Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A surprise for the surprise attack

“Wake up General, its time”.
General Sir Steven Ferguson could hear the words but surely it was a dream, no a nightmare, god I have only just gone to bed he thought through the fog of a very heavy head.
“What is it Evens, who the hell told you to wake me for god’s sake?”
“You did sir, its 3am, and you told me you wanted to be up and ready by four and that I was to wake you at 3am.”
Damn, thought Sir Ferguson, damn, damn. My god my head hurts, it must have been some party last night. Memories were slowly coming back as he rose and sat on the side of the bed, his head in his hands, god my throat is a sewer.

“Evans I need some of your reviver” General Ferguson demanded.

The General was not sure what the reviver consisted of, all he knew was it worked and within 30 minutes his stomach would be settled and his hangover might even be gone.
His servant handed the General a small glass, Sir Ferguson reminded himself, don’t smell the stuff straight down. Taking a deep breath he swallowed the foul tasting elixir down.

His servant handed him a cup of tea,
“Now wash it down with this sir and in a few minutes you will be as right as rain”.

As his stomach protested at the intrusion of the foul elixir he remembered that his staff had put on a surprise party to celebrate the news that came by courier yesterday, the Parliamentary High command had promoted him to General.
Then he vaguely remembered being presented to some woman, he quickly looked over at the other side of the bed,
“Where is the Lady Evens?”
The errr lady went back to the village a few hours ago sir, she wanted to be home before her husband woke up.
“Quite right too Evans, right then help me get dressed and then summon the staff and commanders”.

“They are already here sir, down stairs and might I say a sorry sight they make, and before you ask General I don’t have that much Elixir to cure them all.”

“Well damn them let them suffer, it’s their fault anyway.”

The newly raised General fully dressed and stomach finally settled made his way down stairs of the Hounds Tavern, assembled below were the staff officers and commanders of his units, and it was easy to see which were the staff officers, many of them looked rather green and very hung-over.

“Right then, Colonel Sorensen, the maps where are they?”

Colonel Sorenson was Lord Bedford’s man, he was Sir Ferguson guessed placed as his second in command to spy on him and make sure he didn’t do anything stupid.
“The maps are already here sir, on the table.”

Ferguson eyed the Colonel up, my god he is immaculately dressed and doesn’t look a bit the worse for wear, but then Fergusn didn’t recall seeing him drinking at all.
The General walked over to the table and surveyed the map.
“Right then gentlemen please gather round”
Taking up a piece of paper he noted it was his order of battle

1st Foot, 2nd Foot, 3rd Buffs, 90th Foot, 114th Fusiliers
29th Foot,
103rd Light Infantry
3 Militia Battalions
1st regiment Dragoon Guards (Veteran)
15th Light Horse Regiment (Dragoons)
2 Medium Batteries

“Now then there will be no need for any complicated moves or grand strategies, our target is the town of Lyndhurst, and there are three roads that lead to the town from our positions here in Eling.
The north road via Netly marsh, not a good prospect with all those marshes and waterways, the southern road via Deep Leap ridge, which means easy defensive terrain for the enemy and finally the centre road over Hounds Down Ridge.
Obviously Gentlemen we will be taking the easiest and shortest route to Lyndhurst, the centre road.
Colonel Mackay has the 15th dragoons out on piquet duty on Hounds Down ridge, what have you to report Mackay.

“There have been no signs of the enemy apart from a squadron of enemy cavalry on their side of the border, like me simply on Piquet duty. We interrogated a few travelers yesterday and they report enemy infantry were arriving in Lyndhurst we have unsubstantiated estimates that would place between 3-5 Battalions in the area.”

“Very well thank Colonel, now apart from the 3-5 enemy battalions in the town we can expect to find more cavalry and perhaps a battery of guns.
Now this is how we will advance, Colonel Mackay along with Colonel Murray of the 103rd Light Infantry will lead the advance, I will be with them.
Colonel Sorenson will bring up the rest of the main body. Now gentlemen the enemy may know we are coming, hopefully they don’t but I cannot expect to be that lucky; so this will be our first battle in this war and I and all free Englishmen will be watching, so don’t disappoint me or them.
We had the victory party last night, now it behooves us to win the battle, now go and get back to your commands and get them moving, Speed and audacity gentlemen, speed and audacity.”

As the men filed out of the tavern, Corporal Evans handed his General a plate of eggs and bacon, a toothless grin on the servants face; the sight of the greasy meal made his stomach rumble in protest.

“Don’t push your luck Evans, you are still not too old to be put back in the front line” General Ferguson snapped as he stepped out and joined Colonel Sorensen who was already mounted.

The general was just about to give orders to Sorensen when he was interrupted by a commotion further up the village, quickly he strode up to where 2 Dragoons had just ridden in, they were speaking with their Colonel who had been about to leave for his command.

“What the hell is the matter Colonel?” General Ferguson demanded as he stormed up to the dragoons.

“Sir these men are from my command, they have been sent back with a message, the 15th Dragoons have been pushed off Hounds Down Ridge.”

“What the hell do you mean pushed off ?” General Ferguson demanded, looking at the Dragoons

One of the Couriers a sergeant saluted,
“General we were surprised by two Royalist Cavalry regiments and a Light Infantry Battalion; they attacked around three o’clock this morning. They were upon us before we could react and we simply hustled from the ridge. The major sent me and Tompkins here back with the warning.”

General Ferguson was stunned, his staff had gathered around and word was spreading that the Royalists were attacking.

“Sergeant where in the hell is your regiment now then?”

“Major Harris has formed them up near the bottom of the ridge sir, they are dismounted and preparing to defend the hedges, but when we left the Royalists weren’t advancing, in fact they seemed content to just sit up on that ridge, Sir.”

General Ferguson turned to Colonel Sorenson,
“Colonel take the 103rd , the 1st Dragoon Guards and the artillery and join the dragoons, for  god sake stop the bloody Royalists from advancing, I will come up with the rest of the army.
It could be just a raid; why else would they have stopped?”

“Indeed sir, either that or they are waiting for more light, but either way I will make sure they don’t come any further General.”

“Well make sure of it.” The General added as Colonel Sorenson set about gathering the advance guard.

General Ferguson ordered his bugler to sound the assembly.

As he strode back to his horse he couldn’t help but wonder why the Royalists had chosen this day to attack and what luck to have advanced an hour before he intended to attack. One thing was for sure, he had to retake the ridge, the Royalists could not be allowed to fortify it or the Teste crossing behind Eling would be threatened; besides there was the shame of having to defend when he had announced so damn loudly to all and sundry including Milord Bedford that he would be in Lyndhurst Township by this evening.

Well he pondered to himself it simply means the battle is earlier and not later, but that damn ridge could be a beast to retake.

Hounds Down Ridge

Soldiers of the Royalist 1st Light Infantry make a surprise attack on Hounds Down Ridge

General Leopold Anders was extremely pleased with his morning attack on the ridge, everything had worked like clockwork, his men had taken the ridge with only 2 wounded, sadly the enemy only suffered a few wounded and lost a few men as prisoners, so it could hardly even been called a skirmish. However whatever it was called he now had the ridge as a blocking position. Later if that damn General Ferguson was too afraid to attack, the ridge would make an excellent launching site for his own attack on Eling, but for now he wanted to wait and let the bloody murderous scum of a General try his luck against a prepared enemy.

Now as he looked down into the valley below in the early dawn light of day he could just make out a few enemy dragoons hiding behind some hedges.
He sat there absent mindedly rubbing the stump of his arm, a arm that he had lost when the then Sir Ferguson raided his house with a bunch of murderous pirates, in the same raid his nephew had been murdered, so yes this was payback time and he intended to teach the play General what it was to fight an enemy that knew he was coming.

The Royalists had plenty of warning, weeks ago they had sent spies into Eling with orders to sit and wait. A few days ago he received word that the Royalist army was gathering in Eling, and as late as  last night one of his agents had sent a message that Sir Ferguson had just been promoted to General and they were having a party to celebrate, the woman who passed the message also noted the enemy would be attacking at 4am this morning. So it had been an easy task for him to move his own army forward an hour before the enemy themselves advanced. It had surprised him how easily he had taken the ridge line, clearly the enemy piquets had been asleep. No matter it was to his advantage.
As he looked behind him, moving along the road  from Lyndhurst his army was gathering, on the ridge line the artillery were already deploying, yes this was one battle he looked forward to with some relish.
He knew his order of battle of by heart

1st   Infantry Brigade: –
1st Lyndhurst Light Infantry Battalion
1st Regiment = 25th Foot, 26th Foot,
2nd regiment = 27th Inniskilling 99th Foot
3rd Regiment = 28th Foot, 102nd Foot
4th Regiment = 30th Fusiliers, 104th Foot

3rd  Dragoon Brigade
3rd Dragoon Regiment
4th Dragoon Regiment

2 medium Batteries

Next Issue - The Parliamentary army attack on Hounds Down Ridge

1 comment:

  1. the parliamentarians should have known better than to have that party and have all those women! Now they shall pay the price, which they should pay because they are going against the king and are preventing the type of modern democracy that we enjoy... they win they'll have an oligarchy king wins well he may abolish parliament altogether!
    ah well such is war and politics lets see what the battle hold and what that could mean for the war!