Monday, May 30, 2011

Under fire!

Upper Carniola, 20th September 1713

They had left behind the Venetian border shortly before dawn, and were finally travelling through Archduke Charles' lands. Tired and relaxed, Count of Erill and Marquis of Rubí had started slumbering peacefully, gently cradled by the carriage swing. The escort had also visibly relaxed their vigilance, and were now scattered in small groups, smoking and chatting quietly with their horses marching at a slow pace. Lady Elisenda was literally spellbound at looking the sorrounding landscape -an apparently neverending procession of ondulated hills draped in deep green pastures that contributed greatly to serenity and carefree contemplation...

Far from feeling that calm, Fiona McGregor turned backwards in her seat for the umpteenth time, scanning with concern the way the carriage was leaving behind.

-Fiona, what's the matter with you? -Lady Elisenda gently asked- Since we've entered in Austria I'm seeing you more anxious than ever...

-Well Milady, it happens that I can no longer see our persecutors -grumpily answered Fiona.

-And are you worried by this? But... it should be the opposite! We're safe now, my dear; don't worry anymore.

-So many dozens of leagues behind us, just as a fox pursues the rabbit, and they're now so obviously out of sight? It's now when the rabbit should keep more restless than ever! -and Fiona suddenly asked: -where do we have our weapons, Milady?

Lady Elisenda's smile got frozen on her lips. Fiona's concern was genuine, and her last words had somehow shocked the young lady: -Er... in the black trunk, I believe. On the luggage carrier. Why...?

Just then, the unmistakable crack of a musket shot abruptly tore the air, followed by several others. A window glass soundly shattered in a thousand shreds. The girls couldn't reprime a frightened scream, and the men were brutally thrown out of their peaceful dreams: -What the hell...!?

-We're under attack!!!

[This thrilling introductory scene means that, as promised a few days ago at the Emperor vs Elector community main blogsite, here you are a skirmishing/pulp story scenario, whose details can be freely downloaded in PDF format from here. The scenario has been jointly prepared by Jim of Syldavia and myself, to be proxy gamed by a third party, with the only request to be acknowledged of its development and aftermath -hopefully through a chronicle in your own blogsite...!]

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gaming on this Imagi-Nation

There's a lot of news this week, none of them straightly related to the 1713 military campaign of Catalonia, but involving some key Catalan/Galatan characters spread all around the Continent instead.

First of all, our well-known plenipotentiary ambassador Marquis de Vilana and the beautiful Monte-Cristan Garde de l'Etrier Claire Baizanville, who had engaged themselves into an uncertain incognito trip to Versailles are about to get submerged in serious troubles around the borders between Comtat Venaissin and Dauphiné. Such is the subject of a new RPG game just started today, again with Marc as game master & plots alchemist, Mònica as Claire Baizanville, Jordi as the veteran soldier Guillem Llinàs (another Jordi, I mean) and myself in the role of our Marquis ;) If any curious, here you are the GURPS character sheets for each one of them:

And secondly, our beloved Lady Elisenda is also to get involved in a rather serious trouble by the Venetian-Austrian border, where she has arrived along with Marquis de Rubí and Count d'Erill, who are Imperial Viceroys of Majorca and Sardinia respectively. All they had been summoned in Vienna by His Imperial & Royal Majesty Archduke Charles for a still unknown purpose. The incident is to involve a personality of a third party: Herr General Ritter Petr Kotrimanic, a Syldavian nobleman in diplomatic mission to Western Mediterranean who is in the way to Vienna too. The adventure involving those characters is to be set as a skirmishing/pulp scenario, aimed to be publicly released for proxy gaming -that is, not to be played by the involved players themselves, but by a volunteering third party instead. Main outlines of such scenario have already been posted at the "Emperor vs Elector" gaming community blog under the title of Proxy skirmish available soon.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just a gamble?

Vilafranca, 19th September 1713

General Basset examined for a long while the two individuals he had in front of him, evaluating them critically before starting to speak: -So you are Lieutenant Barceló, you say?

-Yes I am, Sire -the man answered-. I'm Pere Joan Barceló, Lieutenant of the no longer existing Ebro Riverside Mountain Fusiliers. And the man by my side is Ramon Albesa, a veteran of two wars who's always accompanying me.

Basset silently nodded. No, that man was not any spy or a fake. He could neatly see it in his eyes.

-So that you are the man behind the audacious release of Miravet prisoners... -he finally said- Well, my congratulations. I admit that people of your kind is most needed right now. Would you have any problem in staying at my disposal?

-Of course, Sire.

At this point General Nebot entered in the room, exclaiming: -We have news from Barcelona HQ!

Basset said nothing, expectantly; so that Nebot felt free to continue: -At north, Marquis of Poal is advancing toward Balaguer, with two reinforcement regiments closely following him. At center, General Bellver is also advancing with all his might and has already released Igualada town.

-That's good -Basset answered- And what about us? Are there any orders for us?

-Yes there are. We are requested to discretionally move towards Tarragona.

Basset nodded in silence. To his opinion it was too soon to get up, for he judged to still have few troops: -But, those reinforcements we had been reassured?

-On their way. St. Michael Dragoons and two Foot regiments, Our Lady of Conception and Minerva Daughters.

Basset fell silent again and intensely stared at the operations map in front of them, and Nebot imitated him. Then Lieutenant Barceló discreetly approached to them and said: -Beg your pardon, Excellencies, but... do you see what I'm seeing there? -while drawing a dot on the map with his finger.

Both generals looked on with suspicion, and Basset incisivament asked: -Aren't you suggesting that...?

-Hum, he's right. -Nebot quickly replied- Let me lead a forward force in there, just for case. I'm taking my Horse regiment and a couple of Foot battalions. Agreed?

-All right, let's give it a chance -Basset agreed, and then he turned toward Barceló: -Thanks for your suggestion, Captain.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Giving up terrain

Spanish HQ, 18th September 1713



On this 10th week, the French Army has kept without any change its policy of leaving the Principality battlefields as discretely as possible, mainly using the Segre valley & Cerdanya County natural corridor, under apprehensive surveillance from the Catalan garrison of Castellciutat fortress.

As a consequence of such withdrawal, Spanish units all along the front line have hurried in closing gaps and reinforcing their weakest positions -such as that one at Montblanc town, where the army recently defeated at Vilafranca had sought refuge. Their own Headquarters at Lleida city have also been reinforced with one of the León IR battalions. Walls and bastions have been repaired here and there, in anticipation of eventual Catalan assaults.

However, Duke of Popoli's provisions might sound a bit exaggerate if having into account the huge reinforcement column just entered in Catalonia by South, consisting of up to 15 Foot & Horse regiments, which had disembarked in Valencia last month, after their evacuation from Sicily following Treaty of Utrecht terms. Or the Spanish Royal Guards fast march down the Ebro valley...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ready for a new episode

18th September 1713



Everything is ready for a new turn, intended to cover the 10th week of campaigning for the subjugation of the Principality of Catalonia.

A growing French inhibition in the campaign and a sound Catalan victory at Vilafranca -a key town lying halfway between Tarragona and Barcelona- have jointly altered dramatically the balance of forces at frontline, so that King Philip's armies in the Principality seem to have lost any initial superiority -either numerical or strategic.

However, nobody should get fooled by such a partial image -for Spain is still far from having committed all of the historical forces actually employed in the campaign, which eventually got up to half their total military strength: 68 out from nearly 120 regiments!!

If watched from a more global perspective (i.e. joining Catalonia and Aragon maps, see image below), the still huge unbalance of forces becomes quite more apparent. Worth to note the column currently halted at Saragossa, consisting of most of the elite Horse & Foot Spanish Royal Guards, which are on their way towards the Principality.



Not to talk about the dense columns about to enter Catalonia from Valencia! Therefore, even abandoned by their French allies, Spain is still far from having definitely lost their chances to prevail... as long as King Philip's will keeps strong.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Horse units merging

Barcelona, 17th September 1713



Today it has been passed a decree by the Catalan Army Headquarters, ordering the merging of two minor mounted units into a single, new Horse Regiment.

Units involved are the Hussars Independent Squadrons on one side, and Captain Badia's own Volunteer Cavalry Company on the other side. After the joint experience gained during the victorious battle of Vilafranca, it has been considered worthy both formations to keep operating as a single unit from now on, that will be assigned the code & name of HR1 - Queen Violant Light Horse Regiment, in memory of the beloved Hungarian princess of that name who became Queen consort of King James I. Orders will be issued shortly providing for the uniforms, equipment and standards adequate for the new Regiment.

[I'm quite doubtful about how to show in my website such evolution of units, having in mind the structure of my Army page. Should I add a new cell under the old one, with a new plate and full text -just as if it was a new regiment? Please any suggestions would be warmly appreciated. Thanks in advance!!] :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

British are back

Tarragona, 16th September 1713



That morning, the inhabitants of Tarragona awoke with an extraordinary vision from the sea side, for an imposing British fleet extended all along the horizon line. Likely come in with the first lights of dawn, British vessels had anchored in a tight pack face to the city shores and harbour, and were now quietly resting, their ensigns calmly waving to the morning breeze.

In other circumstances, or in other times, such news would have been cause for popular joy and celebrations, as it happened in 1705. But now, the arrival of that enormous fleet could only mean one thing: Yes British were back -but not to help them against the Two Crowns, but to evacuate the Imperial troops still defending the city instead, following the Treaty of Utrecht terms.

It was merely a matter of days that, once emptied of defenders, local authorities of Tarragona would be formally warned to release the old city to the Two Crowns. The joy of yesterday was suddenly replaced by the oppressive memory of the fate of Tivissa townsfolk.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Unexpected encounter

Tarragona road, 15th September 1713

-Here, Colonel Sir, it's here! -said one of the scouts while waving to the rider galloping towards them.

Colonel Bagni dismounted before the horse had completely stopped; still holding the reins, he closed to his scouts and looked in the direction they were pointing towards.

-Can you see them, Sir?

Of course he could see them! They were no more than 200 paces away and had made no effort to get behind any cover... They were a handful of two, maybe three dozens of ragged soldiers standing by the road. Some of them were keeping something similar to a loose formation, while many others were simply sitting on the grass or under the low trees of that region. One might guess they were deserters, but... so many at a time?

Colonel Bagni was still observing that odd group of men, who in spite of obviously having noticed him made no effort to hide or run away, when the bulk of his own Regiment closed to the position where he was. Fearing some kind of stratagem from that odd gang, Bagni ordered a couple of companies of his Regiment to deploy just behind him, before making himself visible and interpellating in an authoritative voice:

-HEY YOU MEN! I amb Colonel Bagni of His Majesty Emperor Charles VI Army! On His behalf, I formally warn you to identificate yourselves!

Al elder man in the gang, apparently some kind of officer, started advancing some steps towards Bagni's ranks, followed by a second one who was carrying a long staff with a rolled piece of cloth on top. When they got halfway, the second man developed the cloth. It resulted to be a crimson standard, like those of Imperial Horse units... Even before the emissaries started speaking, Colonel Bagni had already noticed the Kingdom of Aragon coat of arms proudly displayed on the obverse. Deeply emoted, he then exclaimed:

-God bless you men! Do you belong to Córdova's Regiment, don't you?

On the evening, the Regiment arrived by the perimeter the Two Crowns had set around Tarragona city. At an agreed signal, the Aragonese men merged into the ranks of Bagni's Italians. From his saddle, Colonel Bagni loudly gave the order:

-Colours flying!! Drums beating!! Gentlemen, I want you to be their envy!!

Bagni's Regiment marched undisturbed through the Spanish and French campsites and trenches, silently followed by thousands of glances. The gates of Tarragona opened wide to those newly arrived, and a crowd soon gathered all long Main Street to cheer them -as if they'd just come from winning a battle. Joy became unleashed euphoria when it was known the Aragonese heroes of Tivissa were among them.

Old Teresa, who happened to pass at that very same moment, could hardly believe what her eyes were showing to her. Among the ranks of stout, fierce-looking Imperials she distinguished the delicate, fragile silhouette of a well-known girl, happily marching along with them:

-Mireia!!

-Granny!!

Both women rushed to each other, in a chorus of laughing and tears.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Preparing a counter-offensive?

Spanish HQ at Lleida, 14th September 1713

This time, moves have been quite numerous and discreet on the Catalan side, so that their background aims are far from evident. Allow me then not to mark all of them on map, because far from offering any help to readers, it would certainly lead to greater confusion instead.

Let's abstract the perceived intentions of Catalan moves, from the point of view of the Spanish HQ at Lleida. The most significant and threatening move is that of Marquis of Poal at North, who has placed his army intercepting the road to France as well as menacing the lower valley of Segre river. Forces under his command are just consisting of 2 Line Infantry battalions, 1 Mountain Fusiliers regiment and 1 Dragoons regiment; but a supplementary force has just arrived from East in Cardona fortress -and this consists of infantry and dragoons, 1 regiment of each. Besides, the bulk of a second Mountain Fusiliers regiment is closing to the Marquis column from North-west.

General Bellver's army in Central Front have also been delivered reinforcements from rearguard -mainly consisting of the prestiged St. George Cavalry Regt. under command of General De Ramon. Last but not least, the army of Generals Basset and Nebot at South has been also reinforced from Barcelona in some degree: 2 independent companies of Horse and Miquelets and 2 companies of artillerists -with the mission to take charge on the recently captured Spanish batteries.

Apart from those above, there has been a good number of lesser moves behind the Catalan front line, whose ultimate purpose is completely unknown to Spanish leaders. A generally most accepted interpretation is that Catalan HQ are preparing some kind of units re-organization.

However, not all Catalan rearguard operations are of a minor nature; it's just that the Spanish HQ deeply ignores their existance: A large force consisting of British volunteers under Catalan service have just sailed from Rotterdam harbour. Their destination: Gibraltar, seemingly.

Even more worrying, if such is possible: a spy in Barcelona HQ has just reported that General Villarroel ordered a detailed map of the neighbouring Kingdom of Aragon.

Would you believe that those foolish Catalans might perhaps be considering a counter-offensive outside their borders?

Monday, May 09, 2011

In Farnese lands

Piacenza border, 13th September 1713

-This is the border by Piacenza, so we have arrived in Duchy of Parma, Miladies & Milords. Our duty is over at this point where Farnese lands begin.

-Thanks captain -Marquis of Rubí kindly answered. The Genoese officer responded with a military salute and rode back to his column. The detachment turned back after their captain and left the stagecoach by the Duchy customs house. Beyond the border line, an Imperial cavalry detachment was already patiently waiting for them.

-Wow! I was really anxious to leave behind those Genoese... -Fiona Mc Gregor then sighed with relief.

-They were exquisitely courteous with us, Fiona -Lady Elisenda replied in a smile. -At this respect, we should admit the Republic of Genoa has shown a careful neutrality.

-Ohyyyes -Count of Erill whispered. -Yes, the most strict neutrality ...to everybody except France. Something like Monte-Cristo but in reverse -he ironically added in an even quieter voice. The long trip had begun affecting the old Viceroi of Sardinia, who looked pretty tired.

Marquis of Rubí slowly nodded: -Don't worry anymore about Genoa, my friends. Look, from now on we are under the direct protection of His Majesty Emperor Charles -he said, while discreetly pointing to the Imperial detachment waiting for them.

-Wish we don't actually need them -Fiona grumpily murmured, looking out through the rear window: -For that henchmen gang out there have been unceasingly following us from Genoa outskirts...

Lady Elisenda looked where Fiona was pointing towards. True, a group of riders was following them at a safe distance, apparently civilians. Yes, she had noticed them before too. Both girls exchanged a knowing glance. Count of Erill did not realize it, unlike Marquis of Rubi -who nevertheless was unable to guess its cause.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Closing gaps

Spanish HQ at Lleida, 13th September 1713

Gradually put under direct command of Marshal Berwick, French units in Spanish service have started this week to march Segre river valley upwards, back to France, thus leaving the Catalonian battlefields they had been disputing to Archduke Charles for a decade. Anticipating eventual penetration attempts by the Catalans, Duke of Popoli then hurried his generals to close gaps with their badly disminished forces. However, no daring initiative was enterprised this time by the Spaniards. Fully aware as they were of the tide turning happened last week, their only choice was to close files and keep positions, in the confidence the reinforcements delivered by King Philip would not last to arrive.

Certainly, a considerable Spanish force was already about to enter Catalonia by South. It consisted of nearly all the army just evacuated from Sicily, consisting of 11 Infantry battalions and 3 Horse regiments. They had just been spotted close to Vinaròs town, just a few miles from the Principality border. At that very same time, Marquis of Aitona had been reported to descend into the Ebro valley leading 2 battalions of the fearful Guardias Españolas bodyguard infantry, accompanied by the Reales Guardias a Caballo Cavalry, and was expected to encamp in a couple of days by Saragossa city. Both columns were followed at some distance by artillery and dragoons.

Nothing was irreversibly lost to King Philip's cause yet, and Duke of Popoli was confident he would be able to keep their former exploits. All what he needed were just two or three weeks. And then, tide would turn back to its normal flow.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

A Stylish Blogger Award for three of the four blogs I'm currently running, in just a couple of days... I should admit to be most honoured by this -a bit overwhelmed by such cascade of appreciations, in fact! As I've already commented at my other blogsites, I know little about such award, except that it seems to work as a chain, promoted by bloggers and blog-readers themselves; I've no idea on who or what was the first one to have such a lightning-expanding initiative. Well, to be worth the nomination you are expected to keep the chain alive by fulfilling the following four rules:
  • Thank and link back to the person giving you the award
  • Share seven things about yourself
  • Select 10-15 blogs who you think deserve this award
  • Contact these bloggers and let them know about the nomination.

Let's fulfill such rules then:

1. My most sincere gratefulness to Jiminho of EvE Syldavia (syldavianchronicle.blogspot.com), who has entitled me for this nomination. Wish you keep reading and commenting my Defiant Principality what-if-Historic Episodes!

2. Seven things about me (none is new with respect to those explained at my other nominated blogs):
  • The town I'm living in is a small village, not larger than 750 inhabitants; its name is Les Cabanyes, and it's sorrounded everywhere by a luxurious landscape, a vineyards ocean: such is Penedès county!
  • My lovely wife and I share an uninterrupted tradition, since we fell in love nearly three decades ago: every friday evening we share an entire bottle of cava (Catalan version of champagne) by dinner. Table isn't left until bottle is empty :)
  • I humbly believe myself as a Catalan patriot, old-style Republican, and try to behave as a true freethinker -with limited success, I must admit.
  • Only 50 years old, and growing younger every day! :D
  • My main passion is miniature painting -sometimes, I recall myself playing with them! Secondly, travelling. I enjoy planning my own routes. And books too, nearly any kind of book -although interest in novel has displaced any other kind of readings as I've been growing older.
  • TV? puagh!
  • My wife uses to say I'm like a parrott. This is because, when at travel, she often catches me attentively listening at the table behind ours (even when I badly understand their language), just to guess which language they're speaking, to stablish parallelisms with a similar known language and try to understand it, or to memorize and apply their particular singsongs and idioms.


3. Other blogs, interesting or well-designed enough to me, for being awarded too. Sure there are more of these, but it would be useless quoting all of them:
http://oci-ilerget.blogspot.com/
http://elsenyorverd.blogspot.com/
http://latrompadenyarla.blogspot.com/
http://jocsvexillum.blogspot.com/
http://juguemelsdivendres.blogspot.com/
http://mirosgames.blogspot.com/
http://syldavianchronicle.blogspot.com/
http://konigundkaiser.blogspot.com/
http://escenografiaepsilon.blogspot.com/
http://18thcenturysojourn.blogspot.com/
http://nba-sywtemplates.blogspot.com/

4. Already done! ;)