1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 40

1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 40

Chapter 19

Bavaria, on the Amper river

Two and a half miles east of Zolling

Lt. Colonel Jeff Higgins was staring down at the reason his regiment had not gotten in radio contact with divisional headquarters.

His radio specialist, Jimmy Andersen, still had his hands clutched around his throat. Lying on his back just outside the entrance to the radio tent, in a huge pool of drying blood. His eyes looked like a frog’s, they were bulging so badly.

“Jesus wept,” Jeff whispered. Some part of his mind knew that — if he survived this day himself — Jeff would be weeping too, come nightfall. Jimmy Andersen had been one of his best friends since…

He tried to remember how far back. First grade. They’d met in first grade. They’d both been six years old.

It was obvious what had happened. Jimmy had heard the gunfire, come out of the tent to investigate — not even a radio nut like Jimmy Andersen would have sent a message before doing that much — and a stray bullet — dear God, it had to been almost spent, at that distance — had ruptured his throat. The last two or three minutes of his life would have been a horror, as he bled out while choking to death. The only slight mercy was that he’d probably fainted from the blood loss fairly soon. From the looks of it, the bullet had nicked the carotid as well as severing his windpipe.

A freak death. But they were always a feature of battles. It would have probably happened right at the beginning, when the initial Bavarian charge allowed them to come within a hundred yards of the radio tent. Right now, the enemy cavalry had pulled back a ways and the front line — such as the ragged thing was — wasn’t close enough any more for a bullet to have carried this far.

What had happened to the assistant radio operator? Jeff looked around but didn’t see him. He’d probably just run off, panicked by the surprise attack and the still greater surprise of seeing his immediate superior slain like that.

“Should I contact HQ, Colonel?” asked one of Jeff’s adjutants. That was…

Jeff’s mind was foggy and this was one of the new recruits to the regiment. It took him two or three seconds to pull up the fellow’s name.

Zilberschlag. Lieutenant Jacob Zilberschlag. He’d been commissioned just two months earlier, and was the first Jewish officer in the division. Probably the first Jewish officer in the whole USE army, for that matter. Mike would have made a place for him.

More to the point, Zilberschlag was one of the few officers who knew how to use a radio.

“Yes, please, lieutenant. Get General Stearns. I need to speak to him — and quickly.

While he waited for Zilberschlag to make contact, Jeff shook his head in order to clear his brain. He had no time right now to let Jimmy’s death fog up his thoughts.

The situation was… stable, sort of, but that wouldn’t last long. The Hangman Regiment had been caught by surprise and battered bloody, but they’d held together long enough to survive the initial clash. Their one bit of good fortune was that they’d only been fighting cavalry and they’d never broken and run. Routed infantry got slaughtered by cavalry, but if they could stand their ground it would be the cavalry that eventually broke off first.

Yes, the fighting had been one-sided but not that one-sided, especially after the first five minutes passed and the regiment was still hanging together. The Bavarian cavalry had taken something of a beating too. A bruising, at least.

Jeff could see the river, not more than twenty yards away. The enemy cavalry had pulled back a few minutes ago. That almost certainly meant that they’d been ordered to cover the infantry who’d now be crossing over the from the south bank — right where Captain Finck, bless his miserable special forces black heart — had suggested would make a good place for an army to do that.

Which meant the Hangman Regiment had to retreat. Now. Fall back a third of a mile or so, however far they had to in order to link up with the 1st Brigade.

He looked back down at his old friend’s corpse. He’d have to leave it here. There was no time for a burial party. Hopefully, they’d be able to retrieve Jimmy’s body later. Or if the Bavarians wound up in possession of the field, maybe they’d bury him.

But Jeff didn’t think they’d be in possession, when everything was said and done. Tonight, maybe. Not tomorrow, though.

The Bavarians had caught them flat-footed, sure enough. The Third Division’s commander had screwed up, no doubt about it. But that was all over and done with — and the battle was just getting started.

Jeff’s money was on Mike Stearns. Fuck Piccolomini and Duke Maximilian and the horses they rode in on.

“General Stearns wants to talk to you, Colonel.” Zilberschlag now had the radio case mounted on his back. He came over, handed Jeff the old-style telephone receiver and turned his back so Jeff wouldn’t have to stretch the cord.

“Yes, sir,” Jeff said.

What kind of shape are you in, Colonel?

“We’re pretty beat up. I figure we’ve lost…” Jeff tried to estimate what the regiment’s casualties had been. That was bound to be guesswork at this stage. He also knew from experience that casualties usually seemed worse than they were until all the dust had settled and a hard count could be made of those who were actually dead, those who were wounded — and, of those, how many were mortally injured, how many would recover fully and how many would have to return to civilian life. It always surprised Jeff a little how many people came through what seemed like a holocaust completely uninjured. He’d done it himself in several battles now.


This entry was posted in 1632Snippet, Snippets. Bookmark the permalink.
Skip to top


19 Responses to 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 40

  1. cka2nd says:

    Aw, shit.

  2. Lyttenburgh says:

    How predictable.

    This particular trick is one of Eric’s favorite ones. Take a character from early parts of the series who was back then kinda-sorta important. Completely forgot about said character for a dozen or so books. While the rest of the cast either go on high adventure, or other characters join them “The Forgotten One” is, well, completely forgotten. “Revive” this character for the sole purporse of sacrificing in the name of the Drama.

    OTOH – now no one can claim that you are playing safe. On the other – it was a calculated sacrifice of someone of no particular importance.

    • Robert H. Woodman says:

      Was Jimmy wearing a red shirt when this happened?

    • Jeff Ehlers says:

      Jimmy Anderson showed up in two separate chapters, with speaking lines no less, in 1636: The Saxon Uprising. He showed up in three in 1635: The Eastern Front. I’ll give you that he didn’t have an appearance in 1634: The Baltic War (although he still got mentioned), but he had plenty in 1633 and 1632. So while he’d receded in importance as far as derring-do is concerned, he clearly did not vanish.

      Perhaps you’re thinking of a different author?

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        Nope, I don’t “think of a different author”. One has only to… walk through… Belisarious series to see my point.

        All what you mentioned is nice and good… but what if we compare poor late Jim to the rest of the Main Cast? Surely, with so many books over so many years one can be forgiven for forgetting all about him, given how rarely is he mentioned both in the “mainstream” books, secondary plotlines and GGs as well.

        Who else remembers the (former) police chief Dan Frost? Verily, verily I tell thee – should he die in this book most people will just shrug.

        • Jeff Ehlers says:

          Leaving aside the fact that the Belisarius books were co-written between Eric Flint and David Drake, which is a not-so-minor point…I think you’re being much too harsh here.

          Yes, there have been numerous non-mainline books in the 1632 series. Many major characters are not even mentioned in them. So going by your reasoning, any of those characters are in danger of being killed off simply because they haven’t gotten much screen time. Personally, I think that’s lazy thinking on your part, used to justify – or perhaps I should say rationalize – an opinion you already hold.

          Second, even if you are correct, why is it a problem? Some authors kill off major characters who have large roles in a particular novel; others almost never kill off major characters. I get that it might not be your personal preference, which I can understand; to pick a name out of a hat, I don’t like Charles Gannon’s tendency to take a character who’s been heavily developed and ruthlessly kill them off to drive home the object lesson to the reader.

          But this isn’t just you saying you dislike Flint doing it. This is you saying it’s bad writing on Flint’s part without giving any particularly good reasons for it. Saying that it’s predictable is pretty meaningless; for every relatively minor character that has been ‘forgotten’ then killed off like that in one of Flint’s books, I’d wager there’s at least half a dozen who haven’t.

          You might have a point if he were to do it frequently, but it’s going to take more than a handwave at a few characters from the Belisarius books to show that he actually does.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “Leaving aside the fact that the Belisarius books were co-written between Eric Flint and David Drake, which is a not-so-minor point…”

            Not exactly. According to coments of both D. Drake and E. Flint the first book was more or less envisioned by the former, who also layed down the general direction of the plot. And then Drake basically allowed Eric to run the show however he likes. Anyone who read both Flint and Drake can destinguish which part is written by whom. Starting with 4th book, IMO, there was about 90% of Flint and 10% of Drake. So, yes, it qualifies.

            “Yes, there have been numerous non-mainline books in the 1632 series. Many major characters are not even mentioned in them. So going by your reasoning, any of those characters are in danger of being killed off simply because they haven’t gotten much screen time.”

            Not only because of the lack of the “screen time”. Because they are “safe target”. Convenient, I’d say.

            Should I remind you how poor Dreeson was “retired”? It was also a “safe target” – why, he was getting old, after all!

            “Second, even if you are correct, why is it a problem? Some authors kill off major characters who have large roles in a particular novel; others almost never kill off major characters.


            But this isn’t just you saying you dislike Flint doing it. This is you saying it’s bad writing on Flint’s part without giving any particularly good reasons for it. “

            And sometimes cigar is just a cigar [nods].

            I said – “how predictable”. What I meant – “I find this turn of events predictable”. I’m saying that if I was in Eric’s shoes I’d did the same.

            And he is not the worst offender here. The very same “trick” had been done to the death by another occasional co-author of Eric – David Weber. Same MO, same reasons, drama for drama’s sake. Oh, and the “shock value” of executing such “easy targets” wears off very quickly.

            The problem here is when you have very big cast of characters, that grows even bigger with each book – you have a lot of “spares” to sacrifice.

            • Bret Hooper says:

              Henry Dreeson was ‘retired’ by Virginia DeMarce, not Eric Flint. The murder of Dreeson was a major plot element; it led directly to operation Krystalnacht, whereas the death of Jimmy Andersen seems unlikely to be a more major event than that of his fellow ‘musketeer’ Larry Wild, in 1632.

              • Lyttenburgh says:

                “Henry Dreeson was ‘retired’ by Virginia DeMarce, not Eric Flint”

                Can you prove it? The book in question was co-authored. Isn’t it more plausible that our poor old mayor was “retired” by the hand of his own creator?

            • Eric Flint says:

              David played an enormous role in developing the Belisarius story, but the actual writing is entirely mine. All told, David’s prose in the six volumes comes to maybe one page.

              Some know-it-all on Baen’s Bar once bragged that he was so familiar with Drake’s writing that he could tell exactly which passages had been written by him, and which had been written by me. David happened to spot the comment and he posted: “Hell, that’s easy. Eric wrote all of it.”

  3. llywrch says:

    How are the places where the text is chopped up into snippets determined? Is it by length of text, or is there some attempt to end it at an appropriate spot?

    I ask because a number of times it seems that the first few paragraphs of a snippet logically fit with the previous one, which distracts from following the action in the story. Here, for example while the division between snippets 39 & 40 make sense — the writer wants to keep us in suspense so we’ll read the next installment — where snippet 40 ends doesn’t make as much sense. Obviously what will come next is that Jeff Higgins will provide a guesstimate of the casualties, then ask for permission to pull back. And Stearns will reply by either giving him permission to withdraw — or order him to hold his position until relieved. And I suspect after those two paragraphs the narrative will take us to something unrelated to Higgins immediate plight, or maybe even to the battle directly. (Which leads to a bit of confusion for the reader shifting scenes so early in the snippet.)

    In other words, I’m left with no suspense. Just a minor annoyance that I have to wait two days for the scene to be completed — unless this scene is twice as long, or maybe more, than this snippet.

    • Drak Bibliophile says:

      Eric Flint instructed me to have an “average” of 1,500 words per snippet.

      Depending on the chapter, that can mean one snippet per chapter thru 4-5 snippets per chapter.

      As for problems reading the “snippets”, all I can say it that it will read better when you get the complete version.

    • Jeff Ehlers says:

      I much prefer the mild annoyance of having to wait for the next snippet for some scenes to complete to the much more common tendency by authors not to snippet books at all.

      • Robert H. Woodman says:

        Me, too, Jeff.

        • llywrch says:

          I also appreciate being able to read the snippets ahead of publication. Especially since I don’t have a device to read the ARC with.

          Having said that, I wanted to know just how much leeway Drak has for selecting the text of a snippet. And I’ll also state for the record that sometimes it makes better sense in capturing the ebb & flow of a novel for the snippet to be much shorter than 1,500. (It all depends.)

          Hey, at least I’m not reporting proof-reading errors!

      • Gahrie says:

        Has anyone done the research to determine if snippets hurt or help book sales? I’m curious about the answer.

        Personally, I almost never read snippets of things I wasn’t planning on buying anyway, and almost always buy a hardbound copy of the book of snippets I’ve read.

  4. I am highly suspicious of claims that an outcome was predictable, when the prediction was not made in advance.

    In fact, I don’t in general believe them.

    Give us a prediction for the next book, that turns out to be true, and I might take the claim seriously. Until then, not so much.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      With eARC out (which I don’t have, mind you) how can I post my “predictions” without being accused of spoilering?

      As for making any prediction for the upcoming books – yeah, sure, like you or someone else will still remember that!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.