The Welles Report: Part II

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Note: The following is the version of the report that was made available to the general publick in late 609. An unexpurgated version was made available to certain officers of HM’s Government at the same time. The latter remains a protected document under the Secrets Act of 571.

Section 1: The Tierran Army

At first glance, the army that took the field at Blogia was very much similar to the one which had begun the war in the summer of 601: its soldiers wore the same coats cut the same way, and dyed the same colour. They were organised into the same battalions, squadrons, and regiments. They carried the same weapons, and were subject to the same regulations. However, the progress of the war had done much to turn what had once often been derided as an armed social club into a formidable fighting force. Early campaigns, particularly the siege of Noringia, and the autumn campaigns of 602, 603, and 605 did much for the fighting ability of the regiments then in Antar. Not only did battle provide the common soldiery with introductions to warfare on a large scale, and victory give them the confidence of veteran troops; it also provided the Duke of Wulfram and his senior officers with valuable experience in the technique of moving, managing, and fighting with large, formed bodies of men. The recountings of the 605 autumn campaign recorded in both the Duke of Wulfram’s private papers, and the diary of Baron Tourbridge show an army much improved from the “shambolic rabble” described by the Duke of Cunaris in his address to the Cortes in late 601. Indeed, even Cunaris himself seems to have possessed an opinion much changed: in a letter to his daughter (now Duchess of Wulfram) in early 606, he goes so far as to refer to “the current… army to be the best that the Unified Kingdom has ever fielded in… its history.”

However, by the time of the 607 campaign, weaknesses were beginning to show within the King’s forces in Antar, a result of the pressure brought on by six years of near-constant campaigning. Perhaps the most emblematic of this was the increasing shortage in manpower. Victorious though the Duke of Wulfram might have been, these victories did not come without significant cost: Grenadier Square records that during the course of the 604 campaign, the Tierran Army would report an average permanent loss of nearly four hundred men a month, not counting the immediate losses of major engagements. These were men who had been killed or crippled in minor skirmishes and raids, died of disease or malnutrition, or made unfit to serve by accidental injuries. From the beginning of 604 onwards, the demand for increased numbers of replacements would become a running theme within the Duke of Wulfram’s reports to the King. Although the Cortes attempted to rectify the situation by ordering the limited conscription of convicted criminals in the spring of 604, any amelioration this measure could have performed was far outweighed by the increased demands caused by Grenadier Square’s authorisation of additional regiments of horse and foot, as well as increases in establishment strength instituted in response to lessons learned in the field. By the autumn of 606, almost every single one of Wulfram’s regiments of foot were dangerously understrength. A particularly egregious example; 1st battalion, 8th foot had barely two hundred of its men fit for duty. Only through prodigious effort were Wulfram and his staff able to get the majority of his regiments mostly up to strength by the time of the 607 campaign.

The shortage of men did not serve as the only effect of sustained campaigning upon the King’s Army. By 605, effects of the peacetime economies that the Board of Ordinance insisted on maintaining had begun to show. Reports of faulty or unsuitable equipment became more and more commonplace. By 606, the arms issued by Grenadier Square were at times accounted to be so inadequate that it became a not uncommon practice for officers to purchase new weapons for their commands with their own funds. Likewise, the effect of five years of campaigning without substantial progress had inflicted no small amount of harm on the morale of the common soldier. The failure of the abortive campaign of 606 – Wulfram’s attempt to repeat and capitalise on his successes the year previous – served as a great disappointment to many of the men under his command.

In short, the army which took the field at Blogia was a still-powerful, yet increasingly weary force. It was not, as some detractors claim, unprepared for the task; yet neither was it, in hindsight, the best possible army Tierra could have fielded.

1.1: -its organisation

The arrangement of the component partsof the Duke of Wulfram’s army below the regimental level was much as it had been before the war: following the pattern set down by Edwin I himself a century ago, based on the Takaran model. For an infantry regiment, this meant eight companies of ninety men to a battalion, with one to three battalions making up a regiment. Cavalry were divided five (later six) troops of forty to a squadron, with three to six squadrons in a regiment. According to the accounts of the Duke’s staff, this was not an arrangement he was much fond of tampering with. The diary of Major R___n, of the 6th of Foot, who had served as his Quartermaster-General in his campaign of 604, records an incident where Wulfram was brought a recommendation to form a company-strength special duties detachment, to which he “responded with the most indignant dismissal: ‘this matter is as beneath me as the production of rope to a port admiral: do not bother me with such rubbish again.'”

Above the regimental level, the Duke of Wulfram’s army had been organised in a fashion which had been arrived at through trial and error over the course of the previous years of campaigning. For the majority of the early part of the war, the army was divided into four brigades: one of cavalry, and three of infantry, with Wulfram taking personal command of the regiments of horse. Each General-of-Brigade was expected to operate independently if necessary, as a result, each brigade establishment became a miniature army of its own: overgrown establishments of up to eight or nine battalions, with attendant support establishments and a brigade staff which served the same purpose of Wulfram’s own. These staffs were purely improvised bodies, drawn from officers serving in the component regiments of each brigade. While this improvised system worked after a fashion, it provided neither the body of professionally trained staff officers, the cohesion, or the uniformity of doctrine which would have allowed such relatively unwieldy commands to operate in concert without constant supervision from higher levels of oversight.

Exacerbating this problem was the lack of permanence inherent in any establishment above the regimental level. While Wulfram did ensure that his Generals-of-Brigade were allowed to ‘settle’ into their commands in the long term, he did not allow individual regiments to grow comfortable in their brigades, shifting them almost on a monthly basis, based on his perception of their performance in the field. This continued all the way up to the eve of Blogia itself, when Wulfram moved the 3rd Foot from Castermaine’s Brigade to Tourbridge’s, and the 11th foot from Tourbridge’s to Castermaine’s.

Following these last-hour changes, the order of battle for the Tierran Army on the morning of Blogia was as follows:

Blogia – Tierran Order of Battle

Commander in Chief, Expeditionary Force

Lieutenant-General the Duke of Wulfram (Cuirassiers)*

Chief of Staff: Lt Col. the Viscount Weir (7th Foot)

Quartermaster General: Major Roland d’al Keane (Dragoons)

Royal Dragoons (Detached)

  Colonel the Duke of Cunaris Commanding

  560 men in 3 squadrons.

Havenport’s Brigade (The Left Brigade)

  General-of-Brigade the Duke of Havenport (Highlanders) Commanding

  4150 men in 8 battalions.**

Castermaine’s Brigade (The Centre Brigade)

  General-of-Brigade the Earl of Castermaine (9th Foot) Commanding

  4200 men in 8 battalions.

Tourbridge’s Brigade (The Right Brigade)

  General-of-Brigade Baron Tourbridge (11th Foot) Commanding

  4550 men in 9 battalions.

Cavalry Brigade (Far Right)

  Lieutenant General the Duke ofWulfram (Cuirassiers) Commanding

  1850 men in 12 squadrons.

Royal Engineers

  Major Francois d’al Latton Commanding

  450 men in 1 battalion.

Royal Artillery

  Lt. Col Eugen d’al Labastro Commanding

  12 batteries of 6 guns each.

  72 field guns and 1200 crew total.

Medical Staff***

Multiple delegations from the Orders of Saint Octavia, Saint Raimundo, and several others.

38 Knight=Healers, 320 Seekers of Martyrdom, 1050 others.

*Regiment of officer in parentheses.
**The unexpurgated version lists individual battalions as well as their strengths, regiments, and commanding officers.
***Remained with the baggage, played no immediate part in the battle.

1.2: -its leaders.

Graced with the benefit of hindsight, we are now quite capable of seeing the faults of the man who commanded the King’s forces at Blogia, but at the time of the battle itself, there was no disputing that the Duke of Wulfram had been Tierra’s foremost and finest soldier. As a young officer of Marines, he had distinguished himself during King Alaric’s War, and covered himself in glory during the Callindrian Crisis of 571. After a stint commanding HM’s garrison at Leoniscourt, he was made Colonel of the Wolf’s Head Cuirassiers upon his accession to the Dukedom in 575. His rise would ultimately culminate in his appointment as Councilor-Militant and Lieutenant-General by Edmund IV in 593. Decisive, obstinate, and aggressive, Wulfram’s sensibilities and sentiments remained those of a junior fighting officer. Correspondence written by his staff at Grenadier Square indicate a distaste for organisational work, a chronic lack of patience, and a constant desire to ‘get the d–ded thing over with’, be the thing in question as trivial as an alteration on a uniform button, or as grave as the provisioning of horses bound for Antar itself.

Despite Wulfram’s shortcomings as an administrator, he possessed great perspicacity as a judge of others. ‘There is no need to show anything but your strengths to [Wulfram],’ wrote his friend and mentor, the 3rd Earl of Leoniscourt, ‘he will know your weaknesses at first glance.’ In his appointments to brigade command, Wulfram specifically chose officers upon whose strengths his battle plans would hinge upon. It is perhaps testament to his wisdom in doing so that these officers were able to carry out a concerted plan of action, even once Wulfram himself had been killed on the field of battle.

1.3: -its equipment.

The weapons which the Duke of Wulfram’s army had carried to Blogia were much the same as the ones with which they began the war with. Indeed, the vast majority of these weapons, be they the Pattern 572 Infantry Musket, the Pattern 576 Carbine, the Pattern 566 Pistol, or the Pattern 588 Light Cavalry Sabre, remain in use to this day. Likewise, the current patterns of cavalry lance and heavy cavalry swords, the Pattern 607 and Pattern 608 respectively, differ little from their predecessors, save in modifications to allow for easier manufacture. Indeed, the weapons used at Blogia would differ little from the weapons used at Montjoy, over a century ago, or even by the soldiers of Michiko vam Paulus during the last Kian-Takaran war three centuries prior. The Duke of Wulfram’s soldiers would have had every reason to be confident in the design of their weapons, being as they were proven over the course of several centuries.

They would have also had considerably less reason to be confident in the reliability of their weapons. During the long period of relative peace between the end of the Unification Wars and the beginning of the current conflict, Grenadier Square has accumulated vast stockpiles of armaments. However, the demands of peacetime economy meant that these armaments were rarely stored or maintained with anything near the requisite level of diligence. As a result, when these weapons were issued to soldiers in the field, they were often found to be faulty or even dangerous to their users. One company of the 9th Foot records that of the one hundred and fifteen infantry muskets they received, sixteen were immediately written off as unusable, an additional thirty-three were found to be so after preliminary trials, and of the remaining sixty-six, four more would be quickly discarded, and a fifth would burst on its first engagement, killing the man who had been firing it.

Commissioned officers, being often required by their regiments to provide their own weapons and accoutrements, were obviously given more freedom to select their weapons of choice. Aside from those officers who, being members of an Order-Militant, chose to partake in the honoured tradition of taking the field in their knightly harness and sword, many officers had personal weapons made to the ordinance board patterns, with the only difference being that these privately commissioned arms were often of considerably superior quality.

Others were rather more eccentric in the equipment they brought with them to the field. There are at least four documented examples of officers at Blogia bringing to battle pistols of their own design. One particularly amusing account comes to us of a Lieutenant O_____r of the 7th Foot: believing in the fundamental superiority of the Takaran Warsword, he had brought with him to the battle a replica of such a weapon, made as close as possible to the original in form, material, and technique of manufacture, less the customary enchantments which the Eru’venne guard so jealously. Unfortunately, experience did not seem to confirm belief, as the blade snapped in two within moments of first encountering the enemy. The Lieutenant, made to look ridiculous before his men, was forced to endure the rest of the battle armed only with his pistols and a spontoon taken from the body of a fallen sergeant.

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