The small Principality of Ursaminor was not so long ago a rather larger and more powerful country, though perhaps no more populous then than it is now (by 'now' I mean of course, 1740, give or take 5 years). The present Princess, Ursula, her great Grandfather was none other than the 'Great Bear of the North', Ursus XII, military genius and would be conqueror. Having grown up with a passion for his army, and a tactician's military skill, Ursus went on the rampage early in the century, attempting to carve off large chunks of Jotun-Erbsten and M'yasma, and even from Altmark-Uberheim itself.
Alas (for Ursaminor, though the rest of Europe were rather inclined to give thanks for this) the undoubted tactical ability of Ursus XII was balanced by an almost total absence of any strategical sense. His projects tended to be piecemeal, lacking in the vision needed to see beyond the immediate outcome, to what might follow.
At last, in 1709, Ursus found his army buried deep within the borders of the Grand Duchy of M'yasma, besieging the small fortified town of Potsalava. A large supply train, badly needed to sustain the siege, and escorted by provisional battalions of recruits, had to traverse a considerable tract of M'yasman territory to reach the main army of Ursus XII as it attempted to blockade the town. Constantine V, Grand Duke of M'yasma, was rather more of a strategist, and cleverly waylaid the train long before it reached Potsalava, destroying and capturing most of its supplies, although the provisional battalions fought their way through and soon joined the main army.
Shortly afterwards, the main M'yasman army marched upon Potsalava. All observers thought at last Constantine wished to try conclusions with his arch enemy, but it soon became clear that he was reluctant to risk either his army nor his reputation. He would not attack. He set up camp in the Ursaminor left rear. Very soon, there appeared a string of company-sized redoubts that threatened to compromise the rather sketchy lines of contravallation laid out by the Ursaminorians.
Pusillanimous though Constantine's hesitation might have appeared to the more ignivorous (fire-eating) of his generals, he remained not idle, and his fortification building was beginning to interfere seriously with Ursus's conduct of the siege. Further, as the blockade was by no means complete, he was able to throw the whole of the Podolia Regiment into the town. Soon, M'yasman cannon would begin bombarding Ursus's siege artillery from the rear whilst the guns of the town engaged them from in front.
There was nothing for it. Ursus had either to give up the siege and undertake a long retreat into his own country, or, to attack...
To be continued (Battle map and Orders of Battle in the next posting)...