Comments go here, in the development thread. It has more art. “There is on the globe one single spot, the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans, through which the produce of three-eighths of our territory must pass to market, and from its fertility it will ere long yield more than half of our whole produce and contain more than half our inhabitants.” -Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to U.S. Minister to France Robert R. Livingston, April 18, 1802 December 23, 1814 About 3:45 a.m. Bayou Mazant The moon was just about full, and after what seemed like days of dismal weather the sky was at last clear. But the trees, heavy with vines and Spanish moss, blocked out most of the heavens. The bayou, and the path that led from it, were a winding thread of dim gray light that ran through absolute darkness. Major General John Keane watched as his men disembarked. They moved in single file, walking carefully from one barge to the next until they set foot on the shore, then going down the path far enough to make room for their comrades. It would have been so much easier if only they could have risked a light, but everything depended on secrecy and surprise. He shivered. Even in winter, southern Louisiana had no business being this cold. And then the queue stopped moving. General Keane made his way forward, trying to keep his feet on firm ground. As he neared the front, he became aware of a horrible smell, like burning rotten eggs. He wasn’t the only one — all the soldiers up here were making faces and muttering their revulsion. The man at the head of the queue couldn’t have been more than eighteen. He was doubled over, holding his nose. “Lt. Gleig, 85th Regiment of Foot,” he said, barely getting the words out. His eyes were watering. He pointed to something in front of him. “Watch out, sir. There’s a skunk just up ahead.” Keane had heard of the animals, but never seen one. The white stripes down its back shone in the darkness. It stood its ground in front of the whole army, obviously with no fear of man. (And though it couldn’t know why, it was right — shooting it right now would give everything away.) Nonetheless, if this was the worst it could do, his men could endure it. Keane was about to order the army to defy the beast and keep walking, when something happened that made the matter moot. Something he couldn’t hear and almost couldn’t see swooped out of the sky, landed on the skunk and struck it in the back of the neck. The skunk squealed and struggled. Its enemy fought to stay on top, the pale underside of its wings flashing in the moonlight. Those wings were easily four feet wide. After about ten seconds, the beast fell insensible to the ground and the bird began to eat. Keane ordered the march to resume. The killer proved less trouble than its prey. When the soldiers walked close by, it hooted angrily at them and flew off into the night. * * * About 11:00 a.m. Near Villeré’s plantation Over seven sleepless hours later, General Keane now found himself looking at another dead animal in the woods. This one was a dog which had once belonged to Major Villeré of the Louisiana militia. They had captured him — on his own front porch, no less — and when he made a run for it, his dog had run innocently after him, barking the whole way. Then, somewhere behind a big live oak, it had stopped barking. Villeré had silenced it permanently. “In a couple of hours, the Yankees will know we’re here,” said Colonel William Thornton. “I recommend we strike now, sir. We’re not far from New Orleans — we can march there today.” “To face what exactly?” said Keane. “This Andrew Jackson has a fearsome reputation, and we don’t know how many men he has with him.” “Surely you can’t believe what the deserters are saying.” The few Americans Keane had caught were claiming Jackson had anywhere from fifteen to twenty thousand men. “Cousin Jonathan can’t possibly have organized that many men and brought them out here so quickly,” Thornton continued. “And think about it — if Jackson was that certain of victory, why would anyone desert him in the first place?” “At present, we only have 1,800 men here ourselves.” “And so? The dirty-shirts can shoot as well as anyone, but they have no staying power — we saw that at Bladensburg. If we attack them before they’re ready, they’ll scatter like field mice.” Keane was about to point out that events went otherwise at Baltimore, but then he remembered that Baltimore was a well-defended city near the heart of American power, such as it was. New Orleans, to the Yankees, was more along the lines of a distant but valuable outpost. He found himself thinking of what he’d seen last night. The skunk, fearless with what seemed to be a perfect natural defense against other animals (poor Gleig still hadn’t had a chance to get himself cleaned up properly) had been surprised and killed by a sudden and unexpected attack from some sort of large owl. Keane was a cautious man by nature, and he certainly didn’t think of himself as the sort of man to see omens in the flights of birds… but it occurred to him that under certain circumstance, moving quickly and decisively was the best possible precaution. This might be a case where valor was the better part of discretion. In any event, if Jackson did have as big an army as the deserters were claiming, he could squash Keane’s little strike force flat, and he could do it as easily here as in New Orleans. And if not… the British force might just capture the city in one fell swoop. “Very well, Thornton,” said the general. “You’ve convinced me.” He turned to go, brushing a curtain of moss out of his way. “We march.” At least part of General Jackson’s dismal reputation stems from the fact that the people who remember him most vividly — the Creeks of Florida and the Creoles of Louisiana — suffered most from his actions. To them, he was a vicious yeoman and a treacherous butcher who treated his allies worse than his enemies. Yet his friends and Army rivals invariably describe him in their memoirs as a man of determination, great bravery, and, above all, intense personal honor… Charles Cerniglia, The War of 1812 About 2:30 p.m. New Orleans Keane crouched behind the wall of the house. It wasn’t one of the fine houses of New Orleans — it was in fact little more than the average frontier shack — but it kept him well hidden from enemy fire. Those Yankee riflemen were too bloody good, and there were a dozen red-coated dead bodies around him to prove it. It was hard for him to believe that as savage as this battle was, he was winning. But Jackson couldn’t have had more than an hour’s worth of warning. Only an hour in which to get his field guns and soldiers into position in a city where the streets were clogged with civilians trying to flee. And luckily, the city was a nice, neat grid. If one street was blocked by a field-piece and sharpshooters firing from windows, another would do just as well. A good-sized chunk of Cousin Jonathan’s force was holed up in Fort Charles, at the southeastern tip of the city, and now effectively under siege. From somewhere around the corner came Colonel Thornton’s voice. “You can come out now, General!” Keane did. Thornton was standing fearlessly in the middle of the street amid drifting clouds of gunsmoke. The soldiers around him were triumphantly cleaning the blood off their bayonets. “The thing about rifles,” said the colonel smugly, “is that in a fight, they take rather a long time to reload.” “Well done, Colonel,” said Keane. “How goes the rest of the battle?” “We hold the eastern half of the city. Didn’t I say this would happen, sir?” “You did indeed, Colonel,” said Keane. “You may have also said some things concerning field mice, but I choose to forget…” He paused. “Do you smell smoke?” As soon as he said it, he realized it was a foolish thing to say. Gunsmoke hung over the city like fog. But woodsmoke had a different scent, and Keane was very sure he had just smelled it. Either a lot of people had chosen to cook an early supper in the middle of a battle, or… Now that Keane looked again, the smoke drifting in from the west seemed a lot thicker. Then, from the middle of the smoke, came new noises. Gunfire. Angry shouts in French. Cries of “Treason!” in American accents. Keane had no idea what was happening over there, but it sounded promising. He ordered the men to get back into formation and be ready to advance. After about a minute, a man emerged from the smoke. Keane saw the white flag he was holding before he saw the man’s face. “Dussau de la Croix, of the New Orleans Committee of Public Safety,” said the man with the white flag. Keane repressed a shudder at the Jacobinesque title. The city was a notorious hive of Bonapartism and revolutionary sentiment. “Have you come to surrender?” “To hell with that — we’ve come to join you. I speak for the Louisiana militia and the local volunteers.” He spat. “That cochon Jackson is trying to burn down our city.” Of course. It would be like Jackson to torch this place rather than let it fall into British hands. What he’d forgotten, or more likely not cared about, was that New Orleans wasn’t Boston or Philadelphia. It was still relatively new to the United States, and the loyalty of its people was… conditional. They were not prepared to see their lives or fortunes sacrificed on the altar of other men’s freedom. * * * About 2:45 p.m. A half-dozen Louisiana militiamen huddled around the doorway of a burning house, pointing their muskets through it. They all fired at once. Then they backed away from the door. A pale, skinny figure in a smoke-stained uniform emerged, bleeding from a dozen places. He fell to his knees. One of the militiamen, cutlass in hand, approached cautiously — but not cautiously enough. He didn’t see the tension in the pale man’s arms, or the rage in his eyes, until the man’s bayonet stabbed upward and slashed through the femoral artery of the militiaman. The militiaman was already dying as he brought his cutlass down on the pale man’s neck. The rest of them kept out of slashing distance until they were quite sure that General Andrew Jackson was dead. * * * About 8:00 p.m. “This I had to see for myself,” said Sir Edward Michael Pakenham as he looked around him. “I said I’d spend Christmas in New Orleans,” said Admiral Cochrane, “and I damned well will. How goes the fight?” “The city is secure, and the fires are out,” said Keane. “The American General Coffee got here just in time to lead what was left of the defenders out of the city. All that remains is to secure Fort St. Philip and the rest.” “Do we have any prisoners?” said Pakenham. “We do. We’re keeping them with General Carroll in Fort St. Charles. It makes as good a prison as any, and it keeps them safe from the locals.” “One more thing remains to be done, then,” said Cochrane. “We must write forthwith to His Majesty’s government, tell them what we’ve done and urge them to formalize it with their blessing. The whole territory, including this city, belonged to Spain until Napoleon seized it and sold it to Cousin Jonathan to sustain his war on us. In my letter I shall propose to the Earl of Liverpool that he purchase New Orleans from the legitimate government of Spain. And to buy Florida while he’s about it, for I intend to take it next.” The Yankees had killed Alexander Cochrane’s brother at Yorktown. To him, this whole war was one long opportunity to take the maximum amount of revenge. * * * The next day, on the other side of the Atlantic, British and American representatives signed the Treaty of Ghent. On January 2, the British Army, some eleven thousand strong, marched forth from New Orleans under the command of Major General Pakenham to secure the territory of Louisiana. Only the 44th Regiment remained to hold the city, along with the newly loyal city militia. The very next day Pakenham encountered what was left of General Coffee’s command at LaPlace. That day, 86 Americans and 51 British soldiers were killed, and Coffee was forced to retreat. After LaPlace, Pakenham divided his force. Major General Gibbs went northeast with the 4th, the 21st Fusiliers and the 1st and 5th West Indian regiments, and routed what was left of the pro-American Louisiana militia at Manchac Crossing. Pakenham, with the rest of the force, drove Coffee back from Istrouma Hill, then from St. Francisville, then from Wilkinburg, seizing Fort Adams. By this time, the American general was desperate enough to try just about anything. (It must be understood that by the standards of the Second Thirty Years’ War, all four of these “battles,” in which only two or three dozen men on either side were killed or wounded, barely qualified as skirmishes. Even the four-day stalemate at the Pearl River which halted Gibbs’s advance ended with fewer than five hundred casualties total. It is to these engagements that Natchez should properly be compared, rather than to later battles such as Merrymeeting Bay or Roxbury.) Charles Cerniglia, The War of 1812 January 16, 1815 About 10:15 a.m. Natchez, Mississippi Territory The hill just southwest of Natchez was a little over a mile wide at its base. It was covered with pine trees and a dusting of snow, with a taste in the air of more snow to some. It was, Brigadier General John Coffee reflected, a good enough hill to die on… if it came to that. The ground was too frozen to dig a proper trench, and Fort Rosalie wasn’t much of a fort anymore, so he’d set up a barricade along the crest of the hill. It started at the river and zigzagged northwest to southeast for about six thousand feet. His men weren’t trained military engineers and they’d had barely a week to build it, and it showed. It was nowhere more than six feet high, and made of saplings and branches as much as big trees. It was more a barrier to the eye than to anything else. The British knew he was there, of course. What they didn’t know — or so Coffee hoped — was that the 39th Infantry had arrived two days ago under Colonel John Williams, along with a fresh regiment of Tennessee militiamen under Colonel Benton. Coffee had ordered both regiments to stay low and out of sight below the crest of the hill. By all accounts, Pakenham was moving quickly, with little time to scout ahead. There were not many people around (even the Choctaws were thin on the ground in these parts) to spy on Coffee’s army. There was a decent chance the Americans could take the enemy by surprise… especially if Pakenham was kind enough to be overconfident. God knows he’s got reason to be, thought Coffee. The war hadn’t gone well for the United States at all, even before New Orleans. And since then… Coffee wouldn’t blame the British for being overconfident, but he would be very happy to make them pay for it. He looked up to the gray wall of cloud that blocked the sky. Please, God, let him be overconfident. Let him do something foolish. We need a victory here. The American army had practically been driven from the upper Mississippi valley. They couldn’t lose this place. They were starting to wonder if they could give the redcoats a meaningful defeat anywhere. Privately, Coffee was getting worried himself. About this time, a scout galloped up from the south. “Sir,” he said, sketching off a quick salute. “They’re coming.” “How far behind you are they?” “On foot?… Not more than an hour. Maybe less.” Coffee tried not to think about the fact that this was about as much warning as Jackson had had. “How many?” “Maybe eight thousand. Maybe ten.” All told, Coffee had about four thousand men under his command. Well, no help for it. “Artillery?” The scout shook his head. “Just those rockets, sir.” Of course. They were moving too fast to bring along anything heavier. They’d probably left the big guns behind at Fort Adams. Just as well — Coffee didn’t have so many field-guns himself. He’d put what he did have on his right flank, where he judged the British would be most likely to make their initial thrust. What was left of Coffee’s command was guarding them. As for the Congreves, they would be all but useless against the men at the barricade, under the trees. * * * About 11 a.m. The snow had begun to fall — tiny, dry, gentle flakes that meandered down through the air, making an interesting contrast to the four-pound iron round shot heading for the British front ranks at over six hundred yards per second, or the rockets fired at the Americans in reply. The round shot hit the ground before they hit the soldiers. Some of them buried themselves in the stumps of cut trees, but others vanished into the forest of British legs, knees and ankles, shattering every bone in their path. Every once in a while, a perfect shot would hit the ground right in front of the army, pelting the front ranks with shrapnel of granite-hard frozen dirt. The rockets were round-headed cylinders weighing 6 to 24 pounds, loaded with case shot. When they exploded in the right place, they could kill an entire gun crew. More often, however, they veered off in an entirely different direction — sometimes straight up in the air. Keane gritted his teeth and looked ahead. The 85th, at the front, was still some five hundred yards from the American line. Already, the Yankee gunners were starting to use grapeshot, which had less range but more killing power against infantrymen. We can win this battle doing what we’re doing, thought Keane, but it will be a bloody affair — bloodier, I think, than it need be. The worst casualties so far were among the Congreve handlers. (You had to launch the rockets from as far forward as possible — they had a regrettable tendency to go off too soon.) He was just about to suggest a better way to Pakenham, when a soldier came from the front, his red coat spattered with redder blood and bits that didn’t bear close examination. It was Lieutenant Gleig. “Colonel Thornton is dead, sir,” said Gleig, addressing Pakenham. “Are you sure?” “I saw it happen myself, sir. Grape through the chest — almost the full load. Lieutenant Colonel Gubbins is in charge of the regiment now. He’s awaiting your next order.” The unspoken message here was are you sure you want us to keep trying this? Any moment now they’re going to switch to canister. Keane decided the time had come to direct Pakenham’s attention elsewhere. “Sir,” he said, “the American line on the crest of the hill looks rather thin. And there…” He pointed to their immediate right, to a heavily wooded depression that cut through the side of the hill. “That way, sir, we could come quite close to the barricade without being seen.” Pakenham’s eyes lit up. He smiled like a wolf catching the smell of an injured deer. “I like the way you think, Keane,” he said. “Hold the reserves together. I’ll lead this next attack myself.” * * * From the hillside overlooking the artillery, Coffee watched as the redcoats pulled back from their attack. If they’d pressed on, he’d planned to move his reserves to the right to fire down on them from more or less where he was standing. If they’d swung entirely around the hill, he’d intended to order his reserves to go left and try to block them. But instead, they were going straight up the hill, moving through that one little hollow where he couldn’t quite see them. The thing about having a blind spot was that if you knew exactly where it was and could plan accordingly, it wasn’t really a blind spot any more. Coffee and a few of his aides started walking, determined to get close enough to know when to give the signal. The hill was still heavily forested — not too many of its trees had gone into the building of the barricade. That gave the attacking British many chances to take cover, but it also broke up their neat formations and made it that much harder to coordinate a volley. In two places, at the highest points of the hill, the wall was particularly high, and crowned with extra pine branches. They seemed to be weak points in the defensive line — only a handful of Americans, the tips of their muskets sticking out from between piles of brush, were positioned there. No one ordered the British to converge on these two places. They simply did, as naturally as water flowing downhill. Pakenham was one of the first. Which made it something of a miracle that he survived what happened next. At the sound of a trumpet, on Coffee’s command, the brush was pushed or pulled aside to reveal over two hundred of Williams’ regulars at each “weak point.” “FIRE!” shouted Williams, standing equidistant between the two points and somehow making his voice carry over the whole battlefield. A perfect volley sounded like a single mighty explosion, rather than hundreds of individual muskets were going off. This one was such a volley, but since it was happening in two places about two thousand feet apart, it sounded like either one explosion or two, depending on where you stood. Raw recruits were often stunned or terrified by the sound of a volley, especially one that they weren’t expecting. The men Pakenham led were barely slowed down. In fact, it made the soldiers closest to the barricade — most of whom had survived the volley — run faster. They knew by experience that if they could close with the Yankees in the next fifteen to twenty seconds, the enemy wouldn’t have time to reload and it would come down to bayonet against bayonet. The second volley came ten seconds later. It was a looser, sloppier volley, more like a three-second roll of thunder than a loud bang, but it killed and maimed more people than the first one had. (The men at the barricade were less than half of Williams’ regiment, but they were holding all the muskets and had loaded and primed them half an hour ago.) Even now, the British kept on coming. Soon the first redcoats were climbing the wall… where they encountered the next surprise. Last night, the Americans had carefully poured river water onto the wood of the barricade. Now it was covered with a glaze of ice. Under sunlight, even the weak sunlight of winter, the ice would have glistened and given itself away — but between the overcast sky, the piney-wood canopy overhead and all the snow and gunsmoke in the air, there was little danger of that. So they were using all four limbs to try to get some purchase on this slippery woodpile, while the Americans had at them with bayonets and swords and cutlasses and knives and those edged wooden war clubs they’d taken from the Creeks, the name of which escaped Coffee at the moment. “LADDERS!” someone shouted. They hadn’t thought they’d even need ladders to climb this paltry thing. At this point, the redcoats broke off their attack and retreated behind the trees, pausing only to collect their wounded. There was no sense throwing their lives away now when the means to make a more effective attack would be here in a matter of minutes. And the Americans couldn’t counterattack — the barricade would be just as treacherous under their feet. Coffee strode to the left end of his line, and there he waited. As soon as he heard them coming, he turned to Colonel Benton and simply nodded. Benton’s volunteers didn’t get started as quickly or smoothly as U.S. regulars, let alone British soldiers, but soon enough they were swinging around the left end of the barricade to attack the nearest ladder-bearers. The snow was getting heavier. That was it. Coffee had no more stratagems, no more surprises, and no more reserves — everyone on the American side who could fight was doing it right now. He hoped the enemy didn’t know that. * * * If Benton had made his attack half an hour earlier, the British would not only have driven him off, but would probably have followed him around the southeast end of the barricade. But now, they’d been running around uphill and downhill drawing in great lungfuls of cold, dry air that scraped their throats raw, and had taken several nasty shocks and many casualties. It showed in their fighting. Those who survived the first few moments of the volunteers’ attack took shelter behind trees and fired from there. Both sides struggled to reload with fingers half-numb from the cold. All this was on the left, from Coffee’s standpoint. In the center and on the right, the redcoats were faring no better. They had ladders, but not enough of them to bring their greater numbers to bear. And, again, they had lost more energy than the defenders over the course of the battle. This made all the difference in the almost hand-to-hand fighting on the barricade. A few redcoats made it over the wall, but they were quickly overwhelmed and either killed or taken prisoner. One of them — an officer who had just been shot through the chest at point-blank range — drew Coffee’s eye. As he looked closer, he saw that the officer’s scarf had fallen off, revealing scars on either side of his neck that almost matched. Coffee had only heard of one man with scars like that. This was Sir Edward Michael Pakenham. Like Jackson, he had been a fighter. Like Jackson, he had survived things that no man should be able to live through. And like Jackson, he had finally run out of miracles. Coffee doffed his hat in respect. And sure enough, the cry was going up among the British — “THE GENERAL’S DOWN! THE GENERAL’S FALLEN!” * * * Keane felt sick with guilt. It had been on his suggestion that Pakenham had tried to take the hill. Could they still win? Possibly… but not likely. God only knew how many men they’d lost today. When in doubt, he thought, do what you know you can do. “Call for a cease-fire,” he said. “We’ll collect our wounded — those who can move — and the bodies of Thornton and Pakenham, and retreat to Fort Adams.” There, he knew, he could hold off anything the dirty-shirts cared to send against him. * * * We’ve won. Coffee hardly dared to say it out loud. It seemed so fragile. Any moment, surely the British would turn around and attack again, or a fresh army would appear on the southern horizon… “What are the casualties?” he asked Williams. “On the British side, about two hundred fifty killed, over a thousand wounded. Maybe half that on our side, sir.” Coffee nodded. About that time, the militia commander returned. “The day is ours and fairly won, sir,” he said. “Shall we pursue?” “Don’t make me push you downstairs again, Benton.” What was happening to the south was a long way from a rout. The redcoats were retreating in good order, and even after their casualties they still outnumbered the Americans. Attack or pursuit would be foolhardy. “We shall tend to our wounded, bury our dead, and await further orders.” Along with the fear that swept the land in the wake of the loss of New Orleans came anger. Inaccurate early reports led to the widespread misimpression that the city had fallen due to treachery on the part of its inhabitants. In fact, virtually all historians agree that such “treachery” as occurred was provoked by Jackson’s desperate act of attempting to torch the city in order to deny it to the British — an act he never would have considered if he had not already despaired of winning the battle. But even for those who knew the truth, it was easier to blame a cabal of semi-American, French-speaking traitors than a fallen patriot and war hero. The subject of what should be done with these “traitors,” should the fortunes of either war or peace deliver them into American hands, was a favorite one of the “War Hawks” of Congress, led by the South Carolinian representatives Calhoun, Cheves and Lowndes. Calhoun in particular waxed famously eloquent on the topic, vowing in one speech that upon retaking New Orleans, the United States would “hang enough traitors to fill the ninth circle of Hell.” For their part, the U.S. Army and militia officers who allowed themselves to be quoted invariably swore that, by whatever means, Jackson would be avenged. These sentiments were echoed in Republican newspapers throughout the land. From the safety of their offices, the scribblers called for the city to be “chastised,” “purged of corruption” or “cleansed with fire and the sword.” In mid-February, when word of the Treaty of Ghent reached American shores, the Worcester National Aegis gloated that “the mongrel miscreants must be trembling with fear at the thought of the justice that approaches them in the shadow of the Stars and Stripes.” With so many speaking freely out of ignorance, the one man whose words might have rectified the situation held his tongue. President Madison knew the truth about the fall of the city, and, having no intention of running for a third term, had nothing more to fear from public opinion. He had already written a bill of amnesty covering the Louisiana militia, the New Orleans Committee of Public Safety and all members of the city and state government who continued serving in their positions under the British. If this failed, his biographers are unanimous in the opinion that he intended to pardon any New Orleanian who happened to be convicted of treason. His closest advisors, however, encouraged him not to introduce the bill or reveal anything of his intentions until the British were gone from the city — or, better still, until the Americans had reclaimed it. “An act of mercy,” said Crawford, “will not be known for what it is unless it is offered from a position of strength.” Monroe, for his part reminded the president that Jackson had had many friends in the army, who would not look kindly on forgiveness for his killers. He cautioned that the army might have to retake the city by force, and that if they knew the “traitors” they were hunting had a pardon waiting for them, they might not take those “traitors” alive. And so, the people of New Orleans knew nothing of his good intentions. They knew only what they read in the American newspapers that the British sailors under Admiral Cochrane’s command were only too happy to supply them with. As they, too, received word of Ghent, they feared they might be left to fend for themselves. Terrible rumors swept the city during that Mardi Gras. They began with the rumor that Madison planned to hang the Committee of Public Safety and the leaders of the Louisiana militia, and soon became a good deal more far-fetched. Two weeks later, Lieutenant George Robert Gleig of the 85th wrote, “The whole city is convinced that the Yankees intend to butcher them to the last child as Joshua did the Canaanites.” The city government and militia, more sober-minded, had no intention of fleeing the city they had risked so much to defend. Nor did they wish to throw themselves on the mercy of a nation that had first betrayed them and now had the arrogance to accuse them of treason. And so, they found a third option… Charles Cerniglia, The War of 1812 As a professor of American History, the question my students most often ask me concerning the Federalists (actually, the question my students most often ask in almost all contexts) is “What were they thinking?” In the case of the Federalists of New England, what they were thinking in late 1814 and early 1815 was this: • Of the four Presidents of the United States, three had been from one state — Virginia. The one New Englander, John Adams, was also the only one who had suffered the indignity of being defeated for re-election. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court in 1815 consisted of seven judges, three of whom (including Chief Justice John Marshall, himself a Federalist) were from Virginia or Kentucky, and only one of whom was from New England. • In 1790, the then-five New England states held 28.0% of the population of the United States. Twenty years later, they held only 20.3%. They had grown by over a third, but the rest of the country had grown by much more. • Since the Jefferson administration, it seemed, the favorite foreign-policy tool of the DRs was the economic embargo, a weapon that hurt the trade-based economies of the New England states at least as badly as it hurt the British or any other enemy. • Although they had been assured that the war was being fought for self-defense, they had already witnessed more than one attempted invasion of Canada. As for defense, the defense of the New England states had been severely underfunded — partly by their own state governments, but also by the federal government. In short, the New England Federalists saw themselves and their region as having a rapidly diminishing stake in a nation which had engaged itself in a war they opposed, and which had given no thought for their well-being… The news of New Orleans did not arrive in Hartford until the convention was almost over. A few hotheads like Bigelow tried to use this to call for more radical action, but they were kept in check by their peers. The final draft of the Convention’s report called for (among other things) limits on Congress’s power to declare war, admit new states or interfere with trade, a diminishing of the South’s electoral clout by ending the 3/5 compromise, and an end to the “Virginia dynasty,” but it revealed no interest in secession. Meanwhile, as we have seen, Rep. Timothy Pickering, of Massachusetts’ 2nd District, who had served as Secretary of State under John Adams, had already stated that the British capture of New Orleans would be the signal for the secession of New England. When sailors brought word to the capital (Congress was at this juncture meeting in the Patent Office, the only government building the British had left unharmed) that New Orleans had indeed fallen, Pickering knew that his time had come. He rose to inform the astounded representatives that New England would forthwith secede from the Union and seek a separate peace with Great Britain. (As soon as he had left, the remaining New England representatives hurriedly reassured the Virginians that they had no thought of secession. One of them, a Connecticut congressman with the magnificent name of Epaphroditus Champion, approvingly quoted the Richmond Enquirer from November 1 of the year just past, which stated that “no state nor set of States has a right to withdraw itself from this Union, of its own accord.”) Having thus distinguished himself, the 69-year-old Pickering then fled the city and rode hell-for-leather to Hartford in the middle of winter — only to find that the convention was long since over, and another one was not planned until June at the earliest. Not to be discouraged, he, along with John Lowell Jr. and a handful of other like-minded individuals, began work on a “Declaration of Independence” for the New England states. He announced his intentions by way of an advertisement in the Boston Centinel, in which he assured all interested parties that once New England had cast aside all ties to the regime in Washington, the British would leave it in peace. (To give the reader some idea of the mindset at work here, Pickering referred to his group as the “blue-lighters,” taking as a badge of honor Decatur’s spurious allegations of treason.) Unfortunately for Rep. Pickering, on the very day his advertisement ran, the Centinel also carried the news of the Treaty of Ghent, and with it the understandable expectation that there would soon be peace. The self-professed “blue-lighters” were now irrelevant, humiliated, and with no way of knowing that the worst was yet to come. Nor did they realize that Massachusetts Gov. Strong had been quietly making plans of his own… Andrea Fessler, The Federalists: America’s First Second Party In 1815, when steam engines were new and unreliable, it took about six or seven weeks to sail from the British Isles to North America. Thanks to the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Drift, however, the return journey took four to five weeks. So it was that Lord Liverpool learned about Keane’s capture of New Orleans near the end of January — some two weeks before Americans learned of the Treaty of Ghent. Left to himself, perhaps, the Prime Minister might have proceeded as though nothing had happened. The long war against Napoleon had dominated the business of his ministry, as it had that of the ill-fated Spencer Perceval and the five other Prime Ministers before him. Liverpool had been hoping for peace. But the reactionary wing of the Tory party, who hated the United States and all it stood for, demanded that the treaty be scrapped forthwith. They were joined in this by the editorialists of the Times, the Globe, the Sun and the Morning Chronicle. Some commentators called this an opportunity to take back the colonies entirely, heedless of the effort that would be required to subdue a republic of eight million recalcitrant souls scattered over an area twice the size of Spain and Portugal combined. Even those who were not inclined to hostility towards the United States pointed out that although war was expensive, the sudden onset of peace would surely disrupt the economy, with tens of thousands of soldiers and sailors all unemployed at once, and industries which had come to depend on the Crown’s purchases now in desperate need of new buyers. It was George Canning who suggested that a smaller conflict with the United States might ease the transition from the economy of war to that of peace. The Whigs were (for once) united in their opposition to any further pursuit of the war in the New World, but they found little support among the majority. When U.S. Ambassador John Quincy Adams addressed Parliament later in the year, demanding that the British adhere to the terms of the treaty, Lord Castlereagh replied, “How many treaties with the Indians has your young nation already signed and broken?” The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs further pointed out that by all accounts available thus far, the city of New Orleans had freely given its loyalty to the Crown. “Where now is your vaunted love of the high principle of self-determination?” said Castlereagh. What ultimately caused Lord Liverpool and the Duke of York to agree on the course of action they ultimately took was their frustrating lack of immediate knowledge. They knew New Orleans had been taken, but nothing beyond that. For all they knew, the British Empire might reign supreme over the Mississippi Valley, or Keane and Pakenham might have been driven back into the Gulf of Mexico. Many in both parties suggested that the Crown send a trusted emissary, a man who had proven his worth in both war and peace. But, again, in this pre-telegraph era news traveled no faster than it could be carried. By the time the emissary returned to London, his report would be a month out of date, and any response to it would take the better part of two months to reach the shores of the New World. Events in Louisiana were proving how much could happen in that time. Whoever was sent needed the capacity to respond to whatever situation presented itself in America. So it was that the Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief were compelled by circumstances to give one of the strangest commands in the history of the Empire… H. Michael Wolcott, The Great Breach in the Anglo-Saxon World: Its Causes And Consequences “There they were, all in one place — the best and the brightest, and all the sons and daughters of privilege, indulging in music and dancing and lovemaking and conversation as they dreamed of a better world and squabbled over its details, believing in their hearts that they had the power to take the Western world and reshape it into a form that would bring about peace forever. “It was not to be… but was it not a beautiful dream while it lasted?” Arthur Christopher Swinburne, An Essay on the Congress of Vienna February 13, 1815 8:50 a.m. Vienna Sir Arthur Wellesley, recently created Duke of Wellington, had been in Vienna less than a month when the messenger came. The message found him at the gate of the Hofburg. When he read it, he had to restrain himself from cursing. Never in his life had he received such absurd orders. Never had he been sent on a less honorable mission. And the worst part was that Lord Castlereagh had left Vienna five days ago. From here on, Britain would have to be represented by his subordinates. Well, that needn’t be a disaster. Lord Clancarty was no Castlereagh, but he was competent enough. As for the other two, Lord Cathcart was an expert on Russian affairs, and that was about what he had going for him. Sir Charles Stewart was an excellent soldier, and as a diplomat, was… an excellent soldier. They were perhaps not the ideal triumvirate to preserve Europe from Russian domination, but they would have to do. He found Richard Trench, the second Earl of Clancarty, in the Minoritenplatz not two blocks away. “I’m afraid I must leave the business of the Crown in your hands,” he said. “I have been called away. With the exception of the King’s German Legion, all British forces currently in the Low Countries are being transferred to our holdings on the North American mainland, and I am to take command of them.” Clancarty blinked for a moment. “Are we at war with the colonials again?” he finally said. “We don’t… know.” It took a great effort for Wellington to keep from raising his voice. He hated giving long explanations, even under sane circumstances. “Remember Toulouse?” he said. “You weren’t there, of course, but you might have heard of it. Bloody business it was… but the worst part was finding out that Boney had abdicated four days earlier. The whole battle need never have been fought. And this looks to be an even worse mess.” He explained to them how the city of New Orleans had been seized even as the Treaty of Ghent was being signed — or slightly before. “We hold a few other locations,” he continued, “A town on the coast, a few islands… but New Orleans is the only thing His Majesty’s government truly cares about. “By now they should be learning of the treaty, but Ned — that is, Sir Edward Pakenham — and the other officers are very clear that they are not leaving New Orleans without specific orders to that effect. So the Prime Minister and our illustrious Commander in Chief His Grace Frederick Duke of York have decreed in their infinite wisdom that I and my army are to cross the whole ocean without having the least idea whether or not we have a war to fight. A sort of… reconnaissance in overwhelming force, you might say. “If the treaty has been put into full effect — that is to say, if our army has already withdrawn from New Orleans, or been forced from it — there’ll be nothing for it but for myself and the whole army to turn around and come back across the pond.” “And if we still hold New Orleans?” “Then I am to determine the attitude of the New Orleansians, or whatever they are called, towards our occupation. If they wish to be restored to the United States, off we go.” “And if they wish us to remain?” “In that event,” Wellington said, gritting his teeth, “according to their Lordships, the treaty can go hang.” Clancarty blinked. “The official line is something to do with the illegitimacy of the Louisiana Purchase,” he said, “but the truth is… they want New Orleans. The city commands the mouth of the Mississippi. You recall Malta and the Treaty of Amiens? ‘The forces of His Britannic Majesty shall evacuate the island, and its dependencies, within three months of the exchange of the ratifications, or sooner if possible…’ etc., etc. Of course, the forces of His Britannic Majesty did nothing of the sort — partly because Old Boney wasn’t keeping up his end of the bargain, but never mind that. “The good news is that I have been granted ‘full plenipotentiary power’ in this matter. I will be acting in the name of the King — or rather, the Prince Regent — and my decisions will be binding. I will be the one to decide if there is to be peace or war. And I will not throw a perfectly good treaty on the bonfire unless the people of New Orleans are clear and united in their desire for us to remain. “Give me regrets to everyone here. Explain the situation as best you can. While you’re at it, tell that fool of a Spaniard we have an interest in making a purchase of Florida.” “We already agreed to pay the Spanish 400,000 pounds to end their part in the slave trade.” “Buy them off again. Pay whatever you need to pay — but for God’s sake, don’t tell Don Pedro I said so.” “What about Louisiana? Should we make a… legitimate… purchase of it ourselves?” “Not until we know more.” And so, Wellington started to pack his bags. He found he was half sorry and half relieved. He’d been here for a few weeks, and it seemed like about four parts partying to one part work. Dances and banquets and concerts and all sorts of social events every night. Wellington enjoyed a party now and then, but this was a surfeit and then some. A surfeit and then some — if Vienna had a civic motto, that would be it. Beautiful women, rich desserts, fine brandy, the best music… here was a place where a man could actually begin to tire of these things. Also, concerts (especially the violins) always made him feel wistful, and he didn’t like feeling wistful. He met Klemens von Metternich at the door. “Lord Clancarty told me what you’re about,” said the prince. “I wish you luck — perhaps you will get Britain’s own back, and clean up that nasty little puddle of democracy once and for all.” Whatever his other qualities, the duke reflected, Metternich was not a military man. “Give me nothing but the twelve thousand Britons in the Low Countries now, and I can thrash any army the Yankees care to send my way,” he said. “But conquest? That is something else entirely. Anyone who served in Spain could tell you that conquering a nation means more than just defeating its armies.” February 22, 1815 Just after noon St. Francisville, Louisiana There was no need to call for silence in the ranks as the British army marched south along the river. No one was in the mood to talk. Natchez had been a vicious fight, and one that had ended with the army retreating from an enemy they outnumbered… an enemy they had thrashed more than once. At the time it had seemed like the right thing to do — they were in enemy territory, they’d taken heavy losses, and who knew if reinforcements were coming — but now they were all starting to second-guess themselves. They had dug in at Fort Adams and waited, practically hoping General Coffee would come and try to force him out. Instead, what had come was two messengers, within days of each other, with news of Ghent. Pakenham might have been willing to stay in the face of that, but Keane was not. And now, Keane, riding at the head of his army, felt worse than any of his men. The guilt over the death of his commanding officer felt like a 12-pound iron round shot sitting in his chest. The city of New Orleans, intact and under the Union Jack, was the only thing he had to show for his efforts… and now, it seemed, he was to give it back. As his horse went around the bend in the road, he met a small party of men riding up from the south. Two of them, in front, were carrying flags. The one on the left was the Union Jack. The one on the right Keane had never seen before. “Nous représentons la République de la Louisiane, une nation indépendante sous la protection de la Couronne,” said the man holding the strange flag. “It is all right here in black and white,” said the man holding the British flag. With his other hand he pulled out a rolled parchment and handed it to one of Keane’s officers, who gave it to the general. As Keane read it, he saw that it was more than just a declaration of independence. According to this, the Louisiana Purchase had never been legitimate, and therefore the people of the French colony had never been truly citizens of the United States. Their wishes had never been consulted, and now for the first time they had expressed them. If this were presented as an argument in a court of law, the judge would fall on the floor laughing. Keane said nothing. These people could proclaim themselves citizens of a republic, subjects of the Crown or warlords of the moon, but in his opinion, they would be better served by spending less time proclaiming and more time packing. The United States was coming back to this land, and its leaders were already unreasonably angry with the city and state government. This would only make them angrier. Nonetheless, he managed to avoid giving the emissaries of the “republic” a straight answer. March 1, 1815 About 10 a.m. Antwerp The last few British soldiers in the Low Countries were boarding the transports. Wellington wasn’t watching. Nor was he listening to Lord Paget. He was staring at a letter from Lord Castlereagh. It told him that his brother-in-law Ned had been killed in battle, scaling a barricade against the Yankees in a far corner of the Americas, on a hill at a place called Natchez. It was not like hearing of the unexpected loss of a loved one in an accident — there was no shock, no bewildered denial before the grief set in. Nor was it like the long-expected last breath of an ailing grandfather. He had always known this day could come, but not that it would. There had always been hope that the two of them would survive this long age of war, grow old rehashing the stories of the Peninsula and France, and wherever else they fought together… until this morning. Well, Ned had certainly died as he lived — Wellington had never known a braver man. And it sounded as though Paget was trying to tell him something important. “I beg your pardon, Henry,” he said. “What were you saying?” “I was saying, sir, that the 33rd and 73rd of Foot have embarked for to New Orleans — if the ships aren’t permitted to land, they’ll sail to Jamaica — and the 52nd is on its way to St. Augustine. Everything else is headed for Halifax or the Maine-New Brunswick border.” “Good.” Louisiana was too far from the American population centers to hit them where it hurt, and Florida was a howling wilderness that could not support more than one regiment for any length of time. Any serious attack on Yankee territory — if such were necessary — would have to be launched from the north. Wellington would rather have had the 52nd by his side, but if any one regiment could hold its own in a distant place far from any friend, it would be the Light Bobs. “Ultimately, between the units there and the units being sent over from the British Isles, you shall have some 24,000 men under your command. I only hope they have good cavalry horses in Halifax.” Transporting this many men across the Atlantic on such short notice would have been complicated enough without trying to bring their horses along. Before boarding, Wellington looked at the letter in his hands again. God willing, there will be no need to fight at all, he thought. But if there is, Ned, I’ll make it a fight worthy of you. Then he walked up the gangplank, not looking back. At that very moment, nearly six hundred miles to the south, Napoleon Bonaparte was entering the town of Golfe-Juan. Word of the treaty spread through the continent with a painful slowness that we can scarcely imagine today. Nonetheless, by the end of February almost all British forces had evacuated U.S. territory. There were two major exceptions. One was the coastal town of Castine, in what would become Maine. There Sherbrooke held out, hoping against hope that the government would change its mind and add the so-called “Province of New Ireland” to its Canadian possessions, or that Strong would remember his proposal of the previous year. The other, of course, was New Orleans… Charles Cerniglia, The War of 1812 March 8, 1815 About 10 a.m. New Orleans “Damned if I like this,” said Cochrane. “None of these people are going to leave, you know. They turned against that bloody-minded maniac precisely because they were loyal to their city, and you expect them to abandon it?” “I don’t see that they have much choice,” said Keane, watching the sailors load supplies onto the fleet at the lakeside dock. “You might have encouraged them to come with us, rather than leading them on with false hope.” “I didn’t think they were false promises. Now that this place is a republic…” They had been over this ground a good many times over the last couple of days. “If nothing else, I wish we could offer Lafitte and You privateer commissions.” “Me?” “Forgive me — Dominique You. That is his name.” “Ah.” “Sir!” Keane turned to look. It was a messenger from one of Gibbs’ regiments. “Sir, General Gibbs requests your presence at the west end of the city.” “What’s this in aid of?” “Some Yankees on horseback have shown up with arrest warrants.” “Already?” Keane got moving. A fair number of the buildings in New Orleans — especially the poorer homes, made of logs instead of brick — were still burned-out shells. If Keane hadn’t put his men to work putting out the fires the minute the Yankees had fled, and if there hadn’t been a river and lake handy to draw water from, the city might have been lost. As he walked through the streets, he saw that more and more of the townspeople were walking in the same direction as himself. Most of them were armed. This couldn’t be a good sign. He quickened his pace. At the edge of town, Keane saw the intruders. They were cavalry — a militia unit. He estimated their numbers at between three and four hundred, with plenty of remounts. General Gibbs and a couple of companies of British soldiers were blocking their path into the city. “Colonel Thomas Benton,” he said. “For the purposes of this mission, my men and I have been sworn in as deputy U.S. Marshals. We’re here to serve this arrest warrant.” He pulled out a roll of parchment. Keane looked at it. They had everybody here — Jacques Villeré who seemed to be in charge of the Republic’s provisional government, his son Gabriel who had killed his dog to escape the British, Destrehan, Plauche, Latour, Nolte, Ducartel, Seignouret, Dussau de la Croix and the rest of the Committee… He looked down. There were over a hundred names on this list. “You might have come two weeks later,” said Keane. “By then we would have been out of your hair, and we would have persuaded your so-called ‘traitors’ to come with us.” “Why do you think we were in such a hurry?” said Benton. “We don’t want them ‘out of our hair,’ we want them in our hands. We want to make them pay for what they’ve done. And there’s at least one other who is not on this list.” “Who might that be?” “The man or men who murdered General Jackson, of course.” Benton tried to keep his face and voice neutral as he said this, but didn’t quite succeed. “General Jackson fell in battle,” said Keane. “He killed one of his enemies in the process. You can hardly call that murder.” He would have reminded Benton that the British had lost a leader as well, but he did not want to risk showing the guilt he still felt over that. “Whoever it is — along with every man on this list — will have their day in court, I promise you. They can make their case then.” Keane suddenly became acutely aware of all the muttering behind him. He turned. Something like the entire Louisiana militia was gathering in the streets, armed and looking ready to fight. Keane was no prophet, but suddenly he could see the future very clearly. Even if he stood aside and did nothing, the militia could easily drive off Benton and his men today. But the dirty-shirts would come back, with General Coffee and ten, or twenty, or thirty thousand men. Even if every New Orleanian who could lift, point and fire a musket fought, they would be outnumbered… and after that would come something very much like the massacre they all feared. Then Keane noticed that one of them was a woman in widow’s weeds. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-five. “Héléne Judith Toutant-Beauregarde,” she said when he asked for her name. “My Jacques… was at Pearl River.” Her black dress was loose about the waist. She wasn’t starting to show, but something in her complexion said to Keane this woman is pregnant. At this point his treacherous memory whispered the phrase beauty and booty into his ear. His army had come with the intention not to save the city, but to loot it… among other things. The general was sickened by the thought of the fate that this brave young woman might have suffered at the hands of Englishman under his command. Thank You, God, for sparing her that, he thought. And thank You even more for sparing me that. Could the Lord possibly have spared her then, only to desert her now? Did he not have a duty to these people, as well as to the Crown? “I remind you that you no longer have any right to stop us,” said Benton. “Tell your men to stand aside.” Keane realized at this point that there were two people whose actions had brought things to this pass. He was one, and the other was dead. This might not be his fault, but it was surely his responsibility. And it only got worse as he looked at the crowd behind the Beauregarde widow. The sight of all these women and gray-headed men and beardless boys assembled in the street behind the militia, clutching old muskets and cutlasses, cane-knives or whatever other weapons they could find… even a coward might have been moved to defend these people. And there was not a grain of cowardice anywhere in Keane’s army. His men were looking at him expectantly — even Gibbs. (Even black freedmen were in the crowd, armed like everyone else. In New Orleans, this was well-nigh a sign of the coming Apocalypse.) “General Keane?” said Benton. The seconds were ticking past one by one, each one whispering four little words as it went by — Make up your mind. Make up your mind. Make up your mind. So he did. “No,” he said. “I beg your pardon?” “No. You may not arrest anyone here.” As the crowd cheered, Benton stared blankly. Finally he said, “On whose authority?” Well, one might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. “On the authority of the Republic of Louisiana, which rests under the protection of the Crown.” There. He’d said it. Benton was silent. He was almost the only one there who was. The crowd cheered and catcalled. Even the British soldiers were cheering. Finally, the Americans said something that was probably an ominous warning, even though it was completely drowned out. Then he and his men turned and left. * * * “I promise you, you won’t regret this,” said Jacques Villeré. Keane was already regretting it a little, but he knew he would have regretted the alternative even more. “Is Mr. Claiborne still being held in Fort Charles?” “So he is.” “I should like to have him released to the Americans,” said Keane, “and I should like to speak to him first.” “That seems reasonable,” said Villeré, with the air of a man granting a favor rather than obeying an order. While Keane was sitting in Villeré’s office, waiting for the release of the former state’s former governor, Admiral Cochrane entered. “I must say, I didn’t think you had it in you,” he said. “Nor did I, until the moment came.” “Well, rest assured — if you need a man to plead the rightness of our cause, I will not be found wanting.” * * * William C. C. Claiborne had been kept in decent health during his two months or more as a prisoner of war, but his militiaman’s uniform was worn and mended to unrecognizability. “Well, am I being given my parole?” said the ex-governor. “In a manner of speaking.” “And you truly intend to recognize this farce of a republic.” “We remain loyal to our Louisianan allies, and respect their decision,” said Keane. “But in the interest of peace, I have a request to make of you. “Go to Washington. Take your wife and children with you — I won’t have it said that I’m holding any hostages. “Find President Madison and tell him this from me. I am willing to serve as mediator in this dispute between the United States and the Republic of Louisiana. Simply put, if your government can persuade these people to rejoin your union of their own free will, Admiral Cochrane and I will be more than happy to leave in full accord with the treaty already signed.” More than happy was not strictly true, but for this purpose it didn’t matter. “You truly expect me to believe you,” said Claiborne. “Think of me as you please. My chief purpose is to prevent needless bloodshed.” Claiborne shook his head. “I think you mean what you say,” he said, “but I wonder what you would have done differently if it had been your chief purpose to start a war.” To this, Keane had no answer. March 25, 1815 7:30 p.m. Vienna Lord Clancarty sat at the desk in his suite, desperately trying to think of the best way to write his letter to Lord Castlereagh. That Bonaparte had escaped was already old news. They’d learned it in London not long after they learned it in Vienna. At first, it hadn’t been cause for panic. Surely, they thought, surely the French would seize the man who had led them into so many disasters and hang him from the nearest tree. They hadn’t. This was not an emergency. Surely Marshal Michel Ney would bring the would-be Emperor to Paris in an iron cage as he had promised. He'd followed Bonaparte to Paris in triumph instead. Surely the French people would not suffer the overthrow of their good king Louis XVIII. Surely they would not allow themselves to be rallied for yet another war. Guess what was happening now. Clancarty tried to remember that the man was only mortal. He could be beaten — had been beaten, early on, in Egypt. His expedition to Haiti had been a failure, and it was only a pity he hadn’t led it personally. But other memories rose up into his mind as well. Austerlitz. Jena. Auerstädt. Halle. Freidland. Wagram. Even thinking any one of those names felt like sticking a finger into an open wound. For years, it had seemed like the certain fate of all Europe to be part of a French Empire under that man’s rule. Finally — finally, after the great beast had wasted the bulk of his army on a military adventure so grandiose than not even he could make it work — through the combined efforts of basically every other nation in Europe, he was defeated. It cost more, in lives and material, than anyone would reasonably expect. But last year, they did it. They beat him and they sent him off to the island of Elba. Let that be his empire. And since then, everyone had been trying to pick up the pieces… and Clancarty thought they’d been doing rather well. The past quarter of a century had already started to seem like a bad dream, a nightmare in which royal families of ancient lineage could be overthrown by angry mobs and beheaded like chickens in the marketplace, and a clan of Corsican banditti could put crowns on their heads, proclaim themselves lords of creation, sweep all before them and destroy the order of centuries and no one could stop them. Now, at last, Christendom was awake, the fever had broken, the nightmare was over, and the world could rest safe at peace in the hands of legitimate kings from real dynasties… Until now. He’s back. I thought we were shot of him. He’s back. We’ll have to do it all over again. He’s back. God, I know we’re sinners, but have we really sinned this much? All this, Their Lordships already knew. What they didn’t know about was the suspicion with which the Powers were starting to regard each other. Who, exactly, had financed Bonaparte’s escape? Who had paid his bills until he gained control of the state? Whose bright idea was it to send him into exile so close to home? The Prussians suspected the Austrians, the Austrians the tsar… and everybody was looking askance at the British. It was their ships and men that had been given the task of watching over Bonaparte, and they had failed. According to Talleyrand, they “were guilty of a negligence which they will find it difficult to excuse.” Sir Charles Stewart had made things worse, blithely saying that they had never actually committed themselves in writing to the man’s imprisonment. The looks on the faces of the Austrians and Russians and Prussians — and even the Spaniards — had spoken volumes. Hundreds of thousands of brave men died to put that beast in a cage where he belongs, and YOU left the door unlocked. Whatever happened to “England expects that every man will do his duty?” Today, at least, Clancarty had done his duty. Together with the representatives of Austria, Prussia and Russia, he had worked out a treaty whereby each of the four Powers would raise an army of 150,000 for the express purpose of defeating Bonaparte. Well, sort of. The British army was very professional, had possibly the best logistical support in the world… and it was very small. Clancarty wasn’t sure the United Kingdom could field 150,000 men. He was quite sure he didn’t dare commit them to it. So he had arranged an additional article to the treaty whereby His Britannic Majesty might contribute fewer men and more money — twenty pounds a year per infantryman and thirty pounds a year per cavalryman. The other signatories had nodded, with only a hint of contempt, as if they had expected nothing better. Clancarty wasn’t worried that this new coalition (which one was it now? The seventh?) would break up over these differences — not while Bonaparte was on the loose. But not since the American Revolution had Britain’s standing in the world been in greater jeopardy. We need Wellington, he thought. Whatever else we give the war effort, he must be part of it. Whatever he’s doing in America can’t be as important as this. Their Lordships won’t want to call him back so soon after sending him there, but they must. We must be seen by the world to be giving our best. March 30, 1815 Washington, D.C. President James Madison looked around his office and sighed once again. The Octagon House was a very nice place, but when the President of the United States was living on someone else’s property because he’d been burned out of his mansion by an enemy, something had gone terribly wrong somewhere. James Monroe and William Crawford winced a little at the expression on his face. “You must be ruing the day you listened to our advice,” said Monroe. “Don’t blame yourself — either of you,” said the president. “I don’t think any of us could have anticipated that things could come to such a pass. And if I had offered the amnesty bill or guaranteed pardons, who’s to say things wouldn’t have turned out even worse?” “What do you think of this message from Claiborne?” said Monroe. “If Claiborne thinks that this Keane is sincere, then so do I,” said Madison. “I also think that I am a head of state and I am not going to negotiate with Keane or Sherbrooke or any other underling of the Crown. Do these people follow orders, or do they not?” “One wonders,” said Crawford. “Do you think war is likely?” “I hope not,” said Madison. “All the same, we’d better reinforce the defenses along the border. Especially Detroit — I am not losing that place again. Send Lieutenant Colonel Armistead to take charge of the defenses there. He did more than well enough at Fort McHenry.” “Have you heard that Governor Strong has decided to call out the Massachusetts militia?” said Monroe. “Has he?” said Madison. “Better late than never, I suppose.” “What about Speaker Clay?” said Crawford. “Is it true he offered to negotiate with the New Orleanians?” “He did,” said the president. “He would have done better to silence the hotheaded War Hawks in our party.” “Perhaps,” said Monroe, “but at least no one will accuse him of plotting our capitulation.” “Certainly not,” said Madison. “At this point, I’m tempted, but… think of the precedent it would set. If a part of the nation secedes and harbors foreign troops on its soil, must we negotiate to win them back? Given the sort of regional divisions we’ve already seen, I don’t care to see future administrations held hostage to every disaffected state and city.” April 5, 1815 Boston What was it Dr. Johnson had said? Ah, yes. "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." At the moment, the mind of Governor Caleb Strong was feeling painfully concentrated. They were going to find out. Sooner or later they were going to find out. Last year, when things had looked particularly bleak, he had written to Sir John Sherbrooke, proposing to take his state out of the war entirely, allowing the British to keep the parts of Maine they’d taken. He hadn’t gotten a response, and not long after that the peace treaty had been signed… but now it looked like they were in danger of war again, and the enemy had proof of his attempted betrayal. “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Those last five words seemed to be echoing inside his head. Bringing his state to a separate peace with the British Empire, allowing them to concentrate their forces elsewhere… what else could you call it? “No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” Unfortunately, all they would need would be Sherbrooke and his secretary. There was never a good time to be caught betraying your country, but this was a worse time than usual. Thanks to those Creole maniacs in New Orleans, the people were up in arms against traitors of any sort. And the biggest irony of all was that his constituents had hated this war. If the treaty had never been signed, the people of Massachusetts might have applauded him for getting him out of the war cheaply. If New Orleans hadn’t fallen, he at least could have hoped no one would have found out about what he’d done until he was already dead. Now, he could see his future and there was a noose at the end of it. He couldn’t very well write to Sherbrooke and ask nicely for his letter back. The only thing he could do was prove, by his deeds, that he was loyal to the United States. He looked at himself in the mirror. Perhaps he didn’t cut the most martial of figures even in his uniform, but the militia wouldn’t care. He had given the order a month ago. By now there should be a force assembled in Portland and ready to move. His bags were packed. He was ready for war. If Sherbrooke wouldn’t leave Castine of his own free will, Strong would drive him out. April 7, 1815 Liverpool A packet ship left Liverpool harbor carrying messages from all over the British Isles — but not as many as usual. The captain had been given one message in particular, from the Prince Regent to the Duke of Wellington, and been ordered to sail as soon as the tide allowed. By the standards of the time, packet ships were very fast indeed. This one could make the voyage from Liverpool to New York City in a mere forty days. Of course, finding Wellington, unlike finding New York, would take up at least a few days. Nonetheless, the captain was confident he would have the message in the general’s hands before the end of May. April 17, 1815 Halifax, Nova Scotia The Duke of Wellington looked up from his desk. “What is it?” “Cochrane and Murray are here, sir,” said Morriset in that odd whistling voice that no one else could imitate, although a good many sailors had been flogged for trying over the course of their journey. (Personally, Wellington thought the man was doing well to be able to talk at all out of that skewed and slightly off-center mouth.) Major James Morisset, recently of the 80th Foot, was his aide-de-camp for this expedition. The major always wore his dress uniform, with well-polished buttons and as much gold braid as he could get away with. He looked more like a dandy than a soldier, until you caught sight of his face, and then you wished you had kept your eyes shut. “Bring them in,” said Wellington. Morisset was an old Spanish hand who’d had the misfortune of fighting at Albuera under Beresford. In his case, the great misfortune — the bones of his face had been shattered by an explosion, and had healed… wrong. Fortunately, his brain was undamaged, and he was a harsher disciplinarian than Wellington, which was a useful quality in a subordinate. He also had a gift for intimidation. As Cochrane entered, Morriset turned his head to show the admiral the most damaged part of his face. (The major had the habit of doing this — partly as a way of daring other men to look at him, and partly because, although he could still see out of the eye on that side, he couldn’t move it.) “Good morning, Your Grace,” said Cochrane. “’Sir’ will suffice,” said Wellington. “I have been given plenipotentiary power here, which makes me your commanding officer. Something I hope Keane, Sherbrooke and yourself will bear in mind, as you have all exceeded your authority to a degree that I have never before seen in British officers.” Cochrane had the grace to look a little ashamed. “Now then… what is the situation in Louisiana?” “When I left, it was a cease-fire. General Keane was still offering to mediate the matter, but the dirty-shirts were determined to retake the place by force and the New Orleanians were refusing to allow it.” “Well, that does make things more complicated.” The duke spared a moment to think a few more disgusted thoughts about the mess Cousin Jonathan had made. Trying to burn down your own city… Lisbon wasn't even a British city, but if Masséna had somehow pierced the Lines of Torres Vedras, Wellington would not have destroyed it on the way out any more than Moore had torched Corunna. “If it is not out of line for me to say so, sir,” said Cochrane, “although the decision lies in your hands, I can’t believe that the Crown would send such a large body of men with you on the expectation that you wouldn’t use it.” “You are most likely right,” said Wellington, “but if I can resolve this matter peacefully, I will do so. To that end…” He turned to Sir George Murray, lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada. “You have delivered my message?” Wellington had sent a message to the president, offering to negotiate over the disposition and boundaries of Louisiana. “I have,” said Murray, “but… permission to speak freely?” “By all means.” “President Madison has issued an ultimatum. He’s given us until the end of April to quit all U.S. territory, or he will give the order to resume the war. From the tone of his remarks, I don’t imagine he will accept another negotiated peace — not even from yourself. What he wants, I think, is for the world to respect his nation.” Cochrane made a noise that was half laugh, half gasp of disbelief. “A little bandits’ lair on the far side of the pond, shouting out death threats to every crowned head on Earth… what about that are we supposed to respect? What have they done in this war to command respect? Do they think themselves conquistadors because His Majesty decided they weren’t worth”— “Be silent,” said Wellington. “Now, Lieutenant-Governor, how do the colonial forces stand?” “Ready to resume the war, if necessary,” said Murray. “What about Prévost? Is he gone?” “Yes, sir. He left Quebec not two weeks ago. Sir Gordon Drummond is in command of Canadian forces.” “Excellent.” “He’s concentrating his army north of Lake Champlain. He’s expecting you to join him.” “Is he? Well, Sir Gordon may do as he pleases, but not with my army. We have attacked the United States twice by way of that corridor, and failed both times. If we come at them the same old way, they’ll beat us the same old way.” “If you wish, sir,” said Cochrane, much more humbly than before, “I could undertake the transfer of your army to Louisiana or Florida.” “That would take too long,” said Wellington. “I have already sent reinforcements to both places. If it comes to war, they’ll have to stand on the defensive.” Most of his army was positioned on the Maine-New Brunswick border. (The old border, not the Penobscot. Wellington still held out some hope of peace, and he certainly wasn’t going to go to war for the sake of Sherbrooke’s “New Ireland.”) Wellington took out a map of New England. “This afternoon I will take ship for St. George, New Brunswick,” he said. “That will be my command post. “If it comes to war, this is my plan of attack. We will start here and proceed south along the coast, supplying the army by sea — you will be in charge of that aspect, Admiral Cochrane. Our aim will be not to conquer and hold territory, but to force the United States to the negotiating table.” “The terrain will be difficult, sir,” said Murray. “The terrain is difficult? Heavens,” said Wellington dryly, thinking of the rocky hillsides of Maharashtra and Spain, where he had done quite well. “And there are several rivers you would have to cross — the Penobscot, the Merrimack…” Wellington restrained himself from rolling his eyes. For as long as he’d been in the army, it seemed, he’d had to put up with people who treated rivers as though they were impassable barriers — too deep, too swift, the bridges were out, the water was full of crocodiles, etc. His first victory had been at Assaye — two villages within five hundred yards of one another on either side of a river, and the natives had had the cheek to tell him there was no ford between them. “I crossed an ocean to get here,” he said. “I think I can manage a few rivers. Of course, if the president agrees to talk, all this will become moot.” “What about Sherbrooke, sir?” said Murray. “Will you be commanding him to leave Castine?” “As I said in my letter to Madison, my first act on receiving his reply will be to give that order. We have no real claim on it, and so long as we control the sea it adds nothing to our strategic advantage. Nonetheless, it does not pay to make concessions until the other side at least shows some willingness to negotiate.” The Battle of Castine 4/24 “Benedict Arnold proved that a hero can die a traitor. Caleb Strong proved that a traitor can die a hero.” — historian Charles Cerniglia “Bloody May” — the sudden resumption in hostilities after three months of cease-fire — actually began in the last week of April, when Governor Strong led a force of 10,000 Massachusetts militiamen towards the British-occupied town of Castine to demand Sherbrooke’s immediate withdrawal. There he found the 29th encamped across the not-quite-half-mile-wide isthmus between Wadsworth Cove and Hatch Cove. Which side is to blame for starting the battle is a matter of historical contention. The general agreement is that the British refused to get out of the Americans’ way, and opened fire when the Americans refused to stop. After taking heavy casualties, the militiamen drove the British back from the isthmus. Sherbrooke re-formed his lines behind the canal. It was while forcing a crossing of this canal that Governor Strong was killed. When they found themselves charging uphill towards Fort George, occupied by two more regiments, the militia had had enough. They retreated to Bucksport, and from there began marching to reinforce the border. David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812 The Battle of the Great Chazy River 5/6 “They are not monsters. They are not devils. They are men, they are no stronger or more enduring of body than we are, and THEY CAN BE DEFEATED. I have seen it done. I have done it before.” — General Jacob Jennings Brown Shortly after Wellington crossed the border, the Glengarry Light Infantry and a substantial force of Canadian militia, including the Voltigeurs, invaded the United States between Mooers and Champlain, headed for Plattsburgh. As they were fording the Great Chazy River (“Great compared to what?” said one Voltigeur) they were met by 5,000 U.S. army regulars from the Army of the Niagara, under the personal command of General Brown. The heavily wooded terrain did not allow either side to enter formation, but the Americans were able to make use of trees and improvised cover. Over 100 British and Canadians were killed, compared with 14 Americans, before the retreat. Brown did not pursue — Madison had ordered him not to attempt to hold Canadian territory, but instead to prepare to engage Wellington. David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812 The Battle of Madambontis Lake 5/6 “The trouble with being the fastest dog in the hunt is you might catch up to the bear before the others do.” — anonymous Massachusetts militia volunteer General Wellington and his army began their march through U.S. territory on May 5, slipping their army between two American forces guarding the border. The Americans immediately began pursuit. In their haste, the Massachusetts militiamen allowed some of their faster regiments to get too far ahead of the main body. As a result, when one regiment encountered Wellington’s rear guard the next day north of Madambontis Lake, it found itself severely outnumbered by soldiers who were already individually more competent. In the ensuing skirmish, seventeen Americans and nine Britons were killed or wounded before the Americans retreated. David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812 The Second Siege of Detroit 5/9-31 “I am not William Hull.” — Lieutenant Colonel (later General) George Armistead The 41st regiment, which had captured Detroit once before, was sent to do so again, backed up by the Michigan Fencibles and over 500 Native Americans of various tribes. When it crossed the river, it encountered over 600 regular U.S. troops under Armistead’s command. Following a brief battle, the Americans abandoned the waterfront and retreated to Fort Shelby. After the first two attacks failed on the fort failed, the British settled in for a siege. More Native Americans, primarily Shawnee and Wyandot, joined in the effort. However, the fort proved adequately equipped with food, powder and shot, and the new allies of the British overwhelmed the planned logistical support. The Native Americans dispersed when the food ran short. Seeing their allies leaving, the British abandoned the siege at the end of the month. Contrary to popular misimpression, Armistead was not killed in the battle, or even wounded. The prolonged effort took its toll on his health, however, and he died of heart failure shortly afterward. David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812 The Battle of Merrymeeting Bay 5/11 “Leave your weapons here. Go home. Pray you never cross my path again.” — Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, to the surviving militia Two days before the battle, Wellington’s already substantial army had been reinforced by the addition of the three regiments under the command of Sherbrooke. (History does not record what Wellington said to Sherbrooke when they met, but witnesses describe the lieutenant-governor as appearing “chastened” as he emerged from the tent.) The combined army was more than a match for the 15,000-strong force of Massachusetts militia encamped between Lily’s Cove and Cork Cove, under the command of Major General Joseph Whiton. Wellington chose to attack at first light, so that the sun would shine increasingly in the Americans’ eyes over the course of the battle. This, however, proved irrelevant. The militia were taken completely by surprise, and by the time the sun had cleared the treeline, they had been thoroughly routed. Whiton was killed in the opening volleys of the attack. In fifteen minutes, the militia had been driven into the bay. Literally — the senior surviving officer was standing in water up to the knees when he offered his surrender. The Americans suffered a loss of 1,128 killed and wounded to the British-Canadian loss of 42. David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812 The Second Battle of LaPlace 5/13-17“People of Louisiana! Here I am and here I shall remain, until the King of England or the Angel of Death command my departure.” — Major General John Keane, the day before the battle Keane’s army had built a fortified line upriver from New Orleans, stretching from the Mississippi to Lake Ponchartrain. There were several gunboats on the lake, and a number of the local “algerines” had been persuaded to patrol the river. On the American side, General Coffee’s losses at Natchez had been more than made up by Choctaws under the command of Pushmataha and additional regiments of Kentucky and Tennessee militia. On the first day, Coffee tried a series of probing attacks while keeping the bulk of his army in reserve, searching for a possible weak spot. On the second day, he ordered an all-out attack on the northern end of the line, near the lake, where there were only a few dozen New Orleans volunteers and no artillery. The lake gunboats arrived in time to strike his army with enfilading fire, and the attack was a disaster. The third day was quiet, except for a confused battle after dusk when Pushamataha’s Choctaws canoed past the pirates and attacked the city. Pirates, Choctaws and volunteers fought on the docks without being able to clearly see one another. Nonetheless, many of the Choctaws were killed or captured, and the attack yielded no tactical advantage. On the fourth day, Coffee had to turn upriver to deal with the fact that the Chickasaw had begun raiding his supply lines. (After the war, the Chickasaw would be permitted to settle in Louisiana.) David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812 The Sack of the Ports 5/14, 5/17 “Remember the ‘beauty and booty’ you were promised in New Orleans? Here it is, men! Make the most of it!” — Admiral Alexander Cochrane, at Portland Wellington’s overall strategy was to march down the coast, supplied by sea, torching the major American ports — Boston, Providence, the Connecticut ports, New York City if necessary — until the U.S. government agreed to come to the bargaining table. Due to the necessity for speed, there was a limit to how much damage his army could stop to commit, and stopping to loot was out of the question. No such restrictions applied to Cochrane. While the Portland militia and volunteers were arrayed in a line northeast of the city to meet Welllington, Cochrane sailed in virtually unopposed, and the Royal and Colonial Marines under his command sacked and burned much of the town center, then fought a defensive battle amid the flaming rubble as they retreated to the ships. Three days later, at Portsmouth, Cochrane found the city militia waiting at the docks for him. He was unable to loot the city, but did manage to set much of the port on fire, including the shipyard. David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812 The Battle of Levy’s Field 5/16 “How do you Yankee Doodles like the King’s law now?” — Colonel John Colborne, 1st Baron Seaton, commanding the 52nd Light Infantry Three units of Georgia militia, acting under orders from Governor Peter Early, crossed the border and invaded Florida on May 15, with the intention of fighting and defeating the British regiment at St. Augustine. They never reached St. Augustine or fought the regiment in question. They were ambushed by Seminoles under the command of the chief Kinache in a stretch of virgin forest near the present-day location of Sepharad. They retreated to a field owned by Moses Elias Levy (father of David Levy Yulee, future governor of Florida) but were quickly surrounded. The First Regiment of Cavalry, under the command of Captain John M. Berrien, was able to fight its way out of the trap and return to U.S. territory, but it could not come to the aid of the Second Regiment or the Liberty Independent Troop. Only the intervention of the “Light Bobs,” the regiment the Georgians had come to fight, saved the militiamen from massacre at the hands of the Seminoles. David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812  OTL Jacksonville.  Remember this name. The Battle of Newburyport 5/20 “Sic semper piratis.” — Rear Admiral Sir Pultney Malcolm, K.C.B., aboard HMS Royal Oak Although Cochrane benefited at Portland from Wellington’s drawing the militia away from the city, this battle marked the first intentional coordination of land and naval power in the campaign. As Wellington prepared to bring his army across the river, Cochrane’s fleet sailed up the Merrimack and bombarded the town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, a key privateering port, taking aim at artillery positions and troop concentrations. The bombardment did not stop until some of Wellington’s boats were already past the fleet. Despite the cannonade, Wellington’s men took heavy casualties crossing the river. They returned the favor when they reached the southern bank, forming lines under fire with remarkable speed and driving the militia south from their positions. There was just enough of the town left for the British and Canadians to bivouac in for the night. Near the end of the battle, the Vermont and New Hampshire militia arrived at the north bank of the Merrimack too late to prevent the British from crossing. They exchanged fire with Wellington’s retreating rear guard while Cochrane’s fleet employed their starboard guns against the latecomers. David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812 The Third Battle of Sackett’s Harbor 5/22 “I can still shoot, but someone else will have to help me reload.” — New York Governor Daniel D. Tompkins After the Great Chazy River, when General Brown turned southeast to pursue Wellington, Sir Gordon Drummond picked up reinforcements and turned west to make another attack on Sackett’s Harbor. Although Tompkins was outnumbered, he made the most of the resources at hand, hastily improvising a fortified line south of Mill Creek, then launching an attack on the enemy’s flank, rolling them up and driving them toward Black River Bay, where the newly-commissioned USS Natchez opened fire on them and forced them to surrender. Ironically, it is now believed to be a glancing blow from a stray piece of grapeshot from the Natchez that shattered the bones in the governor's left wrist, forcing its amputation. David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812 The Battle of Charlestown-beyond-the-Neck 5/23-24 “Last week would have been a good time to evacuate.” — Ebenezer Oliver, of the Boston Board of Selectmen General Brown actually arrived in the Boston area the day before Wellington did — only to find that the Royal Navy was in complete control of the harbor and in the process of seizing control of the neck that linked the city to the mainland. Admiral Perry was at that moment attacking a squadron of Cochrane's fleet, but he would fail, with two of his ships sunk and the rest driven off. Moreover, Brown had fewer than 10,000 U.S. regulars with which to oppose Wellington’s army, with no prospect of more for several days. The portion of the Massachusetts militia still willing to fight the duke was mostly holed up in Boston itself under the command of acting Governor William Phillips, Jr. With this in mind, and having just learned what happened at Newburyport, Brown chose heavy use of delaying tactics rather than open confrontation when the British army crossed the Mystic River. Riflemen in secure positions picked off individual soldiers. Field-pieces were concealed in houses, where they fired at the British through the wooden walls. When Wellington moved closer to the harbor and the protection of the fleet, mines hidden in barrels went off. It took the British most of 24 hours to force their way through the town and across the Charles River. David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812 May 26, 1815 12:15 a.m. Roxbury, Massachusetts From his position at the top of the hill, Wellington listened to the sound of the gunfire from the west. It was getting fiercer and fiercer… but not louder. The battle was coming no closer. His men were not falling back. Good, he thought. This General Brown was learning the Americans weren’t the only ones who knew how to fight from cover. The fight in the apple orchard to the east this morning had been as close as he had come to dislodging the British from the high ground, and it hadn’t been nearly close enough. To the north, the situation was well in hand. Enough buildings had been knocked down on the narrow strand connecting Boston to the mainland that the ships of the line had a clear field of fire. Right now, he was trying to concentrate on the problem to the south. Scouts had reported the enemy was massing its cavalry for a charge. This was not exactly ideal cavalry country, which gave him an idea how desperate they must be. They were planning to charge up Warren and Eustis street and meet behind his lines. “Are all the Congreves ready?” “Just getting the last of ‘em in position, general,” called one of the engineers. Wellington took his spyglass. “Be quick about it!” he shouted. “The attack will begin at any” — before he could even say the word “moment” the distant thunder of ten thousand horses began. He waited. The noise was getting louder — not just because the Yankees on horseback were getting closer, but because they were riding harder and picking up speed. Horses didn’t go straight to a gallop all at once. The perfect moment to strike was coming. Any second now. Out of the corner of his eye, Wellington saw with some indignation that some idiot of a Navy messenger was here and trying to get his attention. Fortunately, Morriset had the fool in hand, and was putting his formidable powers of intimidation to work. And… now. Wellington turned, locked eyes with a specific aide and nodded. The aide blew a bugle. Five thousand rockets streaked toward the enemy in the next three seconds. Congreves were tools of limited use. They couldn’t be aimed at anything smaller than an army and didn’t pack enough punch to use against fortifications, but they were perfect for terrifying horses. After lugging the damned things all the way here, Wellington was happy to have an excuse to make them the enemy’s problem instead of his. The attack had just been shattered. Horses were crashing into one another, turned aside or fled in panic, their riders no longer in control. That said nothing about the men and beasts that had been killed or wounded in those few seconds. As soon as those American cavalrymen who could retreat had done so, Wellington turned his attention to the west. The gunfire was dying down. The attack there was failing as well. Now he could turn his attention to whatever missive Cochrane had seen fit to interrupt him with. He read it. It wasn’t from Cochrane after all. He could feel his face starting to burn. He gritted his teeth and willed his hands not to shake from rage. He turned to the messenger, who was still trying not to look at Morriset. “Thank you,” he said in a voice almost completely devoid of inflection. “You did well to bring this to me. That will be all.” Wellington retreated to the building he’d commandeered as headquarters, Morriset following close behind. Once he was out of everyone’s earshot, he exploded. “GOD DAMN IT!” he shouted. “Peace! War! Take New Orleans! Give it back! Take it away again! Sail to America! Sail back to England! And everything seven weeks late! IS THIS ANY WAY TO RUN AN EMPIRE? IS THIS ANY WAY TO FIGHT A WAR?” Wellington rarely lost his temper completely, but this was a special occasion. When he could keep his voice level, he told Morriset to send a messenger to Brown under a flag of truce, requesting a cease-fire. This done, he explained the situation. Old Boney was back. The French, incredibly, were rallying to him. The allies had pledged men and material to put paid to him. To this end, you are required to do whatever may be needful to settle affairs in North America as expeditiously as possible, then to proceed with all surviving forces of the March expedition and as many units of the British Army as our New World colonies can spare… It was signed by the Prince Regent. Below that was the signature of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, second son of the king, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces and no friend of Wellington’s. Below that was the distinctively illegible scrawl of Lord Liverpool, the Prime Minister. “It’s too much to hope for that this Madison fellow won’t have news of Boney’s return,” he said, “or that he won’t have realized the implications.” He sighed. He couldn’t just pull his army out, the Americans would wait until he was well away from their shores, and then raise new armies and attack Louisiana, Florida and the Canadas. He needed a peace treaty, and so far there had been no sign of one. Time to make one, then. He pulled out a map of North America that had no strategically valuable information on it and drew a couple of lines. This was going to require some very quick and dirty negotiation. * * * Wellington had to give Brown credit — the man looked Morriset in the eye and didn’t even flinch. The pleasantries, such as they were, were quickly gotten out of the way. “You did your level best to dislodge us today,” said Wellington. “You failed. Your army is still intact, but not in position to defend anything beyond itself.” “You’ll find we have not yet begun to fight,” replied Brown. Wellington knew he was quoting some American ship captain or other, but didn’t care. “You haven’t? Well, why the devil not? My army is at the gates of Boston! Whatever Homeric feats of arms you have in store for us, you’d better perform them now!” There was a long, drawn-out moment of silence. “That’s what I thought,” said Wellington. “Enough of this posturing. How long does it take to get a message to your capital from here?” “About ten days.” “And who exactly is responsible for ratifying peace treaties in your mare’s nest of a government?” “The President, with the advice and consent of the Senate.” “Is your Senate in session?” Please tell me yes, he thought. I’m going to be delayed enough as it is. “Indeed it is. Congress reconvened in special session last month specifically as a response to your invasion.” “I bask in the glow of their attention. Tell them this from me.” He handed Brown the map. “If you want peace, this is what it looks like.” Brown looked at the map. “You’re claiming Louisiana south of the 31st parallel and Florida east of the Chattahoochee?” “Yes. I am willing to hold a cease-fire for one month, but if I do not have in my hands a treaty acceding to all said demands on or before the twenty-sixth of June, Cochrane and I will resume the attack and we will not stop until we have taken Boston by force.” He took a breath. This was the part he wasn’t going to boast of later. “Tell them we will then raze the city, leaving not one stone upon another… and that neither he nor I can make any promises at all regarding the conduct of the soldiers and marines under our command toward the civilian population.” If he had burst into a recitation of the second Harfleur speech from Henry V, the point would have been clearer, but not much. “Cochrane well nigh did that to Portland and Portsmouth already,” said Brown. “I thought your soldiers were more civilized than that.” “Well, you were wrong. My soldiers are the scum of the earth. Unfortunately for you, they’re better at their trade than yours.” (Personally, he detested rape and pillage. He hated anything that infected his army with disorder, making it less like an army and more like a well-armed mob. But it was better to let the Yankees believe the worst of him than let them try to pry apart him and Cochrane.) “Cochrane and I will maintain the blockade,” Wellington continued. “We will allow food into the city, but no weapons or ammunition. Whatever else happens, no one will starve.” “So you are holding thirty-five thousand people hostage.” “Is that how many there are?” Brown nodded. “I’ll send the message on its way.” “One more thing,” said Wellington. Days like this were the reason he had no plans to ever write his memoirs. “I’m well aware that this is your country, and that given time you can assemble an army large enough to overwhelm me by force of numbers if nothing else. Therefore, if I even suspect that you’re using this delay to reinforce yourself, I will resume the battle at once.” “Now, that is unreasonable.” “Why, so it is. Do you know what else is unreasonable? War. Yet here we are.” “More American regiments are already on their way here.” “Then you’d better deploy them where I never find out about them,” said Wellington. “If you think you can outfox me in this, you’re welcome to try — but remember how many lives hang on your judgment.” He hated making these threats. He still had nightmares sometimes about Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo. But he saw no other way to end this war without letting the British position on this continent collapse. God, he thought, please let these people see reason. It is an interesting question how the Senate would have voted if they had known just how badly Wellington's superiors wanted him back on the "important" side of the pond — or, for that matter, how Sen. William Branch Giles of Virginia would have voted if he hadn't retired earlier in the year. As it was, the treaty (if it could be called such) passed the Senate 18-17, with all ten New England senators voting yes. As Madison said when he added his reluctant signature, "We have not been asked to pay indemnity, nor has any hindrance been placed on our westward expansion. I do not know whether we can win this war, but I am certain we can win the peace." Andrea Fessler, Rise of the Dead Rose By the beginning of summer virtually all Europe, or so it seemed, had pledged to march on Paris and depose the Corsican tyrant again — but, as yet, far more soldiers had been pledged than had arrived. Despite this, and despite the lack of any one overall commander, the Coalition armies had developed — or perhaps stumbled into — a workable strategy for the beginning of the 1815 campaign. In the north, the Dutch princes had chosen to stand on the defensive, with their army concentrated behind its own border. The port of Antwerp, whose defense was of paramount importance to Great Britain, was guarded by the King’s German Legion and several local divisions. The unwillingness of the northern forces to go on the attack against l’Armée du Nord sprung from two sources. The first was that, from a tactical standpoint, they had no general that was even close to the match of Napoleon himself. The second was that the true sword arm of the Coalition was in the east. There, the Prussian army was already on the march. Meanwhile, Austria and Russia had summoned even larger armies of hundreds of thousands of men. Even if France were entirely united behind its emperor (which it was not) Napoleon would be as hopelessly outnumbered as he was at Leipzig. There remained the task of securing a place (or more than one) where these armies could cross the Rhine unhindered by French gunfire. It was for this reason that Field Marshal von Blücher commanded General von Bülow to take the Prussian IV Corps east until they reached the river, and then south along the west bank until they had a chance to rendezvous with a larger force. The main body of the Prussian army, however, went with Blücher in the direction of Charleroi. “Marshal Forward” planned to delay Napoleon long enough for the armies of Wrede, Württemberg and Barclay de Tolly to enter France — or better still, to capture or kill Napoleon and bring an end to the war himself. P. G. Sherman, 1815 And All That “France was one nation — only one. She was smaller than Russia in size and population, poorer than Britain, less militaristic than Prussia. Yet for many years she had the strength to fight all these nations in concert, and dealt out defeats as often as she suffered them. “Our wise men find it easier to speak of this as a miracle and a wonder, brought about by the genius of the Emperor, than to learn from it; for in their hearts they know the lesson, and they fear its implications. They do not wish to discover the power of a nation cleansed of parasites, where skill and diligence are rewarded, wealth circulates instead of accumulating, and aristocrats must either provide service commensurate to their status, or else perish. “They do not wish to draw the conclusion that the sword of Napoleon was forged from the guillotine of Robespierre.” Guillame Georges Elmar, I Call The World To Arms June 17, 1815 5:30 a.m. About a mile southeast of Sombreffe, The Low Countries Dawn was about fifteen minutes away. The sky was clear, and the terrain was level cropland and pasture with only occasional patches of trees — a perfect open battlefield. Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher and his lieutenant-generals took a moment to look south, where the light was already showing signs of the presence of l’Armée du Nord, before they stepped inside the tent. “What do we know of their order of battle?” Blücher asked his chief of staff. “Ney commands on the right, Grouchy on the left,” said Gneisenau. “Our scouts place Bonaparte himself in the center, here, at the village of Velaine-sur-Sambre — a tiny little place, just a few farmhouses — surrounded by his Imperial Guard and most of the French artillery. Grouchy’s heavy cavalry is between Velaine and our own army. “At present, we have this army slightly outnumbered. But two of their corps are expected to arrive today, and when they do they will outnumber us by some four thousand men.” “I intend to defeat the tyrant before that happens,” said Blücher. “Undoubtedly he plans to make the first move, but I will beat him to the punch and force him on the defensive. Zieten, Pirch, Thielmann, how quickly can your men deploy?” “At once,” said Zieten. “At once,” said Pirch. “Within the hour,” said Thielmann, showing only a little embarrassment. “Very well. Zieten, you will take I Corps and lead the attack on the left. Your principal aim will be to defeat Grouchy’s cavalry. This done, you will aim your next attack here” — he pointed to a spot on the map about half a mile southwest of Velaine — “forcing a wedge between the Imperial Guard and the French infantry on the left. “Once we have a clear line of attack, Pirch, you and II Corps will strike at Velaine, bringing your attack in from the right so as not to become entangled with II Corps. You will have our artillery under your command. “Thielmann…” The field marshal paused. Lieutenant-General Johann von Thielmann was an able officer, but his corps was a mess of half-trained, grumbling, unreliable Saxons and Rhinelanders, and he himself had fought bravely for the French during the bad years. Blücher, who hated Bonaparte with a holy passion and had never served the tyrant in any capacity — indeed, had never stopped looking for ways to oppose him — couldn’t quite bring himself to trust the man. “Thielmann, you and III Corps will act as a reserve. Position yourselves on the right, and be prepared to engage the enemy if Ney tries to stick a knife in our backs. “Our aim today is to cut off the tyrant from the bulk of his army, and to hammer him and his loyalists until they break. God willing, by the end of the day Bonaparte himself will be dead or in our hands, and the glory of Prussian arms will be restored.” “It will be a bloody affair, sir,” said Gneisenau. “So be it,” said Blücher. “I will lead the first charge on Velaine. And the second. And as many others as are needed. This whole war has been a bloody affair. Today we have a chance to put an end to it at last.” * * * About 9 a.m. Velaine It was like being inside a thunderstorm. The gunsmoke was so heavy that beyond forty feet or so, nothing could be seen but muzzle-flashes of various sizes and the flickering light of a burning barn in the gray-white haze. All around him was an inconceivable din of cannon-fire, volleys and the screams of wounded men and horses. Blücher stood and breathed in the smoke. Both armies were shooting blind in the general direction of the enemy. A musket-ball came within an inch of his right temple. Another one clipped his left epaulet. He had just had his fourth horse of the morning shot out from under him. He lived for moments like this. And he was pleased with how the day had gone thus far. At the first hint of Zieten’s charge, Grouchy’s cavalry had fled east. His corps was now enmeshed with the French infantry somewhere on the left. Here, Pirch had just brought a halt to an infantry attack by Vandamme out of Wanfercée-Baulet. And somewhere in the blind swirling melee of the center was the outlaw himself. Blücher could hardly wait to lead another cavalry charge into that chaos and seek him out. But for that, he would need another horse. He turned and headed back to the field headquarters, ignoring the three-pound cannonball that shot between his ankles, bounced on the ground and continued on its way. While at the headquarters, he got a report from his chief of staff. “So far, sir, the fighting on the front lines is inconclusive,” said Gneisenau. “But I’m concerned about what’s happening on our flanks. “Grouchy’s cavalry has rallied along the Mazy. It hasn’t engaged us directly, but it’s working its way north around our left flank. “But the real action is on the right. Ney has been aggressively trying to outflank us. His cavalry is already south of Ligny and moving fast.” “Order Thielmann to put a stop to that.” “I did, sir. He reports that Ney is fighting like a madman, and III Corps is having trouble reacting quickly enough.” Blücher laughed. “What Ney is fighting like is a man who has betrayed his true king and knows his only hope is for Bonaparte to win. So long as Thielmann keeps him busy, we are still on course to victory.” “Sir,” said Gneisenau, “if he fails, we will be in danger of being surrounded.” The chief of staff gestured at the map. At the moment, the French line was shaped like the letter W — or, perhaps, like a lower-case Greek omega (ω) with the left side longer than the right. Bonaparte and his artillery were in the center, and the two sides of the formation, from what Gneisenau had said, were extending themselves around and would ultimately meet behind the lines. The French aim, clearly, was to surround the Prussian army while at the same time preventing any one corps of it from coming to the aid of the others. “I see,” said Blücher. “And if I planned to run away, this would worry me. But I do not. I plan to win the day and make him do the running. Now, where’s that horse?” * * * 1 p.m. Just north of Velaine In the pit of his stomach, Blücher could feel things starting to go wrong. It was like the cold sensation he got some nights when he could no longer deny that the dice had turned against him and his lucky streak was over. He had just led what he had intended to be another charge on the French center. The horses had barely brought themselves up to a canter when they had to start dodging Prussian infantrymen running the other way. Some of his officers turned as they ran past, to shout “Reinforcements!” and “Drouet d’Erlon!” So the French I Corps was here. It had taken them long enough. He looked around him. He was in the middle of the Prussian artillery positions. Even the horse artillery couldn’t be quickly withdrawn — most of the horses were dead. “RALLY!” he shouted. “Hold! Hold! For God and Prussia, hold! They will not have the guns!” Then the French came out of the gunsmoke, bayonets at the ready. The next few minutes were full of nothing but fighting — struggling, instant by instant, to stay alive, to keep their bayonets away from his horse’s legs and get clear slices at their heads and necks with his saber. This, too, Blücher lived for. And damned if it wasn’t working. The French weren’t going back, but they weren’t going any further forward, either. Then, to his astonishment, Blücher turned and saw none other than August von Gneisenau charging up on a horse. “The field headquarters has fallen, sir!” shouted his chief of staff. “I only just escaped!” “What of III Corps?” “It just… collapsed! Just like that! Sir, we are completely surrounded!” “Damn you, Thielmann!” Blücher gritted his teeth. There was no escaping it — this battle was lost. “If we can’t find a way out,” he said at last, “we shall have to make one.” He turned and pointed at a stretch of woods. “There, in the Bois de Floreffe. If I am not mistaken, that is where their line is. Order every man there who can still fight.” Grouchy, who commanded that wing of the French army, had been the most half-hearted of the usurper’s commanders today. How would he respond to this attack? Blücher was riding southeast towards the Bois when it happened. His horse wasn’t shot out from under him — it disappeared, the barrel of its torso exploding into a cloud of red mist and tiny fragments of flesh. His right leg below the calf disappeared along with it. For a moment he just lay on the ground, stunned. When he realized what had happened — he had been hit by a cannonball — he wasted another moment wondering what caliber it was. Then the pain in his right foot (no, in the place where his right foot used to be) woke him up. He took off his belt and tied it around the wound — field tourniquets were a harder thing to get right than most people realized. Then he took a rifle lying on the ground and used it to prop himself up while he stood. When he stood up, he almost lost consciousness again. His head swam, and the world went dark. It took the better part of ten seconds for him to start seeing again. He felt very tired, and very cold. Blücher knew what this meant. He had lost too much blood already, and it was still trickling out. He had lived his whole life knowing that he could die at any moment, and it looked like the moment was here. The pain was growing, turning into something terrible, but he only needed to be brave for a little bit longer. Then he would have done all that God or his king could ask of him. With one foot and the rifle, Blücher made his way toward a menhir, a great squarish block of sandstone the color of gunsmoke. He leaned against it and tried to collect what wits and strength he had. He noted in an almost disinterested way that the Imperial Guard was headed this way in force. If only III Corps had held out, his army would at least have had a better escape route. “Damn you, Thielmann,” he said again. He didn’t think anyone could hear him, but someone must have. “That is in the hands of a higher power than yours or mine,” came a voice from somewhere to his right, speaking accented French. Blücher turned — only to see, riding up on a well-groomed white horse, the one man who at this point could have aroused real anger in him. “Thielmann is dead,” said Bonaparte matter-of-factly. “That wing of your army held out until he was killed, then gave way.” He dismounted slowly, as if in discomfort. Two of the Guard seized hold of Blücher’s arms, ironically making it easier for him to stay on his feet. Foot. Blücher took in a deep breath. He would not show weakness in front of this Godless upstart — not even now. “What are you doing here, peasant?” he said, sneering a little. What was the escapee going to do at this point — kill him? Bonaparte smiled. “Peasant,” he said. “Usurper, parvenu, thief, jumped-up Corsican clenching his little fists in rage, tin-pot dictator with delusions of godhood… I’ve heard them all. You oligarchs will go to any length to deny my true importance.” He leaned in closer. “Would you like to know just how important I really am?” Blücher smiled. This was going to be good. There was nothing like the certainty of imminent death to give you perspective on mortal grandeur. “I am as important as I can make myself. No more, no less. Just like everyone else. I think that’s what frightens you.” Blücher was trying to think of an answer to this when everything went black. * * * Twenty minutes after the field marshal’s death, the French VI Corps under Mouton-Lobau arrived and joined the fight in the Bois de Floreffe. Gneisenau, seeing no alternative, ordered what was left of the Prussian army to surrender. Later estimates would show about 10,000 dead or wounded Frenchmen, and about 25,000 dead or wounded Prussians. That same day, on another continent, Wellington received his copy of a peace treaty between Britain and the United States that conformed to his requirements in every particular. Word of the French victory at Velaine spread outward in an ever-widening circle. Within three days, Brussels and Luxembourg knew about it; within a week, they were mourning it in London; and by the middle of July, the news had spread among the Saxons, Poles and Italians. Over the course of the rest of the month, the news for the Coalition only got worse. On June 20, the royalist uprising in the Vendée (one of the few signs that any part of France would willingly accept the planned Bourbon restoration) was defeated. On June 22, Marshal Ney’s cavalry caught up to von Bülow’s army and routed it in a surprise attack, mortally wounding von Bülow in the process. What was left of this army (all that was left of Prussian arms in France, apart from the North German Federal Army) surrendered to Napoleon the next day. On June 28, the Austrian III Corps was defeated outside Strasbourg by an army half its size. Then, on July 1, l’Armée du Nord reached Mainz and, in a stroke of luck, caught the Russian III Army Corps under General Dokhtorov in the middle of crossing the Rhine. The resulting battle was as one-sided as any in the course of the war. When they tried to advance, the Russians found themselves engaged in bitter house-to-house, street-to-street fighting. When they tried to disengage and retreat, they were trapped against the river. In the end, only 15,000 Russians escaped death or capture. But if it was the emperor’s intention to keep the Coalition on the other side of the Rhine, it was already too late for that. Even as Napoleon was destroying Dokhtorov’s army, Baron Sacken was crossing the river unopposed with an army of equal size barely twelve miles away. Langeron had crossed five days ago and had already reached the rendezvous point of Kaiserslautern. Not to be outdone, the Austrians had moved every part of their army into French territory. The Bavarian Army and the North German Federal Army were holding Metz. III Corps was still north of Strasbourg, and I and II Corps were moving north to invest it from the other side. (Count Colloredo-Mansfeld already had a victory under his belt, having defeated the French at Chavannes.) The Juillet Lorrain was about to begin. P. G. Sherman, 1815 And All That Trying to break down the campaign known as the Juillet Lorrain into individual battles is largely a waste of time. The various armies were rarely out of contact with one another for more than a few days at a time, and often pursued one another over miles of ground. Case in point: the aftermath of Mainz. Flush with his recent string of victories, Napoleon decided to march south attack von Osten-Sacken’s army that very night night rather than allow it to escape and join the others. In the process, he neglected to allow his own army to rest. As a result, the attack was considerably less forceful than it might have been. This was compounded by the inevitable confusion surrounding any night battle. The next day’s pursuit has often been described as “desultory,” “half-hearted” or even “deliberately slow” by those who invest the two generals with even more tactical acumen than they already possessed. The truth is simply that neither army had slept within the past 24 hours. Nonetheless, Sacken’s comparatively fresher army maintained an effective fighting retreat, and was able to escape by the end of the day. Meanwhile, Wrede was emerging from Metz, and Langeron and VI Army Corps were venturing north from Kaiserslautern. Their aim was to do something like what the Sixth Coalition had done the previous year — force Napoleon to battle, cut him off from reinforcement and defeat him with overwhelming numbers. They, however, were not the only ones who had learned from last year. In the Pfalzerwald, Napoleon’s army slipped between Langeron and Sacken and re-entered France. P.G. Sherman, 1815 And All That Moving quickly, the Anglo-Sicilian army under Sir Hudson Lowe arrived in Marseille on July 3. Neither the Marseillais nor the army had yet heard the news of Velaine, and in a city that had once been a center of revolutionary sentiment there was now considerable hatred for the emperor, particularly among the women who had seen their men dragged off to fight in his wars again and again. (And often never to return. By now, French bodies had been left to rot from Haiti to Egypt and the gates of Moscow.) In any case, what there was of the Grande Armée in Marseille was not enough to resist even this relatively small army. General Masséna, who was stationed there at the time, was nowhere to be found when the army came calling. Lowe and his subordinates enjoyed a good laugh at the feared Masséna fleeing, armyless, with his tail between his legs. A month later, when Masséna arrived in Lorraine at the head of 50,000 new recruits, his escape would seem less amusing. But by then, that would not be Lowe’s problem. His problem would be the desertion of over 200 Italian soldiers to join the rebels in Italy — soldiers who somehow managed to take several pieces of artillery and escape with them… P. G. Sherman, 1815 And All That The uprisings in Italy, Poland and Saxony that began in July were widely considered “Bonapartist” by the Seventh Coalition — a claim too many historians have taken at face value. They were nothing of the sort. The writings of the rebel leaders themselves reveal that they did not trust Napoleon, and remembered too well his habit of redrawing the map of Europe to suit his fancy. Still less, however, did they wish to be conscripted into the ranks of his enemies. Nonetheless, they posed a serious distraction for the Coalition. Austria was forced to send the armies of Frimont and Bianchi into Italy. Russia diverted the corps commanded by General Wurttemberg (not to be confused with the Prince Württemberg who served Austria) and the Reserve Cavalry to deal with the Polish rebellion. And Prussia was on the brink of destruction. The rebellion in Posen began July 9 — the very day the city received word of Velaine — and spread through the countryside and into Upper Silesia, with smaller uprisings in Stargard and Allenstein and ethnic violence in Danzig, Königsberg and Breslau. Meanwhile, Frederick Augustus I took this opportunity to attempt to shake off Prussian control of Saxony. Frederick William III called for conscripts from Westphalia and the other relatively peaceful western parts of Prussia, and the westerners responded. In Münster, Cologne and the towns of the Ruhr, over a dozen new volunteer regiments were formed. They organized themselves, trained as quickly as they could, were armed… and then they waited. They did not actually mutiny, but they kept finding reasons not to go east where they were urgently needed. In this, they were assisted by the city and provincial governments, who used every trick at their disposal (in one case, “arresting” the officers of a regiment and holding over a hundred soldiers as witnesses) to keep them nearby. The real reason, of course, was that with France still a threat just across the Rhine, they had no intention of abandoning their homes in order to assist the Junkers in suppressing Poles, or of helping to beat down the presumptuous Saxon king. Last year, most of these men hadn’t even been Prussians. Under normal circumstances, this in itself would have constituted a rebellion, and one to be put down by force. But the king knew that if he tried, he would face a real rebellion in the west — which, at this point, would most likely end Prussia once and for all… P.G. Sherman, 1815 And All That The next ten days showed why the Juillet Lorrain is often called “the bear-baiting” or “the boar hunt” — the various Coalition armies harried l’Armée du Nord (now well out of the north) constantly, chasing it here and there through western Alsace and eastern Lorraine, engaging it wherever possible but never allowing themselves into a position where they could be surrounded or routed. Meanwhile, fresh regiments from Austria, Russia and the smaller German states kept coming across the Rhine, swelling the Coalition’s ranks. French reinforcements were collecting in the city of Nancy, which, with the aid of officers who had served under Davout at Hamburg, was being readied to stand a long siege, if necessary. Of course, Napoleon wasn’t the only one who needed new recruits. The armies guarding the border with Spain desperately needed reinforcement as well. In the Vendée, General Lamarque was building up his forces for a move north to Antwerp. The French, who had to fight everywhere, were outnumbered everywhere. Then, on July 15, Napoleon turned east, hoping to break the siege of Strasbourg… P.G. Sherman, 1815 And All That If anything ever proved that “time and chance happeneth to all,” it was the engagement of July 17 along the banks of the Zorn. Prince William of Württemberg, who had just endured a shameful defeat at La Suffel, won a battle against Napoleon himself. Three things made this possible. First, Napoleon was unaware of the size of the army the prince commanded. The Third and Reserve Corps — at this point, a force of over 90,000 men, easily the equal of Napoleon’s own — surrounded the city of Strasbourg and the army of General Rapp. (Ordinarily, devoting two army corps to trap twenty thousand men would have been foolish — but if there was one thing the Coalition had to spare, it was manpower.) Second, Württemberg's men were relatively fresh, having remained in place for the last few weeks while Napoleon's army had been run ragged. Third, Württemberg abandoned the siege, mobilized his army and attacked first. In a letter to his father, the giant King Frederick, he explained this decision thus: “Behind me was the Corsican, who had yet to be defeated this year. Before me was Rapp, who had already bested me once. I confess that in that hour I saw no hope of victory. Determined to meet my fate directly, I turned and set forth to engage the stronger enemy. The Lord in His mercy forgave my despair and granted me the triumph I had not looked for.” Judging by his deployments, Napoleon had not looked for this attack to take place. In the sudden attack, the emperor’s heavy cavalry was routed and Marshal Grouchy was killed, along with some 5,000 Frenchmen. It was all Napoleon could do to keep the fighting retreat from turning into a general rout. (In this, he was aided by Prince William himself. Rather than pursuing the defeated French into the Vosges, he turned around to deal with the force at Strasbourg, only to find that Rapp and his army had slipped out to the southwest.) Meanwhile, the other armies — Russian, Austrian and German — were closing in. Their aim was to prevent Napoleon from reaching Nancy at all costs. To this end, one of them would have to get in his way. But as luck would have it, the first fighting force that interposed itself between the emperor and his shelter was the worst possible one for the job. After the fact, none of the Coalition generals would admit to having dispatched the Royal Danish Auxiliary Corps on this particular mission — and, indeed, they may have been there entirely by chance. But the Danes, already bitter over the ill-treatment their nation had received at the hands of the Royal Navy and the delegates to Vienna, were most reluctant allies to begin with. Now they were being asked, in effect, to stand and die in place so that some other power should have the glory of triumphing over Napoleon. The result? The entire army “surrendered” almost without firing a shot. In fact, an unknown but significant number of them joined the French army, while others allowed themselves to be employed guarding the numerous Russian and Prussian prisoners of war… P.G. Sherman, 1815 And All That Napoleon reached Nancy on July 20 and immediately began transferring his tired and wounded soldiers behind the defensive lines. But it was clear he was preparing for something far more complicated than a simple siege. Vandamme was placed in charge of 100,000 men and sent to the heights north of the city on either side of the Meurthe. Meanwhile, Ney was given command of all the light cavalry that could be found, and was sent east. His task was to execute guerrilla raids against the supply lines of the giant Coalition army. When pursued, he would retreat into the hill country of the Vosges. Napoleon himself remained in the center of the city, behind the defensive lines and the 150-meter moat of the Meurthe. At Vienna, the nations of Europe had essentially declared war on one man. If they wanted him, they could come and take him. They obliged. The Battle of Nancy was nearly as large in scope as that of Leipzig, lasted considerably longer and was much bloodier. Every part of it — “the Sugarloaf,” “Bloody Saint-Genevieve,” “the Dreadful Crossing” — has taken on a mythic quality among enthusiasts of military history. Many historians have suggested that the Coalition made a mistake in not bypassing the city and heading for Paris. But this was not an option. Davout had not been idle over the last month. Paris, by now, had its own ring of defenses. Davout was quoted as saying that “if they liked Hamburg, they are going to love Paris.” The Austrian and Russian generals had no desire to be trapped at the end of a long supply line between Davout’s lines and Napoleon’s men. So they attacked directly — and over the course of the next three weeks, Nancy became a byword for manhood and valour throughout the Western world. P.G. Sherman, 1815 And All That Even a genius is limited by the tools he is given to work with. Napoleon had turned the city of Nancy and environs into a trap to hold half a million men, but the trap would not close unless he himself were in the middle of it. More importantly, the emperor’s attention was devoted firstly to the day-to-day shifts in the tactical situation of the battle, as the Austrian and Russian princes and their hirelings pushed deeper into the city, driving the French defenders back block by block. Even before then, of course (arguably, since he left Paris) his thoughts had been preoccupied with the problem of safeguarding his people rather than the problem of ruling them. What this meant for France as a whole during this fateful summer was that the governing of the realm was chiefly in the hands of Parliament. The irony in this, of course, is that Napoleon had never wanted to put the constitutional reforms of 1815, under which the Parliament was constituted, into effect until the campaign was over. Moreover, he disliked and distrusted the parliament that had been elected in the plebiscite of June 1; in fact, his first desire had been to dismiss it, although he had allowed himself on this occasion to be convinced that a whim of his was not practicable. Nor did Parliament hold any great trust in him. Perhaps a hundred of the Parliamentarians were of the Parti de Bonaparte, whose only platform was personal fidelity towards him. There was also a smaller group from the Jacobin Party. Militantly anticlerical, fiercely egalitarian and strongest in the cities, these forerunners of the modern Elmarists regretted not one drop of blood shed in the Terror. They, too, were loyal to Napoleon, although he hardly knew what to do with their loyalty. But five out of six Parliamentarians were of the Liberal Party, and followed La Fayette and Lanjuinais in regarding Napoleon as a threat to the liberties of the French people. As Jean-Baptiste Say put it, “The Legislative Body, an amalgamation of parties and representatives of every epoch of the Revolution, while attached to the institutions of the Revolution and despising the prejudices and ineptitude of the Bourbons, is yet filled with mistrust, fear and horror of the tyranny of Napoleon.” (Ironically, the situation would have been a good deal worse had the royalists not chosen to absent themselves from the plebiscite, waiting instead for their king to return in the baggage train of another conquering army.) Even his ministers, however loyal they remained in public, had begun to despair of him. Caulaincourt, his foreign minister and a long-standing friend and loyalist, privately believed him mad and suspected that his promises of French liberty would hold good only “until he is on his feet and returns to his old ways.” Fouché, whom Napoleon distrusted but on whom he was forced to rely as one of the pillars of his rule, was of course quite indifferent to liberty; yet he believed that the Emperor was doomed to be overthrown in four months at best, and it is rumored that he was plotting with the royalists until word of Velaine reached Paris. But all this was no insurmountable obstacle. None of the Liberals had ever denounced Napoleon so feverishly as Benjamin Constant, who had called the French emperor “this madman dyed with our blood” and fled to Nantes to avoid having to serve him. But once Constant had been captured and returned to Paris, Napoleon had won him over almost instantly and set him to work on the new constitution. If he could win over Constant, he could surely win over the Deputies and Peers. The magic of his persuasion was even beginning to work on the war-weary people of France itself. In this he was aided unwittingly by the Prussians — or rather, their newspapers. The Allgemeine Zeitung proclaimed, “We were wrong to show the French any consideration whatsoever. We should have wiped them all out… the whole French nation must be outlawed.” Not to be outdone, the Mercure du Rhin opined that “We must exterminate them; kill them like mad dogs.” Napoleon had only to order these editorials reprinted in the Moniteur to convince much of the public that such sentiments represented the general mood of the Seventh Coalition, and that the French Emperor was the nation’s last hope. (One American historian, Charles Cerniglia, has proposed that Napoleon may have learned this from studying British actions at New Orleans in the wake of General Keane’s capture of that city. In the absence of evidence, this remains mere conjecture.) In any event, there was no help for it. If the emperor won, he would return and rule, and they would be lucky if he allowed the new parliament to remain in session at all. (And after the glorious triumphs of Velaine and Mayence, who would say he did not have the right?) Whereas if he failed, then, as Fouché put it after the setback at the Zorn, “the crowned heads of Europe would spill every last drop of Christian blood to return Louis the Pig’s bloated arse to his throne and Marie Antoinette’s empty head to her neck.” Thus, the Liberals of Parliament judged their fate to be closely tied to that of Napoleon, whether they wished it so or not. In the meantime, there was a nation to be governed, which Napoleon could not do from the battlefield. Taxes had to be gathered, conscripts brought to the training fields, supplies procured. Davout’s efforts at fortifying Paris and building camps south and west of the city needed to be supported. And so a strange political partnership developed. Lanjuinais and his vice-president, Jacques-Charles Dupont de l’Eure, were the public face of the new regime, reading Napoleon’s dispatches aloud in the Champs-Élysées. Meanwhile, Carnot was turning his engineer’s brain to the task of building the Liberal Party into a system for finding reliable men, securing their loyalty and installing them in office. The Moniteur became the Liberal Party's official house organ. The Party undertook other tasks as well. Wherever opposition (royalist or simply antiwar) threatened to interfere with the purposes of the government, the Liberals unleashed the fédérés, groups of radical workingmen whom Napoleon had despised but whom Carnot was only too pleased to arm and train for the suppression of dissent. (Most of the fédérés were Jacobin rather than Liberal, but few proved unwilling to compromise their principles in exchange for the chance to serve their nation and their emperor.) If the fédérés were the Party’s naked fist, Fouché and his secret police were its hidden dagger. A born conspirator, Fouché proved a genius at finding royalist plots and bringing them to light — or, when he judged it more suitable, disposing of them in the darkness. At this point, the Liberal Party’s writ hardly ran in the south or the smaller towns, where royalist sentiment was still a force to be reckoned with. Nonetheless, by the end of July, the two chambers of Parliament and the Liberal Party had become as effective a machine of governance as any in Europe… Jean-Michel Noailles, The Liberal Party and the Making of Modern France (Eng. trans) ***  Actually, Napoleon did this IOTL. Day by day, house by house and block by block, the French were driven back. Their worst day was on August 13, in the so-called “Garden of Horrors,” in which, due to a run of bad luck and some aggressive moves by Barclay de Tolly, over twelve thousand Frenchmen and some nine thousand Russians were killed or wounded. After this day, there was no longer any doubt which side would take possession of the city. And, indeed, the next day the French were in full retreat from the streets of the city. Barclay de Tolly ordered the pursuit… right into the teeth of hell. Napoleon had spent the previous night arranging his artillery and sharpshooters along the ridge of hills west of the city. The Russians were at the foot of these hills by the time the last French stragglers had passed the line of the emperor’s guns, but they were not close enough to grapple with the enemy and were driven back with heavy losses. Two days later, Wrede and 100,000 men tried to circle around to the south and launch a flank attack against Napoleon’s line. This flank attack was itself outflanked by Masséna, who had arrived on the battlefield the previous day. With his raw troops reinforced by Rapp’s smaller but more seasoned army, Masséna nearly rolled up the whole Austrian army before they anchored one flank against the Meurthe. After that, both sides returned to skirmishing, avoiding major engagements that might stretch already fragile morale to the breaking point. Then, on August 22, a new army arrived that would change everything. This was an army of 60,000 Britons — and one Briton in particular… P.G. Sherman, 1815 And All That August 22, 1815 1:50 p.m. Jardin Dominique Alexandre Godron, Nancy Once, this had been one of the most famous botanical gardens in Europe. Now, the various herbs and flowers were largely trampled to death, scorched or grazed upon by cavalry horses. The place smelled of nothing but gunpowder, woodsmoke and blood. Colonel Neil Campbell (Sir Neil Campbell, knighted to two different orders by the tsar, who now probably wished he hadn’t) stroked his beard and sighed as he reviewed the latest list of casualties. He was becoming quite fond of his little force of soldiers from the free cities of northern Germany. He doubted one man in ten of them actually cared who ruled Europe, but they had acquitted themselves well in battle and did not blame or resent him, which was a refreshing change from everyone else in this army. Campbell was beginning to wish someone would have the discourtesy to tell him to his face that this was all his doing. Then at least he could defend himself. He could say, “What should I have done — leapt upon him and wrestled him to the ground? The guards at Elba were under his command, not mine!” Or he could say, “It was not I who chose to put the most dangerous man alive in a ‘prison’ with no bars, no locks and no guards but one Scotsman with no official sanction and a bad war wound!” All of which was true. Lord Liverpool had said as much himself before Parliament back in April. So had Lord Castlereagh, along with a great deal else concerning the unwisdom of the Treaty of Fontainebleau and its signatories. (Castlereagh had been very clear to Campbell about the extent of his mandate: “I am to desire that you will continue to consider yourself a British resident in Elba, without assuming any further official character than that in which you are already received.”) But if he said these things with no prompting from anyone, it would seem like an outward response to the inner scourge of a guilty conscience… which is exactly what they were. To the extent that he had had any power at all to carry out his duty, he had failed. The captain of the sloop HMS Partridge had failed equally badly in the matter, but at least he’d been there to do it. Whereas Campbell had been on the mainland, fornicating with his mistress, while Bonaparte made his escape. “There you are,” came a voice that spoke crisp English without a foreign accent. “I’ve been looking for you.” Campbell looked up. He scrambled to his feet and saluted, wincing at the sudden pain in his back (curse that blundering Cossack who’d nearly killed him by mistake!) “Sir! Your Grace!” he blurted out. “Thank God you’re here!” “Sir Charles Napier sends his warm regards,” said Wellington. “He is with my army. He looks forward to seeing you again.” “And I look forward to seeing Sir Charles.” Over tea (which Wellington had brought with him, eliciting a fresh wave of gratitude from the under-supplied Campbell) they discussed the tactical situation. “Before your arrival, sir, the Coalition army numbered some 450,000,” said Campbell. “We’re not quite sure how many men Napoleon has, but it can’t be more than 200,000. Probably a little less.” “Good. Who commands?” “Officially — and only officially — King Louis.” Wellington nearly sprayed out a mouthful of tea in astonishment. “He’s in Kaiserslautern right now, and we are here to restore him to his kingdom, after all,” said Campbell. “In practice, Württemberg, Wrede and Barclay de Tolly are in command of various parts of the battlefield. They meet once a morning to discuss strategy.” “That’s not so good. How are the armies performing?” “The Russians, even after their casualties, have the largest army. They’re having their usual trouble with actually bringing all those men to the front where they’re needed rather than leaving them guarding the baggage train or attending on some nobleman, but I would say they’re better at it than they were two years ago. As for the Austrians, at the moment they’re performing better than the Russians, but I’m told morale in their ranks is getting low.” “I gather there is no hope of help from Prussia?” “Not this year. Worse, Bernadotte and his men have had to abide in Kaiserslautern to free enough Prussians to combat the Polish rebels. A great pity, sir; they were the finest soldiers I have ever seen… apart from our own, of course.” Campbell took a map out of his pocket and unfolded it. Wellington scowled as he studied the dispositions. “One might have thought,” he growled, “that since we outnumber the enemy better than two to one, we would surround them rather than the other way around.” “It’s not quite as bad as that, sir. We did take d’Amance last week, and we’ve managed to push Masséna and Rapp back across the Moselle… but as you say, sir, it’s not as it should be. “We have them outgunned as well, but not by so much — perhaps three to two rather than two to one — and theirs are better positioned.” “That at least makes sense. They don’t have to haul cannon, powder and shot across all Europe, and they must have captured a deal of our ordnance at Velaine and Mainz. And they know the lay of the land better than we. How are we provisioned?” “Not very well, I’m afraid. Keeping this many people fed and armed would be enough of a problem without Ney and his irregulars.” “Someone should do something about that damned traitor.” “It’s been discussed. The Vosges don’t look like much on a map, but they’re a labyrinth. He could be hiding anywhere. Barclay de Tolly says we should call for a couple of voiskos of Cossacks to hunt him down, but King Louis disagrees.” “I can well imagine.” The Cossacks were among the best light cavalry in the world (even Bonaparte admitted as much, it was said) but you didn’t turn them loose in any country you cared about. “Even if the king relents, it would take some time to bring them here and still more time to capture Ney.” “And in the meantime, they’d be more mouths to feed,” said Wellington. “Damnation, Campbell, the more I hear the more I think we could actually lose this battle! It’s clear that Boney has chosen, for reasons of his own, to make this his final stand, but why are we obliging him in this? Why are we not forcing him to withdraw and fight us on open ground? And why has the fighting grown so desultory over the last week? Tell me this.” Campbell hesitated. “You must understand, sir,” he said, “that I have no friends in this army — indeed, the longer the war goes on and the more blood the tyrant sheds, the more whisperings and sidelong looks I am treated to by the others. Most of my information comes from Sir Richard Croft, who is back in Kaiserslautern with King Louis.” Wellington blinked in surprise. “The Royal Family’s own physician is attending the king of France?” “His health is of paramount importance, and…” Campbell flushed red and looked at his desk. “Given the circumstances of Bonaparte’s escape, the Crown deemed it wise to make a special effort to show our allegiance to the Bourbon cause. In any event, you might do better to consult Sir Richard than myself. He often converses with the king, and the king corresponds with the generals more often than I can speak to them.” “That’s as may be. But he, as you say, is in Kaiserslautern, and you are here, and I am consulting you. Others may think what they please, Sir Neil. I value your judgment.” “God bless you, sir.” Campbell took a deep breath. “There are two answers to your questions, sir. The first is that given the precarious state of our supply train, we daren’t let the Corsican get behind us.” “Insufficient. Boney has a large army and supply train of his own to think about. What is the second answer?” “The second answer is… politics.” “Oh dear.” “Perhaps ‘politics’ is not the right word. ‘Statecraft’ might be better. Sir Richard tells me that the one thing the king of France doesn’t want is huge Coalition armies roaming the length and breadth of his kingdom, living half off the land.” “Understandable, but are the generals truly willing to accede so completely to His Majesty’s wishes?” “Württemberg and Wrede are, sir. As far as they are concerned, the Treaty of Alliance against Bonaparte is exactly what it says — a war to be waged against one man who happens to have a very large bodyguard — and therefore the best strategy is to aim all our efforts to his capture or death. De Tolly disagrees. His opinions, so far as I know them, are very much like yours. At the heart of it is that the emperor of Austria desires that at the end of this war, France be strong and unravaged, so as to maintain the balance of power in Europe — something to which the tsar is indifferent if not hostile.” Wellington nodded. “This is of a piece with what Lord Castlereagh and I saw in Vienna, but I hate to see it here with a war to be fought.” “Hitherto, Barclay de Tolly has been willing to accede to the wishes of the Austrian princes, as they have achieved more success on the battlefield than he has. But now, I think, he is beginning to believe that they expect him to pay the lion’s share of the butcher’s bill… if you’ll pardon a mixed metaphor.” “I may as well tell you that I, too, have been instructed to give thought to statesmanship as well as strategy,” said Wellington. “The Crown, like our Austrian allies, desires a swift end to Bonaparte’s depredations and a strong France under King Louis. In short, they desire as much as possible a return to what was the status quo before the Corsican took the throne again.” Campbell sank in his chair and put his head in his hands. None of this need ever have happened. If only he’d been given more to work with… if only he’d been there… and how many thousands of good men were dead now? Wellington sighed and leaned in closer. “Soldier, I will speak in your defense before the King of France, the King of England or the King of Heaven if necessary,” he said quietly. “In return, I expect that you will do your duty, put aside this futile self-recrimination and devote your mind entirely to the question of how to defeat the enemy before us today.” Campbell had to turn away. Entirely against his will, his eyes had filled with tears. “I… shall… do all in my power to do as you say sir,” he choked out. He took several deep breaths and blinked away the tears. “Whatever we’re going to do, sir, we’d better do it quickly,” Campbell said. “Bonaparte is reinforcing Masséna and Rapp in the south, and I am told he is trying to put guns on riverboats somewhere south of here. He may be trying to replicate his success against Blücher on a larger scale.” “Not while I draw breath, he won’t.” “There is one more thing, sir,” said Campbell. “Talleyrand is in Kaiserslautern with the king, and in regular correspondence with our commanders in the field.” After a long pause, Wellington said, “I see. What might he be up to?” “The devil’s work, I’m sure, sir. More than that… Sir Richard doesn’t know, and so I cannot know.” “So be it. All the more reason to take down Bonaparte quickly. Will the commanders listen to me?” “To you? Yes, sir. I believe they still hold you in high regard.” “Good. Tomorrow morning, then, I shall put forward my plan at their meeting.” “You have a plan already, sir?” “No,” said Wellington looking at the map, “but I shall.” August 25, 1815 7 a.m. Nancy, just east of the Meurthe Even in the light of dawn, Wellington could see how the surface of the hilltop had been marked by the tread of thousands of shod horses and the wheels of dozens of artillery pieces, scarring the rabbit-cropped turf like smallpox. Around the end of July, the Butte Sainte-Genevieve had been as heavily fought over as any place on Earth. “They say,” said Count Colloredo-Mansfeld in passable French, “that wherever you put your foot on this hill you step on a place where a man has died.” Wellington looked around, did some quick math in his head, and concluded that this was unlikely to be true. But as he had not been here for that part of the war, he decided that it would be unseemly to contradict his subordinate in this matter. “Is this where Prince Hohenzollern-Hechingen fell?” “Not quite, Your Grace. He died on the hillside facing east. I saw it happen myself. God grant we avenge him today.” “Indeed.” Wellington looked up. Preparations for today had taken all of yesterday and most of the day before. Prince Wrede would go northeast, seeking to outflank the French defenses on the hillsides rather than confronting them directly. His principal aim would be to secure the road to Custines. Using the same boats and barges that brought the army across the Rhine and the Meurthe, Prince Württemberg would cross the Moselle. Their aim would be to force Masséna and Rapp to retreat and free up a path west to Chaligny. Barclay de Tolly would remain exactly where he was. If Bonaparte tried to take the center and split the army in two, the Russians would resist him. If the tyrant tried to reinforce either the north or the south, the Russians would move to interfere. Aside from that, they would act as a reserve. And when Wellington had gotten word that either Wrede or Württemberg had opened up a path to north or south, he would lead 100,000 men (his own, the count’s and a few more) down that path and into the rear of the French army. They would seek out the Corsican and cut him off from the bulk of his army. Let him devise whatever cunning strategems he liked — his marshals would be left to their own devices. The French would be overwhelmed and defeated. God willing, the tyrant would be forced to surrender again. In any event, this damned wrestling bout over one little patch of blood-soaked earth would be at an end. Wellington was not exactly proud of this plan. It had no hallmarks of genius about it. It would have been impractical against an army of equal size. But the plan was simple, it respected the realities of the situation as far as command structure and troop morale went, and it could only fail if everything went wrong. He looked north. He could just see the Austro-Bavarian force under Wrede getting underway. But this battle would be much too vast for him to see all at once from any vantage point. Somehow, he would have to hold it all within his mind. “Count Colloredo,” he said, “see to the readiness of our force. We must be prepared to move at a moment’s notice.” “Yes, sir.” Ten minutes later, a messenger rode from the south. “Prince Württemberg sends his compliments, sir,” said the messenger, “and begs to report that he has begun the crossing of the Moselle. There's a touch of mist about the river, so his losses are not as bad as he had feared.” “Excellent,” said Wellington. “Thank you.” Now there was nothing to do but wait. Although David’s 25e Août (1819) is considered by many art historians to be the fifth in his celebrated series Les Garçons de Nancy, it differs from them markedly in its subject matter. Whereas the other paintings show ordinary soldiers in moments of repose or poised to attack, this painting captures the frenetic movement of combat as the emperor commands the artillery to fire on the dark figures of oncoming cavalrymen as they emerge from the swirling gunsmoke. Certainly, what the painting lacks in historical verisimilitude it more than makes up for in drama. Spitzer & Chauncey, A History of Western Art of the 19th Century August 25, 1815 11:15 a.m. Nancy Well, this was something I didn’t plan for, thought Wellington. The messengers from north and south had come within two minutes of each other. It seemed the French were pulling back on both fronts. The messenger from the north had come first, but he had had a shorter distance to ride. Just to make things more complicated, instead of retreating west across the river, the French on that wing were falling back onto Custines. In other words, they were falling back onto the exact spot Wellington had planned to go through. He wondered if Bonaparte was abandoning Nancy entirely. It would make sense — most of the defenses here had been taken already. In any case, he needed to come to a quick decision about which way his force should march. “Count Colleredo?” “Yes, Your Grace?” “There is a change of plan. We will go northwest, taking advantage of the gap in the French line, and cross the Meurthe at Bouxiéres-aux-Dames. Send a messenger to Barclay de Tolly. Tell him — request, I should say” (damn, it was hard not being in command) “that he be prepared to take the offensive against any forces Napoleon might send to intercept us. And order Bull and Drummond north to support Wrede.” Without the artillery, the river could be forded quickly. Right now, the duke needed speed more than firepower. * * * This was one of the shallowest parts of the river. The spray kicked up by his horse’s hooves didn’t even touch the soles of Wellington’s boots. To his right, thousands of men were marching through it fifty abreast, stirring the silt into the water, turning the river a richer brown and giving it an earthy smell. To his left, in the village of Champignuelles about a mile to the southeast, the Russians had formed a line of infantry that ran halfway up the hillside. The line was being attacked savagely by cavalry and field artillery, but showed no sign of retreating just yet. They only had to hold on a little longer — on the spit of land north of the village, where the river veered east and then west again, their compatriots were hastily digging ditches and raising breastworks. Wellington couldn’t see what was happening around Custines, but the cannon-fire around there had a satisfyingly distant sound. As much as he had started to hate the leaders of this army for their timidity and infighting, he felt profoundly grateful to him at this moment. They were keeping the tyrant’s blade off his neck. Once he got his army over this river and up that hill, it would be time to repay them properly. And now he was across the Meurthe. Before him lay two thousand feet of farmland — or rather, picked-over and trampled-down fields that afforded no cover for anything bigger than a mouse. The hillside beyond, on the other hand, was still fairly heavily wooded in spite of having been raided for firewood every night for about three weeks. Anything could be hiding in there. He turned to his immediate left. Major General Kempt had just finished bringing the 8th Brigade across the river. His unit was the first — he was in a hurry to redeem his failure at Sackett’s Harbor. Wellington approached him. “Sir James,” he said, “take your men up that hill ahead of the rest. If any Frenchmen are lurking in there planning to attack, I want their plans to go awry.” While the 8th was going up the hill, like hunters beating the bushes for an unusually lethal variety of partridge, Wellington concentrated on organizing his army on this side. He noted that Campbell’s Hanseatic contingent was bringing up the rear, and had a message sent to him. “Tell Campbell that I have no intention of imitating Blücher’s fate here today,” he said. “Tell him that whatever happens, he must keep an escape route open to the east — or, if necessary, make one himself.” * * * As it turned out, there hadn’t been any Frenchmen lurking in the woods. The trek up the hillside was slow, but quiet. Wellington used the time to consider where Boney was likeliest to be lurking. The sheer number of soldiers on both sides had made scouting missions difficult, but the most obvious answer was that the tyrant was at the barracks some four miles west of the city. Wellington had already dispatched the Prince Consort’s Own to hunt down any French scouts and messengers they saw going to and from the barracks. The trouble was going to be getting to him. The reason Wellington had planned to move so far to the north or south was to take his army out of sight of Bonaparte’s scouts, so that when he attacked, it would be less obvious where. That part of the plan was already a casualty of war. However… He summoned Lord Uxbridge. In about fifteen minutes, the Second Earl of Uxbridge arrived and stepped off his horse, giving Wellington a salute as polite and respectful as if he hadn’t cuckolded the duke’s brother Henry six years ago. Without pausing for pleasantries, Wellington told him: “You will take every cavalryman in this army, proceed southwest about three miles, then turn southeast and attack the barracks west of Laxou and everything nearby.” He then turned to Colloredo. “I want a general attack on this end of the French lines,” he said. “If we can roll up the army, so much the better, but at least we will draw them away from the center.” * * * It was… Wellington had no idea how long it was later. Days, surely… but judging by the position of the sun, probably not more than an hour. Less than that, likely. He was on his own feet. Three horses had been shot out from under him. There was blood on his bayonet. He’d never seen the face of the man whose blood it was, but the man had been in a French uniform, so that was all right. There was a dull ache in his arms and shoulders. It would be a burning agony later. It had been a long time since he had been that close to the fighting. A squad of French grenadiers had blasted a path right through the line of Triple X’s that had been all that was between him and the enemy, and he had been forced to fight for his life before the army could re-form around him. Tired as he was, distracted as he was, he still knew exactly where his army was and what it was doing. It was digging in on the hillside above Frouard. He had tried to make notes of regiments that had performed particular feats of valor — the Royal Welch Fusiliers driving two French regiments back a hundred yards, the Light Bobs charging through canister to capture a field-piece, the Orange Lillies rescuing a captured scout of the Prince Consort’s Own — but before long he had realized that everybody in his army was fighting like wild boars at bay. Unfortunately, the French had fought like boarhounds. Finally, he had had to organize a fighting retreat. Otherwise, the retreat would have happened whether he ordered it or not, and might have turned into a rout. As it was, he’d only withdrawn half a mile before the Russians came to keep the French from pressing their advantage too hard. (Campbell was in Frouard right now. Poor sod, he’d been grazed by a Russian bullet. That was now the second time he’d been wounded by a Russian on French soil. War had a bad sense of humor.) He had no idea how the rest of the battle was going. Apparently the fighting in the north had ended in stalemate. How things were going for Lord Uxbridge, let alone Württemberg… he just didn’t know. * * * It had taken Lord Uxbridge over an hour to get into position to attack. The woods were heavy in this part of Lorraine, and a horse galloping through deep forest — assuming you could persuade it to do such a foolish thing — was more likely to trip than a man was, and far more likely to injure itself in so doing. So they had moved at a walk. The good news was that his men (more often leading their horses than riding them) had moved as quietly as men could, and, with a little help from the Prince Consort’s Own, had taken care of the few scouts. If Boney was ahead, he didn’t know they were coming. The clearing around the barracks was well over a hundred yards wide, and full of tents. There seemed, from what Lord Uxbridge could tell, to be fewer guards than officers about — most of the fighting men were busy with one army or another. Whatever happened, he was about to do a lot of damage to the French officer corps. There was sudden movement among the officers. Some of them were glancing toward the woods. One of them must have heard or seen something. Now or never. He turned and nodded to the bugler. The horn sounded. As his horse charged out of the dark forest into the sunlit clearing, Uxbridge fought the urge to shut his eyes. The sudden light was blinding and agonizing, but his eyes would adjust to it soon enough. In the meantime, there were running figures in dark blue coats all around, screaming and shouting in French. He slashed at them with his saber, wishing he had something longer, like a lance. He would save his firearms for when his vision returned. A sword slashed at his horse’s side. He spurred it to keep moving. Speed was the only line of defense. He hadn’t really had time to see what the rest of his force was doing. From what he could tell, they were doing the same thing — charging into the clearing, knocking down tents and killing anything that looked or sounded French. Now they were at the barracks themselves. Some men who had grenades threw them through the windows. Uxbridge, whose sight had begun to come back, shot at the men who fled. He was pretty sure he’d killed one of them. He looked around him. All was chaos and confusion and gunsmoke. He let out a yell that wasn’t part of any regiment’s official battle cry. Then, from the south, came a fresh wave of cavalry. They were on his side, but they had the look of men fleeing rather than attacking. “Sir!” one of them shouted. “Masséna is coming!” Uxbridge took a moment to reflect on what he knew of the enemy’s tactical dispositions, then thought Oh, hell. The whole southern wing of the French army had to be folding up like a bear trap, with him in the middle. It was time to get the hell out of here. * * * When Wellington heard the horses coming, he nearly ordered his men to open fire. Then he heard the sound of gunfire coming from somewhere behind them. Those had to be British, returning to him after achieving whatever it was they had done, and the enemy was hot on their heels. Wellington shouted out a series of orders, creating a gap in his own lines that Uxbridge could charge through while ordering the rest of his men to be ready to throw back the French with volleys. He wished he hadn’t sent the artillery north — now would be a good time for canister. And there, in the distance, he saw Lord Uxbridge’s head in profile. Just as the British cavalry were starting to make use of the gap, Uxbridge jerked violently… and fell off his horse, in that boneless, rag-doll way that could only mean he was already dead. In that moment, Wellington couldn’t remember ever having borne a grudge against the man. Two ranks of riflemen were already poised to fire. And in another moment, the cavalry (or what was left of it — they seemed to have taken some terrible losses along the way) was out of the way. “FIRE!” shouted the duke. There was a deafening thunderclap. The enemy disappeared behind a cloud of gunsmoke. The musketeers were already preparing another volley — their weapons were less accurate, but with everyone firing blind that wouldn’t really matter. And then, a unit of French cavalry came out of the smoke. It happened very quickly. Wellington dodged a horse as it came past, stuck his sword into the barrel of it, and the horse’s momentum ripped the sword out of his hands. And then… something happened. For the rest of his life Wellington would wonder what it was. * * * Wellington rose to his feet. He felt very sick, and his head was in terrible pain that only got worse as he tried to stand, but he was determined to at least see what was going on. He looked around. He was surrounded by dead men — British and French — and horses. He looked down. His rifle was gone, his sword (wait — he remembered how that had happened) and some utter bastard had stolen his boots. He touched the side of his head. It was wet and sticky. What had happened to him there? A kick from a horse? No. Men kicked in the head by horses generally didn’t get up again. Probably a blow from the butt of a rifle. Two Imperial Guardsmen walked up to him. Even if he’d been armed, he was in no shape to resist. He let them take him into custody. The next few minutes were a blur. He was walking with other prisoners, behind one of those little horse-drawn field ambulances that was carrying someone more badly hurt than he was. The creaking of the wheels was making his head hurt worse. There didn’t seem to be too many prisoners — not more than a thousand — and there hadn't been too many bodies on the ground in British uniforms. Thank you, Campbell, he thought. In the distance, the French were chanting something. It sounded like bon Jon only not quite. Vengeant? Vengeons? It sounded… bad. One thing Wellington had learned in a lifetime of war was that, no matter how bad things seemed, they could always get worse. He looked around at the prisoners around him, in case any of them had a notion what was going on. He made eye contact with one, an officer in the 11th Light Dragoons — the “Cherry Pickers,” a reliable old unit from the Peninsula. The dragoon leaned in close and whispered three words, so quietly Wellington had to read his lips… “Bonaparte is dead.” The popular image of the Midnight Charge has largely been shaped by the incomparable prose of Victor Hugo. Chapters 49 through 52 of his epic novel Calvaire, in which a segment of the hero’s backstory is related, describe the Charge as a spontaneous outburst of inchoate wrath on the part of the French army, seeing the jubilation of the Germans and Russians at the news of the emperor’s death: “Through the darkness they ran, heedless of obstacles, all thought of line, column or formation forgotten. The earth trembled beneath four hundred thousand boots. It was as though the forces that drive the wind and tide, that bring down the rain and give speed to the avalanche, had possessed and animated the bodies of all these men, transforming them into something vast and inexorable, a tidal wave with a crest of bayonets that shone in the light of the gibbous moon…” Calvaire was published in 1868. Since then, many novels of varying quality and at least seven major K-graphs have depicted the Charge, all of them more or less following in Hugo’s footsteps. Hugo was a novelist, not a historian. To pick the most obvious point, the French didn't have 200,000 troops in shape to fight (and not all of the ones they did have had a full set of boots). Moreover, the fact that separate French corps at varying distances struck the allied troops at virtually the same moment on a battlefield ten miles wide reveals that someone must have given fairly specific orders concerning timing. The someone was Masséna, who by this point had taken overall command. As he later wrote, "I saw that the sudden rage of our men needed to be used this very night, before fear and despair could set in." And over the course of September and October, as the facts of that night came to light, the French Parliament and Regency Council cited over 400 French officers and sergeants for their efforts in coordinating and channeling the attack. On the other side, the news of Napoleon’s death, which had indeed roused the French to vengeful fury, had been the cause not only of celebration, but — fatally — relaxation. The Coalition had technically won the engagement of the 25th. The French had virtually been driven from the environs of Nancy. Moreover, if the Seventh Coalition was indeed the “Coalition to Stop Bonaparte,” then the war was already won — the man had been stopped in the most thorough and literal sense. Thus, the Coalition armies at the highest level viewed the results of the day with complacency and went to bed happy. As for the men who were soon to receive the brunt of the attack, they were physically exhausted to a degree that civilians cannot easily imagine, they had no great personal loyalty to the established order of Europe, let alone the House of Bourbon, and they had now been given the impression, not only that the battle was won, but that the war would soon be over. Many of them must already have been thinking of what they would do when they came home. More importantly, they were hungry. The Coalition had been able to gather a mighty army in a matter of a few months, but preparing an adequate logistical train for that army was something else again. Poor planning, corruption in the ranks and Ney’s depredations combined to reduce the soldiers’ diet to a fraction of what it needed to be. Cibohistorian Michael Sidhu, reading the diaries of 76 Coalition front-line soldiers, has concluded that their daily caloric intake over the course of the battle varied from 1700 on a good day to as little as 800. On this, they were expected not only to live, but to fight. And, in fact, many of them did fight. Contra Hugo and his followers, the Coalition armies were not simply “swept away.” Only Wrede’s Bavarian army crumbled completely, deserting en masse and finding their way home one by one. Although a number of Russian and Austrian regiments were taken by surprise so completely that they were routed from the battlefield, Barclay de Tolly, Colloredo-Mansfeld and Württemberg were able to organize a defensive line along the west bank of the Meurthe, behind which they could rally. The next morning, Masséna and the Coalition generals arranged a cease-fire. Both sides had taken terrible casualties during the night, and the death of Napoleon had changed everything. It was time to await orders from, respectively, Paris and Kaiserslautern. P.G. Sherman, “The Nancy Boys Revisited,” from Everything You Thought You Knew About History (Vol. 2) On August 24, the day before Napoleon’s death in battle, Lamarque entered Antwerp in triumph at the head of an army of Frenchmen and Walloon volunteers. The King’s German Legion had fought valiantly against him, but had been defeated. This news was greeted in London with horror, and with questions from the opposition. For the second time this year, it seemed, Wellington and his army had been in exactly the wrong place at the right time. Was the fate of Antwerp not of greater importance to the Crown than whether France was ruled by House Bourbon or House Bonaparte? Castlereagh’s answer was simple — “We sent His Grace to Lorraine because Bonaparte was there. It was our intention to strike at the head of the snake, not its tail. Let the true king of France be restored, and all else can be set right.” Soon enough, they got word that the snake’s head had indeed been struck off. It remained to be seen whether the snake was a cobra or a Lernean Hydra… The armies that fought in Lorraine at least had the honor of contending with the man Wellington himself called the greatest general “in this age, in past ages, in any age.” The Spaniards, at least at first, found the French to be less trouble then their own king. After a force of hastily assembled conscripts under Decaen fought the Spanish to a draw at La Rhune (August 10) and a similar force under Clauzel outright defeated them at Font-Romeu (August 13) the capricious King Ferdinand grew suspicious of his army. Despite the later successes of the Spaniards in taking Bayonne and Perpignan, Ferdinand began sending political officers — Inquisitors in all but name — to hunt through the ranks of the officer corps for signs of liberalism and constitutionalism. Generals and colonels under suspicion were cashiered, imprisoned, or had their command stripped of vital units, which were sent to other officers deemed (for the moment) trustworthy. There may well have been cadres of dissatisified liberal officers before Ferdinand began his purge of the officer corps. As the events of the next year would prove, there certainly were plenty afterward… With the king of Saxony sending diplomatic missives to Austria, with the rebellions in Poland and Italy still underway, with the news that Murat himself had returned from Corsica to join the Italian rebels, all eyes were on Kaiserslautern, where King Louis was once more heeding the advice of Talleyrand — and Paris, where no one seemed to know who was in charge. P.G. Sherman, 1815 And All That “Heaven has gained a citizen, and Earth has lost an emperor. Never shall we see his like again.” With these words, in a letter to the heads of the Coalition nations dated September 4 (but, pointedly, not to Louis XVIII) the French Regency Council acknowledged the passing of Napoleon I. Said Council consisted of Napoleon’s surviving brothers (Joseph more or less first among equals, but not so much that he dared reach for the throne himself), the marshals of the French army and the leaders of the new Parliament. In this missive, the Council also affirmed its desire for peace with the members of the Coalition, and called on those nations to respect the sovereignty of the French government within the “natural boundaries” of the French people — which included everything south and west of the Rhine and the Waal. (As Prince Joseph would later say, “When negotiations are about to begin, only a fool asks for less than he wants.”) There was, however, some dispute as to whether negotiations were in fact to begin. Also on September 4, Louis XVIII devised a plan for the Coalition army. His plan was… to do nothing, and to wait for the illegitimate, ramshackle government in Paris to collapse into anarchy. “Soon enough, the thieves will fall out,” he said. The Coalition army withdrew to Karlsruhe in September. To the British and the Dutch, the French occupation of Antwerp remained an insurmountable problem. The Spanish had a grudge against Prince Joseph, whom they had come to call “José de las Joyas” for his pilfering of the crown jewels before his flight from Madrid. The Austrians were at this moment fighting a rebellion in Italy to which the French were offering some small support… small support being all they could afford to offer at this point. They had no intention of making peace with France — in fact, they were solidifying their ties to the states of Baden and Württemberg. The Prussians were another matter. Although the government of Frederick William III had lovingly stoked the fires of anti-French sentiment among its people, the fact remained that the kingdom was in a very bad way, and could not afford to have its soldiers languish through the winter in hastily made French prisoner-of-war camps while the estates of Prussian nobles burned. But to negotiate with France, even for mutual recognition of parole, it would first be necessary to recognize the French government, which would mean repudiating the Bourbon king. Russia was in the opposite position from Prussia. As Tsar Alexander stated coolly, “The French could not conquer us when they had defeated all others. Should we fear them now?” His ministers had learned at Vienna how the rest of Europe feared the expansion of Russian power. Clearly there was no further reason for Russian blood to be spilled on behalf of the houses of Hapsburg or Bourbon. So it was that both Wilhelm von Humboldt and Count Nesselrode found themselves in Paris that October, negotiating with Caulaincourt. The Treaty of 20 October was a simple one. France withdrew all claims to Prussian and Russian territory and paroled and released all prisoners from those nations, and Prussia and Russia both recognized the French government. Russia declared peace and withdrew from the Coalition entirely, while Prussia merely remained in a state of cease-fire. The important thing, from the Prussian king’s perspective, was that the Prussian POWs could now offer their parole to Paris, return home and save the kingdom. (Of course, their first act on returning to Prussia was to go to Berlin and crush the anti-French rioters who had taken to the streets on learning of this peace.) P.G. Sherman, 1815 And All That James Madison was of a generation of men who’d had the extraordinary audacity to carve a new nation from the flanks of the mightiest empire on earth, and the intellect to devise an effective government for it. He himself had done as much to shape the Constitution as any other one man — perhaps more. To him, and to Congress, public opinion was something to lead, not to follow. And they couldn’t have followed it very closely even if they’d wanted to. It’s easy, looking back from the modern age, to lose sight of the fact that in the early 19th century — before AEs, telephones or even the first differgins and telegraphs — nothing like modern opinion polling was remotely possible. But when a sea change took place in national sentiment, there was no mistaking it… Andrea Fessler, Rise of the Dead Rose September 6, 1815 Washington, D.C. House Speaker Henry Clay sat back in the chair facing the president. “Help me to understand this, James,” he said. “Why are you so resistant to enlarging the navy?” “Because the British have the unfortunate habit of incorporating captured ships into their own fleets,” said Madison. “God help us, if there is another war, I would rather not find that we had made our shipwrights work double shifts to build up the Royal Navy. If we can’t contend as equals with them on the open seas — which I see no prospect of at this time — we’ll be worse off than if we had never tried.” “A point,” said Clay. “What about Mr. Fulton? They say he’s recovered from his bout of illness, and I’ve heard good things about his latest project — some sort of warship or floating battery, apparently.” “I imagine you’re speaking of the Demologos,” said Madison. “And you’re quite right — it is a warship… or a floating battery. Apparently it depends on how well the engine is working on a given day. We’ll build a few more of them, but I wouldn’t care to base our whole defense around them. Although if it came to the worst, the British would have a very hard time sailing it back to London.” He sighed. “Henry, what we need is a new way of thinking, and… I haven’t thought of one yet.” “We must be seen to be doing something,” said Clay. He looked at the heap of letters from constituents that half-covered president’s desk. “You can see the voters are still in a festive mood.” “You should have seen it two months ago,” said Madison. “At least now I can see the desk. What I’m seeing more of is things like this.” He held up a copy of the New-York Evening Post, turned to an inside page. He pointed to an advertisement for a political meeting, rife with language like “restore the Honor and Glory of the Republic” and “avenge the Blood of Portland and the Shame of Rocksbury.” “And notice which newspaper it is in,” Madison continued. “I must say, it’s been entertaining, in a grim sort of way, reading the Federalist newspapers this year.” The Boston Gazette, the Connecticut Mirror and the New-York Evening Post had all been against the war, the president and the Republicans right up until Keane chose to stay in New Orleans, at which point they had all abruptly changed course. The Boston Centinel, on the other hand, had remained staunchly anti-war until the day it was burned to the ground by an angry mob and its editor lynched, which had happened while Wellington’s army was outside the city. “At times like this, Mr. President,” said the Speaker, “the only way to lead is to figure out where the people are going and get in ahead of them. We…” He repeated himself. “We must be seen to be doing something.” “This proposal for a canal, linking the Tennessee and Tombigbee — do you call that nothing?” If it were completed, it would turn Mobile into an alternative outlet for the upper Mississippi trade. “I call it a beginning, nothing more,” said Clay, but Madison was already pulling a large envelope out from under the pile. “This looks promising,” said the president. “It’s from young Quincy Adams in London. I haven’t heard from him in months.” Clay sat up a little. John Quincy Adams wasn’t exactly one of his favorite people, but news from the American embassy to the Court of St. James was bound to be important. He resisted the urge to get up and start reading over the president’s shoulder. “He seems to have had something of an adventure,” said Madison. “He was in Paris when the emperor returned, and he had some trouble getting back to London. When he got there, he found that there had been an… unfortunate incident at Dartmoor, where American seamen were being held prisoner. A guard, probably drunk, had opened fire on American prisoners — killed five and wounded several more.” Clay nodded. “I heard of this. Terrible business.” “As you can well imagine, young Adams demanded justice. The British held an inquiry of sorts, but they concluded that the whole thing was simply the unfortunate outcome of a riot by those obstreperous dirty-shirt Yankees. No one was punished.” “I wish I could say I was surprised,” said Clay. “The long and short of it is that young Adams believes he can do us no more good where he is. He begs my permission to come home and to leave our affairs in London in the care of the consul, a Mr. Reuben G. Beasley… My inclination is to leave him there until my successor can appoint a replacement. I don’t want less than our best in London right now.” “I disagree,” said Clay. “I am not by any means blaming him for what happened, but I don’t see what the British government could do in his absence worse than what Their Lordships did in his presence. It is, of course, your decision.” “I think you’re right,” said Madison. Winter descended on Europe that year like the vengeance of an angry god. Sleet fell on London in the last week of November, followed by heavy snow in the first week of December, followed in turn by subzero temperatures under deadly clear skies. It was a warning of things to come. Early in December, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg arrived in London. Contrary to what certain feverish biographers and romantic K-graphs have claimed, Princess Charlotte Augusta did not in fact leave Weymouth at once, ride like a bat out of hell to London through the blizzard on the back of a white horse, and leap into her beloved’s arms in the middle of (the yet-to-be-built) Piccadilly Circus while the onlookers cheered. However, she lost no time in writing entreaties to her father the Prince Regent, who was beginning to understand that there was no point in trying to stop his daughter from doing whatever she set her mind to. This, too, was a sign of things to come. In France — in what was now northern France — General Lamarque maintained his watch along the Waal while the bureaucracy set about organizing Mont-Tonnerre and the other new departments. In Paris, the government considered the foul weather, the blockade and the loss of St.-Pierre and Miquelon, which had cut them off from the Grand Banks fisheries, and what they might mean for the immediate future as far as keeping the nation fed went. “Unlike Louis the Last, I will not be caught flat-footed while the people riot for bread,” said Lanjuinais. “Plan for the worst.” Little did he realize how bad “the worst” would be. In Karlsruhe, Talleyrand was spending half his time assuring King Louis of his loyalty, and the other half sniping against the king’s British allies in letters to various statesmen and crowned heads. “A week after Castlreagh left Vienna, General Wellington went off on a mission to America. And two weeks after that, Bonaparte returned to France,” he wrote to Metternich. “Of course, it may all be coincidence — but remember which nation was in charge of Elba and the waters around it.” To Tsar Alexander, he wrote: “It has long been British policy never to allow any one nation to dominate Europe. If there is a danger of that now, it does not come from France.” In Spain, King Ferdinand seldom left the palace in Madrid. His attempted purge of liberals and constitutionalists had begun to spiral, as these things do. Now he was seeing Bonapartist — or perhaps post-Bonapartist would be a better word — agents and sympathizers under every bed. No one (certainly no one in the army) was calling him “the Desired One” any longer. And it was increasingly obvious to ministers and generals alike that Spain’s biggest problem was not the threat of a resurgent France, but the potential loss of New World colonies they had held for centuries. Something would have to be done. In Italy, the late Emperor’s brother-in-law Joachim Murat — or, as he had now taken to calling himself, Gioacchino Murato — spent Christmas shivering in the midst of a rebel camp in the hills north of Genoa, a hunted man. He hadn’t been able to defeat the Austrians when he had real armies at his command, let alone this ragtag that barely followed his orders and called him “Your Majesty” half in jest. It seemed unlikely that the rebellion would even survive the next year. In Vienna, on the other hand, Christmas was celebrated with peace and joy. More peace than usual — a new treaty had been signed between Emperor Francis I and the ambassadors from Baden, Württemberg, Saxony and Hesse. The rulers of the smaller states did not declare themselves the Emperor’s vassals, but they did abandon the week reed of the German Confederation and enter into permanent alliance with Austria. (Representatives of Bavaria were conspicuous by their absence.) In Prussia and Poland, there was little joy, and the only peace was that which was enforced by Marshal Winter. The terrible blizzards of early December had bogged down both sides right where they were, leaving the Poles in control of the Posen area, Upper Silesia south and east of Oppeln and the free city of Krakow, whose government had tried to stay neutral. The revolt in Russian Poland had already been crushed, and in St. Petersburg, the tsar was writing to Metternich, suggesting that if Prussia failed to reconquer these lands by the end of next spring, Russia and Austria should do it instead. In the Sublime Porte, Mahmud II mourned the glory of Ottoman arms that had once been the terror of East and West alike, but were now proving inadequate to keep the Serbs in line. The nations of Europe had begun the year united in purpose, and ended it mired in the opportunism and mutual suspicion that characterize most of human history. And yet, one imagines that throughout all Europe, the passing of the year must have been felt with a deep sense of relief. The crisis of 1815 was over. The crisis of 1816 was about to begin. P. G. Sherman, 1815 And All That Below: a map of the Battle of Nancy on August 24, 1815. French forces are blue, British forces bright red, other Coalition forces dark red.