1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 20

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 20:

He looked down and scuffed his boot across the surface of the road. “Then there’s this little problem. You did notice these are cobblestones?”

She looked down. “Um. Yeah.”

“And exactly how many cobblestoned airstrips have you ever seen?”

“Um. None.”

“There’s a reason for that.” He lifted his own, much thicker hand, and shook it up and down sharply. “Cobblestones are contraindicated for landing gear.”

The two CoC craftsmen standing next to them looked at each other. Their expressions were dubious.

“Hard to pull up all these cobblestones and lay new ones,” said the taller of the two.

“And then they wouldn’t be as solidly set,” added his companion.

Eddie had already figured that much out for himself. “How about paving it?”

The two craftsmen looked at each other again.

“We don’t have enough asphalt,” said the one on the left. His name was Wilbart Voss.

“Not nearly enough,” said his partner, Dolph Knebel.

Eddie shook his head. “I don’t really need a regular landing strip. The cobblestones would made a solid foundation if we could just fill it in with gravel to even out the surface. Then, level it with a roller.”

The craftsmen exchanged glances again. That seemed to be a necessary ritual before their brains engaged.

“How wide?” asked Voss.

Eddie started walking slowly toward the big square to the north. “I’d want a minimum of forty feet. I’d be a lot happier with sixty.”

Knebel made a face. “That’s… about three hundred tons of gravel.”

His partner was more sanguine, however. “Not so bad,” said Wilbart. “There’s plenty of gravel in the area and with everyone coming into the city for shelter from Báner we’ve got a lot of wagons and manpower. A strong wind might blow some of it away, though.”

Eddie had already considered that problem. “If need be, I figured we can coat it with pine tar. But I don’t think it’ll be necessary. Between building the strip and repairing the plane, there’s no chance we’d be able to use it until January or February. By then, there’ll be snow holding the gravel in place. Just have to pack down the snow. Really well.”

Denise chimed in. “Hey, I just thought of something, Eddie. You could land and take off on skis instead of wheels.”

Junker’s jaws tightened a little. His girlfriend had a great deal of confidence in his ability to do most anything. As a rule, this was a pleasant state of affairs. There were times when it was awkward, however.

“There is no way I am using skis. I have been flying for only a few months, and I have no experience — none at all — with skis. On a plane, I mean. I know how to ski myself, of course.”

“You don’t have any skis for the plane anyway, do you?” asked Minnie.


“Can’t be hard to make,” said Denise, reluctant as always to give up one of her pet schemes.

“I am not using skis. If we can’t do it the usual way, then we simply won’t do it at all.” Eddie shrugged. “Which we probably won’t, anyway, if we lose the airstrip outside the city. This whole idea of flying in and out of the city’s square borders on lunacy to begin with.”

Denise didn’t argue the point. It’d be pretty hard for her to do so, given that her first reaction upon hearing that the CoC was thinking of building an airstrip inside the city walls was pungent, explosive, and consisted mostly of the Amideutsch variant of every four-letter Anglo-Saxon term known to man and girl.

“It might all be a moot point,” said Minnie. “They probably can’t fix the plane anyway.”

Eddie had crashed the plane when he landed it on the jury-rigged strip outside the city a few weeks earlier. He’d blamed the condition of the soil. More precisely, he’d blamed the girls for having assured him the soil was suitable. They had their own opinion, of course.

The most serious damage had been to the propeller, which had been completely destroyed. There was no way to replace it with the tools and equipment available in Dresden, so Eddie’s employer Francisco Nasi was having a new propeller shipped in from Grantville.

Smuggled in would be a better way to put it. The Swedish general Johan Báner had already announced a blockade on any goods coming into Dresden. His army was still too far away to enforce the blockade systematically, but he had a number of cavalry patrols searching for contraband. Given their relative few numbers, the cavalrymen weren’t trying to interdict all goods, just those that had military uses. Presumably, Nasi had had the propeller hidden some way or another. Still, it was taking time to get it into Dresden.

In the meantime, a number of the city’s artisans had started working on repairing the damage to the plane’s structure. That was slow-going, partly from lack of the right tools and supplies, but mostly because none of them had any good idea what they were doing.

Neither did Eddie, really. He was on the radio almost every night talking to Bob Kelly, the plane’s designer. At the rate they were going, he didn’t expect to have the plane ready to fly again until mid-winter.

By then, the way things were looking, Báner would have Dresden under siege and the airfield outside the city’s walls might as well be on the moon.

So, this project had been launched to jury-rig an airstrip in the central square. It was a project that Eddie considered just barely this side of insane. The only reason he’d agreed to it — a reason he kept entirely to himself — was that if worse came to worst and Báner’s army breached the walls and began sacking the city, Eddie would try to fly himself, Denise, Minnie and Noelle Murphy out of Dresden. If they crashed and died, as they most likely would, the women would still be better off than they would in the hands of the Swedish general’s mercenaries in the midst of a rampage. At least it’d be quick.

“You’re looking awfully solemn,” Denise said, in a teasing tone of voice.

“He thinks we’re probably all going to die,” piped up Minnie, “but it’s sort of okay because this way it’ll be over fast. He’s a pretty stoic guy.”

Denise curled her lip. “I don’t hold with philosophy.”

“Which is itself a philosophical proposition,” said Eddie mildly.

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26 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 20

  1. ET1swaw says:

    I thought Dauntless was only pilot plus 2.

  2. ET1swaw says:

    I thought Dauntless was only pilot plus 2.

  3. jeff bybee says:

    seats yes maybe but remember when the german airforce left north africa. some of the single seater bf 109 (messersmit} fighter pilots wanting to save their valued ground crewmen flew out with no parachute but one crewman under then one on their lap and in some cases a third passanger behind the seat. and iirc the 109 didn’t have an oversized cockpit to begin with

  4. Willem Meijer says:

    It’s not only the number of seats that determines who Eddie can take, also the amount of extra weigt the plane can carry. The heavyer the plane, the longer the strip needed for take-off. I am still waiting until someone suggests building a ramp or other contraptions to assis the start.

  5. dave o says:

    It’s now established that Eddie and company are in contact with Nasi, their boss, and Bob Kelly, who was in Grantville, but may have moved to Magdeburg by now. It’s not clear why they’re staying in Dresden: Baner’s patrols have orders to keep supplies out, not people in, and could probably be avoided anyway. Maybe they’ve been ordered to stay. There in no word yet on what Ox’s troops or von Arnim are doing, if anything.

    There was a lot of discussion in previous snippets about firing the first shot: it sounds to me that interdicting Dresden is it. Since Nasi is in contact with Eddie, he is probably also in contact with Mike. Who could be moving north already.

    #s 1-4 I don’t recall anything in the canon about the construction or power of Kelly’s aircraft. I figure that Eddie’s opinion that he can at least take off is the best we have.

  6. Randal says:

    Isn’t it the same model that flew Denise, two idiots and some bombs to chase Janos Drugeth?

  7. Robert H. Woodman says:

    I’m a little confused by this snippet. Ernst Wettin is in Dresden. He is nominally in charge of the situation. Gretchen is in charge in fact, but there’s been nothing stated overtly that should indicate to Baner that a coup has taken place; so far as Baner knows, Gretchen is in charge. Having said that, WHY is Baner blockading Dresden? That doesn’t make sense to me. On whose authority is he setting up the blockade? To what end is he setting up the blockade? If he thinks to elminate the Committees of Correspondence, they are not outlawed in the USE, and Dresden is now part of the USE, so his actions could be construed as illegal. If those actions are based on orders from Wilhelm Wettin, they would be illegal without a change in law banning the C’s of C. If those actions are based on orders from Axel Oxenstierna, then they are illegal because Ox has no authority in the USE. Ox’s orders would amount to a de facto declaration of war on the USE by Sweden, which would p*** G2A off if/when he wakes up. So, again, why has Baner already ordered a blockade of Dresden? It confuses me somewhat.

  8. Robert H. Woodman says:

    Whoops! I meant to say “so far as Baner knows Ernst Wettin is in charge.” Sorry for the typo!

  9. morgulknight says:

    @7, I think Baner and Oxenstierna are both working on the same six-month clock that Hand is working from, and they want the CoCs, especially in Dresden, crushed as quickly as possible–get it done before Gustav Adolf recovers his powers of (coherent) speech with the notion that it’s better to seek forgiveness than permission. After all, Oxenstierna can always throw Baner under the bus if he has to by claiming the hothead general exceeded his authority or that massacring CoC-Dresden was not what he had in mind, but there was no one else to send. Probably with a platitude about omlettes and eggs.
    Part of me is wondering how much up-time history Oxenstierna has read; is he trying to set up a Reichstag Fire to give himself cover while he takes down CoC-Everywhere Else as well? Wilhelm Wettin might not be willing to go along with that, but if he gets assassinated by someone Oxenstierna is able to label as a CoC agitator and his replacement is more amenable to the Oxenstierna/Baner agenda (a safe bet; Oxenstierna is smart enough to have handpicked said successor in advance, and maybe even convinced Wettin to sign off on it before the knife goes in), all bets are off. Heck, he may already have the incident he needs, if he is able to get a propaganda operation going that’s good enough to sell the notion that the French assassins in Stockholm were “actually” CoC people.

  10. Peter says:

    @7 That bothers me too. It implies a lot of decisionmaking on the part of William Wettin and Ox, and I don’t find that implication persuasive or supported by the rest of what we’ve been told. perhaps this is a backhanded way of implying a whole lot of other actions on the part of the Prime Minister? It’s all very murky.

  11. dave o says:

    #7, #9, #10 I’m just guessing, but I think Baner is doing this on his own. Maybe with a suggestion from Ox or one of his flunkies. From what we know of him, he’s entirely capable of doing what he wants instead of following orders.

  12. B Taylor says:

    @7 (mostly) While this is not a period I’m that familiar with (outside of these books), I think that blockading a city that is under the de facto control of a radical group, and which might well shift to being a rebel group, would be within the range of acceptable practice for a military commander. Here, the CoC are definitely radical, control the city, and Baner may know that they won’t let him in when he gets there. Thus, he has plenty of reason to believe that he will have to besiege the city to return it to USE control, and therefore has grounds to deny the city supplies which would be used in a siege. Now, all this would be complicated by the fact that Ernst Wettin is supposed to be in charge (and is in the city), but Baner could (reasonably) argue that this is a military matter, and that he needed to issue the order before being able to consult Ernst. (What would happen if Baner’s soldiers interdicted supplies ordered by Ernst’s administration is an interesting question.) This could be a legal fig leaf for Stearns, Kresse, the CoC/Dresden militia, etc – Baner is just about declaring war on Dresden, without asking his boss, so they are opposing him to help his boss (this would require that Ernst cooperate, at least some, since if he were to approve Baner’s actions, then the legality question disappears).

    So, the gist of it is, Baner is probably not doing anything that would be considered illegal by most downtimers (note that Eddie gives no thought to it being illegal, though he might not regardless). What USE law says on the subject is unknown (we may find out this book, since it is significant), but it is not unlikely that only the lawyers will care about such things (well, and who ever can cite the actual law as justification, although victory is what will really decide who’s “justified”).

  13. alejo says:

    I want the arc. These tiny snippets that don’t move the plot forward perceptibly are like crumbs when you want a loaf. Particularly painful on Fridays.

  14. hank says:

    Given how Baner has been presented previously, just the news that CoC had taken over Dresden could be enough to set him off. Red flag, meet bull. And if he hasn’t heard from Ernst, he could claim he thought they were holding the Duke captive. All it would take would be one fat burgher on the run whispering rumors in his ear. Heck, Gretchen might have arranged that if she’s being sneaky.

  15. Vince says:

    @7 I’m somewhat confused as to your reasoning. Does Baner even know that Gretchen is now in Dresden? How much does he know (if any) of the situation where the CoC (in combination with other groups) are exerting influence – if not running things outright in all but name – in Dresden? Did I miss something in the previous snippets?

  16. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @14 – Vince

    Nothing has been said outright that Baner knows that Gretchen is now in Dresden. The text of the snippets permit the inference that “everybody” knows that the CoC and like-minded groups (e.g., Kresse’s group from the Vogtland) are in Dresden or headed to Dresden, and one can reasonably infer that people like Baner and Oxenstierna will treat that as an incipient rebellion and, hence, move to suppress said rebellion with more force than necessary.

  17. Todd Bloss says:

    Can someone tell me why Dresden has suddenly become so important?
    I know all the players are there -or ultimately converging on it, but why are they all going there for the showdown
    shouldn’t all this be happening at the capital?

    Or is Dresden being setup as a Ft. Sumter?

  18. Peter says:

    I would bet on Dresden playing the role of fuse, or possibly proxy – the rest of the USE is fairly well shaken out as to which way it leans (Swabia excepted) for the short run, and the CoC must play a more drawn-out organizational / transformational game in provinces such as Mecklenberg and Westphalia, Upper Rhine and Main. But Saxony is very much up for grabs, and is more amenable to CoC inroads than others. (Look how quickly they got control of Dresden). So to a certain extent is is the current proxy for the larger struggle, the ‘next domino’ in the Great Game for control of Germany. So Ox and the Loyalists are trying to prevent that domino from falling, while the CoC does its best to shove it over.

  19. ET1swaw says:

    @16, @17 Mecklenburg – CoC stronghold after ‘Krystalnacht’, but G2A (not Swedish rule!) is heavily supported. Brandenburg – rulers abandoned country rather than lose and be forced to surrender, currently has 2 Swedish Divisions and a s**tpot of reactionary nobles with their retinues sitting on it. Pomerania – G2A (once again not Swedish rule) supported but elected officials (Ox’s ringers) are being legally contested by CoC/lower Estates. Oberpfalz – left to mercy of Bavaria with possible SoTF/CoC saving intervention (CoC Riverrat and Jaeger militias only current support of Colonel Simpson’s Regiment). Swabia/Wurttemberg – process of dissolving into 2 provinces (one a government by the people(major CoC involvement)) with Bernhard and Switzerland grapsing for any leftovers (hinterlands of Ulm and Strassburg vulnerable to Bavaria and Bernhard). Main, Upper Rhine, Tyrol, Brunswick, Hesse-Kassel and Westphalia provinces – still shaking out between CoCs, bureaucrats, and noblity. Saxony, as stated, is up for grabs and both polarities (reactionary and CoC (populist)) want it. As stated above, CoCs are busy all over USE. Saxony is just the most overt and black and white.

  20. Greg says:

    I don’t understand why they cannot make a new propeller locally. The Wright brothers carved theirs from wood by hand.


  21. robert says:

    Baner got his orders the same time that Ernst was appointed/sent to Dresden. Remember how Ernst moaned about having to suffer Baner again. It was, if memory serves, prior to GA’s boink on the head, but I don’t recall if it was GA or Wm. W. who gave the orders. Searching…

  22. hank says:

    @19 orders from G2A given at conference in Berlin before the start of the polish campaign.

  23. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @19, 20

    Baner got his orders to go to Saxony to serve with Ernst Wettin prior to the start of the Polish campaign. Mike got orders to go to Bohemia at the same time. Nothing that we were told about those orders included Baner besieging Dresden. Baner is to work with Wettin, and Wettin is in Dresden, nominally in charge of things there. So where did Baner get the idea that he needed to besiege Dresden? Who gave him those orders, or did he decide that on his own? And if he decided on his own, what led him to that decision?

  24. Cindy Curry says:

    If you remeber back to the Eastern Front snippets, you may recall that the snippets did not go straight through the book from the first chapter. We can not assume that there aren’t pieces missing in the story.

  25. robert says:

    @22 Yes, and Eric’s preface to release of these snippets said that snerks on the Eastern Front book would be redacted.

  26. Sounour says:

    Dresden is important for 3 reasons:
    1) Everybody says/thinks it’s important, everybody important is there
    2) It’s the traditional capital of Saxony. With Saxony a new state in the USE, and especialy with G2A out of the picture, there is a power vacuum in the goverment of Saxony. It’s up for grabs. So the one who can create a working goverment has a good chance to keep it when the emperor is back, because G2A is pretty much of a pragmatist. And with the goverment of Saxony comes a seat in the “House of Lords” where the “Monarchist Party” will pretty surely get the seat of Brandenburg. The “Republican” party will need a counterweight.
    3) Dresden controls the river traffic up the Elbe towards Bohemia and thus controls the major trade route with Wallenstein. Of course every fortified position does this, but Dresden also is a pretty large city and has much industry.

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