1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 26

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 26:

“No,” he said, speaking aloud but only to himself. His nearest aide was standing ten feet away, not close enough to hear the softly growled word.

He was not going to order a mass assault on Poznán’s walls. Those defenses might not be up to the standards of a completed star fort, bristling with a full complement of bastions and ravelins and hornworks and crownworks, but neither were they — to use terms from Wettin’s last radio message — “hopelessly antiquated” and “medieval.”

Even if they had been, such an assault would still be a bloody, bloody business. Stanislaw Koniecpolski was in personal command of Poznán’s defending army and he had at least ten thousand hussars at his disposal. Polish hussars might be primarily known for their prowess as heavy cavalry, but they were tough bastards under any circumstances and in any situation.

As it was, a direct mass assault would be futile as well as bloody. It would take months before Torstensson’s artillery had done enough damage to Poznán’s defenses to make any such assault feasible in realistic military terms.

Wettin might or might not know that himself. He had some military experience, but nothing like the experience of his younger brother Bernhard, who was an accomplished general in his own right.

As was Oxenstierna, who most certainly did know the price Torstensson’s army would pay for such an assault. Knew — and wanted the assault for that very reason. Oxenstierna was afraid of the USE’s army, because he couldn’t trust its soldiers to obey orders when he launched the counter-revolution he was so obviously preparing. So, he’d sent Stearns and his Third Division down to Bohemia and was keeping Torstensson and the other two divisions in Poland.

The orders were officially coming from Wettin, of course, since Oxenstierna had no legal authority over Lennart’s forces. He was Sweden’s chancellor, not the USE’s. But Torstensson was quite sure that Oxenstierna’s was the driving will in Berlin.

To hell with them. Lennart was fond of that up-time expression, even if some Lutheran pastors thought it perilously close to outright blasphemy. Wettin and Oxenstierna could send as many scolding messages as they wanted. They couldn’t force him to do their bidding unless they relieved him from command — and that would be far too risky.

What if he refused? Indeed, what if he led his army back into the Germanies and went knocking on Berlin’s gates?

Who would stop him? Torstensson’s two divisions were as numerous as the Swedish mercenary forces the chancellor had at his disposal in Berlin, far better equipped, and far better trained. They were veterans, too, and their morale would be splendid if Torstensson led them against Oxenstierna and Wettin.

As it happened, Lennart had no intention of doing any such thing. Until the situation with Gustav Adolf became clarified, he would remain strictly within legal bounds. But Oxenstierna couldn’t be sure of that.

Even if he were, what then? The discipline that held the First and Second Division in check was shaky already. If the chancellor removed Torstensson and replaced him with a new commander, there was a very real chance — a likelihood, in fact, in Lennart’s own estimation — that the army would mutiny and march on Berlin anyway.

True, they’d be easier to defeat if their leadership was informal and hastily assembled, than if they still had Torstensson in command. But not that much easier. At the very least, they’d bleed Oxenstierna’s forces badly — right at the moment he needed them most to deal with an increasingly restive populace.

No. Oxenstierna and Wettin would growl and scold and complain — possibly even shriek with fury, from time to time — but they wouldn’t do any more than that. Torstensson’s men would stay in the trenches. They’d suffer badly anyway, as soldiers always did in winter sieges. But there wouldn’t be the butcher’s bill that a mass assault would produce.

He glanced at the sun, which was nearing the horizon. Nothing more to be done this day. There wouldn’t be much to do, beyond routine, for many days to come.


Later that night, after supper, Torstensson retired to his quarters in the tavern of a village he’d seized not far from Poznán. Before going to bed, he lit a lantern and began resumed reading the book that had arrived from Amsterdam earlier that week.

Political Methods and the Laws of Nations, by Alessandro Scaglia. The book was one of a very limited edition, intended only for private circulation. Lennart had received it as a gift from the author himself, with a hand-written flowery dedication and signature on the frontispiece.

He was a little more than halfway through, and found the book quite absorbing.

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28 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 26

  1. G Bayrit says:

    Ahh haa, and Scaglia’s work appears and his words worm their way into the man’s thoughts — an influential man at that.

    The only question is, how far has he read?

  2. robert says:

    Here is an Amazon link to a book about Scaglia’s role in Savoyard diplomacy, and a Van Dyke portrait of him:

  3. robert says:

    Now I wonder when Scaglia will show up in Grantville and/or Magdeburg. Or will we see him in the forthcoming sequel to The Cannon Law. An interesting thought: the ambassador/diplomat/dotoressa Sharon Nichols meets the masterful ambassador/diplomat/abbe from Savoy.

  4. Jeff Ehlers says:

    Seems like Wettin is skating very close to the edge of treason with orders like that. It’s not exactly provable. Yet. But trying to order your army into an assault on a fortified position which, at the least, is virtually guaranteed to decimate them, on the “advice” of the chancellor of another country who is plotting a counter-revolution in order to take direct control of your country is decidedly stupid, to say the least.

    I would ask just why Wettin was being so utterly foolish about this, but my guess is he’s distracted by politics closer to home and simply isn’t paying attention to the writing on the wall. So at this point the best thing that can happen is…well, nothing. If Torstensson continues conducting the siege his way, in a way that will minimize his own losses, the USE’s army will be in the position of being able to march back home (after securing its rear) once Oxenstierna starts things off, and will be able to eventually counter him.

  5. William McLamb says:


    Where has it been said that Oxenstierna plans direct control of the USE? I’m not saying he isn’t but where has it been said that he is?

  6. robert says:

    @5 William, you are right about direct control, but isn’t control of the parliament by the nobility, which is to say Wettin’s political party, with Ox running things behind the scenes, enough (indirect) control? Then the USE will become subservient to Sweden, with Ox as regent for Kristina.

  7. Jason says:

    @3 I think Wettin is the victim of his own scheming. He made so many deals and pacts with the reactionaries that he almost has to go along along with what OX wants.

  8. Bret Hooper says:

    @1: “The only question is, how far has he read?,” you ask. I quote from the snippet: “He was a little more than halfway through, . . . .” One might ask how well he understood what he read, but in Lenny’s case, why ask? Lenny was anything but stupid! I am looking forward to Gus’s reaction when he regains his senses and learns what Axel the Ox has done!

  9. Jim says:

    One more player to be heard from, G2A half bro Karl, then we wil see the alignment of who is for and against the Ox. Will the military of sweden follow G2A family, or the Ox? Very interesting

  10. Jim says:

    Also this should have been one book, I can’t wait any longer for saxon!!

  11. Robert H. Woodman says:

    You would think that such pious men as Wettin and Oxenstierna would be aware of the consequences of adulterating the USE Constitution and ordering innocent men to their deaths (referencing The Holy Bible, Second Book of Samuel, chapters 11 and following, pun intended).

    Seriously, though, Wettin and Oxenstierna ought to be astute enough to realize that giving an order that either is unlikely to be obeyed or possibly will cause troop rebellion is stupid. Plus, they have to be aware that the commander on the ground (Torstensson) has a better grasp of when the city will be ready for taking than the REMFs in Berlin. Therefore, they must realize that repeatedly ordering Torstensson to assault a city that he undoubtedly has told them (probably more than once) is nowhere near ready to collapse carries the risk of troop rebellion. That is very foolish of Wettin and Oxenstierna!

  12. Ian Chapman says:

    #8 Yes it is foolish to give such an order and Axel knows it. In OTL, Axel while lacking G2A’s brilliance was more than a competant general.

    I think that Axel is desperate. He knows he has a limited window for his counter revolution, and that USE army has to be pruned as soon as possible.

  13. dave o says:

    I wonder whether disease will appear in USE or Polish troops. The most likely are Typhus, lice borne, or Plague, flea borne. Both are possible, and both can more than decimate an army. The USE army is somewhat less likely to be affected: COC are fanatics about public health, and if the Poles are, I haven’t heard about it.

    Another wild speculation: Will the Polish King order Koniecpolski to do something as crazy as Ox and Wettin have?
    And what will K do then?

    #8 I’m not sure that Ox and Wettin are desperate. I think it’s equally possible that they just think they’re so clever that things will happen the way they want. Maybe Wettin isn’t as convinced as Ox.

  14. Robby says:

    Compare today’s politicians with Wettin and Oxenstierna. Once you get the power, you become accustomed to it and will do just about anything to hold on to it. Totally reversing your positions on issues and doing seemingly ‘stupid’ things are not out of the question. Quite thought provoking to consider today’s events showing up disguised in Eric’s writing for 375 years ago! !

  15. Mark L says:

    #13: Disease is far more likely in the Polish army than in that of the USE. The leaders of the USE have up-time knowledge of the origins of typhus (lice and fleas) as well as the knowledge of how to eliminate vermin (insecticides) and those insecticides with which to do the de-lousing. They also know sanition — and believe in — basics such as boiling water. Plus, they have antibiotics through up-time manufacturing.

    Not to say it could not happen, but it is less likely than it would otherwise be at that time, and will likely be more easily contained if an outbreak does occur.

    The Poles probably have the same knowledge about sanitation as the USE, but may be less likely to be believers.

  16. ET1swaw says:

    @3 robert: Scaglia and Rubens work for KLC (Fernando and Maria Anna) and are busy promulgating their own version of CoCs dedicated to ‘soft landings’ and a non-aggressive counter-reformation (religious toleration is included but not as stressed as in CoCs). KLC is also picking up a lot of territory west of the Rhine, in Lorraine-Bar, and in what today is northern France (diplomatically more than militarily).
    @9 jim: The Lord High Admiral (Carl Carlsson Gyllenhielm, G2A’s illegitimate half-brother), the Lord High Treasurer (G2A’s brother-in-law. OTL replaced by an Oxenstierna), the Lord High Constable ((in charge of all Swedish land forces) Jacob de La Gardie (his mother was illegitimate half-sister to Sigismund of Poland and a first cousin to G2A)), and the Lord High Justicar (was Magnus Brahe until OTL death in 1634, replaced OTL by an Oxenstierna) all have yet to heard from. They and Axel Oxenstierna form the Regency (not just Axel alone, as much as he might act it). And NTL I can’t see G2A allowing Axel to install his brother and cousin (as well as getting the govenor-generalships of the Dominions and Finland to add to Axel’s govenorship of Swedish Prussia) as happened OTL. And General Tott ((CO Yellow Regiment and various Swedish forces in Magdeburg and SoTF provinces) his mother was first cousin to G2A (similar to Colonel Hand)) would probably back Kristina if she headed to Magdeburg, but has yet to be heard from.
    @13 dave o: Dysentery would be far more likely and in those days almost as big a killer of troops.
    @14 Mark L: I agree whole-heartedly!

  17. bas says:

    @14: Ann Jefferson “gave” the formula for chloramphenicol to Ferdinand during his seige of the Netherlands. Might someone arrange for Koniecpolski to “acquire” doses of American drugs for some of the diseases that will afflict the Polish troops?(He obviously cannot manufacture them in a town under seige). My impression is that he values his men, and would not care to see them brought down by disease,not the least because it would also weaken his defense. Perhaps a goodwill gesture from Tortensson may allow a more or less peaceful end to the seige, and at the same time leave a favorable impression of the USE upon one of Poland’s most poweful men. Just sayin’…

  18. morgulknight says:

    @16, I seriously doubt Mr. Flint makes it that easy for the good guys. Demon Murphy has yet to put in an appearance in these snippets…

  19. dave o says:

    #15 I don’t understand why you say “far more likely.” It’s hard to imagine any army before WW2 which didn’t have a strong cadre of lice. And no town in that era lacked rats and their fleas. I believe dysentery is water-borne. If so, USE forces will be largely immune, and a toss-up for the Poles. But you are right about d’s effects. For the record Napoleon’s army in Russia was destroyed largely by both typhus and dysentery. Like cholera, the primary treatment for dysentery is re-hydration. I don’t know if the electrolytes are available, but T can learn about them if they are.

  20. robert says:

    @18 dave o, even during WWII. The Germans (and their idiot allies) on the Eastern Front were all eventually lice-ridden and diseased and eventually worse, being POWs of the Russians or dead.

  21. Eva Norman says:

    Please #8 do not use Lenny as a shortform for Lennart Torstensson. I must admit it made me feel a bit sick to read it. I have more or less managed to accept Ox för Axel Oxenstierna but this . . . sorry it´s just too much.
    I understand that the names seem long for you but as a Swede who has read the series since 1632 was an Idea on Baens Bar please don´t do it.

    The Lurker from the North
    Stockholm Sweden

  22. Blackmoore says:

    @15; there is a historical version of gatorade which consists of Honey diluted in water. not very tasty – but it works. Throw in some lemon/lime juice and the troupes will be able to rehydrate, and fend of scurvy :P. they used to use the original on battlefields in the middle ages.

  23. Sean Maxwell says:

    @11: Are you referring to 2 Kings 11:3 in _my_ Bible?

    “And the king sent, and inquired who the woman was. And it was told him, that she was Bethsabee the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Urias the Hethite.”


    If so, what’s the correlation? Rulers (of all kinds) have _always_ sent innocents into harm’s way. You’d have to prove to me that A.O. and W.W. are doing it in support of _sin_ and _not_ in support of righteousness (their position supporting the divine right of kings).

    “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

    “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house: neither shalt thou desire his wife, nor his servant, nor his handmaid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his.”

    Nothing I’ve read so far, indicates to me that A.O. and W.W. are doing things because they are evil men. In the 163x-verse, they are just misguided.

    “Thou shalt not kill.”

    When’s the last time _anybody_ in the 1632-verse obeyed that commandment?


  24. robert says:

    @23 …nasty, brutish & short…
    I doubt that Olivares was merely misguided, nor was Richelieu. Or for that matter, neither were most of the powerful people at that time (or any other time I believe).

  25. Sean Maxwell says:

    @23: Mr. Flint in _1632_ shows that Richelieu is _truly_evil_ ™. In Gazette One, Mr. Flint implies that it was for the purpose of dramatic tension; I assume the real-life Richelieu could just as easily have been the hero of _1632_. I haven’t yet seen the authorial/editorial fiat that seals the fates of Olivares, Oxenstierna, and Wettin.

    Mr. Boatright refers to Stasheff’s _Warlock_ series in “Canst Thou Send Lightnings?” I will, too. In one of those books, Rodney explains to his children that there is a _huge_ difference between being _rivals_ and being _enemies_. In real life ™, for the most part, no one cares which one of mutual _rivals_ A and B triumphs over the other; only A and B care.

    It’s much easier for A and B to gain support (against their rival) from the ignorant masses if they _each_ declare their _rival_ to be the _enemy_ of all humankind. Once that’s done, it’s much easier to command the sheep to either kill A, or vote against B, or do whatever A or B want.

    So in the end, the only way to _decide_ who’s evil, or inept, or misguided, is to accept somebody’s version of the story. Assuming that, unlike me, you believe _any_ of them.

  26. summertime says:

    Richelieu may or may not be considered “evil” compared to people who are widely known as evil. He did send the Croats specifically to kill the Grantville school children which at least is cold-blooded if not evil. He certainly is set on advancing the interests of France, and keeping in place rule of the peasantry by the elites, which is the divine order of the world. In this he has the support of all the royals of most countries in the world at this time. On the other hand, Richelieu likes kittens, which is a redeeming factor.

  27. robert says:

    @25 and @26 I saw that Sean used the word misguided and that is the term I took issue with. As for the difference between evil and doing what you must to achieve whatever your goal is, means AND ends is the test for evil. Body count counts. I think that Hitler was evil, Stalin was evil, Napolean was evil, Mobutu is evil, etc..

  28. Todd Bloss says:

    @21 -Sorry Ev, but diminutives, along with casual blasphemy, are just some of the things about yanks you have to put up with.
    I mean Jeez, if we hadn’t all informally agreed to use G2A for him, I’d be referring to the King of Sweden as “Gus”…


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