On the Conquest of Patagonia

Queen Isabella of Spain has long been a dangerous enemy. Her forces are strong, her will indomitable. Among the wilds of Patagonia, I thought, she would prove to be a formidable ally.

Patagonia is an interesting land. Legend has it that the Dread Pirate Roberts retired there and raises sheep among its hills to this day, and I can see the appeal. The land is rugged. The rocky coasts give way to expansive forests in the lowlands, and inland there are rugged hills and lakes in the high country.

My colony was along the coast, among the forests. Isabella’s colony was further inland, just to the southwest of a highland lake. Somewhere to the north lay the colonies of our two foes — Maurice of Nassau and Frederick the Great. Maurice may style himself a banker and a gentleman, but he is also a great military strategist. Frederick’s military renown precedes him; there is no need to recount his exploits on the field of battle.

I settled upon my strategy. I would scout the coasts of the highland lake, then find a break in the coastal forests to the Atlantic shore. Once I had located a suitable break in the forests, I would build two long walls, running in parallel through the break from ocean to lake, thus separating my colony from my enemies to the north.

The highland lake was small, and as I had walled off the eastern approaches to the lake, our enemies’ armies would be able to skirt the western shore of the lake, descend from the highlands, and attack Isabella’s colony directly. Would Isabella be able to withstand the possibility of two armies — Maurice’s and Frederick’s — attacking her colony?

I concentrated on gathering resources — food, wood, coin I also built a second group of walls, this one running south from the lake, between my colony and Isabella’s, with frontier outposts along the native trade route, as a way of choking off a possible attack from our enemies if they had been able to either maneuver around or through Isabella’s colony.

I did not, however, pay much note to Isabella’s state. Thus, when she sent an appeal for help — her colony was under attack by a combined army of Frederick and Maurice — I was in little state myself to come to her aid; while I had built a barracks to train musketeers, I had concentrated on my economic needs, not my military needs on the theory that a strong economy can drive a strong military.

Isabella was able to keep her foes at bay, and I quickly trained musketeers and dispatched them to her colony. My forces arrived on time; they defeated Frederick’s cavalry and prevented Isabella’s town center from being burned to the ground. But much of her colony had been razed.

A small army of musketeers and grenadiers attacked a fort Maurice was building along the western shore of the highland lake. I realized that with Isabella weakened, I would have to take the lead not only in attacking our foes but in protecting Isabella’s colony until she could rebuild.

Thus, I built a fort within the ruins of her colony, a barracks, and an artillery foundary. I then built a wall from the western shore of the lake to a cliff to the northwest of Isabella’s colony, to further choke off the passage around the lake, and I built an outpost on the cliff’s edge to guard against incurssions by Frederick and Maurice.

Using my fort as an advance base, I built a large army of musketeers, grenadiers, and hussars. I also had a detachment of Scottish Highlanders sent from the mother country. In scouting the lake earlier, I knew that Frederick’s colony was to the north-northwest of the lake, and my intention was to overwhelm Frederick’s colony and burn it to the ground, seize the trade route to his north, then regroup my forces and march eastward into Maurice’s colony. Such a strategy could have led to disaster, however; it would be possible, given the way the colonies were arranged, that my army could be caught between Frederick’s forces and an army of Maurice’s, sent in relief of a beleagured ally. To minimize this risk, I landed several musketeers on the northeastern shore of the lake and sent them to attack the southern outskirts of Maurice’s colony as my main army, striking out from Isabella’s colony, reached Frederick’s colony. These brave musketeers, I knew, would have little chance to destroy much of Maurice’s colony; they were there to draw off Maurice’s forces, and I expected none to survive. Indeed, they did not; Maurice brought out falconets and mowed down my line of musketeers, and he used his cavalry to run down the rest. But this suicide mission, for such it was, served its purpose; I brought down Frederick’s colony with ease as he put up little resistance to my overwhelming army.

Maurice, rather than attack my main army, as it regrouped in the scorched ruins that had been Frederick’s colony, turned his own attentions to the walls I had built to the south of his colony, cutting it off from my own. He sent an army of pikemen and falconets to bring down the walls, and I sent a detachment of Highlands and hussars to combat their attack. A galleon on the lake shelled Maurice’s cannon, and the hussars finished off his pikemen, and though Maurice’s force had succeeded in breaking through the walls, they were unable to capitalize on this victory; the walls were rebuilt, gates were constructed, and I planned out my final assault on Maurice’s colony.

I would use a two-pronged attack. A native trade route ran to the north of Maurice’s colony. I would train more forces at the fort and barracks in Isabella’s colony — which, by this time, was rebuilt, but largely along economic, rather than military lines &mdsah; and send them north to meet with the regrouped army in Frederick’s ruins. This force would move east, capture the native trading post to the northwest of Maurice’s colony, and then turn south, to attack the colony from the north. Then, coming from my own colony, would be an army of musketeers, grenadiers, Swiss pikemen, Highlander mercenaries, and falconets to attack Maurice from the south. This would ensnare Maurice in a vice grip, and victory would be mine.

The actual assault on Maurice’s colony was a swift affair. To my surprise, Maurice refused to offer his surrender. His ally Frederick had been quick to concede defeat under similar circumstances; in that case, once his town center fell and his farms were burning, Frederick saw little profit in prolonging his agony. Maurice, conversely, suffered his defeats in silence. Building after building fell. Barracks. Banks. Churches. Homes. Only when he had no army left in the field and fewer than five buildings still standing did Maurice admit, grudgingly, “You have beaten me, and I wish to offer my surrender.” At that point, there was nothing left to surrender. Nothing worthwhile, that is.

From the Atlantic coast to the rocky plains and highlands, Patagonia was mine.

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