Der Resin Kavalier

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Once more into the Breach! (or something like that)

 It's been two months since my last posting! Where did the time go? It's a good thing I don't get paid for this otherwise I would have been out on my ear long ago! So, what news from Franconia?

The local powers have been mobilizing their forces, while the big ones are just biding their time. The King of France has offered Duke Ernst Gustav "advisors" for a "small" consideration, oddly inquiring how well the Duke spoke French. The Soldier King of Prussia strangely made a similar offer, while the Empress merely smiled serenely at the Franconian Minister.

The Duke of Burgundy has mobilized his army in support of Franconia and they now march to meet the Hessian foes. The Landgrave of Hesse has called on his relatives to form a combined Hessian Army, while Thuringia has promised its support. The wheels of conflict are turning. 

So what of the gallant, albeit pedantic Herr Major Burgebrach and his company of Grenzschutz? After firing a token volley and a round or two from their 3-pounder, it was off to the races (as fast as they could) from Le Baron's now enraged "fraternal assistance" force of Hessian Regulars. Of course, this being a stately conflict, a few niceties had to be maintained: the 3-pounder was spiked, the Grenz Kasserne was locked, and the local merchants got stiffed. Finally, in keeping with the unwritten rules of fraternal invasions, Le Baron ordered his army and staff to turn around in place while he closed his eyes and counted to a hundred.

And with that, the War was on!

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

The War of Franconian Succession, Part 5: Allies and Enemies

Imagi-nations and there sundry wars and campaigns need a map. For the variety and even some historical significance, it's hard to beat the Holy Roman Empire for a useful map. With so many states and statelets, one is bound to find  something useful. Better yet, with some of the current online resources available for the eighteenth century, getting and using realistic uniforms prints is easy (and a lot of fun!). Probably the most useful in my opinion is  Kronoskaf . It has a wealth of information on all of the players/personalities and uniforms of the Seven Years War. Run completely on donations, it is well-worth supporting!

Anyhow, here is our map, slightly edited, to chronicle the ins and outs of this particular conflict. Enjoy!

Now, over the next few episodes of this imaginary war in the latter half of the 18th century we'll go over the allies and enemies of the Duchy of Franconia as neighbors choose sides (or not) to settle the questions as the rightful heir to the Franconian throne. 

Until next time... 

Monday, August 28, 2023

The War of Franconian Succession, Part 4: An Unfortunate Choice of Words

Now, by this point, negotiations were getting nowhere.  The good Herr Major insisted on a rather heft sum of marks and thalers, while the Hessian commander, Le Baron de Boncheveux , was particularly adamant that no fees of tolls were due as they were here at the request of the der Herzog selbst, or at least his prime minister, Herr Dropov. Burgebrach wasn't buying that and said he would send a fast messenger to his immediate superior for clarification. The whole thing would only take a couple of days, so perhaps Le Baron and his troops would like to set up camp on their side of the border, only a couple of miles away.

Le Baron de Boncheveux

Le Baron was enraged! And it was at that point he muttered something, which in hindsight, was rather unfortunate. Now he was not altogether fluent in the German, or specifically Hessian dialect, as a rather plebian argot common to his holdings in the south of France was more his milieu.

Turning his back on the Major, he shouted (in frustration no doubt): "Allons, fou...e, sacre bleu!" (see explanatory note below*)

The commander of the lead Hessian battalion had formed line earlier out of an abundance of caution. But now things went from bad to really bad: being more than a bit deaf and not familiar with  Le Baron's unusual accent, he misunderstood, thinking it "Feuer!"

So he did. 

The Hessian line belched fire and smoke and a rolling thunder rolled over the plain. Fortunately, they were more than a bit high since the Landgrave typically only allowed the use of powder on his birthday and local feast days. 

Not a Franconian soul was scathed, although Burgebrach did require a new hat.

The Border Guards did a bit better. All rifle armed and frequently dealing with wild boars, marauding bunnies, and occasional poachers, they dropped a few of the Hessian line. Even their little 3-pounder (mainly used for salutes) earned its keep.

The War had begun!

*The actual term was the French equivalent of a common English vulgarity not generally used among the polite. Like many English terms, it is highly versatile depending on context. It's often used as a curt dismissal or derisive epithet. Likewise, depending on person and/or tense it can be an effective statement of one's condition and/or future prospects. 

Thursday, August 24, 2023

The War of Franconian Succession, Part 3, or, "Your papers, please!"

The "fraternal" assistance offered by the ever wily and ambitious Landgrave of Hesse was planned most carefully. Using a moonless night in early September, the assistance (in the form of six infantry battalions, two gun batteries, and a squadron of Dragoons) crossed the frontier a few hours before dawn with the intent of stealing a march into Franconian territory. In this way, they hoped to stake out a "Special Security Zone" under Hessian administration and round up any dissiden... bandits before anyone was the wiser. Of course, this would only last until the area could be declared secured and the bandits dispersed.
Hessian column emerging from woods

But seen by some...

Unbeknownst to the way-too-clever Dropov and his contacts at the Hessian Court, the alleged "lawlessness" and "banditry" had prompted the local Grenzschutz commander, Major von Burgebrach to increase both the mounted and foot patrols along the nearby border area. He also approached several of the local hunters/poachers to report anything suspicious. Being fellow patrons at the local pub, and known for a generous hand when it came to a round of drinks, they were more than happy to comply. 
The word is passed! 
Despite the secrecy, misdirection, and overall bad guy stuff, the column was spotted about five minutes after it crossed the frontier. Stealthy to a fault, the poachers noted the details and raced to find one of the mounted patrols of the Grenzschutz. Luck was with them, and the warning was passed on. 
Now, von Burgebrach was not just a keen bureaucrat, but prior to his joining the Grenzschutz, he was a middling commander and staff officer. He also knew that due to his family's relative obscurity and low end nobility, his chances of future advancement were limited. This motivated him to be the best Customs and Duties collector in the entire service. Now, while not exactly "trade" or "commerce", the law specified the collection of a nominal toll per head for travelers to Franconia. Flipping through his current copy of the  Handbuch der Maut und Zolle, he sought the appropriate toll. 
Things are a bit tense.

Listed alphabetically, the Handbuch gave the current rates for cow, pigs, goats, merchants, travelers, even dubious characters...but nothing on battalions, batteries, or mounted squadrons. He did find an old listing for barbarian marauders but even that didn't quite fit. He would have to use his best judgement...and oh, how he hated that (if he got the toll wrong, the balance would be extracted from his pay). He grabbed his notes and calculations and headed out of his office. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

The War of Franconian Succession, Part 2

Several years had passed and the Duke still had not his decision with regard to his successor. Growing increasingly feeble in both mind and body, he finally was moved to act. Dropov, now the Duchy's Prime Minister, gave his counsel. It could only be his elder son. Ernst Gustav III, after having consulted his horse and several faithful dogs, now agreed. The paperwork was drawn up. The Empress-Queen and the Imperial Diet were all notified. With the Imperial assent, the deed was done. 

The apparent heir, Ernst Gustav, continued in his rakish ways, spending his income and rents on fun, frolic and people of dubious character. Bankruptcy was not far away, and one or two more bad harvests would bring down the family. But while he played, the neighbors regarded at the increasingly dissolute heir to the House of Grunch (locally pronounced Grunk) with mixed amusement and opportunity. Something would have to be done. 

The Duke of Burgundy, their neighbor to the west, looked covetously at the district just across the river. The recent re-opening of some ancient. lost Roman silver mines was a lure he could not resist. 

To the north and east, the Landgrave of Hesse, having divided his realm among his sons, looked upon the poorly run Duchy as ripe for the taking. The question was simply, how to bring about an "incident" that could be presented to the Empress for her sanction. Oddly, Dropov offered a suggestion:

"Franconian" Bandits.


The heretofore quiet lands near the Hessian border had seen little in the way of lawlessness. Suddenly, local merchants, usually Hessian, were being robbed. That the local Franconian merchants seemed to go about their business without any molestation struck a few as odd. Such things could not be tolerated, so the Landgrave had to act. Certainly the Duke wouldn't. So it came to pass. The Landgrave would offer his "fraternal" assistance in suppressing these outrages.

"Help" was on the way.  

Until next time...

Thursday, August 10, 2023

The War of Franconian Succession, Part 1

 Background. The Prussian incursion and subsequent seizure of the Austro-Hungarian province of Silesia had far greater repercussions than the simple (albeit sanguine and under duress) transfer of ownership. For although the Empress Maria-Therese retained her crown and Frederick gained a long coveted province, other forces and ancient enmities had been stirred.

Notable among these was the Elector of Bavaria's long-held claim to Middle Franconia, and ultimately all of Franconia and Swabia. But he was not the only one seeking to expand his domains. 

Alleged portrait of Ernst Gustav III, artist unknown, circa 1750.
He is wearing the Sash and Order of St. Albrecht of  Nurnburg.
The importance and role of this Order has been lost to history. 

Though the Duke of Franconia, Ernst Gustav III, had never been considered one of the Great Electors, he still retained his ancient right to a vote when it came to choosing the next Holy Roman Emperor/Empress. He did what he was told, usually backing the latest Hapsburg, but of late thinking maybe he deserved more. He just needed a way to make that happen. Unfortunately, he had just received a disturbing report from his Imperial Envoy, the wily, not really to be trusted, Baron Dropov, a Russian ex-pat in his employ. Exiled from his homeland for certain peccadillos, he had bounced from court to court, finally landing in Franconia. 

It would seem that when Dropov presented the Duke's official letter of support and congratulations to the  recently crowned Empress-Queen, a servant, at that precise moment made an inquiry to the Empress who responded almost immediately with the epithet, "That little toad...!" The rest of her comment was omitted. Dropov responded with a retort that while grammatically correct was less than diplomatic. The Empress was not amused.

Now, the Duke was getting up in years and it would soon be imperative for him to name his successor to the old, but not particularly ancient, throne of Franconia. This presented some interesting problems. He had two sons, Ernst Gustav and Karl Ernst (certain naming traditions had to be followed). The older son Ernst was a notorious cad, rake, and wastrel. This overall deadbeat also owed money to most of the petty nobles and houses in Franconia, amounting to about two-thirds of the duchy's income in a good year.  His second son was equally unsuitable, being a celibate monk of an obscure order. He was also considered "a ninny." 

Other claimants would present themselves, each a noble of greater or lesser stature. All had good claims, and unlike the reigning Duke, were still in the good graces of the Empress. With so many cousins, how else could this be settled -- except by war! Until next time...
Ernst Gustav IV, heir to the Franconian ducal throne.
Artist unknown (note on back " up...")

Monday, July 17, 2023

About Bonaparte: Some Rules Modifications for the British

     In my last post, I described some modifications that I use for American forces in my About Bonaparte games. At that time, I also promised the next being on modifications for the Anglo-Canadian side. I'm going to format it slightly differently than my previous two posts (for some reason the paragraphs had little separation. Hopefully, I've corrected it this time).

    Some of the changes aren't really changes at all, but rather modifications and/or clarifications. Part of the reason is because Canada was considered a "backwater" as far as War Office was concerned. Officers relieved or otherwise removed from the Peninsula (where the "real" action was) were good enough for Canada. Americans? Ah, just a bunch of republican upstarts and amateurs. 
British light 6-pounder
    Under the existing About Bonaparte rules, British infantry always deploy into line formation, never attack columns. Road columns for movement only may be used. British regulars are always considered Veterans after 1809.  All British infantry will have an Officer attached. In AB, the attachment of an officer definitely has positive morale effects. For Spain, maybe that's perfectly true, although I have my doubts.

British line with skirmishers out front
    My modifications here are minor. The British forces in Canada were basically garrison forces. What actions they had prior to 1812 were primarily border control and policing. The local tribes were relatively peaceful, and the military presence of the U.S. south of the border was minimal. So, here's what I've done:
    1. Only British reinforcements in late 1813/1814 will be considered Veterans. Troops in Canada prior to the war will be considered Trained.
    2.  All units must have an attached Officer. Attached Officers will be diced for prior to the start of the game. 1-4, they will not affect morale when a flag is thrown. On a 5/6 they will operate normally, allowing the unit to ignore one morale hit.
    3. RN sailors act as (Trained) skirmishers on land, never Veteran. RN artillery crews on land will be considered Veteran.
    4. Canadian Sedentary Militia will always be considered Green. Select Embodied Militia and Canadian Artillery will always be considered Trained. All Anglo-Canadian artillery will be light.
    5. Each Brigade (3-4 units) requires a General Officer. Two or more Brigades acting together will require an additional General Officer and 2 Aides (Officers).
    6. Anglo-Canadian cavalry were primarily used as scouts or recon. I only know of one cavalry charge, and that was a single troop of light dragoons charging an American company (who were able to get to cover in time).
    7. Native allies will always be considered Irregulars. They will follow the rules outlined in the American War of Independence/French and Indian War sections of the basic rules.

    Well, that's it for now. I have come to like these rules. They are by no means perfect, what rules are? But they play fairly well (and of course are subject to local modification). For those who are interested, they are available from Caliver Books: Partizan Press and authored by Dirk Donvil. Check them out at . Until next time...