Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 348
Theatre of War
On the 28th of the 1st month of Year 586, Prince Hansbach arrived in Tyrrsim. He was going to preside over military matters on Nubissia as the royal family's representative and provide the long-awaited supply and equipment support to Ranger. Among them were near 100 thousand Aubass Mark 3s which were intended to replace the old muskets the garrison troops in the colonies were using.
He surveyed the land as he travelled to Anfiston and it was the end of the 3rd month when he arrived. The rainy season just passed and Claude's newly expanded Line 131 took over security for the first prince. After accompanying the prince to meet the viceroy and high-commissioner in the capital of the colony, Claude still had to go to Port Patres with the first prince as the headquarters of Ranger was situated there.
On the 18th of the 4th month, Prince Hansbach arrived in Port Patres and General Miselk held a grand banquet to welcome him.
The first prince gave an impassioned speech after the army welcome and won the applause of the tens of thousands of soldiers of Ranger and the colonial corps. The whole atmosphere was incredibly heated.
After the speech, the first prince conducted an award ceremony for soldiers who gained merit. The spotlight event was Miselk's promotion from Lieutenant-General to General. His honorary viscount Title was also elevated to that of an honorary count. Claude, on the other hand, was given the Title of honorary baron. Those two were the only ones to receive noble Titles.
Incidentally, Claude had to go through some paperwork during his registration as a baron. He had to decide what his sobriquet, or middle name, would be. He could choose 'An' from Anfiston, 'Ro' from Robisto or 'Ba' from Balingana to signify that his entitling achievement was obtained in those places. He could even choose 'Cro' from his recovery of the lost colony of Cromwell.
However, Claude chose 'Han' for it instead, much to Prince Hansbach's puzzlement. He didn't know what he chose that as his sobriquet. Claude explained that it was due to Prince Hansbach's recognition of his talent that his military career kicked off. He was also the one who gave him his knighthood, so he wanted to express his everlasting gratitude to the first prince by using part of his name as his sobriquet.
Despite thinking of it as nothing more than flattery, Prince Hansbach was still quite glad. Nobody would hate someone who knew how to express gratitude. So, Prince Hansbach gave Claude the middle name of Han. Claude was to be known as Baron Claude Han Ferd from then on. Even his family members could use the middle name.
While that was the explanation he gave the first prince, the word 'Han' was the only word that he could connect to his previous life. On old Earth, he was Han Chinese. It was a word that symbolised the two-millennia-long history of his people and he wore it with pride. Despite the difficulties they've faced, especially the hardships in recent times, his people had risen up once more after three decades of reformation when he first transmigrated and was a player on the world stage once more.
After the promotion and entitlement ceremony came the grand banquet. Claude noticed, however, that Prince Hansbach didn't seem too keen on participating in it. Not long after the banquet began, the prince and Miselk were nowhere to be seen. When he returned to his quarters during the night, he got notified about a meeting that would take place morning at nine the next day.
"Shiks has once more ignored the olive branch our kingdom extended them. They refuse to acknowledge their loss on Nubissia and even proudly proclaimed to our ambassador that the fall of Pancry and Krado didn't necessarily mean that the Shiksan forces are inferior to ours, since those two corps are formed in the colonies and weren't their standing corps."
Prince Hansbach brought the high-ranking officers of Ranger bad news. Fortunately, Shiks didn't turn their attention to the Aueran mainland and insisted on stubbornly standing back up where it fell. Shiks immediately declared that it would be transporting five standing corps to their Nubissian colonies to fight the Aueran forces to the death until all invaders of Shiksan territory were exterminated.
"Wait, since when did we become the invaders? We're stationed at the borders of their colonies and we didn't even trespass an inch onto their land!" Quite a number of officers brought up similar concerns of being labelled invaders.
Prince Hansbach scoffed, "Shiks arrogantly thinks that the land they took became theirs by default. How else did you think they conquered most of Northern Freia? Cromwell had fallen to their colonial forces for up to half a year and according to their regulations, it has become their de-facto territory. Our reclamation of lost land is nothing short of invasion in their eyes."
The officers were visibly enraged. Before the war ended, Shiks dared to declare occupied territory to be their own. It was nothing short of a slight to Aueras and its army. The officers were already rubbing their hands together in anticipation to give the Shiksan army a harsh lesson in the upcoming battles.
One of the prince's strategists approached the map on the wall and briefed the officers on the state of the Shiksan forces. Back on Freia, Shiks controlled the whole northern area and their territory was split into 13 provinces, covering 57 prefectures. There were 15 standing corps in their army, one for each province, and each standing corps numbered around 63 thousand men. They were more or less the size of an Aueran combat corps. The total number of troops in their army numbered around a million men.
Their navy consisted of the Seaking fleet and their main prerogative was to defend against Skilosian magi and pirates from harassing the northern coastal islands. However, the evil magi invasion was no more than folklore at that point and nobody treated that seriously anymore. Back when they first got Port Vebator, Seaking impatiently formed a flotilla there, but it ended up being completely destroyed in Dorinibla River due to the traps the Auerans laid.
In fact, Pancry and Krado were both standing corps of Shiks. They had been transported to Nubissia to suppress civilian revolts. Shiks had formed three more combat corps in the colonies to attack Aueras with after the native revolts were all quelled.
Initially, they managed to take a few colonies with Pancry and Krado alone, but they didn't think two of their corps, as well as a flotilla of Seaking, would be eliminated. The territory they conquered was reclaimed and they suffered up to 250 thousand casualties on Nubissia.
That greatly enraged Shiks. Not able to stand the utter humiliation, they resolved themselves to fight it out with Aueras on Nubissia once and for all. Like what they declared to the ambassador, their two lost corps weren't much. They still had more than enough elite units. They would send five corps there first, and if that wasn't enough, they'd send ten more. Surely the Auerans would surrender sooner or later.
In actuality, the troops of Ranger had expected the war to continue even before the first prince gave them the news. Two months prior, some spies in Port Vebator sent word that Shiks sent three more corps to Nubissia. Two of them were stationed at the border in a face-off against Ranger and the Aueran colonial corps, but they kept to defence only without engaging in any conflict.
On one hand, they didn't want to engage Ranger too soon as there were more forces on the way from Shiks. On Ranger's side, top brass had given the order to not cross the border or provoke the enemy lest the peace negotiations be negatively impacted. Now that continued war was almost an inevitable fact, some officers proposed for them to make the first move to wipe out the two Shiksan corps at the border before the other two corps arrive in Port Vebator.
However, both Hansbach and Miselk shot that suggestion down. While attacking first was a legitimate strategy, it didn't suit the kingdom's strategic goals. What Aueras needed now wasn't to completely crush the invading forces. Instead, they aimed to cause Shiks to hemorrhage as much military might they could in Nubissia so there would be no threat to the kingdom back on Freia.
"The enemy didn't mind losing 250 thousand of their forces. But what if they lose 2.5 million? I trust they won't be able to claim to be the hegemon of the north after this," Miselk said. The others were dumbstruck. Was it even possible? Exterminating 2.5 million enemy troops seemed almost impossible.
Putting that aside, even causing them a million casualties was enough to severely weaken Shiks. They wouldn't be able to toss their weight around Northern Freia any longer and the neighbouring countries there might band together to kick their former tyrant that was bleeding itself dry for a piece of pie.
"I'm not joking," Miselk said with utmost seriousness, "We've fought Pancry and Krado, and we haven't really considered them our match. Their soldiers are indeed hardy and their officers are talented. But against our folk, they use old tactics, firearms and cannons. They are one generation behind us.
"Don't forget that Shiks hasn't fought a war for the past four decades. Even though they have a huge standing army, their soldiers and officers haven't experienced true war. The most they got to do is suppressing native rebellions here or cleaning up bandit groups in the mountains, unlike us, who have gone through five years of bloody war on Freia. With the newest tactics, weapons, and our rich experience, it is our chance to overwhelm Shiks, who are still stubbornly stuck to old ways.
"If we make the first move, we are almost certain that the enemy wouldn't be able to withstand our assault. In the end, we will force them to shrivel back into Port Vebator to fortify it. If we can't conquer Port Vebator, we wouldn't be able to achieve our objectives and we risk Shiks turning their attention to our mainland. But if we aren't able to take Port Vebator, we will have to fight a long war with our enemy and give them a chance to learn our newest tactics.
"So, the best move we can make is not to attack them, but bait them to attack our colonies instead. We'll use the advantage of space and time to lengthen and spread the enemy supply lines thin so they can only blaze one trail into our territory. Then, we can spread out our forces into smaller units to cut their men off from the main force and exterminate each one of them separately. We have the advantage of higher mobility and better firepower, after all. I trust that no enemy will be Ranger's match."
After Miselk finished his strategy briefing, Prince Hansbach gave a few more orders, or rather, strategic guidelines of the war on Nubissia.
First, Ranger was to be expanded into a full corps and the new recruits were to be sourced from the kingdom and transported to Nubissia. Additionally, a second colonial corps was to be formed in the seven colonies to support Ranger as irregulars to resist the Shiksan colonial forces.
The formation of the second corps was no small burden for the seven colonies to bear, as the total population of kingdom citizens there numbered only 2.3 million. Having two colonial corps and various local garrison units brought that number to around 200 thousand, which was a tenth of the population of the kingdom's citizens. Most of the fit youths from the colonies would be drafted.
The third order was for the compartmentalisation of war theatres on the battlefield. The territory of Robisto and Balingana on the other side of Dorinibla river facing the coast would be absorbed into Balingana. Cromwell and Balingana would be where the enemy would be lured in to fight. Most of the civilians in those two colonies were to be moved to the colonies in the rear to make use of the scorched-earth tactic.
At the same time, the parts of Robisto and Balingana on the other bank of Dorinibla River would be united into the new Robisto. After the reassignment, Robisto and Balingana would be parted by Dorinibla River instead of them both being separated by it formerly. The new area of Balingana was now about two times that of the new Robisto.
The two territories were reassigned for convenience's sake. Aueras could afford to give up on Balingana and Cromwell and still keep Robisto defended using Dorinibla River as a natural barrier. Even if they wouldn't be able to hold the enemy back at the river, they could still fall back to Claude Defence Line to keep them out of Anfiston.
The last order was for Anfiston, Robisto, Balingana and Cromwell to be united into a single war theatre with General Miselk as the field marshal. From that day onwards, the four colonial corps of Aueras, the viceroys and high-commissioners, and the administration of those four colonies would be under Ranger corps' jurisdiction. In other words, the four colonies were under martial rule.