1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 15

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 15

The wand-tip came back to Swabia. “This map doesn’t reflect it yet, because it’s still not formally established. But the fact is that in the real world the former duchy of Württemberg has seceded from Swabia and is operating as its own republican province. So far, Horn hasn’t used force to squash them. But he can always claim that what few forces he doesn’t need to stare down Bernhard will be needed to keep order in Württemberg.”

Ed lowered the wand again and went back to thoughtful leg-tapping.

“Horn has plenty of excuses — perfectly legitimate ones, mind you — to keep his army effectively neutral in any civil war. ‘Neutral,’ at least, so far as the rest of the USE is concerned. I don’t doubt he’ll rule Swabia with a firm hand and keep Württemberg under his thumb. So what it all comes down to is his own temperament and inclinations.”

Piazza smiled, quite wickedly. “Happily for us, Axel Oxenstierna was the father of Horn’s wife, while she was still alive. By all reports, Horn detested his father-in-law. And still does. So I think it’s not likely that he’ll be inclined to do as the chancellor says, so long as he can claim a legitimate reason to refuse.”

Piazza now pointed further north on the map, to the adjoining provinces of the Upper Rhine and the Main. “There’s another sizeable Swedish army here, under General Nils Brahe. This one’s legally as well as practically under the Swedish crown, so there’s no ambiguities involved. But my estimate right now is that Brahe will do about the same as Horn. He’ll keep the Main and the Upper Rhine stable — that’s a genteel way of saying that he’ll squash the CoCs there if they get rambunctious — but he won’t intervene in any conflicts elsewhere.”

“Why wouldn’t he?” asked Strigel. The question was not a challenge, simply the product of curiosity.

“I’m guessing, you understand. But, first, Brahe’s army isn’t as strong as it used to be. I doubt if he even has ten thousand men left. Gustav Adolf figured the French would still be licking their wounds so he could afford to draw down Brahe’s forces in order to bolster the ones he was taking into Poland. And while that was probably true then, will it still be true if the USE gets convulsed by a civil war? Cardinal Richelieu is under a lot of political pressure. He might be tempted to relieve it by getting back some of the territory they lost after Ahrensbök.”

“Or Monsieur Gaston might go haring off on his own expedition, just to show how it’s properly done,” chimed in Helene.

“Finally,” Ed said, “I think Brahe will stay put along the Rhine because he may have another problem to deal with, which is up here in Westphalia.” The wand now moved to indicate the USE’s large northwestern province.

“Ah! Of course.” That came from Constantin Ableidinger, who suddenly broke into a grin. “I hadn’t been thinking of that. If Oxenstierna launches a civil war here in the USE, he will be creating a gigantic Danish headache for himself, won’t he?”

“I don’t think there’s much doubt about it,” agreed Ed, nodding. “With Gustav Adolf incapacitated and given the still-fuzzy laws of the Union of Kalmar, you could make a good case that King Christian IV is now Kalmar’s regent.”

Rebecca smiled. “And I will bet that even as we speak the king of Denmark has every lawyer on his payroll assembling that case.”

“Don’t anybody take that bet,” cautioned Piazza. “Yes, I’m sure he is. More directly to the point, the governor of Westphalia is none other than Christian’s son Frederik. Who, I will remind everyone, is still petitioning to have his title changed to ‘Prince of Westphalia.’ So what are the chances he will be paying much attention to Oxenstierna?”

“The CoCs are quite strong in Westphalia,” said Albert Bugenhagen, “especially in the big cities. They’re politically sophisticated, too. If Frederik decides to thwart Oxenstierna, they’ll give him tacit support.”

“That’s what I figure,” said Ed, “and it’s the final reason I think Brahe won’t move far from the Rhineland.”

His expression got a lot more grim as he shifted the wand to the east. “We have quite a different situation with the final Swedish force of any size within the USE, Báner’s army marching to Saxony from the Oberpfalz. Báner’s a brute, pure and simple. A capable one, but still a brute. He doesn’t much like Oxenstierna, but then he doesn’t much like anyone. He’ll still do what Oxenstierna wants him to do, partly because he’ll see that as his best route for advancement but mostly for the good and simple reason that he agrees with Oxenstierna.”

Ed lowered the wand and took a deep breath. “Things are going to heat up in Saxony before much longer. If there is a civil war, that’ll be the cockpit.”

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34 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 15

  1. dave o says:

    Flint has stacked the odds heavily in favor of Oxenstierna. On his side, the troops in Brandenburg, commanded by the Ox, Soon to be in Saxony, Baner and his troops. On the FoJ side, the militias in Magdeburg province, the Saxons, if they decide to support the FOJ. Ox has a monopoly in officers and non-coms, and two commanders who are competent (Ox himself and Baner). The militia are probably not capable of fighting trained armies, and lack trained officers above the rank of captain.

    In order to win, Oxenstierna has to tie down Saxony and destroy opposition, particularly in Magdeburg and SoTF, the most radical provinces. He is unlikely to go further than Saxony during the winter; too hard to move and supply troops. This gives a chance for Mike to return from Bohemia, and Torstennson to pull out of Poznan, if he decides to. It also gives time to arm the militias,- the gun shops in Suhl are the most developed industry in the Kingdom.
    Still, this doesn’t seem to be enough to let the good guys win. It seems to me that the best chance they have is to plan for the Dresden Vespers. If Baner and his army are destroyed by a popular rising in that city, the odds are a lot more even. Baner is plenty arrogant enough to arouse enough hostility to trigger one, and the CoC has it’s very best organizers and rabble-rousers in Dresden to arrange for it. Not to mention the Saxon radicals.

  2. It is possible that the CoC has been taking notes on early French Republican tactics.

  3. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well Dave O, any good story teller makes it *hard* for the good guys to win.

  4. Tim says:

    Maybe they won’t. At least until a later book.

  5. frederic says:

    @ 2: What tactics?

    The french revolution solution was ‘La Levée en Masse’.

    I just wonder what Oxenstierna is going to say if he finds out the CoC raised a 300,000 men army (as a first step).

    OK, maybe 1635 Germanies doesn’t have the population of 1792 France, but even proportionally speaking, the principle remains the same ( and revolutionary France didn’t stop at 300,000 ).

  6. Pul Ess says:

    Nit: it’s Banér, not Báner

  7. Doug Lampert says:

    @5 The French used the men from the levee en masse in column assualts on armies accustomed to fighting in musket lines supported by regimental guns. There were substantial tactical and organizational innovations in making this work. (Including the three battalion regimental organization and dedicated skirmishers so one or two battalions + scrimishers could force the enemy to deploy in line and then the remaining battalions charge.)

    They also mass adopted the ring bayonet to make this work.

    The problem is that in 1635 this is a solution in search of a problem! The downtime military tactics in 1635 STILL INCLUDE column charges by pikes and the like, and don’t yet include the carefully trained small professional armies using almost purely liniar musket tactics and manuevers and supported by regimental guns.

    The USE is TRYING to build such an army, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Swedish forces still have 1/3rd or more pikes, and if they don’t, then at least they have ring bayonettes and minie balls. But I’m not really liking the odds of a column charge against a deployed line with minie balls and ring bayonets.

    Broadly a group from a mass levy making a narrow frount battalion strength column charge can expect to to either run into a larger, heavier, better trained column coming back the other way or to get shot to pieces on the way.

  8. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @1 Dave O — Yes, the odds are stacked against the forces of freedom, but Axel Oxenstierna is not counting on Mike Stearns coming back to attack him. Even if Ox suspects that Mike will return to fight him, he doubtless thinks that Mike, as a neophyte general, will be no match for experienced Swedish troops.

    I still suspect that somewhere in the middle of all this mess, G2A might get his sanity back, which will change the dynamics of the situation immensely. I may be wrong about this, but I harbor that suspicion.

  9. Jesse says:

    So ed has just explanned in all these different provences how the CoCs don’t stand a chance…….So why fight there. Leave just enough CoC members in each provence to conduct a gureilla campaign if the local burghers and nobles get upity. In the mean time send all other members from swabia, main, upper rhine, hanse-kessel, and westphalia to Mageburge and form an army. Get the SoTF militia to pull a bunch of junior officers, sergents and promising NCMs, plus a few senior officers to train them up into a real fighting force. Thats assuming that Dresdan holds Banners army in place and Oxnarion is held up origionally in Berlin and later by Mike. So they get a winter season to train….then go lay the smack down on every issolated group of noble desenters. Cumulnating in Ox being cut off surounded and destroyed…..

    I guess it reallly all comes down to time. If the CoC has time to gather, train and be equiped there going to vastly outnumber Oxtenarion and his forces. Mageburg has to hold…..Which the navey can help with by keeping the Elbe under control with its wodenclads(supply line to Hamburg). Dresdan needs to hold down Baner. And Mike needs to stay mobile. If anything I’d think that its Oxtenarion that has the ods stacked against him. Unless he can have a quick decive war(and when has that ever happened?).

  10. Summertime says:

    What part is Princess Kristina (and Ulrik) to play in all this? I question whether Swedish troops will attack USE forces if Kristina is with them. I have seen nothing in print telling exactly where she is but she was supposedly heading for Magdeburg. I sense a confrontation of the first order if Oxenstierna threatens her safety since both USE and Swedish people think highly of her.

  11. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    Is this the right time to point out that Kristina is Lieutenant-General of the SoTF in her own right?

    Or did Eric make that go away with the NUSA?


  12. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Even if Kristina doesn’t have an offical position in the USE, she is the heir so her (and Ulrik’s) support of the anti-Oxenstierna organizations will be IMO very useful.

    Oh, I haven’t seen her arrival on the scene in the up-coming snippets so I don’t know any more than the rest of you.

  13. dave o says:

    #8 Of course the ox thinks Mike won’t come back. He’s wrong, but even so, Mike doesn’t have enough troops to stand up to Baner and Ox in a battle. Unless he’s recruited a lot more troops than we think. I harbor the same suspicion re G2A. And then there’s Kristina and Ulric.

  14. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Dave O, no snerks but it is very unlikely that Mike will face both Baner’s troops and Oxenstierna’s troops in the same battle.

  15. Damonby says:

    @2 & @5 The levee en masse was a near universal draft that produced gigantic armies compared to what existed in Europe before the Napoleonic Era. So many of the innovations that made a universal draft possible and more effective are already in place in this story line, including a much better understanding of hygiene and supply. The CofC armies already have sufficient cadre to allow creation of trained armies in a few months. Not enough officers, but they can learn on the fly.
    The attack formation that the French adopted was partly a reflection of the relative lack of trained soldiers available at any one time. Yes, the draft produced a large number of bodies, but “wastage”, that quaint term for deaths due to malnutrition and lack of hygiene kept whittling down that available manpower.
    A lot of the organization of supply for the USE armies are meant to address just this problem.

  16. Cindy Curry says:

    I really want Kristina and Ulrik to show up soon.

  17. KimS says:

    Oxenstierna is no fool, but he has no field command experience either. He was a titular head, wisely letting others do the fighting. The CoC could be compared to the colonials that fought the British. Limited in the senior NCO and officer ranks but having competent soldiers. The CoC has members who were in militias and mercenary outfits. The ‘modern’ weapons make small groups more effective against the logistical trains armies need to survive as a fighting force. Let an army forage and their discipline and responsiveness to attack drops dramatically. The CoC has other recruits – Amsterdam and possibly from Denmark. The Amsterdam had many militia from workers who joined the CoC after the torpedo attack and the help averting plague conditions. Even if Henry has voided the treaty with the USE, he and his people will support the CoC. Just think how you would react if 5 to 10,000 organized troops were to suddenly arrive to support your side. It’s happened here, the Flying Tigers, the Spanish Civil War & other American Volunteers. Maybe even Spanish volunteers from Don Fernando?

  18. Tweeky says:

    @2 I wonder how it will be before the CoC start making “Flying” ala mobile version of the “National Razor” (Guillotine) and and start “Trimming” the population (as in reducing or even eliminating) of the reactionary nobles that Oxenstierna assembled at Berlin? By now Europe must have heard of the Guillotine and the very mention of that word should give nobles (especially in France) bladder-control problems. Now that I think of it i’m surprised that it hasn’t been introduced (at least in CoC controlled areas) to replace cruel, barbaric and degrading forms of execution like hanging; actually i’d love to hangmen by the hundreds being guillotined or just simply being introduced to the headman’s axe or sword.

  19. ET1swaw says:

    Looks like Brahe, Horn, Prince Frederich, and Margravine Amalie (Regent/widow of Hesse-Kassel) all have reasons to stay close to home. That’s 6 of 15 (counting in Swabia, Wurtemmburg, Brandenburg, and Saxony). SoTF, Mecklenburg, Magdeburg, and looking likely Oberpfalz are solidly CoC/FoJP. That makes 10. Tyrol is likely busy on the Rhine and Calenburg/Brunswick is with Tortensson. That just leaves Pomerania, Brandenburg, and Saxony. Brandenburg seems solidly under Axel’s thumb, so the civil war will likely be fought in Saxony and Pomerania. Saxony is titular. Pomerania is being politically contested and the nobles are smarting from ‘Krystallnacht’. They didn’t take as bad a beating as in Mecklenburg, but got spanked. Revenge with Swedish (Axel’s) support may be on their minds.
    IMO G2A screwed up (opening up USE to attacks by Bavaria and France, Swedish Prussia to attacks by PLC and Ducal Prussia (Brandenburg-Prussia), Swedish Livonia to attacks by PLC, and sending away a sixth (ATT, now about a quarter) of his forces) just for political peace with Axel and a chance at his cousin the PLC King. He forgot (denial and believing his OTL historic military reputation IMO) that last time (1626-29) Koniecpolski spanked both Axel (with outnumbered PLC forces) and himself. His six column attack from the west seemed arrogant and bit him in the ass. Axel seems bound and determined to magnify this initial screwup into civil war and wastage of troops.
    I was expecting/hoping G2A wouls attack from the north through Swedish Prussia (Swedish Truce of Altmark lands) against Ducal Prussia (anchored by Konigsberg) and Brandenburg Truce of Altmark lands (Marienburg, Thorn, etc.). Thereby forming an expanded East Prussia early and with a different ethos.

  20. Randy says:

    Since GA2 is non compos mentis, Kristina should send an Imperial command, on pain of death should he refuse to obey, to her prime minister directing him to present himself to HER in Madgeburg. Kristina should send a Royal command, on pain of death should he refuse to obey, to Oxtierna directing him to present himself to HER in Madgeburg and bring her father with him. The Imperial and Rescripts should be sent and posted in Madgeburg, Stockholm, Berlin, Baner, Brahe, etc. Its called brinksmanship. Let’s see if Oxtierna is willing to an act of High Treason. While he may have the support of the Swedish nobility, the commons is a different kettle of fish. Remember GA2 used their support to gain supremacy over the nobles. If they fail to comply Kristina can always declare them and their supporters outlaws and seize their lands and titles.

  21. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Randy, that could be very tricky.

    She is only about nine at this time and I doubt that many would consider her of age to issue such commands.

    In my opinion, she’d (and Ulrik) be better off giving verbal support to Ox’s foes.

    While Ulrik can’t give Imperial commands (in her name) yet, he’ll be seen as an adult and his words in her support will listen to more than her words.

  22. ET1swaw says:

    @20 – Randy
    As Drak said, she’s just about to turn 9. Ulrik is 24, definately an adult. G2A may have the three lower Estates (Clergy, Burghers, Freeholder Peasants) behind him but he had to agree to a lot of conditions (mostly transferring power that previous Vasa rulers had stripped back to the Nobility) in order to take the crown without a Regency at 17. But Axel is not without his opposition even in the Nobility. OTL he and his family were definately THE power during Kristina’s reign, but NTL I don’t think G2A let it skew that far. As for an Imperial command: even if she was of age I don’t think Kristina would be able.
    There’s good reason Ulrik and Kristina left Stockholm!! With the queen dead and G2A out of it, Sweden is in political turmoil. But many of the officials owe their position to Oxenstierna!
    At Magdeburg they have support from both USE and Swedish administrations, but it is NOT uncontested. Axel does have the USE Prime Minister, G2A’s body, and several USE officials with him in Berlin. The sitting Legislature and the Judicial is mostly still in Magdeburg, but not most of the Executive. Swedish USE palace Admin is probaly still in place, but many of them possibly support/owe Axel as well. Kristina has popular support but little governmental support or legal standing.

  23. RLRapp says:

    Of Course the easiest way to prevent all this would be if Oxensternia suffered an “accident”. With no clear leader to rally around, each aristo will insist on their own primacy.

  24. Drak Bibliophile says:

    RLRapp, that won’t happen. Eric Flint is on record that assasinations rarely result as the assasins had planned on.

    Perfect “accidents” rarely occur so it would be known/strongly suspected that Oxensternia had been assasinated and the result is very unlikely to be favorable for the good guys.

    Of course, the attempt might fail and the assasin is caught so again the result isn’t very good.

  25. dave o says:

    #19 France is getting ready for a civil war and has just lost an army, and Bavaria has lost its best generals and is generally considered to be run by a madman. In my opinion, either or both might possibly be able to grab off a town or two. But, as per this snippet, the French border is defended. Neither of these is a credible threat. The Poles are a bit more credible, but their government is such a mess that they would have a lot of trouble deciding what to do.

    The way I read the Swedish/Polish war, the Poles lost about as many battles as they won. G2A or his generals could win some battles, but couldn’t occupy enough land to make it stick. That’s just about the same thing which happened in the Great Northern War in the 1680’s.

  26. Tweeky says:

    @24 Unless the “Keystone Hugenots” for some reason decide to try and bump off Oxenstierna.

  27. Randy says:

    Does anbody know where Harry Lefferts and his friends are? They could be quite useful in Berlin. Rescue GA2 and/or assassinate the OX.

  28. morgulknight says:

    @26, most of the Keystone Hugenots died in that fracas in Stockholm: seven went in, one made it out.
    @27, the last we heard from Harry and his wrecking crew, they were on their way to Rome to spring Frank and Giovanna Stone from the clutches of the Spanish anti-pope, and be the, “talk of Europe. Again.”

  29. robert says:

    @28 But there’re still a couple of Hugenots in Scotland, right? Including the ring lead..er..ring master would be a better term considering the bunch of murderous clowns that they are. And yes, Harry and the Leffertitti are off to Rome where …never mind-I hate that snerk.

  30. Tweeky says:

    @29 Harry Lefferts would be perfect for a “Black Bag” operation to take out Oxenstierna however assuming he could be successfully removed and it made to look like an “Accident” there is still the problem of “Blowback”. That is, unforseen consequences like what we saw happen with the Dreeson incident and the assassination of Kristina’s mother and the failed attempt on her and Ulrik. Also the Hugenot who got away (Brillard I think was his name) was the sniper who took out both Queen Eleanora, Dreeson and that fellow with him, i’d regard Brillard as being one of the more competent and dangerous of the Hugenot plotters still at large (the results of the others being killed off can only be described as “Darwinian” in that those left surviving are even more dangerous). Let us not forget about Ducas (who’s a very dangerous, fanatical, and mentally unbalanced plotter) and his associate. Overall i’d say those who’re left over are much more dangerous as a result of Darwinian selection.

  31. baldbastard2 says:

    May I remind everyone, Mike Stearns foresaw this situation from BEFORE he lost the election. Oh, I agree he didn’t see the particulars, but if you read some of Mr. Flints other series, such as the Belesarius books, he is fond of that pattern. Let the Bad Guys think they have it nailed, with their precise, tightly controlled, Great Evil Plot, then sweep the rug out from under them. Because real life is confusing, and he who can improvise has a great advantage over he who can’t when the first plan comes apart. Mike realizes that the only reason to have a Plan A to begin with is so you know for sure which plan won’t work. The Ox, while a very dangerous and capable man, is nowhere near as flexible. Ox sees this the way #1 does, having just been set up in the last book or two. I (and Mike Stearns) beg to differ.

  32. laclongquan says:


    The whole problem of having a good covert operator is that every problems start looking like a target waiting to be taken out.

    You are missing the basic element of Mike’s strategy: He’s teaching the nobles to play in a totally new ways. As per Rebecca’s words to Prince of Orange during Amsterdam’s negotiation.

    Using assassination is not a new way. Mike also have never stated any intention or desire to use such method.

  33. Tweeky says:

    @32 Mike has never stated it and i’m sure he’d use if need be but only as a last resort when there are no other reasonable choices available. Translation: he’d have to be in a desperate fix to use such an extreme measure, and i’m sure he’s very aware (no doubt with advice on the matter from Nasi) of the problems of “Blowback”.

  34. Brian says:

    Maybe Ulrik can convince his father to loan him Danish troops in support of the CoC and cohorts. After all, Christian IV doesn’t want a Swede lording it over him.

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