Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A surprise for the surprise attack


“Wake up General, its time”.
General Sir Steven Ferguson could hear the words but surely it was a dream, no a nightmare, god I have only just gone to bed he thought through the fog of a very heavy head.
“What is it Evens, who the hell told you to wake me for god’s sake?”
“You did sir, its 3am, and you told me you wanted to be up and ready by four and that I was to wake you at 3am.”
Damn, thought Sir Ferguson, damn, damn. My god my head hurts, it must have been some party last night. Memories were slowly coming back as he rose and sat on the side of the bed, his head in his hands, god my throat is a sewer.

“Evans I need some of your reviver” General Ferguson demanded.

The General was not sure what the reviver consisted of, all he knew was it worked and within 30 minutes his stomach would be settled and his hangover might even be gone.
His servant handed the General a small glass, Sir Ferguson reminded himself, don’t smell the stuff straight down. Taking a deep breath he swallowed the foul tasting elixir down.

His servant handed him a cup of tea,
“Now wash it down with this sir and in a few minutes you will be as right as rain”.

As his stomach protested at the intrusion of the foul elixir he remembered that his staff had put on a surprise party to celebrate the news that came by courier yesterday, the Parliamentary High command had promoted him to General.
Then he vaguely remembered being presented to some woman, he quickly looked over at the other side of the bed,
“Where is the Lady Evens?”
The errr lady went back to the village a few hours ago sir, she wanted to be home before her husband woke up.
“Quite right too Evans, right then help me get dressed and then summon the staff and commanders”.

“They are already here sir, down stairs and might I say a sorry sight they make, and before you ask General I don’t have that much Elixir to cure them all.”

“Well damn them let them suffer, it’s their fault anyway.”

The newly raised General fully dressed and stomach finally settled made his way down stairs of the Hounds Tavern, assembled below were the staff officers and commanders of his units, and it was easy to see which were the staff officers, many of them looked rather green and very hung-over.

“Right then, Colonel Sorensen, the maps where are they?”

Colonel Sorenson was Lord Bedford’s man, he was Sir Ferguson guessed placed as his second in command to spy on him and make sure he didn’t do anything stupid.
“The maps are already here sir, on the table.”

Ferguson eyed the Colonel up, my god he is immaculately dressed and doesn’t look a bit the worse for wear, but then Fergusn didn’t recall seeing him drinking at all.
The General walked over to the table and surveyed the map.
“Right then gentlemen please gather round”
Taking up a piece of paper he noted it was his order of battle

1st Foot, 2nd Foot, 3rd Buffs, 90th Foot, 114th Fusiliers
29th Foot,
103rd Light Infantry
3 Militia Battalions
1st regiment Dragoon Guards (Veteran)
15th Light Horse Regiment (Dragoons)
2 Medium Batteries




“Now then there will be no need for any complicated moves or grand strategies, our target is the town of Lyndhurst, and there are three roads that lead to the town from our positions here in Eling.
The north road via Netly marsh, not a good prospect with all those marshes and waterways, the southern road via Deep Leap ridge, which means easy defensive terrain for the enemy and finally the centre road over Hounds Down Ridge.
Obviously Gentlemen we will be taking the easiest and shortest route to Lyndhurst, the centre road.
Colonel Mackay has the 15th dragoons out on piquet duty on Hounds Down ridge, what have you to report Mackay.

“There have been no signs of the enemy apart from a squadron of enemy cavalry on their side of the border, like me simply on Piquet duty. We interrogated a few travelers yesterday and they report enemy infantry were arriving in Lyndhurst we have unsubstantiated estimates that would place between 3-5 Battalions in the area.”

“Very well thank Colonel, now apart from the 3-5 enemy battalions in the town we can expect to find more cavalry and perhaps a battery of guns.
Now this is how we will advance, Colonel Mackay along with Colonel Murray of the 103rd Light Infantry will lead the advance, I will be with them.
Colonel Sorenson will bring up the rest of the main body. Now gentlemen the enemy may know we are coming, hopefully they don’t but I cannot expect to be that lucky; so this will be our first battle in this war and I and all free Englishmen will be watching, so don’t disappoint me or them.
We had the victory party last night, now it behooves us to win the battle, now go and get back to your commands and get them moving, Speed and audacity gentlemen, speed and audacity.”

As the men filed out of the tavern, Corporal Evans handed his General a plate of eggs and bacon, a toothless grin on the servants face; the sight of the greasy meal made his stomach rumble in protest.

“Don’t push your luck Evans, you are still not too old to be put back in the front line” General Ferguson snapped as he stepped out and joined Colonel Sorensen who was already mounted.

The general was just about to give orders to Sorensen when he was interrupted by a commotion further up the village, quickly he strode up to where 2 Dragoons had just ridden in, they were speaking with their Colonel who had been about to leave for his command.

“What the hell is the matter Colonel?” General Ferguson demanded as he stormed up to the dragoons.

“Sir these men are from my command, they have been sent back with a message, the 15th Dragoons have been pushed off Hounds Down Ridge.”

“What the hell do you mean pushed off ?” General Ferguson demanded, looking at the Dragoons

One of the Couriers a sergeant saluted,
“General we were surprised by two Royalist Cavalry regiments and a Light Infantry Battalion; they attacked around three o’clock this morning. They were upon us before we could react and we simply hustled from the ridge. The major sent me and Tompkins here back with the warning.”

General Ferguson was stunned, his staff had gathered around and word was spreading that the Royalists were attacking.

“Sergeant where in the hell is your regiment now then?”

“Major Harris has formed them up near the bottom of the ridge sir, they are dismounted and preparing to defend the hedges, but when we left the Royalists weren’t advancing, in fact they seemed content to just sit up on that ridge, Sir.”

General Ferguson turned to Colonel Sorenson,
“Colonel take the 103rd , the 1st Dragoon Guards and the artillery and join the dragoons, for  god sake stop the bloody Royalists from advancing, I will come up with the rest of the army.
It could be just a raid; why else would they have stopped?”

“Indeed sir, either that or they are waiting for more light, but either way I will make sure they don’t come any further General.”

“Well make sure of it.” The General added as Colonel Sorenson set about gathering the advance guard.

General Ferguson ordered his bugler to sound the assembly.

As he strode back to his horse he couldn’t help but wonder why the Royalists had chosen this day to attack and what luck to have advanced an hour before he intended to attack. One thing was for sure, he had to retake the ridge, the Royalists could not be allowed to fortify it or the Teste crossing behind Eling would be threatened; besides there was the shame of having to defend when he had announced so damn loudly to all and sundry including Milord Bedford that he would be in Lyndhurst Township by this evening.

Well he pondered to himself it simply means the battle is earlier and not later, but that damn ridge could be a beast to retake.

Hounds Down Ridge

Soldiers of the Royalist 1st Light Infantry make a surprise attack on Hounds Down Ridge

General Leopold Anders was extremely pleased with his morning attack on the ridge, everything had worked like clockwork, his men had taken the ridge with only 2 wounded, sadly the enemy only suffered a few wounded and lost a few men as prisoners, so it could hardly even been called a skirmish. However whatever it was called he now had the ridge as a blocking position. Later if that damn General Ferguson was too afraid to attack, the ridge would make an excellent launching site for his own attack on Eling, but for now he wanted to wait and let the bloody murderous scum of a General try his luck against a prepared enemy.

Now as he looked down into the valley below in the early dawn light of day he could just make out a few enemy dragoons hiding behind some hedges.
He sat there absent mindedly rubbing the stump of his arm, a arm that he had lost when the then Sir Ferguson raided his house with a bunch of murderous pirates, in the same raid his nephew had been murdered, so yes this was payback time and he intended to teach the play General what it was to fight an enemy that knew he was coming.

The Royalists had plenty of warning, weeks ago they had sent spies into Eling with orders to sit and wait. A few days ago he received word that the Royalist army was gathering in Eling, and as late as  last night one of his agents had sent a message that Sir Ferguson had just been promoted to General and they were having a party to celebrate, the woman who passed the message also noted the enemy would be attacking at 4am this morning. So it had been an easy task for him to move his own army forward an hour before the enemy themselves advanced. It had surprised him how easily he had taken the ridge line, clearly the enemy piquets had been asleep. No matter it was to his advantage.
As he looked behind him, moving along the road  from Lyndhurst his army was gathering, on the ridge line the artillery were already deploying, yes this was one battle he looked forward to with some relish.
He knew his order of battle of by heart

1st   Infantry Brigade: –
1st Lyndhurst Light Infantry Battalion
1st Regiment = 25th Foot, 26th Foot,
2nd regiment = 27th Inniskilling 99th Foot
3rd Regiment = 28th Foot, 102nd Foot
4th Regiment = 30th Fusiliers, 104th Foot

3rd  Dragoon Brigade
3rd Dragoon Regiment
4th Dragoon Regiment

2 medium Batteries


Next Issue - The Parliamentary army attack on Hounds Down Ridge

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Strategic Situation



Having the inaugural meeting of the Parliamentarian Confederation over, the various Nobles departed for their own lands. All were aware that in some cases it was inevitable their lands would be over run, but the view was this was for the short term. There were no doubts in any of their minds that with victory would come even larger lands and greater prosperity for those who were committed to the anti royalist cause.

Lord Bedford had pondered his own situation with some nervousness, it did not take a great military mind to realise that his own lands in Kent were isolated from the main Parliamentarian armies and that as a consequence he could take a defensive stance and hope that by tying up royalist forces in defending his territory the Parliamentarian army would gain vital advantages elsewhere, especially in the Midlands where it was known the Royalists were weak.
Being defensive was not in Milord Bedford’s nature so he would seek to apply pressure on the Royalists at every opportunity.
The only ally he had close who may be of some assistance was Sir Ferguson and Lord Bedford was still in the process of deciding whether Ferguson was a benefit or a liability, certainly Fergusons army was negligible and would not even be capable of holding his own territory of Romney on its own let alone help in an offensive.  Sir Ferguson was clearly a ambitious and ruthless radical, but in Lord Bedford’s mind such a man could come into his element in a civil war, so for now he decided he would hang on to Sir Ferguson.
The next step was deciding where to attack, London was the obvious choice, but it was too heavily defended and it was likely a losing prospect to attack the city at this early stage, especially with the small numbers he had available for the moment. Later it would become a likely prospect especially when he was reinforced  with French troops, if they agreed to become involved. So the next logical opportunity was to the west into Lyndhurst, but to move most of his army to the western borders he had to be sure the Duke of Norfolk Lord Allen Ashley would pin the London Royalist army down.

The first real bad news for the Parliamentarians came a month after the James III was made King, somehow the new Royalist treasurer Amschel Moses Rothschild had raised a loan within Europe very quickly, a fact that was as remarkable in its possibilities given Europe was war weary and near bankrupt as it was for one man and his family to have gained such financial and political coup.
Of course the financial coup was made much simpler by the fact that the Bank of England and all its infrastructure was based in London, so assuming the financial controls of England had been much easier for the Royalists for whom London was a strong base.
It was a blow to the Parliamentarians for several reasons, first it meant there were now those in Europe who viewed the English royal whelp as a viable ruler thus giving the royalists considerable prestige, but secondly it gave vital energy to the Royalist cause in England.

The first clear and obvious consequence of the new funds came when the Minister of War Sir Edward Anders announced that they were paying the back wages of the officers and men of the Royal Navy; as a consequence all most to a man the Royal Navy went over to the Royalist cause. This meant in one blow the Parliamentarians were going to be restricted in their movements and manpower, it meant their own coasts would now be threatened thus opening a new dimension in the war.

To add insult to injury the Royal Navy sent several ships with royal banners flying up the Thames to London, just to “Show the flag” for the new King. The people of London came out in their droves to join in the celebration of both the coronation and the naval display.
                                         The Royal Navy joins in the Coronation celebrations

France
For Cardinal Cartwright who was in France negotiating on behalf of the Parliamentary Government with the French First Minister Cardinal de Fleury the Royalist financial coup came as an obvious body blow. His main line of argument had always centred on the fact that the Royal whelp was a Prussian puppet and if he was permitted to gain the English throne unopposed France could expect to see all the resources England could muster being thrown behind the Prussian King. This would mean a continuation of the colonial wars, blockades but even worse financial assistance to the Prussians and other enemies of France. Now that European financiers felt confident enough to support the Prussian pretender it meant he was a long way towards being seen as a legitimate claimant to the English throne in the eyes of other monarchs.
Also with the recent news he received from Lord Bedford that the Royal Navy had joined the Royalist side, it was likely the blockades of French Ports may very well resume shortly.
 France was almost at the point of fighting itself to a standstill. Prussia and Austria had signed a Peace treaty though no one expected it to last; however the treaty left the Austrians, Saxons, Bavarians and the Dutch now free to concentrate against the French. The Bavarians had deserted the French and for the moment were once more Imperial Allies; the Russians were involved against Sweden so this left Prussia free to rebuild and prepare for the next round of war. If the Royalists were to win in England France would be forced to face a refreshed Prussia possibly with English arms as well as English finance.
Cardinal Cartwright emphasised the need for France to make peace with the Imperialists so as to ease their own burden and to send at least a minimum of a Brigade of troops urgently, preferably more, as well as financial assistance, though realistically he realised the later was most unlikely.

In discussions with King Louis Cardinal Fleury advocated supporting the Parliamentarians, it would be far easier to squash the English King now and ensure a friendly parliamentarian English Government than it would be once he gained sole power of England.
Finally King Louis agreed that France would support the parliamentarians on the basis they sign a treaty that a Parliamentarian Government will support France in the European War, further more a secret clause was included in which England would support Frances claims on Hanover. Cardinal Fleury was already negotiating a peace settlement with the Imperialists but there were several significant issues preventing a settlement at this stage, so the war continued.
For the French the only real positive news had been that the Ottomans had once more returned to the offensive in the Balkans so this would add to the Austrian woes. Also Spain was for now firmly in the French camp.

Hanover
Charles I, formerly Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenb├╝ttel had been made Elector of Hanover following the deaths of the original Royal family. Charles I was very pro German and adamant that he nor Hanover would ever make any claims on the English throne, further more his hold on Hanover was supported by Prussia. (The “Treaty of Cumberland” negotiated by Charles I and England regards the succession of any Hanoverian Royal being forbidden to ever make a claim on the English Crown.)
Great Britain had as part of the agreement of Cumberland maintained a British garrison in Hanover and at the time of James assuming the English Crown there were 12 Battalions (66th – 77th, 112th,113th) and 2 cavalry regiments the 11th and 12th Dragoons.
Charles I now Elector of Hanover on hearing that James had assumed the English throne sent him his congratulations and once again affirmed that he had no claim to the English throne, what is more he was asking that James confirm that the English Garrison would remain in Hanover to assist in its defence. There were great concerns that one side or the other involved in the civil war would pull the British Garrisons out of the civil war, so Charles I reminded both sides that if the British garrison was removed or weakened the Treaty of Cumberland would apply and he was free of any restrictions regarding the English crown.


Holland
The Dutch were bearing perhaps the greatest proportion of the war against the French, for many months it had gone badly for the Dutch Army but with the Bavarian desertion from the French alliance many of the French troops used in attacking the border fortresses had to be quickly moved to the East, thus for the moment the war in Flanders was almost at a stalemate stage. The Dutch had used the stalemate period to start recruiting German mercenary units to assist in rebuilding their forces.

Scotland
Scotland’s Parliament had never ratified the treaty of Union with England thus instead of a treaty of Union the two nations negotiated several commercial treaties in which Scotland would enjoy advantages of a expanding English Market on the basis they did not support any royal claim on England.
With James assuming the English Crown Scotland adhered to the agreement and its Parliament declared it had no interests on either side in any English civil war. Both the parliamentarians and the Royalists had sent commissioners to Scotland to persuade them to join their respective sides but to date Scotland has refused to do so. It merely warned both sides not to attempt to involve Scotland in the war nor to make any military moves over the border.

North America
For England as well as France, North America was becoming a distant and isolated issue, particularly since both did not have the troops to reinforce their armies on that continent.
The situation for the Thirteen English colonies in North America was becoming desperate, the French being virtually unmolested had encircled the colonies and was pinning them to the Atlantic coast. However as much as it was desperate for the English colonists it was equally becoming troublesome to the French who have found  by expanding so quickly they were having issues with the Indians who realised there was only a  limited French military presence were taking advantage of this weakness.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Its been a while!

I seem to not have posted for sometime and I can assure you its not because of a lack of interest. I have had a spell in hospital getting various bits removed, its all part of my new cunning diet plan.
I have had the Gall bladder out the small intestine made smaller a few other bits and pieces cast aside and what with a previous op taking out the prostrate I am getting rid of a lot of body mass. According to the doc I have always had issues between my ideal body weight according to the body mass indicator, so my cunning plan is to eventually dump all the organs I can so the body mass drops drastically and my goal weight corresponds, hence no more whining doc.

Anyway this is both by way of an explanation why the storyline suddenly stopped as well as an apology to the Archduke Piccolo for delaying the end of his rebellion Archduke Piccolo Blog, we have a battle in progress but it has remained unfinished because I have been in hospital for over a week, so we will be hopefully completing his little scrap soon.