Monday, December 31, 2007

Raising a New Army

Generalfeldwachtmeister Ernst Anton Friedrich Freiherr von Blei-Sammeln found himself wondering for the thousandth time which of his rivals at the court of the Empress had managed to inflict this painful sentence upon him. Who was the hidden assassin? What did he have to gain from Blei-Sammeln’s fall? Why send poor, suffering Ernst to this forsaken town while the court danced in Vienna?

In a rare moment of self-honesty, Blei-Sammeln wryly noted that while he was indeed suffering, that he was in no way “poor.” Perhaps his unknown antagonist was jealous of Ernst’s fortune?

Blei-Sammeln’s reverie ended as he handed his card to the footman. “This way, Herr General. Her Excellency is expecting you.”

Her Excellency Princess Ulrike Louise von Solms-Braunfels, Regent of Hesse-Homburg sat in her late husband’s Cabinet room together with several dithering bureaucrats. She eyed the Imperial officer with a mixture of wariness and hope.

“Good afternoon, Herr General von Blei-Sammeln. I hope that you are doing well?”

Blei-Sammeln sketched the not-quite-practiced bow that was all the rage in Vienna and answered, “It is a fine day to be conducting the Empress’ and your Excellency’s business, Princess.” He rose from the bow, and upon meeting the Regent’s gaze but not being addressed, assumed an expression of bland contentment.

“Have you had a chance to review our proposal for the New Year’s troop establishment, Herr General?”

“I have, your Excellency, and may I compliment you upon your enthusiastic and patriotic suggestions for the coming campaign. As I also bear instructions from the court of the Empress, I have taken the liberty of combining the two proposals into a single declaration. Furthermore I am empowered to publish this declaration, with your Excellency’s approval, of course.”

Blei-Sammeln drew a document from his breast pocket and presented it to the Regent. Princess Ulrike pulled the string to untie the ribbon, and rolled the document out on the table.

“Mein Gott!” she exclaimed. “Nine regiments of foot! And six of cavalry! And artillery, and what are these ‘light troops?!’ Homburg cannot possibly afford this!”

Blei-Sammeln deployed his practiced smile. “Of course not, My Princess.” He only used the singular possessive when he wanted the Regent to think he really needed her help. “You will see that only the units designated as ‘Leib’ are to be funded by Homburg. The rest will be paid for with the Empress’ florins, but raised and equipped by you.”

“So that the Empress can call them away to be fed to the Markgraf of Brandenburg’s war machine, like those poor Wurzburgers?”

“My Princess,” Blei-Sammeln began, spreading his hands like an innocent child accused of stealing the honey. “Her Imperial Majesty has always employed troops completely within the letter of the contract for their use. As stated in my letters of introduction, Her Imperial Majesty cannot afford to send more troops to your aid, but can help you to defray the expense of raising forces yourself. If you choose to accept the Imperium’s offer, Homburg can raise sufficient manpower to crush the Fedoran breakers of the Imperial Peace and reclaim your rightful domains.”

The room fell silent as the Regent looked back down and read the document in full. “This document calls for 14 battalions, 18 squadrons, and 3 companies of artillery. Where could we find this many men?”

“Your Excellency, both the Dayton Consortium and the newer Minden recruiting companies can provide the raw material for your army. You have but to say the word and they can produce soldiers almost as if from lead!”

“And if I agree, who shall command these legions?”

Blei-Sammeln flashed his ingratiating smile again. “You can see the answer in the attached document, My Princess. No, the third sheet. Yes, that one.”

The Regent glanced at the last page of the set. “So, you bear Imperial commissions for six Generalfeldwachtmeisters, to be nominated by me but approved by you. Yet you are only a Generalfeldwachtmeister yourself?”

“That is so, My Princess, until you sign the agreement. I am delighted to say that if you do so, that you also sign the commission making me a Feldmarschallieutenant and commander of the Imperial troops raised with those funds.”

Blei-Sammeln watched the thoughts as they crossed the Regent’s face. Finally, she turned to the nearest clerk. “Bring me the ink.”

Feldmarschallieutenant Blei-Sammeln bowed again and wondered what it was going to cost him to become Feldzeugmeister. In the meantime, he had a Declaration to publish.


MurdocK said...

Nicely written prose.

Yet another princeling is co-opted by the grand 'corporation' of L'Ancien Regieme...

Ed Youngstrom said...

Thank you.

But FML Blei-Sammeln may not be quite as "party line" as the Empress would like!

Ed v. H-F

abdul666 said...

Maybe a silly question -but I'm sure the Regent will not be surprised to have it asked by Louys of Monte-Cristo: what kind of uniforms will be worn by the army of Hesse-Hombug?

To be perfectly clear, will the Regent have the same positive influence on the 'creativity' of Hesse-Homburg military fashionists, as the the Landgrafin had in Hesse-Fedora?

Fraternal Compliments from the Presipality,

Frankfurter said...

Maybe Frankszonia ought to try to get some of those Imperial funds ...

Ed Youngstrom said...

Actually, the funding is rather convoluted. The Empress is really just going to credit the Regent's account for all those florins that are supposed to be flowing to said Empress in order to keep the Empire safe and sound. Since the Regent doesn't have that money anyway, "someone" at the Imperial court has figured that Blei-Sammeln's personal fortune might be better used for the public good.

Ed v. H-F

williamspd said...
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