Accompanied by Captain von Stumpe (who, as usual, is camouflaged in his hussar uniform of inconspicuous bright yellow and blue), Burgrave Falco and General von Rumpfler advance towards the fighting (below). By placing himself between his infantry and cavalry, Rumpfler eases his command and control problems a tad. However, a significant difficulty with his sequential parallel plan begins to emerge. With his musketeers engaged in a punishing exchange of fire with their Imperial adversaries, they soon seem to need rallying. However, Rumpfler quickly determines that if he rallies his infantry, he cannot order forwards, or rally, his cavalry, the latter of course being crucial to his intent to turn the Fenwickian flank. Thrust painfully upon the horns of this dilemma, the general wiggles ineffectually for a while before concluding that, with losses in his infantry mounting faster than King Wilhelm in a two-for-one bordello, rallying the foot must take priority.
The general rides to his infantry. Ignoring the nearby regiment of red-coated Nabstrian mercenaries, whose painful death, of course, would for Nabstria merely constitute prudent long-term financial planning, Rumpfler seeks to inspire his musketeers with another of his famous speeches. Above the crash of gunfire and the roar of soldiers' voices, he shouts: 'Men! Rally to your colours! Reform your ranks! Some scoundrels have said that the Nabstrian army is the least successful army in Mittelheim, with a poor record in both attack and defence. I say to those scoundrels: statistically, this is probably correct. But the key point, men, is - it has never been my fault!' Rumpfler's troops seem surprisingly uninspired by these words. As the infantry duel continues, the Nabstrian infantry line begins to buckle as catastrophically as Princess Caroline of Bachscuttel's corset after a heavy sneeze. Nevertheless, despite the problems faced by his infantry, Rumpfler decides to take a risk and refocus his energies on his cavalry attack.
Ceasing to rally his infantry, Rumpfler once again orders forward his right wing cavalry in an attempt to break the Fenwickian flank. 'Forward again?' asks the Comte de Finay. The messenger nods gravely - 'General von Rumpfler says that we must make a point to the enemy.'
'Hmmm,' says the Comte, 'Is the point that we're idiots?' With a sigh, he orders the trumpets to sound the charge. Given the importance of the ensuing encounter for the outcome of the battle, it is worth quoting, for accuracy's sake, the account of the combat contained within the Nabstrian Official History:
'And so, the trumpets sounded the charge and the great mass of Nabstrian horse thundered forwards. And lo! leading them was Alain, Comte de Finay: great was his wrath and he had a fell hand and doom was written upon his brow. And his adjutant cried: 'My Lord, why have you got "doom" written upon your brow?' And the Comte replied, 'For I am wrath.' And his adjutant replied, 'Then, my lord, I should advise writing "wrath" upon your brow because "doom" has two 'o's; and what you have written upon your brow means something rather different.' And the Comte was doubly wrathful, and invited his adjutant to take an unlikely anatomical excursion with a spoon; and he ordered the horsemen of Nabstria once more unto the attack.'
'And so, the horsemen of both sides fell upon one another again. And there was a great shout; and the men of Nabstria set about those of Fenwick, and their eyes were fierce and their swords sharp and their riding predictably mediocre. And there was a great shivering of swords upon swords; and dire blows were struck; and painful wedgies administered. (Below) But the Nabstrian host was well nigh overrun; and they were sorely bested and were driven back; many flying, and some going hither and thither; and others whither and zither.'
'But the Comte rallied them with brave words and loud threats of sharp implements applied to wrinckly sacks; and the Nabstrian horsemen gathered about again; and seeing the enemy banner ahead with few men about it and being filled with dudgeon and having their blood pressure raised dangerously, they drew once again their swords and it was like glittering of stars; and their shouts were like the bleating of many very annoyed sheep. Then, the Comte de Finay's anger burned hot again and he was filled with red wrath and he cried aloud 'Verily, I am really wrathful; let us fall upon these fellows and give them a smiting'. And his men cried 'A smiting! Yeah, verily, foresooth and whatever! Let us give it to them!' And they came against the horsemen of Fenwick with a great press of men. Great was the clash, and loud the moaning about it really hurting, but more skilled and bitter were the Nabstrians and they clove through the Fenwickians like King Wilhelm en route to a free buffet. (Below) And the Comte broke through the press and threw down the enemy chieftain who cried 'Ow! Ow! Stop smiting me, sir!'and he hewed the enemy banner-bearer and seized their standard and all that was left of the enemy company turned and fled.'
'But lo, suddenly the sky dimmed and the dark turned about and it looked like it might rain; and the Nabstrian cavalrymen, worried about their wigs going frizzy, fell back. But the second body of Fenwick's horsemen, fearing not the darkness, were emboldened. And, unusually for this battle, receiving an order from headquarters, they swept forward against their enemy. And there was a great smiting and soiling of undergarments and falling off of horses; and no quarter was asked or given because neither side was good with fractions. And the Nabstrians, being sorely knackered by their previous fight, were dismayed at the ferocity of the enemy's onset and they were greatly afraid and so also greatly worked over; and they did a runner. And the Comte cried aloud: 'For Christ's sake, not again! Come back you lazy bastards!' But it was to no avail. And General Rumpfler, hearing of these events, was not rightly pleased and uttered very many naughty words.'
With the defeat of his cavalry assault, Rumpfler's attack is over. Having risked all on the cavalry breakthrough, his infantry have not had the benefit of his rallying efforts. The Nabstrian line is raked by musketry and pulverised by cannon, tearing off legs, knees, and feet reducing both the morale and the average height of the infantry. Rumpfler's vain attempt, too late, to rally his infantry raises neither their spirits nor their stature. (Above) The entire Nabstrian front line is broken by Imperial fire. (Below) Burgrave Falco surveys the shattered remains of the Nabstrian army.
'Well,' he says to Rumpfler, 'That fell apart quickly. My dear general, I think, once we have returned to the capital, that we should have a conversation.'
Rumpfler nods wearily. Whatever is in store for him, it is a fair guess that it is unlikely to be a promotion and a commemorative tankard.
Meanwhile, aside from the single 'charge' order issued to the cavalry, the Imperial headquarters has remained royally inactive. The Fenwickian staff indeed has been rendered insensible once again thanks to the wearing Fenwickian sensitivity to double entendre. Nitzwitz, intending to point out that the small copse that divides the Fenwickian line might provide the perfect avenue for a counter-attack on the exposed Nabstrian left has tried to outline this to his compatriots. Sadly, the Captain, who really should have known better, got no further than commenting that: 'Since the wood is already in our hands' before the Fenwickian staff have 'fnarred' themselves into a swoon.
As the fighting dies down, Marshal Cavandish passes wind loudly and wakes himself with a start.
'Grenadiers forward!', he blurts out in a daze: 'Rabbit onesies on!' His eyes snap into focus, aware now of the stares of his staff officers.
'Excellent,' he says, 'My plan has been a famous success.' He turns to his horse, Keith. 'Now what was it?'