1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 05

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 05

Duerr liked to suck on a pipe instead of chewing a lip, when he was pondering something. Mike found it annoying, not because tobacco smoke irritated him particularly but because Ulbrecht was not smoking. Very rarely did he actually fill his pipe with tobacco and light it up. Instead, he just sucked — and sucked and sucked and sucked — on an empty pipe.

So be it. Mike had found good staff officers to be a lot like computer geeks. Handy to have around, as a rule, and occasionally indispensable; but also given to gross personal habits.

“I’ll strip one of the new artillery companies from the Teutoburg Regiment. That’ll give Higgins four guns, which ought to be plenty. And we can strip a couple of the heavy weapons units from them as well, which will provide him with the additional mortars he wants.”

Leebrick made a face. “Brigadier von Taupadel is going to raise bloody hell. Not to mention Leoš Hlavacek! That’s his regiment you’re proposing to skin. It won’t help any that he ranks Higgins.”

Unlike every other regimental commander in the Third Division, Jeff was a lieutenant colonel instead of a colonel. He was the only lieutenant colonel in the entire USE army, in fact. The title was not officially recognized in the army’s table of organization. Mike Stearns had created it as a brevet rank when he set up the Hangman Regiment — which was also not part of the T/O.

Officially, the USE army had a very clear and simple structure:

Each division consisted of nine thousand men commanded by a major general.

Each division had three brigades of three thousand men, commanded by a brigadier.

Each brigade had three regiments of one thousand men, commanded by a colonel.

Each regiment had two infantry battalions of four hundred men, commanded by a major, and an artillery company of two hundred men usually commanded by a captain.

Finally, the infantry battalions were composed of four companies of one hundred men, commanded by a captain. A company consisted of three platoons of thirty men commanded by a second lieutenant, and a heavy weapons unit of ten men commanded by a sergeant. The company’s first lieutenant usually served its captain as his executive officer.

Such was the neat theory reflected in the official table of organization. Mike was pretty sure the ink hadn’t dried yet before reality began to diverge from theory.

To begin with, the T/O didn’t include cavalry forces at all. Officially, all cavalry forces were under the direct command of the army’s commanding officer — that was Lieutenant General Lennart Torstensson — and he assigned the units to whichever divisions he chose in whatever manner he saw fit. Right now, for instance, Mike’s Third Division had only one cavalry regiment assigned to it. Torstensson didn’t think he needed more than that, since he’d be operating in the fairly constrained terrain of Bohemia and (if open hostilities broke out with Austria) the even more constrained terrain around Linz. Torstensson wanted to keep his cavalry concentrated against the Poles, in the more open terrain of northern Germany and Poland.

Secondly, almost as soon as they were formed the various major units of the army began changing. To give one example, Mike’s Third Division had ten regiments instead of nine. The oddball was Jeff Higgins’ Hangman Regiment, which Mike had created to maintain discipline in the division after some units ran amok following the capture of the Polish town of Świebodzin.

Jeff’s division was an oddball in more ways than one. Instead of having the usual artillery company — which the artillerymen themselves invariably and stubbornly insisted on calling a “battery” and to hell with what the T/O said — he’d had Captain Thorsten Engler’s flying artillery unit attached instead. Like the cavalry, the flying artillery were not part of the table of organization of the divisions, but were under Torstensson’s direct authority.

Now, he’d have most of a regular artillery unit attached to his regiment as well — which would make it grossly oversized according to the T/O. Jeff’s sergeants had been assiduously recruiting ever since Zielona Góra had given the Hangman the reputation of being the division’s toughest regiment as well as the one which would be disciplining any miscreants. As a result, most of the regiment’s companies were oversized also, with an average of one hundred and twenty men instead of the neat one hundred stipulated by the army’s powers-that-be. Jeff and all of his officers were firmly of the opinion that the bigger the gun, the better, so most of that added personnel had been assigned to heavy weapons units. Jeff had been able to provide them with the heavy weapons they needed because he now had a close relationship with David Bartley; who, despite being the youngest quartermaster officer in the division, was easily its smartest.

And now, he’d be adding still more heavy weapons units to his regiment, swiped from Hlavacek’s Teutoberg Regiment. So what? Jeff saw nothing wrong with hauling coal to Newcastle, and Hlavacek would make up the loss soon enough through recruitment. Unlike most armies in the here and now, the USE army regularly met its payroll. There were always men willing to sign up, even leaving aside the ones — most of them, actually — who joined for ideological reasons.

Jeff didn’t have much sympathy for Hlavacek, anyway, since he didn’t like the sour Czech mercenary officer. Still, there was no percentage in rubbing salt into the wounds of another regiment.

So all he said was: “Okay.”

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33 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 05

  1. no_one says:

    Jeff’s division?

  2. Robert H. Woodman says:

    Typo. Should be Jeff’s regiment. It was a problem with The Eastern Front, too. Hopefully the copy editors will catch it and change it. Or maybe Eric will notice it and change it.

  3. dave o says:

    Artillery company and. heavy weapons unit? It’s not clear to me what the heavy weapons are. In a modern army, probably machine guns and/or mortars. In 1635 are they light cannon or what? Ten men couldn’t operate more than two, maybe three, cannon.

  4. Phillip Chesson says:

    He has what they called in WWII a “Regimental Combat Team.”

  5. G Bayrit says:

    Hmm, Jeff is being given a ‘flying’ regiment, but with enough ‘heavy’ artillery to defend his home base and he’s posted right on the Saxon border — and Saxonny just happens to be where Gretchen, Tata, and the CoC are trying to establish a foothold. The ‘established’ rebels don’t really approving of the CoC, and have picked up a group of mercenaries that they are only ‘paying’ by supplying food and supplies — which means that a smart fellow like David B could probably arranged for a double-cross. All in all, I would say Mike is planning a little surprise for Torstenson, wouldn’t you?

  6. laclongquan says:

    What? You guys dont ever read the previous 1634, 1633, 1632 books at all? RCT using mortars and volley guns. Thorsten’s command is volley guns. 1634 Baltic Wars, yo.

  7. He has a WW2 American TOE — more men and equipment than it says in the regulations. We await the infantry squad that scrounged its own Sherman tank, as happened historically.

  8. Of course, first there will have to be Sherman tanks, and one might wonder where the AFV industry is, from the tankette builders to the “Mike, this is the greatest tank ever designed, with four turrets, and we added articulation to make it even better.”

  9. lev says:

    Hmm… if Jeff has such oversized companies, why not make another company? He’d have 80 men in it… and recruit another 20 to fill the hole in short order…
    Add a few more 2LTs … one for the regular arty short company, one for the mortars (which he didn’t previously have, but should have), one for the new company… and another 1LT to command a short battalion made up of the new company, arty, mortars.

    The 1LT would probably be the arty commander from the stripped short company… so a 2LT from that unit would replace him… leaving a need for two 2LTs…

  10. Mike S says:

    The 12pdr and 24pdr “Coehorn” mortars were designed as portable indirect fire weapons for sieges and attacking fortifications. They could be carried by four men for short distances, the main issue being ammunition transportation. The 17th and 18th century armies also had grenade dischargers, a blunderbuss-like weapon that could fire a hand grenade about 100m. Such weapons could have been easily modified through technology enhancements to improve effectiveness and mobility.

    I’ve pointed out before that the “volley guns”, even when rifled are actually less effective then good light artillery, especially guns and howitzers using pre-packaged (fixed) ammunition and friction primers. Also “battalion” guns became tactically obsolete with the constant improvement in small arms and infantry drill and tactics. Such guns, even with bricoles for the gun crew to drag them were too slow to keep up with a manuevering infantry battalion, regiment or brigade.

    The lightest Napoleonic War gun was the Austrian 3pdr and its normal crew was six men. The lightest Civil War artillery was the 12pdr mountain howitzer and the 12pdr Dahlgren boat howitzer, both of which required six man crews. A four gun battery with drivers and support personnel would average 80-100 men. Remember that each gun would have a caison and an ammunition wagon, there would be a forge, supply wagons, etc and about 60 horses or mules. Even the Austrian 3pdr weighed in at just over half a ton. Artillery attached to a division would usually be 6, 8, 9 and/or 12pdrs. A Napelonic 12pdr would weight over a ton and a half and require a 10 man crew. Keep in mind that without recoil mechanisms, the gun rolls back on its own and has to be manhandled back into battery and then sighted by manhandling, since there would be no traversing mechanism. If there’s no screw elevation, then two men have to lift the rear of the barrel while the aimer adjusts the quions.

    I’ve got little problem with the organization, but given the technology, I would have adapted the Prussian regulations from 1808, with a four battalion regiment, one of light infantry for skirmishing (but also trained to fight in line or column), two of infantry and one of grenadiers (elite infantry). This would allow the regimental commander to use the ordre mixte, combining line and column formation in the attack or defense. But I guess there wasn’t a professional (retired) Soldier with a military history masters degree in Grnatville at the Ring of Fire (sigh!).

  11. Cobbler says:

    @ 10, IIRC, in 1632 Grantville introduced screw elevation adjustment to the cannon they sent G2A. The down time gunners complained about it.

  12. laclongquan says:

    The true advantage of volley guns is not firepower, it’s mobility. The lightest culverine weight over a ton, and a medium inconvenience to dragging around battlefield and pre-asphalt roads. The volley gun weigh less than that and can be drag around with relative ease compared to cannons. Instead of some stuck-in-the-mud faraway cannons now calvary can have some heavy firepower that keep up with them. Relative speaking. Uh, make it Infantry instead.

    Read the opening chapter of the previous 1635 book on the musing of a guerrilla commander.

    The disadvantage of volley guns compared to culverine is its requirement of tech-people. Cannon is an easy weapon: swab the barrels, stuff gunpowder in, stuff it, stuff the ball in, stuff it, check direction, fire. Cannon only fail under catastrophic conditions. VOlley guns have bolts, nuts, multiple barrels, screws, and easier to get disfunctioned (jammed, broken…). Thorsten was recruited and get promoted to unit commander mostly because of his expertise in dealing with tech-people.

  13. Blackmoore says:

    So Jeff’s regiment is running coal, in exchange for supplies, and the rest of Sterns units don’t know this?

  14. Todd Bloss says:

    @13 -if that’s a joke, it’s pretty funny.
    If it’s not a joke -it’s even funnier :)

  15. Todd Bloss says:

    @7 -there’s still a missing APC out there, it could happen.

  16. hank says:

    @5 Why would Mike need to surprise Torstensson? Lennart is off besieging Poznan with the bulk of the USE army (1635:EF, pg 359). Uncle Ox obviously doesn’t trust him.
    Actually Torstensson is one of the two characters who I’m most interested in seeing how they jump wrt Ox’s little coup. I’m thinking Ox may be right not to trust him.
    I’m also wondering, given some things in 1635:BC, if Ernst Wettin is going to jump thru the hoops as his brother Wilhelm expects.
    Along with Hand & the Landgravine, there seems significant possibilities of a 3rd (4th? 5th?) side to the forthcoming confrontation ‘twixt COC’s & Reactionaries…

  17. Mike S says:

    12. The “volley gun” in these books also uses an open powder train. They are also so light that being pulled at speed by horse is a recipe for breakdowns. Which is why I would have modernized the artillery before getting into “volley guns”. The available technology (casting and such) is not so far from that available to the Napoleonic nations or even the Civil War that a unified system of artillery couldn’t have been created. A battery of horse artillery with 6 or 9pdrs cast on the 12pdr Napoleon’s design using fixed rounds and friction primers (which meant artillery could fire under conditions that flintlocks could not) firing shot, canister, case (shrapnel) and shell would have been able to keep up with cavalry or infantry on most ground (and did, French Napoleonic horse artillery was equipped with 6pdrs and 8pdrs). The artillery would be formed in companies (a battery was any collection of guns on the field in this time, not a unit) and battalions, with a battalion of four companies supporting each division. I would add in some rifled guns on the modified Parrot model (cast iron with wrought iron reinforcement) for counter-battery use.

  18. hank says:

    Sorry, meant 1634:BC above.

  19. robert says:

    @5 Tortenson? Why him? He will surely come down on Mike’s side of any “dispute” with Ox. I think the one who will be surprised is Baner. Surprised and sent to the great beyond.

  20. Blackmoore says:

    I can only bet that Mike (and anyone who has ever used an uptime weapon) was swearing about not having the weapons upgraded to something CLOSE to percussion based breach loading cartridges.

    If I was him, I’d have David Bartly start bringing in uptime weapons and ammunition. (hey it’s fiction – somebody had to be making new rounds by now) or at least bring in the captured Cardinals or SSK breachloaders.

    the argument isn’t even one of speed – it’s all about dry powder vs wet.

  21. morgulknight says:

    @20, What makes you think he’s not?

  22. Todd Bloss says:

    I’m not a regular at the “Bar”, so forgive me if this has been thrashed to death, but why hasn’t every effort been made towards producing the one weapon that changed ground warfare more than any other? One Vickers/Maxim gun would give two men the combined firepower of a Regiment. -Its been three years for goodness sakes!

    If you can build a steam engine, you can build a Vickers and it’s such a HUGE force multiplier it would pay more dividends than all the other military improvements they’ve made made combined.

  23. Riley Allen says:

    Todd @22
    It’s not the gun it’s the ammunition. No ability to mass-produce brass casings and primers.

  24. At the rate we are going “Jeff, I’m promoting you again, to Division commander”
    “But But But…
    “After all, you’ve over-recruited so hard you already have the division…

  25. laclongquan says:

    On the subject of light mobile cannons the kind in use during Napoleonic era, instead of volley guns, there are two argument against it.

    1st is who to do it. The limitation of skilled manpower is one heavy thing. The existing artisans havent changed fast enough and many enough to satisfy many demands. Any that is existed are drawn toward the new industries and the establishment of navy shipyards in Madeburg. Any easy and cheap improvements is all aready introduced during the 1632 period.

    2nd is trade-off. Perhaps if Gustavus pour his resources on this project he can have a force of mobile horse cannons. But he need a river navy to keep control of the treacherous german princes and nobles. So what he can spare he pour into that instead. And now he got the most modernized navy in the world.

    3rd is logistic and manufacturing. Volley guns share many things with normal muskets, notably the ammo. That simplify logistic demand tremendously. It used existing gun manufacturing techniques, so production side is simplified. Unlike the production of a whole new line of cannons.

  26. Tweeky says:

    In regards to chewing up enemy cavalry and infantry charges, shouldn’t the USE be looking at developing effective “Canister” rounds?

  27. randy says:

    Brigade maybe, but how does Mike promote Jeff to division command since he has only one division under his command, his own. Unless Mike is going someplace else. How about Mike as Regent. Now wouldn’t that be fun.

  28. ronzo says:

    Going all the way back to 1633 they had the launchable grenades like the ones jeff used on the pirates in the english channel, and a modern style mortar is only a short leap from that and would be a great force multiplier. We haven’t seen any rocketry in awhile maybe these heavy weapons companies have some of it.

  29. Todd Bloss says:

    If you can make copper pipes for indoor plumbing, you can make cartridges. WW2 Russia couldn’t get brass so they used raw copper. Modern mercury primers would be harder, but there are other compounds that could still work -didn’t anyone in Grantville ever own a toy cap pistol as a kid?

    I know, I know, probably already argued to death, but I had to vent.

  30. @27 Mike overrecruits a bit, either men or formations.

  31. Robert H. Woodman says:

    You know, Ulbrecht Duerr was sucking on that empty pipe to figure out how to juggle units around to give Jeff the artillery he wanted. I wonder if he also mused about WHY General Stearns was setting Jeff up that way. And if he did think about it, I wonder if he came to any interesting conclusions.

    Any thoughts/comments on that?

  32. laclongquan says:

    juggling the schedule and manpowers of regiments is hard enough you want him to add speculating to the side too? Worry about the holy hell the commanders gonna raise over this raid of men and equipments is bad enough you want him to worry more about high command’s intention too?

    It’s not that he cant, be that you are asking him a bit too much.

  33. Mike S says:

    #29, no, the Soviets and Germans substituted steel casings for small arms and fixed artillery ammunition. Copper is fine for a Spencer or early Vulcan/Henry/Winchester (or even a Rexa “volley gun”) but not for any semi-automatic or automatic weapon. Even the use of brass wouldn’t work if it wasn;t drawn in a single piece. The .455 Boxer round for the Peabody-Henry was made from spiraled brass and gave xetraction problems. It just wouldn’t work in the early Maxims. The extraction process would pull the cartridge apart, especially after the soft copper expanded into the chamber. Steel was a problem and had to be laquered to allow for proper extraction. Most artillery and tank guns today use steel cartridges or stubs for their consumable cases.

    #25, even bronze cannons required replacement, which meant that the only change would have been to the pattern mould used for casting. A 12pdr Light Gun of 1857 (the “Napoleon”) saved almost 500lbs of bronze from the 12pdr Gun of 1835, which was very similar to the Year IX model used by the French from 1806-1815. The single stock pattern carriage was cheaper and easier to make than the double stock and lighter and more manueverable. The improvement came from eliminating the various stress points created by unnecessary steps in the barrel and decorations. Confederate copies even eliminated the muzzle swell. The superiority of the 12pdr “Napoleon” over all other bronze smooth-bore artillery was such that Lee recomended withdrawing and melting down all other bronze artillery in the Confederate Army. The technology between 1632 and 1850 (when Napoleon III had the 12pdr designed) was not significantly different, what was different was the scientific understanding of the performance of black powder and the stress produced on bronze and cast/wrought iron cannon. Also the 17th century had the capability to cast iron and reinforce it with welded wrought iron. They couldn’t produce an wrought iron Ordnance 3in rifle on the Griffin pattern nor probably the later Parrot or the Rodman guns with their internal cooling of the tube, but a Parrot 3in would be within reach. But even a 6pdr based on the “Napoleon” design would be cheaper, save resources and be more mobile than any similar piece in the 17th century, not to mention able to fire case (shrapnel) and shell. I do admit that the Borman fuze might not be doable, but certainly the standard paper fuze would work.

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