town square!'

'The Prince is always keen to improve himself by inviting
guests that will stretch his intellect'.

'But why must I do this? I have a busy afternoon!' whines the Prince.
'My lord', replies Fecklenburg, a little sharply, 'events in the wider world are moving on! Our allies are in disarray. Having suffered so recently yet another defeat, the army of Wurstburp has withdrawn from the war! The forces of Nabstria, too, have quit the field and sustain forces only in the ongoing siege of Fenwick's Fort Pippin!'

'Converged grenadiers'.

'Ours are the only forces of the Spasmodic Sanction still ready to fight' Voeltickler adds. 'And thanks to the lamentable military farce that has been the Wurstburp campaign, we are losing the war!'
Rupprecht scowls. Fecklenburg continues to hammer the point home. 'So we must reinforce General Barry-Eylund's troops, and commit him to lightning attacks upon the armies of Fenwick and Rotenburg! Only through immediate action can we change our fortunes! Even now, the general plans to bring the Fenwickians to battle. He has chosen a position near the small village of Wuppenhas at which to concentrate his forces.'

'The grenadiers parade with their regiments'.

Rupprecht sighs. 'Very well, very well. I'll go down and take the salute, and wave off these new troops. Barry-Eylund had better win after my heroic efforts'.
'Victory, surely, is inevitable!' Fecklenburg says stoutly. 'Surely no country in Europe is led so wisely; nor has such an effective army; nor is blessed with such a weighty queen!'
Rupprecht nods vigorously. 'Yes, Fecklenburg, you're right! Call my sedan chair! Make ready my pigs! It is time to mix with my people in a regally distant way!'

'The troops march off to join the main army'.

Later that morning, the three meet again in the council chambers.
'It's done!' says Rupprecht. 'Now, can I go? I've got another afternoon of peasant shoots planned'.
Voeltickler frowns. 'Surely, sir, it's a "pheasant shoot"'?
Rupprecht shakes his head. 'No, no. I'm sure it's a "peasant shoot". The Bishop of Schrote is a great enthusiast and he told me just how relaxing it was. And, you know, he wasn't wrong'.
Fecklenburg looks in alarm at the prince. 'The Bishop shoots pheasants, sir. Pheasants. The game birds. Game. Birds'.
Rupprecht looks like he is about to remonstrate, but then stops himself. His brow furrows; then, he breaks into a beaming smile. 'Well, well, well. You know - on reflection, that might indeed be what he said. Pheasants. Game birds. Not peasants. Well, that would explain a few of the difficulties that I've experienced on my shoots here'.
His two advisers look at one another, concerned. 'Difficulties? Will we need to visit the village and ... smooth things over?' enquires Fecklenburg.
Rupprecht nods, looking a little sheepish. 'Yes. Smooth things over. But, before you smooth the things over, you'll probably have to bury them first'.
Fecklenburg nods wearily. 'So I'm going to need to mend some fences?'
'Yes, mend some fences'.
'I'll talk to the locals', says the councillor.
'No', replies the prince. 'I mean literally, there are fences that will need mending - some of the peasants tried really hard to escape'.
'Very well'.
'And also, there might be some houses that need mending'.
'I'll send some carpenters'.
'By "mending", really I mean "unburning"'.
Fecklenburg gulps. 'But you didn't hurt anyone else, sir - no old folk, women or children?'
Rupprecht looks insulted. 'God's freshly laundered underwear, Fecklenburg, no - I'm not a monster - I didn't hurt any of them'.
Fecklenburg considers this for a moment, beginning to get the feeling that a definite specificity in language might be required to untangle this incident. 'So you didn't "hurt" them, sir. But are there any other things that you might have done to them?'
'No, no, no, no, no!' says the prince. He then pauses, and fishes a large key out of his pocket. 'But you might send someone to the palace cellars and unlock the door. It's not impossible that some locals might have become ... lost ... and wandered in there'.
'Lost?' says the chamberlain.
'Yes', says Rupprecht. 'Oh, you'd better have these as well', he says fishing out a collection of smaller keys, 'in case anyone happened to have mistakenly chained or shackled themselves'.
'Chained ... or shackled?' says Fecklenburg, exchanging worried glances with Voeltickler, who begins to move discreetly towards the door.
'Yes, you know, just to be on the safe side'.
'But',  says the chamberlain, 'broadly, if there were old people, women and children in the cellars, nothing would have been done to them?'
'Oh no, no, no. They are with my pigs. There's nothing my pigs like better than some company: some bedtime songs and nursery rhymes'.
'So, to be clear, the children are unhurt?'
'Absolutely. Some of the smaller, tenderer ones I might have ... encouraged into the pig pens, of course'.
'Tenderer? Pig pens? Voeltickler, you need to get to the cellars  quickly - take a horse!'
The prince continues. 'It's not ... it's not impossible that some of those children might have come to be covered in garlic butter'.
'Voeltickler!' shouts Fecklenburg, 'you're going to need a faster horse!'

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Glashoffel, the Final!

'Also', says Robert de Casside, further enumerating the reasons for his suspicion that he has not joined the army of Rotenburg, 'I was expecting an army composed of men that were taller. And cleaner. And more manly'. Casside's fears regarding the lower levels of testosterone, and higher than expected levels of baked-in grime, in the Wurstburp army might have been allayed if he could have seen the performance of the Margravate's cavalry. Though as a cavalryman, one wouldn't normally expect the key dynamics of combat in mounted warfare to compromise of being shot in the face at close quarters by enemy infantry, this is the situation that continues to confront Unpronunski's horsed arm. And they seem surprisingly robust in the face of this challenge. Though another of the cavalry regiments finally break and rout, (below) Baggin's Horse continues to block the advance of the Imperial flank march. The hairy-toed rascals seem to shrug off repeated enemy volleys, buying more time for Unpronunski's infantry assault.


To add to Cavandish's woes (if, of course, he was aware of them through the veil of sleep) his line is subjected to a sudden confusion in orders. On his extreme left, at the critical point of Wurstburp's attack, the Imperial army is suddenly afflicted by the manifestation of a highly undesirable military phenomenon: an attempt by an officer to display initiative. Commanding the supporting regiment behind the critical left-most front-line unit, the regimental colonel looks at the developing situation worriedly.
'See, major', he says to his subordinate. 'See how the enemy attack columns advance again with the bayonet! Look at that - they are assaulting our artillery battery! Oooh, that's got to sting! Observe how our brave artillerymen throw aside their weapons and attempt to halt the enemy advance by throwing themselves on the ground in front them, grabbing at their legs, weeping, and begging for mercy!'
'Yes, sir' says the major, unperturbed. 'Very moving. That's artillery for you'.
'We must advance and save them!' says the colonel.
The major tilts his head and raises an eyebrow in a way that seems to desire to communicate in a respectful and non-judgemental way that his superior has gone mad in the fashion of the droppings of bats.
'But, sir' he says reasonably. 'That would involve advancing our regiment through the regiment in front of us, thus disordering both and putting us at a disadvantage in the face of the heavy enemy attack that will no doubt follow'.
'Yes - give the orders!' says the colonel robustly.
'But, sir - those orders are ...', he cycles through his vocabulary, cursing his limited education, searching for a word he can say that has the same meaning as a mixture of dog flop and and the testicles of an especially large bullock, but that won't carry with it the same disciplinary consequences, 'um ... unwise'.
'I care not what you think, major! Order the advance!'


(Above, top right) And so, at a critical moment, the reserves blunder through the front line and end up directly in front of Wurstburp assault columns. To compound the situation, these crucial Imperial regiments are now far enough away from the rest of the infantry line that they are now a separate group for the purposes of what is termed loosely in the armies of Mittelheim 'command and control'. Surely sensing clearly that something now is badly amiss, Cavandish shifts in his sleep, murmuring 'This corset is surprisingly itchy.'


However, Lady Luck, if she does not actually smile upon Cavandish, at least doesn't smack him across his chops and call a lawyer. In the ensuing musketry duel, the massed Wurstburp columns do not fare well, and any immediate thought of a bayonet attack upon the Imperials must give way to a determined attempt at rallying. One of the Fenwickian infantry regiments is able to retire slightly to restore the cohesion of the line. Moreover,  the Margravial cavalry finally quit the field, allowing Cavandish's flank force to move up. All three Margravial regiments of horse have been cut down, and also both of Unpronunski's artillery batteries. (Above, at the bottom) Having finished their three horse meal, the Fenwickian flank force begins to bear down upon the remainder of the Wurstburp troops. (Above, at the top) Realising that the game is almost up, Unpronunski throws his assault columns forward in a desperate attempt to break Cavandish's line.


(Above) Alas, the attack makes no headway and is driven back. (Below) The Wurstburp army seems now to have run out of options. Set up to deliver bayonet charges, the prospect of an extended musketry duel with the well-positioned Imperial forces is as distasteful a prospect as a sardine and custard sandwich. Recognising that his largely conscript army is likely to be cut to pieces if the battle continues, Unpronunski gives the order for his force to retire. The Empire of Fenwick has triumphed once again!


Marshal Cavandish is victorious, and is able now to saviour the sweet fruits of victory. What these actually are isn't clear. Pineapples, probably. Hopefully not the boring ones, like apples, at least. Or, given that this is Fenwick, plums.* General Unpronunski and Prince Karl, however, must sip once again from the bitter cup of defeat, filled no doubt with English wine. Given the quantity of sips that they have taken from this cup recently, it is seems likely that they will also have to soon partake in a disappointing piddle of failure as well.







*As any competent Fenwickian lawyer knows,  savouring plums in Fenwick is a bit of a legal grey area. Technically, in Fenwick plums aren't forbidden - however, getting one's plums out and/or showing them to people, certainly is. On balance, it is best in Fenwick when savouring the fruits of victory to ditch plums in place of less controversial fruit, such as strawberries.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Glashoffel, the Third!

'It would seem, Prince Karl’, says General Unpronunski, looking through his telescope, 'that our cavalry our rather keener than you might think on sustaining the existing balance of social order!' The right wing of the imperial army continues to push forwards, firing volley after volley at the Wurstburp cavalry. Yet the cavalryman, presumably keen to avoid opening up opportunities for the social advancement of their inferiors, seem reluctant to die. No doubt their chins are too small to provide good aiming points for their adversaries.

Despite the delay, the atmosphere in Marshal Cavandish's headquarters remains tranquil: the marshal, of course, is fast asleep; and Keith, his horse, has not been tempted to tamper with the marshal's existing plan: largely because he is eating some carrots; and also because he is a horse, and so is less likely than Cavandish might think to apply military intuition and judgement to an evolving tactical situation. Captain Nitwitz, too, has made a valuable contribution to the steady prevailing calm by vetoing any attempts to issue orders to the Fenwickian troops. Issuing orders opens up the possibility of making mistaken decisions, and/or of issuing orders that might contain nightmarishly damaging double entendres: orders that might contain such words as 'rear', for example; or 'wood', 'penetrate', 'grope', 'melons', or 'topless trampolining'.


 Finally, one regiment of Wurstburp horse routs in the face of the Fenwickian musketry. (Above) Thanks, however, to some generally risible accuracy, the remaining two regiments continue to hold their ground resolutely in the face of the attack, slowing down the rate of the Fenwickian advance on this part of the line. If the Wurstburp infantry can exploit this time in order to overwhelm the enemy to their front, Unpronunski's army will be able to win the day!

(Below) Girding their loins, the Wurstburp columns push forwards against the extreme left of Cavandish's line. Here, the margravial troops have a key advantage: no Fenwickian could themselves ever "gird their loins". "Girding", of course, sounds suspiciously fruity to anyone from Grand Fenwick, and something very likely to transgress one of the Empire's many laws against double entendre. "Loins", it goes without saying, is right out; along with a variety of other similar words such as "rump". Not for nothing does Grand Fenwick have Europe's highest incarceration rates for butchers. This would also explain why, when eating roast chicken in Fenwick, one is likely to be offered a choice "Leg, or ... ah ... the other leg?'

The isolated Fenwickian flank unit fires ineffectually, despite the massed target to its front. The Wurstburp reply inflicts some disorder on their opponents, but no decisive results.


(Above, right) the imperial artillery contributes moral support to the defence, but, naturally for Mittelheim cannons, no actual help: the angles are such that the enemy are not in canister range. Led by the red-coated mercenary unit, two margavial battalions hurl themselves into the defending Fenwickians. Thanks to the benefit of their massed formation and their "a la bayonette" training, the margravial troops break the defenders! (Below) This being Mittelheim, the next defensive position in the Fenwickian line is not a reserve force of fresh grenadiers, but rather a badly positioned artillery battery. The battery is well-placed to deliver some devastating cannon fire: if, that is, this was a naval battle. Sadly, it isn't; and so showing one's side to the enemy is not an opportunity to deliver a raking broadside but is instead an invitation to have one's flanks badly spanked.


In some consolation for Cavandish, however, it turns out that the turnip field, which was a right royal pain in the behind for the marshal's defensive deployment, is also a bit of an attack of piles for Unpronunski's assault. 'Bah!' says Unpronunski angrily, 'that field of turnips is really buggering up our assault. I always knew that vegetables were bad for me'. (Below) The field limits the general's ability to sustain the weight and cohesion of his attack. Advancing units into the field, of course, would just precipitate an apocalypse of turnip-related disorder.* Moreover, to the right of the field, his troops can attack only on a two battalion frontage. Then again, advancing more troops to the left of the field risks breaking the infantry into two separate groups, ruining Wurstburp's command and control, such as it is.


To add to Wurstburp's woes, the general has also had to contend with the constant questions from the latest notable to join his army, Robert de Casside. Casside, of course, made the fatal mistake of assuming that, in Mittelheim, the normal conventions of gentlemanly behaviour were adhered to. In this case, gentlemanly behaviour would dictate that, when one asks, like Casside, if the army that one is joining is the army of the Landgravate of Rotenburg when, in fact, it is that of the Margravate of Wurstburp, the answer should be "By no means, sir: I think that you have made a terrible mistake". Whereas, sadly, the answer that he actually received was "Why not? This might be fun". And when one then later asks "Are you sure that this is the Rotenburg army? The men say that they are in the army of Wurstburp", gentlemanly etiquette would also suggest that the answer shouldn't be "The cheeky rascals, always pulling your leg! Now, head off like a good lad and lead that very dangerous infantry assault!"

Desperate to sustain the momentum of his attack, Unpronunski throws his disorganised mercenaries against the artillery to their front.  Thanks to the protective gabions, the mercenaries are thrown back and disintegrate, routing from the field. (Above, right) As optimistic as they are incompetent, the imperial gunners ignore the nearest remaining plethora of gleaming enemy bayonets pointed in their direction, and lay some fire upon the packed ranks of Wurstburp troops further away. Naturally, though, their main contribution to the battle is to block the arc of fire of their own troops behind.

The key dynamic in this battle is now clear - can the right-most columns of Wurstburp troops burst through the two imperial battalions to their front before the imperial troops dispatch the margravial cavalry and bear down on the flanks of the Wurstburp columns?






* Which, as any veteran knows, is second as a cause of disorder only to leeks.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Glashoffel, the Second!

There is the sound of cannon fire as the Wurstburp artillery begins a short preparatory barrage. As an instrument in this great orchestra of battle, their contribution is less bass drum in nature and rather more triangle solo. The casualties are minimal and, as an opening to this encounter, they don't really merit the term 'prelude'; they are more, perhaps, the gentle rustling of coats as the audience sits down.

Neveretheless, for General Unpronunski and Prince Karl, the opening manoeuvres of the Wurstburp army have been, in many respects, extremely successful. (Below) A dense horde of Wurstburp attack columns bears down on the left wing of the Fenwickian army. Thanks to their wide route of attack, they have suffered no artillery losses whatsoever, and they outnumber heavily the imperial troops to their immediate front.


In the Fenwickian headquarters, Marshal Cavandish has sized up the situation and poses to Captain Fabius Nitzwitz, his staff officer, a key question:
'Is it time for bed?' asks the marshal, yawning.
Nitwitz looks alarmed and points to the left. 'My lord, the enemy infantry have commenced their advance! They will soon be upon our wing!'
'Hmmm', replies Cavandish. 'Then it sounds a bit past my bed time. You already know our plan'. He points to his horse, Keith, held by his orderly Captain Felix Baumgartner. 'Keith can mop up any residual concerns'.
'Sir, it is wise to leave Keith in charge?' asks Nitwitz, worriedly.
Cavandish frowns. 'You mean because he's not staff trained?'
'I mean because he's a horse', replies the captain.
Cavandish shrugs. 'I like to think that it gives him a different perspective on things - you know, thinking outside of the box'.
'Outside of the box, sir, but inside of his nose bag' says Nitwitz. 'His main concern seems to be oats, sir, which isn't always of immediate relevance to the complex tactical problems that we often face on the battlefield'.


Cavandish sighs. 'I think, Nitwitz, that you credit me with too much influence on the course of events. War is chaos, Nitwitz; war is Hell: I mean, look at the way it interrupts my sleep. Still, my warm milk isn't here yet, so I suppose I could usefully fill the time with some orders. First, let's wheel our left a bit!' (Above, right) The very left-most musketeers are ordered to refuse their flank. Cavandish is a commander sensitive to the feelings of his troops, and so doesn't generally like using in his written orders such words as 'doomed' and 'useful enemy speed-bump'. However, it's clear that this regiment, along with the accompanying battery of artillery, probably aren't likely to survive for very long. The remaining troops on the left are also wheeled to form a new line. The field creates some awkward difficulties for the defenders; but it might also pose a challenge for the advancing Wurstburp troops.


Second, since the margravial centre is weak, Cavandish orders forwards his right wing infantry. Essentially, the Fenwickian army begins to swing perpendicular to its original position. (Above) As the imperial troops advance upon the Wurstburp cavalry, the cavalry begin to retire.
'Curses!' expectorates General Unpronunski. 'If we keep retiring our cavalry in the face of his infantry then we risk losing the initiative! We will not be able to advance our infantry!'
"Bunnie" Prince Karlie observes the situation and reaches a hard-nosed conclusion. 'General, we must let the cavalry fend for themselves. Indeed, if they must perish, then so be it! Our prime concern is our infantry assault!'
Unpronunski doesn't seem keen. 'But the loss to the morale of our army might be severe!'
Prince Karl waves dismissively. 'If our cavalry are destroyed, then so be it! I like to think of it less as losing our cavalry, and more as opening up within our army increased opportunities for social mobility'.
The general nods sadly. 'So be it! Now, let us then leave our cavalry, and order forwards our infantry for the decisive assault!'

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Glashoffel, the First!

Wherein the army of the the Margravate of Badwurst-Wurstburp, under the command of General Bazyli Antonin Unpronunski, encounters the army of the Empire of Fenwick, commanded by Marshal Ignacio Grace-a-Dieu Cavandish. 

Marshal Cavandish yawns, an act which almost causes him to swallow his own telescope. He is about to turn to his aide-de-camp, Captain Fabius Nitzwitz, and tell him this, before realising, of course, that this is the army of Fenwick; and hence, "swallowing one's own telescope", like "holding a lovely pair of melons" or "buttering one's own parsnips", is not something that can be uttered out loud unless (a) one also wants to cause all in the vicinity to start 'fnarring' and 'snurking' themselves into a sweaty heap, and (b) one has a good lawyer. Cavandish sighs - as a man who genuinely likes butter on his parsnips, his sojourn in the Empire of Grand Fenwick has been a continuous cavalcade of frustrating double entendre.

Nitzwitz, also, is looking through his own telescope (this is also probably yet another activity that in Fenwick would come bracketed with speech marks and six months in prison). 'It would seem, my lord, that the enemy army has been reinforced by even more of those villainous ex-Jacobites: damn those syphilitic porridge gobblers!'
Cavandish considers this for a moment. 'I don't think that porridge gives one syphilis, captain'.
'I don't know, sir - my old uncle ate porridge once, and he died of syphilis'.
'Wasn't he the uncle that spent fourteen years living in a brothel?'
'Correlation, I'd say sir; not causation. My old uncle swore by the health benefits of living in brothels. Plenty of exercise, and regular changes of bedding'.
'I'll bear that in mind for my retirement', says the marshal. 'In the interim, let us consider how we shall deploy our troops ...'


Having won, as any right-minded person could have guessed, the scouting contest, Cavandish has elected to go on the defensive. (Above) The Fenwickian army has been arrayed for combat. Unpronunski's choice of battlefield, however, appears to have been successful in at least one key way. The Fenwickians find themselves defending a position obscured by a pair of low hills. These hills restrict significantly the ability of the imperials to use the advantages of their artillery. Because of this, Cavandish has elected to distribute his guns amongst the first line of infantry: that way, whichever section of the line the enemy attack, at least a portion of his artillery will be able to fire. Or so one might think. His right flank is anchored on a stream. His left flank abuts a field. On the extreme left, the marshal has refused his flank slightly, in case the enemy attempt to move around this position. For reasons that will become more obvious than Landgrave Choldwig's belly button, this is probably a fair assessment of the likely shape of the coming encounter.


(Above) On the extreme right, beyond the stream, Marshal Cavandish deploys all three regiments of his cavalry. It keeps them out the way; and, who knows, it might be possible to bring them usefully into the fray at some point. Stranger things have happened. Especially in Mittelheim; where, to be fair, the benchmark for "strange" is set quite high. The notable officer, Giovanni de Tripodi, commands one of the cavalry regiments. Though Cavandish would much rather that he was deployed with the infantry, Tripodi believes that only the cavalry have the status, style, and prestige that befit a true gentleman - which shows how much he knows. Better at producing manure than they are a decisive battlefield effect, the landgravate's cavalry settle in for what will probably be another day featuring the dangerous consumption of beverages and a fearsome quantity of just sitting around a bit.

On the other side of the battlefield, and guided by Prince Karl, Unpronunski elects for a risky deployment. (Below) The entire centre and left wing of the Wurstburp deployment is comprised of nothing but the margravial cavalry - three regiments. On the right of the woodcut can be seen a new Jacobite addition to Unpronunski's horsed arm - formed from survivor's of Baggot's Hussar's, these have now a different colonel, and are named Baggin's Hussars.


(Below) For the rest, to say that Wurstburp has placed the weight of its forces on its right, would be like stating that King Wilhelm of Gelderland's underpants are a little snug. All ten infantry regiments have been massed there in three consecutive lines. It really doesn't require a session with Madam Zelda "Fortune Teller to the Rich and Gullible" to predict what the Wurstburp plan is going to be. On the other hand, Madam Zelda is quite reasonably priced, and has an admirable stock of amusing tales about the French: so having her come and predict the Wurstburp plan wouldn't be such a terrible waste of time.


As Madam Zelda herself might note perceptively, it seems likely that the Wurstburp infantry "will be going on a long journey", probably around the small wood in front of them and then towards the Fenwickian flank; after which they will "meet a tall dark stranger", or rather, a battalion of them, this being the Fenwickian unit at the very end of Cavandish's line. No doubt, soon after "something that was lost will then be found" - Wurstburp courage, probably: but we can assume that it will then be lost again quite quickly.

'You don't think that this plan is too obvious, do you?' asks General Unpronunski, tentatively.
'It's brilliance', replies Prince Karl firmly, 'lies in its simplicity'.
'Hmmm', says the general dubiously, 'if simplicity were brilliance, then wouldn't King Wilhelm have a doctorate in moral philosophy?'
'You accord the enemy too much regard. "Spartans of Mittelheim"? When we've finished them they'll be the "Donkeys of  ... Donkeyland".
'But isn't it highly likely that the enemy will see us coming? Not least because we are in full view of them and the only direction that we can reasonably move in is towards their left flank?'
'We shall distract them elsewhere: we shall fire our cannons'.
Unpronunski blows a raspberry. 'If I wanted more smoke, I'd just light a pipe', replies the general testily.

Some moments pass. Unpronunski seems strangely reluctant to commence the attack.
'It is time, general', says the prince, 'time to order the advance. We must defeat the enemy before night falls, and also before ...' he rummages around in the vicinity of his sporran, wincing '... this chafing becomes unbearable'. Orders are issued, and with a weak "Huzzah!" the Wurstburp assault columns step off!

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Glashoffel!

'What', exclaims Bazyli Antonin Unpronunski, aghast, 'are you wearing?'
Prince Karl von Porckenstauffen, heir to the Margravate of Badwurst-Wurstburp, strikes a pose. He is wearing strange and garish apparel: part tartan; part draped curtain; part rummage through a children's clothes box. 'Since my ex-Jacobite soon-to-be-subjects seem to be a growing element of our army, I thought it politic to make a gesture towards them'.
Dr. Sir Stuart Threipland, of Fingask (1716-1805), physician to Bonnie Prince Charlie during the Jacobite rising of 1745, and President of the Royal Medical Society from 1766-1770 - William Delacour, Artist
"From the Wurstburp Spring Collection"
Unpronunski winces. 'What gesture were you seeking to make, my prince? Two fingers? Or were you going, metaphorically, for a crude humping motion with the hips? You've got ... you've got no britches on! I can see ... see your knees, and  ... and such'.
'Come now, general: don't you think that you should try and be more open-minded? This is a suit of clothing that is both modern and practical. I have followed the Scottish fashion and have nothing on underneath, which makes this an ensemble that is pleasantly ... roomy'.
'Nothing on ... underneath? The general takes a small step backwards. 'Then I enjoin you, dear prince, to avoid any activities of an acrobatic nature whilst in my vicinity!' The general stares at the prince. 'What ... what's that? Why is that animal clinging to the front'.
'I believe that it is called a sporran', says Prince Karl.
'It is clinging, though?' continues Unpronunski. 'You aren't holding it up ... in other ways'.
'It is not a creature', says the prince testily. 'It is a fashionable Scottish accoutrement'.
'Fashionable!' retorts the general. 'What other animals do they hang from their clothing? Badgers? Elephants?' Trying to shake off his post traumatic dress disorder, Unpronunski turns from the prince. He gestures to his map table. 'If it is possible, God help us, for us to try and forget your clothes for a minute, there are important military matters that we must consider, Prince Karl, that my relative military inexperience render problematic'.

Few things, one might think, can outpace a Mittelheim army on the retreat. A Mittelheim army en route to a house of ill-repute that was running an offer of "buy one, get one free" might be one rare example; as might King Wilhelm of Gelderland's speed in putting distance between himself and the opportunity to take a responsible decision. However, sadly for general Unpronunski, it turns out that there is a third case: the army of imperial Fenwick chasing that of the Margravate of Wurstburp. Having suffered in succession two heavy defeats, the Wurstburp army has been streaming back to their own borders, on the basis that the best support that they can give to their allies in helping to win the War of the Spanish Suck Session would be to stop giving their adversaries the opportunity to fight them and to win easy victories. However scouts have brought in some unwelcome news - the Fenwickian field army is close by, and a battle seems inevitable!

General Unpronunski is now in his tent, and has called his companion, Prince Karl von Porckenstauffen to discuss their options. Notionally, the prince is merely an observer to the campaigns of the margravate's army. However Karl, being heir to the margravial throne, and also being annoyingly persistent, necessarily exerts more influence than his observer status might imply. Unpronunski stares at his maps, searching for inspiration.
Prince Karl snorts. 'We simply have to determine where lies the relative balance of advantage - and then focus on that!'
The general considers the prince's words. 'Well, my prince, the army of Fenwick would seem to have two key advantages. First, they are, by reputation, excellent at ranged combat'.
'Why is that?' asks Karl. He produces a carrot from his sporran, a movement that makes the general wince. Since the prince has very pronounced front teeth, the carrot merely reinforces his resemblance to a rabbit. Indeed, he is widely known behind his back as "Bunnie Prince Karlie"'.
'They have an artillery academy that ensures that their four field batteries are exceptionally well trained. Moreover, they also have the "lethal volleys" tactical doctrine'.
The prince scowls. 'And their second advantage, general?'
'Second, they are also good at everything else. Thanks to their long run of victories, the "Spartans of Mittelheim" are mainly troops of elite quality'.
Prince Karl nods. 'But they must have disadvantages'.
Unpronunski nods. 'Well, we're going to lose; so they might well be overconfident'.
'Hmmm. And our disadvantages?'
'Well, we're going to lose'.
'And our advantages?'
'Well, we're going to lose; so our bar for effective performance in the coming battle has been set quite low'.
'There must be something more positive - something around which we might frame a plan of action for the coming encounter?'
'We are skilled in mass and bayonets, prince. So we need to close with them before we lose. We need a battlefield that will screen us from their fire, and allow us to reach close quarters unmolested. So we're looking for ...'
'A battlefield with a large and high wall right down the middle? Where's Ranald Drumpf when you need him'.
'An unlikely find, Prince Karl. But here ...', he says pointing at the map, 'What about this? ... The village of Glashoffel - this is where we should meet the enemy in combat! I shall give orders immediately!'
'Splendid!' replies Karl. 'What shall I do?'
'Anything', replies the general, 'that doesn't involve you bending over'.