1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 25

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 25:

Yet, the same thing that gave the USE’s army so much of its strength could also be its Achilles’ heel. Those soldiers out there were heavily influenced by the radical Committees of Correspondence. Given the recent political developments in the USE, there was a very real chance that they might mutiny and turn their guns against their own rulers rather than Poland and Lithuania.

But they would be far less likely to mutiny so long as they were fighting a war. Their commander Torstensson was popular with his soldiers and could probably maintain discipline — provided the war continued and his army remained in Poland, and provided that his civilian superiors were not so reckless as to try to use his regular army divisions against the USE’s own population.

That was exactly why Jozef Wojtowicz was urging his uncle to make peace with the USE. If necessary to get that peace, even give up the territory that Gustav Adolf had already seized before he was so severely wounded at Lake Bledno that his chancellor Oxenstierna was now managing Sweden’s affairs. Those territories were only marginally Polish to begin with. Most of the population of most of the towns the USE had seized were German, not Polish.

So let the USE have them — and let Oxenstierna try to deal with an angry army coming back home, most of whose soldiers despised him and weren’t much fonder of the USE’s own prime minister. In all likelihood, the USE would dissolve into civil war.

Such a war wouldn’t last forever, of course. It was possible that the victor, whoever that might be, would then want to resume the USE’s aggression against Poland. But they’d have been weakened and, more important, Poland and Lithuania would have gained the time it needed to modernize its own military. The commonwealth didn’t have the industrial base the USE possessed, but it wasn’t backward and primitive Muscovy, either. With time, effort and determination, they could build a military capable of meeting the USE’s on more or less equal terms.

But as always, the king and the Sejm were being pig-headed.

The damned Swedes had invaded — again!

To arms! To arms! No surrender, no retreat, no compromise!

And never mind that the king would continue to be a wastrel, showering money on his whores instead of his soldiers. Never mind that the Sejm would be miserly with its money and profligate with its factionalism. Never mind that the great magnates would keep their powerful private armies at home to fend off rivals instead of sending them to the front. Never mind that the szlachta would guard their petty privileges far more assiduously than they would guard the commonwealth’s national interests.

Lukasz sighed, gave the plane circling overhead an angry glance, and turned away to follow the grand hetman.


Less than a mile away, Lieutenant General Lennart Torstensson lowered his eyeglasses. The up-time binoculars had been given to him by Mike Stearns after the Magdeburg Crisis which followed the battle of Wismar. Stearns had given no specific reason for the gift, but Lennart was sure it was in appreciation for his restraint during that episode. Had he followed the advice of most of his subordinates — and just about every nobleman residing in the city at the time — there’d have been a bloodbath; which, in turn, would have precipitated a far greater political crisis. Instead, he’d kept his troops in their barracks and let Stearns and his associates settle things down with almost no violence at all.

That same conduct on his part had gotten him a far greater gift than a pair of binoculars from his monarch. Gustav Adolf had valued Lennart for his military abilities for some time already. But it wasn’t until he saw how Torstensson handled the Magdeburg Crisis that the Swedish king gave him his full political confidence. Lennart’s greatest military triumph had been the battle of Ahrensbök, but he never would have been leading the army that won that great victory if he hadn’t already shown Gustav Adolf he could be trusted with a fully independent command.

Still, modest though they might be in some terms, he treasured the binoculars. Not so much for the ability to see so well at a distance, but because in some indefinable way they made it easier for Torstensson to accept what he saw and make decisions based on it. A down-time eyeglass left things… murkier.

As murky as the orders he kept getting from Prime Minister Wettin, which he suspected were really coming from the chancellor of Sweden. As he slid the binoculars into their case, Torstensson’s jaw tightened. The respect and admiration he had long felt for Axel Oxenstierna was slipping away from him; as each week passed, more and more rapidly — and even more rapidly, his respect for Wilhelm Wettin.

He could accept Oxenstierna’s near-fanatical devotion to aristocratic interests, and could accept Wettin’s pre-occupation with political tactics at the expense of strategic vision. Grudgingly, but he could accept them.

What he could not accept was their willingness to use his soldiers as pawns in their game; their willingness to throw away lives — a great number of lives — purely for the sake of advancing their factional interests. That was what was draining away his respect, and stoking his growing anger.

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20 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 25

  1. Peter says:

    Good, good! I like where this is heading.

  2. Jason says:

    Do we see the possiblility of Lennart saying screw it and take his army back to the USE

  3. Jeff Ehlers says:

    Lukasz has a good head on his shoulders. That would almost certainly be the best strategy in the long run. Too bad kings and nobles tend to really suck at even basic strategy.

    And it sounds like Torstensson is gradually heading in the direction of flat-out refusing to obey the orders issued by Oxenstierna through Wettin. If it comes to soldiers being used against USE civilians, that may well prove to be the breaking point. Of course, were it Gustav in control, it would never come to that – both because of Torstensson’s loyalty and because Gustav isn’t dumb enough to make such a decision to begin with.

  4. Robert H. Woodman says:

    April cannot arrive soon enough!!!

  5. Jan B says:

    3 Oxensteirna is aware that he can’t use the USE army against it’s people (Wettin may not be), so he knows that bringing it back will wither bring it in against him or in best case (for him) stay neutral and have massive desertions to CoC. That is the reason Ox try to keep it in Poland and bleed it.Torstensson objects to bleeding part, he has no problem that his people dies for a good reason but not just for politcial purpose. Torstensson is well aware he can’t get his men to fight for Ox agains their people, he may think he can keep them neutral if he returns.

  6. He may think they are being left to die so when they are brought back there will not be very many of them.

  7. ET1swaw says:

    1st and 2nd USE Divisions under Tortensson are well aware that Wettin and Oxenstierna have hung them out to dry. 3rd USE was sent to Bohemia (by Wettin but to appease Oxenstierna and they know it). Hesse-Kassel’s surviving troops are returning home (from Berlin not Poznan) with Axel well-wishing them on. And Axel has ordered both divisions of Swedish troops (mostly mercenaries) to stay in Brandenburg while they were sent into a winter seige (once again by Wettin with Axel’s blatant puppetry). They may not have Lennart’s insight into Axel’s Swedish powerbase, but they have seen him almost ride roughshod over USE sovereignty. They are not happy campers and Koniecpolski and his nephew know it. Hopefully the fact of 2 semi-hostile forces (von Arnim and Baner) in Saxony and the Oberpfalz hung out on a limb has not trickled down.
    Wladislaw thinks he’s a great General (OTL he was so-so, but nowhere near G2A or Koniecpolski; or even Tortensson, Bernhard, Brahe or Horn), but he’s more in Axel’s weight class. Maybe he and the Sejm will take prosecution of the war away from Koniecpolski. After all he did retreat from an inferior force when he had a chance to finish off G2A and managed to get himself besieged in Poznan by 1/3 of the original attacking forces!!

  8. Todd Bloss says:

    Both sides of the siege want (or at least can live with) the same thing. The prosecutor of the siege is at odds with his superiors who ordered it. -Sounds a lot like Amsterdam.

    What they need (just like in the siege of Amsterdam), is a third party to grease the wheels.
    So who’s available?

  9. dave o says:

    What happens to Torstensson and Koniecpolski depends a lot on how both armies are supplied. Koniecpolski’s army lost a lot of hussars in the battle against G2A, but still has a mostly cavalry army. Unless Poznan was well supplied before the siege, he’s going to have a lot of trouble feeding all those horses. Men are also a problem, but not so much. I suspect he has dismissed his Cossacks, on the grounds they are pretty much useless in a siege. But they may be in the countryside around Poznan. In which case, Torstensson will not be able to forage. So he will depend on convoys for his supplies. Which means that Ox/Wettin are going to need to send them, and the troops necessary to defend them. Not likely. Unless maybe they use von Arnim, who they probably consider less reliable than Swedish troops.

    It’s clear from this snippet, that Torstensson is getting ready to oppose the Ox/Wettin axis. Koniecpolski is under pressure from Lukasz but still takes orders from the King and Seym. It’s hard to figure where he will end up, But.
    He commands the army in Poznan, and I think he’s not willing to do anything too suicidal just because they tell him to. If he decides to let Torstensson go, because he lacks supplies to pursue him, or for any other reason, he can.

  10. ET1swaw says:

    @9 dave o: Lukasz and Josef (Koniecpolski’s intel head) can only put so much pressure on their uncle (and paterfamilias). And their position towards the USE is kinda undercut by Lukasz’s brother Krystof aligning with the CoCs and Wallenstein/Roth.

  11. Robert H. Woodman says:

    Do you suppose that Torstensson will open up communications with Mike in Bohemia? I could see opportunities to crush Baner, Oxenstierna, and Wettin if the Stearns and Torstensson decide to coordinate their movements, assuming that Torstensson can cut a deal with Koniecpolski that allows the USE forces to pull out of the siege.

  12. morgulknight says:

    @11, Since Torstensson is the CO of the entire USE Army and Stearns is one of his division commanders, it would be surprising if they *weren’t* in communication with each other.
    I just thought of something along those lines: if Torstensson orders Stearns to intervene at Dresden, Stearns is covered by the fact that he would be obeying orders from his lawful superior, while Baner is probably not; how much command authority does Ernst Wettin have over Baner? It seems clear that nobody’s ordered Baner to blockade Dresden; Oxenstierna’s too smart to leave written orders like that lying around for Gustav Adolf to find if he recovers, and plenty smart enough to understand the concept of plausible deniability.
    All of which Stearns and Company can then use to add credence to the notion that his opponents are the ones who aren’t willing to play by the rules.

  13. Johnny Davis says:

    “It wasn’t backward and primitive Muscovy, either…”

    So is Butterflies in the Kremlin not cannon?

  14. Joe Cozart says:

    If it gets into GG, then it’s pretty much canon. Koniecpolski is surely aware that a Polish force got a bloody nose in a battle on the Russian border not too long before, thanks in large part to more modern equipment and novel applications of existing methods. But the Poles have been thinking of the Muscovites as being backward and primitive for so long that the attitudes of individual Polish leaders are unlikely to have changed very much.

  15. robert says:

    @9 The Poles don’t have to feed the hoses if they eat them.

    @11 Tortenson is perfectly capable of leading a successful retreat if the Poles decide to harass him while he is leaving. But if he does quit the field, will he go to Magdeburg (far) or Berlin? Or Dresden… Anybody got any good guesses? We know where the rank and file would like to go–right to Berlin to string up the malefactors.

    @13 It is canon, but the Russians also have awful political issues. And they still have lousy cannons (sorry).

  16. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @15 — robert

    Torstensson won’t go directly to Berlin, I don’t think, unless he’s coordinating with Stearns, and unless it is a strategically sound move. Dresden is a possibility, but a doubtful one. My guess — and it’s ONLY a guess — is that when Ulrik and Kristina reach Magdeburg, Torstensson, if he’s going to break with Oxenstierna and Wettin will do so at that time and will proceed to Magdeburg to support the Prince and Princess.

    I always appreciate an awful pun. Thanks! :-)

  17. dave o says:

    #15 Absolutely true. If they eat the horses, they don’t need to feed them. If the horses are eaten, Torstensson can withdraw from Poznan, and Koniecpolski can’t catch up with him. Torstensson can plan his withdrawal when it suits him. K won’t know about it until after it happens. It will take him at least a day to follow ( he needs to get supplies and wagons together first) and probably longer. With that kind of lead, Torstensson can’t be caught.

  18. robert says:

    @16 Robert, I agree. Magdeburg is the logical choice. It is the capitol of the USE and it is where Kristina and Ulrik will make for from Stockholm–which is where I am trying to find a nice hotel for a trip there in mid-June. $tockholm is more expensive than Paris or New York–no wonder Kristina et al are leaving!

  19. laclongquan says:

    Dont forget the short war happened between Poland and Russia depicted in one of butterfly short story.

  20. ET1swaw says:

    @15 The Russians have breechloading rifled artillery and their own version (AK3) of a rapid load breechloading rifle. They are also having political and food production problems.

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