Baltic Blunder: Europe at war in 1727

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

Loading...
  1. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    Russian goals in the war

    As far as I can tell, from the Russian perspective this is going to be a war about nothing of the substance.

    Of course, there are issues of the British offense to the Russian flag and of Holstein but none of them is substantial enough for a protracted war and this leaves an open question what Russia is going to get for the efforts. The answer is "nothing". The Holsteinian issue made some practical sense within a general framework of a failed Peter's "imperialistic" policy of extending the Russian influence on the Baltic coast but this policy was pretty much abandoned (due to the pressure from both allies and neutrals) even before the GNW was over and, anyway, Russia could not afford its continuation financially: the military expenses at the time of Peter's death were consuming between 80 and 90% of the state revenue.


    Catherine (being a good mother-in-law) definitely wanted to help Karl Frederic of Holstein-Gottorp and even made him a member of the Supreme Privy Council but besides her he had no weight in the Russian affairs and, with a succession being guaranteed to Grand Duke Peter Alexeevich, his position in Russia could only change to the worse.

    Needless to say that whatever influence Karl Frederic may have in the Supreme Privy Council, it was balanced by one of Prince Dmitry Golitsin, supporter of Grand Duke Peter, a prominent figure of Peter's reign (was in charge of the Russian finances, a head of the Commerce Collegium, etc.) and a head of the influenntial Golitsin family which included Fieldmarshal Michael Golitsin who also became a member of the Supreme Privy Council in 1727 (in OTL after the deathe of Catherine). The same goes for Dolgoruki clan: in OTL 3 members of this family had been appointed to the Supreme Privy Council soon after Catherine's death but even before this happened they were quite influential.

    Which leaves:

    Chancellor Golovkin - a person responsible for pushing through the Austro-Russian alliance (Vienna Treaty of 1726) and not necessarily a great admirer of Catherine (in OTL after the death of Peter II he burned Catherine's testament by which the throne would go to the descendants of Peter I and voted for Anna)

    Vice Chancellor Osterman - an active advocate of the Austro-Russian alliance and seemingly the only person in the top echelon of the Russian government willing to spend time on a paperwork; as a result, he became indispensable as a source of information. As far as his loyalty is involved, he seemingly had none to talk about.

    This situation puts Menshikov in a very precarious position: from one hand he considers a military glory as a good way to strengthen his position within Russia (and not to let a competitor in the military area to emerge) but from the other hand a direct participation in a prolonged campaign means that he is not in St-Petersburg (sorry, @Jurgen but Moscow was not Russian capital at that time ;)) and his enemies in the Supreme Privy Council are free to work against him. So what he needs is a short and preferably glorious affair. Getting bogged down in the Northern Germany/Denmark just to return to Karl Frederic his lost possessions definitely does not fit the description.

    A suitable option, providing the Swedes are ready to oblige by sticking out their neck, is beating the Swedes near St-Petersburg with a following advance into Finland and delegation of the rest of campaign to, say, Fieldmarshal Golitsin. However, this means that the operations elsewhere are clearly designated as the secondary ones (helping Prussia and Austria) which can be conducted by the limited forces and which would not unduly elevate their commanders. While it can be expected that the Hapsburgs may ask for the Russian auxiliary corps marching all the way to the Rhine, it also can be expected that Prussian need of the Russian help would be a much more short-lived: as soon as the Brunswick-Hanover-Danish troops are beaten by the Prussian-led alliance, the Russians are politely asked to leave to avoid Prussian entanglement into the Holstein issue.

    With Russia not looking (unlike the 7YW) for any territorial acquisitions (it does not look like annexation of Finland was considered a worthwhile goal all the way to the Finnish War of 1808 - 09 and even then it could be just a way of improving an image after humiliation of Tilsit), the "objective" interest would be to end the whole affair ASAP because, while the war is hurting the British economy, it is hurting Russian economy as well. Austrian-French entanglement could be a problem but it would not prevent Russian-British-<whatever> peace treaty restoring the commerce, which could be concluded as soon as the mess in the Northern Germany is sorted out.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  2. Threadmarks: 7: The Assembly at Hanover

    Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    7: The Assembly at Hanover
    [​IMG]
    Death of General Ilton at the Battle of Bienenbuttel

    The arrival of the Russian army in Brunswick-Luneburg was soon followed by the arrival of three others. From Holstein, an army 24000 Danish-Norwegian soldiers, under Christian Detlev Reventlow marched to unite with the now desperately outnumbered army of Prince Frederick of Hanover. A week later further reinforcements came in the form of Compton's promised 20000 British soldiers. This British contingent was personally led by Britain's new king, the battle-hungry George II. Overall, the defenders of Brunswick-Luneburg numbered 80000, 21000 Brunswicker-Luneburger soldiers and militia, 15000 Hessian mercenaries, 24000 Danish and Norwegian soldiers, and 20000 British men. The overall command of the army fell to the Elector of Brunswick-Luneburg and King of Great Britain George II since it was his electorate which this grand army was defending. However, the true command was held by John Campell, 2nd Duke of Argyll. His subordinates were Generals Ilton of Brunswick-Luneburg and Reventlow of Denmark-Norway. Of course, accompanying them were King George II and his son, Frederick.

    Opposing this grand army was an even larger one. For weeks the Prussian army had already been marching outside of Dannenberg and making its presence felt. Now, they were joined by first the Russian army of Peter Lacy and second the Saxon army of Augustus the Strong. This force amounted to 85000 soldiers, 29000 from Prussia, 30000 from Russia, and 26000 from Saxony. Quickly enough even that massive number increased when 2000 soldiers from Brunswick-Wolfenbuffel added to their ranks. The Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbuffel, August Wilhelm, had decided to join the Emperor's alliance due to his family's connections to both the Hapsburgs and the Romanovs and his hope of uniting the two halves of Brunswick-Wolfenbuffel. As a result, the Viennese Alliance had a total of 87000 men under the joint command of Peter Lacy, Prince Leopold, and King Augustus in Brunswick-Luneburg. Oddly, there were Hapsburg soldiers among those 87000 in spite of the Hapsburgs' previous commitment to deploy an army to Hanover. Still, 87000 was an army to be reckoned with.

    To the north, the remaining Danish-Norwegian soldiers remained stationed in Holstein-Gluckstadt and Holstein-Gottorp. The Danish-Norwegian force was reluctant to leave Holstein undefended, especially with the addition of Mecklenburg-Schwerin to their list of enemies. Rather than conduct any offensive movements, this Danish-Norwegian army focused on digging in around Altoona and to the northeast of Hamburg. Preoccupied with this task and wary to get out of position, the Danish-Norwegians failed to stop a Prusso-Mecklenburg army from marching into the poorly defended Principality of Lauenburg and overrunning it. Afterward, both the Danish-Norwegian army of Holstein and the Prusso-Mecklenburger army in Lauenburg fell into an uneasy stalemate. Neither army dared to cross the border and instead both simply remained in their respective camps and fortified their positions till winter.

    In Swedish Pomerania, Friedrich Wilhelm continued his harsh siege against Stralsund. With most of the province already occupied the Prussian King was able to afford to send an army to aid Mecklenburg-Schwerin. However, this army's main purpose was not to enhance the territorial ambitions of Mecklenburg-Schwerin but rather to provide protection against the possibility of a Danish-Norwegian flank emerging from Holstein. In the meantime, Friedrich Wilhelm brought up his son and heir, Friedrich, to watch and participate in the siege so that he could gain a true experience of war and through that experience lose his liberal attitude. Throughout the following months, young Fritz actively participated in the siege. He bravely stood atop the siege works, he helped dig trenches, and he participated in the soldiers' mass. It is commonly believed that the prince only went to mass to spite his father who had troubles with religion. Overall, the Prussian prince's bravery and spirit made a good impression on the soldiers and even his hard father [1].

    Young Fritz, was not the only son struggling to manage his relationship with his father. Fritz' Hanoverian counterpart, Frederick or Griff, also had a difficult relationship with his father. Whilst Friedrich Wilhelm had been a hard and sometimes cruel father to Fritz, George II had been no father at all to Griff. When George II left Brunswick-Luneburg for Britain in 1714 he had been forced to leave the 7-year-old Griff behind. For the next three years, George II had argued and argued with his father to allow Griff to come to Britain. However, once George II had a second son, George William, his efforts to secure Griff's passage to Britain halted. And so for thirteen years, Griff did not see nor hear from his father. The only family member who ever visited the lonesome boy was his grandfather, George I, which is why Griff grew quite close to the old man and grew barely knowing his father. It was only when Hanover was on the verge of being vanquished by a Russo-German army did Griff's father finally return to Brunswick-Luneburg and reunite with his son [2].

    The reunion between George and Griff was surprisingly genial. Griff was eager to erase the obvious estrangement between and his father, so he approached father with kindness and an open heart. George was quite unsure of what to think of the 20-year-old man before him who claimed to be his son, yet George responded to kindness with kindness. Still, both men feel the awkwardness creep in as neither knew what to say next. Fortunately, the Duke of Argyll saved them by beginning to question Griff and General Ilton on the state of Brunswick-Luneburg's defenses and army. Over the next several days, George and Griff would exchange some light conversations but mainly discussed matters of military importance. Throughout this time, the British king was surprised to see how much the Brunswicker-Luneburger soldiers and people looked up to Griff and how they treated their own Elector as a foreign stranger. However, it had been Griff not George II nor George I who had been the resident representative of House Hanover and presiding official of all events in the electorate ever since the departure of George I and George II to Britain [3]. For the reason, when the funeral of George I was organized it was Griff who oversaw the affair rather than George II [4]. At that funeral, George II said very little of his father because he had very little good things to say; on the other hand, Griff gave a heartfelt speech about his grandfather's warmth and compassion, two things that George I had never shown towards his own son [5]. This speech helped to inspire the Brunswicker-Luneburger men in their defense of the electorate.

    Friedrich Wilhelm and Fritz and George II and Griff were not the only father and son duos among the armies of the north. Within the Prussian army, every noble family had at least one son in the army and for many, there were more. These fathers and sons in some cases were split between different regiments or battalions but in most cases, the fathers and sons stood together. For example, in Prince Leopold's army, one of Prussia's best cuirassiers, Hans Heinrich Graf von Katte, was accompanied by his son Hans Hermann [6]. Going over to the Saxon army, Frederick Augustus, Count of Rutowsky and bastard of Augustus the Strong, also had the honor of serving under his father's command [7]. Another one of Augustus' illegitimate sons, Maurice of Saxony, was a new commander within the adjoining Russian army. Upon meeting his father again, Maurice was offered a place in the Saxon army but he rejected it and chose to remain a Russian soldier [8]. As heartwarming as these unions of father and son are they should not derail the discussion of the actions in the Northern German theatre any longer.

    Although conflict north of the Elbe remained isolated to the singular Siege of Stralsund, campaigning south of the Elbe was not so limited. Once both the Hanoverian army and Viennese had finished assembling, the true campaign began. With their numerical superiority, the Viennese began to march aggressively towards Dannenburg. Skirmishes between the two armies ensued as the Viennese advanced forward. Initially, the Hanoverians had planned on holding Dannenburg and protecting the rest of the electorate from the depredations of the enemy. However, when Lauenburg was overwhelmed the Duke of Argyll and the Hanoverian army had little choice but to concede Dannenburg. The only other option to operate in a salient and risk being cut off and surrounded by the Prusso-Mecklenburger army. With Dannenburg having fallen the Viennese gained control over the eastern half of the Principality of Luneburg. There was, however, still time left in the campaign season and a numerical advantage still to be taken advantage of by the Alliance of Vienna.

    Again the Viennese army marched west, this time towards the city of Luneburg. Under strict orders to prevent the fall of Luneburg, the Duke of Argyll stationed 10000 soldiers within the town to defend it against a siege. The rest of the army was to remain aloof so that it could maneuver behind the Viennese army and come at it like a hammer against the anvil that would be Luneburg. After marching up the Elbe, the Viennese army descended upon Luneburg and placed under siege. Lacy and Leopold both being avid students of war realized what the Hanoverian army was intent on doing. After setting up a siege, they left just 20000 men to perform the actual functions of the siege while the rest of the army acted as a screening force. Even with this intelligent action by the Viennese commanders, Argyll felt that with the sizes of the two field armies now comparable that battle possible. More importantly, Argyll was under considerable pressure from George II to engage in battle and eject these invaders from his electorate [9]. Thus even though he was uncertain of the merits of a battle, Argyll marched towards it.

    The forward elements of the Hanoverian army were met by Russian outriders near the village Bienenbuttel. Over the next few hours, the two great armies formed up to the south of the Ilmenau River, the Viennese army to the west and the Hanoverian army to the east. At 11 am, after finishing their war councils and making their formations, the two armies were ready for battle. Since the Prussians held the village and the Viennese army had its back to Luneburg, the Viennese were in a decent defensive position and refused to move out it. This act forced Argyll to order the advance of his army at 11:30 am. When two armies clashed the Prussians and the Danish-Norwegians faced each other on the northern side of the battle, the Russians and British fought for the centre, and the Saxons and Germans contested the south.

    As the hours progressed, the Danish-Norwegians and Prussians were having a hard fought battle in the north. Once the Danish-Norwegians marched well in the range of the houses of the village they were surprised to be harried by Prussian soldiers from within the houses. The Prussians in the houses were backed by strong, disciplined lines of Prussian infantry which held strong in the face of heavy Danish-Norwegian attacks. The Danish-Norwegian cavalry also struggled to make themselves effective as the Prussians had anchored their flank on the river. This also meant that the Prussian horse was of little use. However, seeing as the Prussian cavalry was probably inferior to their Danish-Norwegian counterparts, the elimination of both bodies of horseman benefitted the Prussians. Under conditions, the Prussians held their position.

    In the centre, Argyll's soldiers were surprised to see the Russians stand their ground and give back hell. In spite of Lacy's excellent march along the Baltic, Argyll had still thought less of the Russian army. The Russians, however, were tough and hardened veterans of the Great Northern War and Russo-Persian War. Whereas, Britain's last series of conflicts were a punitive expedition against Gibraltar and two Jacobite uprisings of clansmen. The British soldiers were a bit out of touch with the ruthlessness of real war and pitched combat. Within this combat, the young Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, Charles Frederick, and the older King of Great Britain, George II, both distinguished with bravery and courageousness. All in all, just like Danes to the north, the Britons struggled to move their enemy.

    In the south, the fighting was much more decisive. Under General Ilton's command, the Germans had been slower in their advance towards the enemy, which had allowed the British to take heavy fire from the Saxons at first [10]. Along the way, the Germans were also heavily punished by the Saxon cannon. Once the Germans finally did reach their enemy disaster occurred. General Ilton's slow march had meant his cavalry had face outpaced his infantry. When his cavalry smashed into the Saxons, the Saxons counterattacked with both their cavalry and their unengaged infantry. Outnumbered and unsupported the German cavalry was shattered and broke entirely. As Ilton's cavalry ran from the battlefield his infantry was soon engulfed by a firestorm of Saxon musketry on his front and Saxon cavalry on his flank. Feeling overwhelmed, Ilton panicked and ordered a hasty retreat. Within this retreat, Ilton himself was run down and killed by a Saxon soldier.

    As chaos broke loose, Griff took personal command. Quickly, he stopped the rout and restabilized his formation. However, the damage of Ilton's poor command had already been done. The German formation was very bloodied and poor condition to keep fighting. A more experienced commander might have been able to turn this southern fight around but the young Griff had none the experience to accomplish that. Instead, Griff ordered a retreat of his own and began to withdraw in an orderly fashion. He sent word to both Argyll and Reventlow of the state of German forces and they two made good retreats. The Viennese army generals recognized the retreat before them but chose against giving chase. They had won the field and that was enough.

    Overall, the Battle of Bienenbuttel was undoubtedly lost by General Ilton's poor command of the German flank. However, it is doubtful if the Hanoverians would have won even without Ilton. In the north, the Danish-Norwegians had been confronted with a strong defensive formation and had difficulties overcoming it. In the centre, the Russians had held back the British sufficiently. In the south, the Saxons were no slouches themselves. Furthermore, Maurice of Saxony had been in the process of leading reinforcements from the besieging force. These reinforcements would have marched through the Vierenbach and been in prime position to face the Danish-Norwegians. Overall, the battle cost the Hanoverian alliance over 6000 men, mainly Hanoverians and Hessians. Meanwhile, the Viennese army had only lost a little more than 3000 men.

    In Luneburg, after the defeat at Bienenbuttel, the defenders realized the hopelessness of their situation. Still, they attempted to hold out longer but by mid-October, their defenses had been pounded away by the besieging cannon. Then they attempted to surrender under good terms. However, General Lacy was not willing to accept anything less than a full capitulation since he knew there no possibility of relief and Luneburg's fortifications were insufficient to stop an assault. Even the defenders' threats to burn down Luneburg did not move Lacy as Empress Catherine had explicitly deserved the destruction of Brunswick-Luneburg [11]. Finally, the defenders surrendered entirely on October 21st. With that, the Viennese gained complete control over the Principality of Luneburg and now their Hanoverian opponents numbered just 64000, almost 20000 less than the Viennese army. It seemed as Brunswick-Luneburg was well and truly doomed.

    [1] Frederick I getting his first battle experience
    [2] OUCH!
    [3] In a situation akin to there must always be a Stark in the north, Frederick was designated Hanover's representative when the rest of the family left, despite his youth.
    [4] George I had requested to be buried in Brunswick-Luneburg. It was the only part of George I's will that George II respected.
    [5] George I apparently a good grandfather in spite of being a horrid parent.
    [6] Yes, it is that Katte.
    [7] Rutowsky was on his way to joining the Saxon army when the POD occurred so he still goes on and joins the Saxon army.
    [8] Maurice could have gone back to his father at any point in time OTL but didn't. He has a better opportunity to make his name and fortune with the Russians so he stays with them for now.
    [9] OTL George II had a deep connection with his electorate which caused him to sell his Imperial vote to France when Brunswick-Luneburg was threatened. Additionally, George II was eager to fight and always wanted to get back to the battlefield. Here, those preexisting conditions combined with the fact that he feels a little overshadowed by his son in terms of affection from the electorate and that George has already lost Dannenburg have a powerful effect on him. Ultimately causing George to demand a battle to expulse the invaders.
    [10] Ilton would later become notorious for this sort of conduct. Luckily in that battle, he got saved an even bigger error on the part of the enemy. This time he doesn't.
    [11] Common threat, Lacy doesn't care though.

    Word Count: 2868
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  3. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    Isn’t it a good time for Catherine to die finally? She already outlived her OTL equivalent and her health problems are not going away.
     
  4. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    It hasn't been that long yet. It's still 1727. Anyways, I am writing about all the different theatres so when she does die it would be information included in the Baltic theatre.
     
  5. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    In OTL she died in the May of 1717 and at the time of her accession nobody gave her more than a year so you are excessively generous to her. :)

    Anyway, the main reason for my curiosity is almost inevitable change in the Russian foreign policy with the accession of Peter II (and expansion of the Privy Council by adding members of Dolgoruki and Golitsin families). Austrian alliance is still OK but a war for the Holsteinian interests is not (even for Menshikov who would be inevitably ousted). Which means that the Russian participation on the Baltic theater becomes a big question mark due to an absence of any tangible purpose.
     
  6. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    I am giving her the Elizabeth treatment, where she is going to last a bit longer than most would give her credit but her health is going to be a problem.
     
  7. Threadmarks: 8: All Quiet on the Western Front

    Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    8: All Quiet on the Western Front
    [​IMG]
    Cardinal Fleury, the leading man in France

    The Western Theatre of Empress Catherine's War geographically is much larger than the Northern German Theatre. Whereas the Northern German Theatre was fought mainly in the Lower and Upper Saxon Circles of the Holy Roman Empire, the Western Theatre involved four Imperial Circles (the Burgundian Circle, Westphalian Circle, Swabian Circle, and Austrian Circle) and the completely foreign countries of the Dutch Republic and the Kingdom of France. Overall, this Western Theatre extended from the commercial city of Antwerp in the Southern Netherlands all the way to the fortress of Freiburg in the region of Swabia. Accompanying this larger area of land was also a larger amount of men and resources relative to the Northern German theatre. In the west, there were more than 200000 soldiers involved compared to the 167000 soldiers in Northern Germany (before the Battle of Bienenbuttel). Finally, although the commanders in Northern Germany were by no means nameless nobodies, the two men who commanded in the Western Theatre were by far the two greatest generals in Europe at the time, Prince Eugene of Savoy and the Duc de Villars, Claude Louis Hector. Yet in spite of all of these facts, the Western Theatre was quite quiet from a military standpoint.

    In fact, looking at past wars, the Western Theatre is a particularly odd grouping of geography. In all the preceding wars of Louis XIV, there was no combined Western theatre but rather two distinct and entirely separate Low Countries Theatre and Rhenish Theatre. The reason for this distinction was that each theatre had enough battles, sieges, and excitement that historians and politicians did not even contemplate joining the two regions into a singular theatre, which would rob each of respect due to them. This war, Empress Catherine's War, however, was decidedly different in how it treated the two regions. This difference in conduct had little to do with the titular figure of the war but rather the lack of the titular figure of previous wars. Although Catherine I, no doubt, cared little for occurrences in the Low Countries and Rhine Valley it was actually the lack of Louis XIV which deprived the two regions of their expected action. Louis XIV had for decades fought for his own glorie and then later for the quest of giving France truly defensible borders. These goals heavily involved winning large set-piece battles and capturing major fortifications in both the Low Countries and Rhineland. Without Louis XIV, France's goals had changed dramatically and so to did the method in which it fought its wars. The change was so great that it had warranted the creation of a Western theatre.

    Following Louis XIV's death in 1715, France had since several men try to replace that behemoth of a man. Among those men had been Louis XIV's illegitimate son, Louis Auguste, Duc de Maine; Louis XIV's trueborn son, Felipe V, King of Spain; Louis XIV's nephew, Philippe II, Duc de Orleans; Louis XIV's kinsman, Louis Henri, Duc de Bourbon; Cardinal Dubois; and Cardinal Fleury. For the ten years that followed Louis XIV's death, these men schemed and plotted against each other to become the most powerful man in France. This plotting including two conspiracies, four executions, one war, and a marriage. For the majority of that time, it was the Duc de Orleans who had been beating out his opponents and maintaining himself as the power behind the throne. By the time Empress Catherine's War broke out, however, Orleans was dead and the only man left standing was the patient, calculated Cardinal André-Hercule de Fleury.

    Cardinal Fleury was drastic contrast to the Sun King, Louis XIV. Where Louis XIV was willing to resort to violent force, Fleury looked towards gentle diplomacy. Where Louis XIV was a man of grandiose ambitions, Fleury thrived on moderation and temperateness. And where Louis XIV dreamed of using his might to create a France which Europe could never threaten, Fleury worried that all Europe would ever see in France was a threat. Thus where Louis XIV had had a mission of expanding France's territories and strengthening borders, Fleury had a much-limited goal: survival. These set of differences were already noticeable when Fleury guided France towards joining Britain's coalition rather than being the target of that coalition. Now, with war at hand, these differences would make themselves even more apparent. For example, while Louis XIV regularly raised 250000 men, Fleury restricted himself to just 100000 for reasons of finance and diplomacy [1].

    As the war began, Cardinal Fleury was slow to dispatch his armies, unlike Louis XIV who had always struck with decisive speed. This delay was not out of a lack of capability or courage in Fleury nor was due to his disinclination towards war. Instead, Fleury postponed France's military movements because he did not wish to act alone which might incite fear among his allies that France had not changed since Louis XIV's demise. With Britain's lack of government in the very of the war, Fleury could do little else but assemble his armies and wait. However, once both the Parliament in London and the States General in the Hague had made their decisions regarding the war and their strategy towards it, Fleury was quick to consult with both governments. In London, the British were clearly happy to have as an ally rather than an enemy but it was obvious that underneath all the courtesies and civilities that the British were still concerned that France might use this war to its own advantage [2]. In the Dutch Republic, the degree of contempt and fear was too hard to hide completely. The exchanges with both allies convinced Fleury that he was correct in his assessment of France's position vis-à-vis its allies and neighbors. France was still the enemy in their eyes and it would be a hard sentiment to break down. Despite how they saw France, Fleury was still determined to improve France's diplomatic situation and its long-term place in European affairs.

    In Fleury's effort to diminish the association of belligerence and aggression with France, he actively worked to approach French military campaigning in a new and nuanced way. Towards, Spain 25000 men under the Duke of Berwick would be dispatched to occupy Navarre and put pressure on Madrid to come to terms with the Hanoverian Alliance. For the Low Countries, an army of 30000 men led by Marshal du Ble would be formed as nothing more than an army of observation meant to dissuade the Hapsburgs from making any significant military actions. Finally, in the Rhine Valley, 55000 men under the command of the Duc de Villars were to be deployed. The only aim of this last army was to seize Lorraine and the Hapsburgs fortresses in the area to provide a threat towards the Viennese Army from the west. Overall, not only did Fleury desire to use fewer men than Louis XIV had used but Fleury desired to use these men for less than Louis XIV had used them for [3].

    Cardinal Fleury's decision against invading the Southern Netherlands proved to be extremely wise as the initial events of the war unfolded. As aforementioned, the Dutch Republic was still haunted by the devastation of the Franco-Dutch War and the wars which followed. For this reason, although the Dutch were allied to the French there no trust felts towards the French. Consequently, when the war began, the Dutch garrisons of the Barrier Fortresses were ordered to give up the line of fortifications to the Hapsburgs by the officials in the Dutch Republic. After negotiating with the Governor of the Southern Netherlands, Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria, it was agreed that after a brief set of mock sieges that the Dutch would surrender the fortresses to the Hapsburgs but be allowed to keep their arms and retreat unhindered. Once the Dutch had, in fact, turned over the fortresses they chose to retreat to the north. This meant they decided they would rather march all the way through the Southern Netherlands to reach home than march a brief distance to the south to their "ally" France. In other words, despite declaring war on the Hapsburgs alongside the French, the Dutch Republic still trusted Vienna more than Versailles [4]. In Versailles, the Cardinal did not take offense at the Dutch actions but rather took them as further proof of his own beliefs about France's reputation.

    The reaction to the surrender of the Barrier Fortresses in Vienna was pleasant surprise. This occasion was an undoubted coup for the Hapsburgs and Archduchess Maria Elisabeth was praised for her role in it. In spite of this congratulation for Maria Elisabeth, the Imperial council still felt that over the course of her tenure as Governor of the Southern Netherlands had been displaying a proclivity towards independent action which was considered disagreeable in Vienna [5]. The outbreak of a European war provided Vienna with the reason and motive to remove and replace Maria Elisabeth. Although Emperor Charles VI would have liked to have Prince Eugene, one of his most advisers, at the helm of the Southern Netherlands, Prince Eugene previous rule of the region had failed and anyways the Prince was preoccupied with commanding an army in Rhine Valley. The rest of the Emperor's advisers were needed at home, in Vienna, to manage the war in its entirety rather than a single part of it, in the form of the Southern Netherlands. With these thoughts weighing on his mind, Charles VI decided to promote the Elector of Bavaria, Charles Albert, to the post of governor. The position had once been held by Charles Albert's father, Maximilian II Emmanuel, who had done an impressive job until he ultimately betrayed the House Hapsburg and fought for Louis XIV. Also, Charles Albert's brother was the current Archbishop-Elector of Cologne and Prince-Bishop of Münster, both of which were neighbors of the Southern Netherlands and the Dutch Republic. Additionally, Charles Albert was married to a Hapsburg, Archduchess Maria Amalia. Overall, Charles Albert was a decent candidate for the role of governor. More importantly, it was believed that by naming Charles Albert governor that the Hapsburgs would be able to further secure his and Bavaria's loyalty to Emperor Charles VI [6].

    Charles Albert was indeed pleased to be appointed Governor of the Southern Netherlands and he sent his thanks to the Emperor for entrusting him with such a great responsibility. What Charles Albert did not mention was that he still aspired to the Imperial crown that there be no Hapsburg to assume upon Charles VI's death. Nor was Charles Albert's hopes of gaining a slice of the Hapsburg inheritance lessened by this honor. Still, for the time being, Charles Albert thought it best to align himself with the Emperor. Perhaps the position of governorship was a prelude to the Emperor actually ceding him the Southern Netherlands in return for Charles Albert recognizing Maria Theresa's succession to the rest of the Hapsburg empire [7]. Such a thought pleased and amused the young Elector of Bavaria. In the meantime, however, he did have a war to attend to.

    Upon arriving in Brussels, Charles Albert found that only 15000 Hapsburg men were defending the region. Charles Albert soon augmented that number with 15000 soldiers from his own Bavaria and from his brother's Cologne. This brought up the total Viennese Alliance force in the Southern Netherlands to a just 30000. Such a number is typically a considerable one. In this case, however, Charles Albert was left wanting more. Again, to his south, Charles Albert was being stared down by du Ble and 30000 Frenchmen. To his north, Charles Albert found 42000 Anglo-Dutch soldiers. Combined the two enemy formations outnumbered Charles Albert by more than double and in the case that they attacked him Charles Albert would be hard pressured to defeat either or both of them. At best Charles Albert could attempt to hold out in Brussels and pray for relief or to fall back to Luxembourg and await reinforcements. Fortunately, no attack ever came.

    As already discussed, Fleury had explicitly ordered Marshal du Ble and his 30000 Frenchmen to act solely as an army of observation. Cardinal Fleury had drawn this command up because he knew that French in the Low Countries would only cause great alarm among his British and Dutch allies. The British would recall their nightmares of Frenchmen in Antwerp and the Dutch would think back to the Franco-Dutch War. Neither outcome was desirable for Fleury as both were counter to his goals. On the other hand, Fleury could not just leave the Low Countries unattended. Of course, there was the risk that the Hapsburgs would attack from the Southern Netherlands but the better reason was that Fleury did not want to seem uncommitted to his alliance with Britain and the Dutch Republic. In such a situation, the British or Dutch might be led to believe that France was perhaps scheming against them, which would be a disastrous thought. By leaving an army of observation to the south of the border, Fleury would not threaten the security of the Southern Netherlands nor would he seem disingenuous about his commitment to the alliance.

    To the north of the Southern Netherlands, the Dutch and newly arrived British soldiers made for a formidable army. Yet both the States General of the Dutch Republic and the Parliament of Great Britain agreed that it was best not to use that army. If the Anglo-Dutch army struck at the Southern Netherlands it would give the French an excuse to also invade the region, which could not be allowed to happen. However, the British and Dutch had antagonized the Emperor recently and they could not be certain of his intentions so an army was needed in case those intentions should include a forcible revision of the Treaty of Westphalia and opening of the Scheldt River to the Emperor's Ostend Company [8]. Fortunately, at least as far as 1727 was concerned, the Scheldt was not on Charles VI's mind and thus the Anglo-Dutch army remained stationary and unengaged.

    All in all, despite there being a little over 100000 soldiers in the Low Countries, not even a single musket or cannon was fired outside of drills. The political machinations and aspirations of France, Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, and the Hapsburgs had restricted three whole armies to do nothing more than sit, watch, and wait. In this fashion, the Low Countries which had once been a great seat of conflict worthy of being classified as its theatre to become nothing more a sideshow to the adjacent actions of the Rhine, which in their selves were but a sideshow to the ongoings of Northern Germany and the Mediterranean. Low Countries had become nothing more than a place for political messages and images.

    In the Rhine Valley itself one would have expected a good deal of action or at least a grand campaign of maneuvering with the renowned Duc de Villars at the head of a French army of 55000 men and the venerated Prince Eugene of Savoy at the head of a German army of 58000 men. However, that was not what happened. Indeed, just as the Low Countries had failed to meet the expectations and precedents just by previous wars so to did the Rhine Valley. This was not the war in which the French would raze Palatinate nor would an Anglo-Hapsburg army daringly march through the region towards an epic triumph [9]. No, this was the war without Louis XIV and the Grand Alliance.

    The Rhine Campaign opened with the Duc de Villars quickly overrunning the neutral Duchy of Lorraine and Bar. This action was the most typical opening to a French expedition towards the Rhine and was not one which the Hapsburgs had ever attempted to stop. This time was no different. What was different was what followed. Once reaching the barrier that was the Rhine River, Villars found himself opposed by Prince Eugene on the other bank. Villars could have attempted to outmarch and outmaneuver Eugene by invading one of the countless Imperial principalities. However, Cardinal Fleury did not want to alarm the Imperial Diet or Imperial Circles by infringing on the neutrality of any other Imperial states outside of the Duchy of Lorraine and Bar, regarding which there seemed to be an unspoken agreement that the Imperial states and France would never go to war over Lorraine's neutrality. These orders were made because firstly, Fleury was working to assuage the fear which all of Europe and the Holy Roman Empire had kept reserved for France. To act just as Louis XIV did and trample over the rights of the Imperial states would do everything but help Fleury rebuild France's relationship with the Imperial states. Secondly, there was France's fear that if a French army attacked an Imperial state not already involved in the war that the Imperial Diet would see it as an attack on the Empire as a whole. In which case, the Imperial Diet could declare an Imperial War or Reichskrieg on France, which would bring the whole of the Holy Roman Empire into the conflict. In turn, the war would escalate to exceedingly worrying and complicated levels. In such a state, French diplomacy and scheming would be little able to rehabilitate France's image [10]. Under these conditions, Villars' maneuverability was severely hampered and his army's choice of actions was made quite predictable.

    On the other side, Prince Eugene knew that an offensive campaign, for the time being, was completely out of the question. The Hapsburgs had enough money to fight a kind of war but not the kind of war which involves campaigning across borders, deep inside enemy territory. Furthermore, Prince Eugene had only been entrusted with an army of 58000 men, consisting of 45000 Hapsburg soldiers and 13000 Bavarian soldiers. This army was barely larger than Villars'. If Prince Eugene was to invade France than supply issues, desertion, and attrition could easily wear his army down and do away with his slight numerical edge. This scenario would cede the advantage to Villars and put the Germans at the mercy of the French. Hence the Prince had little choice but to focus on doing nothing more than defending the Rhine Valley by establishing a defensive line at Ettlingen.

    With these two complementary objectives for the Duc de Villars and Prince Eugene, a slight campaign of maneuver began. Villars and French would march south and try to outpace the Germans or trick them into leaving a crossing ill-defended. Prince Eugene, however, was still in his prime and was able to match Villars march for march [11]. In the meantime, the Germans were busy repairing and improving the Rhenish fortifications such as the Fortress of Philippsburg and the Fortress of Kehl. Since neither army was significantly larger than the other, neither could use the threat of battle to force the other to concede ground. Thus for months the two armies marched and marched to little avail. Finally, winter arrived and offered the tired soldiers of both armies a reprieve from life on the road as each army retreated to its winter quarters.

    The Rhenish portion of the Western Theatre had similarily to the Low Countries been, for the most part, uneventful. Outside of the expected loss of Lorraine, the had been no other change in territory. By the end of the campaigning season, the Duc de Villars had failed to overcome the barrier that was the Rhine and Prince Eugene had not even made the French consider leaving Lorraine. Both armies although somewhat depleted by the constant marching were still equally matched and that situation looked unlikely to change as Cardinal Fleury's government did not feel the need to draw up more soldiers to the front and the Imperial Council lacked the funds to support another army. Only a stroke of genius might be able to disrupt this flow of actions, the problem was that both commanders were geniuses so neither was likely to get outwitted.

    Overall, the Western Theatre in 1727 failed to produce any decisive actions that could bring the war's end closer. This lack of action emerged mainly from the political disclination of Cardinal Fleury towards the thought a grand offensive campaign to dislodge the Viennese Alliance from either the Southern Netherlands or the Rhenish Valley and from the Anglo-Dutch absolute unwillingness to promote violence in the Southern Netherlands. On the other side, the Viennese Alliance's members of the Hapsburgs, Bavaria, and Cologne would have liked to have seen some successes but were willing to accept the result of nothingness which they received. Charles Albert, the new Governor of the Southern Netherlands, was simply happy to avoid losing his new position after just gaining it. Emperor Charles VI had prayed for a fortunate victory on the Rhine but had acquiesced to Prince Eugene's calls for a simple defensive campaign. All of this is understandable, the only real question is if there was any reason for the strategic situation of the Western Theatre to change in the campaign season that was to follow.

    [1] Fleury wanted to improve France's situation, he just believed that France was in such a bad spot with its reputation that it needed to act like the good guy to improve its situation. Fleury was still willing to push for the ambitions of the House of Bourbon but he wanted to do it in a subtle, slight fashion. If Fleury could get France Lorraine without raising alarm then that's exactly what he would do. Fleury, however, is not the kind to push for the annexation of the Southern Netherlands, Palatinate, or Catalonia.
    [2] The current alliance between France, Britain, and the Dutch Republic had been arranged personally by Townshend. The alliance was not arranged with the full parliament or even the full government being aware. The rest of parliament still accepted the alliance, of course, but at the same time its, not something which they or the new prime minister, Compton, were personally involved with creating. So although Britain is happy to have France on its side, it still has concerns.
    [3] Similar to in the War of the Polish Succession, Fleury wants to keep the war limited and quiet in regards to France. If there are no major battles then that's a victory for Fleury's France, because it means no one is looking towards what France and its military are doing.
    [4] The Dutch literally flooded half their country and underwent a political revolution due to their fear of France in 1672. For the next three decades, the Dutch Republic was ruled by William III who personally disdained France and his disdain towards France seeped down into the Dutch Republic's various politicians. Even after William was dead the Dutch spent over a decade fighting France in the Low Countries, on the doorstep of the Republic. The only war in which the Dutch have been allied to the French was the War of the Quadruple Alliance against Spain for the purpose of upholding the Treaty of Utrecht which the Dutch hold on to dearly. In this war, the French are once again fighting the Hapsburgs which could mean French gains in the Low Countries or Rhine, which the Dutch absolutely do not want. Which is why the Dutch are acting in such uncooperative and distrustful fashion towards the French.
    [5] OTL Maria Elisabeth was quite the independent governor. She independently suspended and closed the Ostend Company since it was located in the Southern Netherlands. Because the Hapsburgs gave up on the Ostend project to gain British acceptance of the Pragmatic Sanction and because there were no pressing concerns in the Southern Netherlands the Hapsburgs allowed Maria Elisabeth to govern till her death. TTL the Ostend Company is still alive, there is a real war, and the Hapsburgs want to further tie Charles Albert to them which leads to Maria Elisabeth's dismissal.
    [6] Overall, Charles Albert is a legitimate candidate who checks a lot of boxes.
    [7] Most of the participants in the OTL War of the Austrian Succession just wanted to receive a slice of the Hapsburg inheritance, they didn't care how they gained that slice. Frederick the Great for example offered to ally with Maria Theresa if she should give up Silesia. Throughout the war, Charles Albert tried to negotiate with Maria Theresa.
    [8] The Treaty of Westphalia closed the Scheldt River to the Southern Netherlands which extremely limited its trading ability and allowed the rise of the north. Once the Southern Netherlands were unleashed in the form of Belgium they were able to surpass the Netherlands.
    [9] The march refers to Marlborough's march to Blenheim.
    [10] OTL this motivated Fleury against attacking the Imperial states during the War of the Polish Succession, TTL it also motivates Fleury's policy.
    [11] OTL Prince Eugene's defense of the Rhine in the War of the Polish Succession was inadequate as his mental state has significantly deteriorated in the time leading up to the war. TTL Prince Eugene's mind is still sound and he is able to match Villars and prevent the fall of the Rhenish fortresses.

    Word Count: 4199
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  8. Threadmarks: 9: Spain's Return?

    Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    9: Spain's Return?
    [​IMG]
    Siege of Gibraltar

    Spain was undoubtedly pleased with the expansion of their war into the continental Empress Catherine's War. Within the Spanish Court, some claimed that now both the Emperor and Empress marched for the reconquest of Gibraltar and Menorca. The expectation was that whether or not Gibraltar and Menorca should fall that the two Imperial despots would force Great Britain to return Spain's lost possessions. However, others, Felipe V and Elisabeth Farnese, included recognized how reluctant to join the war the Hapsburgs had been. For half a year Spain had been besieging Gibraltar and yet the Hapsburgs had not sent so much as a single bullet or a single loaf of bread to aid Spain's army. Indeed, for a time it looked as if the Hapsburgs were closer to reconciling with the British than they were to declaring war. This concern had motivated the Spanish to engage in some light negotiations with the French who had seemed open to the idea of restoring a Spanish presence to Italy in return for Spain abandoning its attempt against Gibraltar. Ultimately, with the incident in the Baltic, the Hapsburgs had been forced towards war and thoughts in Spain of giving up their dream of retaking Gibraltar and Menorca vanished. Still, Spain remembered the cool reception in Vienna they had received months previously and now Spain only saw Russian and Hapsburgs soldiers joining the fray in Germany, on the Rhine, and in Milan. Just as Spain had hoped it would be overlooked by its enemies, Spain was also being overlooked by its allies. In Spain, the Court was quite confident that their allies would win the war in Germany, Spain only worried that their war would not be won there [1].

    The suspicion that Spain and its interests would be left out of the final peace negotiations provided a strong motivator for Spain to achieve its own objectives alone. If Spain did manage it find its own victories then its allies might be forced to consider Spain's demands at the peace table. Otherwise, Spain could use its own victories to secure its own, separate peace while leaving Spain's allies to fight on their own. As a consequence of this thinking, Spain redoubled its military efforts and commitment to the war. In Gibraltar, Spain reinforced its army, bringing its strength back up to 15000. Spain furthermore raised 20000 new men for the defense of Catalonia, more than doubling the current number of Spaniards under arms. For the armies of both Gibraltar and Catalonia, Felipe V gave his best men command.

    In Madrid, King Felipe, his wife, and his councilors were all displeased with the fact that Gibraltar was barely closer to falling now than it had four months previously despite de la Torres' promise to take Gibraltar in just six weeks. Consequently, the cries of Jorge Prospero de Verboom against the ineptitude of Count de la Torres found many like-minds in the Spanish Court. Curious as to how de Verboom would take Gibraltar, Felipe and Elisabeth offered de Verboom a chance to win the command for himself [2]. De Verboom was quite pessimistic about his ability to achieve the monumental task of capturing the Rock of Gibraltar; however, de Verboom's disdain towards de la Torres was enough of a motive for de Verboom to be willing to make an attempt. Thus de Verboom proposed to mine Willis' Battery, advance Spain's siege lines, and bombard Gibraltar into a pulp over the course of a year [3]. This plan in de Verboom's mind was the only real option left available to Spain. Neither the King nor Queen was pleased to hear that Gibraltar might not fall for another year yet they preferred it to the alternative of Gibraltar not falling at all. Hence de Verboom's design was approved and de la Torres was dismissed in disgrace.

    Upon assuming control of the Siege of Gibraltar, de Verboom did just as he had said he would: he began the long, laborious process of mining underneath Willis' Battery. Day after day, Spanish soldiers and civilians entered the cave near Willis' battery and steadily chipped away at the rock. The laborers were regularly changed to prevent anyone from becoming too exhausted or broken from the hard work of mining. The only soldiers exempt from this duty were the artillerymen. The artillerymen had their own harsh daily tasks. Once again the bombardment of Gibraltar had been renewed. For days on end, the artillerymen were expected to keep a near-continuous bombardment going. After the bombardment was halted, the artillerymen still had work to do. They spent hours cleaning, repairing, and mending their cannon for the next bombardment. The siege was a difficult feat for the Spanish soldiers but the replacement commanders and the expansion of war gave them some hope that not all of this work was done in vain.

    On the British side, the installation of de Verboom as siege commander was not unnoticed. With de Verboom at the helm, the bombardments became a more steady and regular occurrence to the displeasure of everyone on the Rock. On top of the better managed Spanish siege, the Earl of Portmore received news from White Hall about their approach to the war, an approach which precluded a heavy reinforcement of Gibraltar. Instead of reinforcing Gibraltar's garrison with any more men, the new British government and the new British king were more inclined to focus on fighting in Brunswick-Luneburg. To Portmore's dismay, all Gibraltar could expect was to be resupplied and defended by elements of the Royal Navy. The rest of the siege was left to him and his diminishing garrison which was an increasingly dim situation.

    To the north, the Hanoverian Alliance was not content to be on the defensive. Instead, Cardinal Fleury authorized James FitzJames, the Duke of Berwick, to take 25000 men and invade Spain. Previously, during the War of the Quadruple Alliance, Berwick had embarked on this same campaign and had witnessed good success. The positive outcome of Berwick's campaign combined with the negative outcome of Spain's adventure in Sicily had ultimately led Spain to sue to peace. In 1727, Fleury hoped to replicate the events of 1719 and bring a quick end to the war with Spain. With these orders, Berwick crossed the Spanish border and marched into Spain. Just as Berwick had done previously he chose to march into Navarre rather than Catalonia, the latter place was not filled with any good friends of the Frenchman.

    In Navarre, Berwick first besieged the fortress of Fuenterrabia. The French army surrounded the fortress, cutting it and its garrison of 800 men off from the rest of Spain. Jose Carrillo de Albornoz, the Count de Montemar, and his 20000 strong Spanish army moved with all haste out of Catalonia towards Navarre to relieve the fortress. In this march, the Spanish army was joined by King Felipe just as it had been during the 1719 French invasion. Unlike 1719, the Spanish army was not led by a timid fool like Principe Pio but rather by the Marquis de Lede's capable successor and lieutenant the Count de Montemar. Montewar recognized the inherent strength of Fuentebarria's fortifications as a barrier between France and Spain and thus Montemar was determined not to lose it. As Montemar's army neared Fuentebarria he sent orders to the garrison to not surrender under any terms with the express permission of Montemar and the King. With a relief army close by, the morale in Fuentebarria surged and the defenders resolved to not give so much as one more inch of Spanish soil to the French invaders.

    The arrival of a relief army and the newfound determination of Fuentebarria was an unfortunate occasion for Berwick. The easy conquest he had witnessed in the earlier campaign was apparently not to be had this time. Still, Berwick had his orders and he intended to follow them by breaking into Spain and providing a threat against Felipe V and his government. For this reason, Berwick did not give up on taking the fortress. Berwick did, however, abandon any thought of assaulting Fuentebarria's walls. The cost of such an assault would have great and could easily have given Montemar the advantage over Berwick. Instead, Berwick focused on pounding the fortress into submission. Yet as it stood Berwick lacked the heavy artillery required for such a siege as the French had failed to anticipate serious Spanish opposition. Only after a few weeks was Berwick's bombardment allowed to begin in earnest. By this time, it was already September.

    Berwick's bombardment was near relentless for the next two months. Thousands of cannonballs fell down upon the fortress and its surrounding city. Similarly to the Siege of 1638, the bombardment succeeded in leveling the city but failed to destroy the fortress. The garrison already very much battered by this cannonade refused to yield to Berwick. Day after day, the defenders bravely repaired their fortifications and armaments and fired back upon their French besiegers. To aid the defenders, a small contingent of Spanish soldiers from Montemar's army broke through Berwick's siege lines during a night operation. This contingent brought with it some additional supplies for the defenders and a personal letter from King Felipe V asking them to fight on for him and for Spain. Ultimately, in November as the weather grew worse and disease ravaged Berwick's army, he was forced to break his siege of the stalwart Fuentebarria.

    With Berwick's army retreating north, King Felipe desired to launch a counteroffensive against France. Montemar doubted that he would have much more success than Berwick had had and advised the King against such action, using the lateness in the year as an excuse. Since Felipe could not ride north he instead rode into Fuentebarria and personally thanked each of the fortresses defenders. The commander of the garrison, a minor Spanish soldier, was awarded the title Count of Fuentebarria whilst the rest of the garrison was to be publically honored in a ceremony in Madrid that winter. As Felipe rode back to Madrid, he left Montemar to repair Fuentebarria's walls and to review and improve the defenses of Catalonia.

    Overall, the Siege of Fuentebarria was an undoubted Spanish victory. The Spanish had stopped a French invasion of Spain and demonstrated their military resoluteness and formidability in the process. Obviously, the Fleury and Berwick had underestimated the Spanish army as they had not expected anything close to the resistance the Spanish had actually offered. However, this underestimation was not justified. Yes in the War of the Quadruple Alliance the French managed to occupy the provinces of Vizcaya, Gipuzkoa, and Alava despite the presence of a Spanish army in the region. Yet that Spanish army was nothing but scraps of the Spanish military. The real Spanish army had taken Sardinia and Sicily. On the latter island, the Spanish army under Marquis de Lede and Count de Montemar had defeated the initial Hapsburg effort to retake the island. Only when the army was completely cut off by the Royal Navy was the Spanish army defeated. In this war, Empress Catherine's War, the main Spanish army was not stranded in Sicily but instead was fighting in Spain at Gibraltar and Navarre. This capable fighting force was one which deserved respect for its recent accomplishments and improvements. France, however, had failed to give the Spaniards that respect and paid for it with a costly failed campaign [4].

    Across the Atlantic Ocean, another miscalculation cost the Hanoverian Alliance dearly. In the Caribbean, at Porto Bello, the blockade of the Spanish treasure port continued in the same manner in which it was conducted before the Anglo-Spanish war became Empress Catherine's War. Admiral Hosier continued to position his fleet outside of the port to dissuade Spain from sending another treasure fleet home. If possible, Hosier would seize the Spanish treasure for Great Britain. However, just as before the Spanish treasure remained ashore and the Spanish ships did not move. While the British fleet waited for the Spanish to act, Yellow Fever unleashed itself upon the sailors of the Royal Navy. Thousands of men contracted the illness and many, including Admiral Hosier, died. By the time the Yellow Fever had run its course through the fleet, 4000 sailors and marines were dead, which amounted to more than four-fifths of the fleet. With Hosier dead, Edward St. Lo became the commander of the fleet. He quickly ordered the return of the fleet to Jamaica to refit and replenish its numbers [5].

    The deaths of so many members of the Royal Navy was devastating. In London, the Admiralty began to doubt if its operations in the Caribbean were the right course of action. Compton, however, was too embarrassed at the cost of the Caribbean expedition to give up on it without any success. As a consequence, the Royal Navy did not opt to change the orders of St. Lo. Fortunately, the expansion of the war had also meant that French ships were now also prowling the Atlantic for Spanish prey. In this state of affairs, the Spanish colonials could not safely order another treasure fleet to be sent to Spain. Instead, Spain's treasure remained in the Americas, which mitigated the effect's of St. Lo's retreat to Jamaica.

    Altogether the Spanish war effort post-expansion of the war had been successful in its goals. In the colonies, Spain had held on while the British had suffered greatly. At Gibraltar, the Spanish potentially were making progress towards actually taking back the fortress. In Navarre, the Spanish had succeeded in repulsing the French attack. Spain's military did not look like the same broken, decrepit thing it was after decades of Hapsburg mismanagement. Instead, Spain's military looked like a legitimate force in European military affairs. These successes gave Spain the hope that it might actually achieve its war goals of retaking Gibraltar and Menorca, restoring Spanish prestige, and gaining guarantees for Spanish rights in Italy. On the other side, the Hanoverian Alliance looked at Spain and they began to realize that the early victories of Spain in the War of the Quadruple Alliance had not been a fluke but rather a foreshadowing.

    In both Great Britain and France, the governments also began to realize that perhaps Spain did not have to be the enemy. Sure, Spain wanted to retake Gibraltar and Menorca and it wanted to gain land in Italy, but James Stanhope, Britain's Chief Minister from 1717 until his death in 1721, had already been contemplating returning Gibraltar to Spain before his death and France and Great Britain had already agreed to give Spain some guarantees in Italy after the War of the Quadruple Alliance. Perhaps Spain could be brought without compromising the interests of Great Britain and France too much. This thought was so provocative that Fleury's diplomats already re-engaged with their Spanish counterparts in mid-November of 1727. Spain, however, believed in its own strength and plainly told France that its offers of Parma, Piacenza, and Gustalla were too paltry. For Great Britain and France, Spain's demands of all those Italian territories, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany the removal of Britain's commercial rights in the Spanish empire, and the return of Gibraltar and Menorca were too excessive. Thus Spain remained an active belligerent for the Viennese Alliance but it also was aware of the fact that as it had hoped for the Hanoverian Alliance was willing to make a separate, favorable peace with Spain [6].

    [1] Spain has goals which are not directly associated with the goals of its allies and it recognizes that, so Spain knows it has to go out on its own and find its own victories.
    [2] Felipe V and Elisabeth Farnese replaced ineffective commanders quite often, so de la Torres' neck gets put on the line after only four months.
    [3] This is the same plan from the initial Gibraltar post which de la Torres rejected because it would take too long.
    [4] Pretty much everything I said here explains the French failure. The French are going against a determined and numerous enemy and Fuentebarria is a legitimate fortress, the French are not prepared for either and fail as a result.
    [5] The POD is not far away enough in time and is far away enough in space that the Yellow Fever outbreak still occurs and kills off most of the British fleet.
    [6] Spain is selfish and the Hapsburgs have not been as receptive as desired, they will take a separate peace if a good enough offer is made.

    Word Count: 2753
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
    lokaloki, Varo12345, AlexG and 23 others like this.
  9. Unknown Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2004
    Location:
    Corpus Christi, TX
    This is a good TL so far...
     
  10. Brissot de Warville Active Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2018
    Out of sheer curiosity, which army was bigger in this era, that of the declining Spaniards or that of the rising Prussians? Do you know when the size of the Prussian Army surpassed that of the Spaniards?
     
  11. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    Prussians. Probably 1720. Now, if Spain wins this war and continues its path towards economic recovery it could catch up to Prussia.
     
    Brissot de Warville likes this.
  12. Threadmarks: 10: A Meaningless March in Milan

    Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    10: A Meaningless March in Milan
    [​IMG]
    King Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia

    The war in Italy was slow to start. Although the British had managed to buy King Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia and his army, they were in believing that Victor Amadeus was the same energetic, ambitious man he had been a decade ago. Now, at age 61, Victor Amadeus was wondering if all the projects and wars of his youth had actually accomplished anything. Yes, Victor Amadeus was now a true king with his possession of Sardinia but to become King of Sardinia he had forced to give away the much richer and more developed Kingdom of Sicily. Furthermore, in regards to Victor Amadeus's lust for Lombardian land, he had achieved almost nothing. Victor Amadeus had made no ground in his quest to be named King of Lombardy and had so far only received the scrapes of land which the Hapsburgs had deemed it acceptable for him to possess. At home, Victor Amadeus had implemented a new tax system. Although this tax system proved to be more effective it also earned him the scorn of his people who had revolted against the taxes in 1724. Not even in his own family could Victor Amadeus find comfort. Victor Amadeus' wife, Anne Marie, was a kind-hearted person but she and Victor Amadeus had never connected and fallen in love. Out of the six children Victor Amadeus had had with his wife one remained, Charles Emmanuel, and the relationship between Victor Amadeus and Charles Emmanuel had never been a close one [1]. All in all, Victor Amadeus was a sad old man, and it was him to whom the Hanoverian Alliance entrusted the Italian Theatre to.

    The melancholy and lethargy of Victor Amadeus resulted in the Sardinian army of 24000 soldiers marching from Piedmont weeks later than it could have. When Victor Amadeus II did march, he did not take his son with him, Charles Emmanuel, with him, unlike Friedrich Wilhelm. Despite being the only male from the House of Savoy left in Turin, Charles Emmanuel was not regent in Victor Amadeus' absence. Instead, Victor Amadeus assigned that responsibility to Anne Marie. Charles Emmanuel did not take lightly to the obvious insult from his father of not being allowed to earn any military glory or even administrate at home. However, Charles Emmanuel could do little to resist his father's decision. Victor Amadeus remained the unchallenged ruler of the Kingdom of Sardinia despite his own misgivings about his reign's success.

    Once the Sardinian army entered into the Duchy of Milan they found little opposition before them. The Holy Roman Emperor's reluctance for war had led him to leave Milan's defense in a dismal state. Neither fortifications nor the soldiers were sufficient enough to so much as delay the advance of the Sardinians. Milan's governor, Wirich Philipp von Daun, did not hesitate to abandon the city of Milan upon hearing of the Sardinian approach. Rather than bother defending Milan, Daun chose to evacuate to Mantua where the heavy fortifications might hold the Sardinians long enough for reinforcements to arrive. Quickly chasing after Daun were the Sardinians. Soon enough the Sardinians had put Daun and the Hapsburg soldiers under siege [2]. Everything seemed to be looking up for Sardinia and Victor Amadeus II.

    The ease of Victor Amadeus' campaign did not last. By the end of September, a Hapsburg army of 40000 men under Count Claude Florimond de Mercy had been formed and it was moving straight towards the army of Victor Amadeus. Seeing this large force coming for him, Victory Amadeus had two decisions: Victor Amadeus could run and give up or he could try to fight. With some of the courage Victor Amadeus had left from all those years of fighting, the King of Sardinia chose to stand and fight. However, Victor Amadeus did not wish to fight de Mercy in an open field in a pitched battle. Instead, the King wanted to fight the Hapsburgs from within one of their own fortresses, Mantua. Of course, Mantua was still being defended by Daun, who would never even contemplate surrendering with de Mercy's army approaching. As a consequence, Victor Amadeus made the only order he could, to hit Manuta with everything he could and hope that it breaks open in the process. Over the next three days, the Sardinians bombarded Mantua without stop. At the end of this bombardment, Mantua's walls still stood strong and the Sardinians were faced with the dim prospect of assaulting the impressive fortress of Mantua. At this point, Victor Amadeus' courage left him and he ordered a swift retreat towards Milan.

    After the Sardinians made their march from Mantua, de Mercy and his army arrived in Mantua. The Sardinians, however, were still installed in Milan and de Mercy was hungry for their blood. After reaffirming Hapsburg control of the Duchy of Mantua, de Mercy quickly begin to drive towards Victor Amadeus across the rivers of Northern Italy. The speed at which de Mercy's army moved frightened even the experienced commanders of the Sardinian army so they were quick to make it known to the King that they recommended abandoning Milan for the safety of Piedmont [3]. With immense difficulty, Victor Amadeus agreed with these generals and gave the command to return to Piedmont and leave behind all the gains the Sardinians had worked so hard to achieve.

    When Victor Amadeus came home he did so having lost 2000 men and not having a single inch of new soil to show for it. Consequently, the mood in Turin was not one of excitement or joy, just woe. In Mantua, de Mercy had forced the Sardinians to back off and in Milan, de Mercy had restored Hapsburg control less than four months after it had been lost. Still, de Mercy had been desirous of a battle and a chance to prove his mettle one more time. Obviously, with the onset of winter de Mercy could not dare invade Piedmont and instead had to just winter in Milan. In Vienna, Emperor Charles VI did not share de Mercy's bloodlust and has immensely pleased with how the campaign had ended. Indeed, Charles VI was so pleased that he reduced de Mercy's army to just 30000 soldiers. The rest were to be redeployed towards the Rhine where the French threatened the Empire's bounds.

    [1] Charles was never the favorite and he felt that. Charles was never close to his father and was happy to get rid of him in 1731.
    [2] In the OTL 1733 Franco-Sardinian invasion of Milan, the Sardinians were worried that if they did not secure all of Milan then the French would steal it from them and give it to the Spanish. Here the Spanish and French are not involved in Milan. Thus the Sardinians do not have to worry about Milan being stolen and can continue towards Mantua.
    [3] In de Mercy 1733 relief of Mantua he was quite slow. De Mercy's lack of speed was attributed to a stroke he suffered early in the campaign. Right now de Mercy is 6 years younger and is still one of the Hapsburg Army's most decisive and aggressive generals.

    Word Count: 1200
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  13. Falecius Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2010
    Location:
    Anarres
    Nitpick: Alps? Between Milan and Mantua there's a lot of rivers, but no elevation of note at all.
    For the rest, excellent TL.
     
  14. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    Long day
     
    Falecius likes this.
  15. Threadmarks: 11: Catastrophe at Kymmendale

    Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    11: Catastrophe at Kymmendale
    [​IMG]
    The HMS Revenge after Kymmendale

    Despite giving himself the task of preparing another army for Germany, Alexander Menshikov left that duty to others. In the meantime, Menshikov remained with Mikhail Golitsyn's army to the north of St. Petersburg, where Menshikov expected to be able to bath himself in glory when the Swedes attacked. However, when the Swedes did come they did come as soldiers as diplomats. The Swedish king and Riksdag had expected that the fear held by much of Northern Germany towards Russia would lead to a grand coalition forming against Sweden's nemesis. Instead, to Sweden's surprise, Northern Germany was so frightened by Russia's strength that they chose to subordinate themselves to the Russian beast and its aims. Most importantly, the Prussian king had betrayed the Hanoverian Alliance and joined Russia's. This severe shift of power in Northern Germany had turned what the Swedes had expected to be a favorable war into an absolute nightmare. As a result, the first course of action of Sweden was not to brazenly attack the massive Russian war machine but instead to ask for forgiveness and peace.

    The pleas of Sweden fell on deaf ears. Menshikov had entered into this war for the sole reason of securing an incredible military triumph that would guarantee that his place in Russia's history. Peace with Russia's Northern adversary would nothing to further that goal. Sweden, however, was desperate to avoid a full-on war with Russia, so it begged for peace. The Swedes offered to switch sides, offered to pay Russia money, or even give Russia a small parcel of land. None of this was enough for Menshikov. Menshikov wanted victory on the field with fire and blood not in a palace with a pen and paper. Furthermore, the frenzied effort from Sweden to make peace with Russia only made Menshikov even more eager to fight Sweden. If Sweden was willing to surrender before even a single shot was fired then they were not ready for war and they would crumble as soon as the Russian army struck them. Thus Menshikov refused every peace entreaty Sweden made [1].

    Throughout these talks between Russia and Sweden, Russia had one single condition for the continuance of negotiations: Sweden refuses harborage to the British Baltic Fleet [2]. Sweden agreed to this condition, which placed Admiral Charles Wager in an even difficult position had been. Upon arriving in the Baltic to replace Admiral Norris, Wager had been under explicit to keep the British Baltic Fleet outside of Reval, where the Russian fleet had placed itself. The Admiralty had been left too embarrassed by the Battle of Saaremaa to allow the Russian fleet to take to the sea again. Furthermore, in the immediate outbreak of the war, there was a concern that General Lacy's army in Livland might be transported towards Germany by sea. Once it was clear that Lacy intended to march all the way to Germany, Wager began to petition the Admiralty to allow him to return to Britain for repairs or at least sail to Sweden. Eventually, when it was clear that the new armies the Russians were forming were not meant for the sea, the Admiralty acceded to Wager's request only for the Swedes to refuse it. Only when Menshikov tired of Swedish diplomacy did Sweden's attitude towards the British fleet change. However, rather than inviting the British fleet to finally come to Karlskrona and make its necessary repairs, the Swedes demanded that Wager sail towards Finland and support the Swedish army which would likely be attacked as soon as autumn ended in Russia. Begrudgingly Wager complied.

    At this point, the British Baltic Fleet had been at sea for almost ten months, in which it had fought a battle. Nearly two-thirds of the sailors in the fleet had already been lost to scurvy, far far more than the Russians had killed [3]. Furthermore, several ships were still in need of repairs after Saaremaa. Of course, every ships' hull was very fouled since the British had been able to clean their hulls since leaving Portsmouth. Overall, the British fleet was in a sorry state and Wager knew it. All Wager could do was hope that this debilitated fleet was still stronger than its Russian counterpart. Or better yet that the Russians would be too afraid to even try something against the British, because even if Wager won at what cost would he win?

    Wager's fleet was positioned near the coast of southern Finland. There it was joined by a detachment of Swedish ships, most of the Swedish navy, however, remained in the western Baltic for the Siege of Stralsund. From its location, the fleet would not be able to stop the Russian invasion, which would probably come through Villmanstrand. However, the British and Swedes could hamper Russian attempts to besiege Fredrikshamm or Helsingfors. As a consequence, Menshikov wanted the Anglo-Swedish fleet to be removed from the equation before Russia launched its invasion of Finland. Despite the fact that Apraksin had been lionized for Saaremaa, Apraksin himself recognized that the battle was not the victory it was made out to be. Additionally, Apraksin considered himself lucky to have accomplished what he had. Even knowing the poor conditions the British had to be in, Apraksin feared to engage in battle with the British. Apraksin's opinion was supported by the members of Russian Admiralty. However, they all understood that Menshikov cared little for what they thought was wise, and Saaremaa had bought Apraksin enough clout to deny Menshikov. Under these conditions, the Russian Admiralty spent several days discussing in depth the options that they had. Ultimately, the Commander-in-Chief of Kronstadt, the Scottish Thomas Gordon, recommended that the Russians take a page out of Britain's playbook. Rather than confront the British fleet in a head on a battle, the Russian navy should attack and disorganize the Anglo-Swedish fleet with fireships before hitting the British and Swedes with their ships-of-the-line and galleys. As daring as the idea was, the Russian Admiralty still had reservations about it. Nevertheless, they began the needed preparations.

    Unlike some navies in the world, Russia's navy could not afford to build and maintain a specific class of fireships. However, when war with Britain broke out a number of British ships were in Russian ports. Many of these British ships had been seized by the Russian navy, some had already been outfitted as warships but others still lacked a naval role. With the Russian Admiralty having decided to use fireships against the Anglo-Swedish fleet, many former British merchants now found a new purpose. Quickly these ships were stripped down of certain items and filled with flammables. Some extra support was given to the masts so that they would not collapse before reaching British Baltic Fleet and some grappling hooks from other Russian naval ships were loaded on. Within a week the Russian navy was ready to strike. Due to the presence of some British agents and merchants within Russia's borders, the British were made aware of some type of Russian naval preparations. However, Wager expected that Russia's fleet was destined for Germany or even Danish Sound as the Russian Admiralty kept quiet about their true intentions. Still, Wager readied his own fleet for a potential fight [4]. When the fight arrived, however, Wager was not ready at all.

    In the deep darkness of the morning of November 10th, 1727, Lieutenant Commander Mikhail Mikhailovich Golitsyn, silently led a fleet of fireships towards the British Baltic Fleet and elements of the Swedish navy anchored off of Kymmenedalen. Golitsyn's ships were ordered to cover a great deal of ground with lights so that they could surprise the Anglo-Swedish fleet. Without illumination, the Anglo-Swedes failed to spot the advance of these ships but also several of the Russian fireships ended up drifting away from the main formation. Shortly after seven bells in the morning, British sailors spotted flames approaching them. Soon after Golitsyn's ship was lit on fire the rest of the Russian fireships followed suit and the British found themselves confronted by 19 fireships. Amid the darkness, the brightness of the fireships was so strong a contrast that it was practically blinding. Through the bravery of some of the Royal Navy's midshipmen and common sailors, five of these fireships were towed away. The rest, however, reached the fleet. Some of the British and Swedish ships were able to push away these fireships but the less maneuverable ones, including those damaged from the Battle of Saaremaa, were forced to cut their anchors to avoid an unfortunate collision. Only twos ship of the Royal Navy, the HMS Revenge and HMS Assistance, were actually directly damaged by the fireship attack. The HMS Revenge was the victim of an unfortunate mishap when a fireship's mast collapsed onto the HMS Revenge and demasted it. The HMS Assistance was the victim of an actual collision with a fireship, which managed to alight a barrel of gunpowder. Overall, the fireship attack seemed to have only had limited success, but the cover of darkness was not the only reason the Russians attacked at such an early time in the morning.

    After eight bells, the high tide arrived. With many British and Swedish ships lacking their anchors, they were incapable of stopping the tide. Instead, they were swept towards the dangerous Finnish coast. Once more British ships were pushed dangerously towards the rocks and shoals of a Baltic coastline. On top of lacking the traditional tool of an anchor, several of the ships were undermanned and some had even lost their original pilots to scurvy. As a consequence, the British did not get away as lightly as they had at Saaremaa and three ships-of-the-line ran aground. Fortunately, this time the coast was governed by Britain's friends rather than enemies, so these grounded ships avoided the harassment which the Brittania had had to endure. Speaking of Britain's friends, the Swedish lost one ship themselves. Yet the ordeal was not yet over. Those ships which had avoided the coastline and finally rejoined with the main fleet were now challenged by a fresh Russian navy [6].

    Unlike at Saaremaa, this Battle of Kymmenedalen did not just feature two fleets of ships-of-the-line. In this battle, the Russians had brought their full Baltic strength including countless galleys (commanded by Naum Senyavin). Wager, however, was not frightened by the massive superiority in numbers that the Russians had as he recognized the limitations of these galleys. What did frighten Wager was the state of his fleet after the early morning attacks and months of deprivation. On top of that, Wager was not excited by his Swedish allies thus far. They lacked seamanship and their ships were just as bad the Russian ones. Unwilling to allow the Russians to surround his Wager ordered the Anglo-Swedish fleet to attack the Russian one. However, cautioned that his ships needed to keep their distance from the Russian galleys to avoid being overwhelmed and boarded. For several hours, the Anglo-Swedish held off the Russians as the powerful British ships-of-the-line blasted away the Russian galleys. Due to their lack of men many of Britain's ships-of-the-line found themselves rivaled by their Russian counterparts. The former Brittania and newly christened Retribution played a key role in holding back the British fleet [7]. However, at around 11 am the battle' shifted away from Wager's side as the tide did. As many of the British and Swedish ships lacked their anchors, when the tide pulled back away from the coast towards the Russians it took these anchorless ships with it. As many of these ships were thrown towards the Russians, the Russian galleys swarmed them and overwhelmed them [8]. At the same time, the Russian ships-of-the-line directly attacked the broken formation of Wager's fleet. It was a disaster and Wager knew it. Not knowing what else he could do, Wager commanded what ships that could to retreat. Once again the battered Russians did not pursue and instead focused on subduing those British and Swedish ships which had lost to the tide. In Wager's retreat, he was joined by two of the British ships which had run aground earlier as it had managed to refloat itself. It was a minor solace in wake of an actual Russian defeat of the Royal Navy.

    In review, the Battle of Kymmenedalen was much bloodier than Saaremaa had been. The British Baltic Fleet had lost six ships-of-the-line in the battle. One ship which had run aground was purposely burned when its sailors realized it could not be refloated. Another ship lost its duel to Russia's newest prize, the Retribution, and was sunk in the process. The HMS Revenge was abandoned due to its lack of mast and the HMS Assistance, of course, had been burned. The last two ships were carried straight into the arms of the Russian navy by the tidal waves. They were then boarded and overwhelmed. Outside of those ships being truly lost, many British ships were damaged. The refloated ship had been practically crippled. Three ships which lacked their anchors had managed to avoid smashing into Russians through some hard and brilliant piloting. And one final ship had actually escaped the clutches of the Russian galleys but at great cost. The Swedes had lost one frigate to grounding and two brigantines and five galleys in combat. On the other side, the Russians had not the battle cheaply. Two of their ships-of-the-line had been sunk in the battle. Alongside it, three lesser ships and more than twenty galleys were lost. Many more ships were damaged and made be taken back to Kronstadt for immediate repairs, and hundreds of Russians were dead.

    Even with the high toll, Kymmendalen was still a major victory for the Russians. This time the victory was not just a perception but a fact. The severe loss of ships for the British and the fact that the British had to scurry away by definition made the battle a Russian victory [9]. Furthermore, after the battle, the British Baltic Fleet had no ability to sustain itself in the Baltic as it lacked the men, the ships, and the confidence. The British Baltic Fleet after spending most of the year in the Baltic finally returned home with its tail between its legs and its head sunk low. Without the British Baltic Fleet and with the losses sustained by the Swedes, Finland lacked any real naval support. This fact meant that the highway along the coast was wide open to the Russians. Furthermore, the defeat drove a wedge between Britain and its Baltic allies. When Wager was forced to explain himself before the Admiralty he immediately blamed the Swedes for not offering assistance earlier which led to his fleet's horrid state. The Danish-Norwegians were also blamed for not sending their navy to the eastern Baltic. The Parliament was also horrified by Portobello's failure being so quickly followed by the Catastrophe at Kymmendalen, as it was deemed. Many radical calls were made by members of the opposition. Robert Walpole was quick to criticize the leadership of Spencer Compton, which has led to Portobello, Bienenbuttel, and now Kymmendalen. The British nobility and public were also divided on how they felt towards the King after this battle. Some felt that the King's servants had completely mismanaged the naval war while he was trying to stop the immense Russian hordes in Germany. Others asked why the King was in Germany when he had an entire war effort to help run.

    Within Russia, the victory had immediate effects. Apraksin, Gordon, Golitsyn, Senyavin, and Matija Zmajevic were the lauded, commended and extolled by every member of Russian society. Each man was generously and personally awarded by Empress Catherine for the role in the victory. Great estates, generous wealth, and extensive titles were given to all of them. The common sailors were also greeted and celebrated by Catherine upon their arrival in St. Petersburg. Once again British ships had been captured by the Russian navy. The HMS Revenge, HMS Canterbury, HMS Lion, and HMS Southhampton were added to the Russian navy. Respectively, they were renamed Kymmendalen, Saaremaa, Anna, and Elizaveta after the two recent Russian victories and Catherine's daughters. Most of the Russian ships-of-the-line entered the docks of Kronstadt for repairs after the battle. Only a few ships-of-the-line and many galleys were made responsible for supporting the Russian invasion of Finland. Speaking of which, Menshikov was pleased to have another victory over the British during his time as Russia's main man. However, Menshikov also recognized that the victory would be regarded as Apraksin's just as Gangut was. Consequently, Menshikov after taking a brief part in the celebrations of the victory went off to go find his own victory.

    Menshikov did not go far for his victory. Since Menshikov's German army was still getting prepared for its expedition, Menshikov rejoined Mikhail Mikhailovich Golitsyn and Christoph von Munnich's army and immediately ordered the invasion of Finland. With an army 25000 men strong, Menshikov marched across Russia's border into Finland. This army first directed itself towards Villmanstrand where a small Swedish army had been deployed to staunch a Russian invasion. Outnumbered more than six to one the Swedes stood little chance of actually stopping the Russians. Nonetheless, the brave Swedes still tried. For more than four hours, the Swedish men attempted to hold their positions and rebut the Russian assault. Ultimately, surrounded and outnumbered the Swedish commander gave up and broke out towards Helsingfors. The Swedes had lost 1500 men in their valiant defense and had killed half as many Russians in the process.

    With the first border fortress under his control, Menshikov turned on Fredrikshamm, Sweden's border fortress town. The town was purpose-built to withhold enemy sieges and had some similarities to Vauban's Neuf-Brisach. However, when more than 20000 arrived outside its gates, Fredikshamm was in need of a miracle to survive. Charles Emil Lewenhaupt and his army of 10000 soldiers were supposed to be this miracle. Daringly, Lewenhaupt snuck his army behind the Russian army in an effort to smash the Russians between his army and a sortie from Fredikshamm. However, Menshikov although a politician was also a veteran of the Great Northern War and understood how to properly establish a siege. Thus when Lewenhaupt's army appeared in Menshikov's rear it was spotted by the Russian sentries and Menshikov swiftly regrouped his army to face Lewenhaupt's. Meanwhile, Munnich was left with the task of repelling any sally from the fortress.

    Despite being significantly outnumbered, Lewenhaupt bravely continued his advance. He imagined that the best Russian soldiers were all fighting in Germany not here in Finland, and, to be fair, Lewenhaupt was right in that regard. Lewenhaupt, however, was wrong in imagining that his army was equal to the Russian invaders. Despite the best soldiers being with General Lacy, the soldiers under Menshikov were green, undisciplined boys. They were still hardened soldiers from the Great Northern War and Russo-Persian War. Although Lewenhaupt's soldiers themselves were bad by most standards, they were not good enough to overcome the numerical superiority of the Russians. Consequently when the two armies collided the Russians did not fold and did not falter. Slowly but steadily the Russian army turned back the Swedes. After three brutal hours, the Swedish flanks finally began to crumble under the heavy pressure of the greater Russian numbers. By the fourth hour of the battle, Lewenhaupt was in full retreat. As that battle raged on, Munnich was fighting the Swedes of Fredrikshamm. These soldiers came at the Russians hard and nearly broke through their siege lines. Ultimately, however, Munnich managed to rally his men and force the Swedes back to their ramparts [10]. A few days later the Swedish garrison of Fredrikshamm surrendered and the Finnish border came under Russian control. Further operations, however, were not pursued due to the weather making a long march to Helsingfors unviable.

    Although Menshikov only managed to take the border before the year was out it was still a good victory and he knew it. Furthermore, Menshikov knew in his mind that this was only the first of many victories he would win in this war. However, it was the last victory he would have in Finland. After conquering Frediskhamm, Menshikov returned to St. Petersburg and took over direct control of the preparation of his German army. In a few months, the army would be ready to march along the Baltic coast into Germany just as Lacy's army had. Already lacy had won a great victory at Bienenbuttel, one which deserves to be commemorated in history; however, Menshikov's mind was already on how he would achieve his own great victory over the British on land and then over the Danish-Norwegians. As little as Menshikov cared for Charles Frederick's German ambitions, Menshikov did view them as a way towards his own glory. Menshikov could barely wait to join this German clash and assert his and Russia's dominance over Europe. Glory awaits [11].

    [1] Menshikov wants his glory and Sweden making minor concessions is not enough,
    [2] At Apraksin's recommendation's Menshikov makes this condition, Sweden agrees because they think it might lead to peace.
    [3] Scurvy was a huge problem these days. Although some navies (Spain) and officers knew of actual cures for scurvy, the British did not have a widespread effective response to scurvy. As a consequence, they often suffered extreme casualties from scurvy. Losing half of your sailors was considered typical.
    [4] The Russians still have the Jacobites, so there is still the potential that the Russians try to make a run for the Danish Sound with the Jacobites.
    [5] Mikhail Mikhailovich Golitsyn is the brother of Mikhail Mikhailovich Golitsyn, no joke.
    [6] At this point, the British Baltic Fleet is down to 14 undermanned and ill-supplied ships-of-the-line in combat.
    [7] At one-third manpower and only 14 ships-of-the-line the British lack their normal supremacy over the Russians.
    [8] Quite literally the tide breaks and separates the British formation and sends British ships into the Russian fleet. The British ships now are up close with Russian galleys and get boarded and overwhelmed.
    [9] As a reminder, Norris actually won the Battle of Saaremaa, it just was not perceived that way. If any other ship than the Brittania runs aground then people would have said that Norris won. Because Norris lost one of the biggest and most famous British ships, he lost.
    [10] The Swedes stand a chance in an even battle but this is not that
    [11] And that concludes the 1727 phase of this war, 1728 coming up.

    Word Count: 3756
     
  16. Lisowczycy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2019
    Location:
    USA
     
  17. Shnurre Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Great TL so far. I like a lot both your writing stile and the fact that your TL looks very plausible and well-researched. I especially like that you have show the motivation of all the parties in detail. Eagerly awaiting for more.

    So far Viennese Allies are doing reasonably great on all fronts and can be very satisfied for how 1727 was resolved. I do have a feeling though that these victories can make them overconfident and shame Hannoverians into committing more strongly in order to restore their honor. And if Britain and France (and to lesser extent Netherlands and Sardinia) commit fully, the perspectives of Viennese Allies look much less bright.


    Interesting to see Russia actually defeating Royal Navy and not as a result of some obscure lucky streak but because Russians knew their strengths and British weaknesses and were able to implement a brilliant plan that allowed them to play on those (the usage of fireships to make British fleet vulnerable to tide looks like some excellent admiralship).
    No doubt that ITTL prestige of Russian Navy would be much higher both internally and externally and can have some rather far-reaching consequences. IOTL Russian admirals were often extremely cautious if not outward cowardly when facing the possibility of fighting a real naval power e. g. Royal Navy (take for example Senyavin’s conduct in 1808 in Lisbon or the failure of Russian Black Sea fleet to sortie out of Sevastopol in the Crimean War). ITTL Kymmendale would undoubtedly lead to creation of epos promoting different behavior in Russian captains and admirals and making Russian Navy as a whole more aggressive and more daring that it was IOTL. I see captains raised believing that if they are crafty enough and the circumstances are right they can defeat even the strongest navy in the world picking different decisions than their OTL counterparts( e. g. attempting almost doomed sortie instead of “heroically self-sinking” like in situations similar to OTL Sevastopol or Port Arthur)
    Sorry if I am rambling but I wanted to show why I think the last chapter is a major divergence from OTL irrelevant how the whole war would be concluded.


    On a different note, I have managed to find a couple of typos in the last chapter:

    1. “the soldiers under Menshikov were green, undisciplined boys.” Negation is clearly missing.

    2. “Although Lewenhaupt's soldiers themselves were bad by most standards, they were not good enough”, again “were not bad” probably intended or were good.

    3. “Already lacy”: Lacy

    Also while it is probably a sailed ship, the usage of modern names for Saaremaa, Muhu and Vaike Strait looks immersion breaking to me. These locations were known to Russia as well as to the whole Europe by their German names (Ösel, Moon and Kleiner Sund respectively) all the way into XX century in the same way as Tallinn and Jelgava were known as Reval and Mitau and places in Finland by their Swedish names. While it is not that big of a deal seeing the battle and Russian warship called say Ösel or Esel (Эзель in Russian) or come to that Moonsund (after the whole archipelago where the battle happens) would make much more sense than calling it Saaremaa. After all we don’t call the battle and Russian battleship Hanko instead of Gangut, despite the fact that it is a Finnish name of the battle location.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
    J VonAxel, Falecius and HunterX like this.
  18. Colonel flagg Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2019
    The British are not happy at getting a large fleet destroyed by russia
     
  19. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    Now, this is plain unfair. Let's start with Lisbon Incident. After Alexander and Napoleon signed Tilsit Treaty, the former allies turned into the enemies. Senyavin was ordered to return to the Baltics with 5 battleships, 4 frigates, 4 corvettes, 4 brigs and the bad weather forced him to stop at Lisbon which soon afterwards was taken by the French (new allies) and blockaded by the Brits from the sea. Napoleon got from Alexander a privilege of "giving orders to Senyavin through the Russian embassy in Paris. He immediately demanded to replace British officers serving in Senyavin's squadron with the French or the Germans and advised Senyavin to exchange several ships with Junot. Napoleon's orders were politely ignored by the Russian admiral, who had no intention to risk the lives of his marines in pointless warfare against erstwhile friends and consequently professed his neutrality." Till August Senyavin was refusing the French demands to assist them against the Portuguese and Spaniards and Wellington took Lisbon. Senyavin was facing 15 British battleships and 10 frigates, to say nothing about coastal artillery. However, he maintained his neutrality and threatened to destroy Lisbon and his ships in the case of attack. "At last a convention was signed with the British admiral, Sir Charles Cotton, whereby the Russian squadron was to be escorted by the Royal Navy to London without lowering the Russian flags. Moreover, Senyavin was to assume supreme command of the joint Anglo-Russian fleet (as the senior officer of the two), while two Russian ships (Rafail and Yaroslav) were to be left in Lisbon for repairs." After some delays in Britain, squadron arrived to Riga. Was this a cowardice or a skillful diplomacy backed up by a high reputation Senyavin gained during the joined Russian-British operations on the Med?

    Example of the Crimean War is equally silly. The allied fleet had an overwhelming advantage in the steamships (Black Sea fleet had quite a few obsolete sails only ships of the line but only 6 steamships of frigate class; British squadron had 6 ships of the line with the steam engine plus smaller steamships; French had 1 ship of the line with a steam engine and 1 ironclad) and there was a choice between a pointless suicidal attack (which, BTW, was advocated by one of the most senior and reputable Russian admirals) and a meaningful usage of the available resources. With a "heroic" (can idiocy be considered heroic) destruction of the fleet Sevastopol would be easily lost due to a shortage of the resources. As it was, the naval artillery with the crews had been used for strengthening makeshift land side fortifications and the sailors had been sent to defend these fortifications. AFAIK, during the siege nobody had any reason to accuse these people in cowardice.

    Well, expeditions from the Baltic to the Med and operations there had been quite daring and AFAIK neither Ushakov nor Senyavin had been ever accused in a lack of aggressiveness. Actually, during the join operations of 1806 - 07 Senyavin proved to be both more successful than his British counterpart Sir John Thomas Duckworth: while Duckworth failed at the Dardanelles Senyavin managed establish effective blockade of Istanbul, defeat the Ottomans twice and establish control over the Aegean. And at the siege of Corfu Ushakov, by using his ships to suppress the coastal batteries, was noticeably more aggressive than Nelson at Malta.

    An argument about only the Brits counting as an opponent is not quite relevant taking into an account that the 1st real military confrontation between Britain and Russia was the CW.

    Port Arthur is another bad example: of course, its squadron was not well led most of the time but it did try to break through the Japanese blockade, even if unsuccessfully, conducted the mining operations and ended up being bottled in the bay under the fire of Japanese 11" guns, without the adequate repair facilities in the port and with the fortress being on a verge of a capitulation. IIRC, only one battleship was actually self-sunked in the port and this happened on the last stage of a siege. What exactly these sailors were supposed to do? If anything, the blame goes:
    (a) to the people who chose a lousy location for a naval base: most of the bay was too shallow for the capital ships leaving them only a tiny space out of which they could get out only one by one and only during the high tide. The adequate land side defenses were too costly so the cheaper option was chosen and even it was not completed. The port was surrounded by an ill-fortified high ground and as soon as the Japanese took it, ships in the bay went within the range of a heavy artillery.
    (b) general idiocy of an idea - having a naval base widely separated from the main territory works as long as there is no land side attack and, as soon as Port Arthur was cut off, it was doomed. Not that Singapore did better during the WWII.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  20. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    There are probably far more typos but thanks for finding these.

    I'm trying to use mainly period names like Fredrikshamm vs Hamina or Brunswick-Luneburg vs Hanover. But yeah I definitely haven't been perfect, so thanks for the tip.
     
Loading...