Experiences of a New Lieutenant

Some weeks have passed since the Company set up camp at Liebegg castle and I was able to experience life as a lieutenant.

In hindsight I am attempting to present a short summary. In the few days I went through highs and lows, there were moments of self doubt and wonderful moments that remain unforgettable.

The lieutenant at his table, supervising the camp with the eyes of an eagle (Photo by Eliane Caramanna)

Anticipating this event I asked Mathieu for advice and he gave me valuable tips that helped me to stay safely in the saddle. In case you yourself should ever find yourself in the situation in which you are taking over the military leadership of forty members of an international group of reenactors, keep the following points in mind:

1. Choose your officers wisely

Non-commissioned officers relieve you of a lot of work. They are motivated, like their job and are a source of ideas for keeping the soldiers happy. This leads us onto point two:

2. Make sure that the soldiers never get bored.

Mathieu made me particularly attentive to this point. Few things are worse than when members go home at the end of an event and have nothing to report. However, attention! The margin between participants having fun and being exhausted is quite narrow, and especially so during an event during which the heat is so great, as was the case in Liebegg.

All the same, situations in which one arrives at his limits and then goes beyond them are cases that are remembered years later (usually with some romantic tints).

3. As lieutenant you must always be conscious of the time factor and never be late.

It is rather embarrassing when you arrive with freshly brushed teeth directly from your morning toilet to a morning mass that has already begun. 39 people are taking part and the lieutenants place in the first row is empty, or when one is visiting the market and forgets about the time, meaning that the muster has to be postponed for an hour.

Believe me, this is really embarrassing, and I speak from painful experience.

4. Clarify zones of responsibility with the quartermaster.

Quartermasters can be quite disagreeable, especially when one wreaks havoc in his area. So, in the beginning one must define zones of responsibility. I recommend throwing knives as a means of deciding.

As soon as I had sorted this out with the quartermaster in Liebegg things started to function properly.

From my point of view these are the four most important points.

Reading the oath to a new veteran member is one of the many duties of a Lieutenant (Photo by Eliane Caramanna)

There were others, for example the choice of a bodyguard. The bodyguard decided abruptly that he was not only responsible for the life of the lieutenant but also that he had to protect the lieutenant's wife. This can lead to edifying situations. In Liebegg this led to an entertaining court case that ended with the bodyguard sitting on a branch above the officer's table during meal time pronouncing in different languages and dialects "I will not touch the lieutenant's wife".

Healthy competition between the dizaines doesn't do any harm. When the dizainiers (the non-commissioned officers) try to decide which of two dizaines will be performing a disagreeable daily duty by playing a game of hazard in front of their soldiers, the atmosphere resembles that of a sports stadium.

What is really fun, is when the game finishes undecided, particularly pleasing for the quartermaster and the lieutenant.

It is also advisable to pay soldiers to eavesdrop on their comrades. In Liebegg I was just able to avoid a mutiny caused by the accusation that the soldiers hadn't been paid for years. Fortunately there was a money changer present who was able to change money for me.

As a consequence I was able to finish the weekend as I started it: in the rank of lieutenant.

Hmmm... reading these lines the memories are coming to the fore and I must admit that I had a lot of fun as lieutenant and wouldn't want to have missed it. However I wouldn't have anything against handing the job back into the experienced hands of Mathieu.

I should like to thank one more time the participants in the Company encampment of Liebegg. Thanks to you I had a huge amount of fun and a great weekend. You are great!

For the Duke!

By Thomas Rauber, Veteran Company member.

Translated by David Cooke, Veteran Company member.


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