The Undiscovered Country
Battle of the Sodden Field
The Battle of the Sodden Field marked the end of the Wheelerite Rebellion. However, it came close to marking the beginning of the Wheeler Dynasty.
Following the notorious Barons’ Parliament, Sydney Wheeler finally felt he was in a strong enough position to put his rebellion against King Samuel IV to the test of a decisive battle. He gathered his forces in eastern Arnest and awaited the arrival of the Royal army. He did not have to wait long.
The forces met just west of Milton Abbot, a town previously famous for the large guillotine in the town square with which it deterred thieves from the market. But the bloodshed on this day would shock even the good burghers of the town.
The King and Wheeler ranged their forces across two shallow hills, with flat fertile farmland between them. Wheeler had the bulk of the Barons on his side, but the King still held the Royal Treasury and had bolstered his diminished forces with mercenaries. Both sides faced each other, awaiting the battle.
And then the heavens opened. Such rain as had not been seen in a hundred years. Wheeler faced a dilemma. The rain would quickly make conditions treacherous, stymieing the cavalry charge on which his battle plan depended. But to wait for the King to make the first move – or worse yet, to retreat and await better weather – would cause him to lose reputation for leadership and the support of the barons.
He ordered the charge. If his cavalry could make it past the flat ground before the King’s forces checked their advance, then they could still strike the winning blow.
Seeing this, the King’s adviser urged him to order a counter-charge. But the King’s cavalry were under the command of his daughter Lydia, and he was adamant that he would not risk her life in such a desperate fight. Instead he sent in the Black Wolf Company, a light mercenary unit that he regarded as disposable.
The mercenaries met the rebel cavalry in the flat field, breaking the charge with hastily set spears then taking on the disordered squadrons in brutal melee before they could regroup.
The field became a lake of mud and blood, with hooves and boots churning severed limbs and heads into the slurry. In the end, the cavalry were defeated and the King ordered a counter-attack. The rebel army broke and was soon ridden down, the lower-ranking traitors summarily dispatched while Wheeler himself was captured and put in chains.
Meanwhile in what would become known as the Sodden Field, every man and woman of the Black Wolf Company lay dead or dying, already forgotten by the victorious King. All except one man, Captain Brond, who limped from the field and was never seen by the King or his advisers again.