The-Saale-Levies-Banner

Tuesday, November 15, 1633

Between Kösen and Naumburg

 

Hans Heinrich von Hessler had hurried to Kassel, resigned from the Hessian army (with appropriate regrets), and planned to arrive home less than two weeks after he left. He needed as much time as possible to organize an emergency levy of men to defend the area. Hearing a rumble behind him, Hans Heinrich looked over his shoulder and saw something looming in the distance. As it drew closer, he realized it was one of the up-timers’ trains.

Hans Heinrich patted his horse’s neck. “I know I have been pushing you hard. One gallop and then we walk to Balgstädt?” He waited until the train was near and then nudged the horse. The horse held even with the train for a little ways. The train made no obvious attempt to increase speed, but nevertheless it pulled steadily away.

“Good work,” Hans Heinrich told the horse after he reined in. Now he really understood why Gustav Adolf insisted on control of the railroad. While a train could not carry all that many troops, it could move supplies as fast as a horse could gallop and maintain that pace all day long.

TSL-SaalHe rode past the river crossing at Almrich. Nearing Rossbach he saw a handful of men in mottled clothing milling about beside the railroad tracks. As he rode closer, he realized they were armed. One was standing guard and immediately challenged him.

“Identify yourself!”

Oberstleutnant Hans Heinrich von Hessler! I will be commanding the emergency levies in this area.”

The man snapped to present arms. “Exzellent, Sir! Ich bin Corporal Otto Reider, Second MP Company, NUS Army.” He turned his head. “Sergeant!”

Another of the men hurried over and saluted. “Sergeant Peter Schneider, Second MP Company, NUS Army.”

Von Hessler was somewhat surprised by the courtesy but returned it.

“The LT mentioned your name. He is in Naumburg with representatives of the USE, the NUS, and Duke John George.”

Danke.” Sergeant Peter Schneider seemed a decent sort. “Sergeant, what was that first one? The ell-tee?”

“The LT, Sir. The leutnant. Leutnant Franz Cotta.”

“Oh.”

Schneider whistled, caught the attention of a boatman, and waved him over.

Once the boatman had ferried him and his horse across the Saale, it was still a twenty-minute ride to Naumburg’s rathaus.

“Intolerable! His Serene Grace will not stand for this!”

“It’s a done deal.”

Hans Heinrich heard the raised voices from outside and realized he was about to interrupt an argument. He took a deep breath, walked in, and fortunately recognized two of the men.

“Dr. Romanus.” Hans Heinrich’s father had introduced him to the mayor of Naumburg at a social function a few years ago. “Hauptmann von Trotha.”

His brother-in-law Georg took the hint. “Oberst von Hessler, this is Oberst Hans Kaspar von Klitzing, commanding one of His Serene Grace John George’s regiments.”

Oberst von Klitzing, my brother speaks highly of you,” Hans Heinrich said after exchanging salutes.

Von Klitzing smiled. “That is kind of you, sir. I have your official appointment from His Serene Grace as oberst of the emergency levies.”

Danke.”

“You are ordered to keep this United States of Europe from running roughshod over the area.”

Hans Heinrich nodded.

Herr MacCartney Washaw from the USE prime minister’s staff and Herr Gene Blackwood from the NUS Department of Internal Affairs,” von Trotha continued. “Oberst Hans Heinrich von Hessler.”

They shook hands with him. Hans Heinrich studied them carefully. They were the first up-timers he had met.

Blackwood said, “I have your official appointment from President Piazza as well.”

“This is Saxony!” von Klitzing insisted.

Meine Herren, if you are in agreement that Hans Heinrich von Hessler will be the oberst, let us press on,” Dr. Romanus urged. “We have plenty of actual disagreements to debate.”

Washaw cleared his throat. “The USE has no intention of running roughshod over the area, but I must warn you that USE troops will pass through.”

Hans Heinrich’s heart sank. “I cannot allow them to forage,” he stated. Foraging led to atrocities. John George would order an attack—and he would be right to do so, however ill-advised it might be in a military sense.

“General Torstensson concurs,” Blackwood stated. “They will march north from the Grantville area to the Magdeburg area and be resupplied along the way. The army tells me it is a three-day march to pass through Saxony west of the Saale. This is an awkward situation for everyone. Perhaps we can reach an accommodation.”

“Perhaps. Are the sergeant and his men I met by the Saale looking for a place to put one of the camps?”

Nein,” the lieutenant said. “When the railroad was built, the company bought the lehen on a plot of land every fifteen miles along the way, to base their work crews and equipment. That’s about a day’s march, so the railroad company was more than happy to receive actual income by subleasing the land to the NUS government. One of the plots is right across the river north of Naumburg. There is already a barracks building that the construction crew lived in.”

Hans Heinrich realized that they really were trying to make the best of a bad situation. Taking a deep breath, he asked, “How many men?”

“One regiment at a time.”

“How many regiments?”

“I was not told.”

Hans Heinrich believed him. That was smoothly done. The USE army has no intention of telling us, so they simply did not tell you.

“I can tell you that the first regiment is scheduled to arrive on November twenty-first,” the lieutenant offered.

Hans Heinrich realized his mouth was hanging open and closed it. Six days!

Herr Blackwood spoke up. “If you require any assistance, Colonel von Hessler, the military police will be happy to help. Saxony west of the Saale may select representatives to the NUS legislature. Duke John George or his representative may take a seat in the House of Lords. For the lower house, the captain-general offered to select one representative, Duke John George to select one, and those two to agree on a third, to serve until elections can be held. If the area wishes to adopt a name? Perhaps Saxe— ”

“His Serene Grace protests most vigorously,” Colonel von Klitzing interrupted. “He will not allow the partitioning of electoral Saxony. There will be no representatives to an illegal Estates. His Serene Grace will refer to his lands west of the Saale as occupied electoral Saxony. And Oberst von Hessler is authorized to drive out anyone setting up a government of occupation. There will be no depredations of Saxony. If there are, we will attack.”

“If, on the other hand,” Hans Heinrich cut in smoothly before von Klitzing started a war, “this regiment arriving on the twenty-first conducts itself in a disciplined manner, I will escort it through and send it on its way. Leutnant Cotta, may I presume that the regiments intend to follow the railroad tracks?”

Ja, sir. The tracks are laid to halfway between Weissenfels and Merseburg, but the route is marked out all the way to Halle.”

The meeting dragged on. After Washaw and Blackwood departed, Colonel von Klitzing pulled Hans Heinrich aside.

“Von Hessler, the USE seems to think you are working for them. Let them think so, but report anything you learn to us.”

“Understood.”

As they were ferried across the Saale, Hans Heinrich turned to von Trotha. “Georg, thank you for organizing the regiment while I have been gone. Where do we stand?”

Georg von Trotha gave him a weak smile. “I have granted several petitions for commissions and held others for your decision. I told those I granted that they must bring levies of men from their own estates.”

Hans Heinrich nodded. “Gut.” He was actually uncomfortable with it, but suspected those commissions were politically necessary.

“I have told the gemeinde in Balgstädt not to include Hans Schösgen in the levy.”

“Why not?”

Georg von Trotha’s face flushed. “He is completely insubordinate, even as a farmer.”

Hans Heinrich made placating motions with one hand. “Where is the regiment going to assemble?”

Von Trotha frowned. “I had initially planned on Naumburg.”

“We should probably stay west of the Saale,” Hans Heinrich mused. Obviously. “Leutnant Cotta, tell me about this camp north of Naumburg.”

“I have another team of five military police there,” Cotta told him. “They are planning the camp. Trains will begin delivering supplies in the next couple days.”

“Is that where you and your men are staying?”

“Ja.”

“If I might impose upon you this evening?”

“Please. Oberst, you should make it your headquarters. It is right on the railroad line.”

Hans Heinrich considered that. “Danke. I think that would be best. Georg, will you be joining us?”

Nein. I ride for Balgstädt this evening.”

Hans Heinrich nodded. He was strongly tempted to do the same. But it would be better to gain the respect of Lieutenant Cotta and his men. “I will work my way up the Unstrut tomorrow. We will have to work quickly to assemble the levies.”

“Elisabeth and I will expect you tomorrow.”

Hans Heinrich found that Lieutenant Cotta’s men had cleaned the railroad workers’ barracks and staked off the camp into sections. The perimeter was a shallow ditch—barely more than a trace in the dirt.

“It is just a Roman camp with improved sanitation, big enough for two regiments,” Cotta explained. “Each unit that stays here will deepen the ditch and raise the berm. The trains will bring food, wood, and a Fresno scraper. We will boil any water, of course.”

Hans Heinrich blinked. Food. I have been thinking about logistics. I just do not know where it will all come from.

“If you will allow an observation, Oberst, it is clear that Duke John George regards your levies as a Saxon force, but the New United States thinks of them as part of the NUS National Guard. So you can send a message requisitioning supplies. Within reason, of course.”

Hans Heinrich gave him a crooked smile. So far he had an army of thirteen, eleven of whom were in the service of the power from which he was supposed to protect the area. “Do you think your National Guard would be willing to arm us, too?”

To his surprise, Cotta did. “Of course we arm the National Guard. If I may, sir, how are you planning to go about raising the levies?”

“I will ride to the villages in the Unstrut valley tomorrow,” Hans Heinrich answered, “and tell them how many men each village must send before any of Torstensson’s new regiments arrive.”

“I believe the phrase you want is ‘The regulars are coming,’  ” Lieutenant Cotta told him. “Tell me, Oberst, have you ever heard of the minutemen?”

 

Wednesday, November 16, 1633

Kleinjena, Occupied Saxony

 

In the morning, Hans Heinrich rode west along the Saale. In Kleinjena, he asked for the village leaders.

“You want Gerd Werner,” the woman told him. “He took a dozen men to repair the fences in the north pasture.”

Hans Heinrich rode across the fields in the indicated direction and found the work party.

“I am looking for Gerd Werner,” he called.

An older man looked up from his work. “That is me.”

“I am Oberst Hans Heinrich von Hessler. This area west of the Saale is being put under the jurisdiction of the New United States, and Duke John George has placed me in command of emergency levies to make sure they do not run roughshod over us. He still owns his lands, and nothing has changed any of your contracts.”

One of the other men squinted at him. “We heard about that. They might not be so bad. At least, we cannot see picking a fight with them until after we see what they are like.”

Hans Heinrich dismounted. “You sound like exactly the sort of men I am going to need. You see, Torstensson’s regiments are going to march through. ” He had their attention. “They are coming one at a time and bringing their own supplies. We do not need to stop them. Here is what you can do to keep this part of Saxony safe . . .”

After he finished, Werner summarized what he had said. “So you are drafting some of us in your levy but you do not want us to fight?”

Nein. I want to help the regiments through as quickly as possible. I need fifteen men from Kleinjena.”

“What about the other villages?”

“I have already told Rossbach the same. I will go to Nissmitz next, then to Freyburg, and around to Grossjena. Freyburg and the villages beyond it owe me a whole company.”

Gerd Werner looked the others over. “How long do you need our men?”

“I need levies whenever there is an alarm. But for escorting the USE regiments, fifteen men for one month. There is a camp north of Naumburg, on this side of the Saale. . . .”

****

After the oberst rode off to Nissmitz, Werner gathered the men of Kleinjena, and they began sorting out which fifteen of them would serve in the levy. Some of the men were simply too old—Gerd Werner and Joachim Müller had no business marching around Saxony for a month. Others wanted to remain in Kleinjena to maximize their influence. Heinz Kraft privately numbered August Berles and his sons among them. A few younger, single men volunteered, including Joachim Müller’s second son Jakob.

“I will, too,” Stefan the mason said. “There is little I can do after the frosts come.”

Heinz thought about volunteering but realized he had better talk to Helene first.

“Heinz, I do not want you to go,” she said. “But if you must . . .”

After dinner, Heinz made his way to Johann Bause’s front room tavern. Before long, his friend Peter Hofmann hurried in.

“Heinz! Wilhelm! My Anna heard Caspar Berles’ wife Maria talking. They are out to take over the gemeinde! They are going to send Müller’s sons and Gerd Werner’s supporters off as part of the levy, and they want to send you and me, too, Wilhelm!”

“What? Why?”

“Because we are Heinz’s friends.”

“I am to go, too, then?” Heinrich asked quickly.

Nein. Caspar Berles says you are not to be trusted. He says he fears you will run off again.”

“He and his family mean to put me in my place, then,” Heinrich surmised. “Well, I will argue against it. They should not send you off, Peter. You have young children at home.”

He lost. The gemeinde accepted Jakob Müller and Stefan the mason with praise and then selected both Peter and Wilhelm as well as Philip Werner, Jakob’s older brother Josef Müller, and Gabriel Wenck. The old curmudgeon’s sharp remarks finally goaded the Berles’ faction into adding him to the levy. Heinz suspected he’d done it on purpose.

The village had only a few firearms, and the gemeinde insisted on reserving some of them for defense. So the fifteen men in the levy would set out with ten old arquebuses and five hunting spears.

“This,” Heinrich Kraft said to his wife later that night, “is a farce.”

“Shh, Heinz. I know it is. So do many of the other women. But I am glad you are staying here.”

 

Balgstädt, Occupied Saxony

 

“Hans Heinrich! You are back from Hesse quickly!” his sister Elisabeth exclaimed.

Ja. I had a feeling I should not remain away for long.”

“You were right. The other families wish to be able to fight as soon as possible. ” Elisabeth’s tone made her own thoughts about that clear.

“Ha! As soon as possible will be after spring planting.”

“They do not want you to teach their tenants how to fight, Hans Heinrich. They are afraid the farmers will favor the up-timers.”

“Of course they will. But who else do they expect to fill a levy? I will need your groomsmen, valets, and huntsmen, too.”

“Hans Heinrich!”

He just looked at his sister.

“But . . . but . . . Torstensson is raising an army. Can we not do the same?”

“The Committees of Correspondence are raising an army for him. I suppose I could ask them to raise a regiment for us, too.”

Elisabeth smacked her younger brother.

He didn’t bother to tell her he’d asked the purported enemy to equip and supply his men, too.

 

Thursday, November 17, 1633

Klosterhäseler, Occupied Saxony

 

“It is good to have you home, Hans Heinrich,” his father told him. “It has been too quiet.”

“Well, Father, I am about to make some noise.” He brought his father up to date.

Hans Heinrich the elder laughed. “This has all the makings of a farce,” he said, not realizing he was echoing a farmer a few villages away.

“Father, I raced my horse against one of their trains south of Naumburg. Now I understand why Gustav Adolf sets such importance on the trains. They do not tire.” He glanced through the stack of requests for commissions. “I am going to draft some of your tenants as levies and make Jürgen a sergeant.”

By the time he finished telling his father everything, Hans Heinrich the elder was practically chortling with glee, and he was rubbing his hands together. He was only too happy to tell his son how to persuade certain men and outmaneuver others.

“Come meet Leutnant Cotta, Father.”

Next Hans Heinrich went and found Jürgen.

“Jürgen, how would you like to join the Saale Levies? I need a sergeant I can depend upon.”

“What are your plans?”

Hans Heinrich told him.

“That might actually work—as long as you do not attack the USE.”

Hans Heinrich had a feeling that Jürgen had just defined the limits of how far he was willing to go. It was definitely insubordinate, but since he himself had said much the same to the duke’s representative, he was in no position to complain.

“I think we understand each other, Jürgen.”

Hans Heinrich spoke to young Reinhold next.

“Reinhold, I need you to make sure the men in the levy are equipped to march out for Burghessler tomorrow.”

Herr Oberst, may I come with them?”

Nein. Since your father went with my brother to the USE Army, you are the major domo. You must stay here, in charge of the rest of the servants. Help my father with anything he needs. I will be back when I can, but that may not be for a month.”

Hans Heinrich the elder clapped a hand on young Reinhold’s shoulder. “Summon our servants who can ride. We have messages to send out in the morning.”

 

Friday, November 18, 1633

von Hessler estates, Occupied Saxony

 

Hans Heinrich rode to several villages, including up the hills to Grössnitz. It was nearly dusk when they reached Burghessler.

Euer Hochwohlgeboren, we did not expect you!”

“I know you did not, Adam,” Hans Heinrich assured the steward. “But I am raising levies. I need fifteen men from Burghessler. Jürgen should be here with men from the other villages soon.”

“I have had Jakob out surveying for additional defenses.”

Burghessler was not a first-rate fortress, Hans Heinrich reflected. That just meant it was even more important not to be careless, and Adam Braun was not. He immediately posted a lookout—who raised the alarm within the hour.

“Men approaching!”

Hans Heinrich hurried to the door, aware that Lieutenant Cotta’s military police were taking defensive positions.

“Who goes there?” he challenged when the men were close enough.

“Saale Levies!” That was Jürgen’s voice.

“Open the door,” Hans Heinrich directed. “Good to see you, Jürgen. I think you have enough men to fill the schloss.”

 

Saturday, November 19, 1633

West Bank of the Saale, Occupied Saxony

 

Hans Heinrich glanced back at the men trailing along behind him in an untidy mess.

Leutenant Cotta was watching. “Permission to make a suggestion?”

“Please do.”

“Your men are staying in little groups, which is good because you do not want new levies to fight in ranks in the open field. But it slows down travel.”

The long, strung-out line became a compact column as Sergeant Schneider, Corporal Reider, and Jürgen put the men in ranks. Between the organizing and practicing starts and stops, they lost half an hour. Hans Heinrich heard frequent shouts of “No, your other left!”

Nein, do not turn around,” Lieutenant Cotta told him. “Let the non-commissioned officers deal with it.”

Hans Heinrich shot him a quick glance. “If you will pardon my saying so, you remind me of some of my sergeants in the Hessian army.”

Cotta laughed. “There is a good reason for that. I was in Tilly’s army at Breitenfeld, and after we were routed the larger band I was in decided to attack Jena. The up-timers captured us there. I joined the NUS Army right away.”

“And they made you an officer?”

Nein. They made me a private. I had to show I could read and write before they promoted me to corporal. I was in the line at Eisenach and made sergeant after Alte Veste. I transferred to a military police unit, and they made me a leutnant this past spring.”

“You have learned their history, too,” Hans Heinrich recalled.

Ja, and their tactics. You will want to adopt some of those yourself, Herr Oberst.”

“Are you sure you are supposed to tell me that?”

Ja. You cannot give some of your men authority—which anyone can see you will have to do—without them realizing they are just as valuable as your officers with the same rights that all people have.”

Hans Heinrich froze. Very carefully he said, “You would train your enemy’s army because in doing so you make him like the up-timers?”

Nein. Because in doing so I show your men they are just like me. Then perhaps we do not need to be enemies.” Lieutenant Cotta shrugged. “No one has made any secret of it. If it is good enough for Prime Minister Stearns, it is good enough for Colonel Grooms to pass along to me. Herr Oberst, I know this area did not ask to be part of the New United States. Nor did the NUS want to take it over. It just had to be done.”

Hans Heinrich lapsed into silence for a while. He was not sure what was more disturbing—the NUS plan or the fact that Lieutenant Cotta was clearly convinced it would work.

When they reached Naumburg in the afternoon, the lieutenant pointed at a crowd milling about on the western bank of the Saale. “If I am not mistaken, that is a military force.”

Hans Heinrich smiled. “Ja, it is. That is Georg von Trotha riding toward us. Hauptmann Georg!”

“I see you are right on time, Herr Oberst,” Captain von Trotha greeted him. Noting his surprise, he added, “Your father has been busy. One of his couriers reached me at Balgstädt last night.”

“Did he? Gut.”

“Simon von Burkersroda is marching down the east bank of the Unstrut with the Freyburg Company, too.”

“That is very good,” Hans Heinrich told him. “You seem to have acquired camp followers already.”

Nein, they are not staying with us. They came to see their men off.”

“What is that?” Hans Heinrich pointed. Smoke was rising from a small wagon.

“It is just a market cart from one of the villages.”

Hans Heinrich glanced at Cotta. While von Hessler and von Trotha talked, Cotta quietly sent one of his men to check out the food cart.

“Shall we do a bit of drill, Herr Oberst?” Cotta asked.

Ja, bitte,” Hans Heinrich answered. “March, halt, nothing complicated. Their families are watching. Then give them a few minutes to say goodbye, and we will march to the camp.”

After Cotta moved off, Georg Rudolph von Trotha cleared his throat. “Hans Heinrich, I am not sure you should be using an enemy officer as your adjutant.”

“No, I suppose not,” the colonel acknowledged.

****

Heinz Kraft had not been permitted in Kleinjena’s levy, but at least he was still one of those who sold the village’s crops at the Naumburg market. He, Helene, and a few others left early in the morning. While they waited to cross the Saale River, Heinrich ducked into the railroad station and handed a piece of paper to the radio operator.

“I need this sent,” he said.

The young man looked at the page. It was full of blocks of five letters. “A company code? No matter. We charge per word, whether I understand it or not.”

Heinz paid what he privately considered to be far too much money. But the warning went out:

 

MILITIA GATHERING WEST NAUMBURG OBERST WANTS PEACEFUL ESCORT FOR USE TROOPS.

 

Those from Kleinjena sold some sausages on buns to those from other villages while they waited outside Naumburg for the market to open. As August Berles had predicted, some of the other villages had copied the idea, but Kleinjena’s sausages tasted better and the food cart kept them warm. Once the market opened, Kleinjena’s selection of vegetables sold well, too. Quantities were limited, and that drove up the price.

In mid-afternoon, a sudden cry cut through the hubbub of the market. “Soldiers! Soldiers!” A man came running past. “Soldiers across the river!”

Within minutes, Naumburg was in an uproar. A city official declared the market closed and ordered them out of town.

“It is okay,” Heinz told the others as they left. “Look! Those are our levies on their way to the camp.”

TSL-ssgsOnce they had crossed the Saale, Helene pointed to a spot just north of the train station. “We can put the cart there and sell the rest of our sausages.”

Most of Kleinjena and Rossbach had come to see their men off. A few people had come from Grössnitz and Nissmitz, along with one or two all the way from Freyburg.

“Look! More soldiers!” Bystanders were already starting to back away.

Heinz looked. The approaching soldiers were actually in formation. There were a handful of horsemen up front, and then about a hundred infantry. People started backing away. Heinz was not worried. He recognized the officer leading the column—the same Colonel von Hessler who had come to Kleinjena three days ago. While the officers conferred, one of the other mounted troops rode up to the food cart and examined it closely.

He was wearing a blue uniform that had very little decoration on it, just an armband with the cloth letters “MP ” on one sleeve.

“Did you make this cart?”

“Ja.”

“In Naumburg?”

Nein. We are from Kleinjena.”

“This is very clever. Could you make more?”

“You would have to talk to the mason, the carpenter, and the blacksmith, but I see no reason why not,” Heinrich said cautiously.

“Shhh. They will just take it,” one of the other men from Kleinjena hissed.

Nein,” the soldier said. “Where can I find the men who built it?”

“Well, Stefan the mason is in your levy.”

Danke.” The soldier wheeled his horse and rode back to the officers.

****

Lieutenant Cotta rejoined von Hessler and von Trotha.

“Private Brandt checked that wagon,” he said. “It is a food cart with a fire on a stone platform. They can cook while moving. That would be very useful. You could probably hire the villagers to build bigger ones.”

Danke.” Hans Heinrich saw the advantages at once. Even if all they did was have a fire already heating water when they stopped for the night, that would be a tremendous improvement.

Von Trotha did not. “That is a silly idea. Why would anyone want to do that?”

“I would definitely share the idea with the USE regiments,” Cotta said, “and direct them to Kleinjena. I cannot think of a better way to establish friendly relations between the regiments and the local citizens.”

“Lieutenant,” von Trotha said,” I would remind you that here the villagers are subjects, not citizens.”

“Citizens of the New United States now, Herr Hauptmann.”

Hans Heinrich intervened before an argument developed. “We should get the men to camp.”

The Saale River made an S-curve at Naumburg. It curved halfway around Naumburg from the southwest to almost due east, then back around to the north before turning northeast. The camp was located north of the town on what everyone called the west side of the river—including the short stretch just downstream of the town where the “west ” side of the river was east of the “east ” side.

Captain Samson von Burkersroda came out to greet him.

“Hans Heinrich. I brought ninety men down from Freyburg.”

Danke, Hauptmann von Burkersroda. I have one hundred eighty from our villages and the lower Unstrut.”

Von Burkersroda frowned. “Are not some of those villages von Nissmitz’s? He will want them with his levies. For that matter, most of my company are his, too.”

“Laucha and Nebra, as well,” Hans Heinrich said. “He will have to pick one company to command. I have asked Hauptmann Georg to command the company from the lower Unstrut.” Von Burkersroda and von Trotha were married to two of his sisters. Plus his brother Hans Friedrich’s betrothed, Christina von Burkersroda, was Samson’s niece.

Hauptmann von Trotha,” Hans Heinrich continued, “the day after tomorrow you and I will take our companies south and rendezvous with the first USE regiment to march through. My company will stop here on the return while yours will escort them to Halle.”

“And if there is fighting?” von Burkersroda asked.

“Our couriers ride for this camp immediately. One continues along the Saale, warning the villages as he goes. Another warns Naumburg and then rides for Leipzig. A third rides west. I want a fighting retreat. We will yield this camp and make our stand at Schloss Neuenburg outside Freyburg.”

“His Serene Grace John George will want Torstensson’s regiments stopped.”

“I am young and bold, but not so reckless as to believe I can stop Lennart Torstensson with two hundred seventy men. The first USE regiment alone will have two to three times that many and a few weeks’ training. If the duke wants it stopped, he will have to order von Arnim across the Saale. Under the circumstances, I believe His Serene Grace will find it acceptable if they pass through Saxony without foraging. Which reminds me—I must check our supply situation. Excuse me, meine Herren.”

“The supply situation is quite good, sir,” Cotta told him. “A train brought rations yesterday, as well as a Fresno scraper and a crew that knows how to use it. But I need you to go over your deployment plan with me.”

Two hours later, Hans Heinrich sighed. He could hardly believe that the USE was going to supply his troops. All it cost him was telling Cotta where everyone would be—not that that was much of a concession. He was pretty sure that three out of four villagers could figure out where he had to put his men—next to whichever USE regiment was marching through plus detachments at the two camps and patrols along the borders if he got really ambitious.

“Sergeant Toper put in for SRGs, too, Sir. Meaning no offense, but your matchlocks are crap, and everyone is about to stop using pikes.”

Hans Heinrich grinned in spite of himself. Cotta was being charitable. Those weren’t pikes; some of his men were actually carrying hunting spears.

“You probably ought to hang on to the bows, though.” Cotta rubbed his chin. “Most of the time they are awkward dead weight, but every once in a while they are exactly what you need.”

Danke, Leutnant,” Hans Heinrich said. “I think I will turn in.”

“What is the guard schedule, sir?”

Hans Heinrich got to sleep much later than he intended.

 

Monday, November 21, 1633

Camp 58, Occupied Saxony

 

Von Hessler’s Liebcompany and Von Trotha’s Unstrut Company gathered to march out early in the morning. Von Burkersroda’s Freyburg Company laughed at them more than was strictly necessary until the oberst summoned one of his men and two of the NUS soldiers.

“Ranks of three! Spears in the right-hand file! Arquebuses in the left and center files! By villages! Klosterhäseler right here! Burghessler next! Company! Forward . . . march!”

This time the Unstrut Company joined in the laughter but stopped when the Liebcompany set off mostly in step.

“Well, the joke is on us now,” Jakob Müller said as the Unstrut Company advanced in a gaggle. “You see what the oberst‘s company is doing. Josef, you have a matchlock. March in the middle. Stefan, you are on his left. I have a spear, so I am on the right. The rest of you follow us. Nein! Nein! Spears on the right!”

“Why?”

“Because you put the spears facing any attack. The river is on our left. We certainly will not get attacked from that direction.”

****

“That was a good idea,” Hans Heinrich told Lieutenant Cotta once the last boat crossed the Unstrut. “How did you find the barge?”

“That is a USE Navy barge,” Cotta explained. “It is stationed here to help the regiments cross the rivers, and the crew has been hiring anyone who has a boat and wants work.”

Danke. But I really wish there were a way to lay decking across that bridge.”

“Me, too,” Lieutenant Cotta agreed. “The problem is shoving the far end of the plank into position without dropping it in the river. But even then it still would not be wide enough for wagons or cannons to cross safely.”

“My little army will obviously need a navy if we encounter any other rivers.”

“Some experienced boatmen, anyway,” Cotta allowed. “But what you really need is your own barges. Once the last of the USE regiments marches through and these boatmen and the Navy barge move on, you will still have reason to move men across the Unstrut.”

“That would be best,” Hans Heinrich agreed. “There may be boatmen in the levies.” He thought for a few minutes. “I will look into it once we return to the camp. I want everyone to complete this march first.”

Cotta laughed. “I cannot believe I helped a Hessian officer cross a river.”

Hans Heinrich frowned. “Why is that funny?”

“I heard the story from an up-timer. Back in 1776, over a hundred years from now, the Americans were retreating from the English. They counterattacked on Christmas night, crossed a river by boat, and routed Hessian mercenaries working for the English.”

“Really?”

“In one of our training classes, they showed us a book with a picture of their General Washington crossing the Delaware River. They tell stories about Washington like we tell stories about Frederick Barbarossa.”

“Hm.”

Periodically throughout the afternoon, Hans Heinrich sent out mounted couriers to summon levies. At one point, a train passed by southbound. His men stopped to watch it go by. The novelty of the march was starting to wear off by the time they reached the border and found a handful of New United States soldiers in and around a little building next to the railroad tracks.

“Well, this is awkward.”

They were alert, too. “Halt! Who goes there?”

Oberst von Hessler, commanding the Saale Levies!”

Leutnant Cotta, Second MP Company!”

“Ell-Tee!” the sergeant of the guard hollered back. “We weren’t expecting you! Why don’t you and the oberst come forward?”

“So what is going on?” he asked in a more normal tone a couple minutes later.

“The first of the new USE regiments is going to march through Saxony, so I brought my escort force down to meet them,” Hans Heinrich explained. “I thought it prudent to meet them at their camp for the night, which I believe is across the river from Camburg.”

“So you thought you would march right in?” the sergeant asked sharply.

Ja. It is only a county border, according to the NUS. I have one hundred eighty men—significantly less than the USE regiment, I think.”

“I’ll send a couple of my men to the camp.”

That stalled them for a couple hours, but eventually an NUS captain showed up with a mounted squad. After exchanging salutes, he introduced himself as Hauptmann Groninger.

“I understand you want to march two companies to Camp 43?”

Ja. I thought it best to make contact with the regiment that will be marching through Saxony as soon as possible.”

“This is highly irregular.”

“Apparently your government is taking control of the part of Saxony that the railroad passes through,” Hans Heinrich returned, “which is also highly irregular. We could erect a border post and check the regiment through in the morning.”

“Do not even start with the idea of tolls,” Captain Groninger warned him.

“You see? It is much easier this way.”

Groninger glanced at Lieutenant Cotta, who nodded.

“Very well.”

Hans Heinrich breathed a sigh of relief. Over the next few days, the levies his couriers had summoned out would trickle in, and it was good to know that they would be tolerated if not quite welcomed.

 

Camp 43, New United States

 

A USE soldier wandered over. “Corporal Albrecht Heisler, USE Army.”

Ich bin Jakob Müller, from Kleinjena. How long have you been training?”

“Most of us enlisted after the Battle of Wismar Bay,” the USE soldier answered. “A little over a month. What about you?”

“Three days.”

“We saw you march in. You are okay for three days. So you are Saxons?”

“We think so. Apparently your New United States is taking over our part of Saxony to protect the railroad. Some of the adel want war. But the oberst does not.”

“We do not want to fight you fellows. We do not see why your duke will not help us against the League of Ostend. But so long as you let us through . . .”

Jakob nodded. “Our oberst says we are to help.”

“Do you men need to cook some food? We have firewood.”

Danke.”

While they started a fire, Wilhelm spoke up. “If we had brought the food wagon, we could already be cooking.”

The USE soldier gave him a puzzled look.

“Our village has a food cart that we can cook inside of,” Philip explained. “We built it for market days, to cook Heinz’s new sandwiches.”

“Now that would be a good thing to have,” Heisler agreed. “What are these sandwiches?

He understood their explanation readily enough. “Your village is cooking Grantville food?”

 

Tuesday, November 22, 1633

Camp 43, New United States

 

In the morning, the men from Kleinjena watched the column take shape ahead of them. An NUS company would lead them as far as the county border. An infantry battalion from the USE volunteer regiment was next, with Colonel von Hessler’s liebcompany of the Saale Levies inserted between its first two companies. The USE regiment’s artillery company and a long column of supply wagons rumbled along behind that battalion. The other infantry battalion followed the wagons, with their own Unstrut levies inserted between its third and fourth companies.

“So we are to spend a month marching from one side of Saxony to the other?” Peter asked.

Ja, but the short way,” Jakob Müller said over his shoulder. He had one of the old muskets today. “Just north to Merseburg and back. Not west to Langensalza and back east to the Saale.”

“I wonder if we will be marching all month,” his brother Josef said from the next rank back. “The colonel left the Freyburgers in the camp outside Naumburg. Maybe we will get a turn there.”

“I am going to go see what the USE soldiers are doing,” Jakob told his older brother when the column halted for a break. He took a couple minutes to size up the USE troops and chose a group who were attending to their gear.

“Excuse me.”

A couple of the USE soldiers looked up.

“I was watching you on the march,” Jakob said. “What were you doing with your muskets?”

“The manual of arms,” one of them said.

“Do not tell them everything,” the other said. “They work for John George.”

“I am not sure whether we do or not,” Jakob admitted. “We were called out by Oberst von Hessler, and he works for John George. Except that the USE took over the area, so he works for them, too. I think.”

“Ah, Hans, why not train them? They are right where we were a month ago.”

“Let me go ask the hauptmann,” the first soldier said. When he returned, he said, “How about you bring five of your men up here? We will put you between two of our ranks and show you what we are doing.”

Danke.” Jakob hurried back to the Unstrut levies. “Josef! The USE troops are willing to teach us! I need five men.”

“Fall in!” came Hauptmann von Trotha’s order.

“Quickly!” Jakob insisted. “Josef, Peter, Wilhelm, Gabriel Wenck, come with me.”

They hurried into line between two USE ranks as that company started marching.

****

Up toward the front of the column, Colonel Hans Heinrich von Hessler was also contemplating training. “Jürgen!”

His huntsman/groom/sergeant stepped away from the ranks. “Herr Oberst?”

“Jürgen, if the enemy were coming, how would you fight him?”

“Not like this,” Jürgen replied instantly. “Maybe later, when we have experience. Right now I would skirmish and fall back before them.”

“Let us try that with the men from Klosterhäseler first,” Hans Heinrich decided. “If you took eight of them, who could take the other seven?”

“Martin. When the farmers are haying or harvesting, he organizes them. They all respect him.”

Hans Heinrich nodded. “Do it. Send Martin’s group ahead of our company. Take your group off to the side of the road.”

Jürgen returned to the column, and in a couple minutes the fifteen men from Klosterhäseler left the ranks. Hans Heinrich watched eight of them sweep through the empty fields beside the road.

“Very good,” Lieutenant Cotta observed.

“I am glad you approve,” Hans Heinrich said as repressively as he could. Lieutenant Cotta colored slightly.

“May I make two observations, Herr Oberst?”

“Go ahead.”

“If your men fire, all of them will be vulnerable. If I were willing to take casualties, I would accept the volley and charge. I would not need anything more than equal numbers to overwhelm them. But if you put them in pairs . . .”

“One man fires while the other reloads,” Hans Heinrich finished. “Gut. And the other?”

“Do you see how they are falling behind?”

Hans Heinrich frowned. “The field is rougher than the road. Of course they are slower.”

Ja. Do you remember what I told you about the minutemen?”

“Ja.”

“During the English retreat from Concord, their flank guards tired and fell behind, and the minutemen inflicted many casualties on the column. After they put fresh men out there, they were able to trap some of the Minutemen.”

After what he estimated as half an hour, Hans Heinrich called to Jürgen to bring the men back in. “Burghessler! You men are next!”

Later on in the day, Lieutenant Cotta reminded Hans Heinrich about the food cart.

“I can send a mounted courier on ahead . . . no, I sent them all out to summon the levies. I will ride ahead myself.”

When Hans Heinrich and two of Cotta’s MPs reached Kleinjena, he explained what he wanted.

Gerd Werner frowned. “You do not intend to keep the wagon, Herr Oberst?”

Nein, I want to hire those who made it to make more,” Hans Heinrich explained.

“When does Kleinjena get its cart back? We need it for the market on Saturday.”

“That should be fine.”

 

Camp 58

 

Heinz and a few others from Kleinjena had the food cart in camp by the time the USE regiment and the two companies of levies arrived.

“Heinz!” Peter shouted. “What are you doing here?”

“Peter. Wilhelm. Jakob. How are all of you?”

“Eh, the arquebus gets heavy, and I am tired, but it is nothing we farmers cannot do,” Gabriel Wenck answered.

“What are you doing here, Heinz?” Wilhelm asked.

Oberst von Hessler wants Kleinjena to build a food cart for the army.”

“So do the USE soldiers,” Jakob Müller put in.

“How are we going to do that?”

“We need Stefan. The oberst has already gathered the other craftsmen,” Heinrich said.

That evening, Stefan the mason, Friedrich the blacksmith, Christopher the carpenter, and several other men from Kleinjena showed Jürgen, the MPs, and a few USE soldiers how they had modified the food cart. They listened to what the soldiers wanted, argued about the design, and generally stayed up too late.

 

Wednesday, November 23, 1633

Camp 58, Occupied Saxony

 

In the morning, the USE regiment marched out accompanied by Hauptmann von Trotha and his company as well as Sergeant Schneider’s team of military police. But Stefan the blacksmith stayed behind and began building a new wagon with the other craftsmen.

“Jürgen,” Hans Heinrich directed, “take the levies from two villages to the railroad station to guard the western approaches to Naumburg. I will ask Sergeant Toper’s MPs to drill the men from two villages, and I will assign the men from the last two to help organize the supplies and give the men from Kleinjena any help they might need with the wagon.”

Ja, Herr Oberst,” Jürgen said. “May I draw on the Freyburg Company?”

Hans Heinrich laughed. “That was well done, Jürgen. What you really mean is, am I going to let the Freyburg Company keep sitting around as they have obviously been doing for the last two days? Ja, use whomever you need from the Freyburg . . .” Hans Heinrich suddenly realized why Jürgen looked annoyed. “Sergeant Kröster, put them to work,” he said formally. “It is clear that the NUS men with the scraper are the only ones who have done anything to improve the camp. And post a guard.”

If all the villages respond, we could have seven companies here in two more days. The colonel sighed. The levies are infantry. But I have already asked for artillery, I see we will need boats for any significant river crossing, and I need horsemen, not just my servants and Georg’s as couriers. They are not even part of the levy. Seven companies . . . six hundred thirty men. We are going to need more provisions. If the movement schedule is off by even one day, some company will run out of food. He sighed again. I need adjutants—permanent ones, not just for these thirty days.

At mid-day, Hans Heinrich paused in his calculations when he heard Jürgen order, “Villages! Switch!” He stepped outside to see his liebcompany obey with a minimum of confusion. But the Freyburgers . . .

He pointed at two men. “Come here. How are you men from Freyburg organized?”

The two glanced at each other. “Those of us from the same quarter or the same craft share meals together,” one of them ventured.

“Do you have sergeants?”

Nein, Oberst.”

“You will soon.” Hans Heinrich raised his voice. “Quarters and guilds, switch jobs!”

Lieutenant Cotta caught on. “You are keeping the men together by village and quarter, Oberst?”

“They did that themselves, Leutnant. I saw the USE has squads of ten men, and with three more levels between the squad and the regiment. We will have the regiment, the companies, and the villages and quarters. And if it comes to fighting, I can call out entire villages, and each should have a core of experienced men.”

“So six dörfen or six viertelen makes one company?”

Von Hessler nodded. “I think they will all be dörfen. I do not want to have to think about which term to use in the middle of a battle.”

Naturally the men from Freyburg did not see it that way when he explained it.

Herr Oberst, we are not villagers.” The last word dripped condescension. “We are citizens of a town.”

“Maybe we could call them clusters. Traube,” Lieutenant Cotta suggested with a smirk.

It was not until two clusters were drilling and the other two were moving supplies and cleaning up the camp that he explained why that was funny.

Hans Heinrich frowned. “Leutnant, they simply have not had any experience. You can not expect them to be trained soldiers yet.”

“Cluster is a state of mind, Herr Oberst, and they have it. Your townsmen need to understand that they are not better than your villagers.”

“Ah, you are making my men just like you again.”

Ja, Herr Oberst. Perhaps you can use haufen.”

“I am not sure a heap is better than a cluster, leutnant.”

Hans Heinrich started to return to his paperwork.

Herr Oberst!” A villager was hurrying toward him—one of the men working on the new wagon.

“Kleinjena, ja?”

Ja. Ich bin Heinz Kraft. Mein Herr, we are making progress on the wagon. It will have four cooking fires, wood storage, and iron cranes to support the cooking pots. But Friedrich’s blacksmith shop is in Kleinjena. We cannot send him there to forge bolts because by the time he returns we will have made changes to the design. We cannot move his blacksmith shop here. We need him to build and repair things in Kleinjena. If you decide you want a lot of food wagons, you may want to set up a blacksmith’s shop here, but . . .

“All right, Herr Kraft, I understand it would be easier to build the wagon in Kleinjena. Send a couple men back tonight with instructions to bring a regular farm wagon down tomorrow so that you can load up all the wood and take it to Kleinjena and built the new wagon there.”

Hans Heinrich was in the middle of figuring out how many rations he needed at which camps when he heard a shout. He sighed and stepped outside in time to hear the sentry’s challenge.

“Who goes there?”

“Hans of Schlöben! I have a message for Herr von Hessler!”

“That is Oberst von Hessler!”

“Let him pass!” Hans Heinrich called. “Hans! What are you doing here?”

Euer Gnaden, one of your father’s men reached Rabis and Schlöben a few days ago. He asked for volunteers, and I rode with him to the big up-timer camp at Saalfeld. It took us a while to get in and longer to find him, but I spoke with your brother Hans Friedrich.”

“You did? Is he well?”

“He is very well, and his regiment is marching out on the twenty-seventh.”

Hans Heinrich’s eyebrows rose. “Just how did you find that out?”

“I spoke with Reinhold of Klosterhäseler. He is organizing the camp followers for your brother.”

“And he had to know when to have them and their supplies ready,” Hans Heinrich finished. “Very good, Hans. We will find a place for you here for the night.”

Euer Gnaden, may I stay? I can ride, and I can shoot.”

“I would really like to have you in my regiment, Hans, but my commission comes from Duke John George of Saxony. This is Saxon territory.”

“Begging your pardon, Euer Gnaden, but it is NUS Saxony, and I am an NUS citizen.”

Hans Heinrich rolled his eyes. “Did you tell Hans Friedrich that?”

Ja. He said that part was your problem.”

He definitely talked to Hans Friedrich, Hans Heinrich reflected.

“All right, Hans. I need more couriers. If anyone asks, you are one of my liaisons to the NUS.” And I will figure out if I have the authority to do that later. The key point, however . . .

“You said Hans Friedrich’s regiment will march out on the twenty-seventh?”

Ja. The first two nights they stay in small camps. On the third night there is a big camp across the river from Camburg. Then here, then halfway between towns called Weissenfels and Merseburg, and then Halle. The camp at Halle is another big one. After that there are more, but Reinhold said I did not need to learn them.”

Hans Heinrich grinned. “Leutnant Cotta!” When the lieutenant had arrived, he said, “This is Hans of Schlöben. He is from one of our estates near Jena. Hans, please tell Leutnant Cotta what you just told me.”

Afterwards, Cotta admitted, “Okay, I will say it. That was clever, and our operational security may as well not exist.”

“To be fair, Leutnant, knowing that the USE regiments will march along the railroad tracks and come through one at a time already told us everything. All this does is enable me to make sure that my company and I meet my brother at the border.”

 

Thursday, November 24, 1633

Camp 58, Occupied Saxony

 

“Good luck, Hauptmann,” Hans Heinrich told his brother-in-law as Captain von Burkersroda and the Freyburg Company formed up to rendezvous with the next USE regiment. “My men learned some things from the USE troops.”

“I doubt there is much to learn from farmers and tradesmen.”

Hans Friedrich would not thank me for telling Christina von Burkersroda’s uncle he is being a fool, Hans Heinrich told himself. So he did not. “The first regiment that marched through was in very good order.”

“It is cold,” Samson said. “I will keep the men moving.”

“I will see you back here in two days.”

Captain von Burkersroda’s comment made him realize just how cold it was this morning. We need to get more buildings up. That means we will need more wood shipped in if I want to make more food wagons. More paperwork.

“Sergeant Kröster, I think we will have just one village on guard at the train station today,” Hans Heinrich told Jürgen. “That will give you five haufen to work with. See if we have any more carpenters among the levies, and start work on another barracks building.”

Ja, Herr Oberst.”

In the afternoon, two men from the picket guard at the train station came running in.

“Armed men! Marching along the Unstrut!”

“To arms!” the leader of the haufen on guard duty hollered.

Hans Heinrich looked up from the papers he had spread across a table when he heard men shouting. He saw them running here and there.

Leutnant!” he called to Cotta before dashing outside.

Leibcompany! Form up by haufen!”

Jürgen materialized by his side. “Who do you think it is, Herr Oberst?”

“I think it has to be our western companies. Who else would be coming down the Unstrut? But in case it is not, get the men in position behind what cover we have.” The crew of the Fresno scraper had made substantial progress cutting a ditch around the camp, and the dirt was piled up into a berm just inside it. Even so, Hans Heinrich thought the Roman camps Caesar described in The Gallic Wars had been more formidable.

Hans Heinrich spent the next half hour walking the line with Jürgen and Cotta.

“Sergeant, I have just realized that while another barracks building is necessary, tomorrow I want more of our men working on the earthworks.”

Ja, Herr Oberst.”

Seeing that Lieutenant Cotta was taking notes, Hans Heinrich continued. “The second thing we need is a rider at the train station. No, two riders—one to warn Naumburg and the other to warn us here. Third, we need a picket downstream as well. Someone could march on us from the north. Fourth, drums.”

“I do not know where to find drums, Herr Oberst,” Jürgen told him. “But I do know that Christoph of Klosterhäseler has pipes back in the village.”

Hans Heinrich snapped his fingers. “That is right. I certainly heard them enough when I was growing up. Ask around and find out who else plays music of any kind. Hans Friedrich’s regiment is leaving the big camp at Saalfeld three days from today,” Hans Heinrich told him. “Old Reinhold will be with him. I would like you and Christoph to go to Klosterhäseler. Christoph will get his pipes, and you will get Young Reinhold and Anna Maria. Bring them back here on the twenty-ninth. We will meet Hans Heinrich’s regiment and escort them to the border.”

“Thank you, Herr Oberst.”

Hans Heinrich smiled. He had just ordered Jürgen to go get his intended. So I probably ought to do the same for Hans Friedrich. “While you are doing that, I will ride to Freyburg and see if Christina von Burkersroda would like to see Hans Friedrich.”

“Who will that leave in command of this camp?” Lieutenant Cotta asked loudly enough for nearby troops to overhear.

“Why, one of the captains of the companies on their way now,” Hans Heinrich said just as loudly.

“There they are!”

“You see?” Hans Heinrich asked.

“Are you sure they are your companies?” Cotta asked in a much quieter voice.

Ja,” Jürgen answered. “Burghessler Haufen has the picket today. I can see Adam Braun’s son Jakob in the front rank.”

“And the rabble behind them?”

“That will be our western companies,” Hans Heinrich predicted. As they drew closer, he frowned. “That does not look like three companies.”

A few minutes later he was welcoming them.

Guten Tag, Hauptleute.”

“How bad has the foraging been?” Georg von Nissmitz skipped the formalities.

“The first USE regiment marched from camp well-provisioned,” Hans Heinrich told them. “There was no foraging at all. They have stockpiled rations here, and some of those are for us.”

“North of here?”

“We will have to see what Hauptmann von Trotha reports, but I do not expect any problems.”

“So which regiment are we going to stop?” von Nissmitz asked.

Hans Heinrich blinked. “None of them. We do not want to stop them. We want them to keep going, right out of Saxony.”

“But we must uphold Saxony’s honor!”

Hauptmann, the USE is providing much of our food, and some of our equipment. One of our villages is even building them a specialized food wagon they are going to pay for. These are not the armies we have seen for the last many years.” He could tell von Nissmitz was unconvinced and changed the subject. “How are your men?”

“Cold.”

“Let us get them inside. They will be spending nights in tents when they are escorting USE regiments, but I want them in the barracks when possible.”

Gut, gut. Organizing these levies gave me a chance to get home. I put Samson von Burkersroda in charge of those from Freyburg while I checked my estates further west. I trust that meets your approval?”

Ja,” Hans Heinrich told him. “I sent Hauptmann von Burkersroda and his company out just this morning to meet the next USE regiment.”

After von Nissmitz went to settle his troops in, Hans Heinrich greeted the other captain warmly.

“Wolf, it is good to see you again.”

“And you,” Wolf Christoph von Bendeleben returned. “I know I do not have a commission, but I thought you could use my help.”

“So modest, too.”

Von Bendeleben grew serious. “Hans Heinrich, with von Nissmitz and von Witzleben commanding two of your western companies, you need someone you can trust commanding the third.”

Hans Heinrich nodded. “You are right. Danke. Where is von Witzleben?”

“Stalling.”

Trust Wolf to state it plainly. “Come with me, and we will take care of that commission. What are you calling your company?”

“Sachsenburg. At least I did not name it for myself.”

“But for one of your family’s estates. I like it. The fortress of Saxony.”

 

Friday, November 25, 1633

Camp 58, Occupied Saxony

 

The next morning Jürgen sent the Dietersroda Haufen and Hans of Schlöben off to the train station as the picket. The liebcompany‘s remaining five haufen and the newly-arrived Laucha and Sachsenburg Companies got divided between barracks construction, earthworks, and drill.

“What are they doing?” von Nissmitz asked Hans Heinrich.

“Sergeant Kröster is dividing them up by village. Have you appointed sergeants?”

Nein.”

“While they work, Sergeant Toper’s team of NUS troops will watch them and see who the leaders are. We will make them the sergeants.”

Over the course the day, the ditch was deepened, the earthen berm got higher, the second barracks building became habitable, and the Laucha and Sachsenburg Companies learned the rudiments of close order drill.

Hans of Schlöben rode up late in the day and announced that the next USE regiment was approaching.

“Sergeant Kröster, form up the liebcompany to welcome them. Hauptleute, leutnant, we will meet them at the gate.”

Hans Heinrich thoroughly enjoyed the look on Captain Georg von Nissmitz’s face when a thousand USE volunteers and three companies of levies marched into camp. Jürgen had men posted to direct each company to its own area.

Danke, Oberst,” the USE colonel greeted Hans Heinrich. After pleasantries were exchanged, Hans Heinrich detailed Leutnant Cotta to assist the colonel. Then he very quickly made sure his officers knew each other before hosting the Gray Adder Regiment’s colonel and his captains for dinner.

With fifteen hundred men in Camp 58 and not enough staff officers, Hans Heinrich found himself up way too late again.

“If you will excuse me, sir, Hauptmann von Trotha had signed plenty of commissions. You need the other half of those officers to show up.”

“I know, and I am going to make things worse for you, Leutnant Cotta. Tomorrow I am sending Sergeant Kröster to Klosterhäseler, and I am going to Freyburg and Balgstädt. We should each return Sunday evening.”

 

Saturday, November 26, 1633

Naumburg Station, Occupied Saxony

 

Hans Heinrich squinted against the late autumn sun. He already had a headache, and it was still morning.

“And so we cannot allow any villagers from the west side of the river into Naumburg,” the city official finished. Rather triumphantly, in Hans Heinrich’s opinion.

“Sir, these same villagers have been selling their crops at Naumburg’s market for years,” he stated again.

“It is no longer allowed. They do not consider themselves Saxons so they may not enter.”

“Consider themselves Saxons? They are Saxons. It is not their fault that their part of Saxony is going to be administered by the NUS. His Serene Grace John George ordered me to protect this area.”

“They will not be allowed in. They are neither honorable nor trustworthy.”

Hans Heinrich felt the tension coming off Lieutenant Cotta beside him and briefly wished the Gray Adder Regiment had not marched out of camp a few hours before, not to mention his Freyburg, Sulza, and Eckartsberga companies.

“We could march right in,” Sergeant Kröster pointed out.

“Our city guard is sufficient to defeat any attack by mere villagers. The Saxon army would assuredly burn your villages.”

Hans Heinrich nobly refrained from pointing out that the Saxon army was afraid to cross the Saale. He thought his three companies probably could march right in, but he was also very aware that he needed to send off two of them tomorrow to escort the next USE regiment scheduled to march through.

“I really must protest,” he said instead.

After a further round of reiterating their positions, the city official returned to Naumburg.

“We could easily take Naumburg,” Jürgen Kröster repeated as they recrossed the river.

Hans Heinrich sighed. “It is tempting, Sergeant, but since we are supposed to be protecting our part of Saxony against the USE and not conquering other Saxon cities, I think we will simply protest to His Serene Grace that Naumburg has taken an action that hurts some of his villages.” He glanced at Lieutenant Cotta. “What do you recommend, Leutnant?”

TSL-mrkt“First, I recommend that the villages have their own market right here,” Cotta said.

“The train station does not have a charter as a market town.”

“Ask Duke John George for a charter. Or ask the NUS legislature. Or authorize it yourself by putting the station under martial law.”

Hans Heinrich blinked. He had not expected that. One of most common complaints the adel made about the NUS was accusing it of anarchy. “If I do that, I have to put troops here.”

“You already do. Move a haufen of troops here. Have them buy food from the market here and eat it in view of Naumburg.”

Hans Heinrich smiled. “I like that idea, but I do not think it will work. Naumburg has other villages all around it that bring food to its market days.”

“So get there first and buy it up,” Cotta told him. “In fact, some of that can supply your men. It would be easier for the NUS to send you money than food. If you buy enough of it, some people from Naumburg will cross the river and buy from your villagers.”

“We cannot starve Naumburg.”

“Of course not. Nor are you able to. Just buy up enough food nearby that it is convenient for those in Naumburg to buy at the new market. Let them cross the river freely, and do not let your villagers gouge them.”

“How are we going to get all that food over here?” Hans Heinrich asked.

“Were you not telling me just the other day that you need a small navy?”

“Why are you telling me this? Are you not giving me advice that would split this area away from Saxony?”

Cotta frowned. “Herr Oberst, the New United States has no desire for you to have bad relations with the rest of Saxony. We do strongly object to townsfolk acting as though they are morally superior to villagers. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . .’ ”

Ja, I saw the Gray Adder Regiment left several notices like that in the camp. I was about to deal with it when this came up.” Hans Heinrich sighed and went to talk to his officers.

Georg von Nissmitz was aghast as it was. “You propose taking action against a Saxon city?”

Nein. That Saxon city has taken action against our villages. I propose letting the villages provide for themselves by selling their excess crops. But perhaps I can work something out with Dr. Romanus by the next market day. He is a reasonable man. In the meantime, a week of not doing anything rash will probably reassure Naumburg more than anything else would. If you gentlemen will excuse me, I need to see whoever is in charge of the train station.”

The stationmaster was one Nicolaus Klomann. Hans Heinrich summarized the situation, ending with, “If the villages cannot sell in Naumburg, I may have to put the station under martial law to allow them to sell here.”

Klomann did not even blink. “You may not change the train schedules. You alter the schedule, trains crash, people die.”

“I do not want to change the train schedule,” Hans Heinrich said. “Presumably you have experts in charge of that. I want to keep fifteen soldiers here all the time. I may need a small building.”

“Can you not keep your soldiers at the camp north of Naumburg?”

“Of course I could. But how much help would they be two miles away if something happened here?”

Lieutenant Cotta spoke up. “The USE has a rental agreement with the railroad company. Perhaps my chain of command could negotiate a small increase.”

“Write it all down if you would. I will radio it down the line.”

His levies had heard, of course. One of the farmers asked, “So who will buy from us now?”

“Today, I will. Next week I will talk with the mayor of Naumburg. If we can get you back into Naumburg, fine. If not, we will hold a market right here.”

Hans Heinrich handed von Nissmitz a sausage on a roll. Von Nissmitz looked dubious.

“I must leave within the hour. Hauptmann Nissmitz, you will be in command until Hauptmann von Trotha and his company return tonight.”

Von Nissmitz nodded and took a bite. “This is good sausage.” He sounded surprised.

“I have commissioned a food wagon from their village.” Perhaps I should have Kleinjena send me just cooks and craftsmen in the next levy.

At midday, Jürgen’s party set out for Klosterhäseler. Hans Heinrich was about to set out to Freyburg when Wolf von Bendeleben approached.

“Are you sure you do not want an escort, Herr Oberst?”

“I have been riding along the Unstrut for years, Hauptmann. But if anything important happens, send Hans of Schlöben to Balgstädt to find me.” Hans Heinrich lowered his voice. “Learn as much as you can from Leutnant Cotta. Implement it with your company, even if Hauptmann von Nissmitz does not.”

Hans Heinrich’s first stop was in Kleinjena. A group of farmers looked at him, half curious, half in alarm.

“I am here to check on the new food wagon,” he said.

“Right this way, Hochwohlgeboren. They are almost finished. Kleinjena is very happy to help Saxony . . .”

Hans Heinrich tried not to cringe and tuned out much of the man’s obsequiousness. The men in the blacksmith’s shop were entirely different.

Herr Oberst! We were not expecting you.”

“I am not here to rush you,” Hans Heinrich assured them. “I was passing by on my way to Freyburg and Balgstädt.”

“That is good, Herr Oberst, because we really need a few more days,” Stefan told him. “Especially since we figured out that we want only two cauldrons. The other two fires should be under ovens, baking bread.”

“An exzellent idea. Can you have it ready on Tuesday for a week-long test?”

“Perhaps. Herr Oberst, how are our men doing?”

“They escorted a USE regiment to Halle. They should be back at the camp this evening,” Hans Heinrich answered.

Hans Heinrich felt vaguely guilty for not telling them about Naumburg excluding their village from the market, but he also did not see any point in worrying them. Besides, he might still be able to work something out with Dr. Romanus.

Hans Heinrich rode on to the von Burkersroda townhouse in Freyburg.

“Something has happened to Hans Friedrich!” the maid exclaimed.

Nein. Hans Friedrich will be outside Naumburg on the first of December. I thought Christina might like to see him.”

“Maria, go get Herr von Burkersroda.”

Christina entered on her father’s heels.

“Herr von Hessler.”

“Herr von Burkersroda. Fräulein.”

“Do you have news of Hans Friedrich?” she asked eagerly.

Ja. His regiment will march from the New United States soon. He should reach the camp outside Naumburg on December first.”

“Will you meet him there?”

“I will meet him the night before and escort his regiment through Saxony.”

“Father, may I accompany him?”

Hans Heinrich stayed out of as much of the ensuing conversation as he could. Yes, it was safe. Yes, there would be other women along.

“Is there any reason I can not accompany Hans Friedrich from Camburg to Halle?” Christina asked.

“It would mean riding fifteen miles a day for six days,” Hans Heinrich warned. “I will try to find buildings for you to stay in at night, but you must be prepared to stay in a tent if necessary.”

“You and your chaperones could certainly stay at inns along the way,” Johann von Burkersroda stated. “I am sure the officers will do so.”

Hans Heinrich rather doubted that. He had no intention of leaving his men on their own at night, and he doubted that Hans Friedrich did, either. Nor was he about to station soldiers around an inn.

“Father, I am sure I can survive six days.” Christina looked at Hans Heinrich. “You have taken a number of men from the town for a whole month—men who do not know anything more than I do about being soldiers.”

“They are learning,” Hans Heinrich said truthfully. “Your uncle Samson is training them well,” he added less accurately.

“Will Samson be journeying with you?” von Burkersroda asked.

Hans Heinrich smiled. “I was going to leave Hauptmann von Burkersroda in camp, but I do not know any reason he could not come with us.”

“Will the levies from Freyburg be traveling with you?”

Nein. They will be getting a well-deserved rest.”

“When would I need to set out, Herr von Hessler?”

“On Tuesday. I will send a detachment. They can stay at Balgstädt Monday night and call for you on Tuesday.”

Hans Heinrich found daylight had slipped away from him and rode the short distance from Freyburg to Balgstädt in the dark. He was surprised to see the estate lit by campfires. After dismounting and tying his horse, he moved quickly toward the fires with one hand on the hilt of his sword. A military force? Not a big one—only a company or so.

He headed for the schloss. No sentries here. Sloppy of them. He pulled the door open and took about three steps before a servant spotted him.

“Shh!” Hans Heinrich put a finger to his lips. Once he was next to the servant, he asked, “What is going on, Nabel?”

“It is Hauptmann Philipp Heinrich von Witzleben’s company from Wohlmirstedt! They have been eating Balgstädt’s food and cutting up fences and trees for firewood for the last two days! And they’re robbing everyone in Balgstädt.”

Hans Heinrich swore. He knew exactly why. His father had loaned Philipp Heinrich’s father money years ago and pledged Wendelstein as collateral. Wolf Dietrich had defaulted, and Hans Heinrich von Hessler the elder had taken possession of Wendelstein. The dispute had escalated all the way to Duke John George. The loss of Wendelstein had impoverished Philipp Heinrich’s family, although Hans Heinrich suspected that von Witzleben had exaggerated the severity of it.

I do not need petty arguments endangering Saxony west of the Saale. We are a greater danger to ourselves than the USE regiments are.

“Where is Elisabeth?”

“In the great hall. Shall I announce you?”

Nein. I assume she is hosting von Witzleben?”

Ja. He is most . . .”

“I don’t doubt that. Is she in any danger?”

“Nein.”

“How many of his men are in there with him?”

“Two officers, both younger than you. Each has a servant.”

“Go about your business and tell no one you saw me.”

Hans Heinrich slipped upstairs to Captain Georg’s room. He knew his brother-in-law had more pistols than the two he’d been wearing. He didn’t intend to shoot any of Captain Witzleben’s men but it was only prudent to want more than the one shot in his own pistol. He might be the colonel, but he didn’t expect von Witzleben’s men to like it when he told them to stop drinking, foraging, and generally abusing his hospitality.

His hand closed on a woolen scarf. Oberst von Hessler might not be able to get close enough, but if he looked like just another villager, maybe. There were a couple of handkerchiefs lying nearby. He grabbed them as well.

Hans Heinrich slipped back out the door. As he passed some bushes which would make a good rally point, he speared one of the handkerchiefs over a branch. Then he made his way to the village’s homes and pounded on a particular door.

“Who is there?”

“Hans Heinrich von Hessler!”

He heard someone hurrying to the door.

“What can I do for you, Herr von Hessler?”

“Pastor Schieferdecker, tell me about these men in the village.”

“They are Philipp Heinrich von Witzleben’s men. He is at the schloss himself, consuming your resources and Hauptman von Trotha’s while his men forage here in the village.”

“I understand. Does he have about ninety men?”

Schieferdecker frowned. “That seems about right.”

“Has anyone been hurt?”

“Not yet. That I know of.”

Gut. I am calling up another levy, Pastor, and you are now one of my sergeants.”

“What?”

“Go wake Jakob Burckhardt and Kaspar Hutmann. Between yourselves decide which other men you need and can wake quietly. Arm yourself with whatever you can find. Wait south of the schloss for my signal. I will wake others and come in from the north. No killing unless von Witzleben’s men become violent.”

The pastor blinked.

“I am counting on you and your men.”

Hans Heinrich hurried off. Hauptmann Georg did not want Hans Schösgen. Ha! Oh, I forgot to tell Schieferdecker about the handkerchief. A couple minutes later, he pounded on Hans Schösgen’s door.

“Who is there? I warn you I am armed!”

Gut! It’s Hans Heinrich von Hessler. I need you. Bring your weapon.”

A little while later, Hans Heinrich had a group of over a dozen men around him.

“Hans Schösgen, you’re the sergeant of this group. Pastor Schieferdecker is the sergeant of the other group. I want you to round up von Witzleben’s men. Take them back to their campfires, tie them up, hit them over the head—I do not care. But no killing unless they become violent. In the long run we must work together with these men’s villages to protect each other. They are undisciplined. So it is our responsibility to bring the situation under control.”

“We will do it,” Schösgen declared.

“I will take Hans Völkner and Jakob Petz with me and deal with the men in the schloss. We will leave a sign once we’ve taken the schloss. You will have to send someone to the pastor to tell him to begin.”

Schösgen nodded. “Andreas Scheid!” He waved a boy over. “If you are going to slip out in the middle of the night and follow us anyway, go tell Pastor Schieferdecker to begin his attack.”

Hans Heinrich pulled the scarf up over his nose and mouth. He, Petz, and Völkner knocked out two men on the way to the schloss. They were almost to the door when it swung open, and three men came out carrying bottles of wine.

They are looting Balgstädt! Hans Heinrich smashed a fist into the nearest one. He dropped a couple bottles and went down. Völkner and Petz piled in and quickly subdued the other two.

Hei!” Someone inside had spotted them. “No brawling!” Whoever it was hurried outside.

Adel, Hans Heinrich realized. He had to be one of Von Witzleben’s junior officers. “Leutnant, get your men under control!”

The young man flushed and drew his sword. Belatedly, Hans Heinrich realized the young man had not recognized him.

But the sword was coming up. Hans Heinrich jumped back and drew his own.

The junior officer came in overconfident and slightly tipsy. Hans Heinrich did something he would never do against a competent and sober opponent. He scraped blades and kicked his opponent in the knee. The leutnant‘s leg buckled, and Hans Heinrich physically drove him up against the wall and delivered two quick blows to the gut with his other hand. He dropped his sword and knocked the man out with a right cross.

Hans Heinrich slipped inside. He waited a few minutes. Sure enough, someone in the dining room sent a servant to look for the junior officer who hadn’t come back. Hans Heinrich had to assume the servant was loyal to his master. As the man passed his doorway, the colonel yanked him inside and knocked him out.

After few more minutes the door to the dining room opened again. Another servant came out. He was wary, scanning the hall in both directions.

Hans Heinrich realized he could not take this one by surprise. But he was sure to know the schloss better. Hans Friedrich and I used to be disciplined for chasing each other from room to room, yelling like madmen. . . . He gave a blood-curdling yell and dashed across the hall to the next doorway.

The servant jumped and ran back into the dining room.

Hans Heinrich heard a voice shouting orders. Yes, that was von Witzleben.

“You! Search that way! Leutnant, you go the other way! You, go get more men!”

Hans Heinrich smiled to himself as he made his way up the servants’ stairs. A piercing scream told him that a maid had seen him dashing across the second floor. Clumping boots told him someone was thundering up the main stairs. He charged down it. This leutnant did not have his sword drawn, so Hans Heinrich barreled into him, sending both of them tumbling down the stairs.

Ow! Not my best idea. He rolled to his feet. So did the leutnant, and he was faster. But he made the mistake of going for his sword. That took two hands, so Hans Heinrich delivered a clean blow to his jaw.

Another servant screamed. Hans Heinrich headed for the door. This time he remembered he was supposed to set a sign. Not having anything else, he draped the remaining handkerchief over the outside door handle.

****

In the dining room, Elisabeth von Hessler glared at Philipp Heinrich von Witzleben. “So, Hauptmann von Witzleben, is that one of your thieves ransacking my house? Or is that some other thief who has wandered in past your non-existent sentries?”

Philipp Heinrich’s mouth dropped open.

“My husband Georg Rudolph has been a hauptmann for some time now. Three of my brothers are officers—as you well know since they are your cousins, too. Although the military logic of seizing my home escapes me, I do have some idea that, since you have seized it, you are not supposed to let just anyone walk out with the silver.”

Nein, nein . . . I mean, ja, ja. I will go post guards now.”

Elisabeth observed with satisfaction that Philipp Heinrich was quite flustered. Once he had guards in place at the schloss, she would begin pressing him to respect private property in Balgstädt.

****

Hans Heinrich left Völkner and Petz to watch the schloss. He headed for the main concentration of von Witzleben’s men west of the schloss, between it and the church.

A man he didn’t know stumbled past him. Then another.

“Hold them! Hold—!”

“Form up in ranks! This is disgraceful! ‘Let all things be done decently and in order!’ I see precious little of either here!”

Hans Heinrich smiled to himself. Pastor Schieferdecker was shaming von Witzleben’s men worse than any mere sergeant could. Maybe I could borrow the local chaplains for my levies.

But that was for later. A scuffle was breaking out between Schieferdecker’s men and some of von Witzleben’s. Hans Heinrich came out of nowhere, hooked an arm around a man’s neck, and dragged him back into the darkness.

“Where is Johann?”

“Someone just dragged him off!”

“Find him!”

Von Witzleben’s men abandoned their quarrel and very cautiously fanned out.

Hans Heinrich moved on. He found another knot of von Witzleben’s men engaged in drunken vandalism. Two of them disappeared before a third raised the alarm.

Ten minutes later, Hans Heinrich located Hans Schösgen’s squad.

“Hans! Is it going well?”

Schösgen took a breath. “Oberst, you might want to give a man fair warning. With that scarf over your face, you look like a bandit.”

Hans Heinrich took off the scarf and grinned. “Völkner and Petz have the schloss. Pastor Schieferdecker has quite a few of them under control.”

“So do we. We had to beat down a couple of them.”

“Come on. Schieferdecker is back this way. We can get them all in one place and explain what is what.”

They gathered up more of von Witzleben’s men on the way. They heard Schieferdecker before they saw him. He was at full volume.

“ ’Decently and in order!’ What kind of a feudal levy do you call yourselves?”

“Straight lines, man! You are not too drunk to stand still!” That was Jakob Burckhardt the schoolteacher joining in.

“We found Johann!” a voice called out. “He was in the bushes! Barely conscious!”

“What do you have to say for yourself, Johann?” Schieferdecker demanded.

“Something grabbed me,” he slurred. “A devil.”

“We found this near him, Pastor,” one of the searchers volunteered. He handed Schieferdecker the handkerchief that Hans Heinrich had left in the bushes.

Christoph Schieferdecker draped the handkerchief over his fist so that the two rips looked like eyes. “I have heard from my colleagues that this is the up-timer representation of a ghost or spirit. Perhaps you were attacked by an up-timer.”

“Or by a spirit,” one of the men suggested.

Many of von Witzleben’s company cast nervous looks around them.

Colonel Hans Heinrich von Hessler surveyed the situation. The men of Balgstädt had von Witzleben’s men completely under control. He stepped forward.

“Oh, whoever he was, I am sure he was a Saxon ghost. ” All I did was leave a torn handkerchief as a signal. Now everyone thinks it is a heraldic device. “I am Oberst Hans Heinrich von Hessler, commander of this levy. Am I to understand that you are one of my western companies?”

“Western mob, maybe,” Schösgen muttered loudly enough for nearly everyone to hear.

“This is my father’s estate. He leased it to Georg Rudolph von Trotha, my senior hauptmann. Your levy was raised to protect occupied Saxony, not to loot it for yourselves. Clearly you would benefit from immediate training,” he stated as grimly as he could.

“Line up in ranks of five. Pastor Schieferdecker, put your men on the right end of each row. Sergeant Schösgen, put your men on the left of each row. Keep them from tipping over. When I say march, each of you will step forward with his left foot . . .”

The column had just lurched forward when Hans Heinrich spotted another man approaching.

“What is going on here?”

Hauptmann von Witzleben! So good of you to join us!” Hans Heinrich called.

“Hans Heinrich! There was an intruder! Masked!”

“That is Oberst Hans Heinrich! Never mind the ghost! Fall in at the head of your men, Hauptmann!”

As they marched along, Hans Heinrich said, “I know why you let this happen.”

“My men are starved. I have no money to feed them. . . .”

“Your people are not this starved. No, Hauptmann, this was personal. Pursuing personal grievances will not help our people.” They were in front of the schloss. “Company, halt!”

Elisabeth was standing outside with her hands on her hips as her servants helped several of von Witzleben’s men from the building.

“Elisabeth, Philipp Heinrich is going to make this right.”

Elisabeth eyed Philipp Heinrich von Witzleben and the junior officers now staggering into formation. “Hans Heinrich, if you march them off to your camp, the other ladies and I will return things to where they belong and make a list of damages. Can you send Pastor Schieferdecker and the other men back in time to have a church service tomorrow evening?”

Ja, and I will try to return on Monday myself.”

As von Witzleben’s company stumbled down the road beside the Unstrut River, Hans Heinrich could hear the murmurs in the ranks.

Nein, there was a ghost. I saw him.”

 

Author’s Notes:

 

Christoph Schieferdecker was quoting 1 Corinthians 14:40.

Colonel            Oberst, plural Obristen

Captain            Hauptmann, plural Hauptleute

Lieutenant       Leutnant, plural Leutnants

All the residents of Balgstädt in this story are historical, except for the servants in the schloss.

Other than the von Hesslers, all characters in Burghessler and Klosterhäseler are invented.

****