Having run out of cappucinos, Marshal Cavandish, Captain-General of the Imperial Army, has now, according to his aide-de-camp Fabius Nitzwitz, retired to his tent to contemplate deeply on the requirements of the coming battle. The veracity of Nitwitz's comment is thrown into doubt by the fact that (a) Cavandish first ordered his servant to procure him 'a lovely pint of super-strength ovaltine', and that (b) the Marshal was last heard saying 'Right, Nitzwitz, I'm off to my bed for a sleep so deep that my name might change to Rip van Cavandish'. Hoping to fool the men, Nitzwitz dons one of Cavandish's uniforms and mounts his horse: but, fit, alert, heroic and intelligent-looking, Nitzwitz was never likely to be a dead-ringer for the Marshal. Still, Nitzwitz acquits himself well at the opening stage of the battle; a minor hiccup when Nitzwitz instructs his troops to 'give the Backscuttel dogs a damn good licking' provokes only intermittent 'fnars' and, with the measured tramp of feet and bright melody of flutes, the Imperial army arrays itself for battle.
With his key objective being to defend Schoppenmoll Hill (top right, covered in trees), Cavandish places four of his infantry regiments along the line of the woods, along with three batteries and a cavalry regiment. On his left, he places one battery, four infantry regiments, and two of cavalry. He maintains a single regiment in reserve.
(Below, bottom) From the left hand side of Schoppenmoll Hill, Cavandish looks out at the Bachscuttel army. Barry-Eylund has concentrated his force for an attack on the left hand wing of the Imperial forces. All four Bachscuttel cavalry regiments are placed for an advance on the extreme left (top left, in march column) under the command of Alain, Comte de Finay. Finay loves to march about as much as Prince Rupprecht loves pigs (i.e. a lot) so the Graf hopes to manouvre this flanking force with the minimum of orders. Two regiments of irregulars are next to them; then all three batteries of Barry-Eylund's artillery; and finally nine regiments of infantry, seven of which are in march column. The Bachscuttel plan is clear: a rapid assault on the Imperial left; then victory; medals; scones. Almost everything is set for battle, except perhaps, the presence of Death, who has overselpt. Lady Luck has made it; though it soon becomes clear that she seems to have taken out some kind of restraining order against the Palatinate. With a signal from Graf Barry-Eylund, a loud 'huzzah!' breaks the morning silence, and the battle commences!
(Below) From Cavandish's position, the Bachscuttel infantry can be seen massing beyond the intervening hill. The steady tramp of feet and slow beating of drums rolls across the battlefield; menacing, except for the occasional cry from the Bachscuttel battle lines of 'It's my turn on the drum! I want a go! Me! Me!'
(Above) Sadly for General Barry-Eylund, it is plainer than Prince Rupprecht's wife that this battle will not be an easy one. Facing off the Imperial cavalry, the Comte de Finay orders the Chevauxleger von Blitzenstollen (in grey) to form the left of the first cavalry line and the Kurassier von Fleigerweiner (in white), to the right. The Comte wishes the cavalry to remain in position for now. However, Lady Luck coughs a furball into the Comte's lap and confusion reigns. The Chevauxleger are commanded by the most energetic and vigorous of the Bachscuttel officers: 92 year old Hermann, the Baron von Ducktrump. Having been manhandled from his bathchair to his horse, the nanogenarian perches precariously on his saddle, alternately asking his second-in-command 'what are our orders' and 'where am I'? A messenger arrives from the Comte de Finay with vital instructions: ''Hold your positon. Fix the enemy cavalry. On no account engage in a witless charge across the marsh into the elite enemy cavalry beyond' says the courier.
'Eh' says von Ducktrump, fiddling with his hearing trumpet, 'Engage in a witless charge across the marsh into the elite enemy cavalry beyond?'
'Righto Sir', says Ducktrumps subaltern, the 11 year old Ensign, Graf Sigmar von Nippeltassel, 'Forward, men! Engage in a witless charge across the marsh into the elite enemy cavalry beyond!'
(Below) With a loud 'Huzzah!' the Chevauxleger gallop forwards towards the Imperial Life Guard, splashing through the marsh, scattering toads and rare lesser-crested newts: the latter, being exceedingly rare, are only slightly less endangered a species than competent Mittelheim officers.
(Below) Sadly, in the centre, Barry-Eylund's plan begins to come unstuck. The front lines come into musketry range and, thanks to thick smoke and other sundry events, the Fenwickian battle line begins to sag under the potent Palatinate firepower. But Cavandish snores loudly, and his muttered cry of 'More custard, Frau Hog, all over my toes' seems to do the trick; inspired, bemused, or possibly just frightened, the Imperial infantry line rallies magnificantly. Meanwhile, (in the woods, in white) an Imperial infantry regiment uses a local scout to wheel through the woods into a flanking position. Graf von Barry-Eylund is forced to turn one of his regiments (in blue) to meet it. With his plans to win the early firefight in tatters, and fearing the long-term effects of Imperial lethal volleys, Barry-Eylund hurls forward his guards! 'Forward, faithful soldiers!' cries the Graf, 'Forward to glory and a moderate pecuniary reward at an unspecified later date!'
(Below) Himmel! In a result limper than Prince Rupprecht's wedding night, the guard are caned! In counterattacks, the Milchgrau Lieb Garde dissolve in the face of musket fire; and a charge on the Hoffmeister Beyer Grenadiers results in its collapse, though it does take its adversary with it. Barry-Eylund manages to rally his remaining forces and form a new fighting line, but the vigour has been lost from the Palatinate's attack; the steam has been sucked from its kettle; the lead has been lost from its pencil; anyway, you get the idea. (Below right) In a small mercy, a Fenwickian bayonet charge is fought off, leaving the attacking Imperial regiment at the bottom of the hill. Even so, Barry-Eylund's assault has ground to a halt.
(Above, left) With musket fire now directed onto the flank of the Life Guard cavalry, Cavandish's aide-de-camp orders them forward into the marsh, intent on escaping the flanking fire and also finishing off the Chevauxlegers to their front. After a tough fight, the newts are driven off, and the Bachscuttel cavalry, having been badly bullied by some toads, disappears in a sad expectoration of watery gurgles. The Imperial cavalry though, are now in trouble, sinking slowly into the marsh, kept afloat only by the air pockets between the ears of their oficers.
(Below) But Lady Luck, no doubt feeling a little guilty, now throws the Palatinate a bone of moderate size!With the centre in stalemate, a final flourish of musketry into the marsh from the flank sinks the elite Imperial Life Guard cavalry, opening the way for the Palatinate's hussars to advance through the marsh and onto the flanks of the Fenwickian infantry. Moreover, von Nitzwitz has shouted himself hoarse and is entirely unable to issue any more orders. But, is it too late in the day?
(Below) Yes, of course it is. Night falls and with the chances of a victory receding more severely than Prince Rupprecht's chin, Graf von Barry-Eylund orders the withdrawal of the Palatinate's army. The Graf must now savour the bitter sting of defeat, the vile gall of failure, the foul taste of the grisly wibbly bits of ignominious thingyness.
The Imperial army breaks into spontaneous cheers! Hurrah for Cavandish! Another victory for Grand Fenwick, which now has the only unbeaten army in Mittelheim. For the Palatinate, this has been a rueful experience. A rigorous investigation and reform programme is instituted immediately, and concludes that what is required is more musketry drill and fewer cream teas. Moreover, in a shocking development, the Hoffmeister-Bayer Grenadier's are disbanded as punishment for their lamentable peformance. A new guard regiment will be raised from the districts of Feyer and Tchoklet: the Tchoklet-Feyer Garde! As the last scraps of light fade, the two armies march from the battlefield. There is a moment of silence, and then a sucking, popping sound: a skinny fellow in a black cloak appears swinging a scythe experimentally: 'Ta-daa,' says Death, 'Oh, did I miss anything?'