Promo: The Queen of the Citadels by Dominic Fielder

I'm delighted to share an enticing excerpt from The Queen of the Citadels, a historical adventure by Dominic Fielder, currently on blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club.

The Queen of the Citadels

The King’s Germans, Book 3

Dominic Fielder

Historical Military Fiction


Nieuport: 25th October 1793

It had been an hour since Krombach had presented his map to Captain von Schroeder, along with his observations of all that he had seen that afternoon. The captain had listened intently, then ordered Krombach to find himself a meal and smarten his uniform as best he could: a corporal was going to be presented to a colonel of high Hessian nobility. 

Krombach was to present his map and findings to the colonel. He was not to venture an opinion unless asked but if asked, he must answer honestly, even if that meant expressing a view that contradicted others who may have already spoken. 

Von Schroeder showed the excesses of the day’s work, his appearance that of an officer who endured the hardships with his men. Krombach realised that he had rarely seen the captain without a heavy growth of grey whiskers and understood a little of why the Hessian soldiers spoke so highly of him: they would follow wherever he led them.

“Damned fine map, boy, damned fine. Why in God’s name are you still a musket-man when you have this skill? Remember what I said, express your views, if asked. Your own colonel and captain would be very proud of you. And you might just put one or two noses out of joint: even better!”

The captain rocked back on two legs of his chair and rested his feet on the table before winking at Krombach. “This is going to be a lot of fun, boy, a whole heap of fun!”

The room was crowded, a dozen officers stood in cliques, sharing small talk. Four groups, three Hessian groups and one British counterparts, representing infantry and artillery formations that made up the garrison, kept their own company, like parties in a civil dispute waiting to appear before the judge. 

Colonel de Wurmb was sat hunched over a table scribbling furiously at a document, the quill making abrasive strokes which spoke of an angry impatience. A crescent of grey hair sprouted around the back of his head, exposing a domed crown that shone in the candlelight of the room, as though it had been polished for inspection.

“You’re three minutes late, Von Schroeder.”

The voice belonged to the colonel of the Hessian Chasseurs. If the accusation affected von Schroeder, he gave no sign of it, “The map, sir.” In handing the document to de Wurmb, the commander pointed at an empty patch of desk, all other space consumed by folds of paper, books and the detritus of administration. 

“There!” The instruction was given as though the matter were of no importance.  

“My thanks to your corporal but I’m sure his presence is not needed,” the chasseur colonel hissed.

“Actually, sir. I think you and Colonel De Wurmb might find what Corporal Krombach has to say, very insightful.”

Krombach felt like a pawn in a private war: it was clear that von Schroeder and his colonel were not on the best of terms. 

At last, the quill scratched its last angry mark, and the weary eyes of Colonel de Wurmb unfolded the map and began to study it, tracing the outline of the city walls with his fingers and mumbling observations to no-one in particular. 

The colonel stopped and cast a sideways look at Krombach, “Never mark a map for me, boy. Not with the enemy’s positions or with mine. Anything that I need to know, I will deduce for myself. If this was to fall into French hands it would give them our deployments too.”

The colonel returned to the studying. Krombach felt his face turn a shade of crimson more vivid than his redcoat. He daren’t meet the eyes of the officers in the room and his head pounded with the shame of the words. Whatever he had expected from colonel de Wurmb, this was not it. Doubt flooded his thoughts. His ideas felt more ridiculous by the moment.

“Sir, I’m sure that he meant nothing…” von Schroeder offered a defence, but his words withered under the glare of de Wurmb. 

“Captain, I tolerate you because of your bravery. Whoever trained this boy did so incorrectly. 

He has a tongue in his head and, if I require his thoughts, I will ask for them directly.”

Von Schroeder snapped to attention and then stood at ease; somewhere an officer sniggered at the dressing down. Krombach stared at his feet feeling hopelessly out of depth.

“Boy, you have shaded these four areas, why is that? Step forward and explain, so that I and these gentlemen might learn something.”

Again, there was a snigger; a British officer from the 53rd regiment. But this time, the harsh look was reserved for the Englishman, and something that almost passed for a smile was directed to Krombach. 

He approached the table, his head swimming as though he had never seen the map before. 

The fields: why had he shaded them? 

He drew a deep breath to gather himself.

“Sir, the water flows in from the North Sea at high tides, and these three canals lead to Bruges, Ypres and Furnes. It seems logical that the French will take the opportunity to cut an area in the bank of this channel and flood the field leading to Ostend, when and if they see our reinforcements. There was a very old high-water- mark in the fields, the same in these other areas. The French are afraid that you will flood the areas south and west, Furnes and Ypres canals, and deny them the opportunity to attack from those directions.”

The colonel studied the map again and nodded.

“Where does a Hanoverian corporal learn to make such deductions? Sound deductions, I might add.”

De Wurmb looked up. A dozen sets of eyes were focused on the map, following each exchange between master and servant.

“Your only flaw is that I am forbidden from flooding the areas to the south and west by a standing order issued by Prince Josias. Unfathomable logic but then here am I, seeking wisdom from a Hanoverian.”

There was gentle laughter and those who knew de Wurmb clearly saw this as what passed for the man’s humour.

“Major Trevethan trained me, sir, if anyone had. I worked with him on the sieges of Valenciennes and at Dunkirk. I draw reasonably well. As for the deductions, I was really only applying the methods that the Major had taught me.”

“Trevethan, yes, a good man. One of the better ones on the duke’s staff. Great pity. Your map does him proud. But next time, for me at least, just the terrain and no more. Von Schroeder said that you had some observations. A boy who notices an old waterline has a keen eye. Is there more?”

This time there was a smile. 

The young redcoat braced himself. The words he had rehearsed seemed weak and contrived but he was going to do this for the honour and memory of a friend.

“Yes sir, there is. The French are approaching on this finger of high ground from the north-west. I believe that they only have the manpower for one attempt to storm the town. At Valenciennes, we had fifty thousand men and eighty guns; it still took the best part of two months. I think they want to have one night-attack here…” he pointed to the curtain wall where the hidden battery was deployed, “to clear the battery and then assault from there and the main gate the next night. If they bring the captured siege guns to range, they might be able to break the wall in a day. Either way, if they can attack from two directions, it will divide your forces.”

“Is there more?”

“Yes sir. The siege guns and the batteries require a great deal of powder. Major Congreve has been trying to disrupt the flow of powder to the batteries each morning, but it is an almost impossible task.”

The colonel looked at Krombach and then at Congreve, who lurked on the edge of the sea of faces, for confirmation. Congreve nodded and de Wurmb signalled for Krombach to continue.

“Well sir, the French will attack tonight or tomorrow. I reason that they can leave it no longer if they want to reach Ostend. And that’s good for us because the tide is with us…”

“The tide? Are you suggesting we sail away? Or the Navy comes to our rescue?” de Wurmb looked up at Krombach, his voice suggesting that the toleration of a corporal’s advice was starting to outreach its usefulness.

“No sir, not everyone. Just me. The tide will be on the turn, around two o’clock in the morning. A strong current out towards the sea. If I take this channel and then go by the way of the fort here, I can take the north-western canal here.”

“But to what end, man?”

“The French magazine must be here. It can’t be anything more than powder stored in wagons. I will leave the canal and find the magazine and blow up what I can of it.”

“Are you quite mad?” de Wurmb looked at Krombach in horror.

“No sir. Not mad or particularly brave. If I have timed it right, then the French will be returning to their camp. I will take a change of clothes and simply walk through the camp until I find the magazine. I can speak some French and a bit of Dutch, I can pose as a gunner who has fallen in the river and lost his way in the dark. I doubt I will attract much attention.”

De Wurmb looked at Krombach and then at von Schroeder, who shrugged his shoulders. “He’s got pluck, sir. You must admit that!”

“What will you need for this…skulduggery?”

“Some powder, perhaps from Major Congreve, a pack, some oilcloth, a flint striker, a pig’s bladder for buoyancy and some goose fat.”

“I’m not sure I want to know anymore. Goose fat, boy?

“Before I joined the battalion, I worked for my father on his fishing boats.  Sometimes, men would have to inspect the boats. The pig’s bladder is for buoyancy in the water, and they would cover themselves in goose fat to stave off the worst of the cold. The channel and canal will be cold, but it can’t be much worse than the Elbe, sir.


“Krombach, sir”

“Corporal Krombach, I’m not sure whether to have you arrested for being a lunatic, or to offer you a commission. Von Schroeder, the less I know of this caper the better, I think. It sounds rather ungentlemanly. I shall leave it to you, while the rest of us fight a civilised war.” 

“Yes, sir. Absolutely, sir. If I’m not needed, the corporal and I have matters to attend to.”

The pair were waved away and when they had reached the bottom of the staircase, two levels below where the meeting was being held, von Schroeder let out a howl of laughter. 

“The look on their faces. Worth every moment. I can’t let you do it of course, but, damn you were impressive! Almost had me believing it.”

Krombach turned sharply and faced the captain. 

“My friend gave his life to destroy those guns. I’m going whether you say so or not, sir. I can’t let them be used against us, and I’m not here for your…bloody amusement!”

“Easy corporal. I was just seeing if you really had the guts for this. Come back alive and I might just offer you a commission myself, if you can stand being a Hessian officer, of course?”

Krombach stared blankly back, “Sir, I’m not even sure that I’m actually a corporal.”



October 1793: The French border.

Dunkirk was a disaster for the Duke of York’s army. The French, sensing victory before the winter, launch attacks along the length of the border. Menen is captured and the French now hold the whip hand. Nieuport and Ostend are threatened, and Sebastian Krombach finds himself involved in a desperate plan to stop the Black Lions as they spearhead the French advance. 
Werner Brandt and the men of 2nd Battalion race to Menen to counterattack and rescue Erich von Bomm and the Grenadiers, whilst von Bomm struggles to save himself from his infatuation with a mysterious French vivandière. 

Meanwhile, dark and brooding, the citadel of Lille dominates the border. The Queen of the Citadels has never been captured by force. The allies must now keep Menen, which guards Flanders, and seize Lille to open the road to Paris. All of this must be done under the watchful eyes of a spy in the Austrian camp. Juliette of Marboré is fighting her own secret war to free Julian Beauvais, languishing in the Conciergerie prison, and waiting for his appointment with the guillotine, as the Terror rages in Paris. 

Buy Links:

Available on Kindle Unlimited.


About the Author:

Dominic Fielder has had careers in retail and the private education sector and is currently working as a secondary school Maths teacher. He has a First-class honours degree in history and a lifetime’s interest in the hobby of wargaming. The King's Germans series is a project that grew out of this passion He currently juggles writing and research around a crowded work and family life. 

Whilst self-published he is very grateful for an excellent support team. The Black Lions of Flanders (set in 1793) is the first in the King's Germans' series, which will follow an array of characters through to the final book in Waterloo. He lives just outside of Tavistock on the edge of Dartmoor. where he enjoys walking on the moors and the occasional horse-riding excursion as both writing inspiration and relaxation.
Social Media Links: