1215 RE-- The Siege of the Hulder
Date: Autumn and Winter 1215
Belligerents: The Imperial Army of Verdien and volunteers vs. the army of Eastern Trempa and schismatic Redwood Throne clergy
Imperial Commanders: Dame Renate Haas of the Knights of the Tower, Sir Erik Zimmermann of the Knights of the Throne
Eastern Trempan Commanders: Sir Henning Arrau, Sir Klaus Argerich, Father Gerhard of Kelkheim
Strength: Verdien forces: In the field, 100 mounted knights, 800 heavy footmen, 400 light footmen (crossbowmen)
in the Hulder: 120 knights, 950 footmen, 1200 volunteers and conscripts
Eastern Trempan forces: In the field, 100 mounted knights (as many as 15 armed with human-bane weapons), 1000 footmen, 300 irregulars
besieging the Hulder: 200 knights, 1300 footmen, 1800 conscripts, 30 Church wizards, 5 Exarchs of the Throne
Casualties: Verdien forces: 42 knights, 250 heavy footmen, 200 light footmen
in the Hulder: 25 knights, 190 footmen, 100 volunteers
Eastern Trempan forces: 19 knights, 400 footmen, unclear number of conscripts
besieging the Hulder: 10 knights, 350 footmen, 600 conscripts
The ecclesiastical and secular schism in Eastern Trempa has already cost over a thousand lives, and shows no sign of drawing to a close. Eastern Trempa is engaged on two fronts, with support from their one-time foe, the High Steward of Trayal. In the northern part of the Duchy, the Imperial Army presses southward from Brezha, penetrating as far as Siekurt's Hill. Though victorious at Siekurt's Hill, the Imperial Army proved unable to secure that territory, as a vanguard from Trayal bearing weapons of dreadful power scattered them. It nearly became a rout and slaughter, but the sudden arrival of noted warriors from Marath Suvla gave the Emperor's forces heart once more, and they fell back in good order.
Trayal and Eastern Trempa have long been two of the most populous and prosperous of the Principalities of Verdien, especially following the loss of life and property in the recent Kelkheim Rising, in Brezha. The Emperor continues to enforce the peace and rebuilding of Kelkheim, and with so many of the Brezhan nobility under arrest or slain, the rebels pose a greater threat than history would suggest.
In the south, at the walls of the Free City of the Hulder, a force of knights, footmen, and engineers has laid siege to the city. At the same time, an unknown force has blockaded the harbor, destroying any ship that attempts to enter, though ships have been allowed to leave. The siege has lasted six months and more, though it is believed that food stores are still holding. The besieging force has itself been beset with problems, as irregular forces have practiced hit-and-run and harassing tactics intermittently throughout the summer and fall, including the capture of a considerable number of knights and footmen.
Faced with increasing pressure from these irregular forces, Sir Klaus Argerich attempted a direct assault on the Free City. Few knights or tacticians would have recommended such an effort: having sustained the siege to the beginning of winter and with no relief in sight, he had every prospect of starving out the defenders. Nevertheless, he believed that he had sufficiently weakened the defenders and the city's walls with catapult barrages that the risk was worth taking. In particular, the On the tenth day of December, he ordered a full assault.
The city's defenders, a small number of knights and footmen backed by a strong force of volunteers, presented a defense at the city's outermost curtain wall, but Dame Renate Haas ordered them to fall back shortly after initial contact, well in advance of serious casualties. This permitted a large number of footmen and conscripts onto the walls. The thick walls of the Free City are honeycombed with passages, both obvious and secret. Pursuing the defenders into these passages cost the attackers dearly. Dame Renate had snares and stratagems aplenty, including withering arrow-fire from concealed crossbows, collapsing walls, and crippling toxic gases.
Only in hindsight does it seem that she may have played her hand too early; the rebellious forces did take severe casualties. Even so, they had overwhelming numbers to bring to bear, and gradually forced the Hulder's defenders out of their hiding-places. In the process, the attackers suffered such losses that it seemed the passages might be bricked up with the dead and dying. Of the defenders, many escaped to the inner wall, but others were slain or captured in considerable numbers. Yet having claimed the outer wall, it is hard to see how Commander Argerich might press the advantage; the bulk of his force is now in tatters, and his force will not readily join a new assault against another fortification full of traps and hidden death. The heedless carnage of the day draws this historian's mind to nothing so much as the sack of Arad-Targa in the Regnal Era year 1170.
For now, the fighting in the north is given pause by the coming of winter. In the south, the Free City has repulsed an assault, albeit at a steep cost.