28 February 2009
21 February 2009
19 February 2009
A small sample of government-supported militia units is shown. There are many strange and colourful uniforms, usually the more outrageous the design of the uniform is, the less likely it is that the government supports the unit. All belts are (generally) natural leather.
Officers, NCO's and musicians are habitually dressed in reversed colours, following early Austrian practice. Officers are not permitted to wear the gold and blue silk sashes used by the regular units, but must wear a yellow and green woollen sash. NCO's may be distinguished by button-coloured lace around their collars, but generally the reverse-coloured uniform is their only distinction. Mounted officers are supposed to use plain blue shabracques edged yellow, but the practice of using facing coloured shabracques with button-coloured edging is entrenched. Harnessing may be black, brown or buff leather.
Cavalry units wear similar uniforms, albeit with cavalry boots rather than infantry shoes, and plain coloured shabraques (usually grey or a shade of blue). Few number more than a troop, though the Dragons d'Cooma, who well remember the massacre at Beaver Ridge, muster a full regiment of three squadrons that regularly patrol the southern border with the Holy Kingdom. It is even rumoured that the troops may raid isolated farmsteads across that border, but no substantive evidence has been produced.
The militia units, in theory, carry a plain blue flag with a white, seven-pointed star in the centre. However variations based on the arms (granted or invented) of the unit's colonel or portraying the members' origins are also frequently seen.
Cheap black cloth with mid green facings, grey small clothes, yellow metal buttons and undecorated hat. Two companies.
Formed from loyal Arunta natives and loyalist Dutch, this unit was raised to garrison the Arakun after the uprising of 1733. Trained to fire their muskets, the troops usually prefer to fire one volley and then use their bayonets. Although the use of native troops and bayonets, which invariably produce fatal wounds, originally caused much consternation among the Malay, Dutch and Scots rebels and citizens alike, their disipline and ability to track and apprehend criminals has seen them become not just accepted, but welcomed in the Arakun settlements. The unit's Sergeant-Major, Wonneputchal, is the first native soldier to reach this rank.
Grey cloth with mid blue facings, grey small clothes, yellow metal buttons and undecorated hat. Five companies.
Raised in 1699 as prison guards for the penal colony at Port Verdigris (now Port McQuarie), the five companies are usually deployed as two half battalions, to combat raids by natives, or by companies in support of the Dragon d'Cooma on border patrols. The original members came from the survivors of the Freedom War of 1707, who volunteered to serve on the border after the Battle of Beaver Ridge. Based at Cooma (1st and 3rd companies), Thredbo (2nd company) and Yass (4th and 5th companies). Have seen service in the Eastern Marches and Marches Borders. The 5th company claim to have captured a flag from Holy Kingdom raiders at Begaville, but the flag displayed at the unit barracks bears no resemblance to known Holy Kingdom flag designs.
18 February 2009
Grey cloth with burnt orange facings, grey small clothes, white metal buttons and undecorated hat. Four companies.
Raised in 1721 by an English captain of the 67th Foot, who had taken retirement to the Eastern Marches while it was still a French colony and who had established a small settlement at the Port that now bears that name. This unit provides militia protection for the northern areas of the Eastern Marches. Companies are stationed at O'Connell, Linlithgow, Port McQuarie and the western districts of O'Donnell. Has seen service in the Eastern Marches, on the Marches Borders and was part of General McLaughlin's abortive plan to attack the Western Districts of the Holy Mormoan Kingdom, for which he was cashiered.
Red cloth with mid green facings, white turnbacks, yellow metal buttons, buff small clothes and undecorated hat. One company.
Mainly used as mine guards and a police force, this unit also saw service in the Arunta Uprising, where it was praised for the excellence of its drill and courage when the government encampment was attacked.
Dark green cloth with scarlet facings, yellow metal buttons, dark straw small clothes, yellow hat lace and red bow. Two companies.
One of the oldest militia units, formed from discharged members of the original Russian garrison, this unit proudly maintains its Russian traditions in dress, drill and the language in which orders are given. Officers are disinguished by their unique use of gorgets. Has seen service in the Dead Heart.
17 February 2009
Nova Wien Dragoons
14 February 2009
Artillery. The Republic's artillery arm consists mainly of 3lb Austrian pieces used as battalion guns. The republic also has two batteries of 6lb guns for field artillery and a battery of eight French 12lb guns, captured at Port McQuarie.
When the Republic first took independence, it had no artillery arm. Nor was it considered that one was needed. Most fighting was little more than skirmishes, small affairs that would hardly be mentioned in the reports of a European General. The other consideration was that the most likely enemies were also deficient in this arm. Indeed, the three small cannon captured by the Republic when they freed the Eastern Marches from French dominance were dismounted and the barrels used to make a tasteless (and rather confusing) monument to the Battle of Bulli, which is mounted against the east wall of the Garrison Yards in O'Donnell. The French 12lb guns captured at Port McQuarie were placed in depot at that place, where a lack of attention soon saw the carriages in a poor state.
However, failure to procure contracts in Europe, because the infantry lacked battalion guns, led to the purchase of 26 Austrian 3lb cannon in 1723. As well as the guns, a number of officers and artillerists were recruited from France and Austria. Two guns were assigned to each regiment and volunteers from the ranks were trained in their use. The remaining six guns were used to form a Battery of Support and Training, which is based at Rostov.
Experience in Europe led to the purchase of 14 Austrian 6lb cannon in 1733. These were used to form two batteries, each of six guns, with the remaining two guns assigned to the Battery of Support and Training. One battery is garrisoned at Darwin and the second is garrisoned at O'Connell. Neither battery has seen active service.
At the same time the carriages of the 12lb guns, stored at Port McQuarie, were repaired and the guns used to form a battery. This battery is deployed to defend the harbour at O'Donnell, with a section each properly emplaced on North Head and South Head. They have been used to fire upon an unidentified vessel of Chinese appearance, which turned away, and what is believed to be a frigate of either British or Holy Kingdom service, though both nations deny they have sent ships into Republic waters.
Attempts to forge cannon and howitzers have not proven successful. However, attempts will continue once a new master forger can be recruited. The practice of having the master forger test fire the newly cast pieces, to prove they are safe and may be used, is also under review.
The artillery uniform is a dark blue-grey with black facings, yellow buttons and dark straw small clothes. All belts and leather work are polished brown leather. Officers have gold laced hats and edging to their coat fronts and wear a gold and blue sash around the waist but inside the coat, NCO's are distinguished by gold lace around the collar. The guns are whitewashed wood with polished bronze barrels. Other metal work is painted a dull madder red. Battery drivers are dressed like the men. Their horse furniture is a plain blue shabracque and polished black leather tack.
Sappers: Commanded by infantry officers who have studied the principles of engineering, and who wear their regimental uniforms ("real" engineers being needed for the RNS mines) while attached to the sapper companies, the sappers are used for all the usual engineering duties. Different companies specialised in mining, sapping or constructing defences, but these troops are few and therefore expected to whatever duties are necessary. There are six companies of sappers, garrisoned at Rostov, Kunnanurra, The Springs, O'Connell, Port McQuarie and Tindal.
The sapper uniform is a undyed "black" wool with scarlet facings, yellow buttons and dark straw small clothes. Their head dress is a simple undyed woolen "beanie" and belts are natural leather. The cartridge boxes are worn on the left front, on the waist belt, and are undecorated black leather. Sappers are armed with infantry muskets, sabres and axes.
Trains. The trains, magazines, armouries and depots required by the army are still made up of contracted civilian personnel. While a military train and magazine corps was established (Army Train and Depot Battalion and Naval Chandlers Office) in 1739, claims by various business concerns that they could do the job more efficiently and for less cost led the then Minister of War, Peter Wreath, to disband the organisation and resume the use of a contractor for logistics support. Shortly after the decision was made the Minister resigned from Parliament and took up the position of the director of the company that won the contract.
In the 10 years this state of affairs has existed the contract costs have increased markedly. The contract now costs far more than the upkeep of the Army Train and Depot Battalion and Naval Chandlers Office ever did. Logistics support for the garrisons, regiments and the Navy is so poor that many regiments hire their own trains when away from garrison and when on campaign. Peter Wreath has been challenged to duels by irate officers several times over this matter. However the former Minister (and now very wealthy citizen) is prevented from defending his honour by chronic gout and dyspepsia, reportedly much to his dismay.
12 February 2009
08 February 2009
The troopers wear straw-coloured cloth breeches and white lace on their hats (regardless of button colour). The officers wear facing-coloured heavy cloth breeches, a gold and blue sash around the waist, but inside the coat, and metallic lace, matching the button colour, on their hats. NCO's have button-coloured metallic lace on their hats and around their cuffs.
All regiments' shabraques are made in the national colours of blue and golden yellow. Officers' shabraques have gold lace and a silver, seven-pointed star in the corners and on the pistol housings. Hussar officers have the star on their shabraques and sabretache, troopers' sabretaches being undecorated. All harnessing is black.
Musicians are in reversed colours, except where noted. Belts are whitened leather, edged in the facing colour for the 1st Regiment of Horse and in vermillion for the 2nd Regiment of Horse. The cavalry swords are based on the Austrian models for both the heavy cavalry and the hussars. Each trooper also carries a brace of pistols and musketoon (Regiments of Dragoons) or carbine (Regiment of Hussars).
The Parliamentary flags are deep blue with a gold, seven-pointed star in the centre. The fringing is in the button colour and the regiment's number is embroidered in the upper left canton in gold or silver thread, as appropriate. They are shown as the top flag on each cavalry plate.
The squadron flags have the field matching the regimental facings and the fringe and star matches the button colours. The exception is 1st Horse, whose squadron standards are white. The squadron flags are shown as the bottom flag of each cavalry plate.
The flag lances are in the regiment's facing colours.
White coat, sulphur yellow facings and lace, white shoulder strap, blackened cuirass (officers' with a gold parliamentary star at the top centre) with sulphur yellow trim, red leather cuirass straps (officers with gold plates), yellow metal buttons.
Raised on 15 March 1704, from horsemen recruited in Poland, Russia and the Baltic Provinces. Service in the Arakun, Kimberlies, the Dead Heart, Poland (in Russian pay) and van Demon's Land, where the regiment was sorely hurt by a volly fired by the 8th Regiment of Foot. Brigaded with the 3rd Dragoons. Garrisoned at O'Donnell and Yass (2nd Squadron).
White coat, black facings, lace and shoulder strap, blackened cuirass (officers' with a silver parliamentary star at the top centre) with white trim, black leather cuirass straps (officers with silver plates), white metal buttons. Musicians wear red coats with black facings and six white inverted chevrons on the sleeves.
Dark green coat, scarlet facings, light green shoulder strap, yellow metal buttons.
Raised on 26 January 1713 from the sons of well to do personages in Ekaterinsburg and apprpriate volunteer gentlemen from the German states, France and the United Kingdom. This is the regiment in which the socially-aware young officer wishes to serve. The colonels and senior officers of this regiment are only drawn from the best families of the republic. Despite this, the regiment also has a very good combat record. This regiment is the only unit garrisoned in the capital. The Regiment has seen service in the Eastern Marches, The Darwin Rebellions of 1723 and 1728, the Arakun, Duchy of van Demon's Land, western Germany (in French pay) and southern Germany (in Austrian pay). The Regiment is not brigaded. Garrisoned in Ekaterinsburg.
Dark blue coat, crimson facings, mid blue shoulder strap, white metal buttons. Officers wear white leather, not crimson cloth, breeches, have silver lace on their button holes and belts and wear silver aigulettes on the right shoulder.
Raised 24 December 1737 from former Austrian, Hannoverian and Wuerttemberg cavalrymen. Active service in the Eastern Marches (1st Squadron), Arunta Uprising and the Dead Heart. Brigaded with 1st Horse. Garrisoned at The Springs.
Black coat, mid blue facings and shoulder strap, yellow metal buttons. The colours are not taken from the plumage of any bird, but were made from the cheapest cloth that the original colonel of the regiment could buy. Attempts to change the colours of the uniform, to conform to the army's tradition of copying the plumage of birds, have been steadfastly rejected. The heat of their garrison location has lead to the regiment only wearing thier coats for parades and guard mounts. They usually wear just their small clothes and, at times, have been reported as riding in shirt sleeves, but the regiment denies this.
07 February 2009
Beech brown facings, yellow metal buttons and yellow hat lace.
Slate Grey facings, yellow metal buttons and yellow hat lace.
Maroon facings, yellow metal buttons and yellow hat lace.
Golden yellow facings, white metal buttons and white hat lace.
Scarlet facings, yellow metal buttons and yellow hat lace.
Dark Green facings, yellow metal buttons and yellow hat lace.
Black facings, yellow metal buttons and yellow hat lace.
Regiments consist of two field battalions and a Depot Company. Each battalion consists of four musketeer companies, each of two platoons of 120 soldiers. There are no grenadiers, grenadiers being considered "stuck up snobs in funny hats". Each battalion has two 3lb guns attached when on campaign.
The uniforms are simple and based loosely on Russian uniforms. All Infantry Regiments have a pale grey coat and dark rose small clothes, reflecting the national bird of RNS, the Galah. This bird invokes the usual irreverance that is a hallmark of this nation. There's also a deeper meaning, but only those who have read BRIG George Mansford's book The Mad Galahs will understand the reference. Regimental disinctions are shown in hat lace, the colours of the cuffs, collars and turnbacks and the button colour. The national colours, gold and blue, are shown on the cockade. Officers have gold lace and blue silk cockades, Other Ranks golden yellow and deep blue cotton ribbon.
Officers wear metallic lace on their hats, a gold and blue sash around the waist but inside the coat, and have gilt or silvered buttons. They also have metallic, "bastion" shaped lace around their button holes. NCO are distinguished by having metallic lace edging to their collars. Shabracques for mounted officers are deep blue with button coloured lace trim and the saddle and tack are in polished brown leather. Drummers, bagpipers (4th Regiment only) and fifers wear reversed coloured coats and white or yellow, depending on the button colour, piping to the facings. The drummers and fifers of the 8th Longhai Regiment of Foot wear light yellow coats with dark blue facings and slate grey piping to their facings. Drums are plain brass with white and facing-coloured diagonal stripes on the rims. Jäger hornists' coats are the same as the men, and are distinguished by white piping around facings and six 25mm white lace hoops, evenly spaced, encircling the sleeves.
Belts are whitened leather (buff for the Jaeger) and cartridge boxes black, with brass corners and decoration on the flap. The knapsack is natural kangaroo leather, with the fur left on. The muskets are copies of the Prussian 1723 model.
All Infantry Regiments carry one Parliamentary colour and one regimental colour in each battalion. The colours are 150cm square. The Parliamentary colours are deep blue with the national emblems displayed, always in gold and "natural" colours. The regimental colours have the field matching the regimental facings and embroidery matches the button colours. The Füß-Jäger Battalion does not carry colours. The pike staves are painted black and the finials are gilt or silvered, pierced with the stars of the Southern Cross. The cloth of the colours is wrapped around the staves and then nailed with gilt or silvered nails.
Parliamentary Colour used by all infantry regiments
As a consequence of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-1678) the Dutch were forced to cede one of their colonies to neutral power, as well as surrender parts of the Netherlands themselves. The unprofitable colony of New Holland was chosen and transferred to the Russian Empire, it being considered that the Russians would least threaten the United Provinces' power in the region. Although this was not what France nor the UK had intended, the matter was agreed and a Russian governor, Piotr Megorsky, and several shiploads of boyar families and serfs arrived at the beginning of 1679. The governor, seeing the sqalid port of Heymel as unsuitable and too prone to storms, moved south and set up residence at Katerina, which was renamed Ekaterinsburg.
However the heat and cost of running the unprofitable colony soon told and, in an attempt to curry favour with the northern German states and Denmark against Sweden (Russia's main rival in the Baltic), in 1685 Russia gifted the colony to the Duke of Oldenburg, who was also King of Denmark. Left behind when the Russian governor packed his bags were the serfs, many of whom had become defacto free settlers, and the 700 men of the 3rd Battalion, Permskiy Infantry Regiment, who had provided the colony with a vestige of a police and military force. Permskiy's uniforms set the tradition of the RNS infantry wearing Russian styles of uniform for the next century.
Denmark, already having trouble holding her overseas colonies, refused to have anything to do with the colony at the far ends of the earth. Equally, however, Denmark did not want to offend a potential ally against Sweden, especially after the disastrous Scanian War. So the colony was held only under the title of the Duke of Oldenburg and Danish citizens were forbidden to settle there. German and Austrian citizens were encouraged to settle with free land grants (often land claimed by the original Dutch settlers) on offer. The ties with the small states of Germany were born when the first German and Austrian colonists arrived in 1687.
Meanwhile, the rich fishing grounds and pearl beds had attracted large numbers of fishermen from the Spice Islands, Sultanates of Malaya and southern China. Heymel had not developed as a major port, but supported a sizeable population of fishermen and pearlers. They had been discouraged at first by the strict Dutch rule, but swarmed in with the more welcoming (and lower taxing) Russian administration. With them came merchants and mercenaries/body guards from India. Heymel was an interesting place to live (and be murdered, if you were not careful) during this time.
By 1689 the Oldenburg administration had managed to tame Heymel. But in the taming the profits which had been appearing again disappeared. Once again Neues Südland, as the land was now known, was a burden on its colonial masters. In order to ease the financial pain, a new infantry regiment was raised and offered for service with the Dutch, in the War of the Grand Alliance. The offer was accepted and the colony showed the first, and last, profit for the Duke of Oldenburg. The regiment, with recruits drawn from all the peoples of the colony, including the native Boori population, proved to be good fighters but hoplessly ill disciplined in quarters. So the two year contract was not renewed. In desperation the colony once again changed hands- gifted to the new King of England, William III, on his coronation in 1689.
William, fully ware of the limitations of the colony, nevertheless accepted the gift graciously- he saw an opportunity to dilute the flow of Jacobite sympathisers to the North American colonies. He encouraged the English and Scots to send their sons to the colony and also decided that troublesome Irish and Scots families, particularly supporters of the deposed Stuart dynasty, should be exiled there. Each family who agreed to passage was gifted 50 acres of land near Ekaterinsburg, while those who objected were sent as indentured servants.
By 1698 Europe was watching a new crisis develop. Charles II of Spain was without heir and it seemed he would bequeath his throne to Philip of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV of France. Europe was faced with the possibility of France and Spain being united under the Bourbons. As part of a deal to persuade Philip not to take the throne, Neues Sudland (as it was now spelled) was offered as an alternative (along with several other less than profitable colonies). The deal failed but it did spark a deep unrest among the population, who were sick of the way they were traded among the great powers. When the English garrison was withdrawn to take part in the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1702, the colony revolted and declared itself independent. The UK, being otherwise involved and seeing no value in the colony, agreed on the proviso that the new republic would continue to accept transported families from Ireland and Scotland. The colony agreed and the Treaty of Excorporation was signed on 24 December, 1702.
In 1707 the mainly Irish and Scots peopled Eastern Marches joined Neues Sudland, having themselves used France's preoccupation with continental affairs to declare independence.
In 1708 David Kimberley, the 3rd son of a British jewellry merchant who had established an enormous cattle station (by European standards- the station was larger than Britain) 600 miles to the SW of Ekaterinsburg, found diamonds on his property. The influx of diamond prospectors found more deposits, but more importantly large mineral reserves were found. In 1710 gold deposits were also found at O'Connell in the Eastern Marches. European interests in the new nation increased significantly. Realising their isolation would not protect them by itself, the republic used their newly bulging treasury to dramatically increase the size of the armed forces. By 1715, recruiting parties were busy across Europe, promising veterans of the recent war land grants, wives (should they want one) and free passage to the republic, should they join the forces for 10 years service. Ladies of negotiable affection and war widows were also lured with promises of land and a husband, on the proviso they remain with that husband until his service expired. The many fishermen and pearlers living in the area of Darwin (formerly Heymel, but renamed after the first Anglican bishop appointed to the colony), were recruited as members of the new navy, as were the crews of visiting vesels.
By the time the great nations of Europe had recovered from their war, and were preparing for the next, the trouble of conquering the republic was thought to be greater than any gain that may be expected. The republic, in the meantime, had realised that the cost of keeping their troops trained and ready was more expensive than they had realised. The idea of renting their troops out would defray the costs of maintaining them and keep them battle tested. More importantly, it would also establish good relations with many nations, which the republic hoped would lead to allies, should any nation have plans of conquest.
Originally this area was settled by the French, who established several whaling and fishing ports on the coast. Tales of large tracts of reasonable farming land were brought home and some 100 French families had moved to the new land by 1661. Louis XIV then offered his "Wild Geese", the Scots and Irish followers of James Stuart, the opportunity to settle there. His plan had the merits of decreasing the amount of intrigue in play around his court and also removed a possible source of recruits from his rival Spanish and Austrian crowns. In 1691 the first colonists landed, led by one Terence Patrick O'Gabhain, a former captain in the Dillon Infantry. A sizeable contingent of French, mainly from Gascony and Burgundy, accompanied the Wild Geese on their migration.
The new colonists found the land to be both more fertile, but also more forbidding, than they had anticipated. For the Irish the large numbers of deadly snakes and spiders were especially daunting, but the area to the west of the mountains provided perfect land for growing wheat, barley and other cereals. The well watered coastal regions offered good land for dairy cattle and vegetable crops, such as potatoes and beet. In 1700 a Spanish ensign, John McArthur, was injured in a duel and forced to resign his commision. His family having managed crofters and shepherds, he brought some merino sheep with him from Spain and started wool production. The climate proved to be very suitable for such an enterprise and McArthur was soon joined by others.
The War of the Spanish Succession had an immediate impact on the colony. As the French treasury was being depleted by the war in Europe, taxes were being increased every time a new ship arrived from France. With no French troops to protect them, bar two companies of French militia guarding a penal colony at Port McQuarie ("The Devils Garden"), the settlers also had to deal with attacks from natives and raids by British and Dutch ships.
The settlers became restless. Very highly taxed, but with no benefits offered by France, dissatisfaction was growing.
In 1704 rumours started that the colony was to be transferred to the British crown as part of the war settlement. News of the successes of Eugene and Marlborough had reached the colony, so the rumours were believed. Two wealthy gentlemen from the RNS, Geoff Whitlam and Johannes Pietersen, started the rumours and then urged the colony to throw off the French crown and join the republic. In February 1705 the leading families asked the Governor for a reduction in taxes, hinting that refusal would see widespread unrest. The governor responded by bringing in four companies of troops, from French colonies in the Americas. The troops landed in December of 1706 and promptly arrested Whitlam, Pietersen and the men of the leading families around the capital, Roisoliel.
This sparked a general uprising. The colonists attacked the barracks and prison, freeing the men and causing some casualties to the troops. The governor was able to send a mesage to the penal colony at Port McQuarie, recalling the two companies of French militia based there as prison guards. The colonists withdrew when they landed.
Considering the uprising to have been broken, if not crushed, the governor gathered his six companies and planned his next moves. The hot summer months were considered to be inappropriate for European troops to conduct marches, so the governor paid the local tribes to raid the properties of those he considered to be the ringleaders. In doing so he inadvertently sent the natives against men who had been undecided about joining the rebellion. One of these, Murray O'Donnell, was an experienced senior officer, having served with both France and Austria. He promptly offered his services to the rebels and was accepted as their leader. Meanwhile Whitlam had sent messages to the RNS, asking for assistance.
The 4th (now McLeod) Regiment of Foot was sent to the colonists' aid in two ships, each carrying one battalion. One ship, the Khota Maru, struck the huge reef on the NE coast of the continent, half the troops being lost in the wreck. The rest made it ashore and began the long trek south, having running battles with both the natives and the forces of the Holy Kingdom, who objected to their passing through their lands. Short of weapons and ammunition, the troops were forced to surrender and were imprisoned, sparking yet more diplomatic turmoil between the the two nations.
The other ship, the Conchin, disembarked at Thirroul, south of Roisoliel, on 25th April, 1707. The battalion was met by O'Donnell and quickly marched north. On the march native scouts reported that the French troops, with a large body of unfriendly natives, were approaching. O'Donnell set up an ambush and the native scouts were able to dispatch their opposite numbers. Unwittingly the governor, the Marquis de la Perouse, marched into the ambush with five companies of troops and his two pieces of artillery. The RNS battalion, drawn up in the bush on the west of the road, stood up, advanced five paces and fired a devastating volley into the French column.
Losing 60 percent of their men, their CO and the governor, the French troops broke. The natives turned to attack but, immediately seeing the reality of the situation, all sat down and turned their backs to the carnage, signifying their having ceased hostilities. The French survivors were chased back to the capital, where an immediate assault of the governor's compound captured the remaining company of troops.
The ambush was grandly titled the Battle of Bulli.
On 01 July 1707 the Eastern Marches declared their independence from France and on 14 July 1707 the Treaty of Union with the RNS was signed.
The many colonists of French and Basque blood, who had settled in the cooler southern highlands of the colony, at first ignored the move to independence. But tensions rose with the first attempt by France to reconquer the Eastern Marches and, in 1712, the French population decided to attempt to break with the RNS and re-establish their area as part of France. A sharp skirmish, involving a battalion of the 5th (Robertson) Regiment of Foot and two squadrons of the 4th Dragoons, decided the colonists to strike south, though honours were even between the two forces. The colonists were hopeful that they could seize the nearly empty coastal area between Port Eden and Lakes Entrance. The savage reaction to their incursion by the Holy Mormoan Kingdom was unexpected and few survivors made the return to the Eastern Marches. They were more surprised to be welcomed back, cared for and given new land grants, not realising the RNS government was using their plight in an attempt to divert King Louis' attention towards the Holy Kingdom.
France had at first refused to recognise her colony's independence. Three attempts to bring their colony back under the crown were made in 1710, 1713 and 1717. The first two fleets had the misfortune to try to run the northern coast of New Holland in the month of December, with the result that the majority of the ships were sunk in storms. The survivors who reached the RNS were given simple choices- the officers could remain as colonists or return to France. The troops could join the RNS forces and receive land grants or be sent to work in the Kimberly mines. Nothing is recorded of the fate of those who landed in the unoccupied territories, though an officer who made his way to Java reported that the natives were both fierce and cannibals.
The 3rd fleet, bearing six battalions of infantry and eight guns, landed at Port McQuarie on 01 June 1717. At first the fleet seemed to have totally surprised the RNS with their appearance. They suffered no opposition as they sailed into port and could see the citizens of the town fleeing to the hills beyond the port. But as the troops were assembling on the docks after disembarking, they were raked by cannister from four guns hidden in warehouses near the docks. At the same time three battalions, two from the 3rd (now Townsville) and one from the 5th (Robertson) Regiments of Foot, opened fire from the streets and warehouses. The French, weapons not yet loaded, tired from a long sea voyage and having taken many casualties, laid down their arms. The usual terms were given and a special clause, deleting any reference to the 3rd Regiment being present (the French were shocked and ashamed to see that the majority of the troops who fired on them were female), was agreed to.
At this disaster the French crown admitted defeat, acknowledging that retaining the colony was beyond its current means. But the provisions that the RNS supply troops to support settler parties when required (at the usual rate of hiring those troops), the penal colony at Port McQuarie remain in operation until 1750 and that French settlers and troops be allowed to pass through the Eastern Marches to settle other areas, were demanded.
The RNS reluctantly agreed, albeit with the proviso that French troop numbers be limited to one regiment of infantry at any one time, and the Treaty of La Perouse was signed on 26 January 1718. The capital of the Eastern Marches was renamed O'Donnell, honouring the victor of Bulli.
Current Political Situation
The People's Party currently holds power. The President of the Parliament is Kelvin Rapp, of whom it is said "that when KRapp speaks, that's what you hear!". As usual, the Party's "Let's have a spend up!" philosophy has put severe strain on the nation's coffers, so agents of the government have been sent to Europe in order to look for employment opportunities for the regiments. There are also rumours of tax increases.
Currently the mining companies and banking houses have the greatest access to the government's ministers, as they did under the former Conservative government. However it is understood that they have dropped their call to have slavery reinstated, in order to reduce operating costs and make their products competetive overseas, though at least one banking house is demanding that debtors be placed in indentured servitude.
The major religions are again pushing to have influence on the government and are seeking to overturn the "Missionary Laws", which allow citizens who are disturbed by missionaries/clergy/evangelists knocking on their doors to beat the offender 15 times with a rattan cane. They are also seeking to have their churches exempted from taxation (currently set at the business rate) and the right to build places of worship outside the designated religious enclaves (known as the "Miracle Miles" by the citizens). With the population apathetic to these moves and the politicians not wishing to allow religion more power than it has, these moves are unlikely to succeed.
Over all the population is cynical about politics. At the last election Gerald Dixon, a notorious bushranger and highwayman, was elected by popular vote in the Rostov electorate. He refused this "honour", saying he may be a thief and scoundrel, but he was not a politician. The government promptly doubled the reward for his capture.
The people themselves, being great fans of a cold beverage on hot days, like to believe that the name of their nation actually means "New Beer Land", so therefore believe that drinking beer is a patriotic duty. The RNS is a secular nation with no state religion. In fact, the RNS contains the largest proportion of agnostics and atheists in the civilised world- much to the horror of that civilised world.
The main income for the treasury comes from two sources- renting regiments out to other nations and from the metals gained from the many mines in the nation. The government is not adverse to renting units to both sides of a war and, in the past, regiments have fought against each other under foreign masters. Unfortunately this has led to some deeply entrenched rivalries and certain regiments cannot be garrisoned in the same area, for fear of brawling or even outright combat.
In particular the 1st Horse and 3rd Dragoons have to be separated by the width of the continent. So deep is their hatred of each other (since the 1st chased the 3rd off the field of Blasthoffen- and thereafter dubbed the 3rd Dragoons "The Sprinters") that over the past 15 years more men from these regiments have been killed in duels than have died in battle. Similarly, when the Longhai Regiment of Foot found the 2nd Regiment of Horse crossing their front during the action at Launceston, they took the opportunity to exact revenge for a previous occasion, during a war when the regiments were in the employ of the opposing Princelings, when the cavalry had charged them, causing no small number of casualties and capturing the regiment's Parliamentary Colour. The volley they fired was very effective, emptying most of the saddles of the two nearest squadrons. It was unfortunate that, at the time, the regiments were both in the employ of the Grand Duchy of Van Demon's Land. That fine, but inappropriate, volley saw the Duchy defeated and forced to join the Holy Kingdom of New Wales.
There is no bar to anyone of any ethnic background serving in the republic's army. Indeed, if a regiment has been hired for service then anyone, of any nationality, is likely to be "persuaded" to join the colours. The bar on wearing traditional items of clothing or facial hair, such as Sikh turbans or beards, has restricted the availability of some recruits. Citizens of European background are preferred for the cavalry and artillery while natives and those of Pathan, Turkish or Afghan extraction are most often found in the infantry. Despite the relaxed relations between the races in the republic, the majority of recruits are still of Irish, Scots or Germanic extraction, lured by the promise of land at the end of their service.
The RNS is unusual in that one infantry regiment, the 3rd "Townsville" Regiment of Foot, is composed entirely of female soldiers. All the officers, of course, are male and service in this regiment is very sought after, despite it offering little social advantage to the ambitious officer. The regiment has gained a notorious reputation in battle, generally offering no quarter to captured enemies and being particularly tenacious when defending their ground.
Officers are usually chosen on the basis of political favouritism or by buying a commission. As membership of certain regiments allows entry into the highest social circles, commissions are sought after and traded like any other commodity. The only prerequisite is that the officers are fluent in at least German and English, that they are literate and that they have sufficient income to pay their mess bills. Once commissioned, the ambitious officer must serve a minimum of three years in that rank before purchasing the next higher rank. Once at the rank of Major, promotion can only be attained by passing examinations and being recommended by the Council of Generals, which consists of all retired general officers who may still be considered to be of sound mind.
Although RNS will hire to any nation, they still maintain a certain sympathy for the nations of southern and western Germany, from where many of the leading families have come. There is also a deep affection for serving with the United Kingdom, as many young English gentlemen find commissions to be both cheaper to purchase than in His Britannic Majesty's army, and service far more profitable.
After 10 years service an officer is granted a "selection", of 25 to 150 acres (depending on rank), on which they may build a house and farm. Any troops that survive 25 years service may also apply for a 10 acre land grant, should they have honourably served the army.
Any man or woman who captures a colour (not an RNS colour, should two regiments meet in battle) or general officer is granted 50 acres of prime land in the Eastern Marches.
Domestically the RNS is often involved in skirmishes with neighbouring territories. The RNS' refusal to recognise any sovereignty over the continent, other than their own, is a constant source of conflict.