Baltic Blunder: Europe at war in 1727

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Archduke, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    Originally I meant to describe all the preparations for war on both sides in a single post but time constraints and concerns for length made me just decide to make a post solely about the Hanoverian side of things.
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  2. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    I have certain doubts about the Swedish part. In 1741 at the beginning of the war they had 17 - 18,000 and in September - October raised it to the paper number of 22,800 out of which only 15 - 16,000 could be deployed. All this with a considerable French financial support. Russia started war with a deployment of approximately 20,000 and the number (AFAIK) did not raise above 30,000. By the end of August of 1742 Russian troops occupied all Finland which, by conditions of the capitulation, Swedish troops had to leave with a loss of all artillery, which probably indicates Russian numeric advantage. Taking into an account that in your scenario Sweden has 14 years less to recuperate from the GNW losses, I’d assume that it’s mobilization effort would produce even more modest results.

    Some considerations which may or may not be useful for you scenario: in 1741 one of the declared reasons for Sweden going to war was Russian embargo on the grain sales to Sweden and another was a French promise of giving Sweden back the territories lost in the GNW if Cesarevna Elizabeth receives Russian throne (needless to say that as soon as she did get the throne, Elizabeth reneged on that promise). Absent these factors, Sweden is rushing into the war with nothing more than the unsustainable British promises of help (experience of the GNW should be rather discouraging in that aspect). Not to mention that until the late 1730’s the pro-Russian party was dominating Swedish politics. So how about Sweden limiting itself to making the notices while quietly assuring Russia that nothing serious should be expected from their side? :). (of course, the decision is entirely up to you).

    At least according to Wiki, Prussian Army of 1720 has 55,000 and of 1730 - 60,000. 75,000 had been reached only in 1733 after Frederic Wilhelm introduced conscription.
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  3. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    I offered 40000 as a number to compare the two Scandinavian states. Denmark-Norway, although not without any difficulty, can raise nearly 40000 soldiers. For Sweden, that would require scraping the barrel of their manpower most likely. This way, people understand how Sweden has fallen relative to its neighbors as a consequence of the defeat in the Great Northern War.

    In 1741 Russia had come off two victories against the Poles and then the Ottomans. Russia had even an army all the way to the Neckar in 1733. As a result by 1741 Russia was more scary to Sweden and more respected as a military power in general, which is why the Swedes were so wary to attack in 1741. In 1727, Sweden's fear of Russia is less (Sweden is definitely still afraid though). Additionally, Britain's influence and the assembly of the Hanoverian alliance was quite impressive for Sweden. The real reason Sweden was willing to declare war on Russia, however, was their expectation of Prussia being an ally rather than a foe.

    Emil Daniels says 70000 in 1728, Cambridge dropped a number of 72000, and Reed Browning gives me 80000 in 1740. I'll probably drop it down to line up with Daniels.
  4. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018

    Less fear does not mean a greater army, especially if Russian-friendly party has an upper hand, which as I understand was the case in 1720s. BTW, Russian-Ottoman war probably had an opposite effect in the terms of scaring because, while involving a number of the Russian victories, it demonstrated a lot of weaknesses in the military organization and resulted in the big losses without any noticeable gain. AFAIK, it was one of the triggers of the Swedish revanchism showing that Russia may not be as strong as expected.

    As for Prussia, 80,000 in 1740 seems to be a consensus but it was after a serious conscription reform. Numbers of 55,000 in 1720 and 60,000 in 1730 are from “Прусская Армия Фридриха Вильгельма Первого” by Александр Морозов. Not that the differences between your and my numbers are making a principal difference for your schema.
  5. Threadmarks: 5: The Viennese Alliance Mobilizes

    Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    5: The Viennese Alliance Mobilizes
    King Friedrich Wilhelm I

    Among the allies of Vienna, the reaction to the war was more positive than had been Hanoverian Alliance. In Spain, a larger war was exactly what the court had wished for. In the midst of a more complicated conflict, the Spaniards could expect to be overlooked and underestimated, in which case, their military operations would have a better chance of success. Indeed, in Britain, the parliamentary debate had resulted in troops be dispatched to Brunswick-Luneburg and the Netherlands but no additional men were to be sent to Gibraltar or Menorca. Instead, the British were intent on relying on their navy to prevent the fall of either base. Under these conditions, Spain felt that they could and would take back their lost land and in the process restore the glory of the Spanish empire. Some Spaniards even believed that Spain could push on into France and conquer Roussillon, Cerdagne, and Navarre [1]. The primary leadership, in Spain, however, was willing to be more reasonable. As a result, Spain's initial military strategy was to focus on the siege of Gibraltar and to raise an army of 20000 men to defend Catalonia against the possibility of a French invasion.

    In Vienna, the Hapsburgs like the British, French, and the Dutch had hoped to avoid a war. The Hapsburgs, however, did hold themselves back because of their initial desire. Instead, the Hapsburgs were quite willing to make the necessary effort and raise the necessary armies to assure themselves of victory. While Fleury had only vague goals of limiting Hapsburg power and the Dutch were uncertain of what to do, Emperor Charles VI saw this war as an opportunity to secure the promises that would secure the succession of his daughter Maria Theresa to the throne should he fail to conceive a male heir. By showing generosity to his allies and strength to his enemies, Charles was sure that he could convince the whole of Europe to comply with the Pragmatic Sanction and allow a daughter to assume the Hapsburg monarchy without hindrance. Hence, the Hapsburg council decided to put muster 100000 men for war, which for the Hapsburg realm was quite significant. These soldiers came from the various domains of the Southern Netherlands, Milan, Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary as well as from the mercenaries stocks of the princes of Germany and dukes of Italy. Altogether, the Hapsburg war effort certainly was impressive.

    In the Munich, Dresden, and Cologne, a similar stance was taken by the three electors of Bavaria, Cologne, and Saxony. Both the Wittelsbach and Wettin families had recently secured for themselves important marriages with the two daughters of Charles VI's predecessor, Joseph. Charles had, of course, forced both Maria Josepha and Maria Amalia to renounce their place in the line of succession before the marriages, which damaged the claims which the Wittelsbach and Wettin families would have upon the death of Charles VI. Rather than oppose Charles now to reestablish those claims, the Elector of Bavaria, Karl Albert, and Elector of Saxony, Augustus the Strong, sought to prove their loyalty to the Emperor in expectation of receiving some form of compensation for their claims. The act of proving that loyalty would involve Bavaria and Cologne raising an army of 28000 men and Saxony raising an army of 26000 men. Although these armies were not exceedingly large in the general of European warfare, they were serious commitments for Wittelsbach and Wettin houses. Of course, they were nothing like that of King in Prussia.

    Prussia had been motivated by a mix of fear and loyalty into turning coat and joining the Viennese Alliance. In spite of these not entirely pure motivation for kneeling before the Emperor and Empress, King Friedrich Wilhelm I had every intention of prosecuting the war without reserve or delay, because in front of Friedrich Wilhelm was a perfect opportunity to finish the work he had started in the Great Northern War and to take advantage of Brunswick-Luneburg. Thus while most of Europe was still in the process of putting together their armies, the Prussians launched an invasion of Swedish Pomerania just six weeks into the war. This opening strike of 26000 soldiers easily overwhelmed much of the Swedish province in only two weeks. A contingent of soldiers even managed to cross over and take the island of Rugen before either Swedish or British fleets could stop them. Finally, at the town of Stralsund, the rapid advance of the Prussians came to a halt and a slow siege of the last remaining holdout of Swedish Pomerania began [2].

    As Friedrich Wilhelm stormed through Pomerania, Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau had a much more muted campaign against Brunswick-Luneburg. With most of Prussia's supplies be dedicated to the Pomeranian effort, Prince Leopold had to constrain himself and his 29000 troops so as not to exceed Prussia's limitations. Additionally, the swift arrival of the mercenaries from Hesse-Cassel and preparations of Prince Frederick meant that Leopold was faced with far more consequential opposition than that seen in Pomerania. Overall, by the time Friedrich Wilhelm was starting the Second Siege of Stralsund, Prince Leopold was barely dancing within the borders of Brunswick-Luneburg. For the next few weeks, this deliberate and cautious effort against Brunswick-Luneburg would continue until eventually new forces arrived in the region and military conditions of the situation drastically changed.

    [1] This was an actual suggestion in Spain at the time despite the disparity between France and Spain.
    [2] Sweden is still recovering from the damage of the Great Northern War and no longer can supply Swedish Pomerania with its traditional and considerable garrison. Consequently, the Prussians overwhelm most of the territory. Stralsund, however, was always a tough nut to crack.

    Word Count: 956
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
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  6. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    The Holstein Party lose its power in 1726 and early 1727, which is why Sweden OTL joined the Hanoverian Alliance in direct opposition to Russia. From what I've read the Swedes did not see it as a damnation of the Russian army. Most of Europe was more concerned with the Austrian performance. edit: To be clear the Swedes made a major miscalculation based on Prussia and to a lesser extent overestimating Britain. Now they will try to salvage the situation.

    Overall, the Prussian numbers should not play a major role in determining the course or even actions of the war. Whether the Prussians have a total of 70000 or not does not matter so much as many soldiers they can afford to supply and send on military campaigns.
  7. Colonel flagg Banned

    Apr 4, 2019
    how powerful is the Russian army ?
  8. Bastiram Red and White

    Jul 15, 2011
    Silkeborg, Cimbrian Peninsular
    I'm gonna be annoying here.

    Denmark is not liking this, maybe panic but the most valuable territories are gonna be safe, considering the lack of navy on the Vienna side.

    37.000 troops hmm I think that is lowballing what Denmark can field.

    Now I do not have access to my books (in a storage room while I'm finding a new apartment) so I might be off on some of this.

    However, the Dano-Norwegian peacetime army is actually quite a bit larger than the 37.000 during this time.

    In Norway there are 20.000-30.000 troops, in general militia's and conscripts, basically, all are recruited from the Norwegian population.

    In Denmark there are 35.000 troops, of these, 15.000 (I believe infantry only) is the Land-Milits (so militia units) recruited from the Danish population. the remaining 20.000, five infantry regiments and 15 cavalry regiments are mostly foreigners especially the five infantry regiments.

    I don't actually know if the army numbers of the Danish part, includes the duchy's so can't comment on that.

    Anyways the point is during this time the Danish state is highly militarized, it is first in 1730 that the milits is disbanded, (introduced again in 1742) and in the late 17xx's that the army has transferred to a mostly national one than based on both nationals and foreigners.

    And there might be an argument that the Danish army is the largest one, in comparison to the population during this time. I can't remember the exact number, but basically, 70-80 % of the state budget is going into the armed forces during this period. Quite a ridiculous number.

    in 1727 the army is mostly the one that was used in the Great Nordic War. generally an effective fighting force (the two corps in the service of the Habsburg monarchy, and the Anglo-Dutch service in the Spanish succession war fought very well) and a highly professional officer corps to boot.

    About half the Danish army served in these two corps during the 1701-1710'sh which put their numbers at 22.000. Meaning the Danish army back then were about 44.000 regular troops (I don't believe the militias are counted here.)

    Now the important part about this is that the troops in Norway have one role, defense against Sweden. If Sweden is an ally Denmark can move rather many of these troops to Holstein to aid the defense.

    Anyways I think @Jürgen and @Sian know far more about this than me :p

    Likely I think Christian Ditlev Reventlow will probably enter service again, he had served under Eugene of Savoy, and supposedly had been highly valued by him so..
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  9. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    At the start of the Great Northern War, the number I have for Denmark-Norway is 36,000. After Denmark-Norway initially dropped out, they rented out a large of their army (the number I had was 20000 so not far off) to the Grand Alliance. At home, they raised a large force of militia for the defense of Norway against a possibly Swedish attack, which brought up the total strength of the Danish-Norwegian army up significantly. Ultimately at the end of the war, Denmark-Norway was supporting a very massive army. The reason, for the Danish army starting out at a lower level is because of post-war demobilization, this being the very start of the war, and these numbers specifically referencing Denmark-Norway's field army rather than the whole army. However, I will go ahead and up the Danish numbers a bit just to be safe. During the war, I have all intentions to raise Danish field numbers as more soldiers are raised and more militia are deployed to the field army..
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  10. Bastiram Red and White

    Jul 15, 2011
    Silkeborg, Cimbrian Peninsular
    All sound most reasonable, not really gonna comment further because I don't have my books to look at the details. One of the annoying things about the Dano-Norwegian military number wise, is the division you find. Often when you read, you get a number for men in Denmark, a number for Norway, and a number for the duchies.

    In this case, I can't remember anything and find anything on a quick search about the numbers from the duchies during this period.

    Even then I am quite confident that the 15.000 militia troops are in Denmark proper. And I'm 90 % sure that Slesvig and Holstein had nearly identical militia laws as Denmark (while Norway's were different)

    But then again if you look at the Danish Auxiliary corps that fought in the War of the Grand Alliance in Ireland, one will notice that it consisted of regiments from Oldenburg, Holstein, Slesvig and Denmark proper etc.

    So it is a bit of a mess.
  11. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    The Holstein Party was not the only one: there was a pro-Russian party which was not, as I understand, directly linked to the Holstinian dynastic interests, just to the considerations of peace and trade. So the Hanoverian Aliance could be anti-Hapsburg (and it was defensive, anyway) but being a part of it would not necessarily pit Sweden directly against Russia, which would be extremely dangerous for Sweden leaving it practically alone even without the Prussian component that would change situation from bad to catastrophic. Taking into an account that none of the members of the Hanoverian Aliance could provide any practical help in Finland (obvious theater in the Swedish-Russian war) and that none of them could do any move guaranteeing Russian commitment elsewhere, Sweden is in a position close to a suicidal: Russian direct involvement in the Northern Germany would be something of a cabinet war with unclear timetable and size of a committed force. Actually, it would involve numerous problems, logistical and not, but this is a different story into which I’m not going to venture without you. :)
  12. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    At the time of Peter's death size of the Russian regular army was 210,000 (there is an alternative estimate of 240,000 regulars, not a big difference): 2 regiments of the Guards, 5 grenadier regiments, 49 field infantry regiments, 49 garrison infantry regiments, 30 dragoon regiments, 4 garrison dragoon regiments plus artillery and engineers troops. Plus there were up to 110,000 irregulars (mostly Cossacks and Kalmuks). As you can see, only a part of that number had been the field troops and a part of their numbers would be non-combatants performing various duties.

    Out of these numbers at least 9 infantry regiments had been permanently located in Caspian region requiring regular reinforcements because these troops had been dying out from a bad climate: presumably between 1722 and 1734 up to 130,000 soldiers dies there seriously stretching the existing recruitment system.

    Approximately 30,000 had been located in and near St-Petersburg: the Guards (2,600), 4 infantry regiments, 2 dragoon regiments, Life Guards cavalry regiment, drabant company and 4 militia regiments. These troops had been under Menshikov's direct command (which guaranteed election of Catherine I). At that time sending the Guards to war became a suicidal exercise.

    Field artillery had 12-, 8-, 6- and 3-pounders with the heavier guns, howitzers and mortars for the siege artillery.

    The main problem with the cavalry were horses: they were smaller than European "standard", which would put cavalry troops at a disadvantage if they had to face the enemy's cuirassiers. In OTL the problem was partially addressed by Munnich in 1733 by a massive purchase of the heavier horses abroad and creation of the Russian cuirassier regiments. In this TL you have only dragoons and irregulars.

    Supply structure was cumbersome with a reliance upon combination of a big luggage train moving with an army and supply depots organized in a rear. Did not work well even during the 7YW and slowed army on a march. OTOH, if a war is supposed to be on a hostile territory, the irregulars could be widely used both for foraging and for general devastation of the land (as was the case in Livonia during the GNW).
  13. Threadmarks: 6: Menshikov's Opening Moves and Lacy's March

    Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    6: Menshikov's Opening Moves and Lacy's March
    Peter Lacy

    In St. Petersburg, the word of the Battle of Saaremaa, as mentioned, caused an outburst of rage in Empress Catherine I and led her to desire vengeance against the British scoundrel. However, Catherine unlike her late husband, Peter, did not run the country alone. In fact, her Russia was led more by her small Supreme Privy Council than it was led by her. Although Catherine had taken a personal interest in promoting Holstein, the home of the partners of her two daughters, it was Andrey Osterman who had actually been carrying out the pro-Holstein policy of Russia. Osterman had not embarked on this pro-Holstein diplomatic course of action because he felt the need to support Catherine's children but rather because he wanted to continue Peter's project of developing Russia's relations with Germany since he believed it was vital to solidifying Russia's position in the Baltic Sea. However, throughout this program, Russia was opposed by Britain, which led Osterman to believe that war with Britain was necessary to give Russia the freedom to pursue its Baltic dreams. In the wake of Saaremaa, Osterman finally had the necessary capital to push for a war with Britain and Denmark to liberate Holstein and secure for it for Russian interests. However, Osterman could not start a war all by himself.

    At this time, the main man in Russia was none other than Peter the Great's disciple Alexander Menshikov. Thus far Menshikov had allowed Osterman a great deal of autonomy in running Russia's foreign policy. To declare war, however, Osterman knew he needed Menshikov's approval. Fortunately, Menshikov had just the right type and amount of ambition that was needed for Osterman to succeed. Menshikov viewed himself as a vital piece of the rise of Russia from a simple backward Tsardom to a European empire. Yet Menshikov had spent much of the Great Northern War in the shadows of Peter the Great and Boris Sheremetev, which left him deprived of the renown which he felt he deserved. Only in a war without either of the two great men would Menshikov be able to establish himself as a true icon of Russia and its military might. A great, continental war against Russia's old foe Sweden and new rival Britain was a greater opportunity than Menshikov could have ever dreamed of. As a result, he eagerly accepted Osterman's call for war and between Menshikov's ambition, Osterman's strategy, and Catherine's fury peace stood no stood and maybe Europe did not either.

    With Russia at war, Menshikov, already the most powerful man in Russia, took undisputed control over the Russian war effort. Under Menshikov's leadership, the Supreme Privy Council decided the first set of actions for Russia's war. Apraksin was to continue to defend Russia's coasts and in particular the ports of Reval and Riga. Mikhail Mikhailovich Golitsyn, who had led the Russians in Finland during the Great Northern War, and Christoph von Münnich, Russia's newest General-in-Chief, were to organize the defense of St. Petersburg and once they were ready, an invasion of Finland. Peter Lacy and his army of 30000 men was to finally stop languishing in Livland and promptly march on Hanover to deliver Catherine's fury. Charles Frederick, the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, and seventh member of the privy council requested that he be given command of Lacy's army. Menshikov, however, recognized Charles Frederick's lack of experience and was unwilling to consent to the request. Out of respect, Menshikov did allow Charles Frederick and his cousin Charles Augustus to join Lacy's army but as clear subordinates [1]. For Menshikov himself was reserved the prodigious task of assembling and then commanding another field army destined for Germany, this one was to be twice the size of Lacy's. Under these conditions, the stage for Russia's war was set.

    Peter Lacy's march to the west was a spectacle for all Europe to witness. After taking a few weeks to ready his army for the march, he crossed the Russian border with Courland in late June. There Lacy quickly dispelled any belief in that Maurice of Saxony could rule the Duchy of Courland without the express approval of the Empress of Russia as the Russian army rested in Mitau. Heavily in debt and now deprived of his duchy, Maurice had few options left. The option which he chose was to offer to join the Russian army just as he had done in 1713. As a commander in the Russian army, Maurice would once again be employed which would help with his money troubles. More importantly, service with the Russians might earn him the respect and favor he needed from Empress Catherine to finally be permitted to assume the title Duke of Courland and Semigallia. Lacy accepted the offer as means of confirming Maurice's removal from Courland and of adding another experienced to his army. Among the army's leaders, he found fast companions in the genial Holsteiners and soon began to learn a great deal from Lacy [2].

    As the Russians marched through Ducal Prussia, Poland, and Brandenburg they were quite a sight. Tens of thousands of fine soldiers with good discipline and modern arms. These Russians were not the Asiatic beasts which Western Europe had long overlooked but instead were shining examples of a new and modern Russia. However, the Russians were hampered by the great distance at which they meant to travel. Indeed very few days the Russian army was forced to rest so as not to outmarch its supply train. Still, the Russians were making surprising speed, mainly due to Lacy's superb command. Overall, the Russian army made an incredible impression on the rest of Europe and put fear into the hearts of the Hanoverian Alliance as they wondered how long before the rest of the Russian army would be unleashed [3].

    That impression was particularly strong in the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. There, Duke Karl Leopold, a former ally of Peter the Great and husband of Russian Grand Duchess Catherine Ivanova, ruled. Karl Leopold had married Catherine Ivanova and allied with Russia in 1716 for the purpose of capturing the city of Wismar for himself. Both the marriage and the attempts to gain Wismar ultimately failed. In 1722, Catherine Ivanova even left Mecklenburg-Schwerin forever and returned to her native Russia. Now, even though Karl Leopold had no optimism that he might revive his marriage, the march of Lacy's army convinced him that he could restore his alliance with Russia and finally achieve his goal of capturing Wismar. After an exchange of diplomatic enquiries with Menshikov and Osterman, Mecklenburg-Schwerin joined Russia's alliance in August of 1727.

    Finally, after weeks of harsh marching, in September the Russians arrived in Brunswick-Luneburg. The arrival of the Russians after fourteen weeks of marching came as a huge surprise to Britain and France and further demonstrated just how greatly they had underestimated Russia. Neither of them nor even Russia's ally the Hapsburgs had expected such decisive and deliberate action by the Russians and now a not insignificant Russian army stood in Northern Germany ready to impose its will. The Holsteiners, of course, wanted that will to be a strike against Denmark-Norway, who had seized Holstein-Gottorp as soon as the war had broken out. Despite Charles Frederick esteemed position on the Supreme Privy Council, his wishes did not supersede those of Menshikov and Empress Catherine. which involved the obliteration of Brunswick-Luneburg. As a result, Lacy joined his army with that of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau, presenting the electorate of Brunswick-Luneburg with the greatest threat to its existence it had faced.

    [1] Charles Augustus (love of Empress Elisabeth's life) lives. In the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Saaremaa, there is a whole lot of movement and politics and so on. As a result, Charles talks to different people, does different things, and avoids contracting smallpox.
    [2] At this time OTL Maurice left Courland for France and ultimately became a French general. TTL at the time he is going Courland there is a field army there and a good job opportunity. He takes it, let's see where it leads him.
    [3] In OTL just a few years later the Russians would make quite the scene on their march to the Rhine Valley under Lacy's command. Their discipline and organization at that time are what prompted the great amount of fear France had regarding Russia during the War of the Austrian Succession where despite the fact that they were winning the war they felt forced to make peace as a Russian army advanced across Germany.

    Word Count: 1425
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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  14. Jürgen Well-Known Member

    Jul 16, 2016
    Denmark had a standing army of around 50.000 people at the time, the Great Northern War had given Denmark full control over Schleswig and the co-ruled part of Holstein had de facto become Danish, beside that both the Danish population and economy had grown which explain the bigger army size. Danish goals I’m such a war will always be the annexation of Holstein-Gottorp, but Danish trust of Britain are at a all time low, they likely need to throw other bribes after Denmark, in the War of Polish Succession France gave St. Croix to Denmark to not close the Baltic off and stay neutral, Britain could give the British Virgin Island to sweeten the deal for Denmark.

    I’m not sure of Russian naval strength at this time, but I expect that the Danish and Swedish babies are big enough to be able to deal with it. But it raise the question, if Sweden get it’s Baltic provinces back, what do Denmark get? Yes Holstein-Gottorp are nice, but is it worth a strengthen Sweden? Maybe Sweden and Denmark make a deal where Denmark will receive Swedish Pomerania and Wismar if Sweden regain Estonia and Livonia, this would create two natural different Baltic spheres of interest for Denmark and Sweden, which wouldn’t overlap.
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  15. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    In combination with Denmark or on its own Sweden would not be able to get back the Baltic provinces: the resources are not there (and actually the locals are not too eager to get back to Sweden with all their rights and privileges being confirmed and respected by Russia and the growing volume of trade via Riga). Naval supremacy meant little for achieving that goal as was proven during the GNW. The best realistic thing Sweden could expect would be not getting Finland occupied and looted (again) and even that would require a lot of luck. With the Prussian participation, it almost doomed to lost Swedish Pomerania. So, while Denmark is fighting for holding Holstein, Sweden in this scenario is entering a war with almost purely masochistic purpose of being severely beaten. :)

    The safest scenario is to take measures to defend Finland (not sure if Pomerania could be saved) and stay there. Perhaps some not too risky naval demonstration. All that to justify subsidies from Britain and France.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
  16. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    That part involving Maurice is an interesting twist with a lot of possibilities: “become a French general” is quite an understatement; how about Marshal General of France (the next one will appear only century later) and probably the greatest French commander between Villars and the French Revolution? :) Bringing him into the Russian service is a lost opportunity second only to not hiring Bonaparte.

    And emphasizing Lacy is quite rare: somehow he was underestimated by the contemporaries and almost ignored by the later generations even if he was a much better field commander than Munnich (which was not too difficult): if anything, his march into the Crimea by the Arafat Split was an amazing maneuver both by its daring and by success.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  17. CaedmonCousland Writes Overly Long Comments When Bored

    Apr 26, 2017
    Yeah, this is going to hurt for the Hanoverian Alliance. Some more than others.

    Agree that Sweden joining is a pretty stupid move. It has no chance to hold the Baltic provinces. Russia would have to suffer several catastrophic defeats, and basically lose several armies entirely just to allow them to be taken. Even then, there's little to stop Russia from just retaking it in ten years. In Finland, it is probably best to fall back 100km while taking everything of value while destroying infrastructure. Hope Russia decides that it is enough of a side theater that they send only enough that Sweden has a chance to defend against. Better to focus on retaking Rugen, and relieving Stralsund. Keep some sort of foothold if the theater in Germany turns to act against Prussia.

    Denmark-Norway has a bit of a grace period as Hanover is fought over. Really hope Denmark is putting any British subsidies to good work reinforcing their fortresses. Might be smart to hit Mecklenburg to bloody their troops and punish that neighbor before they come to Holstein. Hope any Hanover and British troops retreat north into Jutland to reinforce Denmark if Hanover falls, rather than to the Netherlands.

    The Netherlands really aren't in a good place. Almost as bad as Sweden. The Austrian Netherlands are going to be a major target, and the Dutch don't want the French getting it. They're probably hoping the French and Germans bloody each other enough to really weaken both for a good amount of time. I doubt the Dutch will do much but casually threaten the Austrian Netherlands, and probably send their fleet into the Baltic.

    France will be aiming for the Austrian Netherlands, will get bogged down in Germany, and will probably end up only masking gains in Italy that will probably be claimed by Savoy.

    Britain will probably lose Hanover. They should probably aim to keep hold of Jutland, as if Jutland is lost any counterattack would probably be focused on retaking Jutland. If Holstein is held, the counterattack would be focused on Hanover. Otherwise, typical British tactics. Do their best to keep their allies in and fighting with subsidies, soaking up casualties, and Britain can focus on naval affairs to win the economic war.

    Russia, the worst I can see things going for them is their Baltic trade getting destroyed by Denmark-Sweden, the Dutch, and the Netherlands. They also could get entangled in a distant war that costs a lot of money for a single German duchy. They're the participant least likely to lose any territory, besides maybe Saxony and Bavaria, but their Baltic navy and trade could strategically suffer.

    Austria is stuck trying to defend the Austrian Netherlands, will probably end up fighting France throughout Germany, and fighting Savoy in the Mediterranean. The first and latter offer real chance of losing territory.

    Prussia is probably the participant most high-risk/high-reward. If they win, they get Swedish Pomerania, and potentially parts of or all Hanover. However, they possess the most Baltic coast at risk and a not insignificant part of its troops are now in Hanover. They're troops also aren't easily replaceable, no matter how well trained they are. Besides the Austrian Netherlands, they're the most likely to end up the front-lines for the Vienna group.

    I'd assume this would be a short war won by the Vienna group. Just too few of the Hanoverian Alliance are really serious and willing to get into a long fight. I think its safe to say Hanover will fall, and after a few more defeats would have Sweden, the Netherlands, and probably France leaving as there's simply no profit for them. That would cause the rest to pull out. Denmark would lose Holstein-Schleswig, but would start preparing for the next war to retake it. Britain's royals either deal with their loss of Hanover, or find out parliament doesn't care. Who cares about Savoy?

    However as I doubt this timeline is meant to be about a short, hypothetical war, I assume the Hanoverian Alliance will rally to make this a great war worthy of writing a timeline about. Looking forward to see how they manage that, since right now they seem at a complete disadvantage on most fronts except maybe where France goes.
  18. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018

    Finland is by default the main theater of the war between Sweden and Russia and it was already seriously devastated quite recently during the GNW so its population is probably less than excited with a perspective of suffering again for absolutely no obvious reason. Which means that the scorched earth tactics or even just raising the troops in Finland may face serious problems. Basically, the whole thing can easily end with an earlier loss of Finland. Taking into an account that this TL has Sweden getting into the war based upon a major diplomatic blunder (miscalculation of Prussian position) and that fighting for Denmark’s interests (and against those of the Holsteinian relatives) is somewhat unnatural, Sweden may opt out of war earlier (perhaps with a chance of saving at least part of the Swedish Pomerania) or even change sides if there is a realistic possibility of getting some Danish territory (piece of Norway, perhaps). Of course, this should happen after Sweden is getting subsidies from Britain and France. :)

    As for the Russian Baltic trade, as I commented earlier, the funny thing is that the main consumer of the Russian exports is Britain and, while some of the “strategic” items needed for shipbuilding (iron, timber, etc.) could be obtained elsewhere, Russia holds de facto monopoly on flax and hemp. To a lesser but still significant degree the same goes for the grain exports. Taking into an account that in that TL the PLC neutrality is a plain formality with the Russian troops marching through its territory and most probably establishing supply bases on it (and the King being involved in a war as Elector of Saxony), continued exports of the Polish goods through Danzig can not be taken for granted either, causing growing grain prices in Britain and the Netherlands.

    So a protracted war for the interests of the Hanoverian dynasty may go contrary to the British “national interests” and to the Dutch interests as well. There would be no valuable prizes to capture on the Baltic Sea because even in the late XVIII practically all Russian sea trade had been done by the British ships with most of the rest picked up by the Dutch. Probably a lot of these ships are going to be arrested in the Russian ports after the idiotic encounter at Saarema started by excessively enthusiastic British admiral and the same goes for the goods in the British and Dutch warehouses in Russia. Now, do you expect that the British merchants would be blaming only the Russians for their losses? Or perhaps the government is going to get a well deserved part of the blame as well?

    Of course, absence of this trade would hurt Russia but for the most of the XVII, XVIII and XIX centuries it managed to survive with an empty treasury and irregularly paid army (advantage of having a conscription). Absense of the grain exports would mean lower bread prices and fewer things sold abroad would mean fewer luxury items bought by the aristocracy. Of course, for Russia this is a strictly cabinet war, just as the 7YW, and the critical element of it is supply of the troops. During the GNW, fighting in the Swedish Pomerania demonstrated serious problems in that area and during the 7YW supply problem resulted in almost complete Russian withdrawal from operations in Germany (except Pomerania) even before the death of Elizabeth (Austrians could not provide the needed supplies from already devastated Bohemia and Russians withdrew to their bases in the PLC). Would Prussia and Austria be willing and capable to solve this problem in a proposed TL? I’d assume that a lot depends on how much do they need the Russians. During the GNW Brandenburg and Denmark actually wanted Russians out of the Northern Germany after Stenbock’s army was defeated. Here Prussia is facing a more serious challenge (Denmark, Hanover, Brunswick and perhaps some British troops) so the Russians should be welcomed, at least for a while. More or less the same goes for the Hapsburgs if the Russians are going to be engaged on one of their fronts. However, this is not necessarily extending to the Russian reconquest of Shlezwig if it goes at the expense of other operations or prevents from making a profitable peace. Neither are these interests so critical to Russia (as was correctly noticed by @Archduke, Catherine is not all-powerful and there is a strong faction supporting Grand Duke Peter) to continue war against all odds, especially taking into an account that Holstinian branch may eventually get Swedish Crown as a consolation prize.

    So I agree with your assessment that with so many reluctant participants and so few real interests, the war should be reasonably short.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
    Historyman 14 and FranzAncheNo like this.
  19. Jürgen Well-Known Member

    Jul 16, 2016
    I don’t see Denmark in risk of losing Schleswig-Holstein, in fact any potential Danish loss will be limited to Schleswig-Gottorp, but even that even if it’s in trouble would demand a failed calculation in Moscow, as it would simply ensure that Denmark would end up opposite of Russia in the next war, while a Denmark being forced to pay reparations instead will ensure Danish neutrality in the next war.

    Also as I see it Austria are busy fighting France in Italy and Western Germany. This leaves North Germany to Prussia-Russia against Denmark-Sweden-Hanover with British-French funding for the latter. Honestly I see Denmark without funding being equal in military strength to Prussia at this time with funding I see Denmark being significant stronger. Russia will of course place some of their army in Finland, putting Sweden out of the game, but even with that the Russian-Prussian forces will likely outnumber the Danish-Hanover(-Hessian[1]), but the Danish have the benefit of supply lines, as it have naval dominance on it own, and even if the Russian navy are better than I think it is, I think the alliance with UK, France and Netherlands means Denmark don’t need to worry about that issue. This means that the Russia army to large extent need to live of the land, that limit potential army size. I also see Prussia being likely to pull out on the other side, if their land becomes devastated by feeding the Russian army, the Soldier King loved his army, but he wasn’t really a warmonger, and he may decide that Swedish Pomerania aren’t worth devastating his lands.

    A interesting aspect are if Sweden try to pull out as people have suggested, I expect that would end up with worst case for the Swedes. I could see Finland being made into a independent Russian puppet kingdom under the Gottorps as part of the peace deal and Swedish Pomerania taken by the Prussians, Sweden then try to gain Norway instead and fails (the Danish forces in Norway was the size of the Swedish army at the time and a conquest of Norway isonly possible if Danish naval superiority is removed from the table.).

    As for Denmark, I think the chances to gain Holstein-Gottorp are pretty big, even if their coalition doesn’t win. It’s in everyone’s interest including Russia’s allies to get Russia out of north Germany, and if the Gottorp duke have become king of Finland, it won’t be seen as a big loss, if he lose his duchy. Of course this demand that this isn’t a complete victory for the Austrian-Russian coalition.

    [1] the Swedish king was heir to the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel, and I think the British will fund both the Hessian armies in this war.
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  20. von Adler Generallöjtnant

    Jun 21, 2005
    Stockholm, Sweden
    The pathetic Swedish 1741 effort was mostly due to two causes.

    1. Extensive corruption and rot had set in at all levels of the Swedish government with the end of absolutism and start of the so-called "era of liberty" where Sweden essentially was a noble republic/oligarchy. The long-standing Swedish policy of thinning out the nobility by ennobling people with state jobs, creating a class of bureaucrats and officers dependent on their state jobs bit Sweden in the arse, as these people when in power started jelously guarding their influence and their income, breeding corruption at all levels. The army had started buying and selling commissions unofficially, and corrupt noblemen bough several officers commissions to gain the income of the farmstead attached to the position without ever doing their duties as officers.

    2. The entire campaign was intended as a quick strike to support Elizabeth's coup against Anna - Sweden would attack, Elizabeth would take over the reigns of Russia as Anna was ousted and Sweden would be rewarded with Viborg and Kexholm county and Estonia. Almost no preparations were made, as none in the (corrupt and duped) Swedish government expected any real resistance. When the campaign went Russia's way Elizabeth simply renegaded on any promises.

    In 1727, the rot and corruption has not set in quite as much as it would later, and with sufficient preparations (and financial aid), Sweden could raise ~40 000 men (although no-one can support that number of men in Finland for any stretch of time).
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