|The Positions at the outset of the Battle|
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Chevalier Busset and his second in Command Marquis de Brahaut dismounted outside Hanley house, a large Chateau type house on the outskirts of Bathurst village that he and his staff had taken over as headquarters. It was a beautiful still summer morning, the sun had barely dawned and already they had ridden the length of the Allied front line checking on dispositions but in particular he had ridden over to Paddington village where the English Confederation commander was headquartered. There he had a early breakfast with General Saunders and his staff, ensuring they were familiar with their role in the coming battle.
Busset was very impressed with General Saunders, he was a consummate professional officer, so unlike the usual prickly aristocratic English officers he had seen since his arrival in England. It had come as a unpleasant surprise to the French to discover that most of the professional officers in the English Army were either in the North American Colonies or had gone over to the Royalists on the advent of King James. The English Confederation certainly had a sprinkling of professional commanders but the large majority were inexperienced nobles or sons of the nobility, who usual swaggered in their colourful attire before the ladies rather than attend to the units under their command.
Another unpleasant surprise was that finding out that some of the units in the Confederation Army that had come across from Lyndhurst were not at full strength. General Saunders and his small army had fought the first battle of this war on the borders of Lyndhurst county and as a consequence most of the units had not replaced all their losses, some were barely 60% of their original strength prior to the battle that had been fought just 8 weeks ago. It was as Chevalier Busset pondered to himself just as well that he had relegated the English contingent a secondary role of pinning and supporting rather than actually leading the attack. It was yet another disappointment the Chevalier had discovered about his Ally.
Once back at Hanley house both Busset and de Brahaut handed the reins of their horses to orderlies outside and then walked into the large lounge area of the house, the room had been converted into a operations room with small groups of officers studying maps and writing battle orders or duplicate orders for units in his army. Waiting in the dining room in between nibbling on sandwiches were the orderly’s and couriers that would take the orders to the various commands.
Chevalier Busset walked over to the main map, it should the area where the battle would be fought, he studied it to ensure no changes had been made, as he looked through the sheaf of finalised orders already completed a few of the officers not involved in the writing of orders gathered around him.
He looked at the map and was pleased to see that all the units were already in position or were not far from being in position.
The French Army had the left flank, and it was from here that the main attack would be launched, following an initial artillery barrage on the enemy units.
The Provence Regiment commanded by the veteran Comte de Saarsfeld was positioned north-east of Barrington forest across the left hand road, the two Battalions of the Provence Regiment were to capture the village of Benbow. Behind the Provence Regiment and supporting their attack on the village was the two Battalions of the Royal Roussilion under command of Chevalier's Busset 2nd in command Marquis du Hautoy. On his right were the two Battalions of the Boccard Regiment commanded by Marquis Boccard himself, the Boccard Regiment was to advance on the right flank of the Provence Regiment aligning itself on the Clydesdale – Bathurst road, their orders were to pin the Royalists forces defending the brewery River line in this sector, and if necessary to force the river line.
They had in support they had 2 battalions of the veteran Picardie Regiment.
On the right of the Boccard regiment were the first of the English battalions, the 1st Confederation Light Battalion would advance on and pin any Royalist units in the Brook forest, they would be supported by the 3rd Buffs Battalion. The 1st Foote, 2nd Foote, 29th Foote and 90th Foot would threaten and if the unlikely opportunity presented itself take the village of Smallbrook, they would be supported on their right by the 90th Foote.
The cavalry on the right flank will protect the infantry from interference from Royalist cavalry that is positioned out on the right flank.
It is expected the Cavalry on the left (Dauphin and Harcourt Dragoons) will not be required until the Royalist left flank becomes shaken, and then it can be used to administer the blow that will break the Royalist flank.
The 2 battalions of the Conty Regiment will be used as reserves.
General Leopold Anders
General Anders knew his task was relatively easy in theory, stop the Allies advance on London; however in practice it was a little more complicated than that.
Royalist controlled London was being threatened by two Allied armies, from the north one under Lord Ashley and from the south one under the command of Chevalier Busset. This meant he could simply not just sit and hold the Allied southern army off, he had to punish it so it did not represent a later threat to London, he had to do this without destroying his own army which may be needed later in the north.
The General was aware of the dangers, he had fought the French in the Low Countries enough to learn to respect their armies and their commanders.
The defensive position he had chosen near Clydesdale was not ideal but it was the best he could reach in the time available.
The large and dense Brook Forest was practically in the centre of his line, and as long as he held this feature the Allied advance could be channeled into two areas, the right flank and the left. It was certain that the Allies would make a greater effort on one flank than the other, so General Anders reasoned it was simply a matter of deploying evenly and then redeploying reserves once the main threat had been identified.
He held the Brook forest with 1400 light infantry with artillery supports on each side of the woods. Believing his right flank in the area of Benbow village and Meyer stream was where the main Allied effort would fall he had placed 5 Battalions and 2 artillery batteries to cover that area.. On the other flank he had 3 battalions, 2 artillery batteries and the Guard cavalry.
In reserve were two very strong (1000men each) Guard Battalions, he hoped that he would be able to pull other units from one side or the other depending on how the battle developed.
The General realised when he saw the Allied armies deploying that the main effort was indeed to be on his right, especially since the strong French brigades were deploying on that flank. He had seen the English Confederation Battalions were still understrength following their last battle at Lyndhurst.
There was little more for him to do, until the Allied attack began, and the beginning was not long in coming.
At 7:30am the Allied Guns opened up the initial Barrage and the First Battle for London had begun.
Monday, June 17, 2013
General Leopold Anders sighed with relief, at last after days of bickering making plans, scraping them and then remaking plans were past and he was now finally on his way to fight the French.
It had been many years since he had tangled with the French in the Low Countries but he relished the opportunity now, more so since they were now here in England and were about to attack his capital.
It had never been part of his plan to defend London by sitting and waiting behind fortifications, the city was too big and there were quite simply too many mouths to feed in case of a siege, nor did he have the numbers for an adequate defense of the great city if attacked from several directions simultaneously as it would surely happen. From the moment he had assumed command of all the Royalist Armies in England his intention was to defend London by attacking one of the two enemy armies threatening the city, the only issue was which one.
To north of London in the Royston area was a large Confederation force under command of Lord Ashley, for the moment opposing it were the Royalist forces under General Preston and Leopold's nephew General James Anders, their army however was only half the size of the enemy; thus the prospects of them preventing Lord Ashley from breaking through was very limited. At best they should be able to delay them for a limited time.
To the South east of London concentrated in the Maidstone area was the French Army under Chevalier Busset It was this force that worried General Leopold the most, the only reason the French had not advanced he presumed was that Leopold’s own army waited in London. However over the last few weeks the Kings spymaster Brother Paul had intercepted messages between the two enemy armies and the correspondence seemed to indicate a joint attack was likely within the next week or so.
A joint attack would be fatal for the Royalists, General Preston would hold only for a short time and London was to large an area to defend adequately with the forces under Leopold's direct command, an added burden would be the reaction to the London populace if a Confederation army were to attack the city. There was no doubt the city was fiercely loyal to the Royalist cause, but fear and desperation would add an uncertain element to the mix that General Leopold did not even want to contemplate should a panic or riots occur.
So after much contemplating the issue of what was the best action to be taken, the decision was taken out of their hands by the Confederate High command. Yesterday Royalist scouts and spies all reported back that both Confederation armies were beginning to bring in their respective foragers and piquets, clearly an attack on London was imminent.
General Leopold Anders had already decided on his reaction, he had scouted the south eastern approaches to London and had decided where he would meet the French, and now the enemy advance was imminent he ordered his army to move south East. He sent instructions to General Preston that he was to hold for as long as possible then fall back on the northern outskirts of London, there he would be reinforced by the untrained levies of the London Militia.
Just hours before his army marched he received devastating news, the Confederation army under General Saunders that had been facing the Royalist Lyndhurst Army had marched away and had gained at least a days march on the now pursuing Royalists, the scouts reported that the force under General Saunders was only a days march perhaps less away from joining the French. This now meant his own army was seriously out numbered but with no other options available they would have to make do.
He sent instructions to the pursuing Royalists that rather than joining him they were to march north and reinforce General Preston.
General Anders also received some welcome good news, the Royalist force now occupying Confederation city of Southampton had been reinforced by 3 Militia Battalions sent from the Duke of Cornwall, he immediately issued orders that the Southampton Army of 4 Regular Battalions and 1 Cavalry Regiment would advance on the French supply base at Maidstone, that advance however would take a few days to organise as they had no baggage train to speak off. The orders for the Southampton force stipulated that should they be opposed by a greater force they should fall back on Southampton, if not they were to attack and destroy the French/Confederation base around Maidstone.
So with all chaos and uncertainty that ensured around his Headquarters General Anders was greatly relieved that he was now out in the field commanding armies rather than pandering to all those who considered rightly or wrongly they had a voice in his considerations, the die was cast and he would see how it lands.
The French Army
Chevalier Busset was extremely concerned about the vulnerability of his couriers, he was quite aware that a number of them had failed to reach their destinations, fortunately he had taken the precaution of sending other couriers with duplicate messages by alternative routes; but that required time and timing was crucial to his plans.
The intention was that Lord Ashley and his own armies would launch their attacks simultaneously next Wednesday but he had not yet received confirmation from Lord Ashley as to whether he had received the messages, or if his reply had been intercepted as well.
So in the absence of any certainty he decided he would have to act on his own and hope Lord Ashley was doing the same.
He had received a report from the Confederation Lyndhurst contingent that they were less than twelve hours march from him, a little disturbing was that the Royalist Army from Lyndhurst was a days march behind. Chevalier Busset realised that he had a day in which to break the Royalist army in London otherwise he risked being attacked in his rear or flank. However a days battle should be enough, then he could deal with the Royal Lyndhurst army at his leisure, as long as Lord Ashley was acting as he was supposed too.
Lord Ashley's Army
Lord Ashley was somewhat confused by the messages he had received so far, on Sunday evening a courier arrived with a message confirming that the attack was to start on Wednesday this week (It being Sunday when the message was received), he had sent the courier back with confirmation but had heard nothing since, then Monday a second courier arrived stating the attack had been delayed for a week until next Sunday, he again sent the courier back for confirmation but with no reply. He was now left wondering was the attack on Wednesday or the following Sunday.
Lord Ashley did consider one of these messages could be a fake but which one, his error had been to send the replies back via the same couriers, if he had kept them with his headquarters he could have question them more closely now. Easy to be wise after the event he told himself, the problem was now on which day was he to launch the attack. If he launched his attack to soon he could very well be walking into a trap, to late and Chevalier Busset could face the full force of the Royalist defense on his own.
He considered his options and decided that with the French and Lyndhurst contingents combined even if Busset launched his attack on Wednesday he should still have the numbers to deal with the Royalists defending London. However if Lord Ashley attacked on Wednesday and Busset was not expecting him to move before Sunday then he could face the combined Royalist Force in Royston and the London Army, in which case he would almost be certainly be destroyed.
So meanwhile he would send yet another courier and wait, if necessary until Sunday but hopefully the courier would arrive back before Wednesday in case of an earlier attack.
General Anders marched his army out of London very early on Tuesday morning, his destination a small village called Clydesdale, it was nestled behind the Brewery River had offered the best opportunity to meet the French in a defensive battle. He hoped he would have a day or so in the area to prepare the defenses for his army.
King James and Queen Margret were on the balcony of Whitehall palace as the Guard marched out, the King had spent a fruitless day arguing with General Anders and the Prime Minister that as King his rightful place was with his army, but the Prime Minister and General won the day, the risk of either losing the King in battle or having the King flee with a defeated army would have catastrophic consequences for the Royalist cause, finally the King agreed that he would share the fate of his people and wait.
General Anders would be defending with 8 Regular Line Battalions , 2 Light Battalions (700 each)and 2 Guard Infantry Battalions (1000 each) (Veteran)
He would also have 2 Guard Dragoon regiments (800 each) (Veteran) and 4 artillery batteries 2 of which were 12 pdr batteries).
The increase in artillery of the extra battery was a risk as it totally denuded the Militia levies in London of all artillery, but General Anders considered the numbers against him and realised it was a risk worth taking.
In total his army counted 11,800 men, they all arrived around Clydesdale village late Tuesday night, the positions of the units already having been pegged out the units took up positions reasonably quickly.
Next day his army set about preparing the defenses, late Wednesday afternoon they were informed the enemy army were only hours away from Clydesdale.
The Chevalier started marching his army on Tuesday Morning, the journey from Maidstone to London was direct and not at all arduous, so his army should arrive near London quiet fresh and ready for battle.
However late Tuesday evening during his briefing with his fellow officers he received reports of a Royalist force in the area of Clydesdale, a small hamlet that sat astride the road to London, as the morning progressed it became apparent that the Royalist General Anders had decided to take his army out of London and risk a battle in the open.
The English officers that rode with the Chevalier advised him that the area around Clydesdale was a very good defensive position, It had a mix of thick hedges, small hamlets, several thick dense woods, all of which no doubt Anders were use to his full advantage.
Wednesday morning brought news from the scouts, overnight the Royalist force that had been following the Lyndhurst Confederation force as it made its way to join the French Army had turned north and was heading to London. It just didn't make sense, why would Anders turn away a force that would have given him some parity with the French unless his needs were greater else where.
Busset smiled to himself as the conclusion dawned on him, it was obvious, that Lord Ashley was advancing. The Royalists realised that the small covering force to the north of London was inadequate to stop him, hence the reinforcements rushing north to join them.
Chevalier Busset now felt much relieved, with the Royalists foolishly diverting such a large percentage of their strength in a futile attempt to save London from the Northern attack, they had inadvertently increased the dangers of their defeat in the south.
Chevaliers Army now consisted of (15,900 men)
15 Regular Infantry Battalions (8 French, 7 Confederate)
2 Veteran Battalions (French)
4 Cavalry Regiments
4 artillery Batteries
Royalist Army North of London
General Preston and his new second in command General James Anders made an instant connection when they met, both men were young and keen, where General Preston had the practical experience of battle, James Anders (Cousin to the King and son of the Prime Minister) had a intuitive skill for reading situations.
The situation for the Northern Royalist Army was precarious, their army was down to 7 Regular Battalions, 4 Cavalry regiments and 2.5 Batteries of artillery. Their whole force numbering some
7,763 men. Opposing them Lord Ashley 14 Battalions, 2 Cavalry regiments and 4.5 artillery Batteries altogether some 11,486 men with another 1400 cavalry men (2 Regiments) due to join them within the next day or so.
General Preston kept his army in the area of the previous Royston Battle which had been fought there a month or so earlier. Then the Royalists had gained a very marginal victory but in doing so had suffered heavy losses, though the Confederate army had suffered as well their losses were not as significant as those of the Royalist army, they were also about to be reinforced by two Carabineer Regiments which would give Lord Ashley's army cavalry parity.
General Preston could not understand why the Confederates had not attacked before now, that was until James told him of the work of the Kings spymaster and how through interceptions of Confederate couriers and sending on false messages was causing considerable confusion in the Confederation High Command.
Yesterday they had received a courier from General Leopold Anders the Royalist Commander in Chief, he was sending them some reinforcements 7 Battalions of Infantry 5,539 men which would double their current strength.
The main problem was the reinforcements were several days away and no one knew when Lord Ashley would move, they knew it would be seen because spies and scouts had reported that the confederates were forming their baggage train and drawing in supplies. So the question was which would arrive first, the Confederates or the reinforcements.
The first battle to be fought in what was to become collectively known as the Battles for London were fought to the south of London at Clydesdale.
|Terrain map of Clysedale Battlefield. Royalists deploy in the North.|
Sunday, June 9, 2013
The Duke of Bedford felt quite pleased with himself, looking out beyond the castle walls was a large encampment which consisted of French troops as well as some of his own Confederation militia that were being trained by the French. Much had happened since that damn Sir Anders and his cronies discovered that boy they now claimed as King, the announcement was met with such excitement in London that it had brought down the High Council almost overnight. The Great tragedy for Lord Bedford as far as he was concerned he was about to reach the pinnacle of his power, he was in the process of arranging a marriage with his son to Lord Hackett's daughter Lady Margret. Lord Hackett had been Bedford's main challenger for power within council, and when he learnt from his spies that Hackett was ill with cancer he knew Hackett would be desperate to ensure the safety of his holdings and the future of his daughter.
Because of this Bedford had proposed a marriage of alliance, knowing there was really no other choice for Hackett. Such a marriage would bring all Bedford's holdings into his sons grasp and ultimately within Bedford's own control. However then the Pretender appeared and the whole plan blew up, now Lady Margret had married the boy, and was a Queen; well at least for the moment.
As he watched the troops beyond the castle walls go through their training maneuvres he saw a French army that was daily growing, and it was here purely through his own efforts, they were here because of his scheming, planning and negotiating. The French had at first been reluctant to offer troops but when they negotiated an arrangement that meant the French would gain many of the English colonies in North America then their greed led them to agree to send troops to England.
Bedford smiled when he thought just how quickly the French had changed their tune when he dangled the colonies before them, the fools actually believed he would honour his promise. While Hackett now had virtually no control or influence over the American colonies he was offering the French something he didn’t own or influence.
Of course he had sent that bloody wild General Ferguson and a bunch of adventures over to the colonies to raise trouble between the English and the Prussians, Ferguson was a blood thirsty thug who had spent most of his life as a Pirate, mercenary and murderer; just the ideal man for trouble making.
Now here in England Lord Bedford could get down to the business of bringing down the boy pretender.
The war had started slowly, Bedford naturally enough was the architect of the Confederation policy had decided from the outset of the war that it was vital to gain the initiative. He realised that with the numbers on both sides being relatively even and the troops being equally green that he was not likely to gain the early victories that would put an end to the King. However what his attacks had done was blood his troops who had all done reasonably well but more importantly they destabalised the Royalists while as a result of his own planning his allies the French had landed an army in Kent.
An unexpected coup had succeeded in the north when with a considerable amount of French gold Duke MacDonald of Cumberland the Royalist lord of the north changed sides. That was a unbelievable stroke of luck for the Confederation as MacDonald had considerable influence with the Scottish Government and it was hoped that he could bring the Scots into the wars against the King. Once again more gold and dangling false promises of Scottish independence would go a long way to bring him more allies.
The one stroke of bad luck was that the idiot MacDonald did not ensure the control of the military in his domains, and as soon as he announced he was changing sides the damn Military under his control simply refused and march aboard confiscated ships and sailed away under escort of the Royal navy, thus MacDonald had just gifted the Royalists with 4 Regular battalions and even a blasted Cavalry Regiment.
However the deed was done and now the Confederation control; of the North was secure, the control of the Midlands was in dispute but that would be resolved within days as Bedford was now ready for his grand stroke, the combined attack from the South and from the North against Berkshire, London and that bloody Royalist nest of vipers.
There was a rumble of gunfire, it broke Lord Bedford's thoughts and at first he was somewhat confused as which direction it was coming from for the sounds echoed around the castle, however moments later his military aide Colonel Johnston rushed in.
“My Lord there is a naval battle, out in the straits.”
Bedford along with the aide ran back through the corridors of the castle heading out to the east wing, the sounds of battle seemed to be one long crescendo by now. When he reached the east wall there were several of his men as well as some French officers standing their with telescopes, looking out to sea.
Bedford jostled his way through the throng,
“What the hell is happening out there?'
One of the officers looking through his telescope said,
“Its the bloody Royal Navy and they are pounding a bunch of froggie ships, bloody hell its a slaughter.”
It had indeed been a one sided affair, a fleet of nine Royalist ships of the line had come across the last elements of the French Convoy that was making its way into Dover, with the wind against them the French ships had little room to maneuver and little wind to gain speed. The Convoy had been escorted by two ships of the line and three frigates, the French warships fought valiantly but by the end of the battle only two Frigates escaped. Four of the transports had run ashore only two others made it into the harbour the rest of the convoy had been sunk, those that had been beached had been shelled to pieces by the Royalist ships. Bodies of French sailors and infantry that had been aboard the transport ships were washed up on the shoreline over the next few days.
Following the battle the Royalist ships remained in the straits, the Frigates close in shore just beyond the range of the fortress guns, the other ships presumably were further out to sea. The message was clear, Dover and the Confederation coastline was under blockade, there would be no more reinforcements.
Later that evening Lord Bedford hosted a dinner for the French officers that commanded the army around Dover fortress. The French Commander in Chief Chevalier Busset along with many of his staff were somewhat depressed following the events that unfolded before them out at sea earlier that day, so the mood at the dinner was some what sombre. There had been much discussion on the realities of the consequences and almost everyone knew that the chances of further reinforcements or supplies arriving from France were now seriously limited. One of the French officers asked Lord Bedford
“How is My Lord that we were not warned that the Royal Navy was active once more, had we known we would have not been caught so unprepared?”
Bedford smiled, waited while he carefully chewed his food then replied,
“You were not told because we didn't know ourselves, the last we heard the fleet was in near mutiny and the ships in very bad repair; obviously we were wrong.”
The officer remembering watching the bodies being washed ashore merely nodded his head “obviously.”
However following the dinner the entire gathering of French staff officers along with Lord Bedford and his officers retired to Bedford's office, there in the centre of the room was a large table laid out with a map of England spread out on it.
Lord Bedford was one side of the table with his men, Chevalier Busset on the other with his staff alongside him.
Lord Bedford studied the map briefly and then looking up at Chevalier Busset said,
“Now my dear Busset would you be so kind as to explain to my officers and myself what your plan is for the liberation of our capital.”
“Naturally my dear Bedford, simplistically it will work like this, your regular units with your army currently on the border near Lyndhurst will disengage and move east to join my army south of London in the area of Epsom, together they will then drive directly north to engage the Royalists in your capital. Meanwhile the Duke Ashley will move south from the area of Bedford and advance on London from the north via St Albans.”
Lord Bedford studied the map for a moment,
“And the forces left on the border with Lyndhurst will be only militia and therefore swept aside as the Royalists advance east and take our army in the flank or rear”
“Yes my Lord that is indeed a possibility, but to achieve a superiority for our offensive against London we have to take risks, and what the Lyndhurst Army does is the risk that we must take. However we have taken a few simple precautions to give us time to deal with the Royalists in London and then if necessary we will turn on the Lyndhurst army as they approach. That is why we will dress your militia on the Lyndhurst border up in French uniforms to convince the enemy that my army is concentrating on their border. If it delays them for a day or two it will be too late for them by the time they realise they have been tricked. All we need is two to three days and we will have your capital My Lord.”
“How strong are the enemy in the London area?” asked Lord Bedford.
“It has been difficult to tell but we estimate in the north they will have 8 Battalions of Infantry, 4 light cavalry regiments and 2 artillery batteries. To face us in the south approximately 8-10 Battalions and 3 Cavalry regiments, sadly it is likely they will have more artillery, but we hope they will split their forces to defend against both attacks in which case we should have a clear majority in all arms.”
“And how many units do we have for the attacks?” Lord Bedford inquired.
“In the north we will have 13 Battalions, 4 Heavy cavalry cavalry regiments and 4 artillery Batteries, from your own area in the south we will have 7 battalions from Lyndhurst and my 10 Battalions, we will also have 4 cavalry Regiments and 3 Batteries of artillery.”
Lord Bedford led the gathering to a side table where drinks had been placed previously.
“Hmm well that sounds promising my dear Busset, and on the strength of your plans I wish us all luck, now Gentleman share a drink and let us toast to our victory parade through London.”
|Strategic situation 1st of May.|
Brother Paul King Jame's spymaster was in the office of Sam Ogilvy his head cryptographer, Sam's office was now next to Brother Paul's and therefore was much bigger than his earlier cell like office, he also now had a staff of three trainee cryptographers. Brother Paul noticed the various piles of messages spread out on a desk near the far wall.
“Seems like you have a pile of work there Sam.”
Sam nodded, taking off his glasses and laying them down on the desk he rose and walked over to the desk, Brother Paul followed.
Sam pointed to one of the piles,
“These are messages either to or from Lord Ashley in the north”, he pointed to another; “This one are messages to Lord Bedford or The French Commander Chevalier Busset in the south, and that pile over there are simply messages we have intercepted elsewhere in England.”
Sam walked over to a large map on the wall of his office, “Now Paul these messages indicate at least 3 times the normal messages I would expect, yes some of them are repeats when they realise a message has not gone through; but most are not. I would deduct from this increase the Confederates are planning something big. Most of the messages are questions about the location and strengths of our units, where we could by using agents we have turned we have sent misleading replies; but rest assured Paul something is up.”
He picked up a list that hung from a clip beside the map,
“Now this is our tally of messages, it includes the subject matter where from and where too, and Sam we have intercepted 15 messages from the North and 23 from the south in 3 days, that requires a lot of couriers. So that tells me there is a very large confederate spy ring that is still active and undetected here in London. But again they almost all relate to questions or answers on our military affairs in and around London.”
Sam then returned back to his desk` and sat down, he indicated to Paul that he should pull up a chair and sit. Taking a piece of paper from his desk he said,
“This message is from Cardinal Fluery to Chevalier Busset, telling him that due to the increased Royalist Naval activity in the Channel there will be unlikely any further reinforcements.”
Brother Paul smiled, “Yes I have heard from my own sources that the French are still smarting over that ambush, it was a little unfortunate the winds were against the navy as if they had arrived a few hours earlier it would have been a total massacre”.
Sam nodded, He then picked up another message,
“Paul this one is the one you gave me yesterday, you said it was a copy taken from Fluery's office itself which naturally tells me you have some very nicely placed agents, but the message itself is what worries me.
It was intended for General Jean Chaumette the commander of the French forces in the French northern colonies, the message refers to fifth column activities of one General Ferguson and his irregulars. Apparently Chaumette had been complaining about the activities of Ferguson’s men, but Fluery has ordered Chaumette to give Ferguson every assistance in fermenting discourse between the English and the Prussians in America.”
Brother Paul nodded,”Well that at least explains one mystery, a week or so ago we had a merchant vessel that was attacked by the Prussians but was chased away by one of our frigates, naturally we protested to the Prussian Ambassador but he categorically denied that they would have been Prussian and I confirmed that this morning by a message from my agents in Berlin. King Frederick is furious and has sent messages to his own people in New York to find out what is happening. So this message you have now confirms Ferguson has returned to his old ways of being a pirate.”
Brother Paul rose from his seat, “Good work Sam, we now have many new answers to old questions and from you have told me I best inform General Anders that the French and Confederates will be launching an offensive sometime soon.”
“Before you go Paul can you tell me have you any news of James Anders, my daughter and James had become good friends and a few days ago he came and said goodbye to her but was very vague about where or why he was going, it was all very sudden and she is quite fond of the young man she is naturally worried she may have done or said something to offend him.”
Paul put a hand on Sam's shoulder, “Tell her not to worry, she has not done anything wrong, James has been sent north to join General Preston's staff, we asked him not to tell anyone simply because as he is his Majesty's cousin he is one of the people the Confederate spies are interested in, we even had to sneak him out of London. I am sure once he is safely ensconced in his new command he will get in touch with her.”
Sam nodded, “She will be relieved but I hardly think you can claim he will be safely ensconced when he is clearly going to be in the path of a Confederation attack that almost outnumbers his own bu 2:1, but naturally I wont tell her that little detail.”
Paul was about to leave when a messenger came into the office, he was carrying another message which he handed to Sam.
Sam carefully opened the letter and read it, he then looked up at Paul,
“What the on earth is happening down in Southampton?”
Sam handed the message to Paul, it was an open letter from a clearly flustered Mayor of Southampton
that the Royalists had captured his city.
Paul smiled and said, “General Anders directed battalions that came from Cumberland to land near Southampton and make a raid on the Confederation port, but by reading this they have found the city undefended and taken it. I must go Sam, the General will want to read this and whatever you do don’t allow this message to be sent on, this is one message I don’t want them to get just yet.”
Friday, June 7, 2013
King James married Lady Margret Hackett three days ago, the wedding was small by any previous Royal Weddings but the fact the country was at war and because of the high security threat the wedding held in Whitehall Palace was necessarily intimate but wonderfully done, and of course under tight security.
The marriage between the two was as much a matter of the heart as it was a political alliance between The King and the strongest Royalist supporter Lord Hackett. With Lord Hackett's support came many lesser Lords and knights that may have been less than solid in their support for the Royal House without Lord hackett's lead.
Queen Margret was a strong rock for the younger King James to lean on, a rock that he would need in the coming struggle. She had grown from a young girl into a young woman in a household where she learnt from watching her father how survive the many intrigues and political tight ropes that one has conquer in order to command or rule. In fact she learnt so well her father used to jest that the student now advised the tutor, he said she had a very intuitive understanding of doing the right thing at the right time.
Margret was beautiful, charitable to those around her and in particular to her husband, but there was another side to her that made her extremely protective of both the King and her father, this other side of the Queens personality revealed a woman that would go to any degree to protect the two men in her life.
There had been two main security scares since James became King some 4 months ago, the first was a Confederation (Parliamentarian) attempt to place a large bomb under Whitehall chapel during the royal wedding, but that ploy had been discovered several weeks before the wedding. On another occasion several nights before the wedding three men, 2 English one French were intercepted in London, according the the encrypted messages that the Kings cryptographer Samuel Ogilvy broke they had planned to infiltrate the wedding reception and assassinate the Royal couple, the three men were interrogated thoroughly revealing more subversive plots against the royal couple and the Government, more importantly they gave Brother Paul a lead on the existence of a Parliamentarian spy ring in London itself.
Brother Paul, the kings spymaster was very concerned about the number of plots and schemes that were becoming revealed, naturally of course he was more worried about the ones that were not known; he knew he had to close them down before the conspirators finally got lucky.
It was Queen Margret who suggested that Brother Paul secretly start his own aggressive subversive campaign against the Parliamentarian leaders, thus the war was developing on yet another level; however the Queen made Brother Paul swear it was to be so secret the King was not to find out about it.
The one person who was able to stand up to the Queen was the Prime Minister Sir Edward Anders, he was not a man to be dominated nor maneuvered by smiles and charm, Sir Edward was forever the hard nosed political watchdog of the Kings Government. Despite a rocky and argumentative start the Queen and the Prime Minister came to respect the values of the other, both realising that they worked for a common cause, though possibly from different directions.
King James had changed significantly since being crowned King of England. Six months earlier he had been a lonely young man in Germany under the protection of his mother and his step father, now he ruled a Kingdom; albeit with the guidance of strong and loyal advisers.
However James was already ruling with confidence, he had very strong views and opinions of his own and he was not backward in forcing his views through opposition. Again like his wife, King James was developing a intuitive aspect to his ruling a nation.
North American Distractions
Diplomatically the month of May was a horrendously bad month for the Royalist cause, news arrived from the North American Colony of South Georgia that the French were making in roads into what had always been English territory.
It had started as many conflicts seem too, that is as in a small way. Over the last few years the French had developed a system of encroachment on English Territory that had worked very well in the past, particularly in the northern colonies.
First a group of French settlers would drift into a territory, they would settle and as with their English neighbours begin farming and trading. Then difficulties would occur when the French farmers started to settle in clumps or communities, at first some English farmers would have suffered raids made on their lands at night, or a trader/businessman would have his business destroyed or harrassed. Naturally the English Colonists would appeal to the Governor but usually he had to few troops to react, if he did react by sending troops it was invariably to few. Sometimes the French “settlers” would be removed, if the British came in strength but in those cases invariably they would reappear elsewhere the following year. However all too often the border intrusions would be left to the colonists to sort out, when they did they would find the French settlers had support of an armed force that though not in French uniforms would seem remarkably military in their performance. The result in these situations meant inevitably would be the English Colonists would pull up stakes and move elsewhere, the French Colonists would solidify their new gains and the whole process would occur again elsewhere along the border.
This strategy was new for those in the south and at first the English Colonists were slow to respond to the threats, however they soon realised that these raids and attacks on prominent individuals were more than isolated events the colonists appealed to the Governor. However Governor William Oman just like his northern colleagues was limited in what he could do. He did however send some troops to the areas of the attacks and that had a quietening effect for a while, but then the attacks started more aggressively and in one instance a Army garrison was attacked, they repulsed the raiders but suffered heavy losses in doing so.
Governor Oman sent his deputy off to London, though many months earlier he had written appeals for help to the High Council with absolutely no response, when he heard that England had a new King the Governor did not hesitate to send his deputy as his representative. This time they would appeal to the King directly, the man Governor Oman sent was Lieutenant General Robert Castlemaine, eldest son of Lord Castlemaine, Duke of Berkshire and a Royalist supporter.
Lt Gen Castlemaine and his father first made representations to the Prime Minister in asking him for aid in appealing to the King for reinforcements, Prime Minister Anders warned them they were unlikely to get any as the war in England was not going well, but none the less he would try on their behalf.
However before the interview with the Prime Minister was over, Edward Anders learnt that the Colonial wars were taking on yet another dimension. Lt Gen Castlemaine told him of an incident that occurred on his journey to England. He left the Colonies in a Royal Navy frigate and a few days after their departure they had heard naval gunfire, Lt Gen Castlemaine ordered the captain to investigate which he did immediately some 15 minutes later they saw in the distance a Brig attacking a merchant ship. The Brig obviously saw the frigate and fled, the Frigate closed on the merchant to help, and on crossing over to the heavily damaged ship they soon learnt that the Brig that had been attacking the English merchant ship had been flying a Prussian flag.
Prime Minister Anders called an urgent cabinet meeting which the King would be chairing and Lt Gen Castlemaine and his father the Duke of Berkshire would be attending as well.
The first matter on the agenda was the military situation in the colonies. After Lt Gen Castlemaine made his report no one around the table was in doubt to the seriousness of the situation, the problem was how to solve it.
Already the Royalist Armies in England were out numbered and from latest reports the odds against them would increase with intelligence reports indicating yet more French troops were landing on the South East Coast near Dover.
The discussion on their options was really quite brief, simply because there were not many options available.
The problem was not only troop numbers which was serious in itself, but there remained the possibility the Prussians were becoming involved against the English Colonies. The Prussians did not own any colonies in North America, what they had was in fact was defacto control over several cities on the eastern seaboard. This ”control” was through the dominance of Prussian Mercantile interests in those cities and the fact that many prominent Prussians had managed to get themselves voted into the local assemblies.
So much so that the local militia in some cities consisted of a great number of German immigrants lead by “retired Prussian Officers”. The general populace didnt really mind as first the “German Militias” as they become known gave a sense of security, and also a large percentage of the population in these centres consisted of Germans.
The problem for the English authorities was that in those colonies where these cities had strong Prussian representation and a Prussian/German military presence the attacks against civilians, traders and settlers were minimal. In those areas where the British had control the attacks were common and escalating, if not on the towns or cities at least on the rural farming communities. This was leading to the situation where loyalties were becoming challenged.
Since the formation of the Colonies there had always been an element that wanted to become independent of England, particularly since they were paying taxes and were definitely not getting the support or protection they require or expected.
There were those who would remain loyal to England, in particular now that the motherland had a new King, the stronghold for Royalist English Support was New York.
There was yet another faction of colonists that favoured Prussian protection, in fact some assemblies had written to King Frederick of Prussia asking for increased protection. To date King Frederick had declined because he knew it would involve him in a war with England.
All these situations were further complicated with the openly aggressive attitude of the French authorities in the north and a new Spanish desire to spread in the south. The Spanish were definitely less Francophile than they had been in previous years but there was equally very little chance for any Anglo/Spanish co-operation as the Spanish had their own objectives for more territory, fortunately it was likely to be at the expense of France.
As the Prime Minister indicated, even if they sent over the entire Royalist Army it would be barely enough to contain the situation.
For several minutes there was complete silence in the Cabinet room as each one at the table contemplated the options, finally the King spoke.
“It is clear we cannot hold all the colonies under the present situation, we simply dont have the resources, yet it is equally clear we cannot simply abandon the colonies. So what do we have left, it is abundantly clear to me at least, that the American Colonies are going to have to take a more proactive defence of their own territories. However in the past they have been reluctant to do this for a varying number of reasons but the main one has been taxes andrepresentation in Governing themselves.”
He looked around the room, most were nodding there heads in agreement, James continued.
“If we are to expect the North American Colonies to look after themselves with a minimal input from England we must expect to give them a level of self determination and Government”.
Lord Hackett interjected,
“Sire that will mean we lose the colonies, that is not an option surely.”
“Sadly M'Lord Hackett it is a reality that England may lose the colonies in North America, what I am hoping with your support is that we can encourage the American Assemblies to join in a Commonwealth where they will pool their resources to defend themselves with the assistance of English forces.”
Lord Castlemaine spoke, “Sire what you suggest is practical in a broad sense, but my own experience of the Colonial Assemblies is that they are fragmented by factions that rarely co-operate with each other; I am left wondering why would they suddenly start co-operating now.”
Lord Castlemaine's son General Castlemaine spoke, “If I may Sire, I believe what you are suggesting will go a long way towards satisfying most factions within the assemblies, there will be those who want more of one thing and less of another but I gather that in democracies that is to be expected. However Sire if you intend to offer the colonies the chance of self determination, Lord Hackett is correct; it will be the beginning of England losing the Colonies in America.”
The Prime Minister Edward Anders then said, “We are already losing the colonies in America, what his majesty is suggesting is that we bow out with grace or eventually be thrown out, either by the French, the Prussians or even the Colonists themselves. For one thing is certain, to hold what we currently have against the forces mounting against us is impossible while we are fighting a civil war here in England.
I tend to agree with his majesty, if we offer the colonies a graduated process of self Government starting with a Commonwealth of States, supported by a more proactive British Military presence while the Colonists organise their own military we will have a better chance of keeping America as a friend and trading partner than if we continue as we are at present.”
Lord Hackett asked, “Then how do we offer a more proactive Military presence when we are already fully committed everywhere?”
The King nodded, “M'Lord that is indeed the crux of the matter, how do we get blood out of a stone.”
The Prime Minister offered a suggestion,
“Yesterday I received a missive from the Duke of Cornwall that he has finished equipping and training 2 militia battalions into regular Battalions, it had been our intention to send them to General Anders in Lyndhurst however we could send them to the Colonies, but they are the last of our reserves for the moment. But apart from those two units Sire, I would suggest we do things differently in the colonies, rather than spread the army out into small and inefficient garrisons we replace those garrisons with Colonial militia that can be trained into regular units while they are serving on station so to speak. It will mean we need to detach some NCO's and officers as a training cadre for the training garrisons but this would leave us a trained field army to maneuver as we see fit.
At the moment and I believe General Castlemaine may be better informed to comment than myself but I believe at the moment the colonies are being harassed by small irregular enemy bands, I suggest we use our field army to engage these bands and not merely send them on their way, but to destroy them. I do realise there is a great risk of escalating the skirmishes in the colonies into a greater conflict; however I think that is inevitable anyway.”
General Castlemaine then added, “Yes I agree, we need to send a message to the French, that the encroachments are finished, yes again I certainly agree there is a greater risk of escalation but I feel certain that the colonists would be prepared to defend themselves with a greater level of commitment if they were fighting for their own inevitable independence. However might I suggest that the military command structure be better organised than it is at present, currently we have Governors and their subordinate commanders commanding local units, what is needed is a command structure that will allow a supreme commander of the field army and a staff to support him.”
The King nodded, smiling to himself, “Perhaps General Castlemaine you would be the man to lead the field army.”
The General smiled back in return, “No sire as much as I would like a field command I am tainted by the same factionalism that ferments most of the assemblies, if you want real progress you need a man who is not tainted by any faction, a man who is independently minded and has a personality strong enough to resist the inevitable pressures and squabbles that will descend on him. In other words sire a man who is from here in England and has your personal support.”
The King nodded, “There are two such men, General Graham who is commander of the Midlands army, and my own step father General Anders in Lyndhurst. Of the two General Anders has the greater experience but I was thinking of appointing him the command of all the Royalist armies here in England, I need his experience here, so that leaves General Graham.”
The Prime Minister nodded, “Aye Sire I agree, General Graham is a bloody minded gentleman and the colonists will find it difficult to sway him from his duty, but who will you use to replace him; for the Midlands army is vital to our holding the Midlands. There is ahhhh Major General Preston Grahams current second in command but he will need a new second in command.”
The King interrupted the Prime Minister. “Indeed and I have just the man who has been nagging me for a field command incessantly over these last few months, your son sir, Lieutenant General James Anders. It means he relinquishes his command of my Guard but that is not a problem for I intend to change the structure of the guard anyway, but that will be on another day. James needs field experience and he will serve General Preston very well I am sure.”
The Prime Minister nodded, he knew his son will be pleased to escape the confines of the palace looking down at his notes that he had been busy writing,
“So to summarise Sire, we are sending General Graham to the American Colonies as commander in Chief, General Leopold Anders will become commander in Chief of our forces here in England and James will become second in command to General Preston. We have two regular battalions that will sail with Leopold to North America, is that correct”
“Indeed, I will give both Generals Leopold Anders and General Graham more specific instructions on the morrow, but if you will have those instructions drawn up we can get things moving.”
There was a knock at the door, it was opened by a Guard Grenadier and one of the Kings secretaries entered, seemingly somewhat flustered. Everyone knew it had to be urgent because there were clear instructions that Cabinet meetings were not to be interrupted except in an emergency.
“Yes Samuel what is it?” asked the King.
The Secretary walked to the end of the table and handed a message to the King, James face went white, he looked up at Secretary and then back and the note. He paused for a few moments and then looking down the table he said quietly,
“We have been betrayed.”
Immediately there was a commotion around the table, questions “Who”, “where” and “why” abounded. The King dropped the note rose from his seat and walked to the window. Prime Minister Anders leaned over and picked up the message, it was from Brother Paul.
The Duke of Cumberland has gone over to the Confederates, Samuel (The Kings Cryptographer) has broken two messages confirming this. The Regular Army (4 Battalions, 1 Cavalry regiment less horses) units refused to join him as did the Navy the army units have escaped by commandeering merchant ships and are being escorted south by the navy.
We have intercepted messages between Cumberland and the Scottish Government in which Cumberland is trying to convince them to support the Confederation, with the promise of Scotland’s independence once they have achieved victory.”
The Prime Minister looked up at the others,
“We have lost the North”.
The King walked back, he stood at the end of the table his hands resting on the table edge so they would not betray the shock he was feeling.
“No we have not lost anything Prime Minister, we have had a setback in the north but thank god for the loyalty of the army and navy because with those 4 Battalions and the cavalry we are going to gain the south, send for Leopold at once, I am sick and tired of reacting to the rebel scum, I want something done now before we lose all support.”
He looked over to Edward
“You will go directly to Edinburgh yourself and you will convince the Scots to remain loyal, I don’t know how but you must succeed. But before you leave you will send for the Prussian ambassador, he has some explaining to do.”
Lord Castlemaine asked, “What about the Colonies Sire?”
James sighed heavily, “M'Lord Castkemaine, General Graham and the two battalions will sail as instructed, we desperately need them here but we will need them more in the colonies very soon; and General Castlemaine you are hereby appointed second in command to General Graham, whether you are tainted by any faction or not I dont care. I don’t need to remind you general that while you wear that uniform you serve me and no other faction or interests.”
With that said the King left the cabinet room