1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 09

1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 09

***

“I don’t know. We go up another five hundred feet and it’s going to be at ninety-five percent and we’ll need to vent hydrogen to come down, even if we kill all the heat to the hot air chambers,” Petr said.

“Take us up till the hydrogen chambers are around ninety percent,” Nick said, “then set the hot air chambers at minimum heat. That should put us on a gentle glide down from around fifteen hundred feet. It ought to be light before we get back down to this height. And don’t forget the engines and the vanes. We can use power to force ourselves down if we have to.” The Test Bed had taught them all a lot about how to build airships, but this was still the first ship of this size and they were finding major differences in performance. The Czarina was much slower to respond than the Test Bed had been, and Nick hadn’t thought that was possible.

“Right, skipper. We will do that and I’ll have Valeriya call us to keep us up to date on the hydrogen chambers.”

Nick held up his hand. “Right, Pete. I’ll go to bed.”

***

They came out of the fog around ten the next morning and could see the southern shore of Lake Onega in the distance. They were a good three hundred fifty miles east of where they were supposed to be and well north of where they expected to be at this point in the trip. Nick had the Czarina turned just south of due east, and they sighted Nyen just before sunset.

Along with its electrical system, the Czarina had a spark gap radio, with the spark kept well away from the hydrogen. Once the fort was in sight, and while staying well out of firing range, Nick gave the pre-prepared messages to the radio operator. “Send this one first,” he said.

“Aye aye, sir.” The operator started tapping in the Morse Code taught at the Dacha.

GREETINGS FROM MIKHAIL CZAR OF RUSSIA STOP REQUEST PERMISSION TO LAND AND DELIVER MAIL FOR GRANTVILLE AND BEYOND STOP

The response was:

CZAR ON BOARD QUESTION STOP

NO STOP CZAR SENDS GREETINGS STOP A LOAD OF MAIL FOR USE AND GUSTAV OF SWEDEN STOP

There was a considerable delay before they got any response. But, eventually came:

YOU CAN LAND STOP PUT DOWN TO THE EAST OF NYEN STOP WE WILL SEND A TROOP TO MEET YOU STOP

They found a place to drop the anchor, and reeled themselves down to where they could use the winches to lower the mail bags. They lowered the ladder and Gerry Simmons climbed down.

***

Gerry looked around and saw a Swede with a captain’s bars on his collar sitting on a horse about thirty yards away. Apparently the captain didn’t want to put himself under the dirigible. Gerry walked across the pasture to an easy speaking distance, then pulled out his documents. “I’m Gerry Simmons, ambassador at large from the Empire of Holy Rus, appointed by Czar Mikhail day before yesterday.” He held out the papers with a flourish and a grin. “What have you folks heard?”

The captain looked at Gerry and at the dirigible, then got off his horse and walked over to meet Gerry. “Director-General Sheremetev is saying that the evil wizard, Bernie Zeppi, has cast a spell on Czar Mikhail, and you and Nurse Tami are in on the spell.” The guy said it as though he wanted to sound like he was joking, but wasn’t really sure that it wasn’t true.

“Nope. Bernie couldn’t do that. Neither could my wife. What happened was Sheremetev put Czar Mikhail up in a hunting lodge out in the back of beyond, while he took over the government. Then Bernie and Princess Natasha showed up in Bernie’s Dodge.” Gerry stopped at the man’s apparent incomprehension. “Car? APC?”

The captain nodded at APC and Gerry went on. “Anyway, it became apparent that some of the oprichniki had orders to kill Czar Mikhail if it looked like he was going to get loose. That sort of pissed Mikhail off.”

The captain snorted a laugh. “It would piss me off too. On the other hand, wasn’t it sort of to be expected?”

“Maybe. But since Sheremetev was going to kill him anyway, Czar Mikhail went ahead and called Sheremetev a traitor and started the revolution . . . or counter-revolution, or whatever it is. My wife and I, and two of our sons, were at the hunting lodge where they were keeping Czar Mikhail and his family, and we didn’t want to be there when Sheremetev showed up to find Czar Mikhail missing. So we went along too.”

“Do you want to go back to the USE?” the captain asked.

“Honestly, it’s tempting. Or it would be if my wife and boys were along on this trip, but she’s in Ufa playing doctor. Not just to the czar, but to the whole town.”

“Ufa? Where is that?”

“Way the hell off east of here. Nick — that’s Colonel Slavenitsky, the captain of the Czarina Evdokia —” Garry hooked a thumb at the dirigible hanging over them. ” — says it’s sixteen hundred and fifty miles in a straight line, but we caught a crosswind last night, so we traveled closer to seventeen hundred.”

“When did you leave Ufa?”

“Yesterday morning. It took us a little more than a day and a half. On the other hand, we’re getting pretty low on fuel. You guys have any firewood or coal?”

They delivered the mail and bought some fire wood. The garrison didn’t have any coal. Gerry climbed back up the ladder and they headed back.

On the road out of Bor

“Well, General, what happens next?” Ivan Maslov asked. They were still in sight of Nizhny Novgorod and had picked up some streltzi to swell their ranks. They also had quite a few techs from the dirigible works at Bor.

“We go to Ufa. I told you that.”

“Not what I mean,” Ivan said. Then, quietly, “Tim, we’re going to be fighting a war. We have the AKs and so do the boyars back in Moscow. The army we are facing will have a better rate of Fire than the USE troops. Even the AK3 will give them that. Maybe not as good as the French cardinal rifles, but better than the German SRGs. When you add in the new clips of the point sevens, we’ll be as fast or faster than the cardinals. Also, these are almost universally rifled guns. They have accurate range out to three or four hundred yards.” Ivan pointed at the AK4 Long, strapped diagonally across his back. It was a fifty caliber heavy chamber with a long barrel. “With a mount and scope, I can hit a man at six hundred yards most of the time.”

“Most people won’t be able to . . .”

“I know. But most people will be able to hit a man-size target at three hundred yards. Two hundred, even with the carbines. That’s four times the range and you know the lectures we got on the American Civil War and World War I. It’s going to be a slaughter.”

“I know. But unless you have a tank in your rucksack, I’m not at all sure what to do about it.”

“Dig the Maginot Line across Russia,” Ivan said, but there wasn’t much conviction in his voice.

“And who would man it?” Tim said. “There aren’t enough people, much less soldiers, in Russia to man a line even as long as the Maginot was, much less the sort of line we would need for Russia. A trench from the Arctic to the Black Sea. If we did nothing else, it would take years. And if I could get a thousand bulldozers and build the darn thing, who would man it?”

“I know. But we have to think of something. You and me, we have to figure out the doctrine for the new war. Not the older and wiser heads. You and . . .”

“Wait a minute. General Izmailov is good and so . . .”

“What really happened at Rzhev, Tim?”

Tim stopped. It was a deep, dark secret. Or it had been. But maybe now was the time to tell it. “I usurped General Izmailov’s authority to move the volley guns. There was no advanced planning or approval from the general, just me acting on my own.”

“Well, why not just say so?” Ivan asked.

“Because it wasn’t long after that asshole Ivan Khilkov led our cavalry into a prepared pike formation and got them slaughtered. He’d been able to do it because he had a greater mestnichestvo. And I do too. If it had come out that I acted without orders, it would have been used as an excuse for any noble asshole to ignore the orders of his superior officer any time he wanted to.”

“With all respect, Tim, you guys never needed an excuse.” Ivan stopped. “Oh, I get it. Khilkov used his mestnichestvo to make General Izmailov let him loose, then screwed up by the numbers. The general didn’t want your actions to provide a counterexample.”

“Yes. He and Czar Mikhail, General Shein . . . they all wanted it kept very quiet. My uncle knows, but he agrees with the czar, at least on this.”

“It also goes to why Czar Mikhail made you the general.”

“No. It was just that he didn’t have anyone else handy,” Tim said. “Don’t make too much of it. He had to leave, we had to fight a rearguard action to get him loose, and no one he had handy at the time had much in the way of real world experience. It’s not like General Shein was available.”

“All I have to say, Tim, is maybe he was lucky Shein was up in Tobolsk,” Ivan said. “But it still means we have to figure out how to fight a modern war.”

“Not necessarily. It’s six hundred miles to Ufa. We’ll probably be safely dead before anyone asks us what to do.”

“General,” a voice from back in the line yelled. “There’s a steamboat coming up the river. What should we do?”

Ivan started laughing.

 

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19 Responses to 1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 09

  1. donny says:

    The people I read say that Civil war soldiers fired at about the same range as in the flintlock era.

    The authors seem to intend bringing the USE, or perhaps just Sweden into the Russian civil war. ( Letters to Gustave in this snippet, and Ron Stone in snippet 7) This is so improbable that if it happens, it will be one book not to buy. The Turks, Poles, and French are three excellent reasons why not. There is no sign Gustave bears any resemblance to Charles XII.

  2. hank says:

    There is a difference between being an active participant in a war and giving aid and comfort to one side of it. And it would be in the interest of the USE to support Czar Mikhail: In the short view as the Bad Guys are dealing with the Ottomans. In the long run, Mikhail is more in line with both Stearn’s & Gustav’s views of a disireable future. Not to mention a friendly Rus with a long-term beef with the PLC would certainly appeal to Gustav.

  3. Lyttenburgh says:

    “Gerry looked around and saw a Swede with a captain’s bars on his collar sitting on a horse”

    Wat…

    […]

    Are the authors so ignorant of the proper to the period uniforms? Of course, they do!

    “I’m Gerry Simmons, ambassador at large from the Empire of Holy Rus, appointed by Czar Mikhail day before yesterday”

    Several things wrong here. For one – “the Empire of Holy Rus”. Just what kind of insanity is that?! It was not used anywhere by anyone! Second – to appoint a foreigner, who is not even a subject as an ambassador? I tremble at the thought if the people like the authors would somehow find their way into the halls of power. OTOH…

    “Then Bernie and Princess Natasha showed up in Bernie’s Dodge.”

    You are a captain of the Swedish (actually, mostly ethnically Finnish) garrison out in the boondocks of Ingermanland. Your status is not very high – you are posted in the newly founded fortress-town with population in several hundreds away from the province capitol (which is Narva). And now you have some up-timer (about which you *might* have heard) literally falling from the sky and saying something about “Bernie”, “Natasha” and “Bernie’s Dodge”… and I’m not sure what language did both of them spoke here.

    You’d be a least slightly confused here.

    ““Anyway, it became apparent that some of the oprichniki had orders to kill Czar Mikhail if it looked like he was going to get loose. That sort of pissed Mikhail off.””

    Why are they called “oprichniks” anyway? Do the authors know the etymology of the term? DO they know that secrete police types (which oprichniks were NOT) existed even after Ivan IV? What’s with obsession of easy labeling?

    ““Maybe. But since Sheremetev was going to kill him anyway, Czar Mikhail went ahead and called Sheremetev a traitor and started the revolution . . . or counter-revolution, or whatever it is.”

    “Revolution” – what kind of abused word you are! Everyone uses it without knowing the meaning. No, that’s not “Revolution” – just your ordinary palace coup.

    “The army we are facing will have a better rate of Fire than the USE troops.”

    They are worrying about smaller things. Central Russia already had even before RoF significant cannon-production industry which was only to improve in the years since. They don’t . They don’t have any artillery. That’s what makes their ideas of trying to fight a “civil war” so hopeless. Well, among other things.

    • donny says:

      Who was it who said: “I pay my words and they mean what I say they mean?”

    • Terranovan says:

      “Proper to the period uniforms” – the USE might have influenced the Swedish culture to the point of an uptimer being able to recognize a particular insignia.
      “Foreigner, not even a subject, as an ambassador” – actually happened. And stranger. Recheck your copy of 1632, Lyttenburgh. One character mentioned is Sir James Spens, who was, “simultaneously, the Swedish ambassador to England as well as the English ambassador to Sweden”. In addition to which, Mikhail doesn’t have very many of his own subjects still loyal and so has to make do with what he can.
      As to the etymological abuse of “revolution” – that seems to be why Gerry Simmons finishes his sentence with the qualifier “whatever it is”.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “The USE might have influenced the Swedish culture to the point of an uptimer being able to recognize a particular insignia.”

        There is no indication of that. At all. The very same old-style Swedish regiment actually fought against USE (at Dresden in 1636) and were quite distinct. The whole organization of the “core” Swedish regiments remained the same as we are shown in both the 1635: The Eastern Front and 1636: The Saxon Uprising. Finally – its such pain the a$$ to re-design everything in already established military force compared to the one you build from scratch, while in constant contact with the center of the new cultural influence.

        Why not to use the Occam’s razor and admit that the authors with their desire to “up-time” everything while avoiding real historical facts just screwed up?

        ““Foreigner, not even a subject, as an ambassador” – actually happened.”

        1) How often to be seen as not exception but a standard practice?

        2) Was it standard for Russia? The answer is obviously – “no”

        “In addition to which, Mikhail doesn’t have very many of his own subjects still loyal and so has to make do with what he can.”

        Do you even understand how it works? This up-timer is NOT his subject. As such he can NOT speak on behalf of Russian Czar, can NOT be seen as the legitimate recognized ambassador of one power to another, and can NOT make his words, promises and signature binding in the international practice. Besides – there is already some dyak from the Posolski Prikaz appointed earlier va serving as the ambassador in Narva, or there is the local branch of the Posolski Prikaz in Novgorod with all necessary clout, seals and paperwork. What would be his, Gerry Simmons, job consist off? Does he know what it was to serve in the diplomatic corps on the Russo-Swedish border in 17 c.? Nothing exciting, actually – just the routine involving reviewing the complaints (coming from BOTH sides) about stolen cattle, horses and hay. Especially about illegally obtained hay from the border villages. Plus the issue of the contraband – again, coming from both sides. Is he quipped with both the practical knowledge, training and authority to solve these question? Besides – why should a lowly garrison commander from the provincial town in the Swedish Ingermanland lend hin ANY assistance without consulting with his superiors in Narva?

        • Bret Hooper says:

          This up-timer is NOT his subject. As such he can NOT speak on behalf of Russian Czar, . . . .
          So the Russian Czar has NO authority to authorize who he wishes to authorize to speak on his behalf? Is Mikhail aware that he has no such authority?

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “So the Russian Czar has NO authority to authorize who he wishes to authorize to speak on his behalf?”

            No, he can’t. For the first half of the 17th c. this is 100% true. He CAN NOT do that. And, yes – Mikhail is aware of his own limitations. In one short word – “mestnichestvo”. Russia is not an absolute monarchy at that time.

        • donny says:

          leaving aside the hysterical tone of L’s latest comment, he is clearly as ignorant of diplomatic practice as of military practice. Without going too far, I can think of two eminent diplomats of the Napoleonic era who were ambassadors of powers they were not subjects of. Pozzo di Borgo and Metternich. Further, it is obvious that Gerry was appointed a special ambassador, and not a resident ambassador. Further still, his instructions would lay out what he was allowed to negotiate, and what he could bind his Monarch to.

          I have my own problems with this book, but I really don’t think it’s necessary to snipe continually at the authors.

          • Tweeky says:

            I agree that L should stop sniping at the author as it is demeaning and takes away from Eric Flint’s efforts.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “Without going too far, I can think of two eminent diplomats of the Napoleonic era who were ambassadors of powers they were not subjects of.”

            >Of the Napoleonic era
            > The book is about 17 c.

            […]

            Who is ignorant here? The diplomatic practices differ greatly between the countries and through the ages.

            “Further, it is obvious that Gerry was appointed a special ambassador, and not a resident ambassador.”

            There was no such rank in Russian Posolsky prikaz. Therefore, the receiving part (already having several treaties and mutually accepted protocols often going back decades if not centuries) can (and should) refuse to recognize his status.

            Finally – there was no practice of having a resident ambassador back then. Specially empowered ambassadorial delegation (embassy) and their retinue would arrive at some place (usually – a capitol), present their credentials (to the monarch), all of this for the very specific mission and depart upon its completion. Once again – who’d make up this embassy was influenced by the mestnichestvo.

            Besides – who’s going to pay for Gery? The practice of the period would assume that he’d be provided with lodging and provisions by the host country (if it decides to accept the credentials of the ambassador).

            In short – Gery in fact should be travelling back to the USE to present himself before GARS. Not slacking in some border town.

            P.S. It is also unclear who is the current head of the Posolsky prikaz. In the OTL it would be Ivan Gramotin, but Filaret could not stand him and exiled him in 1626, so could only return in 1633 (the OTL death of Filaret). In the new time-line Filaret have lived a bit longer, so…

        • Bjorn Hasseler says:

          Please, cite the “organization of the “core” Swedish regiments.” Given new rifled muskets and a limited number of breechloaders (_1636: The Saxon Uprising_) and four years contact with the up-timers, is it really so amazing that officers started using standardized insignia rather than investing in opulent uniforms?

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “Please, cite the “organization of the “core” Swedish regiments.””

            1636: The Saxon Uprising given us the exposition on the USE military organization (Part 1, Chapter 1). It is underlined that it is unique to the USE alone.

            What about others?

            “Who would stop him? Torstensson’s two divisions were as numerous as the Swedish mercenary forces the chancellor had at his disposal in Berlin, better trained, and far better equipped. They were veterans, too, and their morale would be splendid if Torstensson led them against Oxenstierna and Wettin.” (Chapter 8)

            “The colonel nodded. He started chewing on his lower lip again, deciding on his next steps. He’d begin with the Östergötlanders. He no longer commanded that regiment, but he had their respect, and he was on good personal terms with its current commander…” [namedrops the Swedish regiments] (Chapter 29)

            “Johan Banér himself was a Swede, and so were many of his officers. But at least two-thirds of his mercenaries had been Germans and at least half the officers who commanded them as well. The truth was, there were probably more Scottish officers and soldiers in Banér’s army that day than there were Swedes”

            […]

            “If you looked at it the right way, the willingness of Banér’s mercenaries to switch allegiances was simply a reaffirmation of the Third Division’s august status. Even dumb Swedes knew which end was up. (And never mind that there were only two hundred and eighty-six actual Swedes among the new volunteers, and seventy-three Finns.)
            “Berlin did not celebrate because Chancellor Oxenstierna had twenty thousand troops in or near the city on the Swedish payroll, and was in a fury”
            (Chapter 50)

            I.e. the Swedish national army have remained its “traditional”, donwtimer self – i.e., mercenary one.

            • Bjorn Hasseler says:

              Yep, that clinches it. Because Banér opposed the up-timers, there’s no possible way that a *different* Swedish force could adopt an insignia *that would save a mercenary officer a bunch of his own money.* Even though that force under Oxenstierna included the survivors of Gustav’s column #3 from the Battle of Lake Bledno – some of whom had updated weapons –
              they couldn’t possibly have updated insignia. Because cultural assimilation is clearly a 0% vs 100% dichotomy. Seriously?

              • Lyttenburgh says:

                “Yep, that clinches it. Because Banér opposed the up-timers, there’s no possible way that a *different* Swedish force could adopt an insignia *that would save a mercenary officer a bunch of his own money.*”

                Did you miss that or decided to ignore? The Swedish forces in Berlin, which happened to be veterans, who were intended to be used in the war with PLC, they were the staple of the Swedish military. Which was, yes, regular, and, yes, “mercenary”.

                How do you think this works? Some garrison commander on the edge of the Swedish Empire, with limited to none contact with up-timers, decides one day: “Hey! We totally must adopt these thingies which mean nothing to us to denote our rank!”. I.e. no less mercenary commander will… “just do it”? Why? And rifles have nothing to do with the military dress-code here.

                What I’m trying to say is that all these insignia meant nothing for the Swedes. Unless you can provide a source to the book or the short story where it says, that GARS ordered to reform his army to resemble the one of the USE, we have to assume that the Swedish army remained the same it was before the RoF.

                “Because cultural assimilation is clearly a 0% vs 100% dichotomy. Seriously?”

                The series suppose as much. The whole world must be assimilated to the up-timer Borg. Up-timers themselves are incapable of assimilation. It’s the lowly primitive natives who must adapt.

              • Bjorn Hasseler says:

                So Eric should have to show you the staff meeting where this decision took place, even though the scene is being told from Gerry Simmons point of view and is therefore limited to what he can see? Please, attempt to bully people will more rhetoric. I’m sure it will work.

              • Lyttenburgh says:

                “So Eric should have to show you the staff meeting where this decision took place, even though the scene is being told from Gerry Simmons point of view and is therefore limited to what he can see?”

                If he truly “sees”, and I quote, “a Swede with a captain’s bars on his collar” (c), then he is hallucinating.

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