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LPBS Masthead: Roland as a Musketeer

Les Petites Bêtes Soyeuses

Being a correspondence game of En Garde! run by Pevans since April 1986 and now published as part of To Win Just Once.

If you'd like to play, you'll need to subscribe to TWJO (follow the link for details). You will need a copy of the rules to En Garde! - or at least access to a copy. The additional rules for LPBS are available as a PDF document. (You will need Adobe Reader to view this: it is available free from Adobe.)

Game Report for June 1669

Sections: Duels, Trials, Appointments and Regiments, What happened in Paris, What happened at the front.

As the soldiers prepare to march for this year's summer campaign, there's still time to settle a few matters of honour. First up are Florent Sans de Machine and Jean Ettonique, the cause being Ettonique's lack of nobility. As a cavalryman, Ettonique brings his sabre, while Machine has a rapier and much less skill. He's also carrying some old injuries, which puts him at a real disadvantage. Ettonique is seconded by Claude Talon and Henri Dubois, but no-one supports Machine. Machine scores first blood, however, his rapier flicking out in a lunge. Ettonique doesn't even slow down and hits back with a slash. This is enough for Machine to surrender, conceding the fight.

Lucy Fur is the cause of the duel between Alan de Frocked and Swindelle d'Masses. Masses can only use a foil, but treats it like a sabre. His beefier build should stand him in good stead against Frocked's rapier, despite his lesser expertise. Leonard de Hofstadt is the only second, supporting Frocked. Expecting a lunge, Frocked parries and jumps, but Masses' attacks are a slash and a cut, neither of which do any significant damage. The cut does at least reduce the impact of Frocked's first lunge. However, a slash and a second lunge then follow before Masses can recover. He continues gamely, but his slashes still have no effect, unlike Frocked's next cut. Masses continues slashing and cutting and it takes a slash and two more lunges from Frocked before he finally gives up and surrenders.

Lieutenant-Colonel of the Archduke Leopold Cuirassiers Percy Mistic has two duels with his regimental enemies in Grand Duke Max's Dragoons and two seconds - Bill de Zmerchant and Pierre Cardigan - as well. He chooses to meet his fellow Lt-Col, Claude Talon, first. As usual, Talon is armed with his little 'tomahawk' throwing axes, while Mistic has his sabre (and less skill). The two men attack in their own fashion: Talon sets his feet and throws his tomahawk; Mistic slashes. Both blows strike home. Mistic grits his teeth and continues with what is actually a furious slash. The cut lands just as Talon is closing in, doing more damage than usual. "That was ... nasty..." mutters Talon weakly. He tries to draw his second tomahawk, but slumps messily to the ground. RIP.

Once his own bleeding has been staunched, Mistic realises he's in no state to meet GDMD commander Chopine Camus for his second duel. Similarly, Xavier Four-Hollandaise's wounds mean he declines to face Charles Louis Desapear - not that Desapear shows up. Mistic's next port of call is his favourite money-lender, where he augments his funds before handing them over to Count Cardigan.

On trial for treason

While these matters are being settled, the courtroom is being prepared for two trials: of the Minister of Justice and Marquis Rick O'Shea. A good crowd surges in to fill the public seats, Sir Sebastian Adis II among them. They fall silent and stand as Earl Pierre le Sang, the Minister of State, enters and takes his place in the seat of judgement. As they sit again, the court usher announces the cases to be tried.

    "The treason court is now in session. The first case concerns His Excellency Rob d'Emblind, the Minister of Justice, who is charged with conspiracy to defraud the Exchequer and Military Commissariat - a treasonable offence. The Commissioner may state the case for the prosecution."

CPS Sir Duncan d'Eauneurts stands to state his case. "If it please the court, upon taking up my position as Commissioner and visiting my office at Le Châtelet for the first time I was greeted by letters from a number of Brigadiers who were considering positions as Army Quartermasters and one missive from the Chancellor, Marquis Etienne Brule. All revealed the same sorry tale, to wit that Rob d'Emblind had contacted them to suggest that they embezzle a considerable portion of the monies in their charge - in perfect safety since, for a sizeable proportion of the misappropriated funds, he would ("as did my predecessor") turn a blind eye and ensure no charges were ever brought. In order to save the Court's time in considering the fate of one whose guilt is so manifest I will call but a single witness to verify the facts of the case, Monsieur le Marquis Etienne Brule."

Taking the witness stand, Marquis Brule takes up the tale. "I am obliged, as part of my new duties as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to report a very disturbing development. I was indeed approached by the new Minister of Justice, Rob d'Emblind. M. le Ministre said that he would look the other way, were I to embezzle from the Treasury, provided that he received an anonymous donation of 10,000 Crowns each month as an 'open doors' fee."

Minister on Trial: the accused fingers his collar nervously    "I am a loyal and patriotic Frenchman," he continues. "The very idea of converting the Treasury to one's own personal use is beyond appalling. A Minister of France attempting to coerce a more junior minister into what is in effect a steal on demand scheme? Not this Frenchman! Those funds belong to the King, who graciously lets us use them to ensure his army is properly armed and fed. It, like the honour of all patriotic Frenchmen, is not for sale. Vive le Roi!"

Minister of State le Sang listens impassively to the presentations by both the Commissioner of Public Safety and the accused. He is less impassive when Felix Antoine Gauchepied'er demands to add his testimony to proceedings. Grudgingly, he agrees to let the CPC Colonel speak.

Dressed in a "lavish" green dress and white fur shawl, Felix sashays onto the floor of the court, to laughter from the public gallery and discomfiture of the court officials. "Your Grace," he begins, nodding and blowing a quick kiss to Minister le Sang. "Your slightly lesser Grace," he continues, nodding and waving to Commissioner d'Eauneurts. "I welcome this chance to speak out against a man who has brought shame to the Government and, what's more, recently tossed me aside like a used glove, after ending our 'little evening liaisons'. I mean, I know he is married but he told me his wife doesn't understand him and that what we had - he and I - was something special, but I shouldn't tell anyone about it."

Turning to the accused, Gauchepied'er scoffs, "Well, darling, I'm telling them now aren't I sweetie! If you thought you could just pick me up and use me because you're a big knob in the Government, then you forgot who you're dealing with, I'm a Colonel, you know! And I'm glad you think you're a big knob in government, darling. Ha, ha: I can tell the Court that that certainly isn't the case when it comes to", at this point Felix is hushed by Trissy who beckons him away from the witness stand reminding him that they both have hair appointments in less than an hour. Gauchepied'er has just a few final words: "Pierrey-poo, once you have dealt with this horrible man and sacked him, banished him or whatever'd him, can I have his job as I think I would make a great MoJ and I've already got a full wardrobe waiting..."

Lifting his head from his hands, Minister le Sang begins to speak. "There is nothing more heinous than an officer of the Crown who betrays his sacred trust. In doing so, he not only steals monies from His Majesty, but he also undermines the people's fundamental faith in the justice and fairness of His Majesty's government. In short, he indirectly foments rebellion by those people against His Majesty's sacred and lawful rule. In this case the evidence is undisputable; the Minister of Justice has egregiously violated this most sacred trust. Therefore, for the crimes of embezzlement and fomenting rebellion, I sentence you to be taken from this place and executed at a time and place of His Majesty's pleasure. And may God have mercy upon your soul. Bailiffs, remove the prisoner to the Bastille to await execution."

Rick O'Shea's appeal to the King to commute this sentence falls on deaf ears. Once the ill-fated ex-Minister has been taken away (the Commissioner of Public Safety taking over his appointment), the Court Usher rises once more: "The second case concerns Marquis Rick O'Shea who is charged with wilfully putting the lives of His Majesty's soldiery at risk by embezzling funds meant for military supplies and materiel whilst serving as Quartermaster General of the Second Army during last year's Summer Campaign, a treasonable offence. Commissioner, pray state the case for the prosecution."

He is interrupted by a parting shot from Felix Antoine Gauchepied'er. "Your Graces, I fully support the charges against this brute. He's a real pig and I hope you agree to cut his head off or something. The fellow has been leeching off of Paris for years and it's high time he got his comeuppance!"

Ignoring the interruption, the Commissioner picks up some papers from his table and begins, "The performance of the Second Army during last year's campaign fell woefully short of expectations with excessive casualties. This was later determined to be due to the paucity and poor quality of the equipment which the accused, as the Army's Quartermaster-General, issued to them. At the same time it was determined that his own finances received a large and unexpected boost, peculation of army funds being the only possible explanation for this."

    "The prosecution will call two witnesses. Firstly, General Earl Bill de Zmerchant, the army commander whose trust the Accused betrayed so flagrantly, and secondly his aide, Sir Beau Reese Jean Seine, who has been investigating this matter for some considerable time."

Earl Bill de Zmerchant takes the stand, his anger-suffused visage boding ill for the defendant and bellows, "I have been hoping to see this shameless rascal get his just deserts for some considerable time. His spoliation of Army funds led to damage to my military reputation, and an unnecessary loss for investors in Commerce." A darkening of the Minister of State's brow confirmed the rumours that he had invested heavily in Commerce.

    "It also involved some hundreds of casualties among the Frontier regiments, of course," the witness continues. "The Army was valiantly endeavouring to dig entrenchments, but was constantly foiled by lack of equipment. Indeed sometimes there were no shovels at all and the soldiers had to lean on each other! I attest and affirm that the accused is guilty of all the charges levelled against him."

Taking his commander's place, Beau Reese Jean Seine is more composed. "While serving with the 2nd army HQ last summer, I took the opportunity to investigate the source of the poor supplies that were hampering our manoeuvring. I found many documents ordering and paying for supplies, but many were missing delivery notes. These documents were, in the main, signed by the then QMG, Rick O'Shea. This embezzlement severely hampered the ability of the 2nd Army to fulfil its role and is a clear betrayal of his Majesty's sacred trust."

The prosecution warms up: Guilty, guilty, guilty!Commissioner Eauneurts presents documents obtained by Major Seine to the court in support of his evidence. Only when the hum of condemnation following these revelations dies down, does the Commissioner rise from the prosecution table once more. "If it please the Court, some further evidence demonstrating the utter venality of the accused has just come to light. Since no further witnesses for the prosecution may be called at this stage, with the Court's permissions I will outline the surrounding events myself."

    "His Excellency, le Marquis Etienne Brule, His Majesty's Chancellor, has just impounded a wagon which was attempting to leave the Exchequer carrying a considerable sum in gold. The wagon was bound for Zurich, to be put into the care of a notorious banker well known to less loyal elements in Paris circles."

    "It transpires that the shipment was authorised by a standing order the accused issued whilst himself serving as Chancellor. With the collusion of the late Count Euria Humble who, until his death, was serving as Minister of Justice, the accused has been systematically pilfering monies from the operations budgets of the Ministries of State and Justice, the Exchequer and the Commission of Public Safety and spiriting them away to Switzerland for his own personal use!"

    "This infamous standing order has now been rescinded and the wagon and associated paperwork sent to the Ministry of State as evidence. The discovery shows beyond any doubt that the Accused owes loyalty to gold alone and is quite happy to betray France, His Majesty and his unfortunate comrades in order to secure it. When the inevitable verdict of Guilty is handed down the Crown requests that the harshest possible penalties be imposed."

Marquis O'Shea is brief and to the point in his own defence. "I am innocent of the charges of treason. But it doesn't matter whether I am guilty or innocent: you have already decided that I am guilty of the charges. Therefore there isn't any point in continuing this farce, so get on with it and pronounce the sentence."

Minister of State le Sang listens impassively to both the Commissioner of Public Safety and Marquis Rick O'Shea. When they are complete, he sits silently for a moment, and then begins, "It is written in the Good Book that the lust for money is the root of all evil. I think there could be no clearer proof of this truism than this case. Brigadier-General O'Shea has had a distinguished military career, fighting bravely against the enemies of France, for which he has been justly rewarded with promotion, recognition, and even titles of nobility from His Majesty. Yet, when presented with the opportunity for peculation while serving as Quartermaster of the 2nd Army, the testimony presented in this case clearly proves that he could not restrain himself. By surrendering to his greed, he seriously impaired the ability of that army to perform in the field, gave aid and comfort to His Majesty's enemies, and cost the lives of many brave soldiers. While I do not believe that Brigadier-General O'Shea wished for such an outcome, it was the result of his actions, and so he must be held accountable. Normally, the sentence in such a case would be clear: treason against the Crown merits death. However, given Brigadier-General O'Shea's demonstrated military talents, such a harsh sentence seems wasteful in the extreme. Therefore, I have decided that he shall be committed to the trial of battle, to expiate his sin in service to France. This will allow God Himself to determine whether he is worthy to remain upon this earth. Brigadier-General O'Shea, for the crime of embezzlement of funds from His Majesty's forces, you are hereby sentenced to one year's service at the frontier. If you should survive, may you return to society a better man. Bailiffs, remove the prisoner. Court is adjourned."

But the Marquis is not without means and a further donation appeal to His Majesty, brings the outcome he desires: his sentence is commuted. (Bill de Zmerchant tries to sway the King against this, but his influence doesn't reach that high.) Serving at the front for the campaign season will be no hardship for a seasoned soldier. He is quick to offer his services to the Royal North Highlanders, but discovers that his sentence commits him to serving with an ordinary Frontier regiment.

Last call

Following the trial, there is a bit of a Ministerial get-together to decide what to do about this cartload of gold. Minister of State Pierre le Sang, Chancellor of the Exchequer Etienne Brule and CPS and Minister of Justice Duncan d'Eauneurts put their heads together. After which, all three invest heavily in Arms. The CPS even touches up the Shylocks for a further cash to invest.

The final manoeuvres before departing for action see Renaud Taillebois accepted into the 69th Arquebusiers by the regiment's commander, Pepé Nicole. Aided by some funds from Nicole, Taillebois buys the rank of Major. Now, Fourth Foot Brigade, which includes the 69th, needs a new Brigade Major. The only people eligible are Major Taillebois and his opposite number in the Gascons. The Brigade staff pick a name out of a hat and Taillebois is now Brigade Major. This rather spoils his plans to take his battalion into action (since the Fourth Foot is remaining in Paris this summer). Removed from the regimental chain of command, he ends up attached to a Frontier regiment.

More conventionally, Swindelle d'Masses joins the Queen's Own Carabiniers, courtesy of CO Terence Cuckpowder, buys the rank of Major (with his nice new loan) and takes command of the second squadron as the regiment prepares for the campaign. As a Major he can't be Regimental Adjutant, as Cuckpowder proposes.

Lieutenant-General Sebastian de la Creme gives up his Ministerial post (he didn't have a portfolio) to accept command of First Division from the Adjutant-General, Sebastian Adis II. This takes Creme into action, while Adis remains in Paris, making a modest investment in Commerce.

Off to Ag Nik

With France's Venetian allies sorely pressed in defending Crete from the Ottomans' latest invasion, the French Army is going to their aid. The first job is thus getting to Crete - a short voyage from Marseille, which sees the Royal Marines in their element. Rather than bolster the island kingdom's besieged capital, Candia, the French forces make their own landing on Crete in an effort to take the Turkish forces in the rear. Colonel F A Gauchepied'er is beside himself at the thought.

Landing on Crete, First Army assaults the little port of Agios Nikolaos with support from the shipboard guns, intending to make this their base. The Turks put up an unexpectedly stiff resistance, inflicting substantial casualties on the French troops. The Frontier Division takes a battering with Frontier Regiment 3 coming off worst. Attached to Frontier Regiment 2, 69A Major Renaud Taillebois finds dodging the bullets hard work, but he survives. The same cannot be said of the disgraced Brigadier-General Rick O'Shea, whose sentence sees him attached to Frontier Regiment 1. He ducks and dives, zigs and zags, only to meet a musketball zigging when he's expecting it to zag. RIP.

First Division does little better. Third Foot Brigade makes no progress. The commander of the 27th Musketeers, Brigadier-General Charles Louis Desapear, holds his men together in the face of sustained Turkish gunfire. This brings him two Mentions in Despatches ("Desapear-not, it seems", "...and he's still there") and he is able to collect some 1,200 crowns' worth of loot into the bargain. He takes over as Brigadier too.

A cannon firesIn Second Foot Brigade, the 13th Fusiliers are surrounded by Turkish infantry. Only the stalwart figure of their acting CO, Lieutenant-Colonel Xavier Four-Hollandaise, stops the men from breaking. Then a musketball ricochets off fallen masonry and strikes Four-Hollandaise full in the chest. RIP. With his fall, the Fusiliers are all but done when another man springs to the fore: Major Le Poutine Noir abandons his role as Brigade Major to champion his regiment. He demands the Turks nominate a champion to fight him in single combat.

The firing stops as the Turks consider this. Then a huge Turk, with an even larger moustache, steps out, brandishing his scimitar. Removing his jacket, Major Noir spits on his hands, plants the regimental standard firmly beside him and attacks. His opponent is clearly unused to fighting a long rapier. Major Noir repeatedly stabs him while dodging (most of) the wild slashes of the curved blade. It seems neither man can get in the coup de grace until Major Noir discards what's left of his caution and puts all his weight behind a thrust. As his rapier goes through the Turk's torso, his thigh is laid open by a vicious cut. Abandoning his sword in his opponent's body, Noir limps back to the flag, wrenches it out of the ground and leans on it as he leads what's left of the regiment to safety. However, the trail of blood he leaves behind proves fatal. RIP.

Boom: A Musketeer's hat blows off with the force of his musket firingSuddenly without a Brigade Major, Second Foot Brigadier Bernard de Lur-Saluces receives a promotion, making permanent his brevet rank of Brigadier-General. He finds the opportunity for some massive plundering, filling his coffers with over 2,500 crowns.

Coming into the port in small boats, the Royal Marines find themselves under fire from the defenders' cannon. When balls from the French ships fall short, landing among the RMs' boats, they decide this is not a good idea and row back the way they came. Gaz Moutarde, the regiment's commander, survives a close thing when a cannonball lands in his boat. The impact throws Moutarde out of the boat while smashing a hole that sinks it rapidly. However, Moutarde lands in a neighbouring boat and continues to safety. It's not surprising that he's Mentioned in Despatches: "I think that was one and a half somersaults with tuck." Moutarde takes command of First Foot Brigade for next month.

The breakthrough is achieved by the Picardy Musketeers, inspired by the personal bravery of their commander, Bdr-General Coeur De Lion. However, the gunfire they charge into takes its toll, including the gallant CO. RIP Lion. One regiment succeeding and the other failing is the definition of a mixed result for First Foot Brigade. However, Brigade Major Louis Oeuf Ur Terribles does well, adding his name to the fulsome Mentions of Bdr-Gen Moutarde's antics and the Picardies' accomplishment. Helping to clean up behind the PMs, he is able to grab some 1,300 crowns' worth of booty for himself.

The new commander of First Division, brevet Lt-General Sebastian de la Creme, is promoted to full Lt-Gen. He is also a footnote in the Despatches. For General Bill de Zmerchant, at the head of First Army, promotion means he will be Field Marshal from September. This alone is enough to ensure he is Mentioned ("Field Marshal Zmerchant"). RFG Major Beau Reese Jean Seine is the General's Aide and he is Mentioned twice in the Despatches ("He's an aid", "And a Foot Guard").

Enjoying the countryside

Second Army comprises the cavalry regiments, with the heavy horse grouped as the Cavalry Division, and the Dragoons, operating as a separate Brigade. Their mission is the same, however: scouting the countryside, keeping Turkish troops away and foraging. CG Lt-Colonel Alan de Frocked is the commanding General's Aide. His job involves a lot of trotting around, which gives him the opportunity to pocket 800 crowns' worth of goodies. Well, olives.

The Cavalry Division is led by (brevet) Lt-General Uther Xavier-Beauregard and he does the job well enough to gain his full rank. He finds some 400 crowns' worth of loot for himself. RM Lt-Colonel Gaston le Somme is the Divisional Adjutant and his name goes into the Despatches as he finds 350 crowns' worth of loot.

In the Horse Guards Brigade, the Dragoon Guards ride into trouble under the guns of a concealed Turkish battery. They retire quickly. Subaltern Henri Dubois is promoted to Captain and briefly Mentioned in Despatches ("he's fast"). There's a quick Mention, too, for Lt-Colonel Frele d'Acier ("he's faster"). And a bigger Mention for the regiment's commander, Bdr-Gen Etienne Brule ("now, that's what I call fast!"). The privileges of rank mean that Brule gains some 250 crowns' worth of loot into the bargain.

The Queen's Own Carabiniers have the opposite experience. They come across a company of Turkish infantry in bivouac and ride them down. QOC commander Terence Cuckpowder gains a Mention in Despatches ("that's the way to do it!"), which brings him elevation to the rank of Baron. His collection of Turkish helmets is valued at 300 crowns. A Mention comes to Major Swindelle d'Masses as well, and his set of Turkish swords brings a hundred crowns. DG Major Jean Ettonique is serving - and surviving - as Brigade Major.

Chaaarge! A Musketeer almost falls off his horse as it chargesHeavy Brigade has neither good luck nor bad. Brigadier Jacques de Gain is brevetted to Lt-General and earns a brief Mention in Despatches. His share of the proceeds comes to 250 crowns. Felix Antoine Gauchepied'er may be Colonel of the Crown Prince Cuirassiers, but he's serving here as Brigade Major of the Heavies. A promotion (to brevet Bdr-Gen) comes his way along with 300 crowns. The Colonel of the Archduke Leopold Cuirassiers is also promoted, becoming Bdr-General Percy Mistic and over 500 crowns richer.

The Dragoon Brigade concentrates on the foraging, bringing substantial supplies back. Brigadier-General Chopine Camus, commander of the Grand Duke Max Dragoons, is briefly Mentioned ("good little forager") and 250 crowns finds its way into his coffers. He takes over command of the Brigade at the end of the month. There's a promotion for Captain Xavier Money, making him a Major. He is too busy buying the extra horses he needs to get any loot.

Colonel Balzac Slapdash commands Princess Louisa's Light Dragoons and receives a pat on the back. His number two, Lt-Col Jean Tétreault-Cauchon, plunders his way to a total of 700 crowns. Major Annibal Lechiffre simply holds his own.

The Guards Brigade (aka Third Army) is deployed to defend the French beachhead, ensuring the troops have a retreat route if necessary. The locals are not very welcoming and the Guards are involved in several skirmishes, though no real battles. These provide plenty of scope for a little plundering, however. Brigadier Was Nae Me takes a hundred crowns. Brigade Major Maurice Essai Deux can only manage half that amount.

Royal Foot Guards commander Amant d'Au pockets 150 crowns and finds himself Mentioned in Despatches ("only 150!"). However, this is enough for him to be awarded the title of Count. The same title comes to Lt-Col Jean Jeanie, whose 150 crowns provokes a longer Mention ("How can a Guards officer only get 150 crowns' worth?"). Captain Inigo Montoya tries to emulate his superiors, but gets nowhere, nor does he get any answer to his repeated question, "Did you know my father?"

Bdr-Gen Leonard de Hofstadt, in charge of the Cardinal's Guard, ups the ante with 250 crowns' worth of booty. Though his Mention ("that's better") does very little for him. Major Jean d'Ice can only manage 100 crowns' worth with a brief Mention in Despatches ("Oh dear"). It's less than 10% of what the Shylocks repossessed from him at the start of the month.

King's Musketeers Colonel Duncan d'Eauneurts doesn't bother with looting, settling for a (brevet) promotion to Brigadier-General.

Practice, practice, practice

As the bulk of the army has gone to war, it is no surprise that Paris is very quiet this month. Pepé Nicole keeps away from the clubs, preferring the company of his rapier for four weeks' practice. Sebastian Adis II takes Marie Antoinette to Bothwell's for a week before hitting the gym himself and working out with his rapier for the remaining three weeks.

In the Fleur de Lys we find Pierre Cardigan and Edna Bucquette, Pierre le Sang and Guinevere d'Arthur and Richard Shapmes and Kathy Pacific. But only for one week. Pierre and Guinevere are the only couple to spend the entire month in the Fleur. After his visit, the other Pierre adjourns to practise with his sabre. Richard and Kathy return to the club for a second week, but then Richard finds the attraction of his rapier too much and is off to practise.

The last socialite in Paris is the recuperating Florent Sans de Machine. He spends a week with his lady love and is then to be found in the gym, rapier in hand.