1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 31

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 31

Linz, Austria

Janos Drugeth finished re-reading the letter from Noelle Stull.

He was not a happy man. Rather, his feelings were mixed. The very evident warmth of the letter pleased him greatly, of course. But what had possessed the woman to go to Dresden?

True, this was the same woman who had once emptied her pistol by firing into the Danube, in a moment of pique. But even for Noelle, this was incredibly rash.

Janos was not privy to most of the details, of course. But one of his duties was to monitor Austria’s espionage network and he received regular reports from his spymasters. So he knew that the Swedish general Johan Báner was marching into Saxony and would soon be at the gates of Dresden — and that Gretchen Richter had taken up residence in the city.

Given Richter’s nature — still more, given Báner’s — the result was a foregone conclusion. Dresden was about to become a city under siege, and if Báner broke into the city there would most likely be a bloodbath. The Swedish general wasn’t as purely brutish as Heinrich Holk, but he came fairly close. And, unlike Holk, Báner was a very competent commander.

Janos was no stranger to sieges, from either side of the walls. He didn’t think there was much chance that amateur hotheads like Richter could hold Dresden against the likes of Báner and his mercenaries.

True, the woman had managed the defenses of Amsterdam quite well, by all accounts. But Janos was sure that a large factor involved had been the Cardinal-Infante’s unwillingness to risk destroying Amsterdam and thereby losing its resources and skilled workers. Báner would have no such compunctions at Dresden.

What was Noelle thinking?

He sighed, and put aside the letter. There was another letter in the batch that had just arrived, and this one came from his monarch. By rights, he should have read it first. But he’d been in the privacy of his own chambers in the army’s headquarters at Linz, so his personal concerns had momentarily overridden his duty.

When he unsealed the letter, he discovered nothing but a short message:

Come to Vienna at once. The Turks have taken Baghdad.


Drugeth rose and strode to the door, moving so quickly that a servant barely opened the door in time. “My horse!” he bellowed.

Noelle would have to wait. For the first time in his life, Janos Drugeth found himself in the preposterous position of hoping that a notorious malcontent like Richter was indeed a capable military commander. Such was the strange world produced by the Ring of Fire.

Bamberg, capital of the State of Thuringia-Franconia

Ed Piazza still hadn’t gotten used to down-time desks. The blasted things were tiny — what he thought of as a lady’s writing desk, not the reasonably-sized pieces of furniture that a man could use to get some work done. For about the hundredth time since he’d moved to Bamberg — no, make that the thousandth time — he found himself wishing he still had the desk from his study in Grantville.

Unfortunately, when he and Annabelle sold their house they’d sold all the furniture with it. And when Ed had inquired as to whether the down-timer who’d bought the house might be willing to let him have the desk back, the answer had been an unequivocal “no.” The new owner was a young nobleman with a nice income and a firm conviction that literary greatness would soon be his — especially with the help of such a magnificently expansive desk to work on.

True enough, Ed and Annabelle had gotten a small fortune for their house. Real estate prices in Grantville were now astronomical. With a small portion of that money he could easily afford to have the sort of desk he wanted custom-made for him — and, indeed, he’d commissioned the work quite a while ago. Alas, down-time furniture makers in Bamberg were artisans. Medieval artisans, from what Ed could tell, for whom timely delivery of a commissioned work came a very long way second to craftsmanship. They seemed to measure time in feast days, nones and matins, not workdays, hours and minutes.

So, he suffered at his miniature desk. At least it was the modern style, by seventeenth century values of “modern.” That meant he could sit at it, instead of standing at the more traditional lectern type of desk.

A good thing, too, given how long today’s meeting had gone on. The only people Ed had ever encountered who rivaled theologians disputing fine points of doctrine were soldiers wrangling over fine points of logistics.

“The gist of it,” he said, trying not to sound impatient, “is that you’re confident you can supply our soldiers in the event we have to send them down to the Oberpfalz.”

He almost burst into laughter, seeing the expressions on the faces of the three officers in the room. Horror combined with outrage, muted by the need to keep a civilian superior from realizing his military commanders thought he was a nincompoop. Much the sort of look he saw on the faces of his son and daughter whenever he made so bold as to advise them on matters of teenage protocol.

Naturally, as with his children, the reaction was due to the precise formulation of his statement rather than the content of the statement itself.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to use the term ‘confident,’ sir,” demurred Major Tom Simpson.

“Indeed not,” concurred his immediate superior, Colonel Friedrich Engels.

The third officer present was General Heinrich Schmidt. “We do not lack confidence, certainly, but I think it would be more accurate to say that we are reasonably assured of the matter,” was his judicious contribution.

Theologians, soldiers and teenagers — who would have guessed they shared such a close kinship? But Ed Piazza kept the observation to himself. Taken each on his own, all three of the officers in the room had good senses of humor. But they were quite young for their ranks and in the case of two of them, Schmidt and Engels, newly promoted to boot. Like Ed’s son and daughter, they would be hyper-sensitive to anything that sounded like criticism coming from him, especially if it sounded derisive or sarcastic.

Besides, it didn’t matter. Stripped of their fussiness over terminology, it was clear that the three officers were… call it “relaxed,” that they could keep their troops provisioned in case war with Bavaria broke out again in the Upper Palatinate.

That was really all that Ed cared about. Like many able-bodied West Virginia males of his generation, he was a Vietnam veteran. He’d seen a fair amount of combat too, since he’d been in the 25th Infantry Division and had taken part in the Cambodia incursion in 1970. But he’d been an enlisted man swept up by the draft, with no more interest in military affairs than he needed to stay alive and get back home. Now in his mid-fifties with the adult life experience of someone who’d worked in education, he made no pretense of being able to second-guess his commanding officers, much less be a backseat driver.

If they said they were “reasonably assured” of their preparedness, that was good enough for him.

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33 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 31

  1. Jeff Ehlers says:

    Looks like the rulers of Europe aren’t the only ones who try to read the future brought by Grantville.

  2. robert says:

    If Ferdinand thinks what it sounds like he is thinking, Janos better get to Vienna and dissuade his boss from any adventurism eastward, westward, or in any other direction.

  3. Daryl says:

    Ah memories, “the need to keep a civilian superior from realizing his military commanders thought he was a nincompoop.” I copped that for a while but the military grapevine is quicker than official channels, and I lost my meeting ambush advantage when they realised that perhaps a civilian might actually know something. Quite authentic, thanks Eric.

  4. dave o says:

    #2 I suspect Ferdinand wants Janos to move himself and probably all possible troops to the Hungary boarder. He probably wants to find out how the Turks took Baghdad so quickly. The ballon, probably, but did they also have modern firearms? Whatever happened, the commanders in the Danube garrisons need to be briefed ASAP. Ferdinand showed as captious in earlier snippets, but he’s quite a bright guy, and a fair to good general OTL.

    We haven’t heard what’s happening in Bavaria for a while. I find it hard to believe that it’s anything but a mess. Near anarchy, with peasant revolts and a madman as Duke. Anyone have an idea why Ed thinks it’s a threat? Or was he more worried about Austria than Bavaria?

  5. Tweeky says:

    @$ I was also thinking recently about “Mad Max” aka Maximillian I of Bavaria and his insane witch-hunt going on in Bavaria (and alienating and making his younger brother an enemy too); who else thinks he should be referred to in upcoming 16XX novels as “Mad Max” as I think it’s an apt nick-name for him. Not to mention the fact that when he goes down eventually (IMO I think he’s going to go the hard way) there’re be hell to pay in Bavaria for his inquisition and I for one can see a lot of inquisitors being hunted down and murdered (like what happened in Spain when Napoleon invaded); perhaps with quite a few being burnt at the stake.

  6. Tweeky says:

    @4 I meant @4 not @$; I kept the shift key down.

  7. ET1swaw says:

    @4: Mad Max thinks the Oberpfalz belongs to him, he’s just returning it to its rightful owner. Baner stripped the province when he was reassigned to Saxony. Tom Simpson’s regiment is most of what remains with the exception of Jaeger and Riverrat Militias formed by Ernst Wettin (see Bavarian Crisis). Ed Piazza is using/preparing SoTF forces to maintain the USE border and protect Oberpfalz. NTL the only areas the USE shares with Austria-Hungary are very narrow borders at Passau (actually independent) and south of Salzburg (independent) in Tyrol. Bavaria OTOH fronts on the USE south (Tyrol – mostly the Alps), west (Swabia and imperial territories – protected by Horn), and north (Oberpfalz – currently swinging in the wind).

  8. Robert H. Woodman says:

    “For the first time in his life, Janos Drugeth found himself in the preposterous position of hoping that a notorious malcontent like Richter was indeed a capable military commander. Such was the strange world produced by the Ring of Fire.”

    I imagine that Gretchen will surprise both Drugeth and Baner with her competency.

  9. G Bayrit says:

    Well, Robert, her hubby is ‘just down the road’ with a few troops under his command …

  10. robert says:

    @9 Yes. All she has to do is hold the fort until he and Mike get there. I know that book cover art usually means little or nothing as far as book content is concerned, but that is a scary scene up there in the cupola.

  11. dac says:

    ‘cept we already know that Gretchen will not be in command – that will be up to our fearless lt. and the 400 injured soldiers. Gretchen may get the publicity, but it will be those men who are the backbone.

  12. dave o says:

    #7 On the other hand, Austria has an uncommitted army. Last I heard, Max doesn’t. Hard to conquer anything without one.

    #11 Don’t forget the Saxon rebels heading toward Dresden. Or the town militia, pro COC and neutral mentioned earlier. In a siege, militias can stand up to professional troops. The last I heard, Dresden had modern defenses. The only siege guns capable of doing a quick job on them are under young Simpson’s command. Even if Baner steals them, moving them to Dresden will take a long time. Gretchen won’t command the troops,-she didn’t in Amsterdam either. She commanded (more or less) the civilians.

  13. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @4 Previous snippets suggested Ferdinand wants to deal with Wallenstein, but Janos persuaded him not to because the Turks might not attack Hungary. Turks in Baghdad means Ferdinand might turn his attention north.

    Re correlation of forces, Oberpfalz will be held by by Gen. Schmidt as reinforced by SotF forces (hence Piazza’s specific interest.) Horn in SW and more forces (disremembering the Swedish general’s name) along he Rhine. Torstenson in Poland of course. That leaves Baner and von Arnim in Saxony + Papenheim and Mike in Bohemia.

    The idea is clearly that a move against Bohemia by Ferdinand will make it tough for Mike to withdraw 3rd army to Dresden when needed. The other hand is exactly what folks have been pointing out, the COC troops inside Dresden as stiffened by the “wounded” (no so wounded by now) and Saxon rebels plus Jeff on the outside.

    It will be interesting to see how Eric plots the campaign — Jeff should by now have close to 2,000 guys or so (original batallion at full recruitment plus an extra company, plus volly guns, plus more heavy weapons, etc.) Add a few thousand militia (all of Saxony, not just Vogtland) and maybe Baner has to take Jeff seriously, at least pay enough attention to lines of communication that Baner can’t push Dresden as hard as he wants.

    Wild cards then depend on what happens politically —
    Von Arnim might come in on whatever side he thinks represents the legitimate rulers of Saxony (could be with OX and Baner, could be with Ernst Wettin, could be with Saxon estates and regency.) Chrsitian IVs sons will have their oar in this too, as will whatever force gets raised in Magdeburg (eventually under Lt. Gen. Christina).

    And as soon as those lines are clearly drawn, let’s have GAII wake up coherent . . .


  14. Tweeky says:

    @12 Mad Max has to realise that if and when he’s defeated by the USE he’s going to find his head on the chopping block for his many high crimes. I’d say that GAII or his successors would make a public example of him. I’d also like to see his many hangmen declared as outlaws and hunted down and killed.

  15. Blackmoore says:

    @tweeky if I was Ferdinand I would be asking for Max to stand down and stand trial. in the end the HRE failed due to Max as much as anything else. the show trial would be good political theatre. Not that i would expect Mad Max to stand down.

    if the Turks are on the move North – Austria is going to need the Bavarian forces.

    @13 Doesnt Oberpfalz have one of the Navy’s big guns? I don’t have Bavarian crisis here to check. if they do, it would be a very bad idea for Max to send troops to attempt to recapture it.

  16. kwinn says:

    @12, I think it was the opposite way around. Ferdinand wants to reclaim Bohemia, Janos wants to make peace.

    @14 The hangmen may not have much choice in what they are doing. It may be their necks in a noose if they refuse to obey.

  17. Maddie says:

    It’s very simple to make peace with Bavaria. Kill Mad Max, install Duke Albrecht as Duke on the condition that he joins Bohemia as a provincial ruler, and betroth his oldest suviving son to Wallenstein’s daughter. Bohemia rather than the USE because he’s in Prague now, and they can pressure him into it.

    Wallanstein would do it do. He really doesn’t like Max, ever since they were Ferdinand II’s top generals

  18. dave o says:

    Re Turkish capture of Baghdad: Janos learned about the turkish move in late 1635. At that time he was told that the Turks had repeating rifles, and might have airships. It’s now very early 1636. It’s clear to me that the Turks moved faster than expected, and were more successful than expected. See Eastern Front Snippet 42.

    Ferdinand must have been briefed about this. He may want to reconquer Bohemia and/or conquer Bavaria. For my money, Bavaria would be a better choice: he has an excuse, and Bavaria has no friends to interfere. But Ferdinand would have to be a fool not to know that getting involved in a war to the North or West would be insane when the Turks are a threat to Austria itself. There is no evidence that the historic man was a fool. Quite bright, actually.

  19. laclongquan says:

    Bavaria is long time ally of Austria, the latest scandal and tension not withstanding. War with them without an *extremely* good casus bellie will appear to the world as a greedy faithless treacherous move. The scandal with the archduchess is not good enough. Not even close.

    If Bavaria invade them first it’s another matter entirely. but that chance is miniscule.

    Still, what’s the hell those Ruskies thinking? Provide arms to the Turks will sure as sunrise lead to war between Turk-Austria. With that, the Swede will have an even freer hand to move elswhere, namely Poland and Russia.

  20. Jeff Ehlers says:

    The thing I think people are missing is that if the Turks took Baghdad already, they have enough of a military advantage over the Persians that they shouldn’t have to worry about too severe of retaliation. That means they can hold Baghdad and perhaps turn their attention elsewhere.

    Remember, the point of getting Ferdinand to wait was to see if the Turks got embroiled in a war with Persia – note also that the Turks never actually got to the point of taking Baghdad in prior wars, so they got caught up in the equivalent of trench warfare with the Persians. That’s what I think was being assumed here; if the Turks got in a fight with Persia, they’d be stuck there for a while, freeing Ferdinand to embark upon other military adventures.

    If the Turks have already taken Baghdad – meaning they have a substantial military advantage over Persia – then all those calculations go out the window. Who’s to say that the Turks won’t decide to turn their attention northward next year? If they do, it keeps Ferdinand looking at them rather than contemplating adventures in Europe.

  21. dave o says:

    #19 I think the insult to the Archduchess and the execution of her followers is all the causus belli Austria needs. Putting down a mad dog (apologies to sane dogs) like the Duke will be more popular than not. And if Ferdinand is paying attention to OTL history, he knows that Bavaria allied with France toward the end of the century, against Austria. Remember Blenheim?

    But I think the point is moot. I don’t see Austria doing anything but preparing for the Turks right now.

    #20 Exactly so. Moreover, the Turks have time to move an army and supplies up to Belgrade, for an attack on Hungary and Vienna this year. If they have enough of a military advantage, or think they do, they can send a smaller army, with smaller supply problems than Suliemein the Great did.

  22. Ian Chapman says:

    Given how much (or rather how little) the Turks love the USE, if Ferdinand and Austria got into really deep trouble, I could easily see him appeal to the King of Netherlands and the USE (assuming the 4JP wins the upcoming civil war) for help. Given this would be touted as “defense against the infidel” I doubt even Protestant Help would be rejected.

    Just a random thought.

  23. johan says:

    Regarding a potential war between Austria and the Ottomans, I seem to remember reading somewhere that the working title for one of the books that will take place in 1637 was “The siege of Vienna”.

  24. Doug Lampert says:

    I haven’t read the “Butterflies in the Kremlin” or whatever it’s called, but I’ll second @19, what the hell were the Russians thinking to give the Turks any weapons or tech? Those two states are long-term historical enemies. They could basically be counted on to do whatever they could to harm each other and to take opposite sides in any conflict.

  25. Maddie says:

    @19 I didn’t say that Bohemia should invade Bavaria, I said that Wallenstein should have Max assasinated. Isn’t there a peasent uprising in Bavaria? Some should give them funding

  26. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @20 I think that (with Baghdad taken, the Turks will be ready to move against Austria sooner rather than later) is exactly what Janos is going to point out to Ferdinand. Whether Ferdinand listens is an entirely different story — he is newly crowned and probably thinks he needs some sort of military success to support his position.

    I agree with those who mentioned it that some sot of crusade to defend Christendom against the Turk would fill that bill for Ferdinand, but right now Eric wants to show some of the other possibilities (Austria attacks Wallenstein or intervenes in Bavaria) to build tension about whether (or maybe just how soon) Mike will be able to get out of Bohemia to take a hand in Dresden.

  27. Alejo says:

    @20: I think that only in fiction would a ruler turn his attention northward so quickly after taking Persia. Reason is that this would be a very large amount of teritory to hold. Once you conquer a place, you have to expend resources to hold and administer it. You can’t just expect it to stay conquered. That usually means commiting military forces to an area long-term.

  28. Jason says:

    @26 but in RL something like actually taking and holding territory didn’t stop Adolf Hitler from initially ordering the entire Wehrmarcht to attack France in November less than three months after Poland. Also this Murad the Mad in OTL there was alot of fighting going on in the Balkans and i mean ALOT so it wouldnt be a huge stretch for Murad to start probing attacks against the Austrians.

  29. Mike says:

    @26 and 27 – From what was referenced in 1635 Eastern Front, the Turks likely did not intend to conquer all of Persia – only to take Baghdad and environs. (more or less the Sunni portion of OTL modern-day Iraq) It wasn’t even clear if they would push all the way to the Persian gulf itself to take the remainder of the ethnically Arab areas surrounding Basra. (The southern portion of OTL modern day Iraq that is largely Shia) That was more or less the eastern limits of the OTL Ottoman Empire – conquering the ethnically Persia Saffavids wasn’t ever a goal, pushing them out of Mesopotamia was. We’ll see if that remains the case NTL.

    @4 – Do we know that Passau is independent? Is it de facto or de jure? Meaning, when the Austrian(-Hungarian?) Empire was proclaimed, did they legally stake claim to the “empire” – meaning everything that wasn’t part of the USE or the Low Countries? That would include Passau, a handful of the small imperial cities not inside the USE, the bishopric inside Bavaria, Bavaria itself, and the Archbishropics of Salzburg and Trent. For that matter, did Ferdinand III renounce claims of overlordship over Switzerland? That was a stated reason for the Swiss to try and gain custody over the “Bavarian Princess” after all. To take it a step further, did Claudia Medici renounce all of her sons claims to overlordship over anything outside of Tyrol?
    If Trent hasn’t been mediatized by Tyrol, and isn’t part of the Austrian Empire, it would be an ideal location for the Barberini Pope to take up residence. It’s on the far side of Venice from the Papal States and any Spainish-leaning Italian states, the home of the Council of Trent has precedent for reforms within the Catholic Church, (Council of Trent ring any bells?) and lastly, it borders but is not within the USE meaning the Papacy isn’t in ‘captivity’ again.

  30. Jeff Ehlers says:

    @26: Suffice it to say that I don’t think the Turks care that much about the whole of Persia. Just Baghdad. Why would they waste time and effort in going after the rest of Persia, especially if they can force Persia into accepting the status quo due to its inferior military position?

  31. TimC says:

    “I don’t think the Turks care that much about the whole of Persia. Just Baghdad. Why would they waste time and effort in going after the rest of Persia”- Maybe because they have read of all the nice oilfields in Khuzestan (Abadan anyone..)

  32. Jeff Ehlers says:

    Not likely. Oil fields are an important resource, but only to people who have the infrastructure to develop them. And I’m fairly sure the Turks are much more concerned with Baghdad – which they’ve tried to conquer several times previously, spanning hundreds of years – than they are with oil fields. Think about it this way, also, it’s been like pulling teeth to get European leaders, faced directly with the time-lost Americans, to actually consider anything outside their own personal experience. Why would Turks, set one or two removes aside, even notice stuff that wasn’t directly important to them?

    Plus, their source for information is books out of Grantville. How likely is it that someone in Grantville is going to have a book talking about the locations of oil wells in the Middle East? If it’s mentioned in any of the books the Turks might have gotten hold of, it’s probably pretty oblique.

    Finally, whoever ran the actual campaign in Persia was a pretty smart cookie. They apparently went straight for the goal and didn’t let themselves get distracted by stuff that wasn’t central. What’s the likelihood that they’re now going to start randomly going after oil fields in Persia – which would be a pretty minor goal for them – compared to something much more major, like, say, beating Austria (which is another goal that’s eluded them for hundreds of years, probably)

  33. ET1swaw says:

    @29: Passau, Salzburg, and Freising are definately independent Bishoprics. Trentino and Brixen may be mediatized to Tyrol. But the Bishop holding Passau is Ferdinand III’s little brother.
    Mad Max is the Uncle of Ferdinand III and his siblings. I doubt Austria would attack Bavaria even with the major causus belli during ‘Bavarian Crisis’. Ferdinand II blamed Maria Anna more than his brother-in-law Mad Max. Nothing was done prior to his death and Ferdinand III has no new causes. Plus Ferdinand III still dreams of recovering Bohemia, Silesia, and the Swiss Cantons and reviving the now defunct HRE.
    @31, @32: The Ottomans control (semi-independent) what is present day Romania (Transylvania, Wallachia, and Moldavia) with oil fields of its own by canon known to Grantville.

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