Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Ulrichstein Rebellion: bloodied, but unbowed... ....

My apologies to readers who have had to endure a considerable wait for this instalment to appear.  The article was finished a week ago, but I needed some pictures...  In the meantime my thanks go out to recent additions to my list of followers, the latest four being Geordie (an exiled fog), Mini Mike, Grenzer John and Tim Gow.

THE STORY RESUMES... That the troops of Rechburg crossed in numbers rather fewer than the "Herzog's whole power', showed merely that Rumour was a jade given more to exaggeration than to lying.  Planning indeed to intervene in far greater strength, the Herzog Paulus found his schemes upset by a ticklish situation that had suddenly erupted upon the Herzogtum's border with Bergatonia.  In this, he fancied he discerned the Emperor's long reach, picking at the scab of the running sore that characterised relations between Rechburg and Bergatonia.  Choleric and suspicious, Prince Rupprecht required little goading into violent action, and less persuasion if he thought the goad was being applied by the Herzog's hand.  The gradual onset of bodily decrepitude was not affecting the mind of Emperor Violoncello, withal, nor his habitual exploitation of any and all opportunities to improve the chances of success of any of his enterprises.  The Herzog's suspicion was right on the money, for all the good it did him.
Ewige-Blumenkraft and Gimmeitor-Oels
Infantry in the service of the Herzogtum von Rechburg.

But it was the precipitate, and as he saw it, premature advance by the rebels that gave Herzog Paulus cause to fulminate so explosively upon receipt of the news that his Ministers feared an apoplexy.  At length calming down, he limited the help he was prepared to invest in the Ulrichstein affair, given that the return was likely to be less tangible than he had earlier counted upon.  The Emperor's belief that the Herzog hoped to profit territorially from the unhappiness in Ulrichstein was founded in his sure knowledge of Paulus's ambition, and that to gain much, the Herzog was prepared to invest much.  But limited likely returns drew much less enthusiasm from the cautious Duke.  No poker player, he!

Ewige-Blumenkraft Infantry displaying its new flag. The golden double-headed raptor
symbolises Herzog Paulus's soon to be announced title of Defender of the Pure Faith.
Antoine Noailles was marching too soon; Antoine Noailles would (probably) suffer a terrible defeat; Antoine Noailles would have much to answer for.  So thought the Herzog.  It seemed likely the rebellion was doomed.  Yet His Grace well knew that if he was ever going to realise much influence in Ulrichstein, he would have to make a credible gesture of some kind.  So, rather sooner than he had intended, a small column of horse, foot and guns, under command of General Count Sigurd von Raunchfester, crossed the Ulrichstein border on the very morning the rebels were stopped cold at Lobrau.

The Rechburg contingent, small enough in all conscience, comprised the following:

GOC General Count Sigurd von Raunchfester
Ewige-Blumenkraft Infantry ... 36 figs (720 foot)
Gimmeitor-Oels Infantry ... 36 figures (720 foot)
Count von Klutzenputz Cavalry ... 16 figures (320 troopers)
Schaggenstein Uhlans ... 16 figures (320 troopers)
1st Field Company, Rechburg Artillery ... 10 figures, 2 guns (200 men, 8 pieces)
Flags of the Rechburg Infantry (in my world of Europeia).
 The mid blue and madder red belong to the Ewige-Blumenkraft and
Gimmeitor-Oels Infantry respectively. Barely visible in the
 central shield is the cypher of Herzog Paulus.
These were made using the Microsoft  'Paint' software.
No great field force, it is true - just 114 figures and 2 guns (2280 men and 8 guns), yet with it, Count Raunchfester hoped to salvage something from the rebellion that seemed to him headed for disaster.  Things were not promising.  This was despite the exaggerated news  of Rechburg's intervention causing Baron Glockenspiel's Imperialists to pause, a delay prolonged by a lengthy spell of bad weather that kept the Imperial Army movebound for the time being.  Somewhere to the south behind them it was rumoured that the Archduke Piccolo was marching to join the baron's corps; with what force could only be conjectured.  Finally, messengers from the east relayed the unwelcome tidings that the Kurfurst Phoenix of Altmark-Uberheim had, in answer the Emperor's call,  marched into Seehausen and pressed into the place a sizeable garrison.  Reportedly under one of the Kurfurst's more deliberate commanders, this force was thought to comprise:
General Plodt's infantry.  From nearest camera:
49th Diericke Fusiliers. 1st Winterfeldt Infantry,
 Blankenstein Pandour Regiment.

GOC Helmut Plodt 
Winterfeldt Infantry ...36 figs (720)
Diericke Fusiliers...32 figs (640)
Blankenstein Pandour Regiment...19 figs (380)
Prittwitz Cavalry... 19 figs (380)
von Ruesch (Black) Hussars ... 19 figs (380)
Field Company Altmark Artillery  10 figs, 2 guns..(200. 8 guns)

Total Altmark-Uberheim:
87 foot figs, 38 horse, 10 artillery 2 guns - 135 figs and 2 guns
(1740 foot, 760 horse, 200 artillery - 2700 with 8 guns)

Truth be told, although Noailles, the other rebel leaders, and their sponsoring merchants welcomed the intervention and help from Rechburg, they were equally inclined to hold the Herzog's motives more than a little suspect.  They sought some kind of independence from Ulrichsburg; an end to tithes (which really amounted to a secular tax of his Protestant subjects so far as His Most Catholic Excellency the Bishop was concerned); freedom from the Excise Tax for the merchant classes (which amounted to the freedom to impose their own excise taxes); and if possible the creation of a 'Holy Republicke of Godde' in Ulrichstein.  If the whole country could not be brought into this republic, then secession of the Protestant cities would have been an acceptable 'lesser solution' to the problem.

That the Herzog aspired to to the royal status of 'Koenig' was not only an open secret throughout Europeia, but also tended to undermine the widespread respect that was due to his otherwise upright and open character.  We have already seen that his generosity was contingent upon his ambition.   What the rebel leaders did not want was to tranfer their subjugation from 'His Excellency' to 'His Grace', even if the latter was a co-religionist.  For one thing, they would have been subject to the Rechburg excise regime, and it seemed likely that their riverine mercantile importance would fall into decline compared with the maritime commerce among Rechburg's seaports.  For descendants of Gascon and Huguenot refugee merchants and exiled shipping magnates, such an outcome was not to be borne.
Altmark-Uberheim Horse travelling through thick country:
The Black Hussars, and the von Prittwitz Cavalry.
Pandours scour the woodlands against any ambush.

Such was the motive behind the apparently premature advance of Antoine Noailles's army.  Its success would have gained for its leaders a great deal.  It was the magnitude rather than the fact of its failure that threatened to bring the uprising at once to an end.

Reaching Zerbst shortly after dark, Count Raunchfester very soon heard of the Ulrichstein rebels' sorry defeat at Lobrau.  By nightfall the few well mounted of the fugitives from that battle began arriving in the town.   There the Rechburg Count quickly arranged, after due consultation with the town's governing body, for the remnants of Noailles's force to be rounded up for reabsorbtion into a reconstituted insurrectionist army.  Over the next few days the survivors of the defeat trickled in, until at last, accompanied by the I Battalion -  almost the only unit still in good order - a weary and dishevelled Antoine Noailles reported his return.

His failure brought upon his head no particular blame, but rather continued confidence and resolution among the rebel leadership.  They had known the risks.  They remained prepared to accept them.  That Count Raunchfester refrained for his part from even the mildest rebuke was not mere tact, but policy.  However limited the Herzog's contribution, he certainly wished for its success.

For the time being, it was the weather that proved the salvation of the uprising.  Within a day of the Lobrau action, the heavens opened and brought all military movement to a halt.  Late as the season was, it came as little surprise to anyone that the quick succession of storms of rain, hail, sleet and snow put a final term to the campaign of 1738.
Antoine Noailles's dilemma:  whom to attack first?
As the Imperialist commanders accepted the inevitable delays with as much philosophical patience as they could muster, they brought up recruits to replace their losses.  Archduke Piccolo kept his troops about Ulrichstein, partly to ease the supply situation, but also in hopes that the rebels would never really discover his strength.

The two Imperial corps comprised:
GOC Marshal Baron von Glockenspiel (at Bernburg)
Hildberghausen Infantry  ... 36 figs
Alt Colloredo Infantry ... 36 figs
Baden-Durlach Infantry ... 36 figs
Khevenhuller Dragoons ... 19 figs
Nadasty Hussars ... 19 figs
1st Field Company ... 10 figs, 2 guns

GOC-in-C Archduke Piccolo (at Ulrichsburg)
Line Infantry ... 36 figs
Esterhazy Infantry ... 36 figs
1st Feldjagerkorps ... 19 figs
Trautmannsdorf Cavalry ... 19 figs
Birkenfeld Cavalry ... 19 figs
Anhalt-Zerbst Cavalry ... 19 figs
2nd Field Coy ... 10 figs and 2 guns.

Total by Imperial troops (Trockenbeeren-Auslese)
199 foot figs, 95 horsed, 20 artillery - 314 figs with 4 guns
(3980 foot, 1900 horse, 600 artillery - 6280 troops with 16 guns.

Meanwhile, His Excellency had been buying up and gathering what corn he could to accompany the army and supply the shortages he knew the northern cities continued to endure.  That a large proportion were in the event eaten up by the Imperial troops was due simply to the exigencies of the situation.  At least the town and countryfolk about Ulrichsburg and Bernburg did not starve.

The Uprising had its reprieve, and made the most of it.  Such volunteers that presented themselves were welcomed into the army, most criminals took the offer of freedom in exchange for military service, and the merchants' gold brought in mercenaries from far and wide.  In a breathtaking piece of effrontery, the captain of the merchant vessel Passepartout, calling in at Seehausen carrying a large consignment of uniforms of Britannican make destined for Jotun-Erbsten, made over the entire cargo to the rebel cause.  Under the very noses of the Electoral troops occupying the place - the Elector had ordered that normal commerce be allowed as much as possible to continue - bales of uniforms were smuggled into local warehouses, and thence in small consignments over several weeks up the road to Zerbst.  The outraged howls from Britannica and Jotun-Erbsten were silenced partly by gold, but mostly be the feigned ignorance of all parties as to the fate and whereabouts of Passepartout and her cargo.  It was true, however, that a certain Scaramouche vessel, under a master with a different name, flying a different flag, and carrying a different rig, drew suspicion on account of its similarity to the infamous but lost Passepartout.  The vessel disappeared into the North Sea and no trace of her was otherwise ever found.

Now uniformly attired  - only 1st Battalion, on account of its fine performance at Lobrau were allowed to retain their brown coats - the Rebel army began to assume the likeness of a regular army.  But Marshal Noailles  and the other commanders knew that their army remained a uniformed rabble.  The mercenaries knew their trade, but as no formed body of such troops ever arrived, even the units thus raised presented far less cohesion than desired.  It had to be hoped that the Rechburg contingent would supply the solid kernel the Army badly needed.

Ulrichstein Rebel Army: GOC-in-C Marshal Antoine Noailles
1st brigade:  Marshal-General Ritter von Rancke
1st, 2nd, 8th, 11th Battalions e@ 19 figs .... Total 76 figs (1520 foot)

2nd Brigade:  Colonel Maximilien Grandmarnier
3rd, 4th, 9th Battalions e@ 19 figs .... Total 57 figs (1140 foot)

3rd Brigade:  General Arnim von Arnim
5th, 6th, 10th Battalions e@ 19 figs ...Total 57 figs (1140 foot)

Cavalry Brigade:  General Maxim Trumpeter
1st, 2nd Cavalry; 3rd Hussars e@ 15 figs .... Total 45 figs (900 horse)

Army Troops:
7th (Jager) Battalion: @ 19 figs 
1st, 2nd Field Company @ 10 figs, 2 guns ... Total 39 figs, 4 guns. (780 all ranks; 16 pieces)

Total Rebel Force;
209 foot figs, 45 horse, 20 gunners - 274 with 4 guns
(4180 foot, 900 horse, 400 artillery - 5480 with 16 guns)

Together with their Rechburg allies, the Rebels could field a respectable force of 7760 troops with 24 guns (i.e.338 figures and 6 guns).  But against them, the Imperialists could bring greater numbers, and better trained.

As January ice and snow thawed into February's glutenous mud and gelatinous mire, training went apace within the towns' plazas throughout the Bishopric.  February dried out into March, and the first bright sunny day that promised more to come.  At once the armies were on the move.  Lying at Zerbst, Antoine and his generals had discussed all winter how to respond to the superior strength arrayed against them. But how?  That was the question.

We'll supply their decision next time.


  1. oh my what a story... and a good one. I really enjoyed reading all this. I hope that the rebels can put up a brave fight though I would like to see Archduke Piccolo come out on top :-D

    1. We'll just have to see. The Imperialists (if you count the contingent from Altmark-Uberheim) have the numbers and the better quality. But the rebels' strategic position isn't altogether hopeless....

  2. Okay I have bitten the bait, carry on Ion!

    1. I hope you continue to enjoy the narrative as it unfolds... :-)

  3. Hi Ion,
    Great narrative, a thoroughly enjoyable and believable read. And I love the names. Raunchfester. Ewige Blumenkraft! How about a unit of rebel anarchists called the Discordian Legion?
    Marvelous stuff.

    1. Hi John -
      Thanks John. I'll bear your suggestion in mind, though it sounds as much like an underground movement to me. Something that carries on a subversive resistance should ever the Revolution fail. Or, maybe, succeed! Thanks for the idea!