Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pushing fast and hard

Main front, 15th November 1713

Accordingly to his outlined overall strategy, Marquis of Aitona has given little rest to his columns, after smashing one of the Catalan main corps at Montblanc. This way, he's ordered his Guard Brigade to quickly head northwards again, to join those of their forces currently facing a second Catalan big column at Panadella heights. Simultaneously, another Spanish column has left the just conquered town of Montblanc with the aim of joining these forces above. If nothing unexpected breaks the Spanish commander plans, when all three forces finally gather to each other, they would more than double the Catalans at Panadella heights. If the upcoming engagement was succesful, this would mean high chances of a second overwhelming victory in less than 10 days' time. The end of the Catalan Army would be closer than ever.



All the Spanish effort is now concentrated at such offensive manouevre, so that little moves else have been performed by them this week: the garrison of Lleida city has been reinforced with a couple of batteries, and small troop movements have been observed around Tarragona.

Worth to be noted one troop move on the French side: a small detachment of dragoons has been reported to march southwards from Perpignan --apparently carrying with them the Catalan prisoners captured at Girona some months ago.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lettre de marque (2): Sole with potatoes

Mataró, 14th November 1713

--About your Lettre de Marque, I’m pretty sure we can solve the issue. You need a new one --General Basset had told to his old friend Ginard.

Ginard snorted loudly while making a rejecting movement with his hand: --Wish this isn't the only reason for our meeting. The real issue is that I haven't money enough to pay for it, Joan. Not right now. I couldn't take such a risk.

--Er... well, let’s suppose I put the money, and we might also suppose the Catalan Government wouldn't object to issuing a new Lettre de Marque for someone like you...

--That's a damned lot of suppositions, my friend...

But Basset knew his friend good enough to perceive his own words had planted in Ginard's mind a little seed of interest. The seaman continued after a short pause: --All right, let’s suppose all these things do happen. I’ve just told you there are no longer preys in sight. It's said that the remains of the Spanish Mediterranean fleet are enclosed inside Cartagena, like chickens in a henhouse. With no preys we can get no money. With no money, all such suppositions are worthless.

The boy served to Basset a pair of appetizing soles, garnished with a generous ration of potatoes. The boy's face apparently showed no interest in the conversation of the two men.

--Mateu is the son of Bernat Capó, my old partner --Ginard explained--. He was only four when his father died... His mother passed last year too. He's been working for a merchant in Palma. This little devil managed to persuade me to add him to my crew... He can read and write, you know? ...and he has the most acute vision among my crewmen. --Ginard smiled proudly.

But the thoughts of Basset ignored the boy: --Tony, the deal isn't by any means about Spanish ships. We want you to... cause problems to the Spanish rearguard. Every men they were compelled to keep at rearguard would substantially increase Catalonia's chances of resisting their invasion. We want you to raid the Valencian coast once and once again. You know every town, village, beach, stronghold and sentry tower from here to Murcia, besides of local winds, reefs, tides and dominant flows. You're our man.

--What about the ships? --Ginard asked.

--Only one, to be precise. --Basset approved with a pleased smile the first sole's delicious taste. --And she’s right here, at harbour.

The mind of Ginard reviewed by mind all the ships arrived in Mataró harbour in the last weeks, as well as their patrons' names. His eyes opened wide, in a sudden expression of disbelief: --Don’t you mean that old rotten, stinky galley?

--Indeed. "Américo Vespucio" is the name she was given by the Spaniards.

--...A damn bad name for a corsair ship!

--You can choose a name for her at your will, if you believe such detail to be a problem.

Ginard was lost in his thoughts. He had not touched his soles yet. Young Mateu was eating his own meal, with the eyes absently stared at his own dish. Basset continued: --The General Deputation will provide for the galley oarsmen. Prisoners, of course. And a Valencian nobleman will look after the money for gathering crew, soldiers, weapons and supplies. Recruiting capable men will be your job. Balearic Islands may be the best place to find them. Toni, there’s no point for hidding to you one important fact: that Valencian noble family is the main driving force in this project. And they have their own interests. They will send some kind of... legate, or commisar... to join your crew. We must make whatever is possible to match these interests to our own war needings.

Ginard laughed heartily: --I'd have ever placed a bid about your relationship with Valencian nobility, Joan. If I know you well enough, I'd say you must have "swallowed a big toad" with this expedition --he still laughed for a while.

Basset didn’t feel himself patient enough to answer the ironic words of his friend: --War joins odd travel companions... It’s just a matter of pragmatism.

--I see... well. I'll have some conditions...

--Details are not my problem. You must talk about them with the Valencian legate. My role here is just to give the first push.

Ginard perceived Basset's tension, so he tried to soften a bit the situation. The early pro-Charles uprising in Valencian territory, leaded by Basset eight years ago, had bordered a true revolution. His political ideals were at the opposing pole of whatever intentions the Valentian nobility could conceive.

--I’m sure Mateu will find a better name for our galley. What do you think, Mateu? And wipe this smile off your face, boy. Nobody has told you I'm allowing a child like you in my galley.

Lettre de marque (1): A discrete meeting

Mataró, 14th November 1713

[Here you are the first scene of a new RPG adventure based on our Defiant Principality WSS layout. This time, action starts following the path of General Basset, who had been recently called back in Barcelona from his first line command post. Contrary to what he feared, there was apparently no political manoeuvre behind the order --but he was assigned instead the unexpected mission of persuading the council of Mataró town, the Principality's second city by size, to authorize the raising of a new regiment of foot --and to finance it! Little before his departure for Mataró, General Basset held an unexpected meeting. It is following his counterpart's indications that he now gets into a tavern of Mataró town in search for something, or maybe someone]

Basset lowered his head to cross under the tavern low doorframe, while taking his hat off. His eyes needed a few seconds to get adapted to the new level of light. The inside of the tavern was comfortably shady, when compared with the intense luminosity of the sunny day. A tall woman, about the forty, with a pitcher of wine in her hands, chatted away with two old sailors sat around one of the tables.

--I’m looking for Mr. Ginard --he asked.

--You will find Toni upstairs, Sir. First door to the right.

His steps resounded on the wooden stairs. In the narrow corridor, the first door was half-opened and the tempting smell of broiled fish was slipping through it. His stomach complained loudly, remembering him he had eaten nothing since the night before. Basset briefly knocked at the door. An unmistakable and vigorous voice answered immediately.

--Come in!

The relaxed smile of his old friend Ginard was enough to lighten the weight of Basset’s concerns. Antoni Ginard left the window from he had been contemplating the port of Mataró, to give Basset a strong and warm handshake.

--Ah Joan! Always on time! Those soles are nearly made up. You will discover what good is my Mateu at cooking!

The so-called Mateu was a young boy who was face to the chimney, occupied with a broiler that showed half a dozen of mouthwatering soles with a good number of potatoes distributed among them.

Ginard invited Basset to sit down while he generously filled two steins with red wine. Both men took a short moment to savor it.

--Has my general forgotten his uniform? --Ginard asked with a strong Majorcan accent, pointing with a finger the civilian clothes of Basset. --Haven't you left the Army, did you? Hopefully not. A soldier is always unable to find a decent job, believe me.

--Just a matter of discretion --Basset answered-- How's your business going lately, Toni?

--Not that bad, given the circumstances. Those damned English and Dutch ships have frightened away any eventual prey, for all Spanish ships seem to have vanished from the Balearic Sea. However, I'm pretty sure the Moors will come back with their... "courtesy visits" once things begin to set down again. But right now, there's actually little chance to get any good money from corsair activity. Anyway, I'm not even sure about the validity of my Lettre de Marque, with all those pacts, agreements, kings and emperors. Meanwhile we're making some scarce profits bringing supplies to Barcelona.

Basset stared at Ginard's grey eyes: --About your Lettre de Marque, I’m pretty sure we can solve the issue. You need a new one.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Intriguing reaction

Quite surprisingly to the Spanish Headquarters, the Catalan moves for this 18th turn have apparently not consisted of reinforcing their most threatened position after Montblanc defeat --no other than their central Army, currently entrenched at Panadella Plains, on the Lleida-Barcelona road.

True that some reinforcements have been delivered to that key positions, but no massive transfer of troops has been performed. The Catalan HQ has willingly avoided to perform any reaction of the kind that might have been interpreted as panicking.



Instead, a whole series of small, discrete moves have been ordered to the units left behind the Spanish line, or adjacent to it, likely following the purpose of securing the hinterland close to the roads and towns controlled by the enemy. This way, up to three regiments of foot have occupied the triangle of heights amidst the towns of Montblanc, Igualada and Vilafranca --most probably, with explicit orders of falling upon the Spanish rearguard as soon as a gap in their lines is perceived.

Besides, general Nebot has been ordered to take his Horse Regiment and head northwards --with still unknown intentions.

It seems compulsory to know the Spanish moves now, and see what kind of exploit have they planned after their recent victory at Montblanc town. They're unlikely to stand inactive for even one single turn, for sure. Even less, once known the highly aggresive tactics of their commander-in-chief, Marquis of Aitona!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Nothing to do with all this, but...

I'd like to make an announcement, eleven months after being fired from the job I held for nearly 25 years. I'm proud, glad and excited to acknowledge to you all that my projected miniatures company is finally born and close to publish its first releasing.

The company has been christianized as Minairons miniatures --a name in behalf of the so-called mythical beings presumed to live in the Catalonian Pyrenees (mainly Andorra, Alt Urgell and Pallars), whose main morpohological feature is their tiny size: they're said to fit by thousands in a needles box.



What is this new company going to produce? Please read this TMP thread to know.



A web space has been already provided under the domain name of www.minairons.eu and is going to be built soon --as well as a weblog of its own, yet to be developed, under the name of minairons-miniatures.blogspot.com. A first generic e-mail address has also been created: info {at} minairons {dot} eu. Everything is already then for a new, risky --and therefore exciting-- adventure!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Our greatest strength

Versailles, 13th November 1713

--Are there any news from the Principality? --princess Elisenda asked.

--They're resisting well the enemy offensive so far... --marquis of Vilana answered in turn--, but I guess we ought to rush for concluding the treaty with France. The enemy is too numerous and powerful for our tiny Army.

From their Versailles stay, a thousand miles away from home, they didn't (they couldn't) know the terrible result of Montblanc battle, just happened the day before.

--In fact, we have an ultimate answer of France --she said slowly-- but, prior to giving a response, I wished to consult it to you...

The Marquis inquisitively glanced at his pupil: --And then?

--They shall not cede even an inch of sovereignty on Roussillon --Elisenda sighed--. What they are proposing instead is to convert these Counties into a French Viceroyalty with me for Vicereine. In the end, I would become subject to Versailles appointment and dictates.

--At least in affairs related to Roussillon, naturally.

He looked at her more attentively: the young princess looked haggard and tired. He felt tempted of ironizing about the frequent nocturnal visits of a famous roussillonais painter, for a portrait nobody had ever seen --but he immediately discarded it. No, her fatigue had nothing to do with affairs ascribable to her youthful vitality. It should rather be related to her unsuccessful attempts to regain those beloved lands north of Canigó mountain. He felt sorry for her.

He thought long and hard about the question before calmly answering: --And does it disappoint you? Isn't it perhaps the same kind of agreement you've had with the Emperor?

Princess Elisenda jumped from her seat, sincerely offended. But the Marquis did not stop talking: --What's the deal of Archduke Charles, then? The Empire shall guarantee the Liberties of our Principality, but in exchange of what? ...At the price of becoming His Vicereine at Majorca Kingdom. Such and no other is His pledge.

--Well, King Louis is performing exactly that very same manoeuvre --he continued--. In exchange for His endorsement, He's requiring a share of control too. Your Viceroyalty upon Roussillon is the pledge. It's a draw between both Major Powers.

Elisenda stayed silent and thoughful.

--But this makes us so weak... --she argued in a low voice.

--Listen, such apparent weakness might turn into our greatest strength. Such will be your task henceforth, my dear. Our task --he rectified--. On the other hand, have you thought of the quantity of useful things you can do in Roussillon, precisely thanks to such appointment? This is my advice, Eli: don't let them wait anymore. Please sign the treaty.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Regiment raised

Mataró, 13th November 1713

News about Montblanc's crushing defeat would still last one or two days to arrive in Mataró town, where General Basset had been commissioned to go. His mission consisted of persuading the local Council in allowing him to set a conscription board up in town. Having into consideration General Basset's own affinity to the Busca popular party currently ruling the town, the Catalan Headquarters had believed him the best choice for such a delicate issue.

He actually succeded in fact --but not without really hard negotiations. As devote of the cause as they might be, Mataró authorities were nevertheless fully aware of the eventual financial and social loss their town would risk if committing so a high proportion of their capable men and boys in a Regular Infantry Regiment --up to one thousand men were required, and this represented close to 1/6th of Mataró's total population... Too heavy a burden for such a dynamic proto-industrial town as it was.

An agreement was finally met, consisting of a limited service duration of 1 year. Eventual prolongations should be negociated again, and these would by no means affect individual contracts --only the existance of the Regiment as a whole. By such, every enlisted man would be entirely free to extend his own contract or not, with no regard about those eventual negotiations result.

Once settled the terms, a conscription board was installed at Main Square and up to three companies were filled up in no more than 24 hours. No doubt that the exceptional charisma and popularity of General Basset greatly contributed to such success.


As most of the recruitable men were already members of the 2-battalions sized Local Militia, the Municipality decided to re-size it to 1 single battalion. For both economy and urgence reasons, it was agreed that the newly formed IR 16 - City of Mataró would use as own the disbanded militia Battalion Flag, as well as those very same uniforms already used by the enlisted men when belonging to it. No time was left to manufacture an ordnance Colonel Flag, so that a simple Saint George flag was assigned that honour instead.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Massacre

Montblanc, 12th November 1713

Just one week earlier, General Bellver's troops had been able to hold Montblanc town against all odds, but things wouldn't run that good any longer. The Spaniards had managed to cut off all their supply lines, so that Bellver had no other choice than spreading his force for foraging in a wide perimeter. This way, an unexpected second, lightning fast Spanish attack took Montblanc defenders by surprise.

1) Some miles northeast to town, St. George's Regiment horsemen suddenly met a powerful Spanish army that finally overrun them in less than two hours: see MurdocK's MarauderS AAR.

2) Almost simultaneously, a huge Spanish force stormed Montblanc itself from south. There was nothing the exhausted defenders could do --however, they tried: this the battle account by MurdocK's MarauderS too, who proxy gamed both fightings.


November Eleventh would forever become a date of ill-fated memory to the Principality of Catalonia. Only a handful of men were lucky enough to escape the double battle of Montblanc, where hundreds of Catalan soldiers lost their lives --including the Colonels of IR6 Our Lady of the Disempared and IR7 Saint Narcissus, Josep V. Torres and Joan Madrenas respectively.

In spite of the horrific casualties rate straightly due to the battle itself (66% Cavalry, 33% Miquelets, 38% Infantry), many Catalan soldiers survived the fight though; they withdrew from the battlefield leaving behind weapons and equipment, running desperately for their lives... with quite a varying fortune.

Miquelets were the luckiest of all because, skillfully led by Colonel Amill, they entered the foothills of Prades Range beyond reach of pursuing enemy. They were some 500 or 600 men (=12 figures), along with most of their officers.

St. George cuirassiers also managed to escape the slaughtering --about 200 men (4 figures) under command of Lieutenant Colonel Josep Comes, who successfully led them in southwest direction until finally meeting the Catalan Guards, who were waiting for them at Santa Coloma de Queralt town.

Nobody else escaped, though.

Lacking any cavalry to protect their retreat, the Catalan army main body was literally massacred by the Spanish cavalry in their pursue. Some 600 infantrymen (12 figures) and 100 artillerymen (2 figures) were mercilessly hunted this way, like rabbits. Among them, Lieutenant Colonel of IR6 Our Lady of the Disempared, Francis J. Mayans. Only a huge luck allowed General Bellver and Lieutenant Colonel Johannes Wahrelst from IR7 Saint Narcissus to spare their lives.

Both have been captured. All flags of IR6 Our Lady of the Disempared and IR7 Saint Narcissus are in Spanish hands too. Both regiments must be counted as destroyed.

[On the map above, thin yellow arrows show pre-battle Catalan moves, thick magenta arrows represent the Spanish attack lines and thin blue lines show Catalan withdrawals --either successful or not.]

Monday, June 04, 2012

Mousetrap

Montblanc, 11th November 1713

Standing close to the window of his austere desk, General Bellver looked as Colonel Amill entered the room. The man was unusually serious, and Bellver sensed it was due to the news about to be delivered: --What news are you bringing, Amill? Is it that serious?

The veteran colonel of Miquelets nodded briefly: --I am afraid so, Sir.

--Please tell me.

--Advancing along the road north, St. George's Cavalry has met the enemy at the crags between Solivella and Rocallaura. Lieutenant Colonel Comes has already prepared his troops in favorable terrain, but he does not trust to hold them for long, Sir. For his regiment is not complete while the enemy is composed of two full battalions of Spanish Guards, two squadrons of Horse Guards and a battery of artillery. Marquis of Aitona himself is commanding them, Sir.

Bellver nodded sorrily and, after a short silence, asked: --Are we in time for sending any counter-order to them?

--No longer, Sir. By now they've probably been engaged in fight.

A mousetrap. Bellver understood that Montblanc town had become a trap for all his army. Smiling sadly, he then said: --We can not send any help to them, because a second enemy army is already threatening us by south... Dear Amill, could you find out anything about it?

--We've got them nearly upon us, Sir; and they are even more than last week. One lucky observer has listed 3 cavalry regiments, 6 infantry battalions and two artillery batteries, one heavy.

Bellver leaned on the room wall, inevitably overwhelmed: --They're more than 3 to 1... And he got into a heavy silence. Amill remained respectfully silent for a while too, but concern ultimately beat him: --Ahem... Your orders, Sir?

--We are trapped, unable to escape. So we ought to prepare for a defense at all costs. Please call all colonels at Main Square, within a quarter of an hour. Oh, and...

--Sir?

--Those troops gone out for foraging... Send them an urgent mail. They must not try again Montblanc, they've nothing to do here. Order them to go and find the closest friendly Army.

Amill realized the severity of situation. He understood they'd have little chances of coming out alive from Montblanc.

[Both battles have already been fought this weekend by proxy. Illustrated AARs and aftermaths to be exposed shortly, either at MurdocK's MarauderS' website and here.]