Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Correspondence from the front

Extract from the diaries of Captain Conrad von Prittstik, of the Infanterie Regiment of Negrelli (IR4) – Siege of Flussburg

Day 1
The army has arrived back outside the city of Flussburg once again, to resume the siege that we were engaged in before the battles of Flussburg and Althirschburg. Instructed my servant, Otto, to reacquire my previous lodgings in a nearby inn. Spent the night under canvas with some other officers, close enough to hear the digging works from the men for the first parallel.

Day 2
First parallel completed. A few shots from the enemy have found our initial works to be pleasingly just beyond their effective range. Appealed once again to the Baron Negrelli to consent to my secondment to headquarters, so my compendious knowledge of siegecraft can be put to use. No sign of Otto.

Day 4
The first approach trench has been run forward, despite the enemy guns having a fine time on our diggers. Otto has reappeared, and reports the inn I stayed in previously has been pillaged, burned down to rubble, then pillaged again. I am now quite glad I didn’t pay my bill.

Day 5
A day of fruitless labour for our gunners, who were ordered to haul their guns into batteries in the first parallel, to look like they are contributing. As the second parallel is still under construction, they protested that they could do nothing until then. Happily, I can record the Elector paid them no heed. I must get my secondment to headquarters, as life in camp is ridiculously boring. Played cards until 2am. Lost 43 crowns.

Day 6
Approach the baron once more, and appeal for more involvement in the siege. Was still hung over, and probably didn’t make the best impression. Nevertheless, the baron smiled and promised me that I would have my wish soon enough.

Day 9
Last three days spent overseeing digging works – confound that baron! Forced to spend my days standing in a muddy hole in the ground, under constant cannon fire, to make sure that the men are digging along the correct path and not veering off to one side or another, to either get us all killed or avoid the fort altogether. Took some comfort that by the end of my final day, the second parallel was well under way and the batteries had been moved forward to begin returning fire. Celebrated my return by giving my mud-covered uniform to Otto, then played cards. Lost 14 crowns.

Day 10
Batteries are now firing away on the fortress, and the second parallel extends on. Have completed a large redoubt, from which some rather exhilarating fun can be had watching the bombardment. Have resolved to work for myself into the headquarters, and instructed Otto to gather up some decent quantities of alcohol.

Day 12
Much high drama through the dawn, as the enemy has launched a sortie. Seeing the progress of our works, and realising that we should soon enfilade their central bastion, a large force attacked out of the fortress and disrupted the proposed works. I was present in the trenches nearby, and was even briefly caught up in a lively exchange of grenades before we were persuaded to retire. The Aschenbach troops even managed to occupy and overturn a portion of our existing works, before we managed to drive them out with much close-range combat of cold steel and grenades. Otto somewhat singed. Decided to write my invitations to the Siege’s director, Major Ungaurn, in person.

Day 14
No sign of a return visit from the enemy, as we have repaired and finished our works while screened by pickets of Croats to the fore and flying columns of grenadiers in reserve. Much destruction from the enemy’s gunners, but the trenches are at last complete. Invited Major Ungaurn and his aide to cards in our tent. Lost 85 crowns, became very drunk, but thankfully was matched in alcohol by Major Ungaurn and secured my secondment to the Siege Headquarters. Glory Awaits!

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