Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Woodscrew Armies Campaign - News Flash


July 30, 1889

China Reclaims Lost Territories

Chinese Army On The Move

Tenth Army Mobilizes

It never rains but the heavens open wide and discharge a deluge upon deserving and undeserving alike. Whilst the attentions of our leaders and military have been engaged upon our northern and eastern frontiers, we in the West have been left to our own devices with no succour but that which might be afforded by Tenth Army, commanded by General Thos. J. Jackson.

Major-General T.J. Jackson
An Army from China has been discovered to have entered the Forbidden Zone, to make good for the Emperor his claim to the territories stripped from his Imperium twenty years ago. Such was the outcome of the aggressive war waged by China against this country. Clearly, the lesson administered by the Union has been forgotten, if it were ever learned. 

Let us remind readers, however, that the Denver Discourse  demanded to know why the vast tract of country upon our western borders was not annexed outright.  Why was the frontier not extended two hundred miles or more westward?  It seemed to Us at the time that such a Destiny was Manifestly written in the stars, if it were not in the signed Treaty and thence into historical record. But no. Vast tracts of valuable territory was to be left fallow, abandoned but for stragglers and strays and woebegone waifs.  It was to remain the home of bear, bison and bobcat. Just the occasional patrol, no doubt easily evaded, were what remained to keep the region from repopulating.

Meanwhile, just about our whole army has been engaged in sanguinary wars far from this region, only the Tenth Army left to maintain watch and ward over the hundreds of miles of frontier. The Chinese have invaded the Forbidden Zone a month since, with a vast army - reports indicate 100,000 troops at least - equipped with modern weapons. Against this formidable array, Genl Jackson proposes to oppose his army, weakened, be it noted, by a whole brigade - a whole quarter of his strength. The whole of 40th Brigade is engaged in detached duty in Mexico - a service of such importance, according to government and military sources,  that it may not be recalled. If General Jackson can muster more than 20,000 troops with the standard complement of supporting arms, it would be a miracle. And what can 20,000 avail against five times that number? 
We extend, of course, to Tenth Army all the best wishes and 'good lucks' in the world. But the General Officer Commanding is well known for his eccentricities, infamous for his overweening ambition, and notorious as a rigid martinet. These might be overlooked in a commander of impressive martial appearance and unblemished record. Major-General Jackson is distinguished by neither. His appearance is slovenly and dowdy, the ancient kepi he favours pulled low over his eyes; and, mounted, his seat is said to be the worst in the whole Army. His record might generously be described as chequered, the occasional good conduct punctuated by acts of dilatoriness and downright insubordination. He is a known pettifogging mediocrity who owes his exalted rank to his longevity of service, friends in high places and the ill-fortune of his betters.

To such a one must we then entrust our safety, and the security of our Western Frontier.  So, what has been the upshot? The General pokes his nose into an ambush at the first contact with the enemy.  Of course, our gallant soldiers, with their superb equipment and training, got him out of that Yangzigu scrape, little credit to him. What does this 'Napoleon of the West' do next?  Hangs out one of his brigades to face unaided a vastly superior enemy force, whilst he himself seeks some minor glory elsewhere.  He reckoned without the sublime abilities of his subordinate, Brigadier-General Isaac Bidwell, who, holding off three or four times his numbers for a whole day, extricated his command still in being and in good order. Perhaps in this able commander we might observing a credible replacement when his Army commander receives from his Court Martial the cashiering he richly deserves.

Action at Yangzigu - by an Eye Witness

Latest news is that General Jackson is still in command, but two brigades, not yet fully refitted from their exertions against other foes, are being attached to Tenth Army, if they have not joined that army already. It seems that General Jackson is as profligate with the lives of his men as Crassus on a spending spree was with his money. The commander of 19th Brigade (5th Army), Brig-Genl Josh. Chamberlain is well known for his exemplary record; that of 17th Brigade, Brig-Genl Jubal A. Early is renowned for pugnacity, not unalloyed with a certain rash carelessness. 

This writer has heard that the Army Commander proposes to form the two under-strength Brigades into a small army-corps, under the command of General Early. Are we to add to General Jackson's crimes and shortcomings that of nepotism? General Early is well known to the Army commander; Chamberlain much less so. To be sure, General Early is senior, but what should that avail when a commander of superior merit is to hand? 

The campaign remains ongoing. According to the latest reports from troops returning from the front, the Chinese Army is still at large in the Forbidden Zone. So too is Jackson's command. We await further events with hope considerably intermingled with trepidation. 

(Special Correspondent) 


  1. Excellent stuff! Looking forward to more pithy reports from the DD in due course:)

    1. Steve J -
      It seems likely that the editor of this scurrilous rag might have more to say anent this campaign, and its characters. I'll probably have to find a name for the fellow. How does Aloysius D. Praughan sound? He will have had inveigled somewhere within the Army machinery a 'Special Correspondent' and artist Frank Vizetelly. Let's suggest that the article's quick sketches (my own) are the product of Mr Vizetelly's pencil, commissioned especially for this article.
      Archduke Piccolo

  2. Replies
    1. Hi Neil -
      It certainly expresses a jaundiced view!
      Archduke Piccolo

  3. That is just SO good !!!!!! I love the illustrations, lots of great research there, this has really made the campaign come to life in an extraordinary way. Even the language fits the period perfectly. I agree too that this is the "Yellow Press" at work for sure. Regards.

  4. Hi Tony -
    I THOUGHT you might find it entertaining. The action picture is some stock illustration, but the sketches are mine, bunged together as I wrote up the article. It has been a while since I drew anything, so I was fairly pleased at how they came out.
    All the best,
    Archduke Piccolo