Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 412
Downsizing and Shocking News
The more one hopes, the harder one gets disappointed. The royal capital didn't give the colonies a swift reply. The theatre headquarters sent word about the first prince's secret order by carrier eagle to the communications department in Tyrrsim on the 8th of the 1st month for it to be sent by one of Storm's fleets to Whitestag, after which the letter would be sent to the royal capital by carrier eagle to the ministry of the army.
Only on the 2nd of the 3rd month did they receive a reply from the ministry. It was rather quick and happened within a span of two months, which was quite impressive considering they were continents apart separated by a large ocean. What the generals didn't expect was the response amounted to nothing more than a simple note of acknowledgement.
There was no effort in calming them down. Instead, the tone of the reply sounded like a rebuke and warning for the generals to act within their station and not step beyond it, and that the civil war in the kingdom would calm down soon. The ministry of the army was confident that with Stellin XI's leadership, they would be able to eliminate the rebels soon.
If that had been all, it would've been fine and Claude and the rest would merely have been fussing over something unimportant. Perhaps the bigwigs in the royal capital thought the generals on Nubissia were a little lonely and wanted to play a part in the civil war, so they made up such a ridiculous lie about the first prince giving them secret orders.
Not a single one of them were willing to believe that Prince Hansbach would actually work with Shiks. What reason would he have for handing Vebator, Cromwell and Balingana over? Just as payment for Shiks and the navy of the Alliance to ship Monolith and Thunderrash back to the mainland?
It became a huge joke. The first prince now commanded Bluefeather and three other standing corps, having a total of 200 thousand troops. His goal should be to break through the defence line at Audin Mountain Range, not ship two irregular corps back from the distant Nubissia and paying a ridiculous price of three colonies for it. Surely he was no fool like that.
As such, the bigwigs considered the report by Claude and company nothing more than a lie with the aim to get the capital to give them more funding to develop the colonies. It was merely a money-grubbing tactic that wasn't worth entertaining at all.
Apart from some minor admonishment, the reply stated that the kingdom was short on funds too and had none to give away. Following was the crucial matter: since the war in the colonies had ended, the ministry of the army believed that there was no need for two corps of 130 thousand troops to be maintained in the theatre. They demanded a cut to the military budget.
The generals in the theatre felt that they had been fed a pile of crap. Their repayment for pledging loyalty to the royal capital was returned with an order to downsize instead. No general would be willing to relieve their own men. The royal capital's intentions were clear: since the theatre lacked the funds, just downsize to save on costs!
Thankfully, the ministry of the army knew that Shiks' ambitions for the distant Nubissia had yet to wane, so they didn't actually intend for the two irregular corps to be downsized to the point of having only a skeletal structure remaining. Instead, they gave a set number. Each corps only had to maintain 40 thousand men, so they would be able to relieve 50 thousand men and save around 160 thousand crowns in military expenditure yearly.
Seeing how it backfired, Claude swore he would never play tricks like that again. There was no guessing what went through the minds of those at the top. Somehow, they always took the opposite from what he was trying to convey. In this instance, Claude and the rest reported it to the royal capital about it to show that they were loyal, but the bigwigs thought that they were merely making stuff up as leverage for more funding and gave them a return slap on the face to put them in their places.
Bolonik wore a horrible frown on his face. He didn't think the royal capital would actually respond with an order for downsizing. Among the two million immigrants in Cromwell and Balingana, there were more than 100 thousand youths fit to be recruited into the army, and that was just counting those in their twenties. There were far more who ranged up to their thirties. They were all waiting for Thundercrash and Monolith to start their draft so they may get some land or property as well.
If the theatre was going to enlist 100 thousand new recruits, around 600 thousand immigrants could be settled. As family members to the recruits, they could get either 5 acres of farmland or 50 acres of pastures. That would also reduce the burden of the theatre to provide them with jobs. Naturally, they couldn't just recruit 100 thousand soldiers just like that. They were preparing to let go of hundred thousand veterans who served their term and recruit another hundred thousand to replace them.
Yet, now, another 40 thousand soldiers had to be discharged apart from the 10 thousand that were already leaving. Many immigrants had set their sights on the positions of the veterans that were retiring. They couldn't wait for one of their sons to become a member of their force so that their families could get their own piece of land. If they knew that even that was out of the question and they would have to work jobs to make a living in the colonies, who knew how huge a commotion that would cause in the colonies?
"Let's hear it. How should we even begin to downsize?" Bolonik powerlessly asked. Since the royal capital had given their orders, they had to be obeyed. They couldn't just ignore it because they were on Nubissia. That would be no different from rebelling.
Eiblont stroked his chin and said, "To let go of 40 thousand men for each corps... The royal capital's intentions are clear. They only want us to maintain one full folk for each corps and another skeleton folk. We are only to arm up when there's a war."
The generals were aware of that fact even if it wasn't stated. The local irregular corps on the mainland also maintained a skeleton crew during peacetime. For instance, a folk had four lines and each line only maintained a full tribe. As for the other three tribes, only the officers were kept. All they needed to handle emergency situations with was that full tribe. The other three would play a role of moral support and cheer from the sidelines.
The issue was it wouldn't be that easy to even downsize Thundercrash and Monolith. Currently, each corps had two folks. One would be full and the other would have to be a skeleton unit. The officers relegated to the skeleton unit would no doubt feel like they were being abandoned. If they were left in the gutter like that, there was little chance they would be able to perform and advance in their careers and frustration could build from that. The commanders of the corps would also turn their attention to the fully staffed folk and leave the skeleton folk on the sidelines. It would cause a great rift between officers in the corps.
During the high-level strategy class discussions, Miselk had criticised this skeleton-unit practice. He believed that one unit fully staffed and another practically barebones had the most negative impact. That was because the officers on the top would focus on the fully staffed unit and assign their most elite officers and troops there, leaving the more lacklustre troops in the skeleton unit and causing a huge difference in the abilities between the two units.
In time, the fully staffed one would be utilised more and more and the resources would drift in their favour whereas the skeleton unit would be left to rot and neglect. The officers that remained to keep it running at the most basic level would lose their drive. By the time war broke out, the disparity in might between the two units would be far too pronounced and the former skeleton unit would drag the rest of their comrades down and possibly even be a great threat to their own allies.
"Alright, let's not consider the reorganisation first. Let us think about how we should deal with the 50 thousand discharged men. Do we just let them head home like that?" Bolonik was wracking his head to deal with this problem. For the 100 thousand households of the soldiers discharged after the five-year war, they moved to Anfiston in the first place for the 1.6 acres of farmland and to serve out their term in the military to obtain dignitarian status.
If anyone were to be discharged now, the discharged soldiers who just started serving again would be the first ones to go. While they would still be given either 5 acres of farmland or 50 acres of pastures, they wouldn't be able to obtain dignitarian status as their terms weren't over. A riot would easily ensue.
Birkin, on the other hand, didn't really care about the 50 thousand men who were soon to be discharged. He said they could continue to serve even after that. Since Thundercrash and Monolith were both considered irregular corps, there would be no difference if the men served in the corps itself or as local garrison soldiers. The theatre could simply transfer the men discharged from the downsizing into the garrison. For instance, Port Vebator, Port Patres, Wickhamsburg and the other four citadels needed to be defended as well. There was also a need for a line of garrison troops to defend the soon-to-be-renovated Moknad.
Birkin believed that apart from Anfiston, where Saljorak had formed a garrison unit, Robisto, Balingana, Cromwell and Vebator didn't have the same. The four colonies were mainly defended by Thundercrash and Monolith. In a sense, the two corps' forces were distributed and they didn't have the ability to deliver a powerful counter blow when the time came to it.
With the royal capital now calling for a downsizing to save on military costs, the best thing to do would be to transfer the discharged soldiers to the local garrison forces. The two corps could simply leave them in charge of defending the four colonies' key locales. That way, they would be able to consolidate their forces and more effectively face the Shiksan threat.
It was indeed a rather good solution. The discharged soldiers would have somewhere to go without having to cause a fuss. It would definitely be quite a tempting offer to the older soldiers in their thirties. If a line of garrison troops was formed in each of the key locales Birkin brought up, it would be enough to accommodate 50 thousand men.
However, that came with another problem in itself. They would still have to pay the costs for the garrison units. However, the theatre couldn't afford to pay the cost for the firearms and ammunition those garrison troops would require. According to Skri's calculations, if they were to form fully staffed garrison units in those four colonies, they wouldn't be downsizing, but rather, expanding.
The four colonies needed nine lines of garrison troops in total. If those nine lines comprised veterans from Thundercrash and Monolith and the 10 thousand veterans to be discharged during the latter half of the year, 20 thousand new recruits would have to be enlisted into the two corps to make up for that number. Bolonik breathed a sigh of relief as the immigrant youths would have a wealth of opportunities to serve.
In the coming month, the theatre was busy with the downsizing. The generals had to properly consider which troops to send to which garrison unit and which officers would be transferred to manage them. Not only would they have to ensure the corps' might wouldn't be affected, they couldn't let the garrisons devolve into a disorganised mob either. Their plan was to have the garrison soldiers be reserve units for the two corps for future battles.
When the nine garrison lines were being formed in the 5th month, a piece of shocking news came from the royal capital. Everyone who heard it was absolutely floored.
On the 2nd month of Year 592, Prince Hansbach worked with the Alliance and Shiks' navies to lock down Aueras' Fearless fleet at the two port cities of former Sidins territory. That was something Fearless didn't expect at all and it was an absolute catastrophe. When Prince Hansbach mounted his rebellion, he sent his troops on land to Audin Mountain Range at once and ignored the coastal cities, causing Fearless to lower their guard. They didn't think the prince would end up targeting them.
Fearless ended up obliterated by the combined attack of the two foreign navies. Not a single small vessel was able to escape to send word of their defeat. What followed was the Freian rainy season throughout the third month. Usually, Fearless wouldn't set out sailing during that time and the seas around the kingdom were sealed off anyway, so the ministry of the navy didn't take note of it at all.
But after the rainy season, Prince Hansbach had Bluefeather and a standing corps ferried to the kingdom's eastern coast by Seaking and the Alliance's navy. On the 5th of the 4th month, the prince reached a shallow-water beach within a hundred kilometres of Ibnist Plains and deployed his two corps on the shore with small boats, locking down the entire stretch of coasts there.
The first prince's informants had also placed a few hundred large and sealed wooden boxes near the beach. When they saw the boats approach, they pushed the boxes into the sea and linked them together with chains. Soon, a few floating bridges could be seen stretching into the ocean. When they linked with the navies' transport vessels, the large-scale troop deployment began.
In the span of six days from the 5th to the 11th of the 4th month, Bluefeather and the other standing corps arrived on the shores almost without suffering any casualties. They only lost three light-infantry cannons and six soldiers throughout the process. Nobody was aware that Prince Hansbach had circled around Audin Mountain Range by the sea into the kingdom's heartland with his two corps.
On the 16th of the 4th month, Prince Hansbach had his troops split up as they entered Ibnist Plains. When they were less than two days away from the royal capital, the government was finally made aware of the impending attack. The city fell into uncontrollable chaos immediately.
Nobody could've imagined Prince Hansbach would mount that miraculous troop manoeuvre without any warning signs. The royal capital had sent nearly the whole royal guard corps to Audin Mountain Range to stop the first prince there. Less than a folk of royal guards remained and they weren't able to resist the two hostile corps at all.
Prince Wedrick, now known as Stellin XI, once more showed how adept he was at running. As the bigwigs in the royal capital were deliberating on whether they should retreat or defend, the new king had fled with his attendants and ten plus carriages' worth of treasures to the prefecture of Botarnia. That was where Reddragon, one of the main standing corps of Aueras, was stationed. His father-in-law, Lord Militant Siegfeld, was its corpsman. Only there would the second prince be safe.
On the 17th of the 4th month, Year 592, Bluefeather arrived at the royal capital. On the 18th, Prince Hansbach arrived at the royal capital. On the 21st, he entered the city and Bluefeather gleefully held a victory parade there.