A heartbeat away from greatness: a timeline of missed opportunities

Oops:eek:- Somehow I thought AJP Taylor started publishing a decade earlier. So I've edited the 1922 edition of "The second Napoleonic wars" to 1934 (which is when he published his frist work OTL- focusing on Italy in European diplomacy)

yboxman

To be honest I was surprised he was writing that long ago, as I remember him from my youth in the 70's. Was going to raise the point after checking his wiki entry but you bet me to it.;)

Going to be pretty chaotic, at least in the former Austrian empire.

A lot of potential problems for just about everybody as so much that could go wrong. Didn't realise there was such tension over Scheswig-Holstein, as thought it was more Bismarck's manoeuvring to get the war he wanted. That could be a nasty factor however if Prussia and a number of German allies are left to fight alone here against a Franco-Russian alliance. Suspect this might force Britain out of neutrality onto Prussia's side, despite the sympathy for Denmark in Britain.

Not sure a US President would take the risk of trying to tangle with Britain at this period, even if they thought it might distract internal divisions. Could be messy for everybody if they did however.

Steve
 
#10: The Russian steamroller


June 15th 1859 Krakow, Austrian Kingdom of Galicia (recognized), Russian Kingdom of Poland (proclaimed)

Dmitry Milyutin cursed the timing of the war for the thousandth time. Five years, only five years with authority to reform the military and he might just have had an army worthy of the name. Instead, he commanded a shambolic horde which had taken a week more and twice as many casualties as necessary to overrun a largely abandoned Galicia. But then again, the troops stationed in congress Poland and White Russia had not seen combat since the Polish rebellion a generation ago. They had not benefited from either experience or winnowing of incompetent officers that the veteran units of the Crimean and Caucasian wars had enjoyed. The Western Army group was not, after all, intended to win a decisive engagement with the Austrian army- only to make an impressive show, secure Galicia and especially the transcarpathian portion of the Warsaw-Krakow-Vienna railway (1) and force as many of the thinly stretched Austrian forces as possible to shift to the Western Carpathian passes and the Moravian approaches to Vienna.

Not that he had any intention of moving the Western Army group in a serious invasion of Moravia. For one thing, he was not sure they were capable of facing the Austrians, even in the sorry and stretched condition they were in. For another, advancing through the narrow strip of territory separating the main Carpathian ranges from Prussian Silesia would be an invitation for encirclement and anhliation if Prussia entered the war- and might just be the step to provoke it.

No, this foray, as grand as the proclamation of the restoration of the "autonomous" Kingdom of Poland was made out to be, was nothing more than a feint, and, if he was very lucky, the Anvil for the Eastern hammer which would strike the main blow. The Army of the Caucaus had started marching a month before the war was proclaimed and was now in position to storm the thinned out defenses of the Bukovinan-Hungarian passes. The Austrians had no uncommitted reserves prepared for the push- and he personally would make sure that the push would be very ruthless indeed.

Topography, Transportation and the advantages and disadvantages of the defender, Colonel Philippe Petain 1890 :

The situation of the opposing Russian and Austrian Armies on the Carpathian front during the war of Austrian dissolution (2) is a classic example of where the natural tactical advantages of a defending force may be turned into a strategic liability. The invading Russian forces outnumbered the Defending Austrian forces considerably, perhaps as many as 3:1 when the army of the caucaus arrived in Bukovina. However, as the Austrians had relinquished control of Galicia with no significant contest of arms they were perched on some of the most magnificent defensive terrain in Europe- the steep ridges and narrow passes of the Carpathian mountains. Limited but Furious skirmishes starting in early June seemed to confirm the Austrian high command belief that in spite of the neglect of Carpathian fortifications a determined smaller force could successfully hold off an attacking force lacking a truly overwhelming local superiority.

The problem facing the Austrian high command was therefore parsed down into maintaining a series of reserve mobile forces along the lateral transportation routes south of the Carpathian passes and sufficient information regarding Russian troop movements in Galicia to direct their reserves to the Russian points of main effort (3).

A number of factors rendered the Austrian attempt to exclude the Russians from Hungary futile. The first were the draconic means Milyutin applied in occupied Galicia to prevent knowledge of troop movements from reaching Austria, accompanied by the strategic "surprise" of the arrival of the army of the Caucaus. It should be stressed that total suprise was never achieved, mythology to the contrary. However, the warning Austrian high command was able to receive of Russian troop concentration was sufficiently short that it stressed the ability of Austrian mobile reserves to respond. It did not however stress beyond their limits.

That limit was breached by three additional factors.
First was the colossal casulties of Franz Josef at Solefino. This meant that the central reserve protecting the Moravian approach to Vienna was bled dry of troops- which it had to replenish by denuding the mobile reserves of the Carpathian front.

Second was the unwelcome expertise of the Caucasian army, and particularly it's Circassian and Chechen Auxiliaries in mountain warfare. Perhaps superior to the best Alpinist units the Austrians could muster on the neglected Carpathian front, their ability to infiltrate approaches deemed impassable to European units meant the Austrians had to spread their stationary forces ever thinner.

Third of course was the Hungarian unrest. It tied down scarce military personnel both in suppressing the uprising and keeping vital transportation arteries open. But more importantly it forced the mobile reserves of the Carpathian forces to move more slowly and cautiously. It was no more than an hour's worth lost from every day's march. But given the distances involved it proved too much.

By July 12th The Russian Caucasian army had broken through to the Headwaters of the Tisza river and had started on it's march westward, forcing the fixed detachments of the Carpathians to flee, leaving their artillery behind, or face encirclement. A miracle of Logistics and misinformation allowed the Austrian high command to drain the Moravian reserves and concentrate sufficient forces at Mohacs to meet the Caucasian army on terms of near numerical parity on August 4th. While the battle was a stalemate, Milyutin was able to turn the Ponderous Galician forces south through the now abandoned Carpathian passes, forcing the Austrian forces to withdraw to Bratislava. By mid August the Austrians had largely abandoned Hungary proper though Isolated Habsburg forces continued to hold critical forts as well as play an incendiary role in the rising ethnic warfare in Transylvania, the Banat and parts of upper Hungary/Slovakia. Russian forces from the Baltic, Moscow and Volga military zones had replaced the Polish-Lithuanian based Russian forces now in Hungary and were facing off the now mobilizing Prussian force.

The Mobilization of Prussia had led the Austrian High command to abandon the defence of the Moravian approach to Vienna, trusting Prussia to prevent exploitation of that gap, and to concentrate all remaining reserves (with the exception of Croatian based forces whose obedience to commands from Vienna had become increasingly selective) on the Danubian approaches to Vienna. From the combined Russian-Hungarian force. The Russian-Hungarian force outnumbered The Austrian by nearly 2:1. However, it was far from its line of supplies, had taken heavy casualties in forcing the Carpathians, was malnourished thanks to Austrian scorched earth policies and was arguably qualitatively inferior in training and equipment to the Austrian forces. On the other hand the Austrian order of battle was disrupted by desertion and even defection of many of it's Hungarian, Polish and Ruthenian soldiers. Scattered unrest had begun in Bohemia and Moravia as well, further increasing ethnic tension in the Austrian army, in particular with volunteer units from the German confederation.

What is clear, given events, is that Austria would have been better off had it abandoned the Carpathian line, and all of Hungary proper, as soon as war was declared and either concentrated it's forces for a counter attack from Galicia towards Warsaw, channeled more forces to Italy for an attempt at a decision in the West, or simply made a stand on the Axis between Moravia and the knee of the Danube. As it was the force facing the Russians was heavily attrited from desertions (as it is much easier to desert on the march), lost much of it's artillery, and was thoroughly demoralized. Truely, a demonstaration of the maxim of Fredrick the great: "he who defends everything defends nothing"

It is a matter of debate to this day on whether the Russians might have taken Vienna, or at least Bratislava, before Prussia had completed its mobilization. Had they done so it would almost certainly had been the End of the Austrian empire as Bohemia and Croatia-Slovenia would have gone the way of Hungary and Saxony, Bavaria and Prussia would have gobbled up the remaining pieces of the shattered empire. Perhaps to the fortune of the house of Habsburg, the outcome of the war was rendered elsewhere, aborting the third siege of Vienna before it could commence.

(1) Aside from the St Petersburg-Moscow railway this is the only significant railway in the Russian empire. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw–Vienna_railway . Yes, it's realy that bad.
(2) The French Name for the initial phase (if the Crimean war is discounted) of the Second Napoleonic wars
(3) Just to make clear- 1859 is nothing like WWI. OTL WWI saw over ten times as many troops supported by a dense railway network enabling very rapid lateral transport. This essentially meant sustained breakthroughs were essentially impossible, Gorlice Tarnow was the exception proving the rule and was enabled thanks to a massive qualitative advantage, Artillary concentration and the Russian shell crisis. In 1859 however, and especially in Eastern Europe, Armies are still a spearpoint thrusting into enemy territory rather than a "front" moving across the entire border. The aim of army maneuvers is to gain control of communication hubs, strategic territory, and symbolic objectives so as to force the opposing armies to abandon their positions or accept battle under unfavorable terms. Think American civil war, and Mississippi front Civil war at that, rather than WWI- but with even less railways.
 
yboxman

Going to be pretty chaotic, at least in the former Austrian empire.

You Betcha. And very, very bloody. While the empires manuever armies the ethnic groups are forming millitias whose main targets are not the empires but rival ethnic groups.

A lot of potential problems for just about everybody as so much that could go wrong.

You bet. The high uncertainty is going to make statesmen less eager to commit to all-out war, but also scared NOT to commit if the Franco-Russian alliance or the Forming Prussian-British alliance seem to be getting some kind of advantage.

Didn't realise there was such tension over Scheswig-Holstein, as thought it was more Bismarck's manoeuvring to get the war he wanted.

The Genius of Bismark was that he anticipated events and tried to make use of them rather than engaging in the grandiose plans which required everything to go right that Napoleon III was apt to. Ethnic tension in Scheswig-Holstein was rife and the German confederation had already fought one war over it in 1848. Specificaly, the 1864 war was one Bismark preferred to avoid, or at least appear to be avoiding (because it involved stepping on both British and Russian interests). The first shot was fired not by Prussia but by German volunteers backing the German claimant to Holstein. Once that happened Bismarks choice was to either let the Confederation to take the lead and thereby marginalize Prussia. Let Prussia be dragged in AFTER Russia and Britain had become hot and bothered over a long war against an ally. Or do what he did- work together with Austria (to create a block too strong to challenge), maintain limited war aims so as to avoid totaly pissing Russia and Britain off- and set Austria up to be backstabbed.

That could be a nasty factor however if Prussia and a number of German allies are left to fight alone here against a Franco-Russian alliance. Suspect this might force Britain out of neutrality onto Prussia's side, despite the sympathy for Denmark in Britain.

It might. But they would delay doing it and would try to get commitments from Prussia about borders, etc. WHich means more time for the Franco-Russian alliance to try to overwhelm Prussia before British subsidies to Prussia and British blockade on allies kicks in.

Not sure a US President would take the risk of trying to tangle with Britain at this period, even if they thought it might distract internal divisions. Could be messy for everybody if they did however.
Steve

Way I see it the only circumstances Buchanan would get involved in a European fistfight was if Britain lost all continental allies, had imposed a Napoleanic eras style blockade on a hostile Europe, and has much of it's fleet tied down facing the Russo-French (and possibly Dutch and Spanish) navies. But that could happen if Prussia gets curb stomped by a Franco Russian alliance before it can organize Germany or get British aid but after Britain is committed to war. And that could obviouly only happen if a total war ensues in 1859 or early 1860. Even that is pushing it- The Buchnan administration becomes paralyzed in the last year. Unless the British fleet burns washington again he may not get the support he needs to wage an effective war (rule by executive order? a staged incident on the Canadian border or at sea?)


Remember how the war of 1812 got started. And that in 1859 the U.S has much more invested in European trade (King Cotton) and a much larger navy, army and population base to make it's concerns clear than in 1812. Ironically, the blockade will mostly piss off the South (since most U.S exports to Europe come from there) but the target of any U.S offensive will mostly be Canada (more free states), since the British navy can probably guard the Caribbean even if it is tied down in Europe.

For Buchnan that could be a relief since it would sideline the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United...Investigate_Alleged_Corruptions_in_Government until the end of his presidancy and allow him to retire in peace. On the other hand he views Winnifred Scott as a rival and so is going to be reluctant to let him in the limelight so that means... what?

Of course even if the U.S wins in Canada and Britain throws the towel in Europe the British islands are not going to be invaded and the British empire and industrial lead isn't going anywhere. Bad blood with Britain is very bad news for the U.S if the Civil war still occurs. Does it? A massive victory under a democratic administration may prevent the party from splintering while a defeat or phyrihic victory would gurantee the split (or it still may split if U.S takes Canada but fails to take Jamaica and Republicans are crowing about new free states).

The Republicans would probably still take the electoral colleges of the Northern and Western states regardless but might get even less of the popular vote. What if the war is won by a southern general who is then run as the democratic consensus candidate? A certain Robert E.Lee springs to mind. Or Winifred Scott could take the credit. If one of them wins the electoral college they might choose to demand the Mexican loans and turn south to carve some new slave states out of Mexico before the Canadian territories gain statehood. or purchase some Carribean territories from Spain/France/Netherlands/Britain That could be the trigger for the civil war- only the North might be the one to secede!
 
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yboxman

Well I think that answers the question. That's twice now you're referred to the war of 'Austrian dissolution' and that mention of that being the French name for the 'Second Napoleonic wars' is very ominous. Plus it looks like Prussia is mobilising and there is the reference to Vienna not being besieged. It also sounds like Napoleon will go for broke rather than cut and run, ensuring his gains and leaving Russia in the lurch.

Presuming Britain also comes in and it would be concerned about a Franco-Russia bloc and the destruction of the Austrian empire, let alone possibly also Prussia, this could be a long and bloody struggle. Which would fit in with the above reference. British neutrality is also less likely when the French leader is very likely proclaiming to the heavens his connection to his uncle.;)

Steve
 
I like the style you've been using for the Carpathian/Hungarian front. I'm finding it quite accessible, not least because you're using a lot of landmarks whose locations I already know. Keep it up!
 
You Betcha. And very, very bloody. While the empires manuever armies the ethnic groups are forming millitias whose main targets are not the empires but rival ethnic groups.

Ugh! That is going to be very unpleasant.:(:eek::eek: Since in the kingdom of Hungary the Magyars are in a minority and they won't be friends with the Germans even they, with possibly some Russian support could well come out poorly. Not to mention that given the logistics issues and the degree of shambles the Russian army is probably in by now it is probably making itself pretty unpopular with just about everybody it comes across.

You bet. The high uncertainty is going to make statesmen less eager to commit to all-out war, but also scared NOT to commit if the Franco-Russian alliance or the Forming Prussian-British alliance seem to be getting some kind of advantage.

Sounds like a recipe for the entire continent to blunder into a long lasting and destructive war.:(

Way I see it the only circumstances Buchanan would get involved in a European fistfight was if Britain lost all continental allies, had imposed a Napoleanic eras style blockade on a hostile Europe, and has much of it's fleet tied down facing the Russo-French (and possibly Dutch and Spanish) navies. But that could happen if Prussia gets curb stomped by a Franco Russian alliance before it can organize Germany or get British aid but after Britain is committed to war. And that could obviouly only happen if a total war ensues in 1859 or early 1860. Even that is pushing it- The Buchnan administration becomes paralyzed in the last year. Unless the British fleet burns washington again he may not get the support he needs to wage an effective war (rule by executive order? a staged incident on the Canadian border or at sea?)

Its possible but as you say would need some pretty unlikely consequences.

Remember how the war of 1812 got started. And that in 1859 the U.S has much more invested in European trade (King Cotton) and a much larger navy, army and population base to make it's concerns clear than in 1812. Ironically, the blockade will mostly piss off the South (since most U.S exports to Europe come from there) but the target of any U.S offensive will mostly be Canada (more free states), since the British navy can probably guard the Caribbean even if it is tied down in Europe.

For Buchnan that could be a relief since it would sideline the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United...Investigate_Alleged_Corruptions_in_Government until the end of his presidancy and allow him to retire in peace. On the other hand he views Winnifred Scott as a rival and so is going to be reluctant to let him in the limelight so that means... what?

Of course even if the U.S wins in Canada and Britain throws the towel in Europe the British islands are not going to be invaded and the British empire and industrial lead isn't going anywhere. Bad blood with Britain is very bad news for the U.S if the Civil war still occurs. Does it? A massive victory under a democratic administration may prevent the party from splintering while a defeat or phyrihic victory would gurantee the split (or it still may split if U.S takes Canada but fails to take Jamaica and Republicans are crowing about new free states).

The Republicans would probably still take the electoral colleges of the Northern and Western states regardless but might get even less of the popular vote. What if the war is won by a southern general who is then run as the democratic consensus candidate? A certain Robert E.Lee springs to mind. Or Winifred Scott could take the credit. If one of them wins the electoral college they might choose to demand the Mexican loans and turn south to carve some new slave states out of Mexico before the Canadian territories gain statehood. or purchase some Carribean territories from Spain/France/Netherlands/Britain That could be the trigger for the civil war- only the North might be the one to secede!

I think the other danger would be that an angry Britain would be looking for revenge. Apart from the industrial superiority and virtual monopoly of the world's saltpetre supply, which would also be important in a prolonged European conflict there are a number of vulnerabilities for the US. For instance a blockade of any effectiveness would largely remove the US's main form of revenue. Also a Britain on the offensive might try playing the anti-slavery card.

Furthermore I think it would be practically impossible for the US to take all of Canada, especially positions such as Halifax and probably also not the Pacific coast as its so difficult to reach. It could be long and bloody but I think Britain would be most unwilling to accept anything that could be viewed as a defeat.

Also while the US has a larger population base and a lot of trade with Europe much of that is with Britain. Its Britain that has the cotton industry that buys the bulk of American exports and similarly Britain imports a lot of food from the north and supplies the bulk of imported manufactured goods. As such if the US did choose sides there are arguments for it to be on the British side rather than the other.

Steve
 
I like the style you've been using for the Carpathian/Hungarian front. I'm finding it quite accessible, not least because you're using a lot of landmarks whose locations I already know. Keep it up!

Thanks man- I have to admit that in spite of some semi Hungarian ancestry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpathian_Ruthenia#Jews) I have little exact knowledge of the topography involved in invading Hungary proper from across the Carpathians. My impression is that once you push past the relatively low but heavily forested ranges separating Transcarpathia from Hungary proper you're basically marching on a pancake all the way to Bratislava. I also think the Austrians built some pretty good roads across Transcarpathia by 1860 so a force which penetrated through that vector of approach could be reasonably supplied.

If you have any plausability issues with the *"Petain's" analysis of the Milyutin's advance into Hungary let me know.
 
Ugh! That is going to be very unpleasant.:(:eek::eek: Since in the kingdom of Hungary the Magyars are in a minority and they won't be friends with the Germans even they, with possibly some Russian support could well come out poorly. Not to mention that given the logistics issues and the degree of shambles the Russian army is probably in by now it is probably making itself pretty unpopular with just about everybody it comes across.
Steve

Well, russians have a habit of doing that... However, Milyutin is a bit smarter than the average bear :D and he has experience with manuevering competing ethnic groups against each other in the caucaus.

a few things to bear in mind:
1. The Russian vector of approach avoids the heartland of Hungary. They're basically skirting the southern edges of the Slovak inhabited Carpathian ranges along the lightly populated Magyar inhabited North hungarian plain. As Habsburgs retreat from central and Eastern SLovakia their logisitcs become less constrained- though they are still "Commandeering" more than the Magyars of northern Hungary care to contribute.

2. Russia doesn't have a stake in the Ethnic warfare between Magyar and German and only a limited one in the Slovak/Croat Magyar (dammed papists. to hell with them both) and Romanian/Magyar conflicts (not proper slavs). Their main interest, if they think they're going to come out on top against the Habsburgs is to be the power broker in resolving the conflicts while enshrining some position of authority for russia in the settlement. They're not mad enough to think they can directly rule Hungary (though possibly Slovakia...)

3. The center of the Magyar Insurrection is around Budapest and the Danube and Tisza river valleys. Fighting with other ethnic groups is centered against newly arrived German settlers and Habsburg loyalist (magyars as well as German) in Hungary proper.

In Slovakia retreating Habsburgs try to mobilize Slovak national guards to help fight the advancing Russians and Magyar insurrectionists. The eastern units melt away into the mountains after the battle of Mohac and tend to ignore the Russians. The Western units are caught up by the regular Habsburg army dragnet and will participate in the battle of Bratislava. The presence of large imperial armies tends to limit direct ethnic warfare though.

Croatia-Slavonia sees something similliar except that local Croat generals are firmly in control and increasingly running their own agenda.

The real bloodbath is in Transylvania and the Banat. Both have more than two ethnic groups vying for power, both have trapped rememnants of hapsburg forces and both have neighboring semi-independant principalities which try to promote "their" ethnic group. Transylvania also has a Russian force trying to manuver this morass to their best advantage.
 
General European war: long or short?

Ugh! That is going to be very unpleasant.:



Sounds like a recipe for the entire continent to blunder into a long lasting and destructive war.:(


Ugh! That is going to be very unpleasant.:




Well, that depends. Remember we are talking about Civil war age technology but with pre-formed European armies. WWI took so long and was so bloody because the technology favored the defensive, preventing a swift resolution to the conflict. The civil war was as long as it was because neither side had an army when they started. It took a while to build one up and learn how to use it. The crimean war took a long time because the anglo-french troops were operating at the end of a long supply line and could not make any decisive move.

The Bismarkian wars (And OTL 1859 war) were short because they aimed at very limited gains and because Bismark was very careful and very lucky to avoid neutralize all the great powers except for the one he was targeting.

Napoleon III is aiming at something similiar. But the change he is making TTL to the Balance of power (eliminating Austria as a great power) is too radical. His reputation (Napoleon!) and that of his country is too radical.

So what the question comes down to is a military one. Can the Franco-Russian alliance overwhelm Prussia and whatever German allies it can gather in a short, decisive war? the later the war is the more likely that the answer is no. Prussia and Germany are undergoing a massive demographic and industrial growth while France is entering into decline. In 1860 France still outweighs Germany in every category. in 1870 they will be even. after that France sinks and germany soars until the late 1890s when it begins declining relatively to Russia but still increases relatively to France.

The Russian proto industrialisation and railway construction era is still a decade away. And it's reforms are going to be disruptive on the short-medium term even if, perhaps especialy if, the reformers are more succesful

If Russia and France fail to overwhelm Prussia within six month-year, and Britain joins in, then we are looking at a long race in which the initial Franco-Russian superiority and Russia's snail pace mobilization are racing against:
1. Prussia's ability to rally Germany around it
2. Britain's ability to supply Germany with war material
3. Britain's willingness to create it's own army.
4. The economic stranglehold of the blockade.

If they do overwhelm Prussia and neutralize the other German states then we are looking at a situation reminiscent of the first Napolonic wars. A hostile coalition dominates the continent while Britain uses naval strengh to try to strangle it. At the same time, as in the first Napleonic wars, it tries to pry one ally away from the other (Another question- whose gains will Britain be more likely to swallow? Tsarist Russia or Napoleonic France?)

To some extent this situation is better for Britain than the Napoleonic wars. It's industrial lead is greater, the demographic gap Vs France smaller, and it's colonial empire more expansive and secure. On the other hand, railways reduce the edge it's naval power gives it. Napoleon III is unlikely to repeat the mistakes of Napoleon I. And Prussia and Austria, if overwhelmed, are unlikely to retain the capacity to raise new armies as they did in the first Napoleonic wars.

On the other hand:
a. France has a functioning and significant navy as does, to a lesser extent, Russia (oddly enough so does Spain. At least on paper).
b. Governments are more centralized and have more tools at their disposal. If Napoleon III and Alexander II decide to enforce a "continental system"- then it's probably going to work.
c. the United states is a power of 30 million (about equal to Britain+ Canada) with it's own industries and navy.
d. Britain itself is far more dependent on food and raw material imports.

If the U.S joins in then the British navy, though still superior is in the Atlantic is stretched too thin to impose a blockade on all beligerents, protect it's own shipping, and protect the British home isles from invasion. The naval war would probably become highly dynamic with everyone's shipping being attacked but few coastlines being continuously blockaded.

Britain is more dependent on trade than the U.S or the continental alliance. I think that under those conditions they're either fold- or make a separate peace with France/Russia (since they can't do jack about them anyway) and try to deal with the U.S
 
Buchanan and the European war

Its possible but as you say would need some pretty unlikely consequences.
Steve

Three preconditions:
a. European war starts 1859 or early 1860 (not unlikely)
b. Britain joins the war.
c. France and Russia overwhelm Prussia and neutralize other German states before May 1860 (elections are in November. Starting a war a month before elections is a bit too much.... isn't it? On the other hand it means a successful general can't compete with Buchanan or other civilian politician)

That allows just enough pressure to build up around British Blocakde practices (they're Brits. they're snooty. comes with the territory). Britain may be the #1 trade partner of the U.S but ti's not quite as big as all of Europe put together!



Furthermore I think it would be practically impossible for the US to take all of Canada, especially positions such as Halifax and probably also not the Pacific coast as its so difficult to reach. It could be long and bloody but I think Britain would be most unwilling to accept anything that could be viewed as a defeat.
Steve

Obviously Britain will be able to keep control of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. But can they keep the St Lawrence valley? If it can't then the rest of Canada falls as well. If it can then the question is where the U.S can make gains. South Bank of St Lawrence? Probably. the Indian and Metis populated prairies West of the Great lakes? not sure. It would certainly be an interesting war- how would you define victory in such a sparsely populated terrain? the outcome would depend as much on Indian alliances as European troops. As to the Pacific coast I'm less optimistic for the British than you are. They are unlikely to spare enough ships to protect Vancouver from a marine landing and British Columbia is wedged between Russian Alaska the U.S. Also California is an organized state with it's own national guard. And Oregon has a sizable population that was capable of raising a regiment of volunteers OTL.

Also while the US has a larger population base and a lot of trade with Europe much of that is with Britain. Its Britain that has the cotton industry that buys the bulk of American exports and similarly Britain imports a lot of food from the north and supplies the bulk of imported manufactured goods. As such if the US did choose sides there are arguments for it to be on the British side rather than the other.
Steve

No reason to join the British because:
a. The French aren't blocking American trade with Britain. The British are blocking U.S trade with France (and they import about half of much Cotton as the Brits. The undustrial revolution has reached France by now)
b. The French don't have any colonies worth taking
c. The Brits are historical enemies. The French are historical allies.

So that brings us back to the Question- Would Buchanan even consider joining in? If he does would the republican plurality in congress let him? Does his democratic base let him? opposition to expansion seems to have been a Republican obsession based on opposition to expanding slavery. But I've seen no equivalent opposition from the south based on expanding Free states (such as during the pacific northwest crisis with Britain) Finally, if the U.S does invade Canada then how would it fare?

Bear in mind that the situation is NOT analogous to various "trent affair" timelines such of Connoly's "1862" (Which I still think is an America wank).

On the one hand there is no civil war at the start of the war- though if the war lasts into the 1860 November election THIS could be the issue which leads the south to secede (with British support).

On the other hand the U.S will not be starting the war with a mass conscript army able to overrun Canada before Britain can respond effectively (Which is what British planners feared during the Trent affair. They also feared the U.S would turn it's army north after it crushed the Confederacy simply because if you have this great big army lying around you might as well use it). It will be starting the war with a politically torn military which has been the victim of repeated budget slashes. It is mostly concentrated in the Southwest on the Mexican border. In peacetime the British military, though tiny by continental standards, is still significantly larger than that of the U.S. Even though some of it must be kept on the home islands they can still raise on expeditionary force of comparable strength to anything the U.S can send into Canada. As time goes on though, the U.S will find it much easier to reinforce their army- especially if the Atlantic is a free for all shark pool.

A final military concern is that the St.Lawrence is frozen in winter. That means that if the U.S opts for a winter war the heartland of Canada cannot be directly reinforced. Troops will have to be landed at Nova scotia and marched overland (as per British assessments in 1862).

On the economic front a temporary end to trade with Britain would indeed hurt the U.S (the south more than the north. As the north has it's own industries and might benefit from having a protected home market) But in the context of a "continental system in Europe would hurt Britain far more.

Finally, you mentioned the possibility that the U.S might join Britian in war. I said why I think that's unlikely. But what about a "Louisiana purchase" under the unspoken threat of war? Or in order to "temporarily" protect French possesions from British conquest? However, Congress was able to block Buchanan from pursuing negotiations for the purchase of Cuba- why should he fare any better later on?

Let's consider other "southern options":
a. Ditto as the purchase of French colonies- but with the Dutch.
b. The U.S purchases Mexican debts in the 1860 crisis (Europeans are too busy squabbling to take coordinated action on the issue). Buchanan decides to either do as the European did later and occupy the custom houses in Veracruz in order to redeem the debts or:
c. Help one side or the other win the civil war in return for Baja and a slice of Northern Mexico (that was the "collateral" the U.S demanded OTL for it's own debts. Then the civil war started)
d. Occupy Santo Domingo to "protect" it from invasion by Haiti. OTL Santo domingo asked for Spanish re-annexation in 1861. Might Santos be "convinced" to "request" protection by the U.S?
e. War with Spain! No concern about intervention by other Europeans, right? And having Cuba and Porto Rico as slave states will make the base happy (and have the republicans up in flames- and possibly secede if the democarats run a successful candidate in the 1860 election)- but congress has blocked this in the past, right?

What all of these options lack is an internal political imperative to do so. War with an enemy who has caused offence (blockade, border incidents) would unite the country, at least temporarily. It would also make it difficult for the Republican congress to tie Buchanan's hands. Aside from the last option (war with Spain), which would require a staged incident of some sort (which goes against the grain for Buchanan to be directly involved with) none offer the same unifying narrative.

Which brings us to the other question. OTL Buchanan was pro American expansion in Central America and the Caribbean. He tried (repeatedly!) to purchase Cuba (and annexing it was part of his platform) but was stymied by congress and Spanish politics. He had pro-southern sympathies (he thought that the abolitionists were the bad guys and that they should leave slavery alone) but was completely neutral as far as slavery was concerned. There's no indication he ever considered invading Canada. But then again he never had motive or opportunity. If Europe was engaged in a general war and Britain took steps which were injurious to the states would he consider Northern expansion as desirable? Would his southern "base" support him if he made that his aim? Could a "Cuba for Canada" covert deal be brokered at that late a date to gain sufficient support to overcome opposition? Ironically, American nationalism is at fever pitch exactly when the country is growing more sectorial. Would this nationalism allow Buchanan to seek a southern option in spite of Republican opposition (Republicans hold a plurality in congress, not a majority)? He wants to do it- will congress let him?

Here BTW is an OTL incident which might, just might be the trigger for a war pleasing to both northern and southern expansionists.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Walker_(filibuster)#Death_in_Honduras
 
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yboxman

The reason I'm thinking a long conflict, other than the hint you give about the future name of the conflict;), is that its going to be a coalition war. As such a power facing defeat is more likely to fight on because it hopes that its allies will retrieve the situation. Hence Austrian resistance is lively to be encouraged by Prussian entry and the latter if it suffers set-backs by British entry. Also Britain is pretty much secure against total defeat while it will also be concerned about such a hostile alliance dominating the continent.

As such, unless Austria and Prussia are both knocked over pretty quickly and then the victorious powers offer terms Britain decides it can live with Britain will almost certainly fight on. Seeking allies where it can find them, including Turkey and whatever's left of Germany and Poland for instance. Can still fail but likely to be a long war.

Steve
 
I'm also of the opinion that this will be a long war. Calling this the Second Napoleonic Wars should imply nothing but that. As this could very well be Austrian dissolution, the balance of power in Europe will take a major hit here. I would expect German unification to come as a consequence of this war if the Anglo-Prussian Alliance wins. Austria could be recomposed to encompass Austria, Tyrol, Carinola, and Bohemia. Maybe they could keep Croatia-Slavonia and Dalmatia. Hungary is likely lost here. The new Germany would probably include Luxembourg and Alsace-Lorraine.

Italian unification could likely be overruled as a consequence of Sardinia-Piedmont, Naples, and the Papal States being allied to a losing Franco-Russian Alliance. I could see Italy being divided between three major power blocs. Sardinia-Piedmont (Kingdom of Italy) in the north, the Papal States in the center, and Naples and Sicily in the south.

I would also expect less French meddling in the Mexico situation since it will be a bit difficult to get troops to North America. The Mexico situation may very well be ignored by European powers, so Mexico may be able to get away with defaulting on their loans. There's too much going on closer to home. It will also be more difficult for the Confederates to procure under the table foreign aid (war bonds, weapons, munitions, ship building, etc.) as a belligerent with a major European war draining resources. Indeed, the Confederates may likely not impose a cotton embargo because King Cotton may be seen as a valuable kingmaker in the European war.

If the war expands to North America, all bets are off. The American Civil War is still inevitable despite this POD. The United States is going to be trying to do anything possible to avoid getting bogged down in a major European war while it tries to put down the rebellion. It all depends on which alliance is stupid enough to back the United States into such a tight corner that public opinion would be in favor of joining the Second Napoleonic Wars while they are also putting down a rebellion close to home. The Confederates would likely be trying to agitate this situation because their chances of survival go up if they can be on the side of the winner (i.e. force an opposing alliance to the United States to recognize the CSA) in the Second Napoleonic Wars.
 
Way I see it the only circumstances Buchanan would get involved in a European fistfight was if Britain lost all continental allies, had imposed a Napoleanic eras style blockade on a hostile Europe, and has much of it's fleet tied down facing the Russo-French (and possibly Dutch and Spanish) navies.

It isn't up to Buchanan. Unless there is a visible U.S. grievance, there will be next to no political support for such a war. I think most knowledgeable Americans would remember the War of 1812, when the U.S. tried to take advantage of British preoccupation with Napoleon in Europe to seize Canada. And how well that didn't work out.

While the U.S. may be stronger now, so is Britain, and Napoleon III is but a shadow of his uncle. And the U.S. has no grievances at all, and a huge amount to lose if Britain wipes out U.S. shipping. There would be close to zero support in Congress for any such weirdness by Buchanan.

In any case, the U.S. public is far more concerned about domestic issues than anything going on in Europe. When Congress met in December 1859, it took several weeks to elect a Speaker of the House, while angry Southerners denounced the Republican leaders who had circulated a campaign pamphlet based on Hinton Helper's book The Impending Crisis Of The South.

John Brown's attack at Harpers Ferry, Bleeding Kansas, and the transcontinental railroad loomed far bigger in American minds than Hungary or Canada.

The Buchanan administration becomes paralyzed in the last year. Unless the British fleet burns washington again he may not get the support he needs to wage an effective war (rule by executive order? a staged incident on the Canadian border or at sea?)
Both completely off the table. The Mexican army was undisciplined enough to take Polk's bait in 1845. Buchanan has no way to bait Britain, no commanders who would do it, and no hope of a British commander biting.

As for Buchanan "ruling through executive order", it's about as plausible as Woody Allen playing an action hero (yes, I know he played one of the James Bonds in the parody Casino Royale).

Or Winifred Scott could take the credit.
ITYM Winfield Scott.

The developing situation in Middle Europe is very interesting.

Please leave the U.S. out of it. I don't think Britain really has any reason to get involved either.
 
Guys

Possibly one point we're overlooking is that it is 2nd Napoleonic War pueral. I.e. like the 1st set there are gouing to be a series of conflicts, although hopefully not going on for another 20+ years!:eek: This would imply some truces and regrouping, plus possibly some switching of sides by at least some powers/states.

Also it does imply that the main enemy of Britain/Germany will be France rather than Russia. [Which would fit in with a natural borders, which would mean huge annexations of German territory]. Unless that's just that the name the French use for it.

I think Britain has to get involved and preferably quickly. A dominant power/alliance is too dangerous for it. However if I'm right about the multiple conflicts I suspect the Franco-Russian bloc is going to win the 1st round and their opponents are going to have to regroup.

Agree that its likely the US will keep out of the European conflict. The border has been decided and while I'm not sure it will occur yet a conflict over succession about slavery, looks very likely.

Steve
 
Methodology and next step

Looks like I got a discussion going :)

Now that the board has expressed it's opinion let me explain how I intend to develop the timeline. Basically, starting from the original POD (Fredrick William not having a heart attack) and the major assumption stemming from it (Alexander II bites the bait Napoleon III offers him and joins the war on Austria) I don't have a pre-determined outcome as such.

I do have several competing themes I would like to explore:

a.Napoleon III pulling off one of his mad schemes and achieving the legendary statues he was obssesed about... or being a far worse collosal failure than he was.
b. Alexander II ramming effective reforms through... or creating a stronger radical/reactionary backlash leading to an even worse fate for Russia than OTL.
c. An earlier unification of GrossDeutchland... or a near permanent fragmentation.
d. Russia pulling off the march to Constaninopole... or the Ottoman empire solidifying it's rule in the Balkans while Europe burns and undergoing the reforms necessary to return to great power statues.
e. An early WWI devastating Europe and lasting for a decade, leading to disintigration of large empires, radical ideologies taking over, etc... or a series of sharp, localized conflicts similiar to the "Bismarkian wars" which create a new and more stable Balance of Power in Europe which in turn allows established empires and social systems to prolong themselves far into the future (possibly evolving into something else).
f. A future dominated by the great colonial empires of Europe where the North America is fragmented... or a Mega U.S which is assertive Vs a fragmented Europe much earlier.

My point is that I'm not gunning for any of those alternate outcomes. I'm going to make certain assumptions when I think a military or political outcome is nearly certain but when in doubt I'll flip a coin or roll a die in order to determine between branches of the decision tree (more likely options get higher probability). For the next generation and a half or so I'm going to keep the same historical actors and unless the social and political circumstances change radically they will fill similliar niches.

That said and in the context of the American civil war Vs the European war:
As I laid out, for Buchanan to drag, or be dragged into a European war at this late a date a large number of decisons need to go a certain way. Most of those decisions are not unlikely in and of themselves (the 1859 war dragging out rather than being temporarily resolved for example) but the combination of all of them together is extremely unlikely. Mind you OTL civil war was also viewed as extremly unlikely before it happened and looking back at it it seems incredible that it turned out the way it did.

The republicans were a minority compared to the pro-slavery and slavery neutral votes democratic in the 1860 election. The outright abolitionists within the republican party were also a minority just as the fire breathers were a minority within the democratic party, even in the south. Most people wanted to preserve the union and sweep the slavery issue under the carpet. Impossible in the long run of course- but it didn't have to explode in 1860. Dodging the bullet until 1864 or even 1868 isn't impossible.

The only way the republicans could win in 1860, and thereby make the southern states secede was a combination of the crazy electoral college system and split in the democratic party in the April 1860 convention. Buchanan may not be the brightest president the U.S ever had and he may not fully discern the abyss the union is falling into (who did?) but he might, just might, try to create an artificial union by appealing to nationalism Vs a foreign enemy. He won't be the first leader to do something like this.

I'll grant you it's unlikely (I computed the series of decision points leading to it at around 64:1. realistically it's probably less). If it happens it will probably backfire and lead to a national trauma concerning involvement in foreign wars.

That said the next decision point is a military one. Given that:
a. Napoleon III won a decisive victory against the Austrian 2nd army at TTLs Solefino, destroying about a two fifths of the Austrian forces in the Italian theater for the long term loss of only 10% of his own force
b. The Southern Italian states have joined the war, bringing a continuous stream of reinforcements (albeit second rate) to the fight.
c. Papal states joining the war means little domestic political opposition to the war in France.
d. FJ has holed up in Pichiera waiting for Prussia to intervene.
e. Prussia starts mobilizing a month after Solefino rather than immediately thereafter.
f. The Russian/Hungarian front means F.J and the Italian front are recieving almost no reinforcements.
g. F.J is the effective prisoner of his army. If he leaves them they will surrender.

Will Napoleon:
a. avoid chickening out and order his army to take Pischiera ?
b. Successfully capture Pischiera before September 1st (I'm estimating that's the latest date by which France can move it's forces in Italy to the Rhine frontier before Prussia completes Mobilization)?

And will F.J:
a. Successfully hold out until Prussia joins the war?
b. Surrender before his position becomes desperate (if he does will he abdicate to avoid the captive emperor situation)?
c. Try to escape and leave his army to collapse? (if he attempts escape will he be captured?)
d. Hold out until his army has no choice but surrender?
e. Decide to go out in a blaze of glory and try to lead his army out of the siege once he realizes the Prussians won't intervene in time to save Pischiera ?

I've decided Napoleon won't chicken out before September 1st. In the meantime he orders Regnaud to go for broke in Pischeira. What happens next depends on your opinions and the roll of the dice;)
 

abc123

Banned
IMO with Russian Army so close to Vienna FJ will cut his losses and ask for peace to save as much as possible...
 
It isn't up to Buchanan. Unless there is a visible U.S. grievance, there will be next to no political support for such a war. I think most knowledgeable Americans would remember the War of 1812, when the U.S. tried to take advantage of British preoccupation with Napoleon in Europe to seize Canada. And how well that didn't work out.

Both completely off the table. The Mexican army was undisciplined enough to take Polk's bait in 1845. Buchanan has no way to bait Britain, no commanders who would do it, and no hope of a British commander biting.

.

Like I said, this is not a very likely outcome.

However, I was reading Buchanan's state of the Union adress of December 1859 http://www.infoplease.com/t/hist/state-of-the-union/71.html
and was struck by how many references he made to foreign affairs (Mexico, Cuba, Paraguay, and the "Pig war") and how little of the speech was devoted to the issue of domestic slavery. Seems like he really WAS trying to sweep things under the carpet.

Here's the funny thing. Check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig_War

Ridiculous, right? Only goes to show that history realy is stranger than fiction. But the odd thing is that neither Buchanan or the British needed to look for someone to provoke a war. The local officials were sufficiently nuts to do that all on their own! I'm not sure about British legalities but it looks like the only reason a shooting incident was averted is that rear admiral Baynes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Lambert_Baynes disobeyed a direct order by the governor of vancouver http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Douglas_(Governor)

OTL Buchanan only found out what was going on in September. OTL he practically blew a gasket when he found out what his local commanders were doing. TTL? If Britain is commited to an anti-French blockade by then? Maybe he orders Winfield Scott to push harder in negotiations with Douglas, the british governor of Vancouver (who seems to be a real loose cannon). Or maybe he sends a more hotheaded negotiator because he wants Scott to actually prepare the army instead of play diplomat. Maybe, if the Prussians do really badly he thinks this could be an opportunity to reopen the whole Oregon dispute. The whole region is far enough removed from the centers of decison making that restraining local commanders is hard to do. If a lingering period of tension starts in September 1859 who knows where things will be by January?

Now all this on it's own isn't enough to start a war. But combined with a blockade which is pissing all Americans off, maybe an earlier Walker expedition to Honduras (earlier because the Brits want to settle the bay islands dispute with Honduras ASAP if they're engaged in Europe) which ends the same of OTL (captured and handed for execution by British) a sincere desire by Buchanan to unite Americans around SOMETHING and a war the Brits seem to be losing... well I could see things spinning out of control.

Weird thing is that the timing is just about perfect for synergy with a European war- I would have found it hard to believe but there it is.

That said, we still need to see which direction the European theater is going. It may pull back from the brink of the abyss (for now:() in which case this discussion is moot. If it goes over the edge Britain may or may not immediately intervene. We"ll get back to the American theater After the "War of Austrian Dissolution" is either resolved or escalates.

P.S. Napoleon III may be a pale shadow of his uncle, but his uncle didn't have the Russians on his side at 1812 (And Napoleon had just made his biggest error in 1812. Bad timing Madison!)
 
IMO with Russian Army so close to Vienna FJ will cut his losses and ask for peace to save as much as possible...

abc123

That would seem to make sense, especially with Russians and rebel Hungarians apparently destroying the position in the Hungarian kingdom and potentially marching on Vienna. However possibly FJ and Napoleon can't come to terms. Or if Napoleon is thinking already of winning a wider war and taking the western Rhineland from Prussia he won't want peace with Austria at any price.

By the sound of it that is probably the way yboxman thinks it will go, with Napoleon gambling big.

Steve
 

iddt3

Donor
I would pull for the Austria collapsing before Prussia can mobilize, some realignment among the resulting states, then a round 2 when a British backed Prussia challenges the Victors. Massive bonus points if the US civil war starts up on Schedule (which seems likely without major alterations in the Domestic political situation) and the USA and CSA get drawn in on opposite sides. Even better, the American Civil War if the American Civil War is actually the Trigger for round 2, with a newly assertive France backing the Confederacy and the UK the Union (which probably means a relatively quick Union victory, and the Special Relationship 80 years early with the balance of power inverted).
 
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