"The Northern Army is a confederation of individuals and households that hold an affinity for each other and a desire to rally under the household banner of the Northern Army. By belonging to the Northern Army, it is understood that you hold as sacred the dedication to training the troops, regardless of affiliation within the kingdom of the East, but especially within the Northern and Central Regions."
The NA began in 1981 when Master Feral von Halstern, Sir Arnwulf, and Master Tearlach, nonchivalry at this point, discussed putting together an army unit to help the new King Siegfried win the first Pennsic for the East. Until that time the East had lost every Pennsic War save Pennsic 8, which was a draw. This unit was to be pulled together and built outside of the traditional command of the Knights and Dukes of the East. It was to be predicated on sound melee tactics and training that would continue despite whoever was Warlord or sat the Throne. The first “units” to join together, to form the first NA division, were Mountain Freehold, BBM, and Bridge. These areas fielded 40 troops out of a total army of approximately 500.
Since Feral’s degree was in Modern European History, he leaned heavily on the combined arms and tactics he had studied as a student of Heinz Guderian and Liddell Hart. The idea of the triad was taught by Siegfried and combined three men, two shields and a glaive, into one killing machine. Feral then added spears into the mix between each triad to support them with more range. This it combination of mixed weapons and speed were melded together to form the basis of a Medieval-style blitzkrieg which has become a hallmark of main stream NA units to this day. With the utilization of Combat Archery in melee, as well as a later adaptation, Siege, Feral then used them as aircraft and heavy artillery is used, to support infantry. Siege engines were used to soften fixed positions. By Pennsic 11 the NA was about 60 strong with a mix in of Malagentians that had broken off from other units. The division was cut into four primary groups, each with a commander, usually the local knight marshal and under him the household leaders as households were still a huge part of this grassroots army.
Throughout the length of the Northern Army's history on and off the field, there have been particular wars that have arguably contributed to its progression within the society:
At Pennsic 12 Vissevald was King and he placed the entire North (the New England states and upstate New York) under the control of one man for the first time. These plus the adopting of several new units like the Norselanders (15 to 20 fighters) allowed the NA to climb to 135 fighters with Master Feral von Halstern as overall Northern Commander. Arnwulf and Tearlach were his main subordinates, as well as moving Malachi, who had come in with the Malagentians, and Gunnar into command roles as well. All this was under the Warlord Morgan Elandris. At this time Feral was first made a member of the Eastern War College.
This was our first war as a real army with numbers over a hundred. We had a good weapons mix, glaives were still the main killer weapons, but spears were becoming deadly (ash shafts, two-inch tips). A regional ROTC hanger practices at UConn became the training ground for triads and line sergeants. The army was rapidly building on the foundation already laid. Aluminum kites were become standard for our entire shield wall.
Pennsic 13 saw Hasdrubal War King for the second time. He chose to be his own Warlord, but worked with a small but veteran War College. Ronald Wilmot was King of the West. He was an Eastern Ally and quickly became friends with Master Feral von Halstern, who had been made a Master-of-Arms at the previous Twelfth Night. NA tactics in the Woods Battle startled the Midrealm when we took large units off the roads and ran past static defensive positions only to envelope them from both sides. Crown Prince Hanno led the western marches (AEthelmearc) up the roads to provide the anvil for our hammers.
Pennsic 14 saw Morguhn Sheridan on the Throne, and Duke Hasdrubal was Warlord. By then the NA was the largest standing army in the East (and still is) and for the first time Feral was put in charge of planning the field battle. By this war Randal of the Dark was now a fighting Peer as well as Feral, the only ones from the NA to that date. Despite its size and because of its egalitarian attitudes and lack of big names, the NA was still not looked on as an elite combat unit by the rest of the East and Knowne World. But that would change.
The modern age of the Northern Army would begin at Pennsic 15. With Ronald on the Throne, Feral was appointed Warlord for the first time. He ran the war in a full blitzkrieg style, handily defeating the Middle with Atlantia as their ally. As a unit the NA began to set a high bar in command and control, maneuver, weapons mix, and tactics. At this war the three-division format was adapted from the Panzer corps of the German army. With steady growth from numbers to about 150, the army continued to expand. This early command structure did not stay as the format. It was seen that a modification of the command structure was needed as our numbers continued to grow and the north saw more of its leaders on the Throne or as Warlord. . With all the pieces finally falling into place, the NA had its respect and Feral, even though just a Master-of-Arms, garnered enough respect to command Kingdoms in all battles with the surety of trust that comes from success and victory.
At Pennsic 16 the Midrealm Queen was dying of cancer and Randal was King, Master Feral von Halstern was his Warlord. They had the Crimson Company from the Outlands and the Tuchux as our sole allies, Yet the East only lost by one point. Morgan Elandris, even though she was living in Atlantia, as well as Michael of Bedford, came over too. That year the Northern Army was much bigger, mostly because of the efforts Randal and Master Feral von Halstern put into getting fighters to go to the war. It was not unusual during the late spring and summer for them to hit an event on Saturday and a different baronial or shire fighting practice that Sunday, doing qualification bouts wherever they went.
Feral was still Earl Marshal at the time, and Randal insisted that Sir Raimund of the Straits fill-in for him at the War (Raimund was a former Earl Marshal from House Elandris). Edward Beerslayer commanded the Unbelted Team, which won, and Duke Vissevald commanded the Northern Army. That war the NA had two corps each of two fifty-man divisions. This gave them tremendous tactical flexibility, which was used to great effect in the Woods and in the Field Battle. The East won the Woods, lost the Field.
Pennsic 17 saw Gavin as King and Randal as Crown Prince, with Lucan had being made a Master. At this war Master Feral von Halstern was frozen out of the War College by Gavin even though he was still Earl Marshal. The East had a fairly substantial army from Trimaris as our main ally. We had major command and control issues when one of our divisions was pulled out for the field battle without Feral being consulted (He was back in command of the Northern Army). Third Division was comprised of the Weresheep and Malagentia, commanded by Malachi and Master Bjorn Karlsson (whose main job was to keep other Chivalry from interfering with Malachi since a mere squire obviously could not command a 50-man unit). Once more Third Division was pulled out of our NA command, during the beginning of the Woods Battle. Orders where then issued that anything that did not come from Randal or Feral was to be ignored. The NA was making itself it’s entity with its own commanders. The NA rallied and the East won the Woods Battle. This was also the year when we first camped on top of the hill (which is common now).
Pennsic 17 was the last time that the Northern Army was separated in any of the wars other than by plan. Our command structure, when invoked, garnered wins, when ignored, saw losses. We lost a War which was hard, as we were still badly outnumbered, but winnable had sound military strategy been used.
Pennsic 18 saw Morguhn Sheridan on the Throne for his second war, with Duke Vissevald as his Warlord. Master Feral von Halstern returned from his sojourn in Newfoundland to resume command of the NA. He was immediately put in charge of the Unbelted Team by Vissevald. With Atlantia and the Tuchux as our main allies, the East triumphed, winning several champions battles as well as the mass battles. The Field Battle saw an excellent display of deceptive movement and aggressive envelopment as the Tuchux and Northern Army destroyed both Calontir and the Midrealm reserves almost at once. AEthelmearc pushed back the Midrealm left flank while House von Halstern covered the NA when they wheeled around the back of the Midrealm center to take their right flank, valiantly held at bay by Atlantia, from behind.
Pennsic 19 saw Ronald and Bronwyn back on the Throne and Master Feral von Halstern as their Warlord. The Midrealm fielded an army of 800 to the East’s 650, making this a potentially one-sided war. The East took the Field Battle when the Midrealm and allied commanders held back their reserves of 200 troops in an “iron chicklet.” Which consisted of the Midrealm trapping most of there strong reserves a one very mobile unit, the Tuchux all surrounded by a hard infantry square formed by the Kingdom of Calontir. Feral rolled the dice and committed his entire army at the lay on while holding no reserves. The Midrealm light infantry units were ground up quickly, Atlantia held their heavy units at bay long enough for them to be ground up. Calontir, along with Ansteorra and the Tuchux, were surrounded and destroyed before they could deploy and enter the battle. Overconfident, the East and its few allies entered the Woods to plant their banner. A misunderstanding on the part of the marshals forced the Eastern Banner Guard to relocate in a far less-defensible position. Freehold of the River Keep received its baptism under fire when their position, along with other units, was overrun. The Midrealm banner was held, and the third banner, taken by the East was still in Eastern hands at the end. Feral, unaware that the Eastern banner had fallen, failed to assault the Midrealm banner and seize it too when the chance occurred. Lack of information and a reluctance to over-commit his outnumbered army made Feral err on the side of caution, and lost the East a traditional point. The Unbelted Champions Battle went to the East, leaving the war to be decided by one point. The Belted Teams took the field on the last day, knowing what was at stake. Feral built his tactics around household units of Chivalry and groups from that year’s Ducal Challenge Tourneys. The Midrealm Chivalry, fighting in disorder, was easily overcome.
Pennsic 20 saw Randal back on the Throne, this time with Katherine, and determined to avenge the loss of Pennsic 16. Master Feral von Halstern continued in his post as Warlord. Lucan was Prince of AEthelmearc and Balfar was Crown Prince. The negotiations for Pennsic 20 had been testy, with the Midrealm insisting on single combats in the four primary forms as a preliminary to the Belted and Unbelted Champions, with the dead removed from the teams. Feral argued hard against this but was finally over-ruled. Lucan and Bjorn Karlsson, as Earl Marshal, were also present at the negotiations. The war was going to be the biggest ever seen at Cooper’s Lake insofar as the number of fighters. The Middle and its allied Kingdoms numbered 980, the East and its allies numbered 950. In an attempt to keep the war epic, Randal and Feral refrained from accepting the troops of Meridies as they felt it would make the war too lopsided. This war turned out to be a nail-biter right down to the last point. The East took the Woods Battle and the Field Battle as well. We lost the Unbelted Champions Battle when our singles fighters were defeated and one of the unit commanders retreated into the captain’s unit, causing a brief chaos that was fatal. The Chivalry came through, although there were serious calibration issues on the part of the Midrealm, especially in the singles fights. The Allied Champions’ Battle was lost after initial success when the Ansteorrans gave single combat to a legged opponent instead of rejoining the outnumbered Atlantians. Committing themselves piecemeal, our allies went down and the point was lost. It was now a draw. The last battle, a castle battle, saw the East even more outnumbered as one of our main allies failed to take the field. We were ground down and the war, which we had thought won before we even set up our tents, was a tragic loss, especially for Randal. Many small mistakes and oversights on our part, plus malicious rumors spread by Eastern Dukes hostile to the idea of Masters, had alienated an ally. Feral, upon reflection, felt that he should have insisted that Baroness Morgan Elandris plan the Allied Champions Battle, thus insuring that basic melee common sense would have been emphasized. Unused to having so many allies, the East had not been prepared to handle the massive amount of diplomacy required to weld such a coalition together into the tightly knit forces that we had become accustomed to.
Pennsic 21 saw a new King and Queen, Ruslan and Margaret, and Sir Magnus Bloodax as Warlord. Master Feral von Halstern had been asked to stay on but, feeling burned out by two years in the office, and going into a divorce, he committed the time to self-publishing a novel instead. Nonetheless, Magnus still gave Feral the Field Battle to plan. The war was uneventful and proved a solid victory for the East and its allies. Our Champions’ teams carried the points, we won in the Field and in the Woods, and generally displayed solid skills in archery. For the Northern Army, down from the numbers of Pennsic 20, it was back to the three division panzer corps format. With a solid array of veteran commanders, our performance in all the battles was exemplary. We now had a full slate to draw upon; Feral and Randal, Vissevald and Lucan, Sir Edward Beerslayer, Master Tearlach, Lord Malachi and many others provided a broad base of solid tacticians. We had now learned how to control the battle all the way from the strategic to the tactical level.
Pennsic 22 saw another new King and Queen, Tsurunaga (Kaishaku) and Genevieve, with Master Feral von Halstern back in as Warlord. Edwin Beerslayer stepped up as Commander of the Northern Army. Gregor and Christence were Prince and Princess. As at 21, this war was uneventful from an Eastern point-of-view. We swept all the points without a loss until the deciding point, and then tried to even it out a bit so the Midrealm would not feel humiliated. We had reached the point where the East and its armies could defeat the Midrealm even when we were outnumbered by a hundred or more. Our archers were greater in number and in skill, and our command structure was a smooth-running machine. The Southern Army had been increasing in size and was also developing a better command structure each year. Prominent allies such as Atlantia provided an excellent force of heavy infantry captained by skilled and seasoned veterans like Michael of Bedford and Cuan.
Pennsic 23 saw more changes at the top. Lucan and Jana sat the Throne, with Gregor and Christence as Heirs. Master Ruslan was brought in as Warlord to replace Master Feral von Halstern, who became Dean of the War College. The changes did not seem to hamper the performances of the Eastern Armies and Champions as we won the war handily.
Pennsic 24 saw more changes, this time with Sir Manfred von Halstern as Warlord for Timothy and Gabrielle. Balfar and Luna were their Heirs. This was a war of incredible heat as the temperature routinely topped a100 degrees. The pregnant Queen had to leave site, as did the King, leaving the war in Balfar’s hands. Again the East and its allies pulled out a victory, but war ended with significant hard feelings on both sides.
At Pennsic 25 Bjorn and Morgen sat the Throne, with Sir Eirikr Lambason as their Warlord. Master Feral von Halstern was at the war, but acted as an advisor because his bad knee kept him out of armour. The traditional allies had been asked to fight for the opposite side this year, with Atlantia now facing the East. Meridies and Trimaris were to fight against the Middle but many of their troops fought with the Middle instead. Badly outnumbered, the East fought hard and barely lost the Woods, but was overwhelmed in the other mass battles. Pennsic 25 saw a Midrealm victory over a much disorganized East. The Northern Army, still using its three division format, was unable to overcome enemy numbers and inexperience at the top.
Pennsic 26 saw Hanse and Moruadh on the Throne, Lucan and Caitlin as Heirs, with Lucan as Warlord. The allies had returned to their normal grouping and the East won another war. The true significance of this Pennsic was that the fissures in the Northern Army, which had been quietly building, threatened to break its coherency. A meeting was called at the pavilion of Master Allyn Min Teanga and the entire Chivalry of the Northern Army discussed openly what the problems were. Master Feral von Halstern, assisted by Vissevald and Randal, guided the meeting. The Worm Banner was retired and a new banner designed by Feral was substituted in its place, Lady Randall the Archer sewed it that same night. Lucan got it passed by the Brigantia Herald, and the next day, before the Field Battle, the new banner was displayed before the Northern Army. The old animosities of household against household seemed to heal instantly and as the troops filed by many kissed the banner, and it became the new terror on the battlefield. Pennsic 26 marked the passing of the Northern Army from a command structure primarily from Greater Silver Dragon to one drawn from all the other households of the regions. If Pennsic 15 was the birth of the modern military Northern Army, 26 was a political birth of a more modern, representative force. Painted shields, tabards, stickers, and tee-shirts were soon on the way as the common foot soldier adopted the Northern Army and its symbol the Embattled Northern Star as their own.
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