Thursday, 23 May 2013


Wherein the army of the Palatinate of Saukopf-Bachscuttel under the command of General Graf von Barry-Eylund encounters the army of the Empire of Grand Fenwick, commanded by Marshal Ignacio Grace-a-Dieu Cavandish
     'War', the famous dead Prussian, Carl von Clausewitz, commented, 'is nothing more than a continuation of policy with the addition of other means'. In Mittelheim, naturally, the 'other means' are rather varied: very small amounts of strategy; rather larger quantities of Bockfast wine; a significant dash of guesswork; some sock puppetry, of course; and long breaks in order to consume helpings of leech scones. In truth, if Clausewitz had lived in Mittelheim, he would probably have replaced the word 'policy' with the word 'insanity'. Indeed, as the Cod War enters its third month, there is little that might be termed 'policy' guiding the development of the war; the armies of the belligerents sweep randomly across Gelderland, as Voltaire would later comment: 'like ships of state sailed by Meerkats on crack.'

     With the defeat of Rotenburg's forces at Nottelbad, the fortunes of the Rotenburg-Grand Fenwick alliance hang lower than Landgravate Chlodwig's navel. Now, in August, the Palatinate of Saukopf-Bachscuttel seeks to compound the alliance's woes by making a move against the Empire of Grand Fenwick. Advancing swiftly, the Palatinate's army is finally blocked by the Imperial forces at Schoppenmoll ridge. After camping opposite one another overnight, a bright, hot summer morning sees the two armies take up positions against one another.

     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!'

     (Below, top left) It all seems to be going so well for Graf von Barry-Eylund. His infantry begin to form a line in the shelter of the hill. The first attack echelon will be formed from a regiment of mercenaries and the two regiments of peerless Bachscuttel guards: the Hoffmeister-Beyer Grenadiers (white flag) and the Milchfrau Lieb-Garde (red flag). The elite of Prince Rupprecht's army, the guard regiments tower over the ordinary Bachscuttel soldiery at an imposing 5' 6". Chosen for their fighting prowess rather than their intellect, surely nothing, except perhaps a tricky crossword puzzle, can stop them. (Below, bottom) At the same time, the Bachscuttel cavalry regiments move to flank the Imperial line. Two regiments of Imperial horse manoeuvre to block their advance including the elite Lifeguard Chevaux-Legers (in blue, behind the marsh).

     (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.

     (Above) The elite Life Guard (in blue, on the right) watch the approach of the Bachscuttel horse. Checking his calendar to see if it might be Christmas and noting, surprisingly, that it isn't, the commanding officer orders the regiment to prepare for battle. Not wishing to look a gift horse in the mouth, particualry one ridden so badly by Bachscuttel cavalrymen, the Life Guard draw sabres and absorb the Palatinate charge. The result is predictable: the Chevauxleger are thrashed and driven back into the marsh, their charge doing less damage to the Life Guard than it does to the local fauna: one toad is left with a limp and two newts with mild depression. The Chevauxleger are left isolated in the watery obstacle, with von Ducktrump floating disconsolately in his bath chair. (Above, top) Hoping for better luck in the centre, the Bachsuttel infantry form line and begin to advance against the Fenwickian centre.

     (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?'


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a message, FMB: much appreciated!

      They're mainly a mix of Wargames Foundry and Front Rank. The hapless Chevaux Leger and Kurassiers are Eureka. I cheated and bought some painted Russians on ebay so that we could start playing sooner rather than later. The British and French were painted by Chlodwig. The Nabstrians will, one day, be made up of lovely Minden Miniatures' Prussians. I have started on the Zentans: you can just make out one of their artillery pieces masquerading as a Fenwickian battery in the photos above (accompanied by a Darkest Africa Zanzibari cannon!).


  2. Cheers! Glad you enjoyed the report!


  3. This is bitter news indeed for Nabstria. Given the Palatinate's previous record of success on the field of battle - often against Nabstria - it seemed prudent to the Burgrave to ally himself with Saukopf-Bachsuttel. This unexpected defeat calls into question the strength of the alliance and the outcome of the war itself. Not surprisingly, the war party in Nabstria has been plunged into gloom, a mood which has only been deepened by the almost total lack of any water fowl in the Burggraviate.

    1. Never fear! The Palatinate's army has been whipped back into shape and even now advances on Hesse-Rotenburg. Victory will surely follow. All that is required now is that Nabstria pummels Grand Fenwick!