Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Battle Honor: Shannon's Irish Guard

Stepping out of narrative:

Despite their failure to win the day, the resilience of Shannon's Irish Guard was so exceptional as to merit a battle honor for First Vergoldeten. The cards were totally with Arnold's forces, Asgar's card only turning up once. Yet, Shannon's managed to pass one morale check after the next despite being reduced to less than 50% strength, not only to avoid breaking but even to advance nearer to an enemy and loose a rather brutal first volley of their own once their card turned.

Under the circumstances, I've decided their heroism needs to be recognized.

Vergoldeten - Arnold vs Asgar

To the South of Vergoldeten....

As the column of purple and black moved forward, the men of the Black Brigade of Prince Arnold's force sang their favorite marching song of late, the mingling of their voices rising on the air as the afternoon sun continued to ward off some of the season's chill. Their boots tramped a rhythm upon the roadway, while afar the handful of mounted scouts could be seen appearing and disappearing over the hills or into the woods, returning with reports and then vanishing again.

With Vergoldeten in distant view, the men of the Black Brigade wheeled efficiently into battle line each in turn, advancing to the beat of drums and the cries of their officers and NCOs. In the distance, they could hear the sounds of similar actions the other side of the hills they now advanced towards, and the first stray crackles of scattered fire as the scouts of Arnold met the scouts of Asgar, the thin screen driving off the enemy scouts to prevent their advance beyond the hill.

Meanwhile, to the west, Brigadier Wim Gronenborn of Asgar's force worked to get his own troops into battle line to face the expected engagement, and hurry them into motion towards the hill that had quickly become the decisive point of the field. The undulations of terrain and the eagerness of Shannon's Irish Guard on his right were beginning to separate his line out into a slight echelon, the leftmost battalion lagging behind.

Fortune was not with Asgar's forces this day, as the Black Brigade topped the rise in excellent order, disciplined troops opening up volley fire upon the still advancing troops of Asgar. With the 7th Musketeers on the left lagging slightly behind, the 8th in the center were to take the brunt of the opening volleys from both the Emerich and Potente Musketeers, while Shannon's Irish Guard traded volleys with the elite Schwarze Eber Fusiliers on the right. The advance was checked, and under the withering fire of two full battalions, the 8th stalled, wavered, and finally broke in disarray, leaving a gap in Gronenborn's lines that the 7th was proving still too sluggish to fill. There was hope at least on his right, as Shannon's regiment continued to hold their ground against the Schwarze Eber.

Elated with his initial success, Brigadier Färberböck of the Black Brigade pushed his musketeers forward, bringing the lagging 7th under threat at last. As Brigadier Gronenborn moved in to whip the 7th into action, Shannon's regiment shined as they executed a wheeling movement under fire, closing the gap with the 7th on their own and again engaging the Emerich Musketeers from their new position. This seemed to give the 7th strength, an opening volley from their guns giving the Potente Musketeers something to consider.

Meanwhile, the sound of heavy firing to the North forced the commander of Asgar's forces to consider his position, and the potential of finding further enemies approaching his resilient but weakened command. Discretion, it is said, is the better part of valor. With Shannon's regiment suffering mounting casualties and the Schwarze Eber Fusiliers shifting position to threaten their flank, Gronenborn assessed the situation and gave the order to withdraw, conceding the field to the Black Brigade. For his part, Färberböck was content to claim the field and shift his forces northwards towards the town, his scouts already alerting him to the even larger battle shaping up to the north....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Prince Arnold's Black Brigade at Vergoldeten

Uniforms of the forces loyal to Prince Arnold at the battle.

Schwarze Eber Fusiliers

Emmerich Musketeers

Potente Musketeers

Prince Asgar's Third Brigade at Vergoldeten

Uniforms of the forces loyal to Prince Asgar at the battle.

Shannon's Irish Guard

7th Line

8th Line

Bad Nachtschwein Uniforms at Vergoldeten

I do have a full battle report planned as well as some Unit Profiles, but I thought I would post illustrations of the uniforms of the units present at the Battle of Vergoldeten. As always, thanks to David of the Not By Appointment blog for his excellent templates.

First up, Bad Nachtschwein!

Freikorps O'Toole

Freikorps Schütte

Gebühren Eber Grenadiers

Fassbinder Musketeers

Vergoldeten Convergence

As feared, the 11th of November saw the clash of arms upon the fields surrounding the once peaceful town of Vergoldeten. And indeed, the battle was more than the residents expected. Those who had not yet chosen to depart in the face of the approaching storm found themselves with no safe direction to make their escape, as four armies converged upon the town from separate directions.

To the south, the quarreling Princes Asgar and Arnold proved to have fielded roughly equal forces. Fighting for Prince Arnold were the men of the Black Brigade, led by Brigadier Max Färberböck, long considered one of the finest officers produced by Ober-Schweinsberg, perhaps even one of the finest on the continent. The veteran Schwarze Eber Fusiliers anchor the brigade alongside the crisply trained but little bloodied battalions of the Emmerich Musketeers and the Potente Musketeers.

Arrayed against these units were Asgar's Third Brigade, anchored on the elite warriors of Shannon's Irish Guard, a unit formerly tasked with guarding the Landgrave's winter palace and maintaining the security of the southern borders of Ober-Schweinsberg. The veteran 7th Line and less experienced 8th Line finished out the brigade, which was commanded by the veteran Brigadier Wim Gronenborn.

Meanwhile, residents of the northernmost part of the city had an even larger spectactle before them as the forces of Hesse-Engelburg and Bad Nachtschwein clashed. The Bad Nachtschwein force was observed to be as large as those committed by both Princes put together, perhaps a preparation for the possible need to fight both formations. Under the experienced hand of Generalmajor Klaus Vilsmaier, Bad Nachtschwein had dispatched their 2nd and 4th brigades, the former composed of troops raised from the League cities, while the latter was made up entirely of mercenary Freikorps troops.

Commanded by Brigadier Jacob Vilsmaier, the 4th Brigade would not find itself handicapped by a mere political appointee, though the Brigadier in question was the younger brother of his commanding officer. Indeed, Jacob is well regarded as the better of the two, and many predict will eclipse his older brother if given the chance. The anchor of the 4th Brigade are the experienced mercenaries of Freikorps O'Toole, Irish expatriates who have served in many wars and localized conflicts. While not regarded as highly as Shannon's Irish Guard, they are still a veteran unit with not only experience but ranks swollen to unusual size by their exceptional pay rate. In sharp contrast to O'Toole is its brigade mate, Freikorps Schütte. A sadly more typical Freikorps, Schütte was formed largely from deserters and former prisoners of war and was not expected to accomplish much more than providing a garrison battalion for the town after the fight.

Meanwhile, the 2nd Brigade under Brigadier Arnold Wenders were raw formations, well trained but saddled with a distinctly lackluster commander whose position was owed largely to his connections amongst the ruling families of the League. The Gebühren Eber Grenadiers were recruited from among the finest families of the League, and equipped with lavish uniforms to match their patron's wealth. No less well equipped was their sister formation, the Fassbinder Musketeers. Unbloodied before the battle, they were expected to perform well.

Perhaps the largest surprise for all concerned, however, was the size of the force committed by Hesse-Engelburg. Generalmajor Count Manfred von Waffenschmidt led three brigades into battle to the north of the town, their course taking them on an intercept approach to meet the Bad Nachtschwein troops well outside the town.

The brigade of Brigadier Werner Heintzen led the line of march, consisting of the newly formed Sumpflöwen Musketeers backed up by the veteran troops of the Lintzer Musketeers, who already bore upon their standard the first battle honor of the Ober-Schweinsberg conflict.

Second in the line was the brigade of Brigadier Rudolf Richter, comprising the Niederwiesen Musketeers and the Grauerhimmel Fusiliers. Both units were well regarded, with a mixture of men of good heritage and no small number of men with prior experience of battle.

Intended primarily as a reserve formation for committment if needed, the brigade of Brigadier Franz Linkmeyer counted an additional two battalions. The first battalion was the well-regarded von Platzen Grenadiers, resplendent in their uniforms of black and red that gave significant contrast to the gray coats of the musketeer and fusilier units. No less colorful were their companion unit, the Schottische Windhunde Musketeers, the "Scottish Greyhounds" of Baron Keith MacArthur in their kilts and bonnets.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Pocket History of Ober-Schweinsberg

The ancestors of the current Landgrave received the land in gift after the first Landgrave, then a landless knight, raised and personally led a body of men into the stronghold of a powerful robber baron to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a nearby Duke. His success in not only rescuing the daughter but eliminating the band of robbers endeared him to the Duke, earning him not only the grant of the land of the former Baron but also the hand of the Duke's daughter in marriage.

Such, at least, is the official history, though there are those mostly from neighboring provinces who contend that the robber Baron was actually a partner to the Landgrave-to-be, and the entire kidnapping plot was simply a scheme to allow the knight and the daughter to marry with the father's blessings.

Regardless of the rumors, however, the Landgraviate is a small but proud country with a long tradition of arms and has been known to provide mercenary companies to many of the larger states in their various conflicts through the years.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

New Drums Beating in Ober-Schweinsberg

It is often thought that the chillier temperatures fall, the less men's blood will run hot for war. But this is not always the case. Rumors are spreading along the trade routes from traveler to traveler, rumors that the chilled war in Ober-Schweinsberg is about to heat up again. And why not, observe the grumpier amongst the lot. All the rest of Europe is filled with uphevals, great wars, and petty strifes, so why not Ober-Schweinsberg?

The Armies of Prince Asgar and Prince Arnold have abruptly left their winter quarters and are reported to be marching towards the town of Vergoldeten on Ober-Schweinsberg's northern trade routes. Up till now, the town has remained somewhat of a neutral territory, but that all appears ready to change, if the two armies do not divert from their present course.

In the town, rumors fly of a bar-room brawl involving off-duty Irish mercenaries and representatives variously claimed to be from the Bad Nachtschwein League, either of the two Princes, Stagonia, or even the Koronet Korpus or Hesse-Engelburg. Maybe all of the above. As near as can be pieced together from the varrying rumors, the brawl appears to have begun when one person accused another person of having stolen a set of solid silver pig statues from the first someone's luggage. Accusations and blows appear to have flown from there, and the fight is reported to have left at least three people dead, though no one can agree on the identity of the casualties.

Some speculate that the importance of the city for trade and its nearness to the Hesse-Engelburg border may even draw Engleburg forces into the conflict, and local residents have reported various bodies of mercenaries moving along the roads towards the town, perhaps in someone's employ or perhaps simply speculating upon the likelihood that they can pick up employment on arrival. It remains to be seen how many forces will find themselves embroiled and how events will play themselves out, but a number of residents and merchants are reportedly leaving for outlying villages until the matter is settled.