Sunday, June 20, 2010

A tense War Council

Barcelona, 13th July 1713

After half a day of pretty inconclusive arguing, the atmosfere in the assembly room could be cut with a knife. As a product of exhaustion, a deep silence had steadily been spreading through assistants in the latest minutes, while they started looking at each other, with serious and tense expressions in face; and no one seemed willing to start speaking. Finally, it was General in Chief Antonio de Villarroel who broke the silence:

-Might we draw a summary of all this, in the end? -he asked, looking straight at General Nebot, who was the senior commander of the just formed Catalan Cavalry.

-We've just started to be delivered messages from individual loyalist citizens in the occupied cities of Balaguer, Lleida and Tortosa -Nebot answered, in a low voice that reflected his discouragement-. According to their informations, up to three major Castilian armies started marching towards our lines early in the morning yesterday, one column from each city. Apparently all three are converging in to Barcelona (some sighs could be heard all around the room). If we'd to believe such informations, each column consists of not less than 8 or 10 infantry battalions and maybe 3 to 4 mounted regiments, along with every kind of artillery and supply trains. Scouting detachments have already been sent to fix such data, however -Nebot ended.

-Well done, Nebot -Villarroel replied-. When shall we be acknowledged of their inquiries?
-I guess that late tomorrow, or the day past tomorrow in the morning, at most.
-All right, that's all we can do by now. Word must be sent to all our forward units to stay ready in alert, and to inform us of any detected enemy move -concluded Villarroel-. Once we know better where are these columns heading to, and which is each one's force, we'll be able to plan our counters.

-I do agree with you, Sir -suddendly spoke Francesc Berenguer, who was the Parliament's Military Deputy-. It would be useless to keep arguing while such key pieces of information are still unknown to us. Instead, we might resolve some supplementary affairs. Lord Ramon de Vilana?
-Yes, here I am -answered a deep, cultivated voice. It was a tall, slim and elegant man of some 50 years who had spoken, an undoubtedly respected and influent nobleman.

-Unnecessary to acknowledge you about the extreme peril our beloved Principality is under, Lord. Have you had time enough to reflect about the proposal I made you yesterday? -Some vitality sparks quickly spread all around the room, many faces showing surprise.
-True, and I must tell you to be willing and ready -the alluded nobleman responded-, as long as I can enjoy the resources I already told you about.

The Artillery commander General Basset, who had been staying apart so far, plunged in a deep silence, then suspiciously asked: -Mission? What mission? May we ask what are you talking about, gents?

-While at Their Majesties direct service these last years, Lord Marquis of Vilana became an influent man in Court, so that he was able to establish a solid net of relationships with several foreign representatives -answered the Military Deputy-. He has gently judged to be time for him to put all of his acquired knowledge in the Homeland service. Therefore, he has been proposed to lead a diplomatic legacy...
-The idea is to humbly knock at every known friendly door, in search for help and advice -Vilana continued-. However, in order to properly perform my duties, I shall need some resources...

-Yes, we've been providing for your requirements to be fulfilled -Villarroel intervened-. A 12 cannons Xebec fast ship has been prepared during the day, and is already cargoed and waiting for you. One of our best captains has been commissioned to command her, along with a carefully picked crew. And you will enjoy an escort of 12 infantrymen too, as asked for. A small escort, I must admit, for we desperately need every man capable of brandishing a musket. However, these are among our best available men, for all of them belong to the former Catalan Royal Guards. They have been entrusted one of the Regiment's flags, as an external device of your high comission.

-You are honoring me, gents -answered Vilana-. Is an entrusted man who will be leading that detachment?

-A young man who's just joined our ranks -replied Villarroel, visibly satisfied-. In spite of his youth, he enjoyed the confidence of Lord Wallis as an officer of his regiment. He speaks fluidly not only German but French lenguage too, and besides has some knowledge of Catalan and Italian. He was really anxious for contributing to our Cause, and I personally wouldn't have him inactive in our Added Officers Company, tediously waiting for a vacancy in our ranks.

-His name?
-Leibnitz, Sir. Lieutenant Friedrich Leibnitz.



Of course, the perfect man to lead this mission. Dark days for Catalan, yet with a 'light at the end of the tunnel' as they say outside of Herrschaden - we dont say that here of course, as it is not necessary to say it.

(.....Liebnitz, Freidrich, Leutnant....
process implant ID code complete)


Capt Bill said...

What a great vessel!!!

Soldadets said...

A really lovely ship, small, pretty and dreadful. I'm anxious to get and paint some of them in 1/600th scale -but I'll have to leave it for later: I'm close to having my holidays in a few weeks, and no miniatures order placed to a British/US manufacturer would be delivered in time. So... I'll have to leave it in hold until August!

abdul666 said...

Our most sincere wishes of success to this crucial diplomatic tour. Monte-Cristo will provide any discret accomodation, help,go-between and support within its modest abilities.

In the meantime, the planned Galatean 'Reconquista' of the Aragonese Kingdoms has to be postponed, I'm afraid? Unless crushing victories over the Castilians are followed by daring-counteroffensives...

Then, as for the (smaller) ships, what about 25-28mm?

Soldadets said...

In my oppinion, the only main advantage in favour of the Catalans is the close-to-bankrupcy situation of Philip V finance, so that if they manage somehow to prevent or delay French intervention -or the premature coronation of King George in Britain leads to a forced arrangement-, Philip V's army might be forced to withdraw.

Actually, by mid 1713 there are no news in Spain yet about the 1712 Convoy to the Americas, which was due to have already arrived. So that Philip V has just ordered a second Convoy to sail, because American gold is key to avoid bankrupcy (in fact, none of both Convoys will ever be back home: a huge hurricane sunk the whole combined Convoy in early 1715 close to Florida shores; only a French ship managed to escape the disaster).

In the meanwhile Philip V has had to finance his current 1713-1714 campaign against Catalonia with astronomical taxations upon the just annexed regions of Aragon and Valencia (up to 500% the normal rate)... so that it wouldn't be so unlikely a deep unrest in both regions, even an open rebellion if friendly forces were able to cross the line and link to them. However, the material chances for the Catalan army to achieve military superiority over a 3 times stronger enemy are simply remote...

Nothing can be discarded yet; even a crushing Catalan defeat, to be honest.

BTW: a great link, that one showing scratch-built sail boats! ...I had in mind alternating 15mm for bigger actions with 20mm for skirmish gaming, so that these boat suggestions could match quite well in my general plan...

Salvador said...

You can always try the little scales, so you could build a (cheap enough) full catalan navy. Try langton ( or ghq ( for example (langtons look great with their choices of sails, ghq has a 20 gun xebec in its catalog-how appropiate!).
Nice piece, this council of war... But ley me warn you all: Msr. Nebot, in our real history, made a poor impression of his commanding skills at Torredembarra, unable to keep his own infantry and cavalry in order. Moreover, he and Msr. Berenguer were about to make one of the most (if not the most) awful decisions in the war when later in the year they ran away for Barcelona after a recruiting expedition abandoning about 4000 recruits and troopers a mere 25 miles from the capital... The troops disbanded, just a few hundreds got to the besieged city. And they did so against the will and council of military leaders of great value like Dalmau and Amill who were by contrast to cover themselves in glory in the catalan campaign!
My hope lies in Vilana's embassy, but too (and more) in the strong hearts, shrewd heads and able hands of some leaders of troops and men of action like the aforementioned Amill and Dalmau, or Lieutenent Leibniz and Msr. Hauteville...

Soldadets said...

Hi Salvador,

I've also been checking miniature ships manufacturers' catalogues lately, although I keep being prudent before taking a decision -it must be carefully balanced before. I am still a little doubtful between 1/600th and 1/450th scales. Most certainly, no decision will be taken before end of July.

I am aware too about the contrasting performances of several Catalan commanders during the 1713-1714 campaign; this is why Nebot or Moragues have been rated in my campaign as "Average", or Berenguer as "Poor", while Basset or Bellver are worth the qualification of "Excellent". Nevertheless, all of them were appointed generals, so that some kind of excellence they credited before... Let's see if in our gaming campaign any of them manages to get redeemed!