1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 51

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 51


January, 1636

A rugged people

Chapter 18


The first thing Eric Krenz sensed of the dawn was Tata’s snoring. It wasn’t a loud sound, just a soft and quite feminine snuffling. He found it rather attractive, actually. Granted, his viewpoint was heavily biased by his second sensation, which was the feel of her nude body plastered to his own under the heavy blankets.

Oh, what a splendid night had just passed! He opened his eyes and gave the ceiling no more than a glance. The window, likewise. The sun was starting to rise. He’d seen a lot of sunrises. Nothing of any great interest there. Not when…

He muzzled the back of Tata’s neck. His hands began exploring. More precisely, returned to places already explored. Quite thoroughly, in fact.

Tata began stirring in response. Oh, what a splendid morning had just begun!

The sound of cannon fire erupted in the distance.

Tata sat up, as abruptly as a jack-in-the-box popping out. “It’s started!”

She turned and gave Eric a shove. “Up! Up! You have to get out there!”

Eric groaned.

“Now!” Alas, Tata was in full dominatrix mode. The Tavern Keeper’s Daughter Rampant.

Or the Barmaid On Steroids, as Friedrich Nagel liked to call her. He’d had to explain the up-time reference to Krenz. As it turned out, the lieutenant was planning to become a pharmacist after the war. He’d had to explain that term to Eric, as well. There was no such thing as a “pharmacist” in the year 1635, outside of a handful of Americans. A lot of apothecaries, to be sure, but apothecaries were usually hostile to the new methods and concepts emanating from Grantville.

“Get up, Eric! This is no time for dawdling! The Swedes are attacking!”

“They’re just starting a barrage,” he grumbled. His hands clutched the bedding in a last-ditch effort to stay in paradise. “This’ll go on for weeks. Weeks, Tata.”

“Up! Up! Up!” She swiveled in the bed, planted her feet on Eric’s back and buttocks, and thrust mightily. Tata was short, but quite strong. Eric flew out of the bed onto the floor.

Paradise lost.


He was in a cheerier mood a few minutes later, though. As she bustled him out the door, Tata said: “You may as well move your things in here as soon as you get a chance. That’ll give Friedrich some privacy.”

She made those statements with the same assertiveness that Tata made most statements. The woman was bossy, there was no doubt about it. On the other hand, Eric didn’t really mind being bossed around by Tata; not, at least, when he considered the side benefits. She was just as assertive in bed and very affectionate.

So. If all went well and the damn Swedes didn’t get overly rambunctious, tonight would be paradise regained.


Tata lived in one of the many small apartments in the Residenzschloss that had formerly been used by servants. At the end of the corridor leading from her apartment, Eric turned right as he usually did to get to the tower that gave the best view of the city. But before he could take more than two steps, Tata had him by the scruff of the neck and was dragging him the other way.

“No, you don’t! No sightseeing today! You have to get out on the battlements!”

“Why?” he demanded. “I can see what’s happening better from the tower.”

“The troops need to see you on the battlements. It’s important, Eric. You’re one of the commanding officers.”

He shrugged off her clutching hand but didn’t try to alter their course. “Don’t call them ‘battlements,'” he said. “The term’s silly. This isn’t a medieval castle with arrow slits.”

“Fine, fine. Fortified things. Whatever makes you happy. As long as you move faster.”

She picked up the pace, forcing him to do likewise.

“The only thing the walls of a star fort have in common with ancient battlements is that they’re both freezing in January,” he grumbled. “Whereas the tower — which gives a commanding officer a far better view of the field — has a fireplace inside.”

“Stop whining. The men have to be cold, don’t they? You have to share their trials.”

“Not my fault they’re unambitious slackers.”

“Ha!” She gave him a glance that was half-irritated and half-affectionate. Eric got a lot of those looks from her. “I don’t think I’ve ever met a man with less ambition than you have. You just stumble into things.”

That was true enough, Eric admitted to himself. He’d certainly never planned to become an officer!

He retraced the steps of his life, as they moved through the huge palace toward the entrance. He’d started as a gunsmith’s apprentice after he finished his schooling, simply because that was the family trade. He’d found the work quite fascinating, though; not so much because he had any particular interest in guns but because he enjoyed the intricate craftsmanship involved.

He liked mechanical things. He’d found the same interest in the equipment he’d maintained once he joined the army. At first, anyway, when he’d been an enlisted man in the artillery. He’d had many fewer opportunities to do mechanical work once he became an officer.

And why had he done that? He tried to remember.

They reached the entrance and went outside. Immediately, the cold clamped down.

“January!” Eric hissed. “The ugliest word in the language.”

“Stop whining.”

They started slogging through the snow toward the fortifications. Well, “slogging” was mostly Eric’s disgruntled mood at work. In truth, there was less than two inches of snow on the ground, hardly enough to impede their progress to any noticeable degree.

Oh, yes. As an officer, Eric had found it possible to enroll in the new college the army had set up. That had been the factor that tipped his decision to accept a commission. With his own resources, Krenz couldn’t have afford to attend a college or university.

Eventually, he’d heard from one of the college’s instructors, Torstensson planned to turn it into a full-fledged military academy — the first such created in the world. Their world, at least. It would be patterned after institutions in the world the Americans came from. Places with names like West Point, Sandhurst and Saint-Cyr.

In the meantime, though, it had been a fairly modest sort of school. For one thing, it only gave two years of instruction. Jeff Higgins had told him it was the equivalent of what up-timers called a “junior” or “community” college. But it was better than any other educational option available at the time.

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31 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 51

  1. Bret Hooper says:

    Well, here we go at last! Albeit I think I know who’s firing, we may find out for sure Tuesday nite. And how much good it’s doing him!

  2. dave o says:

    A siege in January. What fun.

    Defenders: Sentries freezing on the walls. Rest of troops cold in guardrooms and billets.

    Attackers: Troops freezing in trenches. Digging trenches in frozen soil. Making batteries with ditto. Rats, and lice aplenty. Frostbite and chilblains, (remember Gretchen had all the dwellings outside the walls destroyed.)

    Now that Flint has mentioned Krenz’ love of craftmanship, it’s time to start figuring out how he uses it in the siege.

  3. Willem Meijer says:

    Not the St. Cyr of the white gloves in the trenches of WWI please.

  4. johan says:

    If anyone is interested I found a list of all of Sweden’s Field Marshal through the ages. The site is only in Swedish unfortunately, but there are portraits of Johan Banér, Lennart Tortensson, Gustaf Horn (currently “fighting” Bernhard in Swabia) and Gustaf II Adolf’s illegitimate brother Admiral Karl Gyllenhjelm (IIRC he’s in some of the gazettes and in 1633 I think). Just thought it might be funny to have a face to the characters. :)


  5. ET1swaw says:

    Erik finally landed Tata (from Duke to failed apprentice). The 2nd seige has begun (remember Tortensson and co. outside Poznan). Dresden has modern (for the time) defenses (star fort) and Gretchen went scorched earth on environs. At least Tortensson (if he gets support) has an abundant cavalry within Poznan to draw down seige supplies, Baner got the short end at Dresden.

  6. Ian Chapman says:

    #4 All this is going to make Baner even more determined rather than less, because he will want Dresden (and the CoC) to pay for the privations his men are suffering from, and he will want payment in blood, and lots of it.

    If Baner gets his way, there won’t be stone uptop charred beam in Dresden by the time he is done and the political consequences to Wettin will be catasprophic esp with his own brother as the Administrator and openly backing the city defenders. Ox may be too stupid to realize this, but surely Wettin isn’t!

  7. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @5 – Ian Chapman

    Baner may be more determined than ever to conquer Dresden, but Gretchen (and Tata and Eric) will make him pay as harshly as they possibly can in blood and tears. I agree with you that the political consequences to Wilhelm Wettin will be severe, especially since Ernst Wettin had ordered Baner to keep his distance.

  8. PeterZ says:

    @5 Ian, interesting point you bring up. I wonder if it will be percieved that Gretchen is bullying him into his support? If not, then this will be an example of the CoC firebrands and old guard working together. Heaven help Ox et al if they succeed in resisting Baner. That type of success story will give the CoC a level of legitimacy Ox can’t take away.

  9. dave o says:

    #6 Ian: I think that the chances of resisting Baner are actually pretty good. They have shelter, more food -even if not enough, good defenses, & motivation. It’s likely that they have more heavy cannon than Baner, and can play hell with his siege lines. Unless there’s some kind of unforseen accident, like the magazine exploding during the French siege of Almieda I don’t see him taking the city any time soon. But it isn’t even clear that Baner will try to attack. Against the Bavarians, he seems to have just blockaded the city, until he could buy it.
    #7 Robert: W. Wettin is likely to face pretty severe political consequence whether or not Baner takes Dresden.

  10. ET1swaw says:

    @9 dave o: In Oberpfalz Baner wasn’t allowed to take Ingolstadt by force of arms (Sweden couldn’t afford the casualties). His Swedish-paid mercenaries were a force to deter Mad Max and protect Oberpfalz, not an attacking army. Unlike Brahe who conquered new territory (Main and Upper Rhine provinces) and unlike Horn who gained and lost ground in his dance with Bernhard Wettin (now Grand Duke of Burgandy as well as a Duke of Saxe-Weimar (the title Wilhelm Wettin gave up, but his brothers retained)); Baner was tasked with maintaining Oberpfalz defenses (his last extension of territory before Ingolstadt was along the Danube to the borders of Passau (thereby separating Bohemia and Bavaria with a narrow strip of the USE)).
    If Baner has begun bombardment, the political consequences are perhaps more dire for Axel than for Wilhelm. Baner’s blatant disregard for the USE province administrator’s orders makes this a Swedish Army attacking a USE city. Wilhelm will fall for allowing it to happen, but if Axel can be proved culpable Baner has committed an Act of War between two of G2A’s realms. If Wilhelm can achieve deniability, he might even escape treason charges (unless he throws his brother to the wolves by declaring him a rebel and Baner as a USE supported force putting down insurrection). If Axel’s coup fails (and it is a coup IMO even with internal support from PM and reactionary government officials), politically Wilhelm is probably finished no matter what he does (the CL party as a whole might survive, but IMO will fragment). Baner has crossed the Rubicon, but Axel and Wilhelm have not yet committed to a point of no return (they could just declare Baner rogue and deny, deny, deny).

  11. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @10 – ET1swaw

    Baner’s bombardment is treason, if Axel and W. Wettin fail. If it succeeds, then Baner is a hero. Baner is counting on Alex and W.W. to succeed. He probably is also counting on Mike Stearns staying put in Bohemia. This is turning into a wild ride.

  12. Drak Bibliophile says:

    ET1swaw, actually Baner is somewhat “in the clear”.

    The CoC had no legal authority to close the “gates of Dresden” against him and it could be argued that neither did Ernst Wettin.

    Ernst’s order is somewhat stronger but Baner’s actions could be “legal” since he’s operating under Prime Minster Wettin’s orders (offically).

  13. Peter says:

    Re 12 – But Ernst Wettin is operating under GA2’s direct orders, which trumps the PM’s orders. On this point Ernst outranks his brother and Axel.

  14. robert says:

    It doesn’t matter whether Baner is legal or rebel or rogue. What he is, or will soon be, is dead. There is no way his actions during the march to Dresden will be excused — if he is not hung for them, he will be assassinated for them, probably by the Saxons. And if GA recovers soon enough (and I am betting on a pretty full recovery) Axel O. will also be in deep kaka. When Mike & Co. get through with Baner’s forces and Axel O., W. Wettin’s best bet will be to beg asylum from the Duke of Burgundy.

  15. Doug Lampert says:

    @13, Nope, the Prime Minister is ALSO acting under GA2’s orders. And I seriously doubt that the constitution of the USE allows a city or province within the USE to close its gates to USE or allied forces. If it does then SIMPSON committed clear treason when he bombarded Hamburg. Which was an actual ally rather than a just conquered city.

    Constitutions in Our World don’t let locals close their gates to the national army in time of war. They absolutely don’t allow it to appointed governors of conquered regions.

    I see no reason to think that an appointed governor has that authority in the 1635 world, not when the head of government has given contradictory orders. I wonder just who of Mike Sterns and GA2 you think would CONCIEVABLY have given every local governor and german nobleman that sort of power?

  16. dave o says:

    Does anyone recall that the USE hasn’t even defined who is a citizen yet. It seems to me that anyone who wants to claim that a particular action is illegal should cite the code section which makes it illegal. How this plays out depends on which side the most people with guns end up. There may be trials in the end, but the winner is going to MAKE the laws, not follow them.

  17. ET1swaw says:

    @15 Doug Lampert: IIRC Hamburg both fired first and was –not– an ally of USE (at best it was neutral like Nuermburg?sp?). It also was attempting to block passage of the USE Navy. Ernst and Baner both recieved original orders from G2A (wonder if they stipulated for Baner to strip Oberpfalz (in danger from Bavaria) and bring an army with him to Saxony). AFAIK Ernst has recieved no follow up orders from Axel or his brother. Shutting the gates to a marauding band of mercenaries (not to would be criminally stupid) is certainly justified, the scorched earth begs the definition of Baner as an invading force (which his actions in Saxony might be used and Baner’s refusal of orders (for his –army– to not enter the city under arms)). If Wilhelm Wettin has given orders that Dresden is to be considered in insurrection and reduced, I haven’t seen it. If Axel has given direction to that effect (effectively removing Baner from USE control), Baner is a Swedish force attacking an ally. Defense or rebellion? Remember the full quote: “Treason never prospers; for if it prospers, none dare call it treason”. An attacking force must be considered an enemy (self defense applies for cities as well as indiividuals) and Baner’s actions as well as stated intent has defined him for the moment as an attacking force, not a friendly/allied occupation force. Refusal to peacable entry is indeed rebellion, defense against attack a whole different story. Neither Kresse nor the CoCs nor even Saxon village militias have attacked Baner’s forces, whereas villages have been burned and USE citizens (not legally I know but let’s use the word anyway) killed by Baner’s forces (Gretchen has also burned villages, but with the grudging acceptance of its people). But the winners write the histories (or in this case Eric), and both sides always think they’re in the right.

  18. Chris says:

    @4 You should try using Google chrome, it will allow you to translate from just about any language to any other language.

  19. Chris says:

    Has everyone forgotten that Saxony is not part of the USE. There has been no settlement or peace treaty signed yet so it is still an enemy state. That means all the talk about USE cities or allies closing there gates is not treason since Saxony is not part of the country.

    On the other hand people get too hung up on legalistic niceties. The simple fact is that whoever wins is going to get to decide whats treason and whats not. It appears everyone is all in and this can only end with the brutal annihilation of the losing side.

  20. johan says:

    @18 Chris

    Oh, I’ve no problem reading my mother tongue ;) I was just thinking about everyone else. It’s a page people might never see if they don’t know swedish so I thought I’d just throw it out there for anyone interested.

  21. Daryl says:

    I think we may be forgetting the ceremony of Keys to the City, Freedom of the City, or Key to the City. This is nowadays an honour paid to a respected military unit which allows them to enter the city as a unit “with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed”. However from the ceremonial details and the laws defining them it is obvious that in many cultures military units are not welcome to enter a city in formation with weapons unless invited, even though they may be actual forces of the same country, and that municipal authorities do have the legal right to refuse entry. Enforcing that legal right would be done by legislation in modern societies, however in the 17th century you might need walls and defenders.

  22. Willem Meijer says:

    @21 Quite right. Closing the city gates would be normal practice at night as well. The citizens felt more secure (no dangerous strangers coming in, no criminals can get out), the city treasury made sure no taxable goods got smuggled in or out. A town not buttoned down at night would be a true exception. During the day the guards at the town gates would check goods and visitors coming in and out. A beggar or a vagrant turned away from the city gates would not pester the citizenry. In general only those already living in the town could expect a ‘right’ to enter the town for all others it would be a favour.

    I’ve been reading two journals kept by freed Dutch slaves (from captivity on the Barbary coast) and one of them returned in 1680 to the Netherlands by walking (with wif and child) through northern Italy, Switzerland and Germany. At every town he wanted to enter he notes that he is checked by the guards, who often tell him in what inn he can stay. He generally had to present his passport at the Town Hall or to the city’s governor and get it signed. He makes note of the times this was done speedily or for free. He even had to replace his passport during the trip becase it was ‘full’.

  23. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @19 Actually, Saxony **is** part of the USE. It’s “governor” (the Elector) rebelled, was deposed, eventually killed, and was replaced by G2A who appointed Ernst Wettin to act in his stead.

    Everybody is arguing legalisms and forgetting that this is now a ‘hot’ Civil War. The winners will decide what winds up being legal or not. If Ox and WW win, they will pich Baner’s actions as bringing to heel a continuing rebellion, and ignore Ernst’s orders on the grounds he was clearly in the power of the uprising. If the FoJ folks win, Ernst’s letter will be important in giving legal cover to those resisting Baner. But right now, *BOTH* sides have sufficient legal cover for what they are doing, and they will keep having legal cover until the G2A wakes up or a regency is formally appointed.

  24. Perry says:

    I wonder what Gretchen did to the wells outside the city walls. First I thought she’d have filled them in, as part of the scorched earth campaign. Then it dawned on me that she could leave more amusing presents.

    Dysentery, cholera,and typhoid fever are subjects that the CoCs have studied in detail, and given Banér’s reputation as a man not interested in mundane details like camp sanitation, it would seem tempting to use that knowledge offensively as well as defensively.

    The only question is whether the troops would use wells at all, or would get all of their drinking water from the Elbe.

  25. Drak Bibliophile says:

    I’m not sure that I’d call this a “Hot Civil War”.

    It is only “Hot” at Dresden.

    The remainder of the USE are waiting around to see what happens.

    As for the legality, Ed is somewhat correct.

    So far, the majority of the USE local governments don’t really see any major *violations* of the law on either side.

    Of course, things will change.

  26. B Taylor says:

    @23 Ed Schoenfeld: actually, Saxony was never part of the USE – it was part of the CPE (basically under duress), and left to join the League of Ostend (sp?). G2A got ticked with the Elector, and went and stomped on him and made Saxony a part of the USE w/ an appointed administrator. So, legaly, Saxony is a conquered territory. I agree, though, that the legalities matter less than we might wish (well, if they mattered more, it wouldn’t be as interesting of a story, because of the distinct lack of real conflict).

  27. Cobbler says:

    # 24. Poisoning the wells where you live? Farmers throughout Germany will love that. That charge was always good for a pogrom against the Jews. Does the CoC want a reputation for poisoning wells?

    Besides: is there no chance that “dysentery, cholera, and typhoid” will get into the water table and enter the Dresden wells? During a siege, does Gretchen want to add epidemics to her other problems?

  28. Ian Chapman says:

    #27 I agree. No chance the CoC will poison the wells. That would be the one thing that would make even Stearns shy away from helping them (he’s made his position on the matter perfectly clear). It would also be completely unnecessary. By implementing a scorched earth policy around Dresden and because of Baner’s own lack of regard for the details like camp sanitation, rife disease amongst the Swedes is virtually a given, no matter what.

  29. Stanley Leghorn says:

    27: Have to agree as well, no way is Gretchen going to do that. AT WORST, she would have them filled in. But I doubt she had time for it. So, all Baner’s problems are going to be of his own making due to his deliberate ignorance.

  30. Mike brown says:

    She might just put up signs. I read something over on tvtropes where the allies put signs saying they poison the oasis, when call on posing water being against the rules they say that posing was. Putting signs up lying about it being poison wasn’t.

  31. Bret Hooper says:

    @20 Johan: Thank you. I can’t read your mother tongue, but I could read the names above and below the pictures, as can anybody else.

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