A small group of riders left the south-eastern gate of Böhnstadt in an early March morning. The group was led by a middle-aged man riding a white horse: Princeps Erhard Berthold von Jazygia, who, by the invitation of the man accompanying him, Generalmajor von Hohenspitz, managed to make some changes in his schedule and rode to see the 1st or Schultzdorf Brigade.
They left the gate galloping but slowed their steeds soon to enjoy the morning weather.
'So you're saying, Hohenspitz, that our army is ready to fight?' The Princeps was eager to start a conversation.
'Yes, your Highness, they are very fine and well-behaved men...'
'At least most of them. No complaining, they do their job and that's all I need.'
'Do you keep discipline then?'
'Of course I do. The first principle of maintaining an army is discipline.'
'Let's see the army then, my good man.'
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They rode past the so-called Schlachtgruppe 1, which was made up of skirmishers, two field gun batteries and a pioneer battalion.
'Are these nine-pounders?', asked the Princeps.
'Indeed they are, your Highness', Hohenspitz replied. 'We've ordered them from Glambria just a few months ago, they shoot very well. A few loads and they destroy the thickest wall.'
'Have you seen them working yourself?'
'With these two eyes, Sire. And heard them with these two old ears.'
'This is the 2nd foot regiment of Störkburg, mein Prinzeps'. The General saluted Colonel Fritz von Blatter, the leader of the regiment. 'How's it going, General?' Blatter asked with a smile. 'Fine day, but I fear it's going to be to hot', Hohenspitz replied. Blatter was one of his most trust-worthy subordinates: they almost matched in age and fought in the latest battles of the Varangian Wars together.
'How come this regiment has four battalions?', Erhard Berthold interrupted.
'With all due respect, your Highness', said Blatter before the General could answer, 'our men are eager to fight and defend their homeland. It seemed just well to raise one more battalion.'
'That's it then,' said the Princeps, 'I hope they do well and worth every thaler the Chancellery spends on them... We shall see soon.'
'Excuse me?' Von Hohenspitz caught suspicion.
'Nothing, Herr Generalmajor.'
'And this is the 1st Guard Regiment of Foot', presented the unit von Hohenspitz as they rode forward on the field. 'It is led by Herr Oberst von Plitschke, a very chivalrious officer. He commands five battalions, two of grenadiers and three fusiliers.' 'Nice banner', said the Princeps and then he remained silent as the horses trotted past the lines.
'The Leib-Dragoner regiment is at your service, Sire', hailed Colonel Markus Kollerbach as he saw the small group of horsemen turning on the road again. 'Well supplied and our carbines are ready to shoot whoever you want.'
'It won't come to that soon, but glad you are in such a high spirit, Herr Oberst', the Princeps said. He drove his horse to the line and exchanged a few silent words with the soldiers.
'Any reason to do so, your Highness?', asked a young officer of the Garde du Corps from the Princeps' companions.
'When a commander's too loud there might be trouble in the regiment', answered von Hohenspitz in a low voice. 'Our Princeps is a bright man to see that without ever commanding soldiers. They might not tell their troubles in sight of their Colonel, but it can be told from their attitude. No, these are jolly men and their horses are well taken care of.'
The Princeps returned to the group and they continued their way behind the Leib's troop where a massed cavalry unit was standing.
'These were excellent soldiers, but I wonder what is this mess?', complained the Princeps.
'They are our Freelancer Companies, four squadrons strong, my Princeps', von Hohenspitz told him. 'Two squadrons of Jägers zu Pferd and two of dragoons.'
'And under my command!' exclaimed Lt. Colonel von Petzger, a small man in a hussar uniform. 'Welcome, Sire. Eager to serve.'
'I know you young man', said Erhard Berthold, 'aren't you from the Süd-Schultzdorf estate?'
'Indeed I am, my father holds those lands your Highness.'
'Keep it up then. Almost two regiments you have there!'
'Mighty chaps but not as easy to command as I'd wish for. At least always on task to ride here, ride there.'
'The crown jewel of the Brigade, Sire, the Annelise Küirassieren, named after your late mother', the General presented the last unit on the field. 'Two squadrons strong and led by the excellent Colonel Schalwerden.' Von Hohenspitz did not like Schalwerden personally and thought he was a mediocre officer, but the Guard, and especially the cuirassiers had their priorities. By his surprise the Princeps did not inquire any more.
'Very well. It is almost lunch time if you may, General: I suggest we hurry back to the city.'
'As you wish, Sire.'
'Oh and by the way,' stopped the Princeps for a moment as they passed the gate again, 'the Lord-Chancellor wishes to speak to you later on today. Say, after lunch. It is very important.'
'At your service, Sire.' Von Hohenspitz already started thinking: what would be so important the Princeps cannot make a note of in public?