Sunday, 7 October 2018

Chaptliptz, the Second!

As Herr Agorn stands ruminating upon Chaptliptz hill, the Rotenburg attack gets quickly underway, their commander, Major Nicklaus-Maria von Richter-Mortis, cognisant of the threat of the imminent arrival of a Bachscuttel naval force intent upon whisking Agorn from the coast here and depositing him in Vulgaria. To the south the three platoons of Rotenburg jager begin to move forwards. One platoon stays in reserve. A second moves left, intending to cross a small sheep-filled field and lay fire upon the Bachscuttel regulars. The third platoon, however, moves right. As a manoeuvre, this is something that might be termed 'optimistic'; or perhaps 'unrealistic'; or even by some as 'bull-wrestlingly mad'. Their adversaries (below) consist of two Bachscuttel platoons, including one of grenadiers. The jagers, however, seem optimistic. And who, indeed, would question them? Or rather, who could be bothered to question them, given the very small chance of getting  an answer that is even remotely intelligible?

In European armies at this time, jager tend to be comprised of irregulars made up of those already skilled in the use of muskets - gamekeepers, for example, or very angry wives. In Rotenburg, different standards are applied; and by 'different', of course, we mean standards that are much, much lower; standards that, if they were indeed standard, would indicate a level of attainment so low, that even those lizards mocked by their fellow reptiles for being a bit of a short-arse would have difficulty in squeezing themselves under them. In the case of these Rotenburg jager, the appellation 'irregular' actually would best be used to describe the frequency with which they turned up to train. Moreover, recognising the general level of popularity of Landgrave Choldwig in his kingdom, a level that our vertically-challenged lizard would in all honesty be able to step over with some ease, it has been deemed better in Rotenburg to ensure that firearms are kept out of the hands of anyone not in uniform and paid directly by Choldwig. As a result, in Rotenburg, the choice of men who are the finest shots is limited to a selection of billiard players. (Below) The jager advance forwards with the stealth of an obese giraffe in some form of tap-dancing footwear that has also, just that moment, discovered that it is on fire.

Alerted to the advance of the jager by the jager's advance in broad daylight across open ground, the grenadiers begin the combat by hurling their grenades. The effects of this are a little disappointing, a fact that causes some consternation in their ranks.
'Nothing!' says a lieutenant. 'And I hit one of those scoundrels right on the head!'
'I'm unsurprised', says a private. 'It was always unclear to me how it was that throwing cakes at the enemy would produce explosions'.
'They're not cakes - they're grenades!' replies the officer.
'No, no, sir - I'm strongly of the opinion that they're cakes', replies his compatriot.
'They're not cakes - they're dangerous pieces of cutting-edge military firepower'.
'I can see the currants'.
'No you can't see ... oh, actually you're right  But isn't this some canister balls?'
'Dried cherries'.
'Why are we throwing cakes?' asks the officer.
'I thought perhaps it's because we didn't like them - that they might have had marzipan in them'.
The officer collars his sergeant.
'Sergeant, I told you to get the necessaries from the armoury!'
The sergeant looks suddenly worried. 'Oh, armoury; I could have sworn that you said bakery'.
'Why would I order you to go to the bakery?'
'It did seem odd. But anyway, since I'd got the cakes, I told the cook that he may as well go to the armoury because we'd probably also need some grenades'.
The officer growls. 'So we've got the cakes and the cook's got ...'
'... the grenades' admits the sergeant. 'Yes, on reflection I can see how that might seem to be a bad idea'.
'We're in a life-and-death struggle armed with a selection of pastries, sergeant' says the officer slowly. 'and the cook has a box of grenades in a kitchen full of open fires; no I can't see a problem there'.
'It'll certainly add a frisson at dinner', admits the sergeant.

(Above) Switching from grenades to their muskets, the grenadiers fire a well-aimed volley at the enemy jager. (Below) The accurate fire scythes down half of the jagers' number. The Rotnburg attack is halted in its tracks. Not even in the toughest tavern dives of Alexandopolis had the billiard players suffered such casualties. Their counter-fire is wildly inaccurate and has no effect - no amount of trying to bounce one in off the cushion, or ricocheting one musket ball off of another seems to have an effect. 'Ooooh, that's a bad miss' comments their commander ruefully.

Richter-Mortis doesn't take the news of this early set-back very well.
'The first attack by the jager has failed, sir' reports a messenger. 'There's blood and dried fruit everywhere'.
'Pah!,' replies Richter-Mortis dismissively. 'You reach too early and too definitive a conclusion. As any experienced officer knows, it is inherently difficult in war to determine the conditions for success or failure: because over what time scale should one choose to measure the outcome? Or, to what extent are these conditions merely matters of perception? And by what metrics should one measure the outcomes of battle?'
'Well, sir', interrupts the messenger, 'in my time spent perceiving the jager, I think the key metric that might be of relevance is that they are all dead. Secondary benchmarks to measure the outcome of our attack could be that the enemy seem to be laughing a great deal, and also that they seem to be frisking the corpses of our troops and removing any objects of value'.
Richter-Mortis pauses. 'Hmmm ... Well ... Indeed.' He nods slowly. 'I think, then, that on the basis of your report I am willing to accept that we have certainly sustained a setback, but in relation to the longer-term circumstances ...'
'Sir, the longer term circumstances of those jager', interrupts the messenger again, 'is that they will no doubt end up in an unmarked grave without their boots and gold teeth. Later, one could probably say with some certainty that they will spend much of their time being mulched down by worms. By any metrics that one cares to choose, that would count as a bad day for them'.
'Bah!' replies the colonel. 'Fine. In the light of this ... incident'.
'Massacre' says the messenger.
'Reversal', says the major.
Size twenty shoe-ing'.
'Sir, I would say that our troops have been "creamed" but that would be too narrow a selection of dairy products to reflect the quite gigantic spankage that has been unloaded on that platoon of light troops'.
'"Mishap". I am willing to admit to there having been quite a mishap on that flank. But still, the day is young. Order forwards the remainder of out troops!'

(Above, left) The second platoon of jager push forwards into the field of sheep.
(Above, top) the company of Rotenburg regulars also begin to push forwards.
Richter-Mortis sends the messenger off with one final comment: 'Do not concede defeat too soon', says the major, 'for is it not said that "The art of victory is learned in defeat"?'.
'Then', adds the courier under his breathe, 'I can only conclude that we must have a truly enormous success in the offing, because we seem to be getting a very extensive learning'.


  1. My, the smoke on those woodcuts is particularly realistic!

  2. Yes - foul and fatal diseases of the lungs are a small price to pay for a really realistic smoke effect.