King Stépan IV's pleasure dome at Kragoneidin, on the shores of Lake Polishov

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A trial flag and Mopping Up after the Battle of the Zileherhoum Marshes

I was fooling about with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, making some trial versions of national and regimental banners for the Syldavians.  I worked up a basic flag modeI and then added 3-D texture following the very useful instructions that the resourceful MS Foy kindly posted on his  blog  (Prometheus in Aspic).  Here is what I ended up with:






The flag is intended to be a Baroque military version of the national flag that figures in Hergé's Ottokar's Sceptre.  I'm not so terribly happy with it, but it is a start. Something weird happened to the pelican's beak. Perhaps he swallowed a big fish!

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1684  Mopping up after the Battle of the Zileherhoum Marshes


The end of the Battle of the Zileherhoum Marshes was marked by the collapse and rout of the Bordurian infantry battleline.  Two ortas of Bordurian provincial infantry and the Arnaut light infantry that had been repulsed by the Syldavian infantry broke and streamed away in complete disorder afterbeing panicked by the approach of the Syldavian horse. Things went better for the Janissaries after their bloody reverse on the Syldavian left.  They rallied and marched off the field with sullen defiance.  They even paused to level muskets at the Syldavian horse, daring them to come on (they thought better of it).  On the Syldavian right, Hassan Muhtar and a group of his officers gained some degree of control of the final two ortas and managed to steer them off the field in semi-coherent masses, in the direction of the Bordurian Rear Guard, the leading elements of which had by then come into view across the battlefield.  Briefly left to their own ends, the Syldavian cavalry created havoc in the rear of the routing ortas and took many prisoners.

King Ivan judged that his infantry too exhausted and disorganised to pursue the Bordurians.  He had seen the arrival of the Bordurian rear guard and for once he decided to be cautious; he recalled his cavalry as they were the only remaining units with which he could defend his army.  As the fading light hid the last of the departing Bordurians, the Syldavians set about massing up the wounded and the prisoners taken after the battle, and they improvised defenses for their camp.  The men cobbled together makeshift shelters for the wounded and dying (and there were distressingly many of them) and they scoured the ammunition pouches of the fallen for powder.  Finally, they sent out patrols to round up the stragglers who continued to arrive in trickles along the road. 

Aside from maintaining a sporadic long-range skirmisher fire toward the Syldavian camp just to keep the enemy on edge, the Bordurians avoided further battle as scrupulously as their enemies.  Their primary force was shattered; Hassan Muhtar’s own ortas were for the most part horribly depleted and demoralised.  Rather than committing his reserves to a new attack in the twilight, Hassan Muhtar used them to catch up his dispersed men and to deter a counter attack as he desperately worked to restore order into the night. Before dawn the next morning, the Bordurians quietly began their march back toward Klow. Hassan Muhtar knew that he would soon be able to face King Ivan there once again.  At Klow he would be able to unify his entire force and field both fresh cavalry units and all his guns, altogether a more promising prospect. 

King Ivan allowed his men to rest throughout the following day while cavalry patrols brought in the rest of his straggling men and fragmentary baggage train.  He and his officers interrogated as best they could their prisoners.  Many of the Bordurian provincial troops turned out to be conscripts from the Syldavian provinces under Bordurian rule (Zympathia,and Poliahov). The Syldavian dialect was their mother tongue and many of them avowed an ancient nostalgia for the Syldavian crown.  King Ivan noted the poverty of the conscripts and immediately saw an opportunity there not to be missed.  He promised these men travel passes back to their homes they remained on parole the rest of the war and then he offered grants to new plots of land as well as a bounty in silver if they entered his army as volunteers.  Between the fear of being declared deserters by the Bordurian authorities and the promise of pay (little of which was to be expected of the Bordurian governor) Ivan’s proposal was received by measured enthusiasm by the conscripts. The Syldavian officers, flags and musicians of Ivan’s tattered little army were brought forth to parade the recruits before the weary Syldavian private soldiers who, sceptical of the men who had so recently been in the ranks of the enemy, nevertheless managed to finish the parade with a hoarse and lusty cheer. 

King Ivan brushed at his moustaches with his gloved hand (rather weedy moustaches as he was then still a rather young man) as he surveyed the parade scene with a roguish glint in his eye.  “Ah, very good.  All this turned out well, didn’t it, Lorenz” he said to Col. Lorenz von Steyn, his lead adjutant.    Ja, Sire”, replied the old solider, an émigré officer who came to the Syldavian army after years in the Habsburg service, and with the King of the Danes before that.  “This day could have been a disaster, ja, that is the truth.  To have this victory and the men for a new battalion of musketeers from the enemy himself, well, it is a feat worthy of that grand old Ottokar himself, by St. Vladimir!” he said with a chortle.


I worked out losses for both sides resulting from the battle and from the Bordurian rout, using some simple dice rules.  Here is a summary:

Bordurian Army Roster    Pre/Post Battle



Initial Strength (figures)
Battle losses
Rout losses (casualties/prisoners)
Final Strength
Orta 1
Janissaries
30
-19
-1
10
Orta 2
Reg. Prov, Infantry
36
-12
-2
22
Orta 3
Reg. Prov, Infantry
36
-16
-4
16
Orta 4
Conscript. Prov. Inf.
36
-24
-12
-
Orta  5
Conscript. Prov. Inf.
36
-16
-20
-
Arnauts
Light Inf.
36
-26
-2
8
Sipahi 1

12
-7

5
Sipahi 2

12
-8

4
Wallachian Horse

12
-5

7
Light Cav.

12
-8

4
Field gun


captured

3

No batt;e casualties are immediately recouped as the Bordurians routed from the field and then retreated 

Rear Guard (unengaged)

Orta 1 (Conscript Prov. Infantry 36 figs)
Orta 2 (Conscript Prov. Infantry 36 figs)
Arnauts (Provincial Levy Light infantry 24 figs)
Bordurian Sipahi (12 figures)
Bordurian Light Cavalry (12 figures)
Light Field gun



Initial Strength (figures)
Battle losses /stragglers returned/battle casualties returned
Final Strength
Btn 1
Musketeer
24
-6/+12/+2
32
Btn 2
Musketeer
24
-12/+12/+4
28
Btn 3
Conscript Musketeer
24
-10/+12/+3
29
Btn 4
Irregular Skirmish Infantry.
24
-8/0/+3
19
Kurassier
Regular
12
-2/0/+1
11
Dragoon 1
Regular
12
-2/0/+1
11
Dragoon 2
Regular
12
-4/0/+1
9
Field gun

3

3

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Campaign maps for the Battle of the Zilherhoum Marshes


Hassan Muhtar Pasha's opening moves included raids on all the bridges permitting the resupply of King Ivan's base of operations at Klow.  Red arrows indicate Bordurian movements, black arrows show Syldavian moves.  In order of occurrence, these include A) a raid on  Nie Zileheroum followed by blowing up the bridge over the Wladir River to Klow; B) a raid on Ottokardin, site of another bridge over the Wladir, giving access from the east.  Ivan hastily marched his men to repulse that attack fearing the destruction of the bridge, which he wished to preserve for his own planned offensive; C) Finally, the Bordurian garrison of Zympathia seized the town of Orehovo, and cut off access to Klow from the west.  King Ivan was understandably desperate at this point to recover control of his lines of communication, especially those to the west. 

While preparing my last post I realised that with the slow pace of progress around here, I needed to go back and check my own map in order figure out where things ought to lie after last week’s battle and how they ought to progress.  If I needed a refresher, I can only imagine that the Interested Reader had to do some studying as well.  So, I am going posting here a couple of maps that should illustrate the flow of events across Syldavia’s obscure landscape.  Above is a map showing movements of the start of the spring campaign, namely the Bordurian raids on bridgeheads controlling access to King Ivan's winter base at Klow.  The map below shows King Ivan's movements in response to  these raids leading, finally, to the encounter in the Zileheroum Marshes.  

King Ivan's responses to the Bordurian raids.  After throwing the Bordurians out of Ottokardin, King Ivan learned learn he must hasten to do the same at Orehovo (D) to regain control over the the Djordjevaro-Klow road.  The Bordurian force withdrew to the west, enticing Ivan to pursue, hoping to entrap and destroy the majority of the troops defending Zympathia, which he planned to attack later in the spring.  He in fact had fallen into a trap, he could not catch the fleet Bordurians and moved out of contact with Klow, a situation compounded by late spring snows which choke the roads.  Free from interference, Hassan Muhtar united his forces in front of Klow (E) and began to bombard the city's fortifications in preparation for an assault.   Belatedly receiving news of the situation at Klow, King Ivan finally understoond his situation (F) and turned his army around, marching back to Orehovo (G).  He was harassed all the way by the Bordurians and had to detach infantry, guns and his light cavalry to garrison Orehovo.  Ivan pressed on, force-marhcing his men day and night through melting snow and mud toward Klow.  Having become fatigued and now heavily disorganized, Ivan encountered a Bordurian outpost in the Zileheroum Marshes, (H).  The Bordurians were repulsed during the resulting skirmish but raised the alarm with the Bordurian headquarters.  Ivan made camp there to reform and rest his men before forcing an encounter at Klow.  Hassan Muhtar sought to take advantage of Ivan's vulnerable situation  and sub-devided his army to attack the Syldavians in the Marshes while continuing siege of Klow. This battle, though bloody for all concerned,  went badly the Bordurians. They were defeated soundly and retreated to Klow to conserve their advantage of mass of force for a final encounter. Now left in peace, Ivan continued to reorganize his  men in preparation for an attempt to relieve Klow.