|Imperialist Foot: Hilberghausen Infantry|
At the beginning of 2011, Barry (the Herzog von Rechburg in real life) and I began an Imagi-Nations campaign that I had set in a bishopric bordering both Rechburg and the Imperial lands. Unfortunately, just as the thing was getting started, and the background being laid out (whilst Barry was recruiting up an army for his Dukedom), a large earthquake hit this burg, and the whole project had to be put on hold. My end wasn't too bad, but it did make hay with a lot of my wargames stuff that had to be sorted and repaired, and things had later to be stored away to make room for house repairs. Barry was in worse case - even had to move house - which led to his making a decision that was going to affect the future conduct of this campaign.
The thing was intended to be a 'starter campaign' only in any case, preparatory to something more ambitious later on. Nevertheless, it required some background, which I published in this blogspot in January and February 2011 (in these links you'll have to ignore the AWI skirmishes...).
In summary, the Bishopric of Ulrichstein, had enjoyed eighty-nine years' peace and quiet among its industrious and amiable population, despite a strong religious divide between its Catholic and Protestant inhabitants. Nominally Catholic, its Bishop Cornelius Hendricus ter Plonck (a scion of a Dutch family that never accepted the doctrines of Luther and Calvin) was its Head of State, very much a Servant of God in a New testament way, but not especially effective as a temporal ruler. This peace and amity was shaken badly by the severe rains and flooding of the late summer of 1738, which caused a widespread failure of the harvest. The subsequent starvation and suffering, struck especially hard in the Northern, predominantly Protestant regions of the Bishopric.
Despite the Bishop's efforts to alleviate the shortages - Cornelius never did discover what really happened to the grain reserves that were shipped north from the Ulrichsburg granaries - inanition and want persisted well into the autumn. Starvation led to mutterings, mutterings to unrest, unrest to an explosion of violence: riots, arson, and worse. Rioters invaded the warehouses of merchants, but such hoarded grain they found was largely wasted, trampled underfoot or burnt as the frustrated townspeople of Zerbst and Seehausen vented their frustrated rage.
|Imperialist Horse: Khevenhuller Dragoons.|
|Principality of Ursaminor: Artillery.|
|Princess Ursula inspecting her infantry.|
The violence was particularly severe in Zerbst, close to the northern border. In fear for their lives and livelihoods, the City Fathers appealed to Ulrichsburg for help in keeping order, whereat the commander of the tiny Ulrichstein Army - the Diocesan Guard - at once marched north, leaving behind a mere company of foot and a section of artillery in the Capital to carry out its usual ceremonial functions. Somehow in the week it took Colonel von Smallhausen to bring his small force north, word spread in Zerbst and beyond, that the Bishop had resolved to profit from the situation and bring the schismatic northerners back to their Catholic allegiance.. The City Fathers forgot that it was their own request that was bringing the Diocesan Guard north; the lesser orders reacted to the scare by assaulting known Catholics. The call went out to create a militia to defend the town against the Bishop's army, under the command of a one-time mercenary, Ritter von Rancke, who immediate assumed the title Marshal-General of Zerbst.
|Princess Ursula watches her cavalry gallop past.|
The revolt had begun, almost by accident. Order might yet have been restored, but the Diocesan Guard was refused entry into Zerbst. In Freiherr von Smallhausen, the exiguous Army of Ulrichstein had a master of ceremonial and proper address, but beneath the dazzling uniform of the Colonel of the Guard, beat as martial a heart as any who sought and won glory upon the field of battle. Refused entry, he gleefully forced his way into the town, stormed across the townsmen's makeshift barricades and burst into the central Plaza. The ferocity of Smallhausen's attack dismayed the defenders, and as the Grenadiers smashed through the barrier guarding the Plaza, the remaining townsmen fled.
|Grand Duchy of M'yasma: Horse|
Order restored, an uneasy armistice fell across the Bishopric. Ritter von Rancke's defence of Zerbst elevated him into heroic status, but it soon emerged that the real spirit of rebellion was being sustained by a merchant adventurer of Huguenot extraction, one Francois Noailles. Actively but quietly recruiting more troops for the rebellion, he soon assembled an army of all arms - some eight foot battalions, though at one regiment and two sections, the rebels were short of horse and guns. Many of the burghers of the northern town placed their hopes and wishes upon their fellow Protestant, the ambitious and not over-scrupulous Herzog Paulus of Rechburg.
|The Storming of Zerbst by the Diocesan Guard|
As the autumn of 1738 deepened, Noailles revealed his hand. The company von Smallhausen had left in Zerbst hastily withdrew, followed the stones of the townsmen and women, then by the ill-trained near-rabble of Noaille's army. One again the gallant Colonel took the field, but it was already apparent that his tiny command, however better trained, was unlikely to overcome odds of six to one.
Meanwhile, the eyes of several interested parties from outside the State were fixed upon the events unfolding in Ulrichstein. The Herzog Paulus (Duke Paul) of Rechburg found in the increasing chaos there a number of opportunities that could redound to the benefit of his realm, up to and including annexation of much of the Bishopric into his own territories. Strident appeals from Ulrichstein reached the desks of his Foreign Ministry, citing atrocities (largely fictitious) committed by Catholics against Protestants, and painting the Bishop Cornelius himself in colours so (unjustly) black that it seemed that Bishop Hatto* had once more been visited upon the world. It was clear he would have to intervene, and soon, but for that, the Herzog would be extracting a price.
|Imperialist Foot: Alt-Colloredo Infantry|
|Imperialist Foot: Hildberghausen Infantry|
Far off in Schnitzel, the Imperial capital, the octogenarian Emperor Violoncello had been keeping if anything a closer eye on events. Foreseeing the harvest failure, he had sent some corn across the border. Observing the unrest, he had his Marshal Baron Glockenspiel conduct 'exercises' three days' march from the border, whilst the Emperor's nephew, Archduke Piccolo, also began gathering troops together much closer to the capital. The moment a letter requesting help arrived at Schnitzel, borne by the hand of Bishop ter Plonck's own Envoy, the order went out to march, Glockenspiel to Ulrichstein, Piccolo to follow. In the meantime, the Emperor had also requested contingents to be assembled from the other Imperial realms. Suspecting the Herzog Paulus to be behind the revolt - supporting it at least - Violoncello had his agents busy sowing what rumours they could in other courts, and along the Bergovia-Rechburg border.
|Battle of Lobrau: Imperialist Foot advance into battle.|
|Diocesan Guard at Lobrau|
Hastened by an urgent message from Col. v. Smallhausen, Baron Glockenspiel cut short the ceremonial greetings offered by Bishop ter Plonck, and marched to the aid of his Ally. At nightfall he made contact with the latter close by the village of Lobrau, nestling beneath a line of ridges to the north. Upon the heights, the two commanders could see stretching along their length several campfires. Clearly Antoine Noailles's plan was to hold the heights and hope that the Diocesan and Imperial troops would dash themselves to pieces in attempting an attack. Why he had advanced without waiting for the Herzog's help was unclear, though he allowed afterwards that he hoped that a victory would effectively have placed the rebellious north in a position to secede from the Bishopric and form a State independent not only of Ulrichsburg, but also of any substantial obligation to Rechburg.
|Colonel von Smallhausen's sketch plan of Lobrau,|
with Baron Glockenspiel's attack plan pencilled over.
The follow day's battle began shortly after daybreak and the rebel army was reeling, shattered and breaking over the hills shortly after midday. The Imperialist foot, attacking frontally in the centre smashed down the opposition between the tavern and the village, whilst Smallhausen's tiny force held the left flank. So thorough did the victory seem that Glockenspiel and von Smallhausen thought the revolt was over, then and there.
|Baron Glockenspiel's army advancing. |
Upon the ridges, the Ulrichstein rebels wait
But that evening word came back from the cavalry leading the pursuit. It said that that very morning the Herzog of Rechburg had crossed the border into Ulrichstein with all his power...
To be continued...
Note: some of the pics accompanying this posting are relevent only insofar as they depict troops belonging to several States within the Wholly Romantic Empire.
*Bishop Hatto? Google it! :-)