Monday, June 11, 2007

Raid on Gublatz

The town of Gublatz is situated on the west bank of the Pisswassere, at the highest point of navigability. The river is bridged there, and the town has a small waterfront, suitable for transfer of cargoes from medium-sized vessels. The location of the town makes it a transshipment point for goods from points upriver and inland. An overhead view of the surrounding area, with South at the top, is shown here:

The town was home to a supply depot, a magazine and an artillery park. There was a garrison of a sapper battalion, a battery of field guns, and the workers required to manage the facilities, all known beforehand to the Slobbovian general. Additionally, surprising to the Legion commander, the 12-pounder sloop "Herzogen Lynnette" (20) was anchored just below the bridge in mid-stream (one broadside was equivalent to a field battery), and had embarked a battalion of Marines (light infantry). The regiment of the Lagerburg Mounted Police (RFJK), accompanied by the Graf von Grunt, had recently arrived to reinforce the garrison. Enroute to the town was a regiment of kurassiers, but it is uncertain when they would arrive (von Grunt knew, of course, but he wasn’t telling).

A Slobbovian raiding force approached the town from two directions. The Legion, commanded by Count Philipe, and comprising a regiment of grenadiers, two battalions of grenzers (light infantry), a regiment of uhlans and a troop of rocket artillery (functioning as howitzers), came from the northeast.

Don Matteo led his Spanish mercenary brigade of two line regiments and a battery of field guns from the southeast.

The marines occupied a walled farm in the forward center of the position, with half occupying the house; the balance manned the walls. The light horse took position astride the northeast road near the farm.

The sappers sortied across the bridge and formed line at the foot of the eastern approach. The field battery remained in works just south of the bridge, protected by fascines and from direct assault by the river itself. The sloop remained at anchor, its guns covering the southeast approach and the eastern end of the bridge.
The first contact was between the uhlans and the RFJK just north of the farm. As the uhlans charged to contact, the marines in the house loosed a ragged volley into the flank of the lancers that caused a few casualties. Upon impact, the melee was fierce and bloody, but the constables gave as good as they got.
When the forces disengaged, both units were disordered sufficiently to require a long rally. While the uhlans fell-in near the scene, the constables withdrew to the foot of the bridge.
One of the grenzer battalions rushed the farmhouse; after enduring a volley from the marines, they broke down the door and forced the windows. A ferocious melee ensued inside. Although the marines exacted a heavy toll on the grenzers, they were nearly done in to a man, and a paltry few escaped to rejoin the rest of the battalion in the enclosure.
Meanwhile, the rest of the battalion peppered the advancing Spaniards with musket fire. Even though behind a stone wall, a full volley from the Corona regiment felled several marines, their morale was badly shaken, and they were forced to withdraw in some disorder past the engineer battalion and across the bridge, followed closely by the advancing enemy regiments.
As both columns of foot approached the bridge, each came under artillery fire. The Northeast column had to pass the canister-loaded guns of the "Herzogen Lynnette". The sloop’s captain had to shake his head with regret as he ordered broadside after broadside to sweep the leading grenzer battalion. That unit faltered, then broke under the relentless hail of canister from mid-river. Their losses masked the following grenadiers, who approached the bridge and the waiting sappers unscathed.
The Spaniards fared better at the hands of the field battery behind the redoubt. First roundshot, then canister as well, fell amongst the advancing Dons, but very few fell. As the Coronas moved slowly forward, there began a long-range musketry duel with the engineers. Despite the artillery supporting from across the river, the disparity in numbers of muskets quickly whittled away the engineers, and shortly they too were forced to retire back across the Pisswassere.
While the main fighting was going on, on a hilltop in the rear Major Wan was in his glory. His claims for his new-fangled weapons were proved true with a vengeance! Rocket after rocket arced into the enemy ranks with unerring precision and, to von Grunt, disconcerting effect. "If only the Emperor could see this!" Wan chuckled. "There’s a lot more that Shi-Tsu’s getting blasted now," as a rocket went off in the ranks of the remaining constables, scattering man and horse. Under the bombardment, the mounted police broke and joined the exodus to the west bank.
By this time, the Carlsberg Kurassiers arrived along the road from Felsenfall to stabilize the situation. Von Grunt ordered them to form up to charge the grenadiers, who by now were beginning to march across the bridge in their immaculate column. The left-hand field gun of the entrenched battery was wheeled to catch the advancing grenadiers in flank, the Herzogen Lynnette’s gun crews now had a clear field of fire, and it seemed that "the trap was sprung" on Philipe’s hapless guardsmen.
As von Grunt gave the word for the Kurassiers to "Angriff!", the field gun fizzled and popped and the canister tumbled unbroken from the muzzle! A faulty charge, and the gun was quiet as the frantic gunners worked desperately to reload. For her part, the sloop’s guns did good execution on the rear ranks of the grenadiers; handfuls fell from the blast.
In the front, however, the grenadiers had little time to discharge even a few muskets before the kurassiers rode them down, forcing the survivors back upon the following ranks. As the horsemen paused to regroup for another charge, one of "those damned rockets!" whooshed into the rallying cavalry, killing the standard bearer, the cornet and several troopers, driving even them back from the bridgehead.
Over on the southern flank, the XXth Spanish Regiment and their supporting field battery had come into action, engaging the right-hand entrenched gun. By that time, further defense of the position was impossible, and von Grunt had no choice but to call for a general withdrawl from the town, covered by the Kurassiers. The sloop’s captain "slipped his cable", the crew manned the sweeps and she sedately moved downriver. After the kurassiers finally withdrew, the jubilant Slobbovians swept into the town to reap the spoils of victory.


MurdocK said...

I love the ship!

Good use of 'blue tape' for your river also.

Interesting commentary regarding the battle progress...

Frankfurter said...

Where did you get the ship model?
What scale?