Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlefolk.

This blog will be devoted to my literary and cosplay interests and stories set in my own alternative historical steampunk background. I hope people enjoy the stories, as much as I enjoy devising and writing them and that it stimulates their own artistic interests, entertains them or if nothing else fires their own imaginations.

A special note to new readers of this blog, the entries "Nation States" are gazetteers of the nations as they exist in the An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron background, each with a few remarks/observations about each nation as they exist within. Any post headed by the title containing the words "Story Snippet" or "Fragments" is a stand alone, snapshot of the background, they will be developed into fuller stories in future, but at present they serve to give the viewer/reader a measure of what this world is like, what is going on in it and who some of the players are. Full stories, will be headed by their title and a roman number, as they will generally be in several parts.

Comments, suggestions or remarks by readers are welcomed.

I would like to thank the following people:

Yaya Han, for getting me seriously interested in cosplay at a time when things were looking very glum for me back in 2006 with several extended stays in hospital due to illness, and motivating me to get actively involved.

Ashley Du aka UndeadDu, for her unfailing friendship and cheerful support since we first met in 2014 at the Hamilton Comic Con, and for being my Cosplay mentor and advisor.

Sara Marly, for her interest in and support for my writings, since we first met in 2016 at the Hamilton Comic Con and incidently helping me make up my mind to finally do this.

Stephen Thomson, my friend, for his advise and assistance with creating and setting up this blog.

Daniel Cote, my friend and co-worker for his advise and friendship over the years.

The People of the The Aegy's Gathering (particularly Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, Scott Washburn and Jenny Dolfen, all of whom I have kept in contact with over the years), who were brought together in friendship by a certain randomness of chance and a common interest in the Honor Harrington books and stayed together despite distance and the strains of life.

The People of the Wesworld Alternative History website, who gave me the opportunity to sharpen my writing and story telling skills while directing the affairs of Lithuania and briefly France during their 1930s timelines.

My parents Mary Ellen and Logan, my siblings Adam and Danika and various friends both online and at work and play for putting up with me, encouraging and supporting me both in the very good times and the very bad times.

I remain as always yours very sincerely, your obedient servant, Matthew Baird aka Sir Leopold Stanley Worthing-Topper

Monday, June 13, 2022

A Changing of the Guard (Part I)

City of Vienna, Austrian Empire, October 1809.

Oberst Freiherr von Bach, looked on with carefully concealed agitation, as the battalions of Line Infantry Regiment Nr.45 assembled in the parade square. He had taken command of the regiment back in 1806, when it's inhabers had in succession been, Feldmarschalleutnant Franz Freiherr von Lattermann and Feldmarschalleutnant Thierry Freiherr de Vaux. Now the regiment had a new inhaber, appointed by the Hofkriegsrat, and Bach was extremely anxious that the regiment, should make a good showing and impress it's new colonel-proprietor with it's professionalism. This inhaber-investiture and inspection, would after all take place under the eyes of the Generalissimus, the Generalfeldmarschall Archduke Karl himself.

Four immaculately dressed and equipped infantry battalions, each of six fusilier companies were drawn up before him in the approved linear order formation, with the Leib-(demi) battalion of two companies of fusiliers and the regimental colour guard and band standing in the center of the line. With them also stood the entire regimental staff and the regimental gun company. The regimental companies of Grenadiers were drawn up on the right flank of the regiment, while the regiment's Freiwillige Jäger and Schützen companies were drawn up on the left. Behind these formations stood the regiment's two Reserve and two Ersatz battalions. Bach felt, despite his sense of apprehension, nothing but pride in his regiment, their wartime service and conduct had always been a credit to them and Bach for one felt fortunate to have command of them. That fact that this investiture would also save the regiment from the oblivion of being prematurely disbanded was another plus as far as he was concerned.

Infantry Regiment Nr.45 had originally called Lower Austrian it's home recruiting ground but over time it had been shifted to Styria. Many of the soldiers currently in regiment were native to the city of Graz or it's adjacent administrative districts, although there were still a great many Lower Austrians within the ranks. Before the Second Treaty of Schönbrunn had been settled it had been decided by the Hofkriegsrat to switch the regiment's recruiting ground to one of the Italian speaking provinces of the empire. The regiment had even received two drafts of Italian recruits from the Austrian Adriatic coastal possessions to make up for war casualties. The preliminaries articles of the treaty had put paid to that however and Regiment Nr.45 had been one of several infantry regiments slated to be disbanded for reasons of national economy. Then there had come an unexpected and very much last minute reprieve.

Von Bach ran his eyes over the serried ranks of his regiment again for the hundredth time looking for faults or imperfections. No, the men and women of the regiment had everything in order and had made a commendable effort to make sure not only their equipment and uniforms were smart and presentable but also their own persons. They looked splendid, von Bach thought approvingly. The only thing that put von Bach's and his regimental field officers teeth on edge was their soldiers headgear, or rather it's lack of uniformity. The fusiliers in the Leib-battalion, 1st and 2nd battalion still wore the 1789 pattern crested helmets, while the 3rd and 4th battalions wore the new 1806 pattern double peaked shakos. The reservists and pensioners of the reserve battalions wore the army's small, round fatigue cap with its double rows of piping and a yellow and black cockade on the front, while the regiment's two depot battalions still wore the pre-1798 Casquet! The grenadiers of course wore their tall and impressive bearskin mitre caps with engraved yellow metal front plates and the Jäger and Schützen had equipped themselves at their own expense with the new Korsehut, that had been prescribed to replace the green crested helmet or casquets for most light infantry units. Well, at least their appearance was uniform by companies and battalion, von Bach thought wryly.

At least the other details of their uniforms and kit conformed to army regulations, although as was usual in any army it had taken months and years to catch up to the authorized decrees, regulations and statutes. All buttons and lace was in yellow or gold as rank required, while the new rank stars with six points, set into the front edges of their collars were in white bone, metal or embroidered celluloid again depending on rank. Regiment Nr.45 had originally had poppy red collars and cuffs with yellow buttons when it had been originally formed but gradually Graf Sonder had from 1770 on wards had issued a series of instructions to harmonize the facing colours to conform to specific branch of service colours within the Holy Roman Empire's multitude of military contingents. These made sense from a standing point of ease of unit identification and economy of materials for uniforms. Many units had been stubborn about adopting the decrees and statutes of course, regimental traditions died hard as always. Graf Sonder had won out over the opposition by sheer persistence and pervasiveness, and had cannily allowed the various units within the Reich-Armee to design their own regimental or battalion badges that reflected their traditions and past unit colours or lace patterns and some variation of the collar facings was still allowed as well to reflect this. Like most Austrian infantry regiments, Regiment Nr.45 had adopted green as their base facing colour for their uniforms collars, cuff and piping.

The clatter of a great many iron shod hoofs on the pavement caused Oberst von Bach to swing around to see, the new arrivals. Archduke Karl, came through the parade ground's ornate stone and iron gates, flanked and trailed by his personal staff of generals, aides-de-camp, adjutants-generals and officer orderlies. Two mounted standard bearers rode close behind him, bearing the Archduke's ornate Generalissimus pattern command flag and his Arch ducal pattern House flag.

The new inhaber to be, the Fürstin von Eggenberg rode on a splendid black charger beside Archduke Karl, as they approached the Oberst at a swift canter. She was accompanied by an aide-de-camp, a standard bearer who carried a carefully sheathed unit standard (their new Leibfahne, which would bear the Eggenberg family's full coat-of-arms, he surmised) and an automaton attendent-postilion. She wore the white coat, with the ornate red and gold collar and cuffs of her newly appointed rank of feldzeugmeister, with her tunic decorated with the medals and decorations of past and present conflicts. Both Archduke Karl and the Fürstin wore the relatively plain but smart grey oberrock coats over their white uniforms. Von Bach, brought himself sternly to task, as they slowed to a stop before him and his deputy officer and his regimental adjutant and his senior Moniteur-Bureau officer. All four regimental officers saluted crisply the man who was their military commander-in-chief and the woman, who was very shortly to be come their honorary commander and colonel-proprietor.

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