1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 24

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 24:

Chapter 9

Poznán, Poland

The grand hetman of Poland and Lithuania finished studying the enemy lines beyond the city’s fortifications. From his expression, Lukasz Opalinski thought he wasn’t very happy with what he saw. Not so much because of the enemy’s lines, but because of his own. Poznán had begun the process of renovating its walls with the modern trace italienne design, but had not finished it when the USE launched its invasion of Poland. As usual, funds had been short and erratic. King Wladyslaw IV was a spendthrift and the Sejm was feckless.

Stanislaw Koniecpolski turned away, shaking his head. “Lucky for us the Swedish bastards are pre-occupied with their own affairs for the moment.”

Lukasz decided that gave him the opening he’d been waiting for. “As it happens, I just got a letter from Jozef yesterday. He thinks –”

The grand hetman waved a massive hand. “I know what my nephew th-thinks, young Opalinski.” Koniecpolski suffered from stuttering, if he wasn’t careful. “My letter from him arrived the day before yest-terday. I am willing to wa-wager that if we matched the t-two letters, they’re word-for-word alm-most the same.”

The stuttering was much worse than usual. That was partly an indication of the grand hetman’s anxiety, and partly — so Lukasz liked to think, anyway — because Koniecpolski had developed a great deal of trust in his young new adjutant. He was less careful about his speech impediment in the presence of close friends, relatives and associates.

The grant hetman tightened his lips and took a slow, deep breath. That was his method for bringing the stuttering under control. It usually worked, as it did this time.

“I might even agree with Jozef,” Koniecpolski continued. “But it’s not my decision, something which Wojtowicz tends to overlook.”

Overlook wasn’t really the right word. Lukasz had had many long political discussions with Jozef Wojtowicz over the past two years. The grand hetman’s bastard nephew was disgusted with the state of Poland’s political affairs. Actually, he’d been fed up with them since he was fourteen years old. But his experience as the grand hetman’s spy in Grantville and later as the head of Koniecpolski’s espionage apparatus in the USE had brought that teenage semi-inchoate discontent into sharp focus. The reason Jozef kept urging courses of action on his powerful uncle was not because he “overlooked” the legal formalities but because he no longer cared much about them and had no confidence at all in either the king or in the Sejm.

Neither did Lukasz, for that matter. He wasn’t prepared to go so far as his older brother Krzysztof, who had become an outright revolutionary and was off somewhere in the Ruthenian lands agitating for the overthrow of Poland’s monarchy and aristocracy. Like Jozef Wojtowicz, Lukasz was still seeking a way to reform the government of the Polish and Lithuanian commonwealth.

But he was growing less and less sanguine about the prospects for doing so, as each month passed. He’d come to the point where he’d even prefer some sort of outright autocracy, if the autocrat was competent and decisive and would cut the Gordian knot of Polish and Lithuanian politics. He knew Jozef had come to that same conclusion months earlier.

There was only one realistic candidate for the position of Poland and Lithuania’s dictator, however, and that was the man Lukasz was standing beside this very moment. Unfortunately — at least, under these circumstances — Grand Hetman Stanislaw Koniecpolski was a staunch adherent to legality. Whatever he thought of the Sejm or the king, he kept to himself. And while the grand hetman was quite willing to extend his authority as far as the legal parameters allowed, he was not willing to go an inch beyond those limits.

He never had been, and Lukasz was now certain he never would be. Poland’s top military commander might have a supple mind on the battlefield or when it came to military affairs, but he was rigid when it came to Poland’s laws and political traditions. Had he still been a young man, perhaps that might be subject to change. But Stanislaw Koniecpolski was now in his forties. Early forties, true, but forties nonetheless. Not many very successful men were willing, at that age, to call into question their basic political and social attitudes. The grand hetman was no exception.

Lukasz decided there wasn’t any point in pursuing the matter. Koniecpolski would just get irritated. So, he let his eyes drift toward the fieldworks being put up by the army now besieging Poznán.

It was probably the best army in the world, leaving aside cavalry. The USE regular army’s first and second divisions, under the command of Lennart Torstensson. The third division was somewhere in Bohemia, according to Jozef’s reports. The American Mike Stearns was in command of that division.

The soldiers in those lines outside Poznán were not the polyglot mercenaries you found in the ranks of most European armies in the seventeenth century. Nor were many of them noblemen, as was true of the Polish military. The enlisted men were mostly Germans and almost all were commoners, volunteers driven more by ideological than pecuniary motives. They had the best military equipment in the world, thanks to the Americans, and the training to use it.

A sound from above drew his eyes to the sky. One of the USE’s airplanes had arrived, taking advantage of the recent good weather. It would probably drop a few bombs on the city’s walls, which wouldn’t do any real damage except to morale. But the blasted things gave Torstensson superb reconnaissance, so long as the weather was good. Polish armies could no longer maneuver as they were accustomed to doing, using the speed of their powerful cavalry to confuse their opponents. In good weather, they were always under observation; in bad weather, slowed by the weather itself. They were reduced to fighting what amounted to an infantry war, something which the USE army excelled at and they did not.

One siege after another. A Dutch style of war, not a Polish one.

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22 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 24

  1. Philippe says:

    what about Jan Sobieski III ?

    the last Great King of Poland

    he still child but by now, some Poland Noble should already support Sobieski claim against the Vasa Dynasty

  2. Peter says:

    I am betting that Lennart decides not to stay all winter for this siege. I wonder what pretext he’ll find to break it off? And how he’ll manage the retreat to Saxony or Brandenburg?

  3. dave o says:

    Lennart probably doesn’t have cannon heavy enough to breach “modern” defenses. If Poznan’s unmodernized defenses are medieval walls, maybe. Even if Ox is willing to support him, moving siege guns to Poznan over what passes for roads in Poland is near to impossible. If somehow he can breach the walls, it’s an interesting question whether he can take the city or not. Koniecpolski probably has more troops, but they’re mostly cavalry, and don’t have a lot of firearms. As the snippet suggests, not what you want for fighting in a city.

    I think what’s going to happen is that Koniecpolski will wait until civil war breaks out in the USE, and cut a deal with Tortensson, allowing him to withdraw. It’s not completely clear what side T is on, but there’s no question about his troops. What K gets out of this is the end to attacks on Poland. If Ox and his minions win, they’ll be too weak to continue the war. If FOJ wins, they’ll oppose the war, even if G2A recovers

  4. robert says:

    If Civil War breaks out, then Tortenson will have a very difficult time maintaining a siege because the troops will want to return to the USE to fight in opposition to Ox-Wettin. So a deal with Koniecpolski will have to be struck allowing an armistice and peaceful withdrawal. This leaves Tortenson in a very difficult position. He will have to decide where he stands and then stand there or retire and go home. Only Gustav’s recovery can save the situation for him–or at least relieve him of making a difficult professional choice.

  5. Doug Lampert says:

    Koniecpolski has absolutely no reason to cut a deal with Tortenson. If Tortenson is unlikely to face a situation where holding the siege is a viable alternative and he’s willing to cut a deal and pull out anyway. Hence Koniecpolski’s agreement has no effect on whether or not Tortenson withdraws, it only changes how many people die when he does.

    Which removes any leverage to cut a deal so that Tortenson will withdraw, the very act of offering such a deal would tell Koniecpolski that he doesn’t need to accept.

    I’m really not clear on just why Koniecpolski should be eager to let people who invaded his country go home safely so they can put their house in order prior to round N+1. He knows the people outside his walls are ideologically motivated volunteers who invaded his country and who hate the sort of system he’s defending. These are not people he wishes well for.

    Mike Sterns and Tortenson and GA invaded his country with the bulk of the forces being CoC raised USE regiments! Why should he wish them well?

    Conversely, neither Wettin nor Ox is really his enemy. Niether of them has or had any real interest in fighting Poland. (Sterns had no interest either, but why should Koniecpolski believe this about the commander of an enemy division who sacked one of his cities?)

    Why would Koneicpolski prefer “serfdom must end” Sterns and GA’s heir (and hence heir to his claim that his branch of the family should rule Poland) and the CoC to Wettin and Ox?

    I’m just not sure why people think Koneicpolski won’t do the obvious and fight till every invader is either out of his country or dead and the agressors have sued for peace and offered reparations or teritorial concessions (Tortenson isn’t in any possition to do either). In the meanwhile killing all the invaders he can as a warning for the next wave isn’t going to do him any harm.

  6. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @5 I don’t see why Koniecpolski would see Ox as anythiong other than someone bent on aggrandizing the Swedish empire. Ox’s whole position in telling the USE what’s what comes down to he is chancellor of Seden and the other states (inclusing USE) are mere provinces. And he is just as likely as any other “winner” of a civil war to see foreign conquest (of a Vasa dynastic land at that) as a way to heal the wounds and cement his popularity.

    I think the foreshadowing is that Koniecpolski will have other problems, internal to Poland, that make it worthwhile for him not to block Torstenson’s movement back to Berlin. But it might take a while (6 mos?) for those developments to come into play. Mike’s 3rd division troops may open a way for Wallensteing to dabble in that mess (thinking about the Anaconda plotline here — the grand strategy elements Eric has developed are pretty complex.)

    Meanwhile there will be time for a nice campaign season by Mike and Jeff and the CoC’s against Horn and Ox, in whatever configurations and troop numbers the political mess generates. Whoopee!

  7. dave o says:

    #5 How about this: Torstensson uses his heaviest guns and makes a breach in the medieval walls. He mounts an assault and massacres virtually all the Polish soldiers in the city. Would Koneicpolski be willing to make a deal when he sees a practicable breach? See the snippet. The Polish army will lose if it has to defend a city. There is no room for cavalry charges down alleys.

    And how about this: About half his soldiers rebel because they won’t do serf work, digging and the sort of manual labor a siege requires?

    Koniepolski is not a fool. He knows his own army, his enemy’s army, and how wars are conducted in the 17th century. He will make a deal if the terms are right.

  8. Robert H. Woodman says:

    It may be that something bad will happen to Koniecpolski, putting someone else in charge of the city’s defense. Or it may be that we are seeing foreshadowing of Koniecpolski’s eventual rebellion against the King and the Sejm. I was wondering also if the plane might drop a bomb that fortuitously breaches a wall or kills the Hetman or blows up much of the Poles’ ammunition stores.

  9. ET1swaw says:

    @5 Doug: AFAIK G2A doesn’t think his branch of the Vasa tree should rule the PLC. His beef is that the late Sigismund and now his sons think they should still rule Sweden!! Hell, in OTL Wladyslaw Vasa still claimed Russia until he let it drop in 1634. The claim on Sweden and Swedish Livonia wasn’t dropped until the Treaty of Oliva in 1660 (by 1661 Sweden reached its high mark with the Treaties of Copenhagen (Denmark-Norway, establishing about the borders existing today) and Cardis (Russia, reestablishing Stolbolvo 1617 borders)). Brandenburg also got Ducal Prussia free and clear in Treaty of Oliva.
    I agree that with civil war in the USE Tortensson would be SOL. I see no way Koniecpolski would let him peacefully vacate the siege of Poznan. 4 of 6 of the attacking troops were from the USE (1st, 2nd, and 3rd USE Divisions; and Hesse-Kassel’s troops)! As it stands, Oxenstierna has reduced those around Poznan by half (Hesse-Kassel’s survivors returning to their province; and Von Thurn’s Swedish division and G2A’s column’s survivors were called back to Brandenburg). A civil war in the USE would be the next best thing to G2A dying or captured! And for once Koniecpolski has support from Wladyslaw and the Sejm!!
    One thing I am curious about that hasn’t been addressed is the status of Swedish Prussia (expiring (1635) Truce of Altmark lands), Warmia, and Brandenburg Ducal Prussian lands (including those ceded by the Truce of Altmark); and of Swedish Livonia.

  10. ET1swaw says:

    @6 Ed: Horn is staying put in Swabia. I think you meant Baner, von Arnim, or von Thurn.

  11. Greg Eatroff says:

    Remember, Poland picked this fight with the USE by grabbing a bunch of German territory east of the Oder-Neisse line and sending troops west of the Oder to fight against Gustavus Adolphus when he was cleaning up the mess with Saxony and Brandenburg. As I recall, the Hetman wasn’t keen on that scheme (at least not on intervening west of the Oder, I don’t recall if he said anything one way or the other about the land-grab further east. Getting Poland out of a war he thought it was a bad idea to get into in the first place is a powerful incentive, if he can get a decent deal in the truce. So is not pissing off the winning side to the point that they decide it’s worth resuming the war as a matter of revenge.

    Also, not only does the PLC have its internal problems, Russia is rising to the east. Put those two things together and the Romanovs are scheduled to take Kiev away from the Poles in just 12 years. Coming up with a permanent peace in the west so that the PLC can deal better with the threat in the east is going to look awfully tempting.

    And there’s still the question of Wallenstein’s ambitions in Silesia. That’s a lot of fronts for Poland to have to worry about.

    Of course, there’s the question of whether the two sides can agree to terms for a truce even if both are willing to accept the principle. The USE would certainly agree to a status quo ante bellum, defined as a return to the 1634 borders. Poland would agree to sqab defined as the start line of GA2’s 1635 campaign. Can they bridge that gap, though? Would both sides be willing to let Poland keep Silesia but give up eastern Brandenburg, for instance?

  12. ET1swaw says:

    @11 Greg: PLC has 3 fronts with Sweden/USE: Poznan and recovering “German” lands east of Oder-Neisse (ex -Saxony, -Silesia, and -Brandenburg), Swedish Prussia (contiguous with Brandenburg’s Ducal Prussia), and Swedish Livonia (contiguous with Duchy of Courland (PLC fief) and Inflanty (Polish Livonia)). Wallenstein has Silesia and has expansion plans (Anaconda Project), so maybe a front there. PLC/Russia had the ‘Wet Firecracker War’ last year and has problems of their own (See ‘Butterflies in the Kremlin’), but may see adventurism as an out. You left out Transylvania (ATT a semi-independent part of the Ottoman Empire, in our time a part of Romania) whose ruler has a (admittedly weak) claim on the PLC crown. Last year Koniecpolski did put down an Ottoman sub-ruler’s attempt on the Ukraine, but they or the now Romanian provinces may want to try again. The cossacks are due to rise soon (though their winning OTL historical leader has been assassinated NTL) and slaughter Ukrainian Jews. And the Tartars (associated ATT with Ottomans more than Russia) are always restless.
    PLC is facing problems but so is Sweden/USE. 3 fronts with the PLC and all of the Swedish Dominions (with the exception of Swedish Prussia) are vulnerable to Russia. OTL Swedish Prussia was lost to PLC in the 1635 Treaty of Stuhmsdorf (NTL not happening). OTL the other Dominions (Livonia, Estonia, Ingria, and Karelia) and parts of Sweden Proper(Finland and Vyborg Karelia) were permanently lost to Russia by the mid-1700s.

  13. robert says:

    Further, we know that the Hetman has read the histories of the future (futuries?) that came with Grantville. So all of Poland’s future issues, as you all have pointed out, are clear to him and he will have to be free to deal with them…somehow. First thing first, and that is taking whatever opportunity Tortenson presents to end the siege, end the invasion and deal with the next problem.

  14. Greg Eatroff says:

    Wallenstein has Silesia? Where does this happen? In 1635: The Eastern Front Eric explicitly stated that the Poles occupied Silesia and Breslau became Wroclaw again.

    Russia is certainly a long-term threat to Sweden’s eastern provinces, but unless Sweden collapses into civil war and utterly wrecks itself that’s still some decades off. Furthermore if the Union of Kalmar holds, and the crown union with the USE, Russia may never be in a position to win those big northern victories. We’re talking a couple generations worth of butterflies between “now” and “then” after all, not to mention the changes knowledge of the original history has wrought.

    Knowledge of the future brings up all sorts of interesting issues, actually. Knowing about the pogroms that are due to start soon, do those Ukrainian Jews tie themselves even more tightly to the PLC, or look to Bohemia and the USE with their more openly accepting policies?

    And got a link to a map showing the borders of Swedish Prussia? I’ve seen plenty of maps showing OTL 1648 boundaries, but you’re describing some fairly significant changes here.

  15. ET1swaw says:

    @14 Greg: In ‘Eastern Front’ Eric did state that the PLC had occupied Breslau and other “German” territories east of the modern Polish border, but earlier in ‘EF’ there was a one-liner stating Wallenstein held Silesia.
    Swedish Prussia was composed of towns/cities/ports/strongpoints and their surrounds occupied by Sweden under the auspices of the Truce of Altmark (1629) (expiring Sep 1635 and OTL superceded by Treaty of Stuhmsdorf). It was basically the PLC Baltic coast from the eastern portion of Danziger Werder including the Vistula and Couronian Lagoons (with the definate exception of Konigsberg and surrounds) up through Memel. This included Memel, Pillau, Elblag/Elbling (capital), Braunsberg, Fischhausen, and Lochstadt. Its Governor-General OTL was Axel Oxenstierna. A toll was also levied on all port traffic of Danzig/Gdansk (PLC), Konigsberg (Ducal Prussia), and Windau/Venspils and Libau/Liepaja (the two main ports of the Duchy of Courland).
    Brandenburg was also awarded areas under that Truce (i.e. Marienburg, Marienburger Werder, Danziger Haupt and Grosse Werder (western and central portions of Danziger Werder), and I think Dirschau) in compensation for Ducal Prussian areas ceded to Sweden.
    At the conclusion of the Truce without a Treaty, Sweden was supposed to have more of Prussia returned to Swedish rule (those areas awarded to Brandenburg, Thorn, Strasburg, Frauenberg, Wormditt, etc.).
    As for Ingria and Karelia, ATT they are very low population (over 60% emigrated away from Swedish rule and forced Lutheranism OTL) and contain Neyanskans (a small fortress/port that was razed by Peter the Great in order to build Saint Petersburg). They and parts of Livonia, Estonia, Vyborg Karelia and Finland were taken by Russia in the 1650s and returned in 1660. And unlike Poznan in this snippet, their upgrade has not even been begun. I agree that Finland and probably Livonia and Estonia are safe, but Karelia and especially Ingria are low hanging fruit.
    Koniecpolski actually has a pretty good relationship with the Cossacks. The Sejm and Wladyslaw were the ones who messed up OTL.

  16. Bret Hooper says:

    @(all of the above): Don’t forget the title of the book: The Saxon Uprising. I assume it does NOT refer to events recounted in The Eastern Front, so I assume it is yet to come. How will that, when it comes, disrupt current (as of snippet 24) plans?

  17. Randal says:

    I think that Russia will be a problem for Poland right quick. The Turks got airship and rifle tech that they’re using now in Persia. What did the Russians get out of the deal? Enough money for a war? The Poles are their most recent opponents and war with them a useful unifying factor as Whatshisname tightens his grip on power.

  18. lethargo says:

    Sorry if this has been asked before, but where can I read about Wallenstein’s Anaconda project? Is that in 1635 – The Tangled Web? In some some Grantville Gazette stories?

  19. Drak Bibliophile says:

    The Anaconda Project was a “serial” in the electronic Grantville Gazette (under that title).

    However, Eric hasn’t written episodes of it for some time.

    On the other hand, Eric has decided that The Anaconda Project will be published as a novel in the “near” future.

    “Near future” meaning I’m not sure exactly when but writing it will be a high priority item for Eric.

  20. lethargo says:

    Ah. Thank you, Drak.

  21. ET1swaw says:

    @20 lethargo: I suggest you also check ‘Butterflies in the Kremlin’ (under that title) in the electronic GG (It is the current Russian thread).
    You might also want to check out ‘1632 snerks NASFIC August 2010’ in ‘Snerkers Only’ on Baen’s Bar. It is currently on page 2 or 3.

  22. Stanley Leghorn says:

    Notice that the Hetman is keeping his thoughts on the Sjem very tight to his vest. Might be he is waiting until they do something REALLY stubid and then he comes charging to the rescue. Other possibility is that Breslau gets breached and he takes a “Surrender with Honor” exit in conjunction with a peace treaty. This weakens his standing with the Sjem and they sack him and pull out some REAL idiot to lead a winter attack that ends in disaster. Battle of the Crater?

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