Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Brigade

Sutton, 3rd September 1713

The carriage had got along the paved road faster than recommendable, as if horses were about to runaway --but the man in the cabin barely noticed it, deeply absorbed as he was. Lord Pau Ignasi de Dalmases, Catalan Ambassador to London, was worried and depressed by the disturbing news he had just been delivered a few hours ago. According to an anonymous albeit well-informed reporter, King Philip V had started gathering his Army of Flanders in Dunkirk, with the purpose of repatriating it all in Spain. If such news were fatally confirmed, this would mean that not less than 18 regiments of Infantry, a still loose number of horse squadrons and the dreadful Walloon Guards might be freely used elsewhere --and unfortunately, "elsewhere" could only mean "Catalonia" in King Philip's mind...

Almost unnoticed to Lord Dalmases, the carriage stopped in front of a stately tavern, while the western sky started turning into fading crimson shades. They had arrived to The Silent Wolf tavern in Sutton by sunset, as agreed. Dalmases had been discretely summoned at that place by Sir Mitford Crowe, during a short conversation held the day before in a small property belonging to Lady Margaret Villiers. Intrigued by the secrecy around this meeting, Dalmases hurried to enter the tavern and take a look around. He could see Crowe sitting at a table discretely away, along with two men else: one of them was clad in a military uniform, while the other one was a quite younger man dressed in civilian clothes, although showing a conspicuously martial appearance too. Crowe recognized Dalmases instantly and invited him to join them.

Once the Catalan Ambassador had comfortably sit down, Sir Mitford Crowe saved any preliminaries and logged on straightly, as usual in him: -Milord, as you can easily imagine, the fraternity we share (the Whig Party, he means) inspires us to step beyond the treaties and obligations signed by our Sovereign, God bless Her. According to our own interpretation, the Treaty of Genoa I signed with your representatives on Her behalf still remains in force, even though circumstances are preventing Government to keep enforcing it. Therefore, a few men of honor in our fraternity have agreed gathering the amount of 10,000 pounds sterling, which should be enough to build a few regiments and provide for their subsistance for a whole year, even longer.

-I am aware that finance is not the only issue your Principality is facing, but also manpower -he continued-. Therefore, I guess you'd like to learn that in Netherlands a good number of British veterans would happily volunteer to join such regiments...

-That's very good news indeed -Dalmases quickly answered- but then, who would agree being committed for leading such brigade?

-You have them in front of you, Milord. Let me introduce you Colonel Keating, who is just arrived from Holland, and young Sir James Spencer, both of whom are anxiously willing to accept the commission. They will best inform you about the possibilities of recruiting some British regiments in the Netherlands and send them in Majorca island within a period not too long.

-As a matter of fact, Sirs -it was Keating who spoke now- I'd like to acknowledge you that we are in process of forming not two, but three complete regiments. The officers payrolls of two of them are about to be fulfilled.



12 comments:

Jeroen72 said...

Those are looking good :)

I believe 1 scottish regiment left Dutch service in 1714 and 2 others in 1717 but i don't know if you meant that EvE ;)

The dutch didn't have that many red coats in their pay.

Bluebear Jeff said...

If I had to join one of these, it would have to be St. Patrick's Regiment . . . I like the uniform, flag, and the name.


-- Jeff

abdul666 said...

Cheering news indeed!
And, great uniforms and flags as usual.

Yet, the global situation -as exposed in your previous post- is so unbalanced that all that Galatea can expect / hope from its military forces is to last long enough to have *diplomacy* in the widest meaning [incl. the manoeuvres of Marie-Anne de La Trémoille, Princesa de los Ursinos] (and financial ruin) compelling the Hispanic King to accept peace...

abdul666 said...

Where will the brigade land?
Portugal is still at war, at this date. Maybe 3 regiments landed there would pin several times their own number away from Galatea?
Anyway, Madrid could not ignore the threat of a 'second front', thus simply spreading the *rumour* would probably deter Felipe from sending all the announced reinforcements to the North-East...

Salvador said...

Wonderful!
The sight of the red clad good fellows besides the hardy blue clad catalan troops will make for sure a beautiful sight to regard, and a familiar one to catalan eyes ;-)
Got to say that I'sad to contradict the Lord of Monte Cristo; I sincerely doubt that Portugal would be interested about opening such a second front.
The presence of those troops, and the ships transporting them, and the influence their officers could exert both on the battlefield and out of it, would be surely greater in the Mediterranian area, in Catalonia herself, and near the french frontier.
Moreso when a change of government could happen in Britain one of these days and return the more warlike whigs to power (maybe with Marlborough happy to return to generalship, an empty spanish Flanders and more things to think about)...

Soldadets said...

Those regiments are being raised by *certain* British gentlemen, filling their ranks with British veterans -currently unemployed ones. However, these units have nothing to do with the British army itself -but are to be transferred to the Catalan Army instead. Funds provided by these gentlemen are to cover one year of equipment and salaries, no more -so that they'd be disbanded after that time unless my Principality found out how to keep financing them, or political environment substantially changed ;)

As they have nothing to do with their own Nation's Army, it would be unappropriate for them to fly the Union colours -so that the flags I've imagined for them are strongly reminiscent of early WSS English/Scottish flags, although displaying Catalan devices. Due to the shared English-Catalan symbolism of St George cross, this circumstance can also be used as an explanation for a later evolution of Catalan colours (as sketched in my SYW Army page).

As the Italian saying says, Si non è vero, è ben trobato (=if not true, it's likely at least) :)

Soldadets said...

Jean-Louis and Salvador:

True that Portugal has not signed a peace with Spain yet, but their lack of British financial support makes it quite unlikely for them to perform any move that Spain might believe threatening; so that I guess Portuguese authorities would rather like better preserve the current truce status until a definitive peace is signed.

Moreover if they have into account that this "British Brigade" has no official support from their own country... It's not by any hazard that conscription is being performed *outside* the United Kingdom.

This means that those newly recruited regiments will have to do their way into the Mediterranean, to be disembarked in Majorca or Catalonia itself. And, in the XVIII century world, what's safer than getting carried by British ships?

Moreover, if they're cunning enough to fly flags as ambiguous as the British Red Ensign: when you spot a convoy all whose ships are flying a Red Ensign, can you have any certainty about what kind of ships are these? Military, Tradesmen, Corsairs? No doubt that any Two Crowns ship would wisely perform as if nothing had been spotted... ;)

Salvador said...

Definitively Delicious! Undoubtedly this campaign is ever more interesting as time goes by. I, for one, am absolutely won over by this thrilling adventure!
I'll take the chance to tell Msr. Vilalta about the inauguration ceremony to be held by March 26th in the town of Talamanca of the commemorative monument about the victory which the catalan army had at that very place over the invading bourbon troops. There'll be a detachment of the Generalitat Regiment of Infantry standing guard.

abdul666 said...

Re. the reluctance of Portugal to be involved again, I suggested to plant *rumours*. Rumours don't need to be likely, and the more energetically they are denied, the more people become suspicious...

Then the best Galatan hope can lay with the depleted state of 'Hispania''s finances. If the annual Flota de Indias get lost in a storm (as that of 1715 in the Caribbean)...

Soldadets said...

Salvador, I'd be happy to attend at that event. Can you drop me an e-mail with some info on it?

Jean-Louis: Rumours about Portugal... Hum, we'll have to think it all a bit.

Historically, Philip V was unable to subdue Catalonia solely by His sole own means, so that finally King Louis took the risk and sent troops in the Principality again. If our dear Marquis de Vilana is able to extract a formal peace from Versailles at such early stage of the campaign, that would mean that the War of Spanish Succession is definitely "de-internationalized" and Philip V would be forced to suspend His offensive and accept a peace sooner or later --unavoidably. It would be just a matter of endurance.

I believe Spain wouldn't be able to sustain alone this costly campaign longer than mid-1714.

Soldadets said...

BTW, I read somewhere that the 1715 Treasure Fleet was actually the yearly convoy of April 1712, which was due to be back in Spain by mid or late 1713. When it became clear the fleet would not be back (they were forced to spend Winter in the Antilles, due to several setbacks), authorities decided to send a second convoy by April 1714.

Once in America, both fleets gathered in a single convoy and started their trip back, following the Gulf Stream as usual --with the result you knows.

BTW, this would become an extraordinary storyboard for a thrilling swashbuckling adventure in the Western Indies, don't you believe?

http://www.sedwickcoins.com/shipwreck_histories/1715.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivors%27_and_Salvagers%27_Camp_-_1715_Fleet

abdul666 said...

No doubt - and potentially a drastic 'random event'?