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.


Blogger Bluebear Jeff said...

Ahhhhh, the plot thickens. It almost pains me that Saxe-Bearstein (my OSW principality) is off to the west (where those perfidious French are constantly encroaching upon good German soil).

I eagerly await more news of this patrol and what they encounter.

-- Bluebear_Jeff


Wednesday, September 06, 2006 1:56:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home