This book should be available now so this is the last snippet.
1637 – The Polish Maelstrom – Snippet 59
It all made quite a bit of sense, actually. At least, if you accepted Gustav Adolf’s basic premise, which was that he could spare enough troops from the war against the Ottomans to seize some Polish territory and–hopefully; this was more complicated and uncertain–overthrow the existing regime of the PLC and replace it with a more congenial one. If nothing else, he was bound and determined to abase that branch of his own Vasa family that had caused the rulers of Sweden so much aggravation since the benighted Poles elected Sigismund III Vasa the king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1587.
“If I understand you correctly, Your Majesty, you don’t intend to seize outright any more Polish territory than you’ve–we’ve–already taken in Silesia and west of Poznań.”
“Lower Silesia.” Gustav Adolf waved a big and meaty hand in a gesture of largesse. “Upper Silesia can remain in Wallenstein’s hands–or the Galicians, if they can squeeze it out of him. All of the territories I will take have a mostly German population anyway. They’d be more comfortable within the USE than under the rule of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.”
That was stretching it a bit. No one had ever taken a census in those regions, but Thorsten wouldn’t be at all surprised if the result showed that the majority of the population of northwestern Poland and Lower Silesia was actually Polish, not German. What was true was that the cities and most of the bigger towns were predominantly German.
Thorsten wasn’t really too concerned about that, however. They were still in an era where national identities were not as predominant as they would become in the world his wife and the other up-timers had come from. So long as their religious freedom and social customs weren’t interfered with, most of the Polish inhabitants of the area would accept USE rule. A fair number would actually welcome it. The branch of the Vasa dynasty that ruled Poland had developed a reputation for being feckless at best, and the Sejm’s reputation was not much better. And no one outside the szlachta had any use for the PLC’s great magnates.
“I will see to it that Gretchen Richter’s rulings–ha! You as well call them ukazes–in Lower Silesia are adopted elsewhere as well. The ones granting Poles equal rights with Germans, which includes official equality of the two languages and no religious prohibitions or penalties on the Catholics.” He made a little moue of distaste. Gustav Adolf’s views had been ameliorated to a degree under the influence of his up-timer allies and supporters, but he still had the usual seventeenth-century ruler’s dislike of religious freedom–or religious chaos, as he viewed it.
Thorsten used his finger to trace routes on the map. “So, you will begin by moving Horn’s troops from Swabia to reinforce Torstensson at Poznań. That’s what, Your Majesty? About fifteen thousand men?”
“More like twelve thousand. I’ll leave a brigade in Swabia just in case Bernhard gets ambitious. Three thousand men won’t be enough to defeat him, of course, but they’ll be enough to serve us as–what’s that handy up-time term?–tripwire, I believe. In any event, I don’t think there’s much likelihood that Bernhard would take the risk of seriously annoying us.”
“Certainly not now, with that capricious new king on the throne in France,” said Thorsten. He found himself nodding in agreement, to his dismay. There had to be something wrong with the emperor’s machinations.
“I’ll leave Brahe and his forces in the Province of the Main,” Gustav Adolf added. “That new French king really is quite unpredictable.”
“And you want to move most of SoTF’s National Guard to Poznań as well.”
“Yes–although we’ll leave two regiments in Bavaria. Just in case–unlikely case, granted–that Duke Albrecht gets rambunctious.”
Thorsten had been doing the arithmetic as they talked. “Add those to Torstensson’s two divisions, the Saxon forces under von Arnim–that’s another ten thousand, yes?”
Gustav Adolf waggled his hand. “Not any more. Von Arnim’s suffered a lot of attrition, Today, I doubt he has much more than seven thousand men.”
That wasn’t surprising. Vin Arnim’s forces had been pure mercenaries, who’d signed on in the expectation that they’d be enjoying what amounted to garrison duty. Instead, they’d found themselves shipped off to siege lines at Poznań. In winter.
Thorsten leaned over the map again. “What about the troops Oxenstierna assembled at Berlin?”
“They’re mostly under Swedish colors. I want to keep them away from the Polish front, because, well…” Again, he waved his hand, in a gesture indicating as little as possible.
Thorsten had no trouble filling in the blanks, though. Because in this day and age there are no troops as hated in Poland as Swedish troops. Leave aside the existing history, which was bad enough. By now, every literate person in Poland–certainly every member of the szlachta–has heard enough of the future history brought by the Americans to have learned of the Deluge.
The “Deluge” was the name that would be–would have been–given to one of the worst disasters in Polish history. In 1655, less than twenty years in the future, Swedish armies would invade Poland after Russian troops had already done so. Over the course of the next twelve years, Poland would suffer worse devastation than it suffered in the up-timers’ World War II. An estimated one-third of the population would die, and Warsaw would be destroyed along with almost two hundred other cities and towns.
“And you’ll send them to help defend Linz?”
“Yes,” said the emperor, smiling genially. “Given that I’m diverting so many forces against that bastard Wladislaw”–that came with genuine venom–“it behooves me to bolster our forces facing the Ottomans as well. That will add around fifteen thousand men to the lines at Linz.”
He held up an admonishing finger. “And I’m going to insist that King Christian send most of those twenty thousand troops he’s got lolling about in Copenhagen down to Linz as well. He’s slacked off long enough.”
Thorsten felt as if a noose was being slowly tightened around his neck. “Which leaves…”
“Lower Silesia! Which is now completely undefended, seeing as how that firebrand Richter chose to take all her troops to seize Krakow. Ha! I’ll say this much. She’s a bold woman.”
The emperor’s implied criticism of Richter has as much sincerity as the proverbial crocodile’s tears.
Thorsten considered, and then rejected, raising the fact that the original plan had been to send units of the SoTF’s National Guard to defend Lower Silesia. Clearly, that idea had been plowed under by Gustav Adolf’s swelling ambitions toward Poland.
“Which leaves you!” the emperor boomed cheerfully. “I have it on good authority–that would be my own judgment, which is the best authority of all–that you’ve done a good enough job of recruiting and training our three new divisions–“
“Your Majesty, we don’t even have one division recruited yet.”
“Don’t quibble with me. You’ve set up the needed structure to continue the work under someone else. One of your many talents is that you have an eye for good subordinates. Don’t deny it!”
Thorsten didn’t because… well, he couldn’t. That was one of his talents.
“So!” continued Gustav Adolf. “I hereby promote you to brigadier and order you to select the best of the two brigades you’ve already trained–“
Started to train, Thorsten thought glumly, but he didn’t say it out loud. That would be pointless, given the emperor’s current ebullience.
“–and take it to Breslau. Where better to complete their training?”
For the first time since the session had started, Caroline spoke up. “Your Majesty, Thorsten still hasn’t fully recovered from his injuries.”
Yet again, Gustav Adolf waved his hand. Dismissively, this time. “He’s recovered well enough. I doubt very much if he’ll be looking at any combat for at least six months. Ha! Not with Richter stirring things up the way she is in Krakow. Besides, I want you to go with him.”
Now, Kristina spoke up. “Papa! If Caroline’s going, then I want to go too!”
The emperor’s genial smile was now bestowed on his daughter. “Why, yes. I think that’s a splendid idea. Get the people of Lower Silesia accustomed to their future empress. As Americans would say, the cherry on top of the cake.”