Monday, 10 August 2015

Heisenleman, the second!

The six batteries fire upon the village of Popdorf. There is a thunderous, deafening roar. Death, who might have jumped out of his skin if he had any, checks his pantaloons and then remembers with relief that he also has no bowels. The entire battle halts momentarily as the troops from all four armies stare at the village. (Below) As the smoke slowly clears there is no sign at all of the Rotenburg garrison regiment - it has been completely annihilated.

The troops look on in awe.
Even Marshal Cavandish has been awoken: he looks agog at the smoking remains. 'By the power of Grey Skull', he whispers.
'Let's do it again!' says Captain Nitzwitz enthusiastically, training his telescope on a new target. Death, meanwhile, sprints across the field of battle shouting 'Wait! Wait! I wasn't ready!'
Behind the Palatinate line, Barry Eylund looks at Popdorf gloomily. It is Barry Eylund's forces that are nearest to the enemy grand battery. The Bachscuttel irregulars, deployed in a field, begin to dig themselves in amongst the potatoes. The regulars sag noticeably, in the hope that the reduction in their height might produce a commensurate increase in their lifespans. Sergeants set about beating such a notion out of them - 'those are cannonballs', they shout, as another salvo is launched from the enemy gun line, 'not leech fricasees. Stand like rough approximations of men', they growl. It seems evident to the General that the only orders that he is going to need to issue in this battle are those directing the bringing up of dustpans and brushes to clear away the remains of his army.
Behind him, Prince Rupprecht remains oblivious, and continues with his roistering.
'Dammit', says Barry-Eylund distractedly to a staff officer, 'what in God's good name are they playing now?'
'Gin rummy, I believe' says the officer.
'Snap!' says the Prince, happily.

The initial bloody execution doled out by the Combined Grand Army's artillery line leads Rumpfler and Cavandish to wait out the morning in the hope that their guns can drill further bloody holes in the ranks of their adversaries. But Fate is a cruel mistress, as well (as Death can testify) as being unable to cook terribly well. It becomes apparent that the artillery, like King Wilhelm at one of his evening soirees, has peaked rather too early in the proceedings. The morning bleeds away as the enemy artillery create for the armies of Bachscuttel and Rotenburg the exact same feeling of having one's genitals flicked with a metal ruler: it hurts quite a lot, but it isn't fatal.

On the other side of the battlefield, events have proceeded in a manner that might be described as 'gentlemanly'; if the gentleman in question were aged, quite forgetful, and periodically incontinent. A few Landgravial cannon balls have been thrown into the Nabstrian lines, eliciting a rousing cheer from the Rotenburg troops. The fire, however, has succeeded only in maiming a few of Rumpfler's light troops, eliciting a rousing cheer from the rest of his army. (Below, top) This geriatric military fumbling continues for a while until Rumpfler decides that it is time to advance his light troops; a bit of gentle probing might induce some response from his Rotenburg foe. However, it soon becomes clear that the Nabstrian probing has penetrated the Rotenburgers rather too deeply, since it evokes an immediate and violent response. Positioned on the right between the woods and Dangalbalz stands a dismounted Colonel Michel-George du Vicque, commander of the Rotenburg Landgravial cavalry, along with his second in command, Captain Dietrich von Stadtmaffin, and his trumpeter, Ensign Hans Standt. Du Vicque and von Stadtmaffin wait patiently, eyeing the Nabstrian light troops as they caper forwards. Their calmness contrasts with that of the ensign, who points excitedly at the enemy jager, saying repeatedly 'Shall we charge? Shall we charge? Can we? Can we? Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on!'
'Patience, Standt, ' says du Vicque, 'A professional soldier obeys orders always. We must wait for an ... ouch, dammit!'
'My lord?' says Stadtmaffin, concerned.
'I've injured myself on this nail' says du Vicque, examining his boot gingerly.
'I don't think that's a nail,' says Stadtmaffin, leaning in solicitiously, 'its much shorter, its more of a ... a ...'
 'A tack?' says du Vicque.
'Attack? Attack!' shouts the Ensign, blowing his instrument harder than Landgrave Choldwig in a Turkish bath.
'No! Nooooooooooooooo!' shouts du Vicque - but it is too late (Below, bottom) With wild neighs, not all them from the horses, and loud shouts of Huzzah!', the Landgravial cavalry surges forwards.


Galloping onwards in march columns, the Rotenburg horse are soon  dangerously positioned on the flank of the Nabstrian Army.

Viewing events through his telescope Barry Eyland jumps up and down in frustration: 'We agreed!' he shouts out furiously to no one in particular. 'We agreed! No displays of initiative! None! No brain storming! No left-field thinking! No creating a metaphorical box so that we could think outside of it!' In Saxe-Peste's headquarters, the Furst, too, is apoplectic 'What's picqued du Vicque?' he asks angrily. Saxe-Peste can espy the cavalry riding forward, with du Vicque hopping behind, waving his hands about like a loon. 

Actually, though, the sudden advance of the Rotenburg cavalry causes Rumpfler some difficult problems: the enemy horse have merely to wheel left, and they will endanger his whole flank. (Below): Rumpler hastily orders the jager to turn towards the enemy cavalry. His own cavalry can do little immediately - being in march column, they cannot counter-charge the Rotenburgers, and they cannot change into line where they are because this will leave their flanks exposed. Rumpfler has no choice but to send his cavalry leftwards, still in march column, ready to deploy next turn.

(Above, left) The Rotenburg cavalry halts and begins to form to line. Du Vicque and Stadtmaffin manage to catch up.
'We seem to be fine, my lord', says Stadtmaffin relieved. 'See, the enemy horse are still deploying. There's plenty of time for a measured, carefully thought out series of manoeuvres that will allow us to return to our lines'.
'Yes', says du Vicque, mopping his brow. 'We'll put the men into line and then begin a retrograde movement. We might be able to retire through the wood - there might be a road'.
'There's certainly no road, my lord', says Stadtmaffin, 'but there might be a path thingy.'
'A track?' Says du Vicque.
'Attack?' Attack!' shouts the ensign.
'Christ's bunions, noooooooooooooo!' wails du Vicque despairingly.

(Below) With much shouting and waving of swords, the Rotenburg cavalry hurls itself at the Nabstrians, who have now been able to form line. The confined space means that the lead two Rotenburg regiments must face three Nabstrian units - but the intrepidity of the Landgravial advance wins the combat, even if the Nabstrian horse remain unbroken. Charge and counter-charge ensue, with sundry hacking, slashing, and twisting of melons.

(Below) There is a temporary pause in the cavalry melee. Each side has lost one of their regiments: but the remaining Nabstrian cavalry are in some disorder. Still (below, right), Rumpfler has a key advantage - one regiment, at least, of his jager are able to bring some of their muskets to bear on the flanks of the lead Rotenburg dragoon regiment. A few volleys might be able to cripple the Rotenburgers. Volley after volley demonstrates, however, that the jagers couldn't hit the side of a barn even if they were actually deployed inside it.

Rumpfler gallops over to remonstrate with them. Strangely, the jager have dirty smudges of grey around their mouths. They all seem to be sucking something.
'What have you got in your mouths', shouts the General impatiently.
One jager halts and answers. 'We've been given lots of lovely gob-stoppers, my lord'.
'Spit it out', orders Rumpfler. The jager complies and out pops what looks suspiciously like a musket ball.
Rumpfler looks aghast. 'What in God's name have you been loading your muskets with?' he says.
'Loading?', asks the jager.
A fellow leaps by, and aims at a cavalryman - 'Bang!' he shouts, 'Bang, bang, bang! You're dead!'
The jager beams at the General. 'See the rate of fire we can get, my Lord?'

Meanwhile, Colonel du Vicque seems now to have restored some order to the Rotenburg line. He looks askance at Ensign Standt, murder in his eyes.
'If he does that again', says du Vicque to Stadtmaffin, 'I shall give that fellow the most violent smack'.
'Careful, my Lord' says Stadtmaffin, looking alarmed 'in the din of battle the words 'a smack' sounds dangerously like ...'
'Attaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!', shouts the Ensign, and then blows his trumpet so hard that his tongue pops out of the end. 'A-ack! A-ack!'
Again, the Rotenburgers gallop forwards!

(Below) The final cavalry battle occurs! There is a brief, savage, clash of steel before the Nabstrians, riding their horses rather less skilfully than other horses might, collapse in the face of the impetuous Landgravial assault. Both remaining Nabstrian regiments flee! Rumpfler's flank is open!

Desperate, Rumpfler sends a courier to Marshal Cavandish - in order to occupy the enemy, he asks for the Imperial infantry to begin their assault on the right wing. Cavandish is unconvinced by Rumpfler's logic, believing that the Bachscuttel defence is still too strong.
'I'm unconvinced by Rumpler's logic', he says to the courier, 'and I believe that the Bachscuttel defence is still too strong'.
However, as Nabstrian cavalrymen begin to stream past his headquarters in cheerful rout, the Marshal recognises that needs must when the Devil rides his horse as badly as a Nabstrian cavalryman.

And so, the orders are sent; the drums begin to roll; the banners wave; and, bayonets fixed, nine regiments of Imperial infantry begin their attack against Barry-Eylund's line......


  1. There is no question that the Nabstrian cavalry disgraced themselves in this action: the Burgrave is most displeased!

  2. Alas, even the presence of Paul, Duke of Clarkeshire, could not inspire them - perhaps the good Duke needs to return to his silly hussar hat? It wasn't an easy fight, and there were several tense combats. But all credit must be given to Furst Augustus. As the ever-cautious General Barry-Eylund winced and sweated nervously in his usual callow fashion, the Furst's cavalry launched an intrepid attack that succeeded magnificently!

  3. His silly hat certainly used to inspire the Nabstrian cavalry to great feats... Perhaps his new attire does nit meet the approval of the highly fashion conscious troopers. Barry-Eylund is certainly well named - he attempts to deploy his troops behind some form of watercourse in every action. Methinks he is too frightened ever to meet a foe on an honourable open field...