Ayton 2014 – The Loss of Granprix

A Military History of Altefritzenburg

Chapter 4

The Disastrous Campaign of 1748 and the Loss of Granprix

Background to the Campaign

Following the disastrous invasion of Byzarbia in 1746 and the subsequent expedition to nDunaland in search of diamonds, the New Year of 1748 found von Donovan and the forces of Altefritzenburg returning to the scene of their great victories of 1745. The increasingly erratic King Raoul of Grenouisse, beginning to lose his grip on both reality and the increasingly rebellious Granprix, once more called upon the services of his mercenary allies to help quell the local rebellion and deter any attempts from outside to wrest the province from his grasp.

Map
Theater of Operations 1748 Copyright Henry Hyde 2014

March 1748 yet again saw a gathering of the armies of  Aytonia, the Gateway Alliance, the Duchy of Elland, the Margraviate of Hunmanby and Altefritzenburg in Granprix, amid an unruly population and rumours of armies gathering to the east and west set to bring war yet again to the little province.

Although ostensibly under the command of King Roaul himself it was evident the burden of command was to fall upon his newly appointed Chief of Staff, General E Pickled of the Gateway Alliance. A man famed for his attention to detail and copious orders, the General threw himself into the task at hand but was to be hindered by several factors:

1. the need to potentially fight on at least two fronts
2. the increasingly active partisan forces
3. poor intelligence
4. the interference of King Raoul in military matters

Arrayed against them, and under the command of Duke Zigor, were the forces of Granprix and her allies: Prunkland, Medetia, the Barony of Darien, Borscht and Whyeydia.

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The beginning of April saw the newly reinforced army of Altefritzenburg, accompanied by their new allies from the Duchy of Braunschweig and the Sultan of K’ha’Ramel, encamped to the east of Pescadrix keeping watch on the borders with Prunkland, now expanded as they had recently occupied the Kap Ludwig. Rumours of invasion from Geldestaat to the west saw a large part of the allied armies deployed to counter this.

The Legion Uhlans were immediately sent to scout the areas to the north and east, with more light troops sent to the woods to the north. And into the enemy territory itself, Capt Ewald and his native troops were sent on the most dangerous mission to get a clear picture of what forces were inevitably gathering there.

When it became clear that some scale of invasion was clearly planned, von Donovan moved the main encampments to the high ground north of the coastal road. This would give a good defensive position with observation points to the north, south and east.

After several days it became clear that the forces gathering were clearly larger than feared. A visit from General E Pickled on the 6th April (en route to which he survived an attempt on his life) established a clear plan of action. The light cavalry were to continue scouting east, Capt Ewald was sent north with orders to harry the enemy where possible and report all movements. Rumours of a naval battle to the southeast reinforced the fear of a coming invasion, especially once the rumours of the destruction of the fleet were proved true.

The Sultan of K’ha’Ramel was still disembarking in Pescadrix, a process that seemed to take far too long and which was to determine the contribution of the Sultans man in the coming conflict. Within two days the whole situation had changed. The encampments in the hills were threatened by the forces of Granprix who landed on the coast to the south and moved inland, then the Barony of Darien who had marched from Kap Ludwig, with mainly their infantry following the coast road whilst the cavalry swept around the hills inland. They were followed along the coast by Medetia and then Prunkland. Fearing entrapment by a clearly massively superior force, von Donovan had no choice but to withdraw with haste towards Pescadrix. The speed of the enemy advance found the harried forces driven to high ground overlooking the coastal road where at last they were joined by the Gateway Alliance and General E Picked himself. Such were the numbers of the enemy that it took them near a full day to coordinate their advance.

During this time von Donovan entrenched his men on the heights, and with the massed cavalry and infantry of the Gateway blocking the road and open ground down to the coast, they awaited the coming onslaught. Journals of the time often liken the stand made here with that of the Spartans at Thermopylae, such was the disparity in forces, and the day was also to leave a great leader dead on the field of battle.

Altefritzenburg deployed to stem the tide
Altefritzenburg deployed to stem the tide
The guns of Braunschweig
The guns of Braunschweig

The 1st Altefritzenburg (1stAlt) deployed on the heights on the left. The right of the line, behind hasty but solid defences saw the 1st Braunshweig (1stBr) and the combined gun batteries deployed. The Savage Swans (SSw) were partly deployed behind the main line to counter any breakthrough.

The great Braunschweig Kuirassier (BrK) and Legion Dragoons were deployed to the right alongside the massed cavalry of the Gateway. And amongst them, eager to bring disruption to the enemy, were pigs of the 1st Altefritzenburg Anti-Elephant battery. Light troops were deployed in the rough ground on the gentle lower slopes of the hills.

From the peak of the hill von Donovan looked on, accompanied by his staff, von Halle of the Braunschweig brigade and General Ayton Wittering of his Britannic Majesties Army, newly arrived to seek trade agreements and alliance with the new rulers of Granprix.

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As the sun rose and the sea fret slowly cleared the extent of the enemy force became clear. It was a massive force and much larger than feared. To the left were the massed infantry of Meditia, advancing screen by their own and Prunklands light troops. To the centre was one of the largest massed batteries anyone had seen before. It was a terrible sight and was to determine the outcome of the battle on that flank. Along the coast road came rank upon rank of heavy cavalry, newly recruited into the army of Darien and making the massed Gateway cavalry look like a small brigade!

The massed cavalry of the Gateway Alliance
The massed cavalry of the Gateway Alliance

The action began when the massed guns opened fire and the 1stBr and 1stAlt immediately took casualties. It was evident that even behind earthworks the enemy would be able to slowly pound the positions. So despite the the huge odds against them, von Donovan ordered a general advance. They would take the fight to the enemy. The Legion Dragoons and Grenzers fought valiantly alongside the Braunschweig Jaegers to stem the the advance as the infantry marched resolutely down the hill, their ranks torn apart by shot.

Altefritzenburgers advance
Altefritzenburgers advance
The massed columns of Medetia deploy to attack
The massed columns of Medetia deploy to attack

Eventually the 1Alt drove off the enemy grenzers but faced with heavy guns and columns of Medetian infantry deploying before them they had no choice but to retire.

1st Altefritzenburgers face the oncoming Medetians
1st Altefritzenburgers face the oncoming Medetians

The 1stBr finally advanced into open ground at the base of the hill only to come again under heavy fire, and with their flank threatened by Prunkland cavalry had no choice but to withdraw as well. The Swans advanced resolutely to plug the gaps but the odds were too great. Too propitious an advance by the lead regiments of the Gateway cavalry saw them unable to respond to an enemy charge and, caught at the trot, they were driven back in disarray upon their supporting ranks causing much mayhem.

Meanwhile, on the right, the Gateway infantry fought doggedly to hold the coast road and the small town against insurmountable odds. Their fine cavalry continues a most regal advance in the face of the massed squadrons of Darien and Prunkland but the day was not to be theirs.

The cavalry battle in full swing
The cavalry battle in full swing

It was in this chaos that General E Pickled was caught up and either unseated and trampled or struck down by pursuing enemy. Either way, this was a great loss though to their credit, his men did not panic but fought on valiantly, holding the enemy back for several hours.

General E Picked meets his end
General E Pickled meets his end

The Braunschweig Kuirassiers, their martial reputation preceding them, charged valiantly across the open ground in support of the Gateway. But the massed guns took their toll and they paid a heavy price with many men unhorsed before retiring. To stem the tide the valiant Legion Dragoons charged the advancing dragoons and for a short while held back the tide.

rep09

At this point, with rumours of even more enemy cavalry approaching from the north and despite the arrival of more Gateway infantry von Donovan gave the order to retire and with much haste the battered army retired to Pescadrix.

The Boleyn Regiment finally arrive...
The Boleyn Regiment finally arrive…

Faced with insurmountable odds, the combined forces of Altefritzenburg and the Gateway had no chance of victory and could only hope to hold long enough for their allies to the west to come to their aide and to disrupt the advance long enough to prepare the defences around Pescadrix. That this valiant effort was to cost the life of a great ally of Altefritzenburg was never to be forgotten.

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General E Pickled RIP
Plate 12. General E Pickled
RIP

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There was now a lull in the fighting. The huge forces assembled for the invasion were not well coordinated and the sheer numbers required a great deal of time and effort to bring to good order for the final advance. This gave time for the defenders to prepare. When the invasion forces finally descended on Pescadrix from the the east and north they found the defender ready and waiting. The Customs House east along the road out of Pescadrix was heavily fortified and garrisoned by King Roaul and his men with the remainder of his force (mostly cavalry) deployed to the east. These were to face the massed army of Darien.

The Customs House
The Customs House
The right flank
The right flank

In the center the army of Altefritzenburg (with the Braunschweig brigade) deployed in two lines: 1stAlt and 1stBr in the front and the Swans and the converged grenadier companies behind. The two artillery batteries were deployed along the line and the BrK and Legion Dragoons on the left.

1st Altefritzenburg and the Savage Swans
1st Altefritzenburg and the Savage Swans

These were faced, again, by the massed artillery batteries of forces of Prunkland, Granprix and Medetia. It was to be a bloody day…

Cannon to the front of them...
Cannon to the front of them…

To their left and before the walls of Pescadrix the Gateway Alliance was deployed in all its glory, determined to avenge the loss of their leader.

Gateway defend the gateway
Gateway defend the gateway

The battle commenced shortly after daybreak.

On the right the Grenoissian troops fought a long and hard battle against the Darien cavalry on the right and against elite Prunklanders assaulting the Customs House.

Attack on the Customs House
Attack on the Customs House

After a tough fight cracks began to show as the Customs House began to fall and the cavalry finally cracked under immense pressure. It was now that the fate of Granprix was decided as the same regiment responsible for the death of General E Pickled once again excelled by capturing King Raoul!

Capture of a King!
Capture of a King!

In the center the light troops of Altefritzenburg advanced against the Prunklander grenzers who spent much of their time lying down for fear of their own guns to their rear. At first the guns battled each other and although some success was had it was not long before the defending guns fell silent leaving the massed guns to turn their attention on the now advancing 1stAlt and 1stBr. Despite marching resolutely there was little they could do in the face of such firepower and before long, half their men dead or dying, they retired from the field.

1st Braunschweig retire
1st Braunschweig retire

The converged grenadiers were to have better fortune. Although subjected to the attention of the guns they quickly closed with Prunkland infantry and although much reduced, they delivered a ragged first volley and charged home. Taking a volley as they approached and raked on the flank by another battalion, they still forced back the Prunklanders although they were now too broken to pursue.

Uhlans advance!
Uhlans advance!

It was at this point that the Legion Uhlans charged passed them. They had spotted enemy lancers riding down the Altefritzenburg Grenzers and on seeing their exposed flank they charged and drove them from the field. As they dressed their ranks they looked up the hill to their right to see a regiment of Prunkland dragoons charging towards them. They counter charged and held them. They were them charged again by another regiment of dragoons and despite being outnumbered three to one they held again, though pushed back.

Uhlans fighting hard!
Uhlans fighting hard!

To their rear they could see their own Savage Swans advancing under a hail of shot and canister and their other troops began to retire from the field.

Swans advance
Swans advance

And from the eastern gate the troops of the Sultan were finally emerging to support the defense though too late, they could only cover the retreat.

The Sultan's troops emerge from the city
The Sultan’s troops emerge from the city

Before the walls of Pescadrix, the Gateway Alliance was involved in an epic struggle against the forces of Medetia. This great contest was to see no winner and the Gateway held their lines for the entirety of the battle.

Gateway embattled
Gateway embattled

When word of the capture of King Raoul finally reached the city the decision was made to withdraw. Despite the sounds of battle to the west as the forces of Aytonia and Elland battled slowly to their aid, it was obvious the battle was lost and the decision made to retire inside the city walls.

Having lost their fleet and now firmly locked up within the city the former allies of King Raoul had few options and the next days would see hard negotiations for safe passage away from Granprix and recompense to Duke Zigor.

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The Braunschweig Question

Following the failed nDunaland Expedition the forces of Braunshweig, until that time respected enemies of Grenouisse and her allies, had requested permission to join the army of Altefritzenburg. They had fought long and hard both in Granprix and Byzarbia but had tired of the exotic climate and the toll it took on man and horse and desired a return to Europe – something their lord and master had no wish for as he settled into the depraved lifestyle of the Byzarbians. Their request had been granted, and although there was some apprehension at having former enemies alongside them, this suspicion had been dispelled when more Braunschwiegers (1st Br) had joined them later. Immediately following the loss of Granprix there were questions asked among the Altefritzenburg command as to how effectively the contingent had fought in the recent campaign.

The Braunschweig battery retire
The Braunschweig battery retire

On the first day of fighting the 1st Br had taken casualties to the enemy guns but many thought their retiring from the field a little premature. The famed Kuirassiers had advanced and apparently taken heavy casualties prompting their leaving the field. However, at the following action before Pescadrix they were apparently at near full strength again. Likewise, the 1st Br had advanced before the guns and been forced to retire. As they did so the guns of the Braunschweig Battery also limbered up and retired. And as the grenadier companies advanced it was evident that the Braunschweig company had suffered little loss and that maybe the less than effective first volley was because they had not all fired effectively.

It was this combination of rumours over the following days that was to lead to the rift between Braunschweig and Altefritzenburg and how, a week later, as negotiation still continued, the Braunschweig Brigade had marched out of the eastern gateway and been allowed to pass through the enemy lines. This was seen as a great treachery by Altefritzenburg and was to plant the seed that was to lead to the First Braunschwieg War the following year.

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Musings of an easily distracted wargamer