Chapter 116 War for Border Town (Part 2)
It was not the case that the knights could charge from the beginning at their fastest speed, after all, horses were limited by their physical endurance, so they were only able to maintain their fastest speed for a short period of time. At a thousand or eight hundred meters they would begin to gradually increase their speed until they reached five hundred meters away from their mark, only when they came within two hundred meters would they would start galloping.
While in theory, the twelve-pound Napoleonic cannon had an effective range of up to 1,300 meters if it used solid shells. Maybe because it only had half the diameter than normal, Roland’s cannon only had an effective range of a thousand meters. As a result, the furthest distance his artillery group were allowed to open fire at was at eight hundred meters. At this distance, reaching the target area could be guaranteed, while at the same time the cannon balls would also bounce forward after hitting the ground. Resulting in line damage, with a high chance to kill multiple targets with a single shot.
In order to let the mercenary attack first, Duke Ryan had ordered his knight to step to the side – letting them wait in an absolutely safe area, meaning an area where bows and crossbows were unable to reach the knights, but this distance was still close enough for an effective knight charge to be launched. Knowing of the low efficiency of the mercenaries, the knights were always ready to pull the horse’s reins, waiting for any resistance in one place. However, like this, they became an almost fixed target, for the artillery group.
But the Duke certainly did not realise that by the time he ordered his troops to step aside , that they had already stepped onto Roland’s prepared battlefield. While the middle of the road might have been flat and spacious, both of its sides were crammed with leaves and with other vegetation. What seemed from afar to be just ordinary grass, was in truth actually thick vines covered by a knee-deep layer of weeds, it was like a road plastered with natural tripwire. If the cavalry wanted to start a flanking assault on the defensive line, they would only be able to move forwards with a very slow degree of progress. The thousand-meter distance was clearly marked on the ground, it may not have been visible for the people on the ground, but to Lighting flying in the sky, it was clearly visible. The battlefield was precisely divided into several segments, and every differently colored mark represented a different distance – the enemy was now just a ruler moving about on a chess board, which permitted the artillery group to shoot without having to calculate the barrel’s angle. They only had to go through the steps as they had implemented them during their training.
The cannon of Van’er’s group was the first to roar with fury.
A large amount of gas generated by the detonation of the gunpowder pushed the projectile outwards, and at the moment it flew out of the muzzle, it had already reached a speed of more than four hundred meters per second, so after two seconds, the shell had already almost reached the knights. Directly flowing through the group of knights and boring itself into the ground beside the road. Splashing soil and gravel into every direction and creating panic amongst the horses, one knight reacted a little too late and fell from his horse.
The following next two shells also missed their target and only created a lot of dust.
But the last group was able to get a lucky hit – originally there was no one in its flight path, but a knight who was unable to gain back the control over his frightened horse happened to pass right into it. In front of this huge amount of kinetic energy, his armor existed in name only. The cannonball simultaneously pierced through the thin iron and human flesh, and after it bounced off the ground, it then hit another knight, cutting off his calf. Furthermore, it ended up penetrating through the horse’s chest under the knight’s hip and spreading its internal organs all over the ground.
If the Knight were in their normal phase of attack, the artillery group would need to adjust the angle of their shot, but the sudden blow had apparently shocked the whole coalition of the Duke’s forces. They didn’t know what had hit them, how could they – the shell was too fast to be seen with the human eye. So the knights didn’t receive the command to attack, instead, they were still pacing back and forth in their original location, trying to appease their skittish mounts.
It was once more Van’er’s group who was the fastest to complete the reloading process, starting the second round of shelling.
The new weapon exposed just how fragile and soft the human body really was, once hit by a passing iron ball, could cause injuries which were unable to get ever be healed. But when the rider was directly hit by it, in addition to him losing several limbs, it would also splash blood everywhere. Only when they were hit by the second round of artillery shells, were they finally able to make out a vaguely black shape, while it was taking the lives of their companions.
After the second round of shooting, the Duke was finally able to connect the fire and roaring sound in the enemy’s camp with the indescribable strike against his unit. It seemed the other side had gotten its hands on an incredible weapon, with a range much farther than a crossbow, almost like one of the strongholds’ trebuchets. Realizing this, the Duke immediately gave the order to sound the horns – thinking that as long as they were able to come into close range, these long-distance weapons would also become useless.
The knights, however, when hearing the horns, showed several kinds of reactions. Some of them really rushed into the direction of Border Town, but others were still fighting with their own horses, while a small part of the knights was retreating toward the rear of the battlefield. Together with the mercenaries swarming around, the whole scene quickly turned into chaos.
When the attacking knights returned to the road, the artillery group suddenly became frantic, in addition, to clean up the barrel and reloading its ammunition, they also had to adjust their cannon. At this time, Lighting flew once more in the direction of the defense line, holding a red ribbon in her hands.
The red signal meant that the enemy was approaching the five hundred meters line, at this distance, the artillery hit rate would reach more than eighty percent.
Van’er shouted: “The shooting angle is correct! Quick, light the fuse, light the fuse!”
When the deafening roar could be heard once more, he didn’t even look to see if they had hit anything, instead, he immediately turned toward the ammunition distribution staff and shouted: “canister, send in the canister shelling!”
During the artillery training, His Royal Highness has repeatedly stressed the point, that when the red signal was hissed, even if the barrel was already loaded with solid shells, they should immediately shot and then reload with canister shells. In case that the barrel wasn’t loaded, they should immediately fill it with canister shells, and then wait until the point where the enemy reached the three hundred mark.
The canister shells looked like a tin filled with thumb-sized balls and sawdust. To produce the canister shells, they first bore a hole into the tin, then they filled it with balls and sawdust, and then they stopped it with a thin piece of wood.
When Lighting finally showed the purple ribbon, the four artillery groups fired almost simultaneously.
This was also Van’er’s first time using the canister shells – according to His Royal Highness, the wounds induced by canister shells were very difficult to heal, so they only practiced the loading procedure. So today it was also his first time seeing the amazing killing potential of these special shells.
Because of the huge pressure difference, the tin fractured into many pieces after it left the muzzle. The small iron balls inside of the tin fell like raindrops on the enemy, placing the knights three hundred meters away into the middle of a deadly metal storm, and turning the people and the horses into a bloody mist resembling the falling wheat as it was cut down. Some iron pellets after penetrating the knight’s bodies still had so much kinetic energy left that even the knights standing behind them weren’t able to escape either.
The knights lucky enough to survive the storm finally entered into sprinting distance, while only having one thought in their mind – that was to break through this thin line of defense, and massacre those cowards who were only able to hide behind those cruel weapons. Only a short amount of time was needed to cover the last hundred and fifty meters, the knights were already lowering their bodies, pushing the horses to reach their highest speed.
However, this seemingly short distance of one hundred and fifty meters, turned into an uncrossable distance, the last round of firing of canister shells completely destroyed the last bit of their fighting will. In the range of one hundred meters, the solid iron balls were able to penetrate through as many as two to three people, turning the area in front of the cannon fire into a field of death. From the twenty knights riding at the forefront, almost none had been able to survive, the only difference between them lied in the amount of iron balls by which they had been hit.
The knight’s assault had completely collapsed.
Because the fear created by the collapse of the knight’s assault was so huge, the knights following attempted to turn around their horses wanting to flee the battlefield.
When they saw the knights scatter the mercenaries weren’t willing to take another step forward. They had always only been working for the money, but they immediately turned around when they saw how much they would have to pay. Now, at the moment of their retreat, they ran even much faster than they had during their attack.
When the wave of their crushing defeat swept over the dukedom’s allied forces, the situation soon became impossible to control. The crowd had only one thought left, they had to flee. There were people who fell and were trampled to death, no one took the time to care for others, they only hated themselves for not being able to grow another pair of legs.
At this moment the melody of the Guerrilla warfare song resounded through the battlefield, and the lines of the infantry began to march in step, sweeping across the battlefield.