|Strategic situation 1st of May.|
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Plans are made
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.”
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.”