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Thread: The Cult of Roon J'Taal. Jacob of Higher-Hattington's Annotated Memoirs

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    The Diary of Jacob of Higher-Hattington (with his son's comments)

    FOREWORD BY THE AUTHOR

    Note to new readers - the story up to the last finished chapter can be downloaded as PDF - the link is in my signature. No need to wade throught his thread to catch up on this tale.

    Well, as I had originally intended, the Klausens are going into a break for the moment till I have gathered enough plot to go on. And the re-write of chapter 3 is still waiting, too.

    This AAR idea came up when it was suggested I should try first person narrative, and I admit that the discussion of authors and lies is also an inspiration of this new AAR. Some of the more seasoned readers might find this AAR reminiscent of An English Heart in premise, and I hope the tales will not be too similar.

    The technicalities:
    Scenario: 1700
    Difficulty/Aggressivness: both normal
    Patch 1.05, no mods.
    Country: It will vary, depending on where the main character is. We will be starting in Prussia, though.

    The father's tale will be in white, the son's commentary in skyblue

    NOTE: This story is influenced by various horror themes, various comic stories, and memories of other related material. The text can contain graphic violence and horror elemts at times, although I attempt to keep them in good taste.

    ******************************

    Greetings, dear ladies or gentlemen, whoever is holding this book at the moment. I thank you for taking the time to read these lines that I have the honour to preface my father's diary and memoirs with, my father being – I am using his most common name – Jacob of Higher-Hattington. You, the esteemed reader might as well know him as Jakob Hochhuth, Jacques de Chapeau-Montant, Giaccomo de l'Alto Cappello, Jakob van den Hoge Hoed, or Jacobus Altus Petasus. He carried a number of aristocrat titles, some warranted for, most of them not, I will spare you of them for the moment.

    I do not know for what reasons you decided to take up this book into Your hands and maybe even pay some of Your hard earned money for it. Perhaps a good friend of Yours recommended reading this humble work. It could be that You were looking for a decent book and came across these writings by chance. In either occurance, I hope You will not regret investing a small amount of Your short time on this earth in reading this book. For even when life seems long, and we always seem to have enough time left to do whatever we please, death is the one thing that all humans share and that puts an end to our hopes, dreams, pains, and joys.

    My father was aware of the finality that death meant for all the efforts of his life. And I think – ovserve, please, that this is but my own humble opinion – that these memoirs of his were his way of attempting to achieve immortality and conveying a message to those who would come after him.

    Who was my father?

    As you have seen, he conducted his travels under many names, and the list I so boldly shoved onto You, my, no, our readers, is far from complete as You will soon be able to find out.

    My father, let me call him Jacob of Higher-Hattington for now, was a handsome man. His age is not quite certain, but he certainly looked a lot younger than he was. So has claimed my own mother – God bless her soul – and so have claimed almost all persons I have come to meet who had had the pleasure to encounter my father.

    It is not quite known where he came from, but signs point to his German heritage. He spoke many languages fluently and with great skill, but all of them with a peculiar accent. Chance has it that he came originally from Bavaria, or a Swiss Canton. Through all my travels, I was unfortunately not able to find his true home where he was born. At the start of the story, he must be between 18 and 25 years of age with the likeliest guess being that he was 22 years old.

    What sort of man was he?

    It is amazing how difficult we find it to grasp the character of a man, any man, in few words, or words at all, for the spirit the envigors our bodies is far too complex in its animations, schemes, and purposes, that mortal humans could ever hope to endevour successfully in describing anyone's soul in mere words. Not all the words in all the languages would suffice to encompass the breadth and depth of one person.

    Yet, if I was forced to use but three attributes to describe my father – and understand, I have never met him in his lifetime, and have heard about him only from the mouths of others and from his own writings – these attributes would be luck, charms, and narrative skills.

    His charms made him friends anywhere, and won the hearts, especially of the ladies, wherever he went. His strong inclination for the fair sex has also caused him grief on some occasions when a man's friendship was easily wasted because of his affection for that man's wife, or daughter, or sister. This is where his second attribute, his luck, did him a lot of favors. My father seems to have had more luck than most other men who walk God's Earth. I will not spill too many details of this attribute, for I fear that it might spoil the narrative of his that lies ahead of You, the dear audience. His narrative skills will be on display in the work that You hold in your gentle hands. However, they also displayed in the invention of various stories and histories that he related to the people he met on his travels, and that on occasion saved his neck from a quick death or a long time in a dark dungeon.

    Some of his inventiveness also went into his memoirs, where the occasional exaggeration can be found, and where some events pccured quite differently in reality than he wrote. I don't think, however, he introduced these devices on purpose. Instead, it seems, he wrote his memoirs in several stages, always using hindsight. I suspect that he even didn't begin writing it before he was in his forties. And we all know how blurred memories that go back over twenty years, or even only one year are. What was terrible at the time seems far less so once we've lived through this period, and what was joyful seems all the more so once the less joyful details have faded from memory. However, I will nevertheless leave my father's story unaltered, and add to each passage a commentary with what I found out on my travels about the procedings. I hope You will not judge my father for his inaccuracies, and that my interjections will not disturb Your reading this tale too much.

    Those of You who fear – or hope – that my father included in his writings many candid details about his numerous amourous adventures I must inform that my father indeed was a man of decency. While the experienced among You readers might be able to paint the pictures in Your heads here and there, I assure You that no obscenities are contained within this work, and that it would mean no harm to neither Your pure wives or virgin daughters to read this tale.

    However, there are accounts in these memoirs that might be unsettling to the unexpecting reader. My father was a rather squeamish person I would guess from his writings, and he never went into great detail, but sometimes what is not written can be more gruesome that what is explained in great detail.

    How did I become my father's heir, and how did his memoirs come into my possesion?

    My father almost always carried a testament with him for the eventuality of his death. In it he ruled that the female he was with at the time – he always assumed that he would be in female company when he would die – would be the heir of all his fortunes, which, at the end of his life, were considerable. It was ruled that this lady's son was to receive the diary of his and do with it as he would see fit. My father met my mother when she was 25, an impovered Countess, last of her family, in the lands that lie between the Highlands of Scotland, and the Midlands. When my father died of a horribly strong pneumonia shortly thereafter, she was carrying me already inside her womb. The fortune she inherited rid her of her debts, and she was able to reclaim many lost lands. I was raised as becomes a young Count, and when I came of age, I decided to claim the title of Count of Higher-Hattington, laying to rest the old family name of which I will not write anything and bearing proudly the name of our benefactor.

    When I came of age, I also received the memoirs of my father which became my favorite reading, a book I could not tear myself away from. And so it was natural for me to follow my father's footsteps, to seek out those who had had the chance to meet him, to see the many lands he had visited, and also to find out more truth about my father. Some of it was discouraging to the point that I was about to retire from this quest, and maybe even lay down my possessions I and my mother had received from him, incldung the title and name which I had claimed. However, overcoming internal struggle, I decided not to give up on my task and legacy, and to continue my search.

    With this I will now cease stealing Your time that You could be using to already read the story that my father's life was.

    Signed
    Thomas, Second Count of Higher-Hattington

    Higher-Hattington Castle in the March of the Year of the Lord 1781
    Last edited by Syt; 22-09-2003 at 05:45.
    One strikeout is a tragedy; a million strikeouts a statistic.

  2. #2
    MORE MORE, WE DEMAND MORE.

    You know, I didn't even notice the tiny joke in the name until you gave the foreign words for it.

  3. #3
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    Great work Sytass, I will follow this one from the start as I'm having a difficult time getting to the end in the Klausens

    V

  4. #4
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    Thanks, you two!
    One strikeout is a tragedy; a million strikeouts a statistic.

  5. #5
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    So, after many years of travelling, and my journeys are not at an end yet, I have decided to put down a record of my life. Why I feel compelled to do so is beyond my understanding. I am aware that some events in my life are of the most extraordinary nature, and I have an uncertain feeling that there is more of the likes still lieing ahead of me. I am not certain, however, what good writing down these events – unbelievable as they may be at times – might do. Perhaps it is the great machination of things that forces me to do this.

    Or perhaps it is simply the fear of forgetting, or maybe being forgotten. However, I think that no one person's memory truly dies. For people will remember you, and they in turn will be remembered, and even though the memory of yours may become as thin as a cup of wine mixed with a barrel of water, will it and the results of your actions ever fade from the minds of people? I think not.

    Who am I writing this for, I wonder? As I pointed out, it is not likely that those who come after me could be interested in my petty life or my ramblings that will be ridiculed at best for their unlikeliness. Do I write it for a person close to me? That might be a possibility if there were human beings who I have been close to for longer than a year's span. Do I write it for myself? Yes, maybe it is indeed a work of reference for myself for the days of old age when remembering the age of old days will become more and more difficult. As little of importance as my life may be to the course that the matters of the world run, with the decisions of kings and generals, the clash of armies, the wars between countries, the children born, raised, living, and dieing, and procedings far more sinister than most people would imagine, as little as a role I may play in the grand scheme of the Lord's Will, my life is important to me, and I certainly don't want to miss any tiny bit of it that I find worth to keep.

    Where should I commence? Little had happened to me before I started my travels. So I will pick up at the point where my journeys began.

    The year was 1700. I was but a young corporal – a remarkable achievement for my age, I might add – in the Prussian Army, serving in the Kolditz Regiment under Oberst von Stretken. How I joined the army is not an exciting tale, let it suffice to say that it involved a lonely night and too much alcohol in a small pub in the countryside.

    Discipline, as anyone familiar with the history of the Prussian Military will agree with, is perhaps the factor that distinguished the Prussian Army from most armies of Europe, and the commander of these troops, an aristocrat called von Dessau, was a strong proponent of keeping discipline at all costs. More than once the fierce Prussian soldiers fought back an enemy that outnumbered them, and discipline certainly played a large part in these sometimes astonishing successes. But I digress.

    Early after I had joined the Kolditz Regiment I realized what consequences insubordination against the commanders could bear. Young recruits, some even younger than me, received beatings with whips and canes for trivial wrongdoing. I even witnessed one man being shot to death for stealing a loaf of bread and a piglet from a farm near where we were encamped. I think it was near a village called Moserow.

    So I learned the ropes, kept my head down and did as I was told. In fact, some of my comrades thought I might be the tent pet of an officer, because I was seemingly receiving a favorable treatment from some of our superiors. This, of course, was just jealousy by those men who got punished because they were not able to keep up the discipline, even if they tried. And let me assure you that being considered examplary and mentioned as thus by officers towards the ranks doesn't help one's reputation among the other infantrymen, either. I received threats, and the other men did play their games on me, but none of them tried to hurt me, for they feared punishment should they be caught. Eventually, I tried to win the men's favor by speaking up for them before the officers and sergeants. Most requests were rejected, though, and so this action had quite the opposite effect and alienated me further from my comrades.

    For my continued obedience of the rules, I was soon promoted to the rank of corporal. This new rank only led to more hostility from the other conscripted men, however.

    At that time, Prussia was locked in a costly war which originated from the various claims on the vacant Spanish throne. France and Austria, both quarrelling about which family – the Bourbons or the Habsburgs – was legitimate owner of the Hispanic Crown. And, as happens so often when family disputes escalate, a lot of innocent bystanders were drawn in and forced to choose sides. Therefore, England, Prussia, the Netherlands, Hannover, Hessen, and Wurttemburg were forced into the conflict on Austria's side, while Spain, Bavaria, The Knights of Rhodes, Genoa, and Cologne found themselves alongside France. And as everyone knows, disputes between countries and kings pull into their peril even more innocent people, namely the countless thousands of soldiers hurled at each other in a swirl of fire, smoke, and steel, with everyone of them hoping they will see their homes and their loved ones again.

    King Frederick I of Prussia, who would be called The Great, and, by those more affectionally inclined towards him, Alter Fritz, saw in this war a chance to expand his lands in Westfalen, adding Cologne to his possessions in Münster and Kleve. And so von Dessau and his 35,000 men were ordered to join the garrison of 10,000 at Kleve and then march on to Cologne. The Kolditz Regiment was part of this army that marched for three months through Hanoverian lands to reach the place of their trial by fire.

    Like me, many of the soldiers had not seen combat.until then. This expectation, anxiety, and fear molded us more firmly together, and many of my former adversaries within the regiment forgot their hostility towards me. After long weeks of straineous marching, our army joined forces with Wettin's command near Kleve. Already the order for crossing the Rhine and sieging Cologne had been dispatched and we had geared up to st out for another march, when reports of a French army of almost 60,000 men marching east into our direction.

    We halted our advance, and, with a total number of 45,000 men, dug in to await the French.

    Allow me to interrupt this tale already so early. As You, the esteemed reader, can easily see from the superficiality of my father's accounts, these must have been written a long time after the events, for wouldn't he otherwise have included a lot more detail about the procedings that shaped his then young life? It certainly must be so.

    The Kolditz Regiment still exists, and is under the command of the son of Oberst von Stretken. His father, my father's Commander, has unfortunately passed away some ten years ago, so I was unable to speak to people who had met him. None of the current members of the Kolditz Regiment could remember my father, who, I believe, was enrolled, according to the regiment's records, as Jakob Hochhuth. Unfortunately, it has not been noted where he had been recruited, or what origin he claimed for himself. Also it seems that this Jakob Hochhuth was never appointed to the rank of corporal before he disappeared. The records remain silent about whether Hochhuth died or deserted. In the records, I found a crossed out heart drawn besides the name of my father. There were many such symbols besides soldiers' names. The man who showed these records to me let me know that with these symbols special traits of individual men were hinted to. A crossed out heart, he said, was to designate a coward.

    I visited the village of Moserow, a most lovely farming village in Brandenburg, but none of the people living there, no matter how old, could remember an army ever camping anywhere in their vicinity.

    The Kolditz Regiment went through some of the bloodiest battles of the wars between 1700 and today, and so it is a safe assumption that many, if not all of the men with whom my father served at the time died before their time, and if there were survivors when I travelled there myself many years ago, it is still not sure that they would remember my father, considering how little recognized he was among his comrades.

    The Battle of Kleve in July 1700 would prove a turning point in his life, though not his last battle to take part in, and you will notice that his records of the battle are more vivid and detailed than the ones preceding them. I attribute this change largely to the impression that this battle made on my father.

    But instead of speaking of events that lie right before You in this narrative, I shall now put down my pen, and cease interrupting Your reading, so that You may carry on with the actual story.
    Last edited by Syt; 15-02-2003 at 15:53.
    One strikeout is a tragedy; a million strikeouts a statistic.

  6. #6
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    Our commander von Dessau decided to prepare a welcome for the French on the far side of the Rhine river. He moved our army into a position on and behind a wooded ridge running parallel to the wide river. The ridge was near the place where scouts had reported that the French would be attempting to cross the mighty stream. While the enemy was thusly preparing pontoons to cross the river, building what devices they'd need from the woods that were on their shore, probably surprised by our allowing them to do so without hinderance, we were moved into the following positions.

    In the center, a steep slope with tall oak trees, was comprised infantry, and the army's commanders. Here was also the personal regiment of Fürst Leopold von Dessau. The guard regiments, easy to spot with their white lined uniforms, opposed to the red of most of the units, were also found here. To the right the ridge was neither as steep nor as high as the center, and this was where the Kolditz Regiment along with more infantry took position. Our company, built simple breastworks in the woods, just like all the units that were at the front line. Von Dessau himself had ordered that most of us bluecoats that were musketeers would form the front line, while the grenadeers of each regiment, recognizable by their pointed hats,would be together wtith two battalions of musketeers behind the first line. To the left of the center, the ridge was not as high as in the center but far steeper, so that no horse or man could scale it safely. Here, nestled into the woods that ran along the whole ridge, our artillery pieces were placed, with more infantry, the Münster and Brandenburg Regiments, to their left, where the ground became more accessible again. Along the wooded roads behind the front lines were assembled the reserves, consisting of regimenst which had received but little training since they had been levied. Although many regiments, like our Kolditz Regiment, had no combat experience, either, we had so far received very good training in the arts and ways of the infantry and war. Behind the front lines on the left and right were the hussars and cuirassiers and dragoons on their horses, waiting to conduct any charge they might be ordered to do.

    The commander of our battalion, Hauptmann Keller, held a speech the night after our position was suitably fortified. He, too, hadn't been in the turmoil of battle yet, but he managed to hide his anxiety if he felt any. He cheered us up, telling us that the French would be no match for our highly disciplined ranks, and that we would be thankful for the harsh treatment we had sometimes suffered from once it saved our necks in the heat of combat. He demanded extreme obedience for the battle that lay before us, and to be alert about at who we aimed, for the French wore similar uniforms to ours, also in blue, and only the colour of their trousers being red instead of white as was common with our units. When in doubt, we were told to try to spot their regimental flags. We had come to learn to tell our own flags by heart in the past months, but we had never had to spot and recognize them on a battlefield, obscured by smoke, noise, and danger lurking all around us.

    Nevertheless, his speech quieted the fears and anxieties of many of the men for the moment, and even though I was not as calm as I wish I would have been at the occasion, I felt better after his kind words.

    Around the eighth hour of the following day, a bright, sunny day, promising to be hot in the later hours, the French began crossing the river. Our position was so that our muskets would only be able to hit their formations once they were at least 400 yards onto this shore. The artillery could have hit them on the far shore, but Fürst von Dessau had ordered not to open fire until he gave the command to do so. So we watched the French cross the river, bring order to their formations and slowly advance on us. We heard the shouts of the French commands, saw the flags, heard the rustling of steel on steel, and the trampling of thousands of feet.

    The men in our unit trembled. I was standing in the first of three lines behind the makeshift earthen wall that we had built. To the left of me was Karl Meier who was among one of those not likeing me too well. Noticing how his body was shivering, I put my hand on his shoulder. He looked at me – his scruffy face was several years older than me – and he offered me a smile, calming down slightly. Hauptmann Keller who went up and down our line looked at my gesture and was about to say something for me breaking the discipline, but when he noticed Meier's reaction he just gave a silent nod.

    The French were now forming a combat line that matched ours, and they already seemed to have as much men on this side of the shore as we did, with well over 15,000 more following them. Their artillery, placed on little hills on the French side of the river, started their pounding. They were still calibrating their shots, and their cannonballs swirled through the air above us, hitting the ground several hundred yards behind our formations, with the occasional sphere of steel hitting a tree, sending splinters, branches, and pieces of wood raining down on the troops beneath. Yet, von Dessau did still not order to open fire.

    We were already approaching the tenth hour on this day, the sun rising high and sweat running down our bodies, in part from heat, in part from tension, when the French had the last men on their pontoons. Their infantry and their cavalry, riding on their flanks, still held their ground outside the range of our muskets. Our men were getting restless in the face of this military might, hardened in other battles, unlike us, and our officers and sergeants had to do a formidable job of keeping them so calm that they would neither fire pre-emptively nor drop their muskets and run. Again and again the men were assured that they were better disciplined than the French, and that the had a far better position, so that there'd be nothing to worry about. Karl Meier and I looked at each other, smiled a wavering smile, and we noticed that many men from our company and in our Kolditz Regiment were now also encouraging each other to hold their ground and remain steady.

    When the last of the French were on the makeshift bridges, von Dessau orderd the artillery to fire. They had calibrated themselves the previous days to shoot right towards the middle of the river, and they were now aiming at the bridges, attempting to cut off any possible French retreat.

    The representation of the Battle of Kleve up to this point is quite accurate. Indeed, my father described the deployment of troops very well. I've been able to speak to old veterans of the battle, visit the area myself, and study the army records of the French and Prussian Army concerning this battle, and have to agree with the dpiction of the encounter which You have read so far. It might be added, though, that the French were expecting Fürst von Dessau's attempt to trap them on the shore. This was why they were first bringing order to their ranks again before taking any offensive action against the defenders.

    You will notice the French vigilance in the further description of this battle, which was the first of several very bloody encounters that von Dessau's army suffered before they were eventually annihilated two years later. But once again, I am stealing Your time atherefore step back again so You may continue at Your leisure.
    One strikeout is a tragedy; a million strikeouts a statistic.

  7. #7
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    Great work Sytass, you should do a collaborative battle AAR with Director, you both have a way of making the battlefield very clear

    btw, thanks for oyu comment over on my thread

    V

  8. #8
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    Thanks, Valdemar.

    Unfortunately, my schedule is too unpredictable for a collaborative AAR, else I wouldn't have dropped out of the FC so quickly, and I would have joined the new RPG in the fun forums.
    One strikeout is a tragedy; a million strikeouts a statistic.

  9. #9
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    The cannonballs from our guns went into the Rhine to the left and right of the pontoons a few times, sending angry white columns of water into the warm summer air. Some of us frowned, but our hopes suddenly peaked again when a shot hit the wooden construct of the provisorical bridge, letting it disappear in a cloud of wooden and human debris. This pontoon was cut off for retreat, but several more remained and became the new focus of our artillery. The French infantry seemed shaken as they watched several of their comrades torn to pieces by the fatal hit to the pontoon. They could but stare helplessly at the survivors who hastened to get to the shore on this and that side of the Rhine as the remainder of the bridge collapsed piecemeal. This was when many of our men who had previously cheered the formidable hit now felt sorry for their adversaries. The officers noticed that and attempted to keep the men busy by having them check their formations and equipment time and time again.

    Once the first pontoon was gone, the others were destroyed in quick order. However, this coincided with the French artillery improving their marks more and more. Their cannonfire now concentrated on the hill where our center was, and I could see the balls of the cannons hitting the ground before and behind the breastworks. Occasional cries indicated when a shot had found a human victim. Those cries went through bone and marrow, and I and my comrades began shaking again. Karl Meier avoided my look. My comrade on the other side, a tall blond farmer whose name I had forgotten shivered and suddenly froze, wetting himself. I tried to remain focused as the explosions of the French cannon shots seemed to draw closer and closer to us. I fumbled with my powder bag, my small braid, the bayonet that was plumed onto the barrel of my musket. I turned around to see what the grenadeers were doing, but all I could see were the other two lines of our company behind me.

    The sun rose higher, and close to noon most of us were sweating heavily despite the relative coolness under the trees. The French had not started their advance yet. Instead, our guns had destroyed their pontoons in their entirety, but that didn't matter much, for almost all the French troops were on our side of the river by now. Our guns were hitting on their static lines, as theirs were wreaking havoc amongst our ranks. One shot hit so close to me I felt the blow of the explosion, and dirt hit my neck and rained down around me. More crying was heard after that explosion, much closer than before. Our view across the battle field was obscured by smoke now, and it was difficult to see the enemy lines. At that time, commands from the French lines were heard, and through the haze we were able to make out the movement of the French towards our lines.

    The gun fire from both parties continued, and the sight of the approaching French troops shook the men even more. I clutched my musket tight with sweaty fingers, the knuckles of my fingers protruding whitely. I caught myself murmuring a prayer, but I noticed I was not the only one. I longed to be somewhere quiet, some place cool.

    “Hold your fire”, Hauptmann Keller shouted when he noticed that some of the men were already making an aim at the French who were still too far out of the range of our muskets. Those put down their weapons for the moment, waiting for the order to aim and fire. I heard the sound of horse hoes, and truning my head I saw a messenger riding up next to Hauptmann Keller.

    “Herr Hauptmann, orders have been given to hold the fire until the enemy is within 100 yards' range.” The messenger had been dispatched by the army headquaters and informed all the officers along the right flank of these orders, and after Keller had acknowledged the command, the horseman continued further to the far right of the flank.

    “You heard the man”, Keller shouted at us and sent two men out to other companies in our regiment to spread the order in case someone had missed them.

    When the French were about 200 yards from our lines, a cannonball struck into the company on our left. I could see the gap that the metal shell had torn into the ranks, and there seemed to be blood and remains of human bodies everywhere. Strange, I thought, how quickly one could turn from a breathing, living being, with thoughts, hopes, and dreams into something that was so little different from what you see at a meat shop. The gap in the ranks was quickly filled by the men behind it, and after a minute or two it seemed as if no damage had been done to the company at all. Can you imagine a more convincing example to demonstrate that everyone is replaceable?

    With the enemy lines but 150 yards away, Keller ordered us to check again if our muskets were loaded and ready. The French were clearly visible before the cloak of smoke that was obscuring much of the space between our wooded ridge and the shore. Hauptmann Keller began the familiar orders that preceded our firing our volley at the enemy. This took a lot of tension from the men, for they knew that it was finally commencing. The French kept advancing towards us, their lines remarkably intact after the gunfire that they had taken. Our superiors had always portrayed them as utterly undisciplined, but this imagie was removed from my mind now. When the command to fire came, I felt a release, the tension falling off me. I had fired my first shot in combat. There was not much time to watch the outcome of this volley that, exectuted well and synchronous along the front, had sounded like cloth ripping, only intensified a thosandfold. We, and by we I mean the first line of the company, knelt down, starting to re-load out weapons with powder and musketballs. The second line fired while we were still loading, and this time the shots were not as much in time with each other as when we had fired. I could hear the second line kneeling down to load as the third line unlashed their volley. Gunfire was now heard from everywhere as each company and regiment was falling into their own rhythm of firing at the enemy who approached us on a broad front. The whole area around us was now filled with smoke, like thick fog it blurred our vision, and the air smelled of sulfur. Is this Hell, I thought.

    I was contemplating how the French had not yet fired at us when a loud shouting and screaming could be heard. We were still wondering what this was when we received hasty orders from Hauptmann Keller to finish our loading and get ready for the next shot. Anxiety had worked its way into Keller's voice again. And when I stood up with the rest of the line I realized why. A wall of French soldiers, in their blue and red coats, were rushing at us, less than 30 yards left, bayonets gleaming, shouting from the top of their lungs as they fired a single shot at our line. From behind us I heard more tumult. Enemy cavalry had outflanked us!

    I regret thoroughly to interrupt again, but it will be only briefly. The account of my father's seems to be accurate still, at least according to the various sources about the Battle of Kleve that I was referred to during my research. But allow me to present You with the greater picture.

    After the French had crossed the Rhine river almost completely, their pontoon bridges were destroyed. Artillery fire was exchanged, but except for moral damage little physical damage was done to the fighting bodies. General Duval, the French commander, was gambling his way through this battle, though. He suspected the Prussians to wait with firing till his men would be at point blank range. Then, while the French would regroup, the Prussians would continue their firing from their fixed positions and charge once the French were weak enough to be overrun. Those were the correct expectations of General Duval.

    To counter these plans of the Fürst Leopold von Dessau which he had guessed so rightly he had sent several squadrons of dragoons and cuirassiers across an unobserved Rhine bridge to move behind the Prussian main body a week before the battle. For the pitched battle itself, Duval had decided to play along the Prussian plans to the point when the first volley was fired. After a quick regrouping, the French would then assault the Prussian lines in the hope of surprising them and thus having a moral advantage over them. Signalled by the first round of musket fire, the cavalry would then charge into the Prussian army from the rear, attempting to instigate as much confusion as possible and hurting the moral of the reserves and train units as best as they could. My father's tale is at that instant now, and this is where I will let You continue to read.
    One strikeout is a tragedy; a million strikeouts a statistic.

  10. #10
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    Without hesitation I, and most of my comrades, fired our weapons, sending some French to the ground, but not many as we were so surprised and shocked to see them charge at us so boldly that our aim was suffering badly. Already they were at the small earthen wall behind which we stood, and only my reflexes saved my life as I pushed up my bayonet into the chest of a Frenchman who had jumped over the obstacle at me. As he fell down he wrested my musket, bayonet in his breast, from my hands, and I stood without weapon. The French were now pouring into our position and those to the left and right of us; bayonet skirmishes commenced, with an occasional shot mingling into the voices and grunts of struggling men and the clash of weapons, the tearing of flesh and the trampling of feet as more French pushed over the earthen wall. The Kolditz Regiment was faltering and being overrun. Someone shouted for reserves, but they were busy with the cavalry. Without weapon, I could but watch as I saw my comrades being thrown back and killed one by one. This fight was hopeless it occurred to me.

    In this face of danger and total defeat – I dodged several French bayonets but barely – my lowest instincts took over. I had to get out of this bone mill and to safety. I started runinng for the rear, and I could feel a blade ripping through the seam of my coat. I didn't stop to look who the attacker was, but instead I ran away even faster, although I had thought I had been running at top speed already. I ran and ran, and the sound of battle slowly died and was eventually but a muted rumble in the distance. I sat down onto the mossy ground and leaned against a tree, attempting to catch my breath.

    I had deserted the regiment. My comrades. But what could I have done? Without weapon? In a lost battle? I was ashamed that I had so quickly and readily abandoned all dsicipline which had been put into me in the past months. I was on the verge of crying. Here I sat, alone in the forest, my comrades dieing in the distance, while I, sweating, exhausted, was safe for the moment. Part of me wanted to return to them, take a new weapon and do what I could, hopeless at it may seem. The other, slightly larger part reasoned that if I returned now, I would receive a trial for leaving my post. I debated with myself, and the choice was not easy, but with a heavy heart I decided to leave the army for good.

    I would have to get rid of the uniform. If I I was caught by other units in this uniform they'd shoot my as a deserter on the spot. And where would I go? I had never been in these lands near Kleve before, and I didn't know a place to sleep or earn money, since my whole possessions were in the camp which was now forbidden to me. I looked up and around me. The forest was particularly soothing here. The golden sunlight shone through the branches of the trees, islands of green grass were lit in a sea of shadows. Birds were singing, and the noise of battle was so faint that it was barely audible now. As I sat so, something nudged my arm. I turned around in shock and terror, but relaxed again when I saw who it was that had interrupted my thoughts.

    A horse, bearing a saddle and French insignia was there, a black steed, it seemed. The animal looked gently at me, and I couldn't help but smile at it. Nevertheless, I realized that there might be a member of the French cavalry around, the one this horse would belong to. And I was right. Face down on the ground, a bloody wound in the back, lay a man. I didn't want to take too close a look at him. However, I considered that this dead man might still have a few things on him that might prove useful in the future. I turned him around and deliberately avoided looking at his face as I searched his pockets. I found nothing special of value, but I took the sabre that was still on his side and fastened it – sheath and all – on my belt. The saddle of the horse held some gold, a bedroll, and a few rations. This horse must have been heavensent and I sent a thankful prayer to the Lord.

    I mounted the horse and went to find a road. Riding straight into one direction, it didn't take long to find one. I remained in the forest, because of my tattered uniform that would have raised suspicion if I met any travellers, but rode along the road all the same. I rode till what I estimate must have been late afternoon, when I heard voices on the road. I notioned my horse to halt and looked ahead of me. I could make out a coach, obviously one of a person of some prosperity. Before and behind the coach were three men on horses. From their motions and the sound of voices – I couldn't understand what was said – I guessed that this was a robbery going on. I figured that the coach and its passengers were at great risk if no one intervened. I was only armed with a sabre, but I felt I had to do something to save the lives of the persons in the carriage.

    Knowing that I wouldn't stand a chance in an open fight, for it was well possible that these three highway robbers were armed with pistols, I devised a plan.

    Shouting from the top of my lungs I shouted into the forest and away from the scene with a deep voice, “Hauptmann Keller, the robbers are in the trap. Charge!”

    And with a different voice, now shouting in the direction of the robbery, I screamed, “You heard the Oberst! Chaaaarge!”

    With that, I spurred my steed out of the forest and at the scene. My little trickery worked. The robbers were so surprised that they ceased whatever they were doing and raced off into the opposite direction of me without even looking.

    I halted my horse beside the coach. The driver, an elderly man, dressed in garments that made him out as a lacay of a well off master, nodded smilingly at me. “Thank you good Sir. Without your help we surely would have fallen prey to these men. But I am afraid I do not see the rest of your squadron.”

    Out of breath once more, I smiled back at the coach driver. “Well, it was a chance I had to take.”

    “But one worth taking”, I suddenly heard a gentle female voice from inside the coach.

    Tilting my head, I dismounted my horse. I approached the carriage and out of it looked at me two light blue eyes out of a whitely powdered face under a white wig, protruding from under which I could make out a few blonde hairs. The lady that had talked to me was maybe twenty years of age. At the time, I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I would think so numerous times over the course of the following years. And God knows, I will think so more often still in the future.

    For now I was smitten, blushed and bowed to the lady. “M'lady it is my pleasure to meet you. Allow me to introduce myself. I am...” Should I tell her my true name?

    I hesitated. The young lady giggled, not in a childish way, but in the way that women giggle when they know their beauty impresses a man. If I should answer why women giggle so often that way, I'd have to say it is because they know that our thoughts are far from chaste in those moments and that we try hard to appear as civilized beings. “What is it, gallant soldier”, she said friendly, not mockingly, “have you forgotten your name?”

    I realized that I blushed even deeper. “Excuse me my lady. My name is Baron Jakob von Hochhuttingen.”

    “Oh, an aristocrat? But why are you dressed in the uniform of a simple corporal?”

    “Mylady, I was on a secret mission to spy out the Prussian Army, and only barely made my escape.” I do not know why I was saying this. It seemed to be the kind of story and person that would befit a lady of such beauty.

    “Oh, a spy?” Curiosity and earnest interest stole themselves so inappropriately into the white face of the young lady. “You must tell me all about it!”

    “Mylady, I am afraid I cannot do that. But if you could tell me where to find a bed nearby, I would be most grateful and forever in your debt.”

    She smiled and cast me a look that resembled that of a child who is presented with a piece of candy. “Oh, don't worry Herr Baron, I know a bed that will be perfect for you to spend the night in.”

    The coach driver coughed, but if you listened closely you noticed that he was also hiding that he was chuckling.

    Thus my father escaped the Prussian Army and began his travels. I left this passage unchanged, but I think I should add a few matters I found out while inquiring the true chain of events. The Battle of Kleve was a victory for the Prussians who repelled the brutal onslaught of the French. In the end, both forces had lost more than half their men.

    The Kolditz Regiment, however, was one of the units that stood the fastest. Only a few men ran away when the fighting began, almost none were killed. It seems that my father's observations made an impression on him that was heavier than the actual events. Also, it seems, that some of the deserters of the Prussian Army managed to escape on various regimental and divisional horses. So, it is well possible that my father ran from the battle, scared to death, took what horse he found and rode off.

    I was able to find out about the encounter with the daughter of the mayor of Cologne on the road from the lady's son. According to him, the encounter happened the following way, not as my father wrote it down. The coach was stopped by three men on foot. My father didn't notice until his horse had thrown one man to the ground. Another shouted, “The army's here!” and they all ran away. It therefore seems that my father's luck, not his plan solved the situation.
    One strikeout is a tragedy; a million strikeouts a statistic.

  11. #11
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    Any thoughts, comments or suggestions?
    One strikeout is a tragedy; a million strikeouts a statistic.

  12. #12
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    I'm here, I'm here I was trying to write a response, but my network connection failed in the middle.

    I like the style, but I'm beginning to think perhaps I don't like the pompous or perhaps condecending tone of the son

    A thought suddenly occured to me, are you a historian as a hobby? I noticed that when you write the "Klausen" and this and your Russian AAR which I read while still a a lurker all have a feeling of genuine historical research.

    Great work

    V

  13. #13
    Compulsive CommentatAAR stnylan's Avatar
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    Keep on doing what you're doing? Like V said you have a very clear view of a battlefield. Most interesting though is the interplay between the son and the father, and I will be interested to see how you intend to develop this. Perhaps allow a little more of the son's character appear over time as he recounts his journey in the notes alongside his father's tale?
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  14. #14
    With Persian Tales and Jaguar Knights this is one of my three favorite running AARs. I like Jacob and agree with Valdemar for the most part on his son. I'm guessing it's the upper-class-twit thing coming from the son.
    Last edited by J. Passepartout; 03-02-2003 at 23:33.

  15. #15
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    Just noticed your new AAR Sytass. With the paradox server delays I can't keep up with all the AARs that I would like to read. I like the style you've chosen to use for this story. I was surprised when Jacob of Higher-Hattington ran from the battle. You handled that very well. I'm going to try and follow this so keep posting.

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  16. #16
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    Thanks for the comments.

    Valdemar: Remember, Thomas, the son - unlike Jacob - was born rich, and, reading the diary, had a certain image of his father in his head which was destroyed in large part when he researched his father's travels. And don't the young always think they're better than the old? Btw, notice how the son usually interrupts when there's a small cliff hanger. He loves his readers.

    History is a hobby for me, one that I hope to turn into a profession once I quit my job for university in 2004. However, I research mainly just the details I need for a scene (a city map, uniforms, a palace), as opposed to MrT and Lord Durham who do extensive research before they start writing one line.

    stnylan: Indeed I intend somwhat of a dialogue over the gap of time, and we will get to see more of the son's character for sure.

    J. Passeportout: Persian Tales and Broken Spears are among the best AARs on the board, so allow me to blush at being mentioned with them in one sentence.

    Storey: Thanks. I thought about making up (or rather: having Jacob making up ) a heroic story of the battle, but I wasn't sure how to seperate him from his army afterwards.

    Thanks for reading so far and your valuable input, I'll try to keep this as fast paces as I have in the past days.
    One strikeout is a tragedy; a million strikeouts a statistic.

  17. #17
    Originally posted by Sytass
    J. Passeportout: Persian Tales and Broken Spears are among the best AARs on the board, so allow me to blush at being mentioned with them in one sentence.
    I speak only the truth.

  18. #18
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    The lady introduced herself as Johanna Brettschneider, daughter of the mayor of Cologne. She bode me into her carriage, as it was not certain what kind of reactions there would be should I be seen in my uniform.

    Johanna inquired much on my mission, where I was from. Playing my spy role, I gave myself mysterious and avoided any clear answers to he questions. Whether it was my appearance or my keeping up appearances, she seemed more and more eager to get to know me, although, lady that she was, she tried to mask this desire.

    She herself had been on a journey from Münster where she had visted her husband's family. She tried avoiding speaking of her husband, and only informed me that he was a trader, now in Genoa. I asked her if she didn't find it too dangerous to take such trips while the King of Prussia was at war with the Archbishop of Cologne, but she merely pointed out that there had been bribes payed and other precautions taken before her leaving her home town.

    The road followed the Rhine river now, and the closer we got to Cologne, the busier the to and fro of other travellers became. People fleeing from the fighting, carrying what belongings they valued most, were on the way to the city, seeking shelter. We rode the whole night, although neither me nor the mayor's daughter caught much sleep, as we talked much about this and that, and I not only became absorbed by her beauty but also by her mind.

    The next morning we entered the city. The walls were brimming with guards, and artillery pieces were manned on the towers. Cologne appeared more like a large fort, and much less like the dwelling of several thousand people – beggars and merchants, craftsmen and housewives, children and elderly, priests and soldiers. Our coach moved through the city quickly, most people making their way for us, recognizing the insignia of the vehicle. We passed the cathedral, already over 400 years in the building, and by the looks of it, still far over a century from completion.

    Once we had reached the Rathaus Johanna took me immediately to her father to introduce me to him and to tell of my saving her from the highwaymen. However, that encounter would turn out to be more dangerous than expected.

    A short interjection before we come to that meeting of persons. Archbishop of Cologne at the time was Joseph Clemens. He was not the most notable rulers of his lands, but not the worst, either. He left most of the worldly affairs to his mayor, but he intervened when he did not agree with decisions. Werner Brettschneider, the mayor was a rather timid man, doing as he was told, and doing so efficiently. He was intelligent, but not pompous, and he was popular with the people of Cologne.
    One strikeout is a tragedy; a million strikeouts a statistic.

  19. #19
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    Johanna guided me to her father's office inside the Rathaus. The guards looked at my Prussian uniform, but Johanna ensured them that everything was alright. Werner Brettschneider was at his large desk in the spacious room where he worked most of the time, and a smallish man, with a rodent like face was with him. Brettschneider, a distinguished man with a grey wig, fine clothes, and a humongous belly. He smiled at the sight of his daughter, but he raised an eyebrow seeing my uniform.

    “Johanna! I am so glad to see you well.” Father and daughter embraced familiarly. “But who is it that you bring here in the uniform of the enemy?”

    “It is...” She paused, looking at the visitor.

    “It is alright, this is Monsieur Lafayette, an envoy form the French court.”

    “This man, father, is Baron Jakob von Hochhuttingen, and he was spying on the Prussians. In addition, he saved me from the hands of despicable highwaymen.”

    The large, jolly man came up to me. “In that case, my friend, be welcome.”

    “Hold a moment right here”, said the small man from the far end with a heavy French accent. “For all we know he could be a Prussian spy. Or an English one.”

    I swalled dryly. What was I to say about this?

    “Who sent you on your mission?”

    “If you don't already know, Monsieur, I am afraid I am not in the position to answer this question. Let it suffice to say that there are parties who would not want to see Cologne get taken by the Protestants.”

    At that the French hushed, mumbled something in French and bowed to the mayor. “Sire, with your permission, I am afraid I will have to leave your city for the moment. There are matters I need to take care of, but be assured that I will return shortly.”

    “Monsieur Lafayette”, Brettschneider replied, “this is a most sudden departure. I hope my hospitality towards Baron von Hochhuttingen is not a reason for your leaving?”

    “Non, monsieur, I am overdure with my reports.” Lafayette leaned forward, whispering something into the mayor's ear.

    The face brightening up, Brettschneider nodded. “Be on your way then, and godspeed.”

    The French bowed deeply towards the mayor, kissed the hand of Johanna, and then left without looking at me.

    “Come, dear Baron”, Johanna said, “You will likely meet the Archbishop tonight, and I think it better you, and maybe me, too, should take a bath before. I hope you don't mind if I... help you?” A sly grin was on her sweet lips that I suddenly longed to touch with my own mouth. I understood her at once.

    “Yes, take a bath, you two”, the father said absentmindedly. Obviously, he hadn't caught his daughter's insinuations towards me as we left for the bathing chambers.

    Let me make a comment or two before You, our honorable readers, carry on.

    As you may have noticed, Johanna Brettschneider confessed that she had a husband, as a matter of fact, she was on her way returning from meeting him when she encountered my father. However, what is irritating is that she still bears her father's name. The husband certainly existed, though, and went by a different name; if you remain patient enough with this book, You will meet him, so to speak, later on. I therefore estimate that the marriage was at the time not yet conducted.

    Johanna's son ensured me that according to his mother this initial meetin occurred slightly differently. Werner Brettschneider was very suspicious about my father, too, and only his daughter speaking up for him so dilligently saved him from the dungeon.

    Monsieur Lafayette was an intrigant man at the French court. In fact, he was appointed as an envoy to Cologne because of the relative unimportance of the mission. The French knew the city would have to be given up once the Prussians controlled the Rhine. Nevertheless, they hoped that Cologne would be a stop gap large enough to halt the Prussians till reinforcements from Spain and France would arrive. Lafayette sought by attempting to turn in my father as a spy – I hope I didn't spoil some of the writing ahead of You – to re-establish his reputation at the French court.
    One strikeout is a tragedy; a million strikeouts a statistic.

  20. #20
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    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Copenhagen, plotting my revenge
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    4,998
    Very nice Sytass, do I have to call the mods to rate the next part PG 13 or something?

    V

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