1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 19:
Eric could figure out the rest for himself. He already knew from filling in fairly obvious blanks in Jeff’s letters that the Hangman Regiment had been left behind in Tetschen so that Stearns could bring his whole division back into Saxony in a hurry, if need be. The most likely cause of such a maneuver would be an impending battle in or around Dresden.
A battle with whom?
Eric smiled. General Stearns was nothing if not canny. If anyone ever pressed him on that matter, he’d have a ready-made explanation there also.
After being defeated at Zwenkau in August, the Saxon general von Arnim had withdrawn what was left of his army into Leipzig. There, he’d prepared for a siege while he began negotiating surrender terms with the Swedes. But the negotiations had dragged on for weeks, since Gustav Adolf had been pre-occupied with driving forward his offensive into Poland. The Elector of Saxony was killed in September, and thereafter Gustav Adolf wasn’t particularly concerned with the situation in Leipzig. Von Arnim and his soldiers were mercenaries. With no patron left, von Arnim certainly wasn’t going to launch any campaigns, even after Gustav Adolf took almost all of his forces out of Saxony.
And then the king of Sweden had been severely injured at Lake Bledno, in October, and was now out of the political picture altogether — with von Arnim and ten thousand or so mercenaries still camped in Leipzig. So, if pressed, Stearns could always claim that he was seeing to it that in the event von Arnim resumed hostilities he could bring his Third Division back into Saxony in a hurry.
The CoC had gotten word in Dresden from their compatriots in Leipzig that the Swedes had resumed negotiations with von Arnim. But while no one in the CoCs was privy to those discussion, no one thought any longer that the Swedes were simply seeking von Arnim’s surrender. They were almost sure that Oxenstierna was trying to hire von Arnim himself — not to fight the Poles, but to serve the Swedish chancellor as another repressive force inside the USE. He couldn’t rely on the USE army still besieging Poznán to serve that purpose. In fact, everyone thought that he’d insisted on continuing the war with Poland precisely for the purpose of keeping the USE’s army out of the country. He’d use mercenaries in the pay of Sweden instead. He already had Báner and his fifteen thousand men marching into Saxony. If Oxenstierna could add von Arnim and the ten thousand men he had in Leipzig, he probably figured he could overawe or if need be crush any opposition in Saxony.
“Interesting times,” he murmured, thinking of the Chinese curse Jeff had once mentioned to him.
“Is that a ‘yes’?” Tata asked.
Eric made a face. “I guess.”
He started moving around the tower, which was built like a large turret, with Tata trailing in his wake. When he got to the other side, he leaned over the railing and began studying the walls which protected Dresden on the south. Most of the city was on the southern bank of the Elbe.
“We’re not going to be able to protect all of it,” he said. “Have to let the northern part go. Even then, it’s going to be a lot of work to build up those walls.”
“And you said you didn’t know anything about sieges,” Tata said. She wasn’t arguing the point, just doing her usual best to squash any further protests on his part.
“Just common sense,” he grumbled. “I’m still not an engineer.”
She came close and slid an arm around his waist. “You’ll do,” she said.
That statement had a very expansive flavor to it. Eric felt full of good cheer again.
Eddie Junker studied the boulevard to the south. Then, swiveled and studied it to the north.
Boulevard, he told himself firmly. That sounded so much less suicidal.
An uncharitable soul might have called the thoroughfare a “street.” A particularly surly specimen might have added “crooked” to the bargain.
In truth, the thoroughfare wasn’t really crooked. It just… jiggled around a bit.
Standing next to him, Denise Beasley stretched out her hand and made a slow, swooping motion. “You oughta be able to pull it off, Eddie. It’s a pretty straight street. Ah, avenue.”
“The lack of straightness by itself isn’t the problem.” He stretched out his arms, pointing simultaneously to the buildings on either side of the street. “What would you say the width is?”
Denise looked back and forth. Her friend Minnie Hugelmair, always given to direct methods, walked over to the building on the left side of the street. Then she paced off the distance.
“Thirty-five feet,” she announced.
Eddie nodded. “About what I figured.” He gave Denise a fish-eyed look. “And what is the wingspan of the plane?”
Denise waggled her head. “I’m not sure. Twenty-five feet?”
“Ha. Thirty-two feet. Leaving me three feet of clearance in the street — the very-not-straight street — if I have to come down into it.”
“But you’re not planning to,” protested Denise. “Exactly.”
“‘Exactly,'” Eddie mimicked. “No, I would simply be following it toward the square while — not quite — coming below the surface of the roofs. That would — hopefully — allow me to come into the landing area with a lower altitude than if I had to hop over the big buildings surrounding it. But if anything goes wrong…”