1635: The Wars For The Rhine – Snippet 17

“Hmpf! Well, I admit that you are quite singularly bad at garrison duty,” Melchior removed his hat and sword and sat down across from Wolf. “But in this case I must ask you not to go stir up any action on your own. I rather strongly expect that we’ll soon have all the action even you could want.”

“Where, when, and with whom?”

“All over the place, any time, and with everyone.” Melchior accepted the beer and waited for the barmaid to move away before continuing. “Archbishop Ferdinand of Cologne has hired Irish Butler and some of the other of Wallenstein’s discards, and is up to some kind of cabal that’s bound to bring the Protestant army down on him even if Hesse stays in Berg. And the Habsburgs — Vienna as well as Spain and The Netherlands — are not going to like seeing Cologne as part of the USE. Duke Maximilian of Bavaria, whom I hoped would be willing to call his brother to order, has no interest in anything beyond his own personal concerns, which seems to center on hunting down his missing fiancée — and just about everybody else. Báner is rattling his sabre north of the Danube, and your guess is as good as mine as to whether we’ll end up fighting him or Bavaria. Wallenstein in Bohemia and Bernard in Swabia don’t appear to be making any moves we’ll need to respond to at the moment, but I’m not prepared to wager any sizable sum on that continuing. Not to mention Gustavus Adolphus, who made peace with Denmark last month, and is probably getting just as bored as you by now.”

“I think Gustavus Adolphus is actually planning to do something about Saxony at the moment.”

“Good riddance to bad rubbish.”

“The Saxony court is amusing but expensive. I’ve always rather liked it.”

“Not to my taste. But Wolf, I need to make my report in Vienna as soon as possible. There’s not much chance of the Emperor — or rather Archduke Ferdinand — doing something directly to stop the archbishop, but they still need to know as soon as possible. Young Simon is picking out my court gear, and we’ll be leaving as soon as he meets me here with fresh horses. I don’t expect us to go directly into battle any time soon, but talk with Colonel Dehn about having all scouts as well as minor training maneuvers circulating in the direction of the Bavarian border.”

“Will do. Maid! Pack up some travel food!”

Magdeburg, House of Hessen

Amalie carefully leaned forward and look down to the street without touching the draped lace-curtains, not just because lace was still expensive despite the new machines making it, but she also didn’t want her guests to realize that she was looking them over before they entered the house. There was only uncle Albrecht, two young girls and a maid descending from the fine new carriage, so Albrecht had been clever enough to leave Ehrengard at home. Amalie smiled a little. While she had been looking forward to a few skirmishes with her aunt-in-law, this showed that Albrecht was prepared to make peace and cooperate — at a price of course and probably a stiff price, but it would be fun haggling with him. Besides, with five daughters and only one yet wed, it was quite likely that he would settle for bridegrooms instead of money or political favors.

The two girls would be his two youngest, Elisabeth, called Litsa, and Maria Juliana, who as far as Amalie knew usually answered to Ria. Due to her feuding with their father, Amalie had never spent much time with her younger cousins, but the girl dropping her gloves as she descended from the carriage was probably Litsa, who had seemed rather coltish and shy when Amalie had last been to their home in Schwarzenfels, while the one smiling up at her father and shaking her head to make her curls dance, was pretty little Ria. According to Abbess Dorothea Litsa was actually rather intelligent, but Amalie preferred to make up her own mind about that; intelligent had different meanings to different people, and someone merely bookish would be of no interest to Amalie.

As her guests entered the main door, Amalie went to sit down on the high-back chair in the middle of the room arranging her skirts to show off the embroidery. She’d better use her pregnancy as an excuse to remain sitting while receiving them. The waddle of a walk she was reduced to was not impressive.


July, 1634

“There’s another message for you, Sir.”

Wilhelm of Hesse-Kassel looked up at the young Lieutenant von Rutgert serving as his secretary, and bit back a curse. This campaign was hexed! Not by witches, but by that damned American radio. Sure it was nice being able to get information from one end of the country to the other, much, much faster than any horse could run, but it also made everybody and his uncle think they could direct an ongoing military campaign from wherever they were sitting. Hesse did not approve of vulgar language, but right now he fully understood the American concept of Rear Echelon Motherfuckers. Hesse broke the seal and read quickly.

“Rutgert! Send for von Uslar. I want to talk to him as soon as possible.”

“Yes, Sir.”

As the young man left the room Hesse went to look again at the large map covering the trestle table. Half his artillery and infantry had gone north to Hagen, before a direct order from Gustavus Adolphus had made it clear that no excuse about hunting French troops would get an attack on Essen overlooked. The other half was presently stalled in a three way death-lock in Remscheid with the troops from Essen occupying Düsseldorf, and what remained of the Jülich-Berg army holding Solingen and Remscheid. He wasn’t allowed to have any of those troops actually engage those they were facing, but he had stalled any movement, while hoping to get his hands on Duke Wolfgang’s widow and prospective heir. That would have given him a good claim on at least those areas of Mark and Berg he was now holding, and probably Düsseldorf as well. Unfortunately she was now reported to be for certain within the archbishop’s palace in Bonn, where none of his agents had been able to get to her.

Which brought him back to his original plan for taking Bonn and Cologne. Which he would probably already have done if it hadn’t been for those radio-messages sending him helter-skelter all over these damned mountains. Not to mention leaving him with his cannons more than fifty miles of bad mountain roads away from where he needed them. At least Amalie had managed to get a commitment to have some of the USE field cannons sent by boat down the rivers from Frankfurt, so he could afford to leave the artillery at Hagen where it was, but withdraw the infantry regiments south to Remscheid. Then negotiate with De Geer for access up the Rhine for both the men and artillery from Remscheid. Hesse sighed and went back to plotting.