1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 03

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 03

PART I

November, 1635

The dark, broad seas

Chapter 1

Tetschen, near the border between Saxony and Bohemia

The view from Freiherr von Thun’s small castle was magnificent. Set on a rocky knoll right above the quays of Tetschen, called Děčín by the Czech locals, the old castle not only dominated the river Elbe, but provided a fine view to the north. The building had been designed more as a customs and toll stop, rather than being a fortification built with combat in mind. Its old-fashioned curtain walls were ill-suited to receive artillery fire of any kind. Still, its few guns covered the riverfront from bank to bank and they could be expanded by leaving behind some of the Third Division’s artillery.

For the purpose Mike Stearns had in mind — possible purpose, he cautioned himself — Tetschen was better than any other place the Third Division had passed through since they entered the low range of mountains that separated the Bohemian and Saxon plains. Those mountains were called the Erzgebirge in German and Krušné hory in Czech.

Tetschen had three things to recommend it:

First, it was obviously the best bottleneck to thwart an army trying to enter Bohemia from the north or Saxony from the south.

The Erzgebirge were not tall mountains. The two highest peaks, Klínovec and Fichtelberg, were only four thousand feet high. The terrain resembled a scaled-down version of Mike’s familiar Appalachia. It was nothing like the Alps or the Carpathians, much less the Rockies. Moreover, Klínovec and Fichtelberg were quite a ways to the west. Here, in the eastern part of the mountain range, the terrain was much lower. The Third Division’s engineers had told Mike that the altitude of Tetschen itself was only four hundred and fifty feet above sea level.

Still, as low as they might be, the Erzgebirge were mountains. Not much of an obstacle for a small hiking party, true enough. But for a division of soldiers numbering over ten thousand men, they were well-nigh impassable. By now, the soldiers were hardened and veteran marchers and could probably manage the task as an abstract muscular exercise. But what would they eat and drink? Small mountains streams are fine for half a dozen hikers; for regiments and battalions, they are a laughable water source. While American technology had been able to upgrade many of the weapons used by the USE’s army, its logistical methods were still largely those of the seventeenth century. That meant supply wagons drawn by horses and oxen — who needed even more in the way of food and water than soldiers did.

Armies could only pass through even low mountains by following what few natural routes existed. In this eastern portion of the Erzgebirge, that meant following the Elbe, the same river that was dominated by Tetschen here.

Tetschen’s second great advantage was that it was a relatively large town. Not a city, certainly. But it was very far from a country village, too. It was large enough to provide a base for a regiment, without requiring constant foraging in the countryside. “Foraging” being military-speak for requisitioning supplies by methods which were often nothing more than legalized plunder. Given that the lands said regiment would be plundering were Czech lands ruled by the very same Wallenstein that Mike and his Third Division had been sent to support, that could get very dicey, very quickly.

But with a town the size of Tetschen, Mike was pretty sure that one of his regiments would be able to get its supplies without overly aggravating the area’s residents. That was especially true of the regiment he had in mind for the task.

Finally, Tetschen was very close to Dresden. As the crow flies, probably not more than thirty miles. Mike wasn’t sure yet — he wasn’t sure at all, actually — but that might turn out to be critical.

As his eyes roamed across the landscape below, yet a fourth advantage to Tetschen came to his mind. There was enough flat land down there to build an airstrip. Nothing fancy, but it would be good enough for one of Jesse Wood’s Belles or Gustavs. That might prove quite handy in the future.

“Yes,” he murmured to himself. “Here.”

He smiled, then, thinking of the reactions he’d get from his staff officers and the newest and youngest colonel in his division.

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32 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 03

  1. laclongquan says:

    Damnit Mike! I am a nerd turn agitator, not a civil engineer.

  2. Robert H. Woodman says:

    I wonder if we will see any description of the “Exchange Corps” that Mike founded in the campaign in Poland. We heard about the establishment of the Corps, but we never saw any details of its functioning. A long-term garrison of a town like Tetschen could allow us to see the Exchange Corps in action. I’m sure it will be interesting.

  3. Daryl says:

    “That was especially true of the regiment he had in mind for the task.” and “the newest and youngest colonel in his division”, guess who?

  4. robert says:

    So now we have Tennyson?

  5. morgulknight says:

    Well, at least we can be sure that between Colonel Higgins, the Vogtland rebels, and the city population, Baner’s not going to find it easy to suppress the CoC in Dresden. It’s also nice to see Mike covering all his bases, following the letter of his orders while setting up to act on his own if needed once Oxenstierna’s scheme unfolds a bit. Of course, Oxenstierna is probably overestimating his own ability to control the forces he’s trying to manipulate. One wonders what Torstensson is thinking about all this, though…along with Richelieu, Olivares, Mazarini, and Vitelleschi.

  6. dave o says:

    Does Mike want to put troops into the town to guard against a threat from Dresden, or to prepare for his own return to the city? Or both. Tetschen is only a few miles upstream from Dresden. How much of Oxenstiena & Wettin’s plans does he know or suspect? Probably a lot. And guess who’s being promoted as fast as possible. Captain to Lt. Colonel to Colonel. Can Brigadier be far behind?

    #2 I agree. The Exchange Corps will probably be seen soon. It will be interesting to see how Sargeant, I mean Corporal, no Sargeant whathisname swindles the local corn factors.

  7. Summertime says:

    What does Oxenstierna plan to do while Gustav is non compos mentis? There were hints at the end of EASTERN FRONT, and now at the beginning of SAXON UPRISING that he might take advantage of the situation to proceed with his own ideas as to how things should be, perhaps to the detriment of Mike Stearns, Grantville, the USE, and democracy in general. Where are Cristina and her protectors, and what role is she to play in coming events?

  8. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Summertime, the answer is “Tum, te, tum, te, tum . . . .” [Very Big Grin]

  9. @7

    Buy the previous book. The starving author needs the money. And many of your questions have, like, already been answered in the book you should buy.

    SPOILER

    SPOILER

    SPOILER

    I was slightly disappointed that Kristina didn’t put out the eye of the perp, which her weapon would do, but, then, the eye didn’t work for much longer anyhow.

  10. The original had many more spaces vertically. Apparently I needed to fill each of them with a * or the like.

  11. morgulknight says:

    @9, Considering she’s only eight, with no prior combat experience, was using an improvised weapon, and had only a split second in which to act once Locquifer started coming over the table, she did pretty well; definitely more her father’s daughter than her mother’s. This botched job by the Keystone Hugenots might force Ducos out into the open; I’m kind of waiting for a sniper-on-sniper duel somewhere among the rooftops of Edinburgh. Unless the MacKays get recalled to Germany by Stearns and Company because Mike and/or Rebecca decide they could use Julie’s talents closer to home.

  12. Summertime says:

    O Drak! For pity’s sake, jist a clue fer a pore feller who ain’t got to the book store yit! What gives?

  13. Alan says:

    I’ve been thinking (unwise I know) but the Congress of Copenhagen made Ulrik Kristina’s heir. It’s the standard Eurocharisian arrangement where if there are no children the surviving spouse is heir to the other. There are actually historical precedents like the marriage of Maximilian I to Mary of Burgundy, which is how the Burgundian lands ended up with the Habsburgs (except the duchy of Burgundy itself which escheated to the French crown for default of heirs-male). Ulrik must be seriously tempted to claim the regency as Kristina’s next legally-competent heir once they get to wherever it is they are heading for. Uncle Ax could argue that they are only betrothed, but if he kills the betrothal he also kills the Union of Kalmar.

  14. Doug Lampert says:

    @13 The problem is that the legalities are only marginally important in this situation. Historically Christina’s regency was set up AFTER GA3’s death precisely because none of the advance arrangements survived the death of GA3 particularly well. His disability but not death is FAR WORSE in terms of any hope based on pre-disability legalities.

    If Ulric and Christina had both reached their majority, and both inherited, and they’d married each other, and they’d become joint rulers, and THEN one of them died without issue: then the other would likely manage to inherit without difficulty and if that one managed to remarry and produce heirs then the arrangement would possibly become permanent.

    But as is? The whole thing can be challenged on any of half a dozen grounds even if you ACCEPT that the legalities trump power politics! (No actual marriage, GA3 isn’t actually dead, union wasn’t neccessarily approved by the rest of the Swedish government or of the USE government and changes in the inheritance laws of each state require local approval by that state, ext…) Claiming that Ulric should be regent because of the legalities is a bad joke. If Ulric ends up regent it will be because he somehow won the comming political/military/economic/legal confrontation, and the exact wording of the Congress’s agrement will be at most a terribly minor component of that.

  15. Alan says:

    @14

    I could not agree more about legalities versus power politics. The arrangements made before G2A’s death were implemented exactly as he had ordered, once the riksdag had confirmed them. I think we can assume that the Congress of Copenhagen arrangements have been confirmed by the rest of the Swedish government because Sweden, Denmark and the USE have been acting on them for some time now. What the rest of the Swedish government has not had time to confirm is Uncle Ax’s sudden ascent to sole rule. When Philip of Spain married Mary II of England the council and the parliament insisted on the marriage contract excluding him from the regency and the succession if Mary predeceased him or became incapable of ruling on her own. Ditto Mary of Scotland’s marriage contract with Darnley. Ditto Elizabeth’s draft marriage contract with the Duke of Alençon.

    Moreover, betrothal was a pre-contract with legal consequences. The betrothed couple were treated as married except that the consummation, at least in theory, had to wait for the marriage and children born before the marriage were not legitimate. The betrothal could be terminated by free consent of both parties. Ulrik is already an adult and while his claim may be thin it is a lot less so than Uncle Ax’s. That does not mean the Berlin faction will fold immediately, but it does mean they are not nearly as entrenched as they think.

    It follows that Ulrik’s claim would not require a change in inheritance law. Ulrik’s claim could well persuade people like Hesse-Kassel and others not to back the Berlin coup and if you must fight a civil war it is a lot better to do it with a claim of right on your side.

  16. lethargo says:

    I wonder if there is a special law of succession just for fiction. My hypothesis is that the character with the coolest sidekick(s) always wins. I should pay attention to any succession crises I see in fiction from now on.

  17. robert says:

    So how many regiments does Oxenstierna command? Where is Tortenson’s loyalty? And Mike’s? If GA gets his language back, the man will be lucky to be sent to…Sami land if he monkeys with the status quo.

  18. laclongquan says:

    Possession is nine tenth of the law. Currently, Oxen possess Gustavus, being the Caretaker of the Idle King. If he also possess Kristina he hold all the important cards, politically and legally. With them he can declare himself Regent de facto. He then can command Swedish forces legally. CUrrently he can only influence them, said influence maybe divided with other Swedish nobles and notables. So smart bet would be on he’s hellbending on getting his paws on her.

    Union of Kalmar is one whole can of worms. If Christian stay still, or support Kristiana/Ulrik wholeheartedly, his grandchildren will inherit the Union, the unification of Scandinavia and Danemark completed. However, he actually doesnt have that foresight and too much flighty, with the League of Ostend fiasco as testatment to his statemanship. Smart bet would be on his doing something foolish and shortsighted like capture of Kristina and become Regent of the Union.

  19. laclongquan says:

    As for the side with coolest sidekicks, I am afraid the French got you beat. Richelieu was assembling the original Four Musketteers, with Aramis and D’Artagnan already on board.

  20. jeff bybee says:

    when can/could christina and ulrik marry?

    was marie antonet 9 when they married? but the wedding night delayed a while for surgery the husband needed?

  21. Tweeky says:

    @20 I think he’d wait till Kristina was at least 14 (That’s how Marie Antoinet IIRC was when she married Louis) and preferably wait till she was 16.

  22. Todd Bloss says:

    Legaly/politicaly, a dead GA2 is better for Kristina and the USE, while a living but incapacitated GA2 benefits only Ox.
    -I know what Richelieu would do…

  23. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    The horse that isn’t singing (yet) is the USE constitution. Whatever procedures exist for reoplacing G2A as Emperor would be there. IIRC it is hereditary in the House of Vasa, whioh would mean Kristina as a minor with a regency of some sort.

    With Gustav Adolf incapacitated, Wettin seems to be delaying the process. That may be why Eric brought up the six month time frame in snippets 1 and 2 — if Dr. Nichols is willing to say it’s unlikely G2A will rcover, that may trigger a ‘permanent incapacity’ provision and create a regency.

    Ulrik would be wise to avoid being the main regent. It probably makes sense for him to be on a council of some type, but not as chairman (or whatever). He can’t afford to look like he is controlling or manipulating Kristina. Ulrik has the whole ‘not from around here’ problem to go along with opposition from Ox and Wettin.

    It will be interesting to see how deeply the CoC types will buy in to Christina as regent. It basically comes down to how much of a revolution they want right now. Impatient revolutionaries would want to wipe out the whole aristocratic structure and not care if that caused people in the middle to support an Oxenstierna/Wettin counter-revolution.

    My bet is Stearns will burn a lot of political capital advocating a more moderate course that works mostly within the constitution. He will have a nce ‘bad example’ of how revolutions can go wrong in Dresden, a fortified center in Magdeburg, the Third Army (won’t that be evocative for the uptimer WWII buffs!) and a lot of support in pockets throughout the USE.

  24. M says:

    in dynastical successions, surviving spouse was practically never a heir. sorry.
    in medieval European law and customs, surviving spouse was usually not heir at all and if was, it was arranged by testament or something; a person’s heirs were the person’s progeny, and if no such existed, the person’s siblings (absent which, relatives by blood) and there was no place for surviving spouse in this.
    americals who have had about two centuries a law that surviving spouse is the main heir, frequently get these european facts wrong – but thart’s a bass-ackwards way to evaluate things, to start from revolutionary american system of two centuries, and neglect the much older european custom.

    So, Ulrik is not Kristina’s heir, if no specific succession constitution had been made to that effect.

  25. M says:

    the example of Habsburgs to Burgundian lands is sadly mistaken.
    Certain Habsburgs inherited those lands BECAUSE they were children and progeny of Mary of Burgundy. such Habsburgs who were NOT descended from Mary, would not have inherited anything. The key is that Mary left progeny which she had herself birthed. They were her natural heirs. As Mary happened to die when her kids were small, their father Maximilian got to be their regent until the boy-kid (Philippe) reached his majority. All those Habsburgs who held those lands afterwards, were descended from Philippe, i.e were direct blood descendant of Mary.
    may I ask that in the future, we’d get factually correct information here, and not some garbled mistaken crap.

  26. Randy says:

    We know the forces under Hesse-Kassel were mauled and are not going to be a significant military factor, the landgravine will see to that to ensure that Willem VI surives to rule. Just how badly were the Swedish forces under GA hurt, quite a bit I suspect given that GA was almost killed, they lost 6000 at Lutzen? If Oxtriena is counting on them in a fight with the CoC/USE forces I think he’s going to be in for a rude awakening. Does he even know just how bad their casualties are? Or he could be relying on Baner’s command. Just how CoC regiments are in training (militia with an attitude/a new National Guard).
    How long after she arrives in Madgeburg before martial law is declared by her, the constitution and Wettin authority suspended, and all USE forces ordered to Berlin (any doubt as to who they would obey; God help any officers who say boo) to “restore order”,take charge of her father and bring him to Madgeburg for better medical care. If Oxstierna objects she can then charge him with treason and enforce it with the bayonets of her army or maybe a whiff og grapeshot. It might be different if he were Sweden, which is his power base.

  27. Randy says:

    Kristina has one hell of a temper, is very intelligent, has charisma and command presence, and can be ruthless if necessary. I don’t think she’s going to forgive or forget easily. Then we have Ulrik the Bold, a latter day Viking prince. Any one want bet on just how forgiving he’s going to be (remeber the diving suit)? And he really does like Kristina.

  28. Alan says:

    @23 Sweden, the union and the USE are a personal union where whoever is king of Sweden gets also to be emperor and high king. Subject to the Copenhagen rules, Swedish law is controlling. In the German Empire, for instance, the constitution made whoever was king of Prussia the German emperor. If you want a C20 example, ditto the Australian constitution which makes whoever is queen of the UK queen of Australia.

    I kind of look forward to the scene where Oxenstierna finally realises (as G2A clearly has) that his choices are not between Wettin and Stearns but between Stearns and Gretchen.

    I’m also dying for the snippet where Austria and France react to this mess.

    @24 The Congress of Copenhagen made a specific succession rule to the effect that Ulrik and Kristina are each others heirs in default of children.

  29. robert says:

    @28 That scene would be a pleasure to read in Eric’s hands, but I bet Gustav recovers first and that it is he with whom Ox has to deal. I want to read that scene!

  30. M says:

    I would really like to see real, factual evidence from text or canon to attest to the allegation “The Congress of Copenhagen made a specific succession rule to the effect that Ulrik and Kristina are each others heirs in default of children.”
    because, my best reading of the book Baltic War, does NOT reveal any such textual evidence.

    So, until better attested, such an allegation must be left to the pile of garbled crap which piles.

  31. Ed says:

    @28 and 30: 1635 The Eastern Front is also canonical, and various scenes toward the end outline the succession options in regards to Kalmar.

    The USE constitution will have set out rules governing the choice of an emperor. Whatever those rules say about the house of Vasa (and Eric has NOT provided definitive language yet, I was working off hints regarding the CPE in the original 1632), there also will have been a procedure for changing the constitution.

    IOW the author is in control of the story, and has a pretty broad choice of options to justify the way he has things go. Eric seems more generally of the opinion that constitutional/legal arrangements are made to serve needs and can/will be changed when they no longer meet those needs, rather than that constitutional/legal arrangements are prescriptive.

  32. Brian says:

    Stearns has a very strong position politically and militarily. He has the personal loyalty of the Grantvillers, he is pretty good friends with the head of the CoC, Harry Lefferts’ commandoes may as well be his personal bully boys, and he commandsa whole army. Admittedly he has the least command experience, but he has the popular support edge among the middle and lower class.

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