1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 36

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 36

Chapter 13

Dresden, capital of Saxony

Jozef Wojtowicz watched workmen laying gravel onto the cobblestones of the huge city square. What madness possessed me, he wondered, to come to Dresden?

He was still possessed by the same madness, to make things worse. He had more than enough money to have gotten out of the city any time he wanted. His employer was his uncle Stanislaw Koniecpolski, the grand hetman of Poland and Lithuania and one of the Commonwealth’s half-dozen richest men. He was no miser, either. Jozef had never lacked for the financial resources he needed.

Yes, here he still was. And if he didn’t leave by tomorrow — the day after, at the outside — he probably wouldn’t be able to leave at all. Báner’s army was already setting up camp just south and west of Dresden’s walls. It wouldn’t take the Swedish general very long to have regular cavalry patrols surrounding the city.

Jozef might still be able to pass through, if the cavalrymen were susceptible to bribery. Mercenaries usually were. It would be risky, though. There were already reports that Báner’s troops had committed atrocities in some of the villages northeast of Chemnitz, in their march through southern Saxony. Báner was known for his temper and his brutality, and commanders usually transmitted their attitudes to their soldiers. A cavalry patrol that Jozef encountered might decide to murder him and take all his money rather than settle for a bribe.

But…

He couldn’t bring himself to leave. Dresden was just too interesting, too exciting, right now. When he’d lived in Grantville, Jozef had come across the up-time term “adrenalin junkie” and realized that it described him quite well. Since he was a boy he’d enjoyed dangerous sports — he was an avid rock-climber, among other things — and part of the reason he’d agreed to become his uncle’s spy in the USE was because of the near-constant tension involved. Whenever he contemplated his notion of Hell it didn’t involve any of the tortures depicted in Dante’s Inferno; rather, it was to be locked in a room for eternity with nothing to do. Jozef had a very high pain threshold, but an equally low boredom threshold.

Besides, he could always justify the risk on the grounds that staying in Dresden gave him an unparalleled opportunity to study the Committees of Correspondence in action. Gretchen Richter herself was in charge here! What better opportunity could you ask for?

That very moment, as it happened, he saw her entering the square from the direction of the Residenzschloss, surrounded by a dozen or so people. She and her CoC cohorts had effectively taken over the palace of the former Elector of Saxony, John George, as their own headquarters.

You had to add that term “effectively” because Richter still maintained the pretense that the Residenzschloss was primarily being used as a hospital for wounded soldiers. She’d also been heard to point out that the province’s official administrator — that was Ernst Wettin, the USE prime minister’s younger brother — also had his offices and quarters in the Residenzschloss. The fanciest ones available, in fact, the chambers and rooms that had been used by John George and his family before they fled the city.

Both claims were thread-bare. True enough, Richter was reportedly always polite to the provincial administrator and made sure his stay in the palace was a pleasant one. She even provided him with a security detail, since Wettin had no soldiers of his own. But that fact alone made it clear who really wielded power in the city.

As for the soldiers who’d been sent to Dresden to recuperate from their wounds, by now most of them had regained their health. They still lived in the section of the Residenzschloss that had been designated as the hospital, but that was simply because there were no barracks available and Richter had decreed that no soldiers would be billeted on the city’s inhabitants. Nor had any of the few officers made any objection, although the woman had absolutely no authority to be making any decisions concerning soldiers in the USE army.

And there was another thing Jozef found interesting about the situation. All of the USE officers here were very junior. There was not so much as a single captain among them, much less any majors or colonels. They were all lieutenants — and newly-minted ones, at that, for the most part.

How was that possible? How could an army division fight as many battles as the Third Division had fought during the summer and fall without any of its company commanders or field grade officers being wounded?

Had they all been killed? The odds against that happening were astronomical.

And they had to have been engaged in the fighting. No army could possibly win battles if the only officers who placed themselves in harm’s way were lieutenants.

There was only one possible answer, from what Jozef could see. For whatever reason, the commanding general of the Third Division had deliberately sent only his most junior officers and enlisted men to Dresden. Those of higher rank who’d been wounded he must have sent elsewhere.

Jena, probably. The USE had a big new hospital there, already reputed to be one of the very best in the world. General Stearns could have sent the more senior officers there on the grounds that there was only limited space in Jena so he was making a priority of giving them the best treatment available.

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31 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 36

  1. Jozef is a creative genius! Who else could come up with so many highly rational and totally wrong interpretations? He was wonderful to read about.

  2. Peter says:

    Yeah, I love watching him construct an entirely logical path into a dead end. I wonder when he’ll realize it?

  3. ET1swaw says:

    Josef – a main conduit to Koniecpolski; a conduit to Ferdinand III via Janos Drugeth; a conduit to Mike and Nasi (and Wallenstein) via Nasi’s people; Gretchen and her husband’s XO and recent saviour (trying to hook up with Tata. the belle of the CoC) taking over the defense of Dresden; and Baner increasingly closing on crossing the political Rubicon — what fun!!!!
    Whatever the house of cards Josef is constructing, this snippet shows Baner getting closer to the point of no return and the CoCs, in Dresden anyway, refraining from shooting themselves in the foot. Purportedly Ernst Wettin is being given every consideration of his appointed office, while his subordinate is closing on being declared rogue.
    Baner has not YET declared siege — Von Arnim, Kresse, and Hangman – location and current deployment not recently updated — Axel’s political bombshell launched but not yet arrived on target — Mike and the 3rd – safety is off, but trigger unpulled — Janos returning to Ferdinand III due to Murad so quickly (and much ahead of OTL history) defeating the Persians ========= so many cliffs and the book doesn’t come out till spring!!!!!
    I love the snippets but the wait is a death of a thousand cuts!!

  4. ET1swaw says:

    Josef – a main conduit to Koniecpolski; a conduit to Ferdinand III via Janos Drugeth; a conduit to Mike and Nasi (and Wallenstein) via Nasi’s people; Gretchen and her husband’s XO and recent saviour (trying to hook up with Tata. the belle of the CoC) taking over the defense of Dresden; and Baner increasingly closing on crossing the political Rubicon — what fun!!!!
    Whatever the house of cards Josef is constructing, this snippet shows Baner getting closer to the point of no return and the CoCs, in Dresden anyway, refraining from shooting themselves in the foot. Purportedly Ernst Wettin is being given every consideration of his appointed office, while his subordinate is closing on being declared rogue.
    Baner has not YET declared siege — Von Arnim, Kresse, and Hangman – location and current deployment not recently updated — Axel’s political bombshell launched but not yet arrived on target — Mike and the 3rd – safety is off, but trigger unpulled — Janos returning to Ferdinand III due to Murad so quickly (and much ahead of OTL history) defeating the Persians ========= so many cliffs and the book doesn’t come out till spring!!!!!
    I love the snippets but the wait is a death of a thousand cuts!!

  5. ET1swaw says:

    I apologize for the double post. My laptop had a mind of its own.

  6. jeff bybee says:

    @3 I agree it is sweewt missery waiting for the books to come out with emplisis on the latter with the sweet only the tidbits comming in the snipits . excuse my density but what is wrong about his logic? or maybe a more direct question was why were not higher ranks wounded ? or is the hirearchy so flat their is just not so many higher ranks un the USE army?

  7. jeff bybee says:

    ps sorry for the arthritic fingers hitting the wrong keys and I posted before noticing the typos

  8. dave o says:

    It’s nice to see that Baner has started his atrocities. Now Mike has reason to get ready to intervene. Not yet, but soon. In my opinion, Baner has practically no chance of taking Dresden, assuming it has enough supplies. The city has modern defenses (as of 1636), and Baner still has no guns capable of breaching them. At Ingolstadt he was doing little more than blockading the city, until he had enough troops to cross the Danube, and cut off supplies. It looks like he’s doing the same at Dresden. What he needs are siege weapons, 24 pounders. or 36 or 48 pounders if he can get them. Lots of luck trying to move guns that heavy over winter roads. Not to mention that Admiral Simpson seems to have a virtual monopoly on really heavy artillery.

  9. dave o says:

    An additional thought. The only practical way of moving heavy guns in winter is by water. Magdeburg is downstream from Dresden, so they won’t be coming from that direction. Upstream, the only source I know of, maybe, is the fort below Tetschen.

  10. I think its easer in the winter. Take the wheels off, put on flat skis , not runners, follow the infentry were thay have flattened the snow and away you go.

  11. Rubbarb1954 says:

    In real winter with the ground frozen hard and enough snow,skids will allow the movement of cannon. Compare the seige of Boston by Washington employing the guns from ticonderoga that Knox moved
    during the winter of 1775-1776.

  12. dac says:

    the problem is not movement in winter, it’s food, shelter and heat. Calorie demands increase, and significant time has to be spent gathering fuel which is used for warmth, not for cooking.

  13. Ed says:

    @6 We know from previous snippets that the personnel assigned to hospital were specifically chosen because most were lightly wounded (so mostly recovered by now) and most lower ranks (LT and below) are CoC members.

    Janos ‘mistake’ is in thinking the soldiers inside Dresden are there by chance or because higher ranks got better hospital treatment — the soldiers in Dresden are there because Stearns put a significant military force that would take their lead from Gretchen (and now Tata) inside Dresden as a deliberate plan.

  14. Doug Lampert says:

    @6, almost certainly some higher ranks or more experienced junior officers were wounded, and almost equally certainly Mike sent them elsewhere (or for light wounds kept them with the army).

    Presumably none of the injured senior officers were men he wanted in charge in Dresden when Baner arrived.

    I agree with you that Janos is pretty much spot on in his thinking and that I’m curious as to what @3 thinks he got wrong.

    Note than Janos thinks “General Stearns could have sent the more senior officers there on the grounds that there was only limited space in Jena so he was making a priority of giving them the best treatment available.” This wording makes it fairly explicit that Janos is thinks that Mike’s actual reason might be quite different from this. If he thought that was the real reason he’d have replaced “on the grounds” with the much simpler and clearer “because”. The wording makes sense only if he’s assuming that the real reason is something else, and he’s already noted that the EFFECT of the action is to put Gretchin in command of Dresden. Presumably he’s correctly deduced that this is the objective of sending senior officers elsewhere.

  15. Beata says:

    Nice. Wettin was invited to his OWN palace and with notice “You don’t have any armed servant to change it or… deal with Baner”.

  16. Erick Isely says:

    I don’t see any problem with defeating Baner. Some time will be spent before Baner decides he will besiege/attack Dresden. What will pull the trigger and cause Baner to officially lay siege to Dresden? Baner did not have significant siege guns and what he has he had to drag up from Oberpfatz over the obstacles put in place by Kuefer. I bet Baner becomes impatient and tries to storm Dresden thinking that the city is held by a bunch of rabble CoC. But before that there has to be the conflict between Baner and Ernst Wettin. Wettin is official governor, Baner will not follow ernist’s directions but rather follows directions from OX. This flips Ernist Wettin over to the good guys. If Baner does not assault then he starves.

    Kuefer’s delaying tactics from an earlier snippet says Dresden has supplies, arms and is ready for a siege. Kuefer’s guerilla bands will unify the local population against Baner after his local atrocities and other acts of foraging. The problem of any army of any seize is staying still. Baner does not have a secure supply chain, the Elbe flows to Magdeburg (maybe the CoC ran supplies up river in the last month) roads to Berlin are bad, the local populous strengthen with guerilla bands (including some caverly, Lovrenc’s) will attach his foraging groups forcing more and more troops to be involved in simply gathering food if there is any. Baner army will starve, quickly, so he attacks Dresden and is repulsed by the CoC with their back bone of veteran officers and NCOs. If there was 300 NCO and lieutenants at 30 to 1 ratio one could easily train and lead an army of 9000, don’t think there is that many able body persons in Dresden but it will be co-ed with women manning the barricades. Only a couple weeks of drill would have a realistic force that could defend the city, even better than Amsterdam. Motivation inside much higher than outside. There will be lot of desertion in Baner’s army. No uptimers to work the radio or provide medical support. Once Baner’s assult is repulsed he has to retreat, probably toward Berlin.

    But Mike could also come up and defeat Baner easily but I think something will be keeping Mike busy, otherwise where is the suspense here? Something else must provide the suspense as Baner is doomed without Mike’s army. Mr Flint is holding back some suspense elements. Even Jeff’s reinforced regiment could be enough after Baner’s assault is defeated when coupled with the militia from Dresden, Kuefer’s guerilla’s and a revolting populous in support. Wallenstein dies, Austria makes a move, Mike helps hold Bohemia together while Baner is defeated by first Gretchen and then by Jeff and Gretchen.

    Is Baner’s assult against Dresden the big illegal move that Ox makes that flips resistance to Ox and the elder wettin from treason to patriotism to the USE?

    Mean time what is Nasi’s people doing with an airplane, so we now have gravel on the cobble stones so that it can take off, but with whom and to where? We had this conveyance of characters to Desden, where are they going to take us next. the interesting parts of 1632 books for me has been the lives and development of the minor character. Ms Stull has to get to Austria someday.

  17. kwinn says:

    Jozef Wojtowicz thinks “General Stearns could have sent the more senior officers……Noj Janos Drugeth

  18. kwinn says:

    Correction: Jozef Wojtowicz thinks “General Stearns could have sent the more senior officers……Not Janos Drugeth

  19. robert says:

    Is is interesting to get another viewpoint, and this one from the outsider’s perspective. So it moves things along a bit, tells us Baner is at the gates of Dresden and that Gretchen is running the show. But what is still missing is the military and civilian view from inside.

    “aufmachen!” says Baner.
    “Fick die Welt!” replys Gretchen.

  20. dave o says:

    # 11 I can’t find any specific information about the guns Knox moved from Ticonderoga to Boston. However they averaged about 1 ton each. For comparison, a Civil War era 6 pdr. weighed 850 lbs. This argues that most of guns at Ti were field guns, probably 6 and 9 pdrs, the same weights as the guns in G2A’s armies. Guns of these calibers were more or less useless against fortifications. Washington used them to threaten the British fleet in Boston harbor. Moving siege guns, much larger and heavier, is a different problem altogether. C.S. Forester’s The Gun describes how difficult it was to move a siege gun,

    If anyone can provide specifics on 16xx siege guns, I’d be interested to see it.

  21. Geoff says:

    What happened to the ten inch guns from the Monitor that Tom Simpson and Eddie Cantrell delivered to Ingolstadt in “1634-The Bavarian Crisis”? Since Banér is coming from there, is he bring them as part of his siege train?

  22. ET1swaw says:

    @20 Geoff: Obstensibly Baner is simply transferring his army from support of the USE province of Oberpfalz to the USE province of Saxony; and as such has no need of a seige train. At Baner’s original projected rate of travel (before the “natural” delays), his army was travelling without heavy artillery and especially without those monsterous naval guns. Remember how hard it was for Simpson and co. to get them to Oberpfalz in the first place.

  23. summertime says:

    Who is Kuefer? I thought the Saxony rebel leader was named Kress.

  24. dave o says:

    The first time around I missed that Wojtowicz is not only a spy for Koniecpolski, he’s also a radical more or less in sympathy with the COC program. This suggests he may do several interesting things. Maybe support the defense of
    Dresden. Maybe try to convince Koniecpolski to make a deal with Tortensson. Lots of other possibilities. But I don’t think he’s in Dresden by chance.

  25. akira.taylor says:

    @21 Geoff: Baner never had command of the Monitor’s guns, as they never actually got to (or that close to) Ingolstadt. Last we heard (near the end of Bavarian Crisis), they were heading home (I don’t remember if we know where “home” is for them, probably Magdeburg, Luebeck, or Hamburg). While Baner could have taken the guns (he has a lot more than a regiment, I think), it would be a pretty illegal action (and might get the navy involved in the civil war).

  26. Blackmoore says:

    @Geoff; as the ten inch gun has already proven hard to move by land I’m expecting it to still be in Ingolstadt for defense. It was moved into the city and not attached to Banér at the end of Bavarian Crisis.

  27. @20

    The large Ticonderoga guns were 24-pounders. There were also mortars.

  28. Joe Wojtowicz says:

    Well i’m having a blast reading about Jozef.

    I think he read too many James Bond books while in Grantville. But what the hey, its a hell of a way to go.

  29. Erick Isely says:

    Correction to #16, my mistake, Kuefer is one of Kresse’s partasian, #23 is correct.

    still don’t know who is in control of the Königstein, pretty impressive fortress in photos that pop up with google map search, may be key to battle of Dresden Jeff is patrolling down the Elber from Tetschen, snippet #9. to the Konigstein which is only 25miles/40km from Dresden, one day’s march with both dresden and Konigstein are on the south bank of the Elber. Barner would have come up from the south and west. His main force would be on the south side of Elber also. hard to see how Baner will besiege dresden as he would have to split his forces on either side of Elber, leading to defeat in detail with jeff’s foces on his right flank. Baner is toast, too easy unless there is some additional suspence element.

    Jozef is going to be even more of a radical hanging around the CoC pretending not to be a spy, then back to poland. Revolution in Poland kick out the Vasa

  30. Greg Eatroff says:

    On Ticonderoga’s artillery: “no fewer than seventy-eight were found to be servicable, ranging from 4-pounders to 24-pounders. There were also six mortars, three howitzers, thousands of cannon balls of various sizes…”

    (quoted from Christopher Ward, The War of the Revolution, 72)

  31. Keflex says:

    There are certainly a couple more details to take into consideration, but thank you for sharing this information.

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