Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oddest commission

Barcelona, 4th August 1713

Haunted, President de Solanell leaped up from his seat as if pushed by an invisible resort: -A commission, you said?

-Yes I did, an Infantry commission. -Lady Elisenda de Cardona replied in calmly voice -I’d desire to raise a Regiment. -she graciously smiled- I have the necessary funds, of course.

Visibly alarmed, the General Deputation President looked all around the room, searching for a glance of complicity. In vain. General Villarroel stood insistently looking at a fixed point in front of him, in an attitude of apparent indiference as if the matter had nothing to do with him; in the meanwhile, General Prado found the chance to suffer an appropriately annoying coughing while the Treasurer of the General Deputation had suddenly gone quite intensely focused on an accounts book... From the rear, standing at a room’s corner, Loys d’Hauteville discretely stood wide-eyed looking at the distinguished, captivating lady -whose name he didn’t know yet. Only the Archbishop of Barcelona, present at the meeting too, gave back a glance to Lady Elisenda with eyes full of disapproval.

-Oh yes, er.... ehem... I know. -he finally found the words -However Milady, where are you planning to recruit the necessary men? The recent commission given to Colonel Corradó has barely achieved results so far, due to manpower shortage...

-Well... I was not thinking of men -Lady Elisenda replied quietly.

-What?? -it was the Archbishop who had so sharply protested.

-A Regiment of women -she confirmed in a firm voice, defiantly staring into the Archbishop's eyes. Caught by surprise, General Villarroel abandoned his indiference attitude, while the Treasurer dug himself deeper into his accounts book.

-Lady Elisenda, I wouldn’t doubt for even a moment the tenacity and virtues of women, -Villarroel intervened, as gently as he could, -but this is not a job for them, because women have no knowledge on its own instruments or common usages... that is, weapons or drill...

-It wouldn’t be a Regiment of common women, but of widows and invalids' wives instead, gentlemen. -in her sweetest voice- After so many years at war, there are hundreds of families that have been thrown into the deepest levels of poverty, after the death or disability of their household heads. There is a legion of women compelled to providing for their families with misery salaries, whose daily enemies are no other than starvation and disease... Is this the payment our Nation is deserving to them for their sacrifice? Misery?

-Such kind of women have accompanied their husbands through a number of campaigns, -she continued- they’ve had to share penalties with them and unavoidably have come to a perfect knowledge on weapons, powder, digging and surviving on the field. It will be infinitely easier to train any one of them than introducing into military life a notary’s son from the very start.

-This makes sense, Milady -General Villarroel agreed, after some hesitation moments- However, this idea of yours can meet a quite serious problem: where would you take officers from? There are no female officers yet, and forming a core of them for your Regiment would take a lot of time, perhaps too much...

-You are right, Sire. I had already thought about this. -Lady Elisenda agreed- For some time, my Regiment will need male offciers in charge, until the most excelling women can be identified, trained and promoted.

-We’re back to the start point, then. -President intervened- Men shortage. No capable man is available at present.

-Not even one? And what about all those foreign officers ociously spending their time at the Added Officers Company? -Lady Elisenda ironically replied. She then suddenly turned round towards Loys d’Hauteville and thoroughly examined the young Frenchman: -And you, gentleman? -she asked in a slight, seductive smile -Have you already resigned having an effective command charge?

-Er... Milady... Well, in fact...

-Do you have any command experience? -her voice was now sharp as a knife.

-Some, Milady.

-Would you accept a promotion to Major of my Regiment?

13 comments:

David said...

Splendid - she really has them on the ropes now! How can they refuse? :-)

Cheers,

David
http://nba-sywtemplates.blogspot.com/

Capt Bill said...

Lovely bumps in the great coat, very Monte-Cristoish. The Reich Duchy of Beerstein actually has an all female light battery formed from Monte-Cristo lasses...

Fitz-Badger said...

This is what comes from associating with those Monte Cristans! And a good thing, too! ha ha :)

Bluebear Jeff said...

*grin* . . . delightful, sir.


-- Jeff

esparver said...

A single regiment, even if it's as ... ehem ... irregular as it, is precious.

abdul666 said...

As it happens, several young Monte-Cristan ladies are currently touring North-Eastern Hispania and Gallian Languedoc. That they do it despite the war shows that -if "Their waist is slender and their fingers are small- it would not make them tremble for to see ten thousand fall."
Indeed they have some experience quite unusual for members of the Fair Sex, and even if looking more like 'Daughters of Venus' than 'Daughters of Minerva Parthenos' they meet all requirements for military advisors. And Monte-Cristan advisor don't stay behind when their 'pupils' go to battle...

abdul666 said...

Re. Capt Bill's observation: if 'idealized' women soldiers, their feminine nature should be obvious even in 15mm seen 'en masse' from wargaming distance...

abdul666 said...

Inexperienced but highly motivated... Fanatical Irregular Charging Infantry, 'romantic-idealized' Highlanders fashion?
Hard to control... they would need a cold-blooded cadre, at least part of which with some source of natural empathy with the troops...

Soldadets said...

My most sincere gratefulness for your warm words, Sirs :)

About Lady Elisenda: To be sincere, I'm getting increasingly fond of this new character. To me it's evident she is providing a good deal of fresh air to my Imagi-Nation's Independence War story -which, as all war chronicles, would otherwise show us pain, terror and shadows only -"sweat, blood and tears" as someone said ;) ...As in Pandora's case, that we most need is hope, and I believe that such an amazing character is to help us WAR-gamers keep believing in Human nature in spite of all our terrible mistakes... True that Lady Elisenda's character is an unavoidable goal, defined as she's been as a blue-blooded, wealthy, pretty, seductive, resourceful, intelligent and clever young woman -who wouldn't love to have her even as a simple friend-and-no-else?? :P

More seriously: manpower shortage might have been a real problem in the early 1700's Catalonia. By that time, the Principality's population was about 750,000, so that, according to informations given as a response to a post of mine at TMP some time ago, the actual Catalan war effort during the 1713-1714 campaign nearly doubled the military/civilian population ratio of Prussia in Frederick's time -and this was after 9 years of never-ending war in the Peninsula!! ...I believe this gives an actually quite good idea on the desperation level, the heroic commitment of my ancestors of that time... (Ehem, sorry for being so subjective once again).

At the time of resolving our 3rd campaign turn, I'm realizing that all the Historic Catalan war effort has been achieved in our simulation with little differences -We've had the chance to enjoy the providential commitment of a historically non-involved Imperial Dragoons regiment, as well as have enjoyed the quite unexpected reinforcements of 2 additional Militia Battalions (the Coronela of Mataró city). But little else can -and should- be expected from the almost exhausted Catalan manpower and financial pools.

In this context, such imaginative initiatives as that of our Lady Elisenda to take some advantage of womanpower, or the clever manoeuvre of Marquis of Vilana close to Emperor Charles to be recognized the restoration of the Crown of Aragon -and therefore, being granted the access to Majorcan and Sardinian manpower- might become key to the survival of our Principality, while the combined Allied diplomatic efforts for an acceptable peace are sought and Louis XIV confidence on his grandson Philip gradually decreases...

In the end, all this is becoming to me an infinitely greater adventure than ever imagined when started this wonderful trip into History. Please keep following my campaign and tales progression, keep suggesting new storyboards, keep spreading the word for participation and involvement of as many Imagi-Nations as desired... all of your comments is taken into account, as simple as you believe it can be.

The pure wargaming side of this campaign is yet to appear -this is mainly due to "leadshortage" reasons. As soon as possible, we'll start gaming some of the battlefields of the campaign instead of simulating them through die rolls. And, in the meanwhile, I can provide proxy scenarios for anyone willing to give some work to his lead pile...

Soldadets said...

Jean-Louis,

Yours is a worthy note, that one referring to the possibility of Monte-Cristan advisors...

Just a handful of them might be enough for spotting and training the most resourceful enlisted Catalan women, to form them as officers and NCOs.

In the meanwhile, the Regiment might become operative in a short time thanks to the excellent officers pool provided by the Added Officers Company (a Historical unit formed by ex-Allied officers awaiting a commission).

This factor, along with the enlisted women previous experience Lady Elisenda alluded to, might allow us to rate the new Regiment straightly as Regular/Veteran instead of Regular/Conscript. So that this would be a more valuable addition to our Army than initially expected.

I can't see them as Fanatic, however. Not in the sense usually assigned to such kind of troops (blood-thirsty, easily disorderly rushing towards the enemy, and so), perhaps more likely to me in the sense of 'stone-walling', stubborn in defence -aware as they surely are to be the last standing wall before their helpless homes are reached...

Soldadets said...

Good point, that one of the executions... Let me think a bit on it...

Salvador said...

Wonderful! What a lovely turn!
If there's ever need for a liaison officer to this regiment, you know...
A regiment of women could be armed with "escopetes", catalan made high quality lighter, shorter muskets (not the direct actual translation, which is = shotguns), used by mountain fusileers too. The warlike character of those women is out of doubt. There's a tradition about it; even in Montjuïch, 1641, terrible defeat the catalan militias and troops with french professional reinforcements inflicted upon the then "invincible" spanish tercios (with pursuit, massacre and many colours captures), women played a successful and reknowned role.
So we can expect, at least, absolute commitment.
Msr. Vilalta, thank you for the joy!

Salvador said...

And thank you for the picture! Now I'm gonna be famous!
:-D