Tales from a Far Land. In Search of Diamonds
By Private Rüdiger Lamm, von Donovan’s Savage Swans
8th August 1748. I fear I have been remiss in the upkeep of my Journal these past months. The heat in this infernal land saps our enthusiasm for all manner of things. The perpetual tedium of patrols and guard duty is only broken by the sudden loss of a comrade, more often than not to some deadly creature rather than the enemy we seek to subdue. It is now many months since the Battle of the Ford where our Uhlans suffered defeat and the ranks of our Grenadiers were greatly thinned as they stood resolutely under the fire of those devilish camel gunners! But their misfortune has been my boon for I have been promoted to their ranks and now stand a Grenadier! I have much to live up to. Our dragoons are now reinforced to a full squadron but still lack mounts and the chance of attaining such in these lands is remote, much to their continued chagrin. But opportunity now beckons as we set sell for new lands and adventure. Our whole force set sail tomorrow for Ishtonaburg in nDunaland to bring the forces of The Most Honourable nDunaland Mining Company to battle. It is rumoured we are to join forces with our erstwhile allies the Gateway Alliance and the army of Lord Peeler. But of more concern is the wildlife we are rumoured to encounter in these unknown lands. I know little of the true purpose of our expedition. It seems the last year has seen great upheavals in the fortunes of our homelands and that we now seek to help remedy that.
16th August 1748. Our voyage was but two days and after disembarking and marshalling our supply train we now march south, our whole force stretched out along dirt tracks in this arid land and wild beasts continually harassing our lines such that we dare not stray far from our camp, especially at night. I have seen riders approach from our allies and it seems our own von Donovan is commander of this expedition, though how he can control such disparate forces in such a land I do not know. Rumour is that our water is running low and that if we do not engage the enemy within the next few days our situation may become most untenable.
29th August 1748. It seems our destination is further South than expected and our supplies run dangerously low. I have not seen our troops in such disrepair as this and fear for our survival.
13th September 1748. Finally our scouts report contact with the enemy! As we near the lands controlled by the Mining Company we gained support from local tribes to whom the Company are no friends and but for them our state would be dire on this the eve of battle.
18th September 1748. I regret our plans did not go as intended and we now march North again, harried by enemy troops and wild beasts (though at times we cannot tell them apart!). The attack on the Mining Company Compound failed despite the valiant efforts of all our troops, most especially those of the Gateway. As our column approached the area we were assailed by wild elephants, angered at our intrusion in their territory. Our cavalry were scattered, our light troops took to nearby cover and our artillery train was most heavily disrupted. Only the Legion marched on, Captain Ewalds Natives leading the way, and the Regiment d’Chameau following close behind. To our front we could see the massed troops of the Gateway deploying to begin the assault on the compound, but they themselves were threatened by a massed native force to their flank. As our scouts approached a wooded area to our front we heard again the trumpeting of elephants and fearing the havoc these beasts wrought upon our columns our two infantry regiments marched either side of the trees while Captain Ewald led his natives into the trees.
My company was then joined by von Donovan himself and by our mascot, Ganymede. Reminding us of our recent valour, and inspiring us to emulate such, we were exhorted to advance into the trees and show no fear! I must confess to some trepidation at this point but my fellows, veterans of many a battle, raised a cheer and marched on. To my left I could see the troops of Lord Peeler begin their assault of the main compound, held, it seemed by but two small companies. But time and again the green coated troops advanced and were repulsed by men in red! I even saw their famed Grenadiers assault an outlying compound only to be thrown back by what looked like old men with sharpened sticks! Who were these wild men who stood against all?
As we marched through the trees our Natives moved stealthily on but the great beast we had heard soon broke cover and rushed headlong into the ranks of the Boleyn Regiment which was marching (with its usual haste) to the aid of its fellows. There was much disruption to their ranks but to their credit they held firm and drove the beast back towards us! I lost sight of it for a while as von Donovan lead us on but there was a crashing through the trees and the beast suddenly appeared to our front! Showing great calm von Donovan just lead us quickly around it such that I feared at any time it would rage against us and crush us. But it did not. As we marched on it ran into the trees to our rear and we never saw it again…
As we emerged from the trees the full battle was ranged before us. Ewalds natives had assaulted the outlying compound and now continued to fight within it. The Regiment d’Chameau had deployed to plug a gap in our line left by fleeing Gateway troops and with fortitude had engaged a native warrior band, holding against their frenzied attack and then driving them from the field. And we then joined our musketeers who had deployed to begin their own assault.
To our rear we could see our remaining troops rushing to our aid. Our guns took to the high ground in a most rapid deployment and began a most welcome bombardment of the enemy to our front. Our cavalry flowed across our rear to lend aid to the faltering Gateway. The troops of General E Pickled had been engaged from the outset and assailed on two fronts by both native and regular troops. Their dragoons led a great charge into the heart of the enemy but they overstretched themselves and were soon overwhelmed and repulsed. The Gateway Gamekeepers fought several actions against both native infantry and regular cavalry and gave a good account of themselves such that the enemy seemed focussed on their demise to the detriment of their own plans.
The most glorious event I witnessed was the great cavalry clash between the Gateway’s Theobold Cuirassiers and the Braunchsweig Kuirassiers. Both these regiments had a glorious reputation from recent campaigns in Granprix and as they finally clashed it looked as if the enemy had the better as the Gateway men were pushed back. But they did not break and such was the savagery of that battle that both sides fought themselves to a standstill until both regiments melted away, battered and blown, to take no further part in the days battle, their honour intact.
This was to be a most significant event that I feel defined the outcome of the battle. With our whole forces now deployed it seemed we were ready for a final assault, but Lord Peeler’s troops had still not entered the compound, which was now reinforced by fresh troops, and although the Gateway lines were now stable and ready to advance with support from the Legion and her allies, the sun had begun to fall rapidly to the horizon and we realised that a night battle in such lands was not to be countenanced and with reluctance a withdrawal was ordered.
We were so close to victory but it was not to be. As we continue our withdrawal I fear the land may do us more harm than the enemy. An enemy some of whom now stand in our ranks! The troops of Braunchsweig sent an emissary to us on the night of the battle asking permission to join our ranks and return north with us. It seems their Duke has been much taken with the land of Byzarbia and intends to remain there, taking up residence in Tel-i-Tubi. His officers and men, although offered service in the army of Byzarbia, decided they had had enough of the heat and disease in these lands and longed for a return to the green fields and more honourable wars across the northern seas. It is apparently rumoured that the new campaign year will see us return across the sea, although we have heard none of this ourselves, and these veteran soldiers have offered their service to Alterfritzenburg in return for passage. They have been accepted into our ranks and although it will take time to earn full trust, we know these to be honourable troops and they will be a great boon to our army.
But much will depend on the next few weeks, if and when we find water and supplies, and how much the enemy push us on our journey north. I hope to recount the tale in a few days! ‘Til then, I just crave water and rest!