Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas From M'Uedail

Beannachtaí an tSéasúir - Season's Greetings, in Gaelic of course!

"Twas the Night Before Christmas, And all through the land,
We all give thought, To what shall come from Per Noel's hand.

For me it's a battalion, Or even two or three,
For the Lady Katherine, Some new French finery for me to see.

For all of the children, I'm sure it's toys or sweets,
But as we all well know, There will be joy regardless of the treats.

I do give a prayer, One that I hope you all share,
For the fine boys and girls, In uniform everywhere.

They're all so young and so fine, And so far from home,
I pray you Father Christmas, Make them your own.

As we all share our Holiday, With the ones that we love,
Let them share it too, With help from Above.

As they can't be re-painted, Or re-based as our toys,
Let them all take care, Those fine girls and boys.

As for all of us, For you and for me,
I'm sure we'll eat too much, with perhaps a little grog, We'll just have to see.

For all of you My Friends, Wherever you are,
A Joyous Season be upon you, Under the Guiding Star."

Sir William

Saturday, October 13, 2007

For Jean-Louis of Monte-Cristo, After the Style of Rousselot (Crudely!)

The other Musician's would, of course, dispense with the false "hanging sleeves" in the back, as these were worn only by the timbaliers a cheval, and with the Tiger skin saddle cover.

Respectfully, Sir William

Thursday, October 11, 2007

An Updated Dispatch Regarding The Regiments of Horse

Kind Sirs;

It is with great excitement that We here in M'Uedail make the announcement that two of Our fine new Regiments of Horse have now been designated Cuirassiers, after the Prussian style. Revised uniform plates have been substituted for those previously displayed to reflect this change. It is with equal excitement, and pride, that we announce that The Lady Katherine's Guard Caribiniers, one of our new armoured Regiments, shall now be granted a full and proper standard. Herr Rommel has assured me that he has personally recruited these lads from only the finest of the available German Cavalry volunteers, with every man having served under previous colours and in previous campaigns, and being descendant of fine, noble families. Further, both he and young Mr. Shaw's agents have personally vetted each of these men, and have sworn to their ancestry, courage under fire, and have provided recommendations from previous Commanders. In this, they are not unlike the famed Musquetaires du Roi who served Louis' ancestors so valiantly in many a storied campaign. The Lady Katherine's lads shall wear a polished cuirass of the best gun metal, to reflect their status as a "Household" Regiment.

The other new Cuirassier Regiment is that of Don Alberto Pacino. He has similarly pledged the quality and integrity of this group of volunteers, has selected only the finest and hardiest physical specimens from among the many who volunteered for this service, and is off-setting the cost of the upgraded equipment through his own financial means. Don Pacino's Regiment shall wear the more traditional "blackened" cuirass, as do the Prussians under Frederick.

Respectfully, Sir William

Friday, October 5, 2007

Your Pardon, Kind Sirs, for an Omission

I do kindly beg Your pardon Dear Reader, for l'erreur d'omission on my part. Young Shaw and Guderian reminded me that two "Administrative" bodies of troops had been created as well. These units were put together of only highly-qualified and selected individuals, and are for the security and comfort of the gentle citizenry of M'Uedail.
The first of these unusual units is the Compagnie Les Gardiens de la Foret, or in proper English, the "Company of the Keepers of the Forest". These hardy woodsmen and hunters, under the able command of Sous-Leiutenant Jean Reneau (a crack marksman and quite ruthless hunter I'm told), will be in full regimental strength and will patrol not only our forested areas, but the more wild and remote parts of our border as well. However, since their duties often require a certain amount of stealth and discretion, they will typically operate in patrols of half-companies, each commanded by a trusted sergeant, and will patrol in a looser order than our line regiments of Cavalry, much like small patrols of skirmisher's. I'm told that the Prussians and Austrians have similar units and, indeed, I did have a quarrel with Guderian, who wished to call them "Jagers zum Wald". However, I must be somewhat sensitive to the feelings of my gentle people, who are already having a difficult time adapting to the profusion of strange new accents and languages. The observant Reader will no doubt notice that these lads have very little gilt or fine lace, preferring instead to blacken their lace and buttons so as to increase their ability to be assimilated into their surroundings. Indeed, I'm told that in practice, Mssr. Reneau plans to either operate in chapeau du forage instead of his mirlitons, or blacken the unit's badge on the front of the mirlitons. And I'm told that they will typically wear deerskin gauntlets that cover their bright cuffs and leave their sabretache with their horse when functioning in a dismounted role. Their final distinctive item of notice is the fur trimming their pelisse, which is of dark wolf's fur. Apparently, Mssr. Reneau has made it a requirement that each recruit must stalk and take a male wolf armed only with the simplest of primitive weapons and provide his own fur as a matter of honour!
The second of our "Administrative Units" is the Compagnie Les Gardienes de la Frontiere, or the Keepers of the Border, commanded by that able young man Sous-Lieutenant Jacques Clouseau. I'm told that Mssr. Clouseau was a former Inspecteur Principale, or Chief Inspector, with the local Constabulary and is on quite intimate terms with every rogue, scoundrel, smuggler and ne'er-do-well in the Duchy. His unit will be similarly organized and function much like Mssr. Reneau's, except that it will focus its attentions on our chief river ports, formal border crossings and primary roadways. This unit consists of, or so young Shaw tells me, every over-zealous former constable and smuggler within our Duchy, and some from the surrounding areas as well. I do hope that young Mssr. Clouseau can maintain order within this group, but I'm told that he's quite the able administrator, and a crack investigator as well. Although I do have to confess Dear Reader, upon meeting the man for the first time, I'm damned if he didn't trip over his own boots and take a serving wench and footman down with him! I trust that this was caused by his understandable apprehension at meeting Myself and the lovely Lady Katherine for the first time. As always, time will reveal all to the patient man. I do believe that I will be comforted while on campaign and will not fear for Lady Katherine's safety with Mssr's. Reneau and Clouseau on patrol though.
Respectfully, Sir William

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Final Installment of the Uniform Series

That scamp Shaw! He allowed me to believe for a full day that he and Guderian had neglected to complete the necessary instructions for the various supernumary units of my Guard to provide to the Brothers Knotel. And yet, here they are! He must always have his little jests with me, that one. I must say that I am quite delighted with them. The Artillery presents the proper, somber attitude that most valuable arm of the service must have to perform their required duties, yet still retains that certain aura of panache that suits me so well. And as to my personal Guard, this was a complete suprise to me. I was so busy concocting my own little suprise for my bride, that I quite failed to discerne that the Lady Katherine and young Shaw had been entertaining one of my late, Sainted Mother's kinsman, the Honourable Joseph Henry MacKibben.

This gentleman is a "salty" veteran of many a campaign, both under the flag of the Stuart's and that of Louis. I had hoped that I might entice the man to join me, along with his twin sons Joseph and Henry, but never imagined he would command my personal Guard. I am disappointed to not have his son's join us, but those two fine young Scots are off to the America's to seek their fortune in an area called "The Western Reserve", apparently an unexplored wild portion of the English colony of Connecticut overrun with wild Red Indians and all sorts of game. They have promised to write to us and I shall look forward to following their adventures as well. I have often thought that, if Destiny had not chosen the path that She has for me, I too might have been such a "colonist", or other such adventurer. The Lady Katherine simply says that I wanted to be a Pirate or Buccaneer, and ravage and plunder, which I think scandalous from a noble-born Lady such as herself. Besides, I'm told that a Duke has more than enough "plundering and ravaging" to do in his own right! At least all that I have known or served have done so.

Respecfully, Sir William

And Finally, The Light Horse!

Ah, the beau sabreurs of the Army, the dashing Light Horse! Here we are experimenting somewhat. While the majority of our Light Horse shall be of the Continental style of Hussar, two of our Regiments shall be in the new English style (as of 1759) of Light Dragoon. These wear a distinctive, if somewhat odd, "helmet" formed of varnished leather reinforced with gilted metal fittings and a died horsehair crest. We have chosen to paint this helmet in the Regimental color, although I gather the English are experimenting with leaving them plain varnished leather, which I find quite mundane, and with gilting them, which at least adds an air of elan to them. However, I much prefer our new scheme of coloring them to the Regiment.
We shall also be employing these Light Dragoons in the Continental manner of Light Horse. That is, we shall employ them for scouting, dismounted service, escort duty, skirmishing, and for the charge de sabre when the proper opportunity presents itself. Our reports from England indicate that their own Army appears to be having problems in properly employing this new style of horse (one of the problems when only "gentlemen" are permitted to ride). However, here on the Continent, we have known how to properly utilize such dashing rogues for over a century, having extensive experience with every type from Croat and Serb to Cossack of the Steppes to the original Hungarian Hussars in Bavarian and French service. The problem, as always with this type of dashing young "Hell for Leather" trooper is maintaining proper discipline. My "Germans" I shall not worry over, except perhaps this von Richthofen character who seems to be quite rash. However, this young Mr. O'Flynn commanding the Irish is quite another matter entirely! Not only does the man fancy himself quite the swordsman (which I understand he actually is), but apparently is a dandy and a "Lady's Man" as well. Indeed, I'm told that he particularly fancies very young ladies! This will, of course, bear watching.
You have now shared in my treat, Dear Reader, and I hope you have found the experience to be quite as delightful as I myself did. It now awaits the cartiers and the tailors to see this fine group of Heroes fitted out and in the Field, ready to heed my command. So little time, so little time...
Respectfully, Sir William

The Horse Have Arrived As Well!

How splendid! I can barely muster the patience to await the completion of these lads new finery! And here I admit to suprising my lovely young bride. She was not aware that I had determined to model my premiere Guard Regiment after the Regiment de Caribiniere du Roi and colour them and name them in her honor. She was quite delighted when Mr. Shaw unveiled this plate and secretly informed me that I had not seen all of her Paris purchases yet. I am considering acquiring blackened iron cuirasses for this regiment as well, as befits the premiere Guard Regiment of an Army such as mine, but will have to check the budget for such with young Shaw.


Respectfully, Sir William

My Suprise, Part Two

Here then are the lads from my Baden Brigade and my "Italian" Brigade, how splendid they shall appear when their uniforms are complete! I must admit, I feel quite like a child at the Holiday seasons, breathless with anticipation as to what Father Christmas (or Pere Noel as the locals refer to him) will have left for me.
Respectfully, Sir William

A Delightful Suprise!

What a truly delightful suprise! It seems that while I was otherwise engaged in affairs de state, and dealing with that pesky Stagonian matter, young Mr. Shaw and my lovely bride, Lady Katherine, conspired to make me a present. It seems that in Lady Katherine's homeland there is a charming and artistic family by the name of Knotel (I understand that correctly written, the "o" has that curious "umlaut" character of two small dots above it, making it sound like "oy", but every time I attempt to transcribe it, my quill ends up malfunctioning and causing a horrible mess). It seems also that Herr Knotel, a gifted painter in his own right, has two young sons who delight in portraying military uniforms and equiment. Apparently Mr. Shaw, knowing my mind on such matters from our many discussions, and the lovely Lady Katherine, took all of Shaw's notes on the uniforms and colours for my new Force de Militare and had these two young lads prepare an exquisite set of illuminated plates for me depicting my lads in all of their splendour!
I must admit that I am so moved by this that I will only be able to post two of these plates at a time, as I am still contemplating them and savoring this moment. First up for your review Dear Reader are the hearty lads of my Guards Brigade and my Irish Brigade of "Wild Geese". I can already imagine the parade de militare that I will hold at the main drill field outside New Gaellia, where all of my citizens might see the brave lads in their new finery. I only wish that those damnable cartiers would deliver the uniforms that I have purchased so that my tailors may begin the required alterations to them. Perhaps I will speak with Don Carlo to see if he has, in some small way, an influence over the cartiers. The man does seem to be able to bend people to his will in the most charming of ways!
Respectfully, Sir William

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Revelations Continue

It never ceases to amaze me that I can totter off to bed, with the drink full upon me, and yet still awaken as fresh as the dawn. Although I do admit that the Lady Katherine's recent Paris shopping excursion may have played a part in today's awakening. I fear that my lovely, yet naive bride, being the gentle countrywoman that she is from the South of Germany, fell in with a group of Louis's courtesans rather than with the more proper "ladies of the court" when she embarked on her expedition. Let us simply say that the designers of women's fashions in Paris, especially those fashions of a more intimate nature, are not to be equalled in this world. But I digress...
Young Shaw has had a look at my notes from last night's dispatch and pointed out to me that I got the dates of the conference totally wrong. Impudent young turnip! I asked him how I was to be expected to attend to Stately Matters, command an Army, share drink and fellowship with my Staff, and attend to Lady Katherine's needs and still be accountable to a common calendar. How indeed? At any rate, I have amended my initial dispatch with the "correct" dates, so that our young Mr. Shaw doesn't have a fit over it. I must admit that he is becoming so valuable to me that I should hate to chuck him into the moat, especially since I do not yet have a proper moat!
Now, back to my observations and discussions regarding the Army. Dear Reader, I feel that I must warn you that I have already been the victim of foul political intrigue. Or so it appears, at any rate. While I was making myself busy at the conference, being Ducal and all, sharing the Mess with my new Staff and their subordinates, our young Mr. Shaw was in serious discourse with emissaries from my two patrons, in Germany and Italy. It seems a price must be paid for their patronage, or at least for their largesse in providing me with suitable recruits and materiale.
The German State, or more properly, Margraviate of Baden-Baden, came into this World in the 12th century, was severely ravaged during the Great Religious Wars of the last century, and has since split into militant hereditary factions. Indeed, a state of "almost war" exists today in the region. My Patron there, the Most Catholic Ludwig Georg Simpert, is the current, and last, hereditary Margrave of Baden-Baden, yet only holds sway over roughly half of his holdings and is under constant pressure from a faction in Wurttemburg controlled by the Protestant Margraves of Baden-Durlach, as well as separatists within his own Margraviate. I am now told that assistance to the Protestants, at least politically and monetarily, is being provided by Georg's neighbors in Bavaria (predominantly Catholic, but always full of intrigue and willing to foment unrest) and the Kingdom of Wittenberg. The Separatist Movement within Baden-Baden itself, is being fueled by aid and encouragement from their neighbors to the North, the Bishophoric of Unter Gruntshuffen (always anxious for the opportunity to increase the Bishophoric's territories and treasury, no doubt). I was well aware of these conditions when I served Georg as a Military Advisor seconded by Louis. What I was not aware of at that time, and that young Shaw has only just apprised me of, is that the real seed of unrest in this region is coming from the vile Kingdom of Stagonia. They are a Northern neighbor of Bavaria and Wittenberg with great territorial designs on the region. I am advised that they have agent provacateurs everywhere in the region and are to be watched very carefully. Indeed, they may even have designs on my own Duchy of M'Uedail.
As to my Italian Patrone, the esteemed Duc di Milan; it seems that he is troubled by both Savoy and Venice's dalliances with the Austrian Monarchy, as well as the support that these dalliances receive from the Papal States to his south. Thus his motive for providing me with primarily rebellious Sicilianos who already have a grievance with the Kingdom of Savoy and the Austrians. The lone Northern Italian of the group, young Bongiovi, apparently has a personal loyalty to the Duc di Milan which he has transferred, at least on the surface, to me.
It seems that both of my Patrons have forwarded to me a collection of excellent soldiers, all of whom are under personal oaths of allegiance to either Georg or the Duc di Milan, and will come to their aid when called upon. How this will impact my ability to defend M'Uedail remains to be seen. At the moment, each of my Commandant de Brigade are secretly training their men, sans uniforme, in undisclosed locations, away from prying eyes. When their new equipage is complete and assembled, they will report to the Duchy from these locations and muster in. I must exercise great caution in assigning their depot locations and territorial responsibilities. I should hate to hear upon awakening one morning that my Italian Command has suddenly deserted their posts guarding our borders and is marching willy-nilly off to attack Savoy. Or that my steadfast Germans have decided to take their leave and marched off to make War on Georg's behalf.
Further complicating this state of affairs is Louis' amendment to my Ducal status and responsibilities. It seems that Mr. Shaw has finally had an opportunity to decipher the flowery court language used in the proclomacion and that the majority of my Irish, at least all of those seconded from The Brigade, are under a similar obligation to France. It seems that Louis, in addition to using me as a "beard" to get around the terms of the Peace of Paris, has concerns about the Kingdom of Frankzonia and the Duchy of Saxe-Huack, both of which present a threat to France's, and my own, northern borders. That bastard sod Louis has truly placed my chestnuts within a vise. It seems that I'll have little time for hunting excursions into the Black Forest or respites in the nearby mountains if I'm to be France's, and apparently everyone else's, buffer and saviour. Where is that cask of Amaretto that I left out last evening? I feel a sudden need for a morning "bracer". Once again, Dear Reader, it appears that your correspondent has been thrust quite unwillingly into the breach. I shall report further after my sensibilities recover.


Respectfully, Sir William

Monday, October 1, 2007

Some Progress At Last, And Some Revelations!

My, but its been an interesting fortnight! Again, where to begin. Even though I am constantly making notes in my journal, of necessity they are often abreviated and I am much more comfortable when I can transpose them into somewhat coherant thoughts over a glass of my favorite nectar as I sit by the fire. Its my belief that to present you, my Dear Readers, with an understandable account of the events of the past fortnight, I should enumerate them as precisely as possible, so, to begin:


(1) I was "requested" to report to Paris for an "informal appointment" with Louis and his advisor's no later than the eve of the sabbath, the 15th of September. Naturally, knowing that Louis is not to be ignored when he "requests", young Shaw and I, along with the Lady Katherine, who wished to do some shopping in Paris, set out upon our journey. Upon arriving at the Palace, and sending Lady Katherine on her way with our coach for her errands, young Shaw and I were immediately shown into Louis' private appartments. It seems, Dear Reader, that the Duc de Lyon, along with some other petty nobles and landholders, are concerned with my presence in M'Eudail. They damned well should be concerned! To calm poor Shaw, I sat through most of Louis' tirade and his advisor's clucking and whining for the better part of an hour; all without refreshment I hasten to add. When finally Louis appeared to have vented most of his fury, lackey's finally appeared with spirits and food. Its my belief that they had been hiding in an ante-chamber the whole while waiting for Louis to pause for breath! At any rate, it finally resolved that the real concern had to do with money and rumors that Louis was hearing of my planned army. The local functionaries had convinced the gullible sod that I was personally going to "bankrupt France, and that I was selling my loyalties to foreign powers while supping from Louis' cup". As if I, or anyone else, could ever bankrupt France after Louis' efforts had failed! Well, to keep my tale as brief as possible, I said all the appropriate things while young Shaw echoed them sincerely, and we both promised to be more mindful of our relations with our neighbors. The only good to come of our trip to Paris, other than the stunning ensembles that lady Katherine acquired, was that Shaw had an opportunity to meet with several individuals whom he knew at the Paris depot, where he discovered a virtual treasure trove of uniforms and weapons in storage. It seems that Louis was in the process of re-equipping the majority of his army, an odd sort of behavior for a King who just lost a war. At any rate, Shaw's friends were able to be persuaded that certain quantities of these items could be purchased, at a fraction of their original value, and routed to M'Uedail, for a nominal handling fee. Well, enough said on this matter, the bargain was struck and certain sums exchanged, along with the promise of additional funds, and I now had uniforms for roughly two-fifths of my new army. Many would need new linings and cuffs, and certainly the odd hole repaired here and there, but Shaw assures me that we obtained these for roughly a quarter of what new uniforms would have cost. And with our Guild tailors to make the needed repairs, I had just made a spectacular arrangement. This whole affair obviously set young Shaw's mind to spinning, as within a matter of days after our return to M'Uedail, he had made similar material acquisitions in both Baden and Milan, and thereby had provided the raw material for our entire Army, with suitable repairs and modifications to be sure. It seems that the end of wars such as our recent one often create such a stockpile of accoutrement. Indeed, young Shaw says that he can foresee a time when certain merchants will band together to sell nothing but this "War Surplus" as he calls it. I personally think the idea ridiculous, but I do so hate to dampen young Shaw's enthusiasm, especially when it benefits me!


(2) Following our return to M'Uedail, and while young Shaw was about his shopping. I received a communique from my future Italian Brigade Commander, Don Carlo Luciano, requesting that I attend a conference that he had arranged in the mountains at some sort of hostelry, if it pleased me to do so, for the purpose of meeting all of my primary subordinates. It seems that Don Luciano is quite versed at arranging this sort of conference, and the mountains are a favorite location for them, something to do with privacy, which I understand that Don Luciano has something of a fetish for. Well, I enjoy a trip to the mountains as well as anyone, and was of course very curious to meet my new subordinates and see what they were like as a lot. I accepted Don Luciano's offer, with the admonition that all future "offers" of this nature should, by rights, be made by myself or young Shaw. The conference was to take place over the week following the Sabbath on Sunday, 23rd of September and last til Friday, the 28th of September, and we barely had time to get there by fast coach. So, young Shaw and I bundled our somewhat wrinkled travel clothes and uniforms into the coach once again, and off we went. What an affair! I am indeed surrounded by a splendid, and splendidly rogue, assortment of individuals. I am still forming my personal assesments of each of the officers that I met, and of couse I have that silly set of documents that Shaw had those two skalawags prepare for me, which I refused to read unless completely besotted. It shall have to wait for a later post for me to examine each of the new officer's in any detail, but I will summarize them briefly here:


My resident Scotsman, Connery, is the epitomy of the Highland Brigand! The entire group of Irish, most especially that rascal O'Toole, are a hearty, loud, boisterous group who would probably defend you to the death in a tight moment, then steal your last shilling or sous to buy a drink! The Germans, to a man, will drive a man to drink with their constant heel-clicking and formality, but put them in the same room with the Irish with a tapped keg or two, and they'll soon be singing old marching songs and buying rounds, which the Irish NEVER turn down. The leader of the German contingent is the wunderkind, Guderian, and I have to admit that he does leave an impression on one. Especially that chap Rommel, who I'm told is a brilliant cavalry commander in his own right. Guderian kept trying to pull me away from the proceedings to show me charts and diagrams that he had with him, all having to do with some creation of his that he insisted, "would change the future of warfare forever!" I managed to forestall this presentation to a later date, and I do believe "Little Heine", as the Irish have taken to calling him, would have broken down then and there had not Rommel taken him aside and pointed out that we had larger issues to deal with at this time. And finally, my "Italians". I now see the method to the Duc di Milan's generous offer. It seems that by and large, the majority of my "Italians" are actually Sicilians. As a result of the recent war, when Savoy and Sardinia threw their support to the young Austrian Queen, the Isle di Sicilia had been ceded to them in reparation by the Austrians, all with the support of His Holiness in Rome, of course. That the Sicilians had never been consulted on this was obvious, as was their displeasure with the arrangement. No matter, they are a sinister looking lot, often remaining quiet for hours at a time, then suddenly breaking into heated discussion and boisterous displays. Shaw tells me this is very typical of the Southern Italian, and especially the Sicilianos, and should not overly concern me. I will say this, they are to a man a handsome lot, with their swarthy complexions and black, wavy hair. And there are two or three, I believe named chaps named Corleone, di Niro and Pacino, who can fix a man in a stare that will chill the very blood in your veins! However, there is one odd man out in this dark and sinister group, a young Capitano of Cavalry from the North of Italy who is fair haired and sings like a lark. Every time I turned about at the gathering, this young lad was breaking into glorious song, and I should add that most of the tavern wenches were quite taken with him as well. His name is Gionatta, which I am told is John in our tongue, Bongiovi, and if he can wield a saber as he wields his vocal chords, he should be quite something to see in battle. I will have to tell Lady Katherine to warn the mothers of the Duchy though. As if bringing these lusty Irish and Sicilian lads into the Duchy didn't pose enough of a threat to feminine virtue, young John can seemingly separate a maid from her undergarments with just a twinkle of his eye and a quiver to his voice. No, I will swear to it! After one rousing performance that he gave in the Great Hall of the tavern, there were actually women's undergarments scattered about the performance area, quite as if by accident. The Irish are quite jealous of this gift, as you can imagine!


(3) The one thing of Guderian's that I took away from the conference, and which my senior staff had an opportunity to review and comment on, was an Order of Battle for our new Army. It is quite an impressive document, and I hope an achieveable goal. I have published it above for your edification, Dear Reader, but do not be overly suprised if changes do not take place at some point in the future. I did express my concerns to my Staff before leaving our pleasant mountain retreat, but with several knowing looks and nods to each other, they assured me to a man that it was not only possible, but that it would come to pass. Indeed, Connery spoke for them all when, assuming what looked for all my life like a playactor's pose on the entry stairs of the tavern, "So let it be written, so let it be done!" I commented in the coach to young Shaw that Connery certainly had taken a striking pose when he issued his statement and inspired great confidencein me, and that he certainly had a most charming and commanding personality. Shaw shocked me to no end when he expressed the vehement opinion that Connery was, "nothing more than another out of work playactor, overplaying the part as usual." Indeed, young Shaw, who was quite the worse for wear from drink I fear, went on to say that he could envision Sean being more appreciated for "pretending" to be an Irishman, an Arab or the King of England if he wasn't careful of his future behavior. Odd for young Shaw to be so put out by a fellow Scot, and especially one as personable as Connery appears to be, but I've already learned that our young Mr. Shaw can be a bit petulant when he wishes. He also warned me, just prior to passing out from his consumption of drink, to beware of my "Sicilian Mob", as he called them while making an odd gesture of bending the end of his nose with his pointing finger. Ah well, time will out, as someone once said. Well Dear Reader, my quill grows dull, as does my wit, and my drink is long consumed, so I will leave you at this point for slumber. And to examine some of the finery that Lady Katherine returned from Paris with. It seems that everything she purchased was not for daily wear, and she did procure these items in Paris!


Respectfully, Sir William

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Inmates Have Truly Siezed The Asylum!

I’m really beginning to have a concern for our George Shaw, or “G.B. Shaw” as he now likes to style himself. It seems that while I was traveling about, the scoundrel has contacted my prospective new Brigade Commanders, and some of their named staff members, and requested brief biographies, along with family histories, a curriculum vitae, and answers to a set of questions that George sent along. He has received these back already and closeted himself with this mountain of paper and two fellows that he recruited from somewhere that he refers to as “headhunters”. Well, upon hearing of this when I returned to New Gaellia, I immediately stormed into the room, with both my saber and pistol drawn, fully-prepared to either rescue poor George or find his nether parts hung up to dry! Much to my amazement, I discovered two “bookish-looking” chaps dressed very somberly in gray suits, but with an odd vertical striped effect to them, white blouses and the most bizarre appearing striped cravates. Certainly not the aboriginal natives or Red Indians of the America’s that I expected.
It seems that these two odd ducks have developed a methodology that our young George is quite taken with. I now know that it was these two fellows that had devised the questionnaire for George, asking the most foolishly outlandish questions that I have ever heard! I do swear, they asked such things as, “If you had to be a tree, which type of tree would you be?”, and, “Describe a time when you had to impose your authority on a subordinate, and your subordinate’s reaction to this.” Bloody hell! If I had to answer these myself, especially after my recent adventure with the tax collector, I would have said, “I laid my sword along his backside and I don’t give a tinker’s damn how he reacted!” I gather, from what George has informed me, these two “cold fish” would have rated me very poorly in “Leadership Skills” and suggested that I “Choose a mentor whose personal style I might better emulate.” Double bloody hell! Fortunately, George says that I’m “not required” to complete one of their bizarre packets. “Not Required” indeed! I reminded George which of us was the Duke, and which of us could better afford to waste his precious time consorting with two such obvious wankers. Why, upon meeting these “gentlemen” for the first time, they actually had the audacity to extend their pasty white hands to me as if we had all been “Hale fellows, well met”, and grasping one of them before I could catch myself, I do swear that the impression left was of grabbing a cold, dead mackerel directly from a fishmonger’s market stand! It seems that these two represent a concern that has been performing a similar function for various business concerns across the Continent, as well as some of the more “progressive” monarchies. Apparently, once these two complete what they refer to as their “quantitative analysis” of the accumulated material, they then prepare the most magnificent illustrations, all beautifully illuminated in vibrant coloring I’m assured, that will identify, even for the untrained observer, items that they themselves refer to individually as “Key Performance Indicators”, “Evaluation of Leadership Dynamics”, “Critical Path Analysis in Problem Solving” and “Matrix of Available Skillsets”. They insist that these will revolutionize the art of decision-making and staff selection at some point in the future, if indeed it has not already done so, and that my use of these analyses shall place me upon what they both refer to as “The Cutting Edge” of new thinkers. I’d like to show them both a “cutting edge” that I’m already quite familiar with, but I will continue to humor young George. They are supposed to have their presentation prepared for me within a matter of days, although it is quite beyond me how they can obtain the required number of trained monks to perform the illuminations in that short a period of time. Rest assured however, that I will present their findings to you for your entertainment and review Dear Reader, as I do expect them to be quite unique; especially since they indicated that we shall be “Doing Lunch” at the time!
Respectfully yours, Sir William

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sod The Politicians And Bureaucrats!

Well now they've gone and done it! Just when I thought my life was getting in order, I discovered that my latest "gift" from the Abbey at Saronno had been held up at the border by some petty functionary who claimed that his district was due a tax. A tax indeed! "Where the bloody hell was he when the musket balls were flying at Minden?" That's what I "politely" asked him as my Guard put him out of his house and I laid the flat of my saber to his plump backside and drove him into his pigsty! That, and the Swiss Confederation (as if that lot could EVER agree on anything long enough to be considered a Confederation) interrupted one of my trade shipments coming through the Alps, something about "contraband prohibited by the Treaty of Paris." I've got to increase production in my duchy's lead mining and start a powder mill. Of course, Louis would let me have all the supplies that I want, but at a bloody awful price.
However, there is a bright spot to this tale. One of my first recruitment's was of a fine young Irish lad by the name of Shaw, George Bernard Shaw he says (as if the name alone should mean something), who was a former adjutant and paymaster for the Irish Brigade and who personally got Charlie Fitzjames out of more tavern bills and petty charges than you could imagine. A real gifted fellow with the words and numbers young Shaw is, I predict a bright future for him. Well, I had left young George in charge of trying to cipher how I was going to pay for everything that I wanted for my duchy in my absence, and completely unknown to me, the young scalawag writes to the Court with an absolutely brilliant rendition of my recent exploits and trials dealing with the, "myriad of deprivations and disruption of harmony caused by the terrible brigands and cutthroats from the neighboring regions", and goes on to tell Louis that what he really needs is, "a Champion cast in the mold of a young Alexander, one who will willingly sacrifice his life and livelihood for the common defense of Greater France and its King!" Bloody hell! Like I would even lend Louis a sous if he needed it, let alone offer my life for the daft twit. It must be reported here, gentle reader, that this self-same Shaw was the author of the dispatch from Charlie Fitzjames that got Louis to give me my duchy to begin with. As I said, the lad does have a way with the phrase, as all good Irishmen do.
Well, the upshot of this whole tale is that, "on the advice of our trusted Royal Adviser's, it is His Majesty's wish that the duc d'Batau assume nominal administrative and defensive control for the region defined by the contested borders with Baden, the United Swiss Confederation and North-Western Italy, to be defined by those borders and extending to the 5th and 45th meridians." The man has truly lost his mind! Mind you, I have to share taxable revenue for the lands outside of my original holdings with some other local minor nobility and bureaucrats, and Louis specifically used the meridians to exclude the important city of Lyon. However, I do now have Metz, Strasbourg and Belfort, even if some local toady thinks he's already in charge. Louis probably assumes I'm going to lose at least one of these to Old Fritz anyway, since they are on the border of what has been called "the disputed territories". Plus, the sod still expects me to die, especially when "my friends" keep telling him that, "I welcome the opportunity to do so in His Majesty's service!" What this means to the Duchy of M'Eudail, is that it now has a protected border, and therefore trade route, between all of the border with Baden-Baden, Switzerland and a large part of northern Italy in the Savoy and Turin regions. We also now have open access to the River Rhone and its prosperous trade opportunities. I have replaced my previous map of the region with a new one showing my new-found responsibilities and territories. That these may overlap some other dominions already in existence is not my responsibility, take it up with that twit Louis, who can't remember from day-to-day which mistress he's supposed to be with! Or that Charlie Fitzjames lost the cavalry battle at Minden!
My next political issue involved my re-naming of the seat of my duchy as "New Edinburgh". Apparently the Irish lads with me disliked it as much as the locals, and a letter of complaint was forwarded to a district prefect for discussion with the Court at Versais (as if Louis would care). However, in the interest of being seen as a peacemaker and statesman of some means, I graciously changed the name to "New Gaellia", which young Shaw helped convince everyone actually celebrated the heritage of all of the folk involved. Indeed, they even declared a feast day in its honor and had a priest bless the whole bloody affair! I'm telling you, given enough quill and paper, young Shaw could probably convince a flower girl that she was a Lady, its that gifted with the words that he is.
There is also excellent news on the military front. I have received replies to my first dispatches for recruits and am pleased to announce that the Duchy of M'Eudail will be fielding 4 brigades, each of 4 battalions of fine, strong foot. There will be one brigade each from the Irish, from the Italians, and from Georg and The Lady Katherine's family in Baden-Baden, as well as a Guard Brigade. I don't know yet what the exact strength of each battalion shall be, as this is often an administrative detail that changes from month to month. Having the units as deployable bodies is much more important politically, and often militarily, than the exact strength of the units involved. After all, it sounds much better to say, "I've personally deployed two battalions to deal with your problems", than just saying you sent a few hundred-odd men.
And as far as Brigade Commanders are concerned, I couldn't be more delighted! My Irish Brigade will be commanded by a bright young chap named Peter O'Toole. He does lack some command experience, but I swear the lad could convince an Arab to walk out of the desert, its that kind of a leader that he is, and I'm told that he drinks! My Italians will be commanded by a Sicilian fellow that I met while on service there by the name of Carlo Salvatore Luciano, called "Lucky Charlie" by his men, always a good omen I believe. I was frankly surprised the duc d'Milan agreed to give me a leader of his calibre, but I gather that Lucky Charlie had been involved in some unsavory affairs recently and his departure from Italy was to be desired. I will take his personal history under advisement, but I already know him to be a man who finds a way to get things done when none else can. And his men are loyal to a fault, even referring to their units as "La Cosa Nostra", with I gather means "this thing of ours". My stalwarts from Baden-Baden couldn't be in better hands. That brigade will be commanded by a young man who I met there who recently graduated from the prestigious military academy in Berlin named Heinz Guderian. Those that know say that he's one of the finest young minds in German military circles and will revolutionize the use of combined arms with something he calls "Der Blitzkrieg". His seconds will be one of my bride's kinsmen, Wilhelm von Lichte, and another young prodigy by the name of Rommel. Don't know a great deal about young Rommel yet, but Guderian and Georg speak quite highly of him. And finally, my own Guards Brigade. My second in command (after all, I'm the Military Mastermind in charge of this lot) will also be the Colonel commanding my Scottish volunteers, a likable sort who goes by the name of Sean Connery. I will swear, the man should be a play-actor instead of the fine soldier that he is! I've known Sean for several years, our paths having crossed at various times, and the man could convince you he was a King a Brit or an Arab Sheik if he wanted to. I've even accused him of being an Irishman, given his glibness of tongue, which promptly got me socked, after which he did a spot-on interpretation of the lilting brogue I've grown so accustomed to by way of apology, and bought the next round. Simply amazing! I do have one concern about Sean as a commander though, he's bringing with him as his Lieutenant-Colonel for my Scots a young fellow by the name of Connor MacLeod, of the Clan MacLeod no less. I'm told that with a little of the drink upon him, he will launch into a tale about being born of the Clan MacLeod in 1536 and living forever! Well, for his own bloody sake, I hope he's right, but I've told Sean that the lad would do well to mind his head.
Well dear reader, that is all that Your Humble Servant has to report on this day, and I will retire now to my dearly anticipated new shipment of Amaretto for a brief period of relaxation from the Affairs of State, perhaps even watch some of the lads participate in sporting events, which they often do of a Sunday, after Mass of course. I have arranged for quantities of fine cloth from Italy and good wool from Baden-Baden, and have enlisted all of the available seamstresses and tailors in my region to begin clothing my lot upon arrival. I'm already designing my new Ducal uniform, as befits one of my station, as I've still been wearing my old Fitzjames uniform, which is starting to appear a little threadbare. And I will, of course, require new uniforms for my personal Guard. Ah, so many details and so little time...
Yours, respectfully, Sir William

Friday, September 7, 2007

My Apologies...

Sorry, I should have mentioned that before leaving Paris, I did commision a member of the College of Heralds to design my Ducal Arms and Colors. They are shown in miniature to the left of this communication, but I have decided to show them in greater detail above. My arms are quartered, showing my allegiance and fealty to, clockwise from upper left, France, Ireland, Saronno and Baden-Baden. The arms are surmounted by a ducal crown, supported by a pair of magnificent stags (the hunting is wonderful in the forested areas of the duchy), and accompanied by a scroll with my personal motto, "In Vino Veritas", meaning of course, "In Drink There Is Truth", something I've always found to be true. I have also added a cartographer's rendition of Greater Europa showing my insignificant little duchy in blue, and its relationship to the greater outside World.

Respectfully, again, Sir William

In The Beginning...

Ah, where to begin? As my old Da would probably have said, “Why, begin at the bloody beginning, ya drunken sod, and none of your usual shite!” So, my name was William McInerney, the junior, and I was born in the year of Our Lord 1730 to that Great Gaelic Patriot William McInerney, the senior, and Herself, Beverly MacKibben of the Clan MacKibben. I was a truly magnificent and loud wee product of that blending of the beautiful Gaelic cultures of Ireland and Scotland, and their temperament! However, my current “official” name, and the name under which this published account shall appear, is Sir William McInerney, Duc d’Bastau, Protectore di Saronno, Lion of Baden, and Regent of the tiny Duchy of M’Eudail (Gaelic for “My Treasure” or “My Land”).

The French have some other bloody name for my dominion, as do both the Italians and Germans, but I can pronounce none of them and don’t care to learn. That’s what I have scribes and administrators for after all! I have been told that it lies within the northeast region of Champagne on the Plateau de Haute-Sadne, all I know is that it shares borders with France to the south, west and north, Italy to the south-by-southeast, Switzerland to the southeast, and Baden-Baden to the east across the Rhine. It’s a bloody crossroads for armies and brigands is what it is, as it sits smack upon the river and adjacent to passes through the Alps, and offers lush farmland, abundant wildlife, and a generally genial populace. I should have known that demented, conniving, bloody sod Louis was up to something after he took Charlie Fitzjames recommendations for recognition to heart (after losing a battle, mind you) and christened my dukedom with the name of a swamp bordering the river at Minden! And all because I pulled that sod Charlie out of a brothel the morning of the battle and reminded “his grace” that he was supposed to be in command of the French cavalry center, a feat that would have been difficult to perform in his bedclothes and drunken stupor, although its said that its been done before. But enough of my meandering on about titles and their worth, that will come later. All of my titles are a joke in their own way, but then most of my superiors would probably agree that its just reward for a sarcastic Scots-Irish soldier of fortune who has gone through most his of life looking for something or someone to laugh at.

The Duchy of M’Eudail is named for my kinsmen and their collective dream, a homeland they could truly call their own, prosper from, and defend if called upon, all while free to follow their chosen faith. My GrandDa fled Ireland to Scotland after the rebellion there failed. He was accepted among the Highlanders as a good and brave Catholic freedom fighter should be, and raised a fine family with lands before his time was ended. He lived long enough to see his only surviving son wed the spirited Beverly of the MacKibben’s, Herself descended of the MacDonald’s of Glengarry and the MacGibben’s of County Mayo in Ireland. And he lived long enough to see me. In fact, my Da used to say that my early exploits probably shortened the old bugger’s life! My Da was an ardent Jacobite, and did not hide from it. Through my Sainted Mother’s influences, he also became a skilled trader and craftsman, though he still “rattled the swords” when the drink was upon him. As soon as the young Pretender, “Bonnie” Prince Charles Stuart, arrived on our shores, my Da was off to war with a vengeance, trade be damned. Emboldened by the early victories, and worn down by my constant pleadings, he took me with him that fateful day to Culloden at the ripe old age of 15. There I watched him die, and probably would have myself if one of the “Wild Geese” hadn’t carried me away with him back to France. I found out later that my name was known and that I had been branded a criminal and traitor to the Crown in absentia, and my Sainted Mother forced to fall back on her kinsmen for sustenance. So there was nothing for it, I took my place among the Wild Geese of Ireland (with a few Scots thrown in for good measure) who served France, and proceeded to learn my “craft” as a warrior.

I began my service as a private in the Regiment de Dillon of the famed French Irish Brigade, commanded then by the Honorable Sir Arthur Dillon, Comte d’Dillon. I myself thought my early career was rather unremarkable, but a family friend happened to mention to Sir Arthur that I was descended from landed folk in the old country (both of them), and I soon found myself elevated to Sous-Lieutenant with a section under my command. My next shock came when it was mentioned to the then-young Charlie Fitzjames, the 3rd Duc d’Fitzjames, that I knew my way around horses and came from a proud military family. That this was mentioned by a certain Chef de Bataillon who wanted me as far from the Dillon Regiment, and his daughter, as possible never seemed to matter. The next thing I knew, I was in the bloody Fitzjames Cavalry Regiment, trying my damndest to stay on a horse while still drunk. Well, Charlie and I became fast friends and drinking companions (beware your friendships, my Da used to say) and the next thing I know, my smiling Lieutenant-Colonel is informing me that he’s approved Charlie’s request to make me one of his Lordship’s personal aides. I never trusted that officer again, and took every opportunity to make sure his name did not appear favorably in dispatches! Mind you, this tale actually took 10 years to unfold, but today it still seems as if it happened in the blink of an eye, especially since I’d remained in garrison and not heard a shot fired in anger since Culloden.

Throughout this period, and indeed even today, I still do not consider myself to be a “proper soldier”, but I did discover something truly profound in my wanderings: “proper soldiers” don’t always win battles. Throughout my wanderings and postings, quite without any real effort on my part, I had learned how an army functioned. From my training in the different services I recognized the importance of combined arms, from my ancestors I had learned the value of a fanatic charge (at the right time, of course), and from my reading (a promise that I made and kept to my Sainted Mother) I had learned that commander’s of the past had recognized the importance of discipline, morale, supply and communications. Somehow, this allowed me to not only survive my questionable military exploits, but somehow be noticed in the process as being either very “lucky” or very good, it really didn’t matter which. Indeed, after the battle of Minden, my personal recognition from Charlie Fitzjames and Louis, and the virtual collapse of France as an aggressive power, I found that I was somewhat “in demand” and was “loaned out” for service as an advisor and aide in other lands so that Louis could put me on half-pay. And that, dear reader, is how I came to “earn” my other rather dubious titles.

I was first dispatched as an “advisor” to the Milanese, then fighting another of their incessant internal “wars of state” and dealing with border incursions, brigands and deserters in the Piedmont area. While on a diplomatic mission to the Lombardy region, my staff and I were enjoying the “hospitality” of an order of monks in the town of Saronno, along with mass quantities of a delicious local beverage made from a secret concoction of alcohol, apricot pits, sugar and herbs that the monks called “Amaretto”. Well, to make a long story somewhat shorter, a group of vile brigands attempted to seize the abbey of the order and my staff, all full of wonderful liquid courage, drove the bugger’s off without a single serious casualty. I simply accepted their thanks and a few barrels of their elixir and went on about my mission, but when the Duc d’Milan was approached by a Papal representative with the grand tales of my exploits, all “without apparent concern for his own safety at any time” (drunk), nothing would do but for the Duke to grant me the honorary title of “Protectore di Saronno”, which looks good on the old curriculum vitae and nets me an unending supply of barrels of that wonderful elixir to this day, along with a small annual stipend and some valuable friends. God love those crazy monks!

My next “honor” came while serving as an aide to the young Margrave of Baden-Baden, Ludwig Georg Simpert. The ancient region of Baden was split into various warring factions, all with the thinly-veiled support of Frederick and the mad Bavarians, and Georg had assumed the role of Margrave in a war-torn region determined to bring peace and unity. What a crazy sod poor old Georg was (He preferred to be called Georg so that he wouldn’t be confused with several raving mad other Ludwig’s that populated southern Germany at the time). Germans not fighting, why it would be like the Irish not drinking! At any rate, while on detached service there I met and married my lovely bride, the Lady Katherine von Lichte, known to the people of my duchy as “Saint Katherine the Patient” (The bloody French will give anybody a nickname, and I’m not that difficult to live with!). As a result of my marriage to a landed family, and pulling Georg out of a bedchamber in the nick of time the night before my nuptials (you do see a theme developing here?), nothing would have it but for Georg to name me as a “Lion of Baden” for my meritorious service, whatever the bloody hell that means. But it did grant me a share in the monies from Katherine’s estates, plus her dowry, plus a small annual stipend from Georg. Well, what can one say at such a time and still retain their apparent modesty?

When I returned to Louis’ court after my adventures, and he was trying to decipher the ramifications of the Treaty of Paris (The King has never been what I would call “smart”, but he is crafty and a right sneaky bastard to boot!), it was decided to present me with my duchy and an annual stipend to “manage it”, in service to France of course. I think Louis just wanted a hard-headed Scots-Irish arsehole in a position to deal with any annoying incursions into the Champagne region by its neighbors and I was the most likely candidate for cannon-fodder; and my friendship with the Margrave of Baden-Baden and family ties to the von Lichte’s probably helped as well. What Louis never counted on, nor any of the others in his court, was that my wanderings, my political and personal friendships, my annual income, and my knowledge of “The Art of War”, as some bloody fool has called it, all made this the perfect opportunity for an opportunistic Gaelic sod like myself. Louis did allow me to call for “volunteers” from the now under-employed Irish Brigade, and from this my personal “Guard” battalion was born. Several members of Charlie Fitzjames’ staff and some troopers also followed me as my “aides de camp” and mounted guards. I marched them all east to my new domain, and established the town of Vesoul as my capital, which I promptly christened “New Edinburgh” to honor my Sainted Mother’s people, a fact that the locals still only grudgingly accept and my Irish lads aren’t always too happy about either. As I had previously traveled in this region during my assignments in both Italy and Baden-Baden, I knew it to be fertile and full of promise, filled with hard-working folk, and with lines of supply and communication on the Rhine, through the mountain passes and along the reasonably good roads in the region.

However, I also knew that I was being “thrust into the breach” to some degree and that Louis fully expected me to be killed, deposed, or both in short order during the chaos that followed the Great War. I immediately sent my aides out as couriers to various friends in Scotland, the French troop depots, Milan and Baden with messages for my friends. Here, I glibly promised, was a land filled with opportunity, just waiting for a few stout men to help build and defend it. Since I also promised land-holdings and work for their camp-followers and wives (something every good commander should do and none since William of Normandy have adequately done), I was thus assuring their future’s and their son’s and daughter’s to follow, and good morale. Not all of my activity was military-related however. During my earlier travels, I had often come into contact with the people of the Low Countries and of Switzerland, and greatly admired the efficiency (and income) of their Trade Guilds. Indeed, one of my first administrative acts was to organize the people of my duchy into similar Guilds, each pledged to sell their products at an agreed-upon price and to share a percentage of the price for the upkeep and defense of the duchy. By doing so, they were personally exempted from military service, if they wished, except in case of a full-on invasion of the duchy, in which case it was every man for himself. Their products were many and of high quality; timber from the nearby forests, produce of nearly every variety, milling on the various waterways in the region, fat cattle, a wonderful sparkling wine that is very popular (I personally don’t care that much for it, but the Lady Katherine loves it), and some mining of copper, lead and iron. I also established trade agreements (and mutual non-aggression treaties) for our products with the Margrave of Baden-Baden and with the Duc d’Milan, and secured promises of the import of needed products from those regions as well, all at an established rate of exchange. I now had the seeds of a Dukedom and an army well-planted, and needed to start seriously planning my future endeavors and expenditures. But, ‘tis now time for drink, reflection and bed, then I will consider the resumtion of this narrative.
Respectfully yours, Sir William