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The austere cover of night would fall across La Bleue Vallée in only a few hours. Colloquially known as ‘the Blue Valley, the vale was an oasis: a marshy, wetland forest sat to the north and a thick woodland anchored itself to the south. It served as the only passable terrain for caravans, armies, and travelers for many miles. Both the western and eastern approach were marked by high rising hills, whose interior slopes created the valley itself. It was wide enough for two full-sized armies to deploy comfortably, without being too restricted by either the marsh or the woodland.

Francisco Marion’s Imperial Army had made camp on the exterior slope of the eastern hill, outside the valley. The Allied camp was situated opposite, on the exterior slope of the western hill. The size and composition of both armies were concealed.

Marion had made a name for himself during his country’s Revolution, in which he had scored consecutive victories for the Republic against much larger armies, who were better trained and equipped than his own. And it was all due to his brilliance as a commander. Within a few short years the upstart general defeated the Royalists, ousted the royal family, and proclaimed himself Emperor. But his career did not end there.

Surrounding monarchs had watched the Revolution with keen interest, supporting the Royalists with money, arms, and even men. After the civil war Emperor Francisco condemned those nations who opposed him and his supporters. He launched preemptive invasions to subdue his would-be opponents, thrashing their armies time and time again and forcing them to sign unfavorable treaties. Coalitions were proposed and great battles fought, but it seemed as if nothing could stop this invincible opponent.

But Emperor Marion did not account for the terrible winter that had come. His campaign was stalled and he was forced to retreat, pestered by Dusmane horsemen. His route would take him through La Bleue Vallée. The Allies quickly assembled an army to blockade the western pass, and if Francisco wishes to make it home he must break through.

Phase One: Planning
Friedrich, Duke von Nordmann; Iouldouz Edicoglu Khan; Julian Mackeralini. The commanders of the Allied Army. Each one had brought men from their respective nation to partake in this battle, a Battle of the Nations. There were nearly 12,000 infantrymen from the Halldor Empire, a hefty contribution. Then there were approximately 6,000 skilled Dusmane horsemen to complement those infantrymen. Finally a regiment of artillery and a Republican Guard unit from Gauldin itself, fighting for the Allies.

The three armies encamped themselves on the western exterior slope, presenting an obstacle to Emperor Marion's own force, whose size and composition was currently unknown. Of course there was the infantry, cavalry, and artillery which had served the Emperor in his winter campaign, but he had called for reinforcements from surrounding states to assist him.

A central tent was erected in the center of the camp. Within sat a table and chairs, enough to sit the three commanders and their aides. Upon the table was a roughly drawn map of the Blue Valley. It was time for each commander to propose a strategy and determine where they wanted their regiments to be positioned.
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Duke Friedrich allowed his Brigade to occupy the center of the valley. He allowed them to establish camp rearward or in the direction of where they just marched from. He would leave the regimental commanders to post a picket screen and guard rotation near the center of the field. They would serve as an early warning in case Marion’s imperial army arrived during the night or early morning. He also ordered jaegers to conduct squad sized patrols both left and right of the valley to conduct reconnaissance as well.

“Herr Oberst von Kerpin, since your regiment is on the left flank, use your jaegers to patrol the northern woods,” Duke Friedrich spoke to the 50-year-old colonel with a monocle in his left eye. Then he turned to the youngest colonel in his Brigade. “Herr Oberst Göttisheim, your regiment will be on the right. Send your jaegers into the southern forest. Rotate your line units on picket duty about one hour per kompanie. Herr Oberst von Schmidt, your regiment will have center of the line. Ensure your men get a good night’s rest, we expect to meet the enemy in the morning.” Duke Friedrich stood to leave then addressed the Grenadier Guards commander, “Viktor, you are in command of the Brigade in my absence. I will need Hauptmann Jodel to accompany me to the commander’s tent. I do enjoy his penmanship.” Friedrich smiled at the slightly taller man. “Before we left Vollen, Generalleutnant Schwerin told me the eyes of the world were upon us. We must not let them down. Hold up the honor of the Halldorian Empire.”

Friedrich left the tent, quickly joining up with Hauptmann Jodel. “Alfred, Wie gehtenSie, herr Haupmann?” The Duke asked the Captain how he was doing as he approached.

“Mir geht is gut, mein herr,” the Captain responded he was good to his commander as he saluted. The Brigade commander returned the salute and the two men marched to the commander’s tent. He wondered how is allied commanders would be while walking to the tent. He planned to post three line regiments abreast with Battalion frontage. The first and second battalions would stand one in front of the other with the jaeger battalions forming regimental reserves. He fully expected to use the Royal Grenadier Guards in reserve and would be posted near wherever the Horsemen from the Dusmane Khanate were posted. They would inevitably support the cavalry during their advance, when the time came. He mentally prepared himself for the deployment of the Gauldic Artillery battery.

Friedrich and Alfred entered the commander’s tent and took a seat, waiting for their allies. Alfred offered his commander a bite of his schnapps. “Jawohl, mein Hauptmann. Vielen dank.”
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The Dusmane were strangers in a strange land. They were objects of curiosity, everything from their dress to their physical appearance to their language being alien to the rest of the allied army, and they more or less felt the same. Until this war, the vast majority of the nomads had never left their native steppe and likewise nobody visited it. Though the outside world was alien to him, the Khan of the Dusmane answered the call to arms of the parent Empire he was bound to and sent a formidable if outdated force under the command of one of his cousins.

For most of the war they were almost entirely dedicated to harassing logistics of the foe as well as destroying both reinforcements and running down retreats with no mercy given. They knew the enemy saw them as savages so they capitalized upon this. Helmeted heads of cuirassiers dangled from their horses, while the well-hatted faces of officers were pierced with hunting spears so that many an enemy’s last sight would be the death mask of their comrade. But as ever they reached into the enemy’s heartland their assignments morphed from those of a guerilla campaign into those of this century’s uniformed cavalry. It was hard for them to adapt, but they did and they became stronger for it.

Personally, Iouldouz found himself to slowly morph into one of the pale people. So much time with them gave him a taste for their spirits rather than the kumis he spent his life drinking, and he could not deny their dress wasn’t as uncomfortable as many of his kinsmen claimed. But he was still in his heart a Dusmane and he’d lead his people to glory today under their stretched hide banner. He ordered his men to make merry, to drink and laugh and sing and dance for today may well be the last day they could do so. The Khan had heard of the Emperor’s unparalleled tactical acumen and Iouldouz would be a liar if he said he wasn’t frightened of that day to come. This day would be perhaps the first where the Emperor was truly beaten in open battle; all prior victories against him were pyrrhic and often strategic defeats, or were not done in open battle and rather in guerilla campaigns as the Dusmane had mastered.

After uttering a prayer to Father Sky and taking a sip of the foreign firewater, Iouldouz entered the command tent. He was dressed in traditional furs of his folk, though as a courtesy to the foreigners he wrapped them in a way reminiscent to that which they wore them, along with a neckerchief, perfume, and a few other accessories common to them. His right hand man Tyrgutai made no such concessions, in fact making himself as wild as possible in sight, sound and smell (partially out of spite for the poncey bastards). Still more used to sitting upon rugs on the ground, Iouldouz nevertheless took a seat rather graciously after bowing, waiting for the other members of the alliance to arrive. The warrior had some general ideas for strategy, though they all were grounded in the assumption that his comrades were bold and risk taking fellows which - as far as he saw - they had to be if they had any hope of beating the enemy. After all, everyone who had tried beating the Emperor conventionally had failed. Thus it came upon the men assembled to beat them in an unorthodox manner, and the presence of the Chieftain was a posteriori proof.
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The ragtag men and boys of the Gauldin regiments marched towards the camp slowly, most of them worn from the running and fighting they each had to do to get out of their homeland. They had succeeded in victory, but now it was time for them to fight once more, and possibly for their last time. Their leader, Major Mackeralini, sat on an artillery horse at the front of one of the cannon trains. He was riding it until they got into the camp. Families followed with soldiers, and the wounded were piled on the ammo trains or dragged on sheets that were on the ground.

They would begin setting up their camp almost in silence, the carriages mainly forming two small circles which a lot of the families were placed inside, small fires being lit in them and around them as people began unpacking themselves. They had fought and run through many countries as exiles, and they were worn and tired. Some of the men, mainly those who were educated or soldiers before their exile, began spread out through the entire camp trying to find supplies and surgeons for the wounded. Trading when they could to get help the rest of their fellow countrymen. They knew that their last days could be upon them at any moment, or that they may see their country become something amazing once again.

Major Mackeralini dismounted the horse and started towards the command tent, he himself was wounded, but he would not let anyone but a few see him down; he did not want what was left of the moral to be shattered by a small limp. When he entered the tent, he had sat down with one of the more educated men in his company following him in, it was just some random merchant, but it was the closest thing to an aide he had at that point.

He found himself a place to sit and looked at the other men at the table, wondering if it was just them being commanders against his old mentor. "Is this it, are we the only ones to stand against the Devil?" he asked softly in his native language to his aide, forgetting that these were most likely educated men around him. "If so, I fear for us... is this just the initial skirmishing force to pave the way for a drawn-out war against him, we do not know how much he has left... he had been chasing us since we were exiled. But tell them thank you for coming to the need of a nation at its worst hours."

The aide looked saddened by his commander, "It is possibly the force to hold them while the countries around us unite forces... we must be a bastion to protect them." the aide said as he nodded to his commander, looking to others at the table.

The aide smiled a bit and looked at them, he would be acting as a translator between his commander and the others if they did not know his. "The Major is saddened that this force looks small to him, but he thanks all of you for coming to his nation's side when it is needed most, that they have lost their way under its new tyrant."
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by TJByrum
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TJByrum Joan Jett

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Whether there was historical bad blood between the assembled forces or not, they were united in common cause to face an enemy stronger than any of them. Those forces under the command of the Duke of Nordmann carried out their tasks without molestation from the enemy. But that wasn't to say the enemy did not establish pickets themselves. They did not show any signs of aggression, however, and were only deployed to scan for signs of an advance. It seemed that Franciso Marion intended to keep a watch on his opponents, but his army would rest for the night and they would not advance until the following day.

The Allied commanders had all found their way to the central tent. Once the formalities were over they could each explain what their respective forces would do in the coming battle. The map that lay before them was fairly simple. The battlefield would be big enough to fit their entire force comfortably, still allowing room for maneuvers. Additionally they knew the width of the battlefield would allow their artillery - if placed at the top of their ridge - would be able to reach the other side of the valley easily.

Everyone who had faced Emperor in battle might be familiar with his tactics. For starters, he favored grand batteries: deploying the majority of his guns in a single location to wreak havoc on enemy positions. Naturally, the Allies might expect the Emperor to deploy his guns on the top of the eastern ridge.

Next, the Emperor would launch general advances across the enemy lines to determine where it was weak and where it was strong. And where it was weak the Emperor would deploy his Imperial Guards to punch a hole before rolling up the enemy line. The Imperial Guards were handpicked by the Emperor and his Marshals. They were some of the toughest, most experienced, and disciplined troops in the world. When the Imperial Guards advanced they did not stop; no army had ever routed them. Would that change in the Battle of the Nations?

Of course the Emperor did scout and probe the enemy with his cavalry. But in battle their main function was to support the infantry, flanking the enemy lines and exploiting holes where possible. In some cases they were able to plow through formations after the Emperor bombarded the positions with his artillery.

To start, perhaps the Allied officers should determine where they would deploy themselves behind the ridge, because once they crossed the top they would potentially be under fire from enemy artillery.
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Halldorian Infantry preparing to receive a Gauldic advance


Duke von Nordmann spoke first. He addressed the assembled retinue. “I am Brigadier Friedrich von Nordman, Duke von Nordman of the Halldor Empire. I have served in prior campaigns in the service of Herr Francisco Marion, following his imprisonment a year and a half ago, the Halldor Empire distanced itself from the Gauldic empire and its previous commitments with that mad man. I know he is a tenacious ruler and combatant. This contest we find ourselves in today will be as challenging as any each of us may have ever encountered in our lives. I have worked under the command of the emperor. He is not to be taken lightly. Any stories you may have heard about him, his reputation. They are all true. He is that good.” Duke Friedrich took out a smoking pipe, filled it with tobacco and lit it. The pipe was made from hickory and the tobacco had a cherry flavor to it which quickly scented the interior of the tent.

“Today, we have my brigade of infantry; about 12,000 strong, 6,000 Dusmane Cavalry, some of the most feared warriors on the continent, a battery of Gauldic artillery and…” Friedrich turned to Major Mackeralini, “how would you best describe your ragtag group of soldiers? They appear to be line infantry, but their numbers are depleted. How can we employ them in this campaign?”

“I intend to deploy two line battalions of my 1st regiment under the command of Colonel Klaus von Kerpin on the far left of the line. They will be positioned behind the military crest; with the first battalion in the lead and the second battalion fifty meters behind the first. Next, is ample room for Major Mackeralini’s artillery. To the right of the artillery will be Colonel Hans von Schmidt’s second regiment. His two battalions of fusiliers will be arrayed in the same manner as von Kerpin’s First. On our far right will be Colonel Joachim Göttisheim’s Third regiment. All three Line regiments will post their first battalions in the prone position to help conceal their location to the Imperial forces on the other side of the valley.” Duke Friedrich then added, "yes, the line infantry and the grenadiers will all have bayonets fixed, naturally."

Duke Friedrich puffed on his pipe then looked at Iouldouz Khan, “there is ample room on the allied right for your cavalry. I am prepared to present you with two battalions of Halldor Royal Grenadier Guards under the command of Colonel Viktor Schneider. They can amply support your advance. Or we can use the Guards regiment as our Allied reserve. In either case, whether the dusmane Auxilliaries or the Halldorian Infantry break the enemy formation, the Royal Grenadier Guards are prepared to exploit that position.”

“For those who are aware of the organization of the Halldorian infantry regiments, you may notice I failed to mention our light infantry battalions or Jaegers. We have four Jaeger battalions that work much better in wooded terrain. We have the luxury of having natural forest on both flanks. Marion may or may not send troops into the forest. In either case, we should be prepared for either the enemy employing light infantry on our flanks or for our use to outflank the enemy when they advance. It is not a matter of if they advance, but when. Depending on Major Mackeralini’s intentions with his light infantry force, he can either employ them in the woods to the south with the Jaeger battalion from the Royal Grenadier Guards regiment or I will post two Jaeger battalions in each of the two woodlots. They can enter the forest at a location west of our positions in order to remain undetected by the enemy. Then, by using their stealth, move east to a position only about a hundred meter, maybe two hundred beyond the forward edge of our line infantry. When the Gauldic attack, they will stop about a hundred meters from the crest to discharge a volley, if using infantry. It is at that time, that the Halldorian line will stand up to exchange volleys with the Gauldic infantry. When the two lines are exchanging volleys, this is the perfect time for the light infantry on both flanks to attack the enemy line in a double envelopment. If the enemy attacks with cavalry first, which is what I honestly expect, we will form battalion squares. The first battalion, von Kerpin regiment is prepared to encircle the Gauldic artillery battery to protect them from attacking cavalry. Once their cavalry charge is broken, we will reform lines and prepare for their infantry assault which should be followed close on the heels of their cavalry.”

Duke Friedrich stopped speaking and allowed input from the other two allied commanders at the table. He honesty wanted to hear their input. Given the terrain and the anticipated objective of the enemy, he felt a strong defense was the best strategic approach for the given battle. But if the Dusmane Khan wanted a more aggressive or audacious plan, he was willing to listen.
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Iouldouz had a rudimentary understanding of all the languages spoken in the structure, but he was not an expert in any of them and for that there was a third man with him, the interpreter Ruslan Kulambetov. A man from a mixed family living in between worlds, he relayed the thoughts of his Khan to the rest of the commanders in an eloquent but understandable way.



"In theory a good outline for how we'll do battle. But ultimately I believe it flawed on the basis that once again it is an attempt at playing the game against the house, that being the Emperor. In my opinion the man needs to be baited. Early at dawn we will push artillery forward and bombard them as much as possible; I will devote my horsemen to carrying fresh powder and balls if needed, we must make it seem as if our logistics are far greater than they have been and that thus we are ready to carelessly use our munitions with the aim of forcing an advance before his men are bombed to mush. His reaction should be monitored, and if he does not respond to the ceaseless bombardment then we should cease; it should be made to appear that this was bluff for the reason that our logistics were in fact abysmal, rather than excelsior as in the previous bluff or simply adequate as is the truth. This in turn would hopefully make him press an over-aggressive assault on the assumption our munitions have run out."

Steepling his fingers, Iouldouz paused thoughtfully. "Of course, this gamble of a mind game may not pay off. In such a case we must seize the initiative and attempt to end the battle before the effects careless use of ammunition starts to become noticeable. Quite simply put the line infantry would thus be made to advance in as wide a line as possible, with cavalry and skirmishers sent to advance aggressively on the flanks. The skirmishers should be given to not engage the enemy's skirmishers in the woods if possible, and to simply advance further such that the foe may be enveloped, and struck from all sides. Furthermore, if possible the cavalry should not engage the rear of the foe's infantry formation but rather ride past fire and to the enemy's artillery if the gaps can be found."

With that he shrugged. "Of course, I am but one of this collective, and I cannot insist on a plan without the consent of the other commanders. I shall be more than happy to go along with the plan of the most honourable von Nordmann, albeit I warn my men are most adept in engagements that are not too long. They're not afraid of gunfire as some colonial tribals, but their nerves do crack under too many cannons set against them."
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The Major looked over at the horseman and shook his head after his translator whispered in his ear, "We don't know how many men he has... baiting him could be suicide, and don't forget we seem to be more of a force awaiting allied reinforcements... or at least a strong mountain to try and stall him here."

He rested back into the chair he was in and looked at his translator. "having fought under the man as his subordinate with the man, we will be facing an enemy who will try to overwhelm us, he knows how to change his units orders to adjust to battle quickly."
He paused, "First he will decide where he will break us, and make sure when his guard, that he will march forward and that the enemy will run... they will take no losses. They are elite enough to where when I fought your people before Horse Lord that I didn't even need to duck in fear for being shot as the flank routed when we marched forward with them when the officer we are facing was ill."

He took a deep breath, "We turn his tactics of fear against them... we should make our stand just before the hill and build trenches and maybe a way for our cannons to be flush with the hill to shoot over them, let the recoil push them back into a state of protection. It will not protect us from his howitzers, but it should protect us from direct missile fire."

"Oh and tell the Halldorian that the militia is more as a baggage train for logistics... we should use them as surgeons, water bearers and such... let the ones with guns fight where they are needed or protect the guns, maybe build more entrenchments during the fighting if we aren't done preparing."

"But I say we try to dig ourselves in as much as possible... and reserving as of our elite soldiers as well as our horsemen, use your dragoons as quick response foot infantry... Use your Dusmane horsemen as shock troops or some flanking force if it presents itself through the first rank of national guardsmen he will most likely use to blunt our first attempts. Maybe when and if their first rank flees, we chase them down and use them as cover from their second wave and artillery. Force him to send his reserves forward while we try routing him... we can start digging ourselves in further forward in confusion, make him range his guns again, and waste whatever powder he has left. You are all thinking like the commanders that had to retreat... if it was you that I fought in the past, then I am sorry for the offense, but that is how you are thinking... He knows all of us; you are all great leaders whom he has studied before, I was one of his officers, he knows us... He knows our strengths, our weaknesses, how to make us tick and if he is like what I remember him to be we have to think outside of our boxes. But I know his, I fought with him against you... probably all of you, and I am sorry for rambling like a chastized bull. Still, we are thinking like the average officers at an academy using basic tactics that we have all learned before at some academy or from our fathers or peers..."

"We are going against a force we know little about, a commander who has either trained or beat probably all of us in battle, and who probably outnumbers us... We should be on the cautious side and adapt to what we are presented... not just rush into a field where we will by far superior artillery... and the forests where we don't know if his scouts are already there waiting for us while we sit here."
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It was at the discretion of each commander where they would place their units behind the hill in the morning, prior to the battle. The center, the north wing, the south wing, or at the rear in reserve - generally speaking. As the battle took shape they may reorganize their units before sending them over the hill to engage the enemy. What really needed to be decided now was Major Julian's idea of entrenchments. Would the Allied commanders agree to entrenching their positions?
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Duke Friedrich nearly fell out of his chair upon hearing the suggestion that they dig entrenchments. “Preposterous!” He steadied himself, puffing on his pipe. “A battalion of infantry will hit maybe three or four of the enemy at a hundred yards. The musket ball that comes out the end is not the primary weapon infantry engages with, it has been and remains the bayonet!” He realized these people had no experience with infantry; especially to suggest they dig entrenchments. “We do not have a battalion of pioneers, which would carry wagons with pick-axes and shovels. Besides, if we were dig in our infantry, it would place them at a disadvantage to the enemy. We would then need to charge uphill; the forward slope of the trench in order to attack into the enemy.” He thought about it for a moment. “No, sir. We will not dig into the soil.” He thought a bit longer, “A series of redoubts might break up an attack, but they would be unnecessary in this ground, unless you would entertain the notion of a series of redoubts more than a few miles behind us. But I do not believe that is what you were suggesting.” Duke Friedrich then thought about what the gentleman from the Khanate suggested. “Using cavalry to break up enemy artillery formations is still a solid offering for this group. I would second that suggestion.”

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