1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 52

1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 52

Chapter 24

The Vogtland

In the end, all of Captain Lovrenc Bravnicar’s efforts to protect the Elector of Saxony proved to be pointless. A massive explosion erupted just as John George and his wife and son passed through a narrow defile in the mountains.

The sound was almost deafening. Bravnicar, riding at the front of the column, twisted around in his saddle. The little gorge was filled with gunsmoke. He could hear the sounds of shrieking men and horses. Several riderless horses were already racing away from the disaster. He could see two bodies — presumably their former riders — lying still on the ground. Another horse was dragging a cavalryman whose boot had gotten stuck in a stirrup. His head smashed against a rock and he lost his helmet. Blood spilled out to cover his face.

Lovrenc thought the man was already unconscious. He hoped so. There was no way he was going to survive, the way his horse was dragging him down the rock-strewn incline. You couldn’t even call this a road. It was simply a trail created by men and animals passing through the mountains for centuries.

“Gott mit uns,” he whispered. Slovenia was now a Catholic land, but Bravnicar’s family were Protestants who’d been driven out at the turn of the century.

Men were starting to stumble out of the smoky gorge. All of them were cavalrymen. The infantry marching behind must have been spared. One of the cavalrymen seemed to have a broken arm, and another’s leg was bloody. A third just seemed dazed.

Bravnicar drew his sword and swept it in a half-circle. “Stand guard! We’re under attack!”

Immediately, his Slovene veterans began forming a perimeter, drawing out their wheel-lock pistols. For his part, Lovrenc trotted his horse toward the defile. The smoke was beginning to clear away.

****

On the wooded slopes above, lying hidden on their stomachs, Georg Kresse and Wilhelm Kuefer studied the scene.

“What do you want to do about the Slovenes?” asked Kuefer softly.

“I don’t know yet. It depends on whether the Elector survived or not.”

“Survived that? I don’t think so.” Wilhelm had overseen the laying of the charges himself. They had many former miners in their ranks, who’d done an excellent job of drilling the holes that held the powder. Once they’d covered everything up, the huge mines had been all but invisible, even though each charge had at least ten pounds of iron scrap lying on top to serve as shrapnel.

Wilhelm Kuefer had never heard the term “Claymore mine.” But what he had created in that tight and narrow gorge was a line of them on either side. The shrapnel those blasts sent flying would not cover every square inch of the ground, but they would probably cover every square foot. Wilhelm didn’t think a rabbit could have survived, not even an armored one.

“He’s probably dead,” agreed Georg. “But we need to be sure. If he is…” The leader of the Vogtland rebels made as much of a shrugging motion as a man can manage while lying down. “We’ve got no personal quarrel with the Slovenes, and I’d just as soon avoid unneeded casualties. If they leave, we’ll let them go.”

Kuefer grunted softly. That seemed reasonable. That was probably Captain Lovrenc Bravnicar’s company down there. Wilhelm thought he’d recognized him. If so, just as Georg had said, they had no great quarrel with him or his. The Slovenes had refrained from committing the sort of atrocities that Holk’s men were guilty of.

“What about the infantry?”

Kresse’s expression hardened. “That’s a different story. Not one of those pigs leaves these mountains alive.”

That also seemed reasonable.

****

Bravnicar found the Elector soon enough. Most of him, anyway. It took a while longer to find the missing leg, and he never did find the missing hand. Given the incredible force of the explosion, such a small item might well have been blown out of the gorge altogether.

The Elector’s wife had been scattered more widely, but Lovrenc didn’t try to find all the pieces. There was no doubt about her identity. She’d been the only woman in the group and her face was almost unblemished, allowing for the oddly flat shape. It had been blown completely off her head and was plastered onto the hindquarters of a dead horse.

Oddly enough — explosions could be freakish — their sixteen-year-old son Moritz was almost untouched. Only one projectile seemed to have struck him. Unfortunately, that one had come in through one temple and out the other, passing under the helmet.

He heard a volley of gunfire coming from the northern end of the little gorge, followed by more scattered shots. Then, the blast of a cannon. A five-pound saker loaded with canister, by the sound of it.

Lovrenc had dismounted to examine the bodies. Now, he ran toward the noise in a crouch, leaving his steed behind. The stallion was a well-trained warhorse and wouldn’t run off unless he was directly attacked.

As he neared the end of the defile, Lovrenc moved more slowly. After half a minute or so, he was able to peek his head around a boulder and see what was happening.

His infantry force — what was left of it; there were at least twenty bodies scattered not far from the gorge entrance — was in full retreat. Rout, rather. No, even “rout” didn’t do justice to it. They were racing off like so many mice, discarding their weapons and even their armor as they ran.

Thereby displaying the intelligence of rodents, as well. Disarmed and scattered, in these mountains, they’d never survive the pursuit that Kresse’s men were sure to set underway.

Had already set underway, rather. The sounds of gunfire were continuing. Those were all rifles, too. Hunters’ weapons.

There was nothing Bravnicar could do about it. All that was left now was to get his Slovenes out of the disaster, if possible.

He had no great hopes.

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Comments

16 Responses to 1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 52

  1. Jason says:

    well…….. so much for John George.

  2. Jason says:

    I also Wonder how this will play out later because from what I read John Georges oldest daughter is married to a Major Crown Loyaltist also John George also has two other sons running around to get into things.

  3. ET1swaw says:

    @2 John George has three sons and three daughters other than Moritz. According to Snippet 41 the three sons were at the battle and are undesignated (survived, WIA, MIA, KIA, captured). It also explained the three daughters. The two in northern germany / northern USE are married to Holstein-Gottorp (nephew of Christian IV (but is Calvinist and mother is estranged from C4)) and Hesse-Darmstadt (Lutheran rival of Calvinist Hesse-Kassel for Hesse-Marburg lands: NTL I think decided for Hesse-Kassel). The third and youngest daughter just married Christian (eldest son of C4) last year. All husbands are allies of G2A.

  4. Jason says:

    But it does make an interesting thing to add to the bonfire thats going to erupt in Saxony because you know that the COCs and the home grown radiclas are going to want to expunge all traces of the Nobility IE make Saxony like Mecklenburg, and the Crown Loyalists and Auxenstierna are going to want the Nobility restored and hey several of the family are as you point out allies of G2A.

    I have a feeling that the Show down between the Loyalists and the CoCs are going to take place in Saxony.

  5. Carlos says:

    It will there is already a book scheduled about it…I saw it on Amazon just the other day, and Mike Stearn is sent in to bring Saxony back from Rebellion, sent by G2A.

  6. robert says:

    So now we know where John George is. He’s over there and over there and…

  7. Mark L says:

    @6 — That’s why Saxony keeps losing battles, I guess. John George lets himself get spread too thin.

  8. Blackmoore says:

    @7 Royal Jelly?

  9. Brian S. says:

    The book scheduled to deal with Stearns bringing that corner of Germany back from rebellion will be called the Angled-Saxon Chronicles. (Sorry, I know that’s reaching, but I had to try)

  10. Drak Bibliophile says:

    People, Eric has said that the cover blurb for _1636: The Saxon Uprising_ is seriously in error.

    The most I’m able to say (thanks to the snerk collar) is that Eric had planned for the events in Saxon Uprising to take place in Eastern Front but due to the size, he had to split it into two books.

  11. Hiding on Baen’s Bar under some place that holds snerker reports is a report from what I think is a science fiction convention, with many details about the alternative future.

    One might suspect that the guilty stoss-typist promised not to say a word about what he heard, and kept his mouth firmly close all the time he was typing.

  12. robert says:

    @11 The snerk was posted by Virginia DeMarce as official note-taker during a round (?) table discussion of 1632 future books and author assignments at NASFIC in August. It was a snerk and all snerk rules apply–go to the Bar to read it if you are curious as to the future of the past. As Stirling had Marion Alston say, English has no tense to deal with describing the future that was.

  13. I have this distinct impression that the fate of John George’s wife has repeatedly been used as a political cartoon in the recent past, against any number, well some non zero integer, of candidates.

  14. jeff bybee says:

    whats wrong with a 300,000 word novel?

  15. observerbg says:

    A bit techie remark, but Wilhelm Kuefer’s men had created a line of fougasse mines, as effective as “Claymore mines” in OTL.

  16. M says:

    Saxony was not inheritable by females, as long as there remained male-line males alive in the entire Wettin dynasty. There are such men alive (a lot of them) after this still. Such as duke Ernest.
    To ponder about succession in favor of any daughter, is unfortunately a show of ignorance about how the succession was in that dynasty (and more generally, in Germany). Over any daughters, there exist at least a handful of rightful male heirs who survive.
    I blame the unfortunate effect of today British succession pattern for such a blunder, as I assume that today British succession is mistakenly taken as model of succession in all realms all epochs.

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