Bridge on the River Fleiss
Further to our encounter with the forces of Strudelheim, Oberst von Sekka was both elated and yet frustrated. There could be little doubt that the Strudelheimers were in some disorder and, whilst we had suffered some losses, we were in fine shape. Our men were much enthused by the victory, and still there was the realisation that Madame Dacquoise and her captors were still at large. It was, of course, vital that we struck while the advantage lay with us, and it was planned that on the morrow we would march with all haste to bring the matter to a conclusion.
We broke camp early and began to march at a pace. Our Hussars scouted forward and it was to universal acclaim that we received news not long after that the Lady and her party had been spotted on the road from Tiefenzell to Kroppen. We were but a short distance behind them! Pushing on our Hussars were driven back by enemy skirmishers, but this action allowed our force to gain more ground, a very soon our forces were deploying for action on the approaches to the bridge across the Fleiss where already the enemy could be seen.
As Our musketeers advanced across a small wooded crest, the enemy received them with ineffective fire. I pushed forward to menace the flank of these red-clad Grenzers, but they withdrew towards a small ford before we could cross swords. Indeed, the sight of my horsemen saw our foe retire into some rough ground where they, apparently, felt some degree of safety and began to take pot shots with some accuracy.
Meanwhile, a second group of Grenzer had crossed back over the main bridge and were attempting to avoid the advance of our Croats who, with splendid enthusiasm pushed into the gardens of the hovels by the bridge.
Now our musketeers pushed on, delivering controlled volleys and they went, pushing down towards the river. It seemed that our foe was nowt but a dozen or so skirmishers, clearly attempting to delay our advance, but causing little damage. I remarked to my sergeant that we should sawt them aside like flies, when the sound of cannon bought us up sharply. The enemy had not one, but two guns on the far ridge and these now were firing down onto von Sekka’s musketeers. A few men fell, but ranks closed and we pushed onwards, Kellerman’s Jagers pushing to the very edge of the ford and driving back the Grenzers once again.
A party of Croats rushed across the bridge, intent on chasing off the Grenzer who were covering the guns, while their comrades formed a column and pushed on through the defile. Over at the ford von Sekka’s men also maintained their advance, turning to face right and crossing in column of twos.
But now a horn could be heard. The Strudelheim Dragoons were deploying by the ridge on the flat ground around the road Before them the lead party of Croats had been stopped by canister fire and now they swept down to clear them from their path.
Thus, their foe despatched, they hurled themselves onto the bridge. The main body of Croats had fallen back and were forming a rallying square in the road, but still they were pushed back by the Dragoons. Sabres fell, carving their way into the ranks of the Croats, and fall back as they did they refused to break.
“Now von Kraken, now, this is your moment”. I could hear the voice in my head. This must surely be the moment when my name could be made in battle and those who could influence my career further would hear of my deeds. I unfurled my banner and my Dragoons trotted behind me, speeding up to the gallop as Croats fell back from our path and the handful of Strudelheim Dragoons were all that stood between us and the guns. Between us and glory!
I had noted that the guns on the ridge were no longer arrayed against us. One had turned to face von Sekka’s men as they advanced bravely through a hail of cannister. On we rode, bugle sounding and then we were among them. The Strudelheimers could not withstand this charge from fresh cavalry and were scattered from our path. On we rode, on across the bridge, on across the meadow and on toward the ridge. Now was our moment…
I say our moment, but a glance behind me was sufficient to confirm that all of my men were riding in a different direction to me. Ahead the gunners were making ready with their final round of canister, and across to my right I could see von Sekka retiring back towards the ford. It was to no avail. Enemy fire had been too hot and I could not ride on alone to certain death. I touched the reigns and my mare swung to the right and moments later we splashed through the ford. Behind us the cheers of a handful of Strudelheimers on the ridge rang out. They had bested us for now and, no doubt, the unfortunate Madame Dacquoise would be miles away in the clutches of her tormentors. For us, we should need to find another means to save the lady.
So ended our game, with a tiny Strudelheim force of two groups of Grenz skirmishers, two medium guns and one Group of Dragoons holding off the might of Freikorps von Sekka, with three Groups of Musketeers, three of Croats, one of Dragoons and one of Jager. It had been a tough fight, with every round of Strudelheim canister used and just six Grenzer still in action to defend the guns. The Order of Kaiserschmarm mit Germknodel to the Strudelheim commander, Hauptmann von Reich. We shall have to see what the next move is in our campaign to find out if Madame Dacquoise can be rescued and returned to the Margraf.