1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 26:

“No,” he said, speaking aloud but only to himself. His nearest aide was standing ten feet away, not close enough to hear the softly growled word.

He was not going to order a mass assault on Poznán’s walls. Those defenses might not be up to the standards of a completed star fort, bristling with a full complement of bastions and ravelins and hornworks and crownworks, but neither were they — to use terms from Wettin’s last radio message — “hopelessly antiquated” and “medieval.”

Even if they had been, such an assault would still be a bloody, bloody business. Stanislaw Koniecpolski was in personal command of Poznán’s defending army and he had at least ten thousand hussars at his disposal. Polish hussars might be primarily known for their prowess as heavy cavalry, but they were tough bastards under any circumstances and in any situation.

As it was, a direct mass assault would be futile as well as bloody. It would take months before Torstensson’s artillery had done enough damage to Poznán’s defenses to make any such assault feasible in realistic military terms.

Wettin might or might not know that himself. He had some military experience, but nothing like the experience of his younger brother Bernhard, who was an accomplished general in his own right.

As was Oxenstierna, who most certainly did know the price Torstensson’s army would pay for such an assault. Knew — and wanted the assault for that very reason. Oxenstierna was afraid of the USE’s army, because he couldn’t trust its soldiers to obey orders when he launched the counter-revolution he was so obviously preparing. So, he’d sent Stearns and his Third Division down to Bohemia and was keeping Torstensson and the other two divisions in Poland.

The orders were officially coming from Wettin, of course, since Oxenstierna had no legal authority over Lennart’s forces. He was Sweden’s chancellor, not the USE’s. But Torstensson was quite sure that Oxenstierna’s was the driving will in Berlin.

To hell with them. Lennart was fond of that up-time expression, even if some Lutheran pastors thought it perilously close to outright blasphemy. Wettin and Oxenstierna could send as many scolding messages as they wanted. They couldn’t force him to do their bidding unless they relieved him from command — and that would be far too risky.

What if he refused? Indeed, what if he led his army back into the Germanies and went knocking on Berlin’s gates?

Who would stop him? Torstensson’s two divisions were as numerous as the Swedish mercenary forces the chancellor had at his disposal in Berlin, far better equipped, and far better trained. They were veterans, too, and their morale would be splendid if Torstensson led them against Oxenstierna and Wettin.

As it happened, Lennart had no intention of doing any such thing. Until the situation with Gustav Adolf became clarified, he would remain strictly within legal bounds. But Oxenstierna couldn’t be sure of that.

Even if he were, what then? The discipline that held the First and Second Division in check was shaky already. If the chancellor removed Torstensson and replaced him with a new commander, there was a very real chance — a likelihood, in fact, in Lennart’s own estimation — that the army would mutiny and march on Berlin anyway.

True, they’d be easier to defeat if their leadership was informal and hastily assembled, than if they still had Torstensson in command. But not that much easier. At the very least, they’d bleed Oxenstierna’s forces badly — right at the moment he needed them most to deal with an increasingly restive populace.

No. Oxenstierna and Wettin would growl and scold and complain — possibly even shriek with fury, from time to time — but they wouldn’t do any more than that. Torstensson’s men would stay in the trenches. They’d suffer badly anyway, as soldiers always did in winter sieges. But there wouldn’t be the butcher’s bill that a mass assault would produce.

He glanced at the sun, which was nearing the horizon. Nothing more to be done this day. There wouldn’t be much to do, beyond routine, for many days to come.


Later that night, after supper, Torstensson retired to his quarters in the tavern of a village he’d seized not far from Poznán. Before going to bed, he lit a lantern and began resumed reading the book that had arrived from Amsterdam earlier that week.

Political Methods and the Laws of Nations, by Alessandro Scaglia. The book was one of a very limited edition, intended only for private circulation. Lennart had received it as a gift from the author himself, with a hand-written flowery dedication and signature on the frontispiece.

He was a little more than halfway through, and found the book quite absorbing.