1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – Snippet 48

Jenkins was looking even more alarmed. "Jesus, Mike! You can't seriously be proposing a mutiny!"

"Oh, cut it out, Chad," interrupted Frank Jackson brusquely. "We're not living any longer in a nice, polite, well-ordered and comfortable political situation where political parties make 'propositions' and everybody waits patiently to see who wins the vote." He jerked a thumb toward Mike. "It doesn't matter whether he advocates or proposes a mutiny. I guarantee you that if the Crown Loyalists order the regular army – just to give an example – to march into Magdeburg and suppress a demonstration – hell, even an outright armed rebellion – the regiments will flat refuse. And if Wettin's government tries to force the issue, the soldiers will start shooting at him instead."

Jenkins stared at him. Francisco cleared his throat. "General Jackson's assessment is almost certainly correct, Mr. Jenkins. I know for a fact that General Torstensson is deeply concerned over the matter and has warned the emperor several times that Wettin's recklessness -"

"The Crown Loyalists' recklessness, really," Mike interrupted. "I don't think, left to his own devices, Wilhelm would be pushing the issue this hard."

Nasi nodded his agreement and continued. "Torstensson has warned Gustav Adolf that he can't rely on the army for suppression of internal dissent. Not the regular USE army, at least. And if the emperor or anyone else tries to use other units, either Swedish troops or mercenary forces, it's quite possible that would trigger off a rebellion on the part of the regular army."

"Jesus." Chad shook his head, as if clearing away confusion. "I didn't realize things were that tense." He gave Ed Piazza and Constantin Ableidinger a sly smile. "I guess, down there in the SoTF, I've gotten used to the way these two firebrands keep everything under control."

"And will keep things under control," Ed said, smiling just as slyly. "Not even the most rabid Crown Loyalist proposes the imposition of any sort of national citizenship requirement. The whole matter will be left to each province to decide for itself – and for us in Thuringia-Franconia, it's a done deal. Nothing will change, so far as citizenship is concerned."

Jenkins looked back at Nasi. "And what did Gustav Adolf say? In response to Torstensson's warning?"

Nasi's smile was serene. "You understand, of course, that I am not officially privy to any private conversations between the emperor and the top commander of the USE's armed forces."

"Yeah, sure. Butter doesn't melt in your mouth and all that. What'd he say?"

"Alas, our esteemed emperor is far too pre-occupied at the moment with foreign affairs to pay sufficient attention to domestic matters. So his responses have been terse – being honest – to the point of vacuity. The gist of his attitude seems to be that it will all prove to be a moot point, since by the time the Crown Loyalists are able to enact their citizenship legislation, Gustav Adolf and Lennart Torstensson and the entire USE regular army will be somewhere in Brandenburg or Saxony – perhaps even Poland – dealing mighty blows to the unrighteous cohorts of the wicked."

Jenkins stared at him. "That . . . seems a little foolhardy."

Mike snorted. "A 'little'? Here's the truth, Chad. Gustav Adolf is just too absorbed – hell, call it 'obsessed' and you won't be far off – settling accounts with the French and the Danes and chomping at the bit to pile onto the Saxons and Brandenburgers next year to be thinking much at all about the domestic situation in the USE. So it apparently hasn't dawned on him yet that if any sort of major rebellions break out while the regular army in fighting in the east, then the various provincial forces in the USE will be hard-pressed to squash them."

"Yeah," said Frank. "Squash them with what? They can't use Swedish forces without the emperor's permission – and even if he was inclined to give it, he'll have all those forces with him fighting the war anyway. So that means they have to use provincial troops and city militias. And while that might have been good enough a few years back, it ain't now. Just to name one example, nobody much doubts that if a civil war breaks out again in Hamburg that it'll be won hands-down by the city's CoC. For that matter, the same's likely to be true in five out of the USE's seven imperial cities, because the CoC is also strong in Luebeck, Frankfurt and Strassburg. The only 'moderate' imperial cities are Augsburg and Ulm."

"There are two provinces where the same's true, also," added Mike. "The Upper Palatinate and Mecklenburg."

"Hesse-Kassel's provincial forces are quite substantial," Nasi said. "But Hesse-Kassel won't see any major upheavals anyway – and there's very little chance that the landgrave would agree to send his troops to the aid of the establishment in any other province."

Ed Piazza cleared his throat. "Especially after I send him a stiff note, as president of the SoTF, explaining that if Hesse-Kassel starts sending its troops into other provinces, Thuringia-Franconia will start doing the same. On the other side."

Now, Jenkins was really looking alarmed. "For Christ's sake, Ed! The SoTF's so-called 'provincial troops' don't amount to squat. They're just small garrisons – a police force more than anything else."

"Sure – and so what? If the situation goes to hell in a handbasket, we'll call for volunteers. We'll get 'em, don't think we won't. The CoCs are strong in Thuringia and -"

Ableidinger chimed in. "And the Ram will call for volunteers in Franconia. They'll come, too."

Piazza shrugged. "Push comes to shove, the State of Thuringia-Franconia has the largest population of any province in the USE and we've got a far better industrial base than any other except – in some industries – Magdeburg. And Magdeburg will be doing the same thing anyway."

Jenkins was looking a little haggard, now. "Jesus H. Christ."

"Let's hope it doesn't come to that," said Mike. "But we've wandered into speculation here, people. I think we need to get back to the nuts and bolts of the coming campaign. That's starting immediately, where this other – if it happens at all – is months down the road."