Friday, September 08, 2006

A cave with a view!

The cave was most agreeable! Well vented, reasonably dry and warm, especially with a nice fire kept raging in an alcove. Multiple layers of new pine boughs were kept over the cave vent, dispersing any sign of smoke, to prevent detection. So far they had dined on venison, on boar and a very pleasant fish stew. What Helmut wouldn’t give for a few bottles of wine or a beer? Unfortunately as the supplies had been brought in by hand, carried on litter, extra little comforts were simply too extravagant to be easily justified. Helmut had decided to do without and share in the deprivations of the men and boys.

Camp had been established with no problems and for the last week a routine had set in. Two patrols a day; one in the morning led by Helmut and one in the afternoon by Steiger! Opalnitz and the fusiliers had been given the weighty task of guarding the camp, the ruins and watching the lake! Actually the access to the plateau was directly behind the ruins so there was some import associated with the effort. Signs and countersigns of recognition had been set and the camp appeared secure. The Forest Wardens had met them earlier and now accompanied each patrol. The only thing amiss was the poachers! There simply were none to be had anywhere. It would be very bad form to return to the capitol “sans un braconnier”!

“Have you noticed anything peculiar with the Alzheim fishing boats we see every few days Opalnitz?” queried Helmut.

“Herr, they seem to take more then they need and I have watched them dump the excess into those secured pens on their side of the lake.”

“Exactly, the lake is loaded with fish and there seems no end to them. I don’t understand the need to horde. Do you suppose gluttony is a vice of their Prince, Feldwebel?”

“I wouldn’t know sir, I’ve never been to the Duchy or through their lands and I’m sure I have no knowledge of any Alzheimers!”

“Very good Opalnitz, if you or your fusiliers observe anything else unusual with our neighbors across the lake please make note of it and bring it to my attention promptly. Now, you wanted to ask something of me.”

“Yes Hauptmann von Stahl, if I may be so bold, I would greatly appreciate being allowed to send some of the fusiliers on patrol with your regiment. It would augment their training while we operate in the field. I will gladly stay at the camp, although I must confess that I would like….”

“Feldwebel Opalnitz” Helmut interrupted cognizant of his tone to not offend the soldier again. He knew he needed to stop this discussion before Opalnitz managed to talk his way into a patrol leadership position.

“We will be in this location for at least a month, perhaps longer. Let us leave things the way they are currently for another week. As we move into our third week here we will begin to give your boys some patrol experience. It is an excellent suggestion. Additionally, I would like you to have the soldiers not on duty use the excess litters to construct a barricade a few meters outside of the cave. It will add to our security and keep the soldiers busy! You may go now and attend to the guard!”

“Sir!” Opalnitz saluted smartly and left.

That was a disaster barely avoided! Helmut couldn’t allow Opalnitz to lead any of the Bosklosviakov soldiers and he certainly couldn’t let the fusiliers patrol on their own. That was now twice, he would need to be much more careful when engaging Opalnitz.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Regiments of Vulgaria

A long time ago I painted some Brunswickers for the era of Napoleon I and also Napoleon III and the Franco/Austro-Prussian Wars. I was intrigued by the way the blue and black looked together and at that point I decided that if I ever started my fictional country the uniforms would be based upon that of Brunswick. So the Regiments of Vulgaria wear black coats with different facing colors. There will be 1 Grenadier Rgt, 4 Musketeer Rgts, 1 Fusilier Rgt an organization of Jaegers and some irregular formations. The country is somewhat Slavic in nature although it has been organized and trained by a Prussian/German. I suspect you could think in terms of an independent Transylvanian Army being trained by Baron von Steuben.

The Bosklosviakov Musketeers- The senior Musketeer Rgt in the Vulgarian Army.

The Tod und Herrlichkeit Fusiliers- They are also known as the "Death and Glory" boys. Those of you familiar with American rules football will notice that the fusiliers wear the colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is intentional and is a bit of a dig as I am a Baltimore Ravens fans. Yes, that does mean that the Grenadier Rgt will be dressed in purple and black. The Fusilier Rgt is the depot and training regiment for the Vulgarian Army and therefore will be the least motivated and trained troops. Being an old soldier myself the name was specifically chosen as the sort of thing that will draw the uninitiated to the colors, although veteran soldiers typically aren't impressed with such things.

The Bosklosviakov Musketeers.

The Tod und Herrlichkeit Fusiliers.

A patrol of the Bosklosviakov Musketeers and Tod und Herrlichkeit Fusiliers moves into an area of Vulgaria overlooking a border lake. The T und H boys usually accompany Musketeer Rgts on patrol as part of their continued training. After a few years with the fusiliers good well acclimated soldiers can accept positions in the musketeer regiments.

The formation is called to parade by the Bosklosviakov NCO prior to establishing a bivouac by the ruins.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A tentative beginning!

Walking along the path thru the forest Hauptmann Helmut von Stahl could not remember the last time he had been happy. The rain had tapered off a little, it would not end, it never did! Other then the rain on the leaves the only other sound was that of the equipment clanking and banging together on the soldiers that moved with him. He was leading the first zug or platoon. That was appropriate was it not? After all, he was the patrol leader. Feldwebel Steiger was leading the second zug and in between them a zug of the Vulgarian Fusiliers.

The Vulgarian Fusiliers, also known as the “Tod und Herrlichkeit” boys; Death and Glory indeed! The fusiliers are the depot and training regiment for the entire army. The fusilier platoon had been attached to his patrol for field works training. Tod und Herrlichkeit was a phrase used to bring the lads to the colors. It is the sort of thing that can instill a martial spirit in the breast of children. It was said with a roll of the eyes and a smirk by the regular veteran regiments. They are just lads; Death and Glory indeed!

Actually; he did remember now, when he was still a child back in Saxe-Gotha. Summer warmth, that was happiness, the spring and flowers and scents on the air. He could almost smell the fields of onions that were everywhere at this time back in his native country. You can’t grow onions in Vulgaria it’s much to wet. It was always wet in Vulgaria. Sure there were a few days in the summer with no rain. There was a day or two in spring that didn’t rain. It did snow in the winter, not a nice firm snow, rather those bloated plump flakes that plop when they hit the ground and turn instantly to slush. Helmut couldn’t help but scrunch his toes in his boots, at the thought of the slush, which caused the water to squeeze out of the seams of the soles. The water would return!

"Halt! Pass the word, I want Feldwebel Steiger!"; commanded Helmut.

It would take a few minutes for word to reach Steiger and for him to make his way to the front of the small column of men. His column, his command, three platoons, two from his regiment the Bosklosviakov Musketeers and one platoon of children with new black uniforms, the “Tod und Herrlichkeit” boys indeed! He could not help but chuckle out loud!

"Herr Hauptmann?"; from the ranks.

"Yes Gefreiter? Oh! It is nothing!"; replied Helmut.

His command, Helmut liked the sound of that. He did not like Vulgaria! His father had come to Vulgaria and taken an appointment in the Electors Army. It was now his Army and his country, but not his memories, the memories of his childhood, days in the fields in the sun.

"Herr Hauptmann?"; from a voice.

"Gefreiter, I told you it was nothing!"; responded Helmut a bit aggitated.

"Herr?"; the voice again.

Awakened fully from his daydreaming he realized that Steiger was addressing him. Steiger was not alone. Feldwebel Opalnitz, in charge of the fusiliers, had accompanied him to the front of the column.

"I did not send for you Opalnitz only Feldwebel Steiger!"; Helmut placed a very slight emphasis on the Feldwebel.

"Sir! I thought that we would be discussing our orders."; replied Opalnitz.

"I did not send for you. With all officers at the front of the column there is no one in command at the rear! Do not assume in the future, it is not your place, do you understand?"; Helmut replied a bit too arrogantly he thought to himself.

"Sir! ";Feldwebel Opalnitz brought his heels together smartly and saluted before returning to his place in the column.

There was very little chance of anything occurring. They were still in Vulgaria although close to the border. They were not at war, the veterans were not prone to desertion and the fusiliers would be too afraid to desert with veterans in front and behind.

Helmut simply did not much care for Opalnitz. He had left the Kürbis Koenig Musketeer regiment at the request of his Oberst. There had been a position available in the fusiliers or he would most likely have been forced to leave the colors. No NCO voluntarily leaves the musketeers except to accept an appointment to the Schweingrad Grenadiers. There was something about Opalnitz, but enough, he had business with Feldwebel Steiger.

"Ah, Feldwebel Steiger! We are approaching our area of operation for the next month."

"Yes Hauptmann von Stahl!"

"Our orders are to perform an active reconnaissance on our side of the lake. The wardens claim that we have been visited by poachers from the other side. I feel that we should establish a central camp for surveillance and then deploy our strength as required. I have in mind a location that is very strong, central and as dry as can be expected."

"The ruins sir?"; inquired Steiger.

"Yes Steiger, the overlook and ruins. That location provides an almost full view of the lake. It is only approachable from one side and has a near by cave where we can bivouac and provide a dry mess for the soldiers. I think it is an ideal position to set up and commence our operations from. To reach it will require that we leave the path and move up the side of the mountain. Have the soldiers build litters, one for every two men, to carry the extra rations from the wagon. It will not be able to follow us."

"Sir!"; Steiger snapped to attention and departed.

Helmut liked Steiger; he was a soldier’s soldier. When asked by his regimental commander, Oberst Pavol, to select a second there was clearly only one choice. Helmut knew that he needed a man well versed in field craft that he could trust completely. Steiger had accompanied him on missions before, sometimes to the other side of the lake. Even when not at war it is important to know what is happening in the territories of your neighbors. Yes clearly there was only one choice, Feldwebel Steiger.

He didn’t like having Opalnitz or the fusiliers along. Most of the boys would make fine musketeers in time. If there was trouble Helmut was confident he could keep the fusiliers safe. He was concerned that Opalnitz might put them in danger in an effort to restore his reputation. Opalnitz had already taken one liberty, it was important to be sure he was not given the opportunity to take any more.

There had also been rumor of specially enlisted soldiers from the castle in Schweingrad being placed into the fusiliers. Street urchins were supposedly asked to swear fealty to one of the Electors Ministers over the oath to the Elector and Vulgaria. He had heard this from many of the other officers from his regiment. With Opalnitz and possible treachery present he would need to be careful about how he accomplished his mission. The death and glory boys would need to be kept busy in the event that any creative initiative was required.