Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Sieges of Völgstserne and Vierlingspitze

Erik von Südflosse and the Princeps, with their small army, first arrived at the town of Völgstserne, which was defended by four infantry companies. The fortress was very old school and was furthermore protected by two howitzers. It had two gates, one on the northwest and one on the south.
These fortresses, on both sides of the frontier, usually serve as sentry posts and shelters for border guard or light cavalry units, thus they more often are in a bad state than not, not prepared to withstand any kind of siege where the enemy musters a force larger than two battalions.

The outflanking maneuver of the four companies.

The Princeps, with his mostly inexperienced regiment of foot, drew a line that ran from the southwest to the southeast diagonally to the walls. Then the three battalions each thinned their ranks, procuring three independent companies, which, together with the dismounted dragoon troop, were sent to the northern gate to force it open under the smoke of the two artillery pieces that began their work on the southern entrance. 
As the battering began, the Flossian companies were drawn around the southern gate, expecting the attack from there; leaving the northern one without defense. The four companies attacking it found little difficulty in their task. As soon as the southern gate let loose (it didn't take much effort) the attack has been launched from both ends. A shot from a loaded howitzer killed seven of the dragoons, while the battalion attacking from the south lost fifty men (most of them wounded) to enemy musket fire and the shot from the other howitzer. The defenders, however, soon yielded. The Princeps and the Karrotenbad regiment captured a howitzer and a five-pounder gun (the second howitzer being spiked by the Flossians), which was mounted on the second howitzer's carriage. It looked odd, but did the job.

Vierlingspitze, the target of the next day was a more freshly built point of the Flossian border defense, but it had been neglected by a series of commanders that ended up in the position due to incompetence or lack of prowess. It had also been defended by four companies, of which one was a Jäger and one a training company without firearms. These were stationed in the outer palisades, while the two regular companies sheltered inside the stone fort with two howitzers. 
The companies that formed the attack group yesterday were set up in a formation resembling a crescent moon to hug the walls. They unleashed the full force of their musket fire on the palisades. As casualties began mounting, the two companies asked the commander to enter the stone fort, which he denied. 'You will fight for the last man', he added. But the jäger and the greens did not want to sacrifice their lives so they yielded. A company of foot then destroyed the gate on the palisade, and a howitzer was dragged in. The prisoners of war showed the Princeps a small elevation that allowed the cannon to shoot inside the fortress.

The defences of Vierlingspitze, the north-western palisade being partly broken down.

The howitzer's crew first took out the ordnance inside the keep, then the three cannon bombarded it for an hour. The space inside was very narrow so the two infantry companies lost thirty-odd men. The few civilians that were tasked with keeping the palisade and the walls in shape pleaded to the commander to yield, which he denied; but he said he allowed them to surrender themselves. The dozen people left the keep and did so.
Two more hours and the inside of the keep was full with the wounded and the dead. After multiple threats and pleadings from the Böhnstadter side, the captain still did not wish to surrender. To save the Flossians inside, finally the Princeps approached the walls and challenged the commander to a duel of first blood; if he wins, the commander surrenders, in the other case, he leaves the fortress under surveillance, but in Flossian hands.
The commander agreed and they have chosen a small clearing in the woods to the north. The Princeps was an average but experienced fencer; the Flossian captain has always been a footman and a third son of the Baron of Sliegelstadt, so he had little knowledge on the art of blades. Nonetheless he fought with bravery, losing only by an inch of his steel to a quick riposte by Erhard Berthold. When he learned his opponent's name, he stood in astonishment: 'But your Highness, I could have killed you and ended the war in an instant.' 'I said to him the same; he did not listen', Erik von Südflosse muttered, reprimanding his master for taking so much risk over saving the lives of a few dozen rank and file.

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