1635: The Wars For The Rhine – Snippet 28

Chapter 14

Field Headquarters of the archbishop of Cologne

September 2, 1634

To Franz von Hatzfeldt, Bishop of Würzburg

From Melchior von Hatzfeldt, Count and General of the Holy Roman Empire

Dear Franz

I have accepted taking charge of Bonn, and I shall begin negotiations with Hesse on the town’s behalf as soon as contact is made. Kindly inform the archbishop that you, my brother, are the only person I shall acknowledge as speaking on behalf of the archdiocese in those negotiations.

Loving regards from your brother,


Archbishop Ferdinand of Cologne crumbled the letter in his hands and hissed.  “Has Franz seen this?”

“No, Your Honor. I thought a message from Bonn would be so important that Your Honor should see it immediately.” Otto Tweimal cringed and smiled, and wondered once again if it was time to find another employer. Being secretary to the newly appointed Prince-Bishop of Würzburg had offered all kinds of opportunities for power and grafts, and the exile at the archbishop’s palace in Bonn also the hope of an even better position there. But now? A failing power was not worth cultivating, and military life was far from his taste.

“Your Honor,” Felix Gruyard had been reading over the archbishop’s shoulder, “with three of your colonels back, Bishop Franz von Hatzfeldt isn’t really needed here. I suggest he is sent off to Cologne after reinforcements; with, of course, an escort.”

“No, he is going to Mainz after that turncoat to Anselm von Wambold. Pick the escort from my personal guard, they leave within the hour.” The archbishop banged his fist against the table in anger, and rose from his chair.

“Your Honor, it might be better not to tempt von Hatzfeldt into joining …”

“Pick an escort that’ll see to it he doesn’t. Herr Tweimal, place yourself at Gruyard’s immediate disposal. Franz von Hatzfeldt no longer needs your service.”

* * *

Cologne, Hatzfeldt House

September 2, 1634

To Colonel Hermann von Hatzfeldt, Hatzfeldt House, Town of Cologne

From Melchior von Hatzfeldt, Count and General of the Holy Roman Empire

Dear Hermann,

I accomplished nothing in Munich and little in Vienna, and returned to Bonn on top of an attack from Hesse. Archbishop Ferdinand has left Bonn, along with Franz and the mercenary cavalry. I have accepted taking charge of the town, but there is nothing I can do to stop Bonn from falling once the Hessian artillery gets here, and I shall begin negotiations as soon as contact is made, both with Hesse and the USE.

The information as I write is: major contingent of Hessian cavalry came down Sieg and took Beuel. They are as I write crossing the Rhine near Vesseling. Only minor number of infantry (mounted) with them. Artillery expected to arrive soon, probably from Frankfurt, but may also come from Essen and thus reach Cologne first.

Please spread the news among our contacts and warn the council of Cologne. If you can get a mandate from them, and contact the USE before Hesse encircles Cologne, we might be able to pull something off for the entire area, including the family estates and perhaps even Würzburg.

Your loving brother,


“Oh dear,” Lucie von Hatzfeldt, looked across the table at her youngest brother, “I hoped the refugees exaggerated, and it was just a minor force aimed at stopping the archbishop’s wild schemes. But if Melchior doesn’t think so … Do you think the Hessians could conquer Cologne?”

Hermann shrugged. “Their entire army could close off the town, and given enough artillery they could breach the walls. It would either take a very long siege or be extremely costly in men, but it could be done.” He shrugged again and rose from his chair. “I’ll pick up young Count Palatine Friedrich von Zweibrücken, and go see the council; they’ll be in session all night. Please find the letters Father Johannes wrote from Fulda, and make notes of the Americans he mentioned in Mainz and Frankfurt.”

* * *

Beuel, Hessian Field Headquarters

Archdiocese of Cologne

September 2, 1634

To whom it may concern, Hessian Field Headquarters, Archdiocese of Cologne

From Melchior von Hatzfeldt, Count and General of the Holy Roman Empire

On behalf of the Town of Bonn I, Melchior von Hatzfeldt, Count and General of the Holy Roman Empire, have opened negotiations with the United States of Europe concerning said Town’s inclusion among said States. In view of this I hope for an end to hostilities, but also inform that I have accepted taking charge of the Town of Bonn, and shall defend it to the uttermost of my abilities.

By my hand and under my seal,

Melchior von Hatzfeldt

Duke Wilhelm of Hesse carefully refolded the parchment. This wasn’t good. That the initial attack across the Rhine had failed to take and hold the river-walls of Bonn was not a problem; it would have made things simpler, but no one counted on un-supported cavalry taking a fortified town.

Having General von Hatzfeldt as an opponent was bad, but at least he wasn’t leading his regiments, and von Uslar could surely beat those mercenaries the archbishop had hired. Having Bonn — or any other part of the Archdiocese of Cologne — independently join the USE was on the other hand totally unacceptable.

Having the entire area between Hessen and Cologne more or less up for grab after the removal of both Georg Wilhelm of Brandenburg and Wolfgang of Jülich-Berg was surely a God-given opportunity, but it would all be worth next to nothing unless he could get the rich trading center of Cologne too. If the Hessian army could take Cologne, the emperor would surely give him Berg and Mark too. It had been necessary to promise De Geer parts of Mark as well as several other concessions in order to get the Hessian infantry access to the Rhine, but Gustavus Adolphus would consider it a small price to pay for removing the last fully Catholic enclave in the west. If, however, the Archdiocese of Cologne — or parts of it — joined the USE on its own, Hesse stood to lose quite a lot of face and favor. He had long been one of the emperor’s favorites, and considering his long and loyal service it was unlikely he would get into serious trouble for anything less than treason. Still, when Amalie had attempted to get the guardianship of the Jülich-Berg heir, Axel Oxenstierna’s reaction had made it perfectly obvious Hessen had seriously over-stepped their privileges and that any further presumptions would be slapped down.

So, a second misstep could remove him from his status as one of the emperor’s most trusted German allies, which meant that it had to be a victory. Bringing in a new area by negotiation would not do now. It was too late to stop von Hatzfeldt’s messengers, but he would have at least a month before orders could arrive from Magdeburg.

“Rutgert, send a troop to find out what’s keeping the cannons and where. Also, I want the artillery bastions around Bonn built first.”

“Bonn?” The lieutenant serving as secretary looked up from the American style writing-board, and looked puzzled.

“Yes, Bonn. Move all the building teams there, and have Colonel Brenner plan for all the cannons from Frankfurt to be placed around Bonn first; I want the town in rubble within a fortnight.”

* * *


September 12, 1634

To whom it may concern in USE administration

From Melchior von Hatzfeldt, Count, General and Agent Plenipotentiary of the Holy Roman Empire

With the power granted me by the Council and People of Bonn I, Melchior von Hatzfeldt, hereby apply, on behalf of the Town of Bonn, for the opening of negotiations concerning said Town’s inclusion in the United States of Europe.

By my hand and under my name and seal,

Melchior von Hatzfeldt

Bennett Norris looked up at the big, rough-looking man standing in front of his desk. “Herr Karl Mittelfeld, the CoC in Mainz vouches for you as a committee member in good standing from Bonn.”

The big man nodded and shifted his weight, making Bennett remember his limp, and gesture him towards the chair.  “Do you know the content of this letter?” Bennett continued.

“It’s from General von Hatzfeldt, who’s been given command of Bonn to deal with an attack from the Hessian army, Herr Norris. Bonn is asking to join the USE. The general’s brother, Colonel Hermann von Hatzfeldt, is here with a similar letter from Cologne, but your soldiers didn’t want to let him through to you. The general said to me to say to you that your mother-in-law, Andrea Hill in Fulda, has told his friend, Father Johannes the painter, that the Americans want people to join them instead of being conquered. The councils of Bonn and Cologne want to do so, but the Hessians must be stopped, while a deal is made.”

“I see. And I shall act upon this. Thank you for bringing me this letter. Will you remain in Mainz?”

“I’m taking another letter to the general’s brother, Heinrich von Hatzfeldt, at the Church of St. Alban. He will find a place for me to stay until you can give me a letter to bring back to Bonn.”

“Fine.” Bennett smiled a little. “I usually see Domherr Heinrich von Hatzfeldt several times a week anyway; at least we will now have a new subject to debate.”

When the big man had limped out the door Bennett Norris sat a while staring at the letter without seeing it. A lifetime of small town administration combined with civic duties on school and church boards had not prepared him for this. The year he had spent as the Grantville liaison to the Council of Jena, while Marian, his wife, had trained the nurses at the hospital, had taught him to work with the German version of bureaucracy, but being an inspector of the upcoming elections was as much as he had volunteered for. Not this. Heading the NUS administration in Mainz was supposed to have been a brief stay while the permanent staff recovered from a bad bout of food poisoning, but those who had not died were still bedridden.

Bennett put his head in his hands and groaned. He really, really, really did not want to make decisions about wars.