The Nacht Reitar strikes
Von Pritzwalk’s decision to besiege Dolfstein invariably slowed the hectic pace that the campaign had so far taken. This was the result of the battering that the forces of both sides had already taken as much as the difficult nature of the besieging operation.
By and large supply convoys were flowing relatively easily into the Allied camp, whereas the situation within Dolfstein grew more and more desperate. Reports abounded of people eating dogs, cats and rats – although the French commandant Colonel Aiselle-Puant was reputedly well stocked with a variety of good vintages.
Fois-Gras was organising his strategy, which recognised that Dolfstein would fall before he was ready to attack the Allies. Sitting at his campaign table with his dog, Malodorant, beside him the canny old Marshal was hoping to lure the Allies into concentrating on the Frankenberg while he moved against their lines of communication. However, he was disturbed from his reveries by the arrival of the Prince-Archbishop himself.
‘Ahem’, began Ludwig, ‘Monsieur le Marechal, is your entire campaign plan to sit here and watch the Maritime powers despoil my beautiful land? You have troops doing nothing but sitting around! You are the soldiers of the mighty Sun King! Are you afraid?’
At this Fois-Gras summoned his considerable powers of self-restraint and diplomacy – one of the reasons that King Louis had given him this assignment.
‘My dear Prince, of course we are not simply planning to remain idle. Why, as we speak I have a contingent preparing itself to carry out a relieving expedition to remind the enemy that Dolfstein will never fall. This will be merely the prelude to the ultimate destruction of their army.’
At this, Ludwig appeared somewhat mollified.
‘I knew I could count on you all! I would wish to join this expedition, but I am afraid Princely duties stand in my way. I look forward to hearing of your success, my Lord.’ With this, Ludwig turned and left the camp tent. Fois-Gras grimaced as his ally minced from the tent.
‘Princely duties,’ he scoffed to Malodorant, ‘is that what he calls dining and otherwise being entertained by his closest companions in his lifeguard?’ The dog looked at his master, sensed his scorn and gave a sympathetic growl.
‘Claude,’ Fois-Gras shouted to his secretary, ‘get me Petit-Fromage and that Bavarian nit-wit,’ the name that Fois-Gras always reserved for the Graf von Hasselhoff, leader of the Bavarian contingent.
Following a quick meeting with his two generals, the plan was set – ‘so that is it, gentlemen. observe the enemy camp, gather intelligence on their supply convoys and see if you can ambush and capture one. But I do not want any unnecessary loss of life. We are only doing this as a sign of good-will towards Frankenberg. I do not want anything disrupting the preparations for our main offensive.’
‘Jawohl, you can count on me Herr Fwa-Gwa!’ barked the Bavarian as he clicked his heels.
‘I am sure I can,’ Fois-Gras replied without betraying an inkling of his fears about the man who liked to call himself the Nacht Reitar. ‘Petit-Fromage, can I see you about another matter. Thankyou, my Lord.’ With that von Hasselhoff turned and left the room leaving the Marshal and his best general alone.
‘Don’t let him stuff this up, Pierre,’ Fois-Gras let slip his impenetrable mask. I’m giving you a sizeable force, but the Bavarians are good soldiers – I do not want them wasted!’
‘No, my Lord.’
‘Take a regiment of Dragoons and those disgusting Hussars. Stealing is what they do best, and I’ll be glad to have them out of the camp. Do you know how many I had to flog this month? And if von shit-for-brains charges a cannon – let him!’ Petit-Fromage smiled. He had known Fois-Gras almost his entire life, but even then the Marshal was something of an enigma to him, hidden behind a wall of courtly etiquette and irrelevant small talk. But he appreciated it when the inscrutable mask fell and he saw little snippets of the man’s true feelings.
‘You can count on me also, Monsieur.’
The Danes under the command of von Altefisch are given the role of escorting the supply column towards…
The Allied camp outside the siege lines around Dolfstein. Here is a mixed Dutch Brigade under Van Klogg. Along the way is…
An English Dragoon regiment in a small farm and a Dutch Dragoon regiment guarding both sides of the pontoon crossings under von Hinder-Entz.
The raiding force appears from the south. Von Hasselhoff is eager to get his troops into battle. ‘You take the Hussars’, says Petit-Fromage, ‘and I’ll guard your flank with the Kurassiers and the Dragoons.’
Spotting the Bavarian advance the Danes deploy for battle and send the baggage off towards the pontoons before they are sealed off by the Franco-Bavarian cavalry.
Petit-Fromage moves towards the pontoons as the Dopff Dragoons urgently begin to form up. The English Dragoons release a volley into the flank of the Listenois Dragoons, disordering them for a turn – but will it be enough?
Ignoring pass through fire the cheeky Hussars charge between the farm and the Danes and capture the baggage! Well, it is what they do best – but will they get it back to their own lines?
The Dopff Dragoons hold up the Kurassiers and Dragoons of the enemy just long enough to enable the Dutch infantry to cross the pontoons and form up. At close range the volleys are delivered – and the Franco-Bavarian cavalry are driven back. ‘Better get that supply train out of here von Hasselhoff…’
The situation after the Hussars have captured the baggage. One Bavarian infantry unit is occupying the fire of the English Dragoons in the farm, while the other two are concentrating on pinning the Danes. The fourth unit has already broken amidst the impetuous charges of von Hasselhoff. Fois-Gras will not be pleased!
Another Bavarian regiment is destroyed and it looks like von Hasselhoff has gone back to drag another unit into the fight! The Hussars were effectively blocked from getting the wagons free, and even more importantly there was a unit with an open flank right in front of them. They therefore sent the baggage train ahead and charged into the Sjallandske Infantry regiment, riding them down and rendering them hors de combat. But ambition got the better of them, and charging the Sjaellandske Ryttare in the flank saw this regiment turn and meet them. The Danes showed no mercy, and the Hussars were cut to pieces, scurrying for the woods. Another Franco-Bavarian regiment lost, but not one Fois-Gras will mourn too much.
The final moments just before the supply wagons are lost. The Dutch Hoornberg Horse have charged around the Franco-Bavarian right flank and the Prins Georg regiment is advancing on their left, but they are too late and now out of effective command range. von Hasselhoff is knocked from his horse by a stray bullet and Petit-Fromage orders the army to fall back. With h the Dutch preoccupied with the baggage the cavalry makes it out out of combat easily. The two infantry regiments have a little more problem, but are not destroyed.
‘Monsieur le Marechal, I am pleased to report success in capturing the enemy supply train!’ Fois-Gras eyed up Petit-Fromage – he knew very well that this was not the end of the story.
‘How many did we lose?’
‘I regret that two of the Bavarian regiments suffered grievously although a number are beginning to reappear in the camp. It will take some time to rebuild them. The Hussars were also broken.’
‘I’m sure they will turn up in the middle of the night looking for something to steal. And the Graf?’
‘Wounded and being attended to by the doctor’s, my Lord. He should pull through quite easily.’
‘How… unfortunate… for him of course. And the supply train.’
‘Rich pickings – we found a paychest.’
‘A success then,’ Fois-Gras looked to his left and found a knucklebone on his dinner plate. ‘Malodorant, we dine well tonight!’ he said as the hound tore into the meaty morsel.