1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 05

Duerr liked to suck on a pipe instead of chewing a lip, when he was pondering something. Mike found it annoying, not because tobacco smoke irritated him particularly but because Ulbrecht was not smoking. Very rarely did he actually fill his pipe with tobacco and light it up. Instead, he just sucked — and sucked and sucked and sucked — on an empty pipe.

So be it. Mike had found good staff officers to be a lot like computer geeks. Handy to have around, as a rule, and occasionally indispensable; but also given to gross personal habits.

“I’ll strip one of the new artillery companies from the Teutoburg Regiment. That’ll give Higgins four guns, which ought to be plenty. And we can strip a couple of the heavy weapons units from them as well, which will provide him with the additional mortars he wants.”

Leebrick made a face. “Brigadier von Taupadel is going to raise bloody hell. Not to mention LeoÅ¡ Hlavacek! That’s his regiment you’re proposing to skin. It won’t help any that he ranks Higgins.”

Unlike every other regimental commander in the Third Division, Jeff was a lieutenant colonel instead of a colonel. He was the only lieutenant colonel in the entire USE army, in fact. The title was not officially recognized in the army’s table of organization. Mike Stearns had created it as a brevet rank when he set up the Hangman Regiment — which was also not part of the T/O.

Officially, the USE army had a very clear and simple structure:

Each division consisted of nine thousand men commanded by a major general.

Each division had three brigades of three thousand men, commanded by a brigadier.

Each brigade had three regiments of one thousand men, commanded by a colonel.

Each regiment had two infantry battalions of four hundred men, commanded by a major, and an artillery company of two hundred men usually commanded by a captain.

Finally, the infantry battalions were composed of four companies of one hundred men, commanded by a captain. A company consisted of three platoons of thirty men commanded by a second lieutenant, and a heavy weapons unit of ten men commanded by a sergeant. The company’s first lieutenant usually served its captain as his executive officer.

Such was the neat theory reflected in the official table of organization. Mike was pretty sure the ink hadn’t dried yet before reality began to diverge from theory.

To begin with, the T/O didn’t include cavalry forces at all. Officially, all cavalry forces were under the direct command of the army’s commanding officer — that was Lieutenant General Lennart Torstensson — and he assigned the units to whichever divisions he chose in whatever manner he saw fit. Right now, for instance, Mike’s Third Division had only one cavalry regiment assigned to it. Torstensson didn’t think he needed more than that, since he’d be operating in the fairly constrained terrain of Bohemia and (if open hostilities broke out with Austria) the even more constrained terrain around Linz. Torstensson wanted to keep his cavalry concentrated against the Poles, in the more open terrain of northern Germany and Poland.

Secondly, almost as soon as they were formed the various major units of the army began changing. To give one example, Mike’s Third Division had ten regiments instead of nine. The oddball was Jeff Higgins’ Hangman Regiment, which Mike had created to maintain discipline in the division after some units ran amok following the capture of the Polish town of Åšwiebodzin.

Jeff’s division was an oddball in more ways than one. Instead of having the usual artillery company — which the artillerymen themselves invariably and stubbornly insisted on calling a “battery” and to hell with what the T/O said — he’d had Captain Thorsten Engler’s flying artillery unit attached instead. Like the cavalry, the flying artillery were not part of the table of organization of the divisions, but were under Torstensson’s direct authority.

Now, he’d have most of a regular artillery unit attached to his regiment as well — which would make it grossly oversized according to the T/O. Jeff’s sergeants had been assiduously recruiting ever since Zielona Góra had given the Hangman the reputation of being the division’s toughest regiment as well as the one which would be disciplining any miscreants. As a result, most of the regiment’s companies were oversized also, with an average of one hundred and twenty men instead of the neat one hundred stipulated by the army’s powers-that-be. Jeff and all of his officers were firmly of the opinion that the bigger the gun, the better, so most of that added personnel had been assigned to heavy weapons units. Jeff had been able to provide them with the heavy weapons they needed because he now had a close relationship with David Bartley; who, despite being the youngest quartermaster officer in the division, was easily its smartest.

And now, he’d be adding still more heavy weapons units to his regiment, swiped from Hlavacek’s Teutoberg Regiment. So what? Jeff saw nothing wrong with hauling coal to Newcastle, and Hlavacek would make up the loss soon enough through recruitment. Unlike most armies in the here and now, the USE army regularly met its payroll. There were always men willing to sign up, even leaving aside the ones — most of them, actually — who joined for ideological reasons.

Jeff didn’t have much sympathy for Hlavacek, anyway, since he didn’t like the sour Czech mercenary officer. Still, there was no percentage in rubbing salt into the wounds of another regiment.

So all he said was: “Okay.”