|Napoleonic Wargame Club
|Le’ Adventures of Jean Gerard
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|Author:||clifton seeney [ Fri May 02, 2014 10:43 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Le’ Adventures of Jean Gerard|
We find our hero in the most unlikely place in 1806, after Napoleon won his battle with the Russians and Austrians. The Russians, made good their escape from this bequille of Caesar, heading east towards Poland and the protection of a natural Prussia. Monsieur Jean was now a coachman for the Baron Von Rittenberg and Madame Lorrie, can you see his Excellency as a coachman well I can’t! I received this information though our regular means from Madame Lorrie who has a way of hiding information in her letters, that might seem unimportant to some but on closer examination of her letter you could put key names and places that fit together. She told me that he was now mapping roads to and from Leipsic. The Baron moved his troop there after the battle of Austerlitz. Once in Leipsic he opens a salon for the rich an famous of Saxony. With a letter from the Prince of Prussia, of recommendation no one could refuse him accommodations, he rented this time a Saxon castle over looking the Saale River. In fact one of the most frequent customers to his massage lounges was the Burgomaster of the town not to mention the Saxon officers who were enchanted by the Mademoiselles. Madame Lorrie had at this time a well know actress of Le’Theatre Francais a Madame Trinidad, this enchanting and entrancing, and most of all enticing female, who wielded the scepter of fashion and eclipsed all other women by her elegance and her coquetry as much as by her incomparable beauty. This is the way that Monsieur D’Artagnan described her! She now was the Baron’s main drawing card but Madame Lorrie said that she was not far behind this tempest, for it was now that she had to go into one of her many roles of deception, to help poor Monsieur Jean. While the Saxons were busy trying to impress the actress she was working out a plan to get our poor Lieutenant out of the local prison. He was on one of his nightly reconnaissance of the area when spotted by a sergeant of police, who was on a liaison mission with a local milk maid, just his Excellency luck he had his pad and paper drawing the road that was running east of the town and the different forks that lead to other towns, east and southeast of Leipsic. They carried him to a strong fortress northeast of the town to be interrogated by the local police, who were all as vigorous at tormenting, as Monsieur Albert and Alor, le ‘disciples de’ Marquis de Sade. It was a wonder that word got out that he was there, but due to the fact that the Baron had papers signed by the Prince Regent himself the police had to come and let him know that they caught Monsieur Jean, mapping the roads. So that no suspicion would fall on the Baron, Monsieur Jean told them that the Baron was an unwitting pawn in this game of cloak and dagger. Our small and frail ami was holding onto life as our heroine visit him posing as a servant of the Baron collecting his clothing that belongs to the Baron. She explains to him that she would get him out if she had to move hell itself to do it. She got a trusted valet to keep a watch on the fortress day and night till she could figure something out for her to do. That when it came to her to use the same ploy that worked in France when we got Chef Pierre out of his confinement.
Her only problem was, is she going to get enough personal to do it. Prussia and her allied Saxony were at war with France, the only ones that she thought might be able to help her was a gang of Polish Labors working for a certain Baron building something for him, this information came though one of the Hotesse at the Castle who told her that this Baron was bragging to some other Nobles that he was getting this work done for nearly nothing since Poles are considered slaves to them. She knew that she had no time to waste so she went about recruiting the Poles to work for her in exchange she would get them into the French Armee that was station in Cassel in Hess about a hundred miles west of Leipsic. But before she could gain their confidents she had to promise them that she would do all she could to make their escape good as well.
Her next step was to get the Poles a cannon to blow open the gates of this fortress! She meet the Poles at the river at their noon hour bring them food from the Baron Von Rittenberg’s kitchen; she was at that time dressed as a common maid one of her many disguises. She got to know that the overseer of this work crew often goes to the local pub to drink his beer at this hour leaving the Poles under the guard of soldat’s of the Saxon Army. The one that seem to be the leader of the Poles was name Comte Casimir Tanxzki or something close to that, he was listening to what our heroine had to say this must be done quickly before they shoot our poor hero, she explained to him, in a most serene voice. Madame, he said how, can you get us into the French Armee, she told him the truth that she was a spy for the Gendarme de’ elite, and that her superior would put in a recommendation for them to be put into the newly organized Polish battalion and that he would be their Capitaine. He told her that the place where they were working had cannons and that the Saxons were placing fortifications there and that he would get that cannon for her, all they needed was weapons and horses to make their getaway. Her next step was the same one she did in France, visiting the salle de garde, teasing and flirting her best, the guards would be much inclined to neglect their boring duties of watch and ward. After getting them use to her visits, she had to let our hero know that help was on the way but these guards were not as taken in as the French turn keys, there was one who was a regular soldat of the guard who was an old veteran of the wars his head could not be easily turned.
Madame Lorrie Comtess de Touquet 1806
What our cunning heroine did was to bring Monsieur Gerard some old clothing that had apres demain (the day after) sewed into the pocket in French! Oh I forgot to tell you that she could speak many languages also! Hoping that our hero wouldn’t be so weak as to not put on this clothing! The plan was set to go at the next night! Monsieur Casimir told his fellow country men that their freedom was at hand all they needed to do was get this Frenchman out of the confines of Fortress Manderhorn, he had better then five hundred Poles in and around this town this fact was unknown to Madame Lorrie, what she had was horses for about fifty men ( homme )and supplies. Also unknown to the both of us was that Napoleon sent word out that he needed volunteers from Poland and Lithuania! These homme were all trying to get nearer to the French Armee at that time the call came though diplomatic sources one was the great Polish hero Prince Poniatowski and the French Comte Caulaincourt at Warsaw. These homme were taken to Prussian work camps as a means to channel them though Prussia. It was their misfortune that they were caught trying to enter Prussia. They were taken by the Prussians as force labors. At this time the Prussians just happen to be putting fortifications in the city of Leipsic. With a letter from Madam Lorrie the service that the Poles would do they will receive the thanks from a grateful Empire. Monsieur Casimir was a Capitaine in his own country; many of his homme were all Polish soldat in service to the Russians. They quit the Russians once they got to Bohemia! With the food and weapons that Madame Lorrie brought them they fell in line as trained soldat this is what she wrote me,” they seem so ready to fight all in perfect order not like the mobs in Pari she wrote me”. That is when she noticed that they were in deed trained soldat’s the Vistula Legion.
Prince Poniatowski and Comte Caulaincourt 1806
It was apparent that in order to get the Poles to help that night she would have to render the Saxon Guards helpless. With the help of Monsieur D’Artagnan and a few of the troop valets they loaded up a cart and they set out on her mission of mercy. It was only by chance that Monsieur Jean noticed the sewing in his shirt if it was not for the pin that pricks his finger he would not had seen the message. With what little strength he had he called to his keepers to let him have a little water, knowing that they had beat him on a continual basics these sons of Satan brought him some water! They underestimated our Duelist, who with the last amount of energy foiled these imps of Satan and killed both of his keepers with the same bucket that they brought him water. By turning their backs on him he rendered them helpless at the same time then he beat them till they were both dead. With that done all he had to do is hope that the Comtesse would keep her word. After what seem forever to our poor hero he heard commotion coming from the fortress front then he heard what seem like a explosion then small arms firing then their was silence. He walked out into the long damp and God forsaking corridor to check and see was this his hour of liberation.
On her way to meet him was our heroine; behind her were a troop of homme. Hurry, she said we have no time to lose, the Saxons will be on us if we delay, meanwhile the Poles were liberating there fellow country men shut up in that death tomb also. The commandant was brought to the Polish leader who shot him on the spot for crimes against them, which were too grossest to report here. After they did what they had to do with the other sons of Satan, they made their way to the waiting carts and freedom, not before they hear the alarm go off in the Saxon army barracks that was near where they were there also installing the cannons for the fortifications. As they hurried out of town some on horse back and many more on foot, Monsieur Jean took over command not before he got the objection of some of the Poles; dismissing them he took command of the situation. Still weak too weak to ride they had to put him in a cart. He told them that there was a shorter way out of this hell hole to the northeast of town that meant that they would be going back to were they just came from, but he made his command strong and to the point and quieted the battalion down he ordered the Capitaine of this Polish Battalion to send out skirmishers to the front and rear and the mounted homme were to move south drawing the Saxons to them. While the ones on foot and the carts traveled northeast to a junction that would take them around the town and bring them to the southwest then to a bridge that might be heavily guarded because of the alarm. He told Capitaine Casimir to be ready to fight his way out of the city. Once they got to this junction and after meeting their mounted comrades, they began as he said to move southwest towards the river Saale, with his homme to the rear and in front marching not running. They looked to the townsfolk like Saxon troops moving to deployment. Once they neared the bridge Lieutenant Jean recalled the homme in front and to the rear, speaking in perfect Prussian he ordered the guards on the bridge to stand fast for a Royal Guard was approaching them. He told Capitaine Casimir to order his homme to goose step and to be noisy about it being very dark and so much going on the sentries abbaye his order never looking to see that it was a Battalion of a non uniform homme (men) marching by.
Capitaine Casimir 1806
As Lieutenant Gerard, and his new command of Polish volontaire, this was his first combat mission and his first combat Battalion, he knew that he had to get a full Battalion of Polish soldat’s one hundred miles though hostile enemy country and without proper supplies he had only what the Comtesse though was good for fifty homme for a few days in supplies. He had more then six hundred homme and one hundred mounted. There were other officers also there that was truly luck and good fortune, that also they were all former Russian soldat’s, called to our side with Revolutionary ideas of freedom for their homeland. Monsieur Gerard had mapped the area to and from Leipsic to Erfurt to Murlhausen to Gottingen to Cassel. He also knew the way and he knew what the Prussians had between here and there and he also knew that these homme could only travel ten to fifteen miles a day in their present condition that meant to him a month of marching, and ducking Prussian patrols and no food but what they could forage for. That would mean that they would be traveling all winter in a cold climate.
Not only food as will he needed clothing and supplies, he would have to attack a Prussian or Saxon, supply depot or a small fort maybe a town to get his needed supplies for seven hundred men. That would surely bring out the Army after them that would add a month on to their march. It was now time for our Lieutenant, to organize his command into a working Battalion, of both Cheval and pied. His first order was for them to organize into companies, but his companies would to different then French the smallest homme would all be in the skirmish company and the larger homme will be in the Grenadier Company but he would have two line companies. The Grenadiers would be in the rear of the march as a rear guard, the mounted and the smaller homme would be out in front foraging and scouting the forward area of their advance the other two companies would follow the forward companies, when food was found the companies would stop and bivouac. Each company would have a route to march, which would mean that he split his command each company consisted of one hundred plus pied and twenty Cheval. With four companies he needed four company commanders they were chosen by each of the companies’ homme. Instead of having to feed one large group he had these four small groups feeding themselves, most were a day away from each other the slower ones were maybe two to three days away but in this way he had fewer stragglers and the slowest company would often come up on the stragglers. And then while on the move the Grenadiers would pick up many also this took off days from his march. With winter weather it was still very slow, and the weather slowed them down even more, but also their pursuers from the south. He said that he decided to move north on to Nordhausen. The new officers were 1st company Boguslaw, 2nd Walerian, 3rd Ludoslaw and 4th Adolf. Also each mounted detail had a commander Rufin, 1st Elek 2nd Gerwazy 3rd Czeslaw 4th. Since our main purpose was to avoid any all out fights with a larger unit his orders to all company commanders was to avoid and flee to the nearest company for support if they could. He had them spread out over a five mile front with Cheval in front over this distance and the Grenadiers in the rear under their commanders also, I guess you would say company leaders or sergeants, He said that they were still moving as fast as they could considering the weather and the lack of clothing till their 4th company that was to the east came up on a small hamlet that they easily took over and sent runners to the other companies. The runners brought back news that they had food that they had food and clothing this was their first real break after two weeks out, their first forty- five miles. No real contact with their pursuers yet that made Monsieur Jean worry, that's what Monsieur Jean wrote me.
If they were behind us at this slow rate of march our rear guard should have had made contact with them by now. His only conclusion was that they plan to ambush us some where. So he sent runners to each company to change the march to east away from Hess, to Quedlinburg that meant that we would put another twenty-five to fifty miles to our march to avoid our pursuers.
It was indeed good that we had this clothing that the villagers were reluctant to give up but it clothed nearly half our men, the rest of them had to go with out till we hit another village by this time our rear guards were in constant fighting with small bands of civilians and local militia. He said that he could not believe the suffering one goes though as some of the homme went though we were only one hundred miles from friendly territory. That hundred miles might had been a thousand for some of these men if it wasn't for their fellow comrades sharing their coats and blankets many would have frozen to death at night which once again slowed us down to a mere crawl, at least we had food the woods were full of small animals. We were loosing many of our rear guards to the civilian ambushes. I had to now bring the rear guard closer to the main companies for protection the militiaman were on the other hand easier to deal with one volley from my lines and they ran off, it was this constant ambushes that were slowing us down. He wrote me that he had to combine all his Cheval. He joined them to wipe out a small village to warn the rest of these folks that we would not stand for these random killings. We not only burned the village down but took all their clothing, we now had more then enough for all of the homme to wear. This did make the ambushes stop but it also altered the Prussian mounted patrols that were closing in on my forward movement, I now had to bring in my skirmishers and close the gap between all companies we were now making less then ten miles a day. The Saxon pursuers were seen by one of the companies to our southwest they told me that it looked as big as our unit that meant that they would be on us if I don’t pick up speed. What I decided was to lay an ambush myself using my Cheval and Grenadiers as a rear guard so that the remainder of this command could get an hour ahead of them by changing my destination again north to Hanover this time. We have traveled now more then a hundred miles, but we still were far from friendly territory. Knowing that the Saxons would be looking for a small rear guard I felt that I had the advantage over them, what I did was to take all of my Cheval to the rear and hid them in the nearest woods. I then place the usual rear guard so as that the Saxon scouts would report that all they saw was a small company. Once they attack the rear guard I pulled them back exposing their weakness and when the Saxons advance I waited till all of the Saxons had arrived, that most have been their advance guard because there were not more then a hundred of them. I would have advance on them but I decided to wait for their main force to show up. After all of their advance guard was gone after my garcons. Their main force showed up although they would out number us ten to one they had sent mostly all their Cheval forward in pursuit. I hit them in the flank and they had no time to form squares we saber many and disorganized their unit that was two battalions in size. Loosing very few to this charge, I returned to their Cheval that were pursuing my Grenadiers, once again hitting them this time in the rear as our Grenadiers held the front we had them bottled up. The leader raised the flag of truce although they still outnumbered us three to one but being in their front with pied(foot) and in their rear with Cheval they were oblige to surrender. I gave them parole although none of my homme had a uniform on but the Saxon knew that they were Polish because they spoke to us first in Polish.
Le Duelist 1806
f192 Monsieur Jean said that the Saxon officer seemed surprised that non uniform unit could be so large and well organized as this one was. Monsieur Jean wrote me, he said that he had a unit with his wounded that was away from his main unit, then he had to leave his wounded were they where telling them that their sacrifice would enable us to get to French lines quicker. Buy showing mercy to the Saxons Cheval I hope that they would show the same to these homme, there was forty wounded to serious to carry with us without a surgeon present. I could feel the deep remorse in the troops as we head to the French lines; we had to move this way then that trying to lose our pursers. The homme still were confident in my leadership and followed my lead without question, when we reach the main body there was much rejoicing that many were still alive and we defeated a Saxon Cheval. This was a new kind of warfare to many, attacks by civilians and militia and regular troops no food no flags or bands no Generals on blanc (white) Cheval no uniforms just trying to stay alive and trying to reach safety. Is this a hopeless situation or is there a method to this madness Monsieur Jean wrote, there’s no glory to be had killing civilians fighting old men and young garcons, marching and counter marching cold, wet and freezing. There was one thing that kept these homme moving the will to be free from Prussian rule and the hope that they would see Poland again.
No longer did I feel separated from the people no longer did I hate my family for being what they were no longer did I see a servitude to the Comte de’ Montpellier, but I felt a obligation to these homme and to the Comte a point of honor. I was honored to be their Commander, I felt free from the sciences and the education that held me in bondage free from the chains of socialism free from even God at this point now I felt that he was an ami that I could reason with and get advice from. A revival of sprit if you will! Monsieur Jean wrote.
We still had a long way to travel, but the only consolation was the fact that the Saxon knew that we were indeed professional Soldat’s of the finest quietly, first rate front line troops almost elite in our fighting manner. I decided to have drill in the morning before we marched. Some of the homme honored their company commanders with captured Blanc coats that they took off of the Saxons and their bicorn, slashes and swords; we were looking more like a regiment every day. Although the leader of the Saxons didn’t stop his pursuit of us we fought him time again wining some and loosing some moving closer to Corvey in Hess, we traveled more then three hundred miles in three months and finally we lost our pursuers at the border of Hess and Hanover. I turned this magnificent body of homme over to the commander of the French garrison in Hess to await my next assignment. It is said that Lieutenant Gerard, left Leipsic with eight hundred souls in February of 1806 and arrived in Hess in April of that year with six hundred souls. He was commission as Major of that Polish regiment and is now serving in the Polish Brigade.
Soldat Le Vistula Legion 1806
The Legion was formed in Breslau, Silesia in February 1807 from an infantry regiment and cavalry regiment in the service of the Kingdom of Naples that were descended from Jan Henryk Dąbrowski's Dąbrowski's Legions and Karol Kniaziewicz's Danube Legion originally raised in the 1790s. The new formation was expanded from the Neapolitan cadre into a formation of three infantry regiment and one cavalry regiment, intially named the Polish-Italian Legion as it had been organized around the Poles formerly in Italian service. Most of the recruits came from ex-Prussian and ex-Austrian territories, particularly Poznań and Pomerania.
The Polish-Italian Legion fought its first engagement at the siege of Klodzko and then was transferred to Kingdom of Westphalia in October 1807 and was placed in garrison in the capital, Kassel where it was recruited to full authorized strength from Poles in French occupied territory. The newly expanded cavalry regiment arrived in Kassel on November 11, 1807.
Napoleon I directed that the Legion be transferred to French service on February 21, 1808. The Legion was transferred to Poitiers, France and was officiall renamed the Vistula Legion on March 31, 1808 with the equivalent status of French line units. The infantry was reorganized to the 1808 pattern of six company battalions in April of that year in conformance with the new French organization decreed on February 18, 1808. The Legion's depot was at Sedan. All of the personnel of the Legion were to be of Polish ethnicity except for the company clerks, the fourriers, battalion adjutant non-commissioned officers, and paymasters. who were to be French. The strength of the Legion was set at 5,959 men in June 1808. The 2nd and 3rd infantry regiments of the Vistula Legion in June 1808 and participated in Napoleon's invasion of Spain (the Peninsular War).
Napoleon I ordered a Second Vistula Legion formed from prisoners taken after his defeat of the Austrians at the Battle of Wagram in July 1809. Recruiting was slow and only two battalions were raised and were sent to Sedan in October 1809. Unlike the original legion, ethnic Germans were accepted into the new formation. The Second Vistula Legion was unable to recruit up to strength and was disbanded in February 1810 with its personnel being amalgamated with the original Legion as its 4th Regiment
Taken from The New Adventures of Marbot by Clifton Seeney (Kliff Senet)
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