Journal 05

Tales from a Far Land. An Account of the Invasion of Byzarbia, 1747

By Private Rüdiger Lamm, von Donovan’s Savage Swans

3rd July 1747: Today we finally joined the great armada in the seas north of Byzarbia. We are still too far out to see what awaits us on the shore but already rumours abound of strange beasts and savage warriors. Only the lure of gold at the adventures end keeps most of the men enthused for the trials ahead. Our time in K’ha’Ramel was well spent as Major Speckman of the artillery corps was able to perfect his weapons to combat elephants should we encounter the giant beasts. Major Huffington, in his studies at Camford in Brittannia had read of ways armies in ancient times had fought such beasts. The great Altefritzenburg Archivist, Hans Gügel, had located documents supporting this and confirmed that the creatures, though mighty in stature, were much distressed by the cries of burning pigs, as would be any creatures or men of sensitivity and culture. So our artillery train is now accompanied by many pigs and with the means to ignite them should the need arise. I pray it will not, both for the sake of those who would face such giant beasts, and for the poor pigs that would suffer so in their task.

4th July 1747: I give thanks to God that I have survived yet another day of battle. As dawn rose and cast its glorious glow across such a foreign land, we landed on the coast some seven miles to the west of the great port of Tel-i-Tubi. It took many hours to bring all ashore but the sun rises early here and before the full heat of the day took hold we, and our gallant allies began to march inland and along the coast. I was not privy to the grand strategy but marched confident in our leader’s ability. To our front, leading the way were the forces of Whyeydia, the Duchy of Elland, Medetia and Hunmanby. And to the east the troops of Aytonia, not long since our enemies in Grandprix, and with their own regiment of giant elephants. They were to engage the enemies we could see in the hills and outcrops to our front, while the Legion and the Sultan’s troops were to move towards the port and clear a way to advance inland. The day did not go as planned. Although at first we saw little of the enemy in the hills it soon became evident there were many natives hidden among the rocks and many guns with clear fields of fire to our approach. The native troops accompanying Whyeydia soon fell foul of heavy guns and I saw many of them fall prey to shot. As our troops marched with haste to the east we could see our allies struggle to engage the enemy and many paths seemed blocked by outcrops and quicksand, while the natives seemed to move with great freedom. Soon our advance was blocked by the Aytonian troops as they struggled to make headway. We tried to push on but the Sultan was forced to send his lancers to prevent enemy camel riders breaking through to our rear. It was then that all eyes turned eastwards as a huge explosion rent the skies with fire and smoke and the battle paused as all looked with terror as to its cause. I was to find later that it was one of our fine frigates destroyed by fire in the harbour, it’s magazine touched by flame and sending its crew to their God in a most terrible way. As the sun reached it’s peak and began to take its toll we were subjected to a terrible storm which arose with the fury of the Devil and drove sand amongst us all such that we could not see a hand in front of our face. In the chaos all sense of direction was lost and men turned about and became entrapped in quicksand!

When the storm abated we found ourselves marching back from whence we had come! And our whole flank was in turmoil. Midst much shouting our officers put us to rights but the new clear skies bought news of more enemies gathering to the south and orders came for us to march immediately to the attack! As we deployed to line, our Uhlans moved off to engage enemy cavalry and our light troops, the fine Grenzers, the savage Jamiroquois and our Legion dragoons advanced upon the hill to our front. On their left the bowmen of the Pasha Sultan’s Royal Guard rained arrows upon the enemy. As we advanced closer I saw Major Speckman bring forward the pigs and tar and our guns to our right began to take their toll on the defenders.

Then, with shock, on the hill I saw that the Jaegers defending so resolutely were none other than the troops of the Duchy of Darien, our steadfast allies in our last campaign. This was truly a strange land where old comrades now faced each other through the heat and dust! Our steadfast advance continued with great courage and soon the treacherous Jaegers were driven back and the guns unseated by our own. The hill looked finally to be ours and a great cheer arouse only to be shattered by the appearance of lines of gleaming bayonets at the crest as troops of Granprix came to the aid of Darien. Major Speckman now set torch to swine and sent the poor creatures at the enemy ranks to unsettle them before our assault. A ragged valley felled several of the animals but the remaining ran screaming into the enemy ranks. Though causing some panic all were to fall to the bayonets of the enemy, who no doubt now feast upon them! With our path now clear the Legion finally prepared to attack. But it was not to be. The sun was now falling below the hills to the west and we heard the recall sounded. Our great invasion had stalled and as darkness fell we returned to the beaches to dig in for the night. It has been hard work securing our camp for where the land is not soft sand, useless to entrench, it is hard rock that our tools make little impression upon. All are now preparing for what the new day will bring for although our fighting spirit is not dampened our position on the coast seems precarious…

5th July 1747: The feared counterattack did not occur. It seems that as at Granprix, our leaders negotiate for our futures. I spent the day wandering the camp and talking about the events of the day before. All seemed to have a tale to tell… The valiant musketeers of the Duchy of Elland had repulsed the fine Braunschweig Cuirassiers, another of our old allies we now face, who had charged to great glory before the walls of Pescadrix. The men of Whyeydia, a much larger contingent than had fought at Granprix, strived valiantly to drive a path through harsh rocks and quicksand to fall upon the enemy. The men of Medetia suffered greatly at the hands of the men of Darien and Braunschweig but forged ahead and when faced with near overwhelming odds, they held the line. The finely caparisoned soldiers of the Pasha Sultan did not live up to the glory of their attire. The Royal Guard were resolute in driving back the Darien Jaegers but their Lancers, despite a fine first attack against camel riders, were to be driven back with much loss upon their own cavalry and these in turn into the massed ranks of Aytonian musketeers, causing disarray and retrograde movement. It is rumoured that the Sultan had those who survived the debacle beheaded before they left the field and there is already talk of the entire regiment having died valiantly fighting to the last man. I have spoken to a survivor, now hiding, and I know this to be an untruth. I know little of what happened to the east. The assault on Tel-i-Tubi was met with fierce resistance amongst the burning town and there are rumours of fearsome weapons of the Devil that engulf men in flames for a most horrible death. No doubt the work of heathen magicians and alchemists. Late in the night I saw the hardened Corsairs of the Purple Sash return to camp. They had been sent to raid the town and harry the enemy as our massed assaults came ashore. But most of them looked more like they had spent a night in an alehouse rather then a day in battle and none would recount tales of their endeavours, most unlike their usual boastful character.

Having heard tales of great loss, terrible battle, men drowning in quicksand and the savage practices of the Byzarbian natives, I feel grateful to have survived the day but frustrated to have not discharged my musket. Although we wait to hear what is to be our fate we can see the enemy moving amongst the hills to the south. We are not beaten, and having journeyed so far I sense that our time here is not done and more trials await us. The Swans will fly again!


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Musings of an easily distracted wargamer