Baltic Blunder: Europe at war in 1727

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

  1. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    So far very interesting and obvious typos are not big deal but please don’t overdo Menshikov’s military adventures: getting too far and for too long from St. Petersburg could be quite unhealthy for him even if Catherine lives longer. Most probably, she is forced to add at least one Dolgoruki to the Supreme Privy Council (which would most probably happen due to the need not to antagonize a powerful clan) and Apraxin with a status of a national hero would not remain his friend for too long as well. So he needs to get back to the capital ASAP even if only with the “modest” laurels of the savior of St. Petersburg from the evil Swedes.

    Military reputation would not be a guarantee of a continued influence if somebody else gains Catherine’s trust and if you made her healthy enough to be still alive, she can pick herself some sweetheart with unpredictable political consequences (it is not like Alexashka was the only true love of her life and the Guards did not swear loyalty to him either). Michael Golitsin (fieldmarshal) would love to replace him as a head of a Military Collegium and he was a very popular figure in the army (not just a good general but also a chivalric figure, which was a rarity and an obvious contrast to an a—hole like Menshikov).

    In OTL being a successful General was not guaranteeing anything: Munnich was easily outmaneuvered by Osterman and Suvorov was sent to inspect fortifications on the Finnish border when he overestimated importance of his military fame.

    BTW, while all that glorious shooting keeps going, how about the Russian-British mutual trade interests?
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
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  2. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    Don't worry. Menshikov wants to get a lot done but he doesn't necessarily want to spend a long time doing it.

    I'm going to leave a more extensive discussion of that to Walpole as he uses it to attack Compton.
    alexmilman likes this.
  3. Threadmarks: 12: Masterpiece at Munster

    Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    12: Masterpiece at Munster
    Viennese cavalry at Munster

    After months of preparations and planning, Alexander Menshikov and his army finally left St. Petersburg in February and began their long grueling westward march. This army did not reach the promised 60000 soldiers. Instead, Menshikov had little over 50000. Among these 50000 men were many veterans from the Great Northern War against Sweden and the Russo-Persian War; however, the large size of the army meant it also contained a number of recent recruits. These recruits were unaccustomed to the difficulties and deprivations of an army on the march, which immediately caused trouble for the aged Menshikov. As Menshikov marched through Russia he lost many soldiers to fatigue and desertion. On top of that, every two to three days Menshikov had to halt his advance just so that the men could rest. Despite these problems, Menshikov still strove forward, he had victory in his eyes and he would let nothing stop that.

    Menshikov's determination to drive himself into the heart of Germany was matched by King George II's determination to remain in that heart of Germany. John Campbell, the Duke of Argyll and supposed supreme commander of the Army of Hanover, had seen the defeat at Bienenbuttel as a condemnation of the viability of fighting in Germany when Britain's enemies included the Hapsburgs, Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, and Cologne. King George, however, responded only with anger and contempt at the suggestion of abandoning his homeland [1]. George went so far as to place the blame of Bienenbuttel at Argyll's feet and to question Argyll's competence. George proclaimed that Argyll's record was nothing more than a retreat [2] and a skirmish with brigands [3]. Although both George and Argyll took offense at each other's words neither was willing to act on that offense as Argyll did not resign and George did not dismiss him. Argyll hoped he could still change the young King's mind and retain his favor while George feared that the next general would be no better. Thus throughout the spring, the Army of Hanover stayed stationary in southern Brunswick-Luneburg.

    During this spring, Argyll was not the only person to face King George's wrath. In the aftermath of Bienenbuttel, George witnessed his son, Frederick or Griff, be treated as a hero by the common Brunswicker-Luneburger soldiers who he had saved from rout at Bienenbuttel. Even though George was their elector the people of Brunswick-Luneburg they barely knew him and barely loved him. George could not stand this fact and despised his son for it. Often times during councils of war George railed against his son if he dared to offer an opinion. Several officers of Brunswick-Luneburg were displeased by George's treatment of Griff, however, they sought to protect their careers and so they stood by silently. The ambition of these officers even led them to agree with George when he asked them if he was correct in his assessment of Griff's ability. Griff struggled to understand why his father was such a cruel stranger to him but desperately desired to gain his love. As a result, Griff took every hit that George threw his way and did not fight back no matter how much he was hurt [4].

    Ultimately, when Menshikov's army marched into Brandenburg the Hanoverian Alliance's situation became untenable, and George finally acceded to Argyll's demands and agreed to an evacuation of Brunswick-Luneburg. To accomplish this evacuation it was agreed that the Army of Hanover would march to Bremen-Verden and then depart from Bremen with the assistance of the Royal Navy. Just as Argyll had achieved the escape of the entire Austracista army from Spain in 1713, Argyll intended to rescue the Army of Hanover from Brunswick-Luneburg [5]. In early May, Agryll marched out of Celle and began to make his way towards Bremen. However, his march would not be unopposed.

    Although letting the Hanoverians run would have allowed Peter Lacy to take the rest of Brunswick-Luneburg without any loss of life, his standing orders demanded otherwise. Empress Catherine and Menshikov had been explicit: Brunswick-Luneburg must be destroyed with fire and blood. Simply capturing the electorate would not be enough for this monarch and that despot and Lacy knew it. With that thought in mind, Lacy did not hesitate to march into Bremen-Verden as soon as Argyll moved towards it. Swiftly, Russian troops under General Maurice overran much of the duchy and secured many of its strategic points. However, the all-important port of Bremen remained in the hands of forces loyal to the Hanoverian Alliance, which meant that escape was still position. Meanwhile, the rest of the Viennese Army turned southward to confront the Hanoverians and deny them the chance to depart.

    Early June after much maneuvering and marching, Argyll finally made his attempt to dash to Bremen. With a couple of night marches, Argyll quickly closed the distance between his army and Bremen. However, Lacy was fast too and when Argyll neared Achim he found a large army awaiting him. Rather than dare to try to best Lacy on the field, Argyll again tried to outrun him. During the night of June 7th, the Hanoverian army crossed the Weser River in an effort to go around Lacy. Yet Lacy had not been a fool to not see this coming, so when Argyll's tired troops approached the Eiter River they found the bridge they wished to cross already occupied by a force of Russian soldiers under the command of Charles Frederick. This opposition did not please Argyll as he had hoped to evade any detection or resistance. Still, Argyll recognized that Charles had only a small troop of men and Argyll needed to cross that bridge.

    After quickly organizing a few formations of infantry, Argyll ordered the first assault against the bridge. As the British soldiers advanced they were peppered with musket fire and hit hard by the Russian artillery battery. Exhausted and frightened this assault broke up and ran back towards the rest of the Hanoverian army. Argyll and his colleagues, however, could not allow this first failure to deter them. They needed to cross that bridge. If they did not then they could not escape. Thus another assault was sent forth. This one actually made it to the bridge only for the Russian infantrymen to break apart and reveal a cannon which then blasted apart the formation of British soldiers. Again the soldiers came running back and again Argyll ordered more men forward. This time two formations offered covering fire on the flanks of the bridge whilst the assault force fixed their bayonets and bravely charged forward. Their melee struggle with the Russians, however, was rebuffed just like the ones before. At this point, George took command and ordered a full assault of the bridge whilst other men were meant to ford the river. Crowded on the bridge the Hanoverians could not use their numbers to their advantage. At the same time, the soldiers wading through the river were welcomed by some submerged caltrops and wooden spikes. Nevertheless, with difficulty and death, the Hanoverians pushed forward on the bridge and made it to the other bank. Next, with a hideous thundering, the bridge exploded and tens of Hanoverian soldiers were instantly killed or injured by the explosion of fire and debris. Amidst this chaos, the Russians counterattacked and murdered the men who had made it across the bridge and had succeeded in fording the river.

    The demolition of the bridge instantly made crossing the Eiter a more formidable task but not an impossible one, not even with Charles Frederick on the opposite bank. Thus the Hanoverians prepared for another strike against the Charles Frederick. However, that strike was never made. To the north, Danish scouts had spotted Russian horsemen riding towards Charles Frederick's aid. Even if the Hanoverians finally did dislodge the stalwart Holsteiner they would then have to defeat the menacing Lacy. Worse yet, if Lacy was fast enough he might catch the Hanoverians while they were still crossing the river, the river which now had no bridge. Argyll, George, Reventlow, they all knew that the safe crossing they had planned was no more and with it the plans to escape through Bremen had also vanished. With sad hearts and a sense of damnation, they called off the final attack and ordered a retreat back towards Celle [6].

    The Battle of Thedinghausen Bridge although minor in terms of the number of men who were actually engaged in combat and the death toll was still strategically significant. The Hanoverian forces had spent weeks plotting to escape through Bremen and then maneuvering to actually get close to Bremen only to fail in the end. In the meantime, Menshikov's army was allowed to march ever closer to Brunswick-Luneburg. Once Menshikov arrived in Brunswick-Luneburg the Hanoverian situation would certainly change from difficult to impossible. Within the Hanoverian army, the defeat only further worsened morale issues and the feeling of despair heightened the rate of desertion. Additionally, the hostility between King George and the Duke of Argyll rose to a much more dangerous and damaging level. King George lost almost all the respect he had left for the general. George went on to take supreme command of the army for himself and relegated Argyll to the simple commander of the British contingent. Furthermore, the Royal Navy had dedicated considerable resources towards readying an evacuation force [7]. Instead of these resources being used to bolster the Caribbean squadron or protect the Mediterranean they were wasted in the North Sea. Overall, failure at Thedinghausen was very harmful to the military situation of the Hanoverian Alliance.

    On the opposing side, the Battle of Thedinghausen was viewed as another sign of Russia ascendancy and superiority. Despite being massively outnumbered, Charles Frederick and his Russian soldiers withstood multiple enemy attacks over the course of a couple of hours. Furthermore, the Russians had lost less than 200 men whereas they killed or injured nearly 1000 enemies. The victory, importantly, prevented the Hanoverian escape while also preserving the Hanoverian army to be challenged by Menshikov himself. This situation is exactly what Lacy needed to accomplish and he had done it. In the following two weeks, the Viennese Alliance solidified their occupation of Bremen-Verden and took control of Bremen and Stade, which removed the threat of a future escape by sea.

    In this new reality, the Army of Hanover was running out of options and out of time. No matter which way the Hanoverians looked all they could see were enemies. To the north, Lacy and Friedrich Wilhelm complicated any march towards Holstein and the rest of Denmark-Norway's army. To the east, Menshikov made Brandenburg unwelcoming. To the south, Wolfenbuttel and Saxony provided no good means of escape. To the west, Munster was possessed by the House of Wittelsbach and might be filled with the soldiers of Elector Charles Albert and Prince Eugene if the Hanoverians dared march there. The Hanoverians were surrounded and if they did not move then they would slowly be strangled and all hope be lost. With much debate, the Hanoverian generals discussed which route of escape would be their best chance. Ultimately, the French inability to provide a guarantee that they could hold Prince Eugene forced the Army of Hanover to look in one direction alone, north [8].

    The next many days saw the Army of Hanover desperately gather as many supplies as possible so that they could sprint towards Holstein and join with the Danish-Norwegian army there. Even though the Hanoverians readied themselves as fast as they could, it was not enough. On July 6th, Menshikov crossed the eastern perimeter of the electorate and gave the Viennese army a more than two to one advantage over the Hanoverians. However, with Lacy concentrated in Bremen-Verden and Menshikov only in Luneburg, there was still a chance. The Hanoverians might still escape Brunswick-Luneburg and escape obliteration. Driven by this hope, the Hanoverian army soon departed from the city of Hanover and began their march towards Holstein and towards safety.

    Fortunately for the Hanoverian Alliance, Menshikov's march had not gone as well as Lacy's. Obviously, Menshikov's march had taken much longer but on top of that Menshikov had suffered far more attrition than Lacy had. While Lacy took Russia's best west he had managed to maintain a tight and disciplined march with limited desertion and disease. The same could not be said for Menshikov's army. By the time it reached Brunswick-Luneburg Menshikov's army had lost 6000 men to fatigue, disease, and desertion. This was more men than the Army of Hanover had killed thus far. Even with these losses, Menshikov's army was still a force to reckoned with. The core of the army was made up of hardened veterans and Menshikov himself was a more than capable commander. The Hanoverian army needed to be careful if it wanted to get out of Brunswick-Luneburg intact.

    Considering the sustained Viennese garrison at Luneburg and the close proximity of the Prussian army in Pomerania, the Hanoverians preferred to escape through the western half of the electorate rather than the east even though the west was where Lacy laid. The escape plan King George and Reventlow formulated relied heavily on simply outrunning and outsmarting Lacy as difficult as that was. Warily the Hanoverian army marched northward before making a dramatic bolt out of Soltau. While a small force feinted to the east of the Luneburg Heath, the main army run into the west. Lacy, however, was one of the most formidable commanders of this period and was not easily taken by fakes. Swiftly, Lacy's army moved towards Neuenkirchen and provided too great a threat to the Hanoverians, which forced their march to come to a sudden halt.

    George, despite his many faults, was not an idiot. He had hoped and prayed that he could sneak by Lacy but he had known there was a very real possibility he would not. Thus when the Hanoverian army found itself opposed by Lacy it was not paralyzed, it was not shocked, and it was not unprepared. At first, the Hanoverian army made a quiet and expected retreat back southward after another apparent failure. However, midway through the night, the Hanoverian camp outside of Soltau was awakened and orders were bellowed out. By 4 am,the Hanoverian camp had been disassembled and the army began to march this time to the east. Although George and Reventlow knew that Menshikov would probably be waiting for them, they believed that they could overpower him before Lacy would be able to reach him. To help slow down Lacy's army, a sizable rearguard was left behind. If the Hanoverian army could beat Menshikov and the rearguard and delay Lacy then the road towards Holstein would be wide open and from there they would continue the fight.

    At around 8:30 am on July 18th, the Hanoverian army found Menshikov's army positioned in the village of Munster. Once again the Russians had positioned themselves on a riverbank and sought to throwback this Hanoverian escape attempt. However, the Hanoverians were not going to just throw themselves at the Russians again. This time the Russians were not just a small formation but were instead an entire army. Consequently, George prepared for a full-blown battle. As the army began to draw itself into battlelines, George hosted a final war council to decide how to best overcome Menshikov. George decided that this time the British would be the left, the Germans would make up the centre, and the Danish-Norwegians would control the right [9]. Prince Frederick was placed with the British troops under Argyll's command while George would lead his electoral soldiers himself. The army would advance and lay down heavy fire on the Russians before charging at them and breaking through them.

    On the opposite side, Menshikov had arrayed his army so that his veteran formations and his newer formations were interspersed. This way he hoped to mitigate any lack of discipline or displays of fear. Between these formations, Menshikov had placed his artillery batteries because he lacked any suitable elevation to justify placing them behind his army. All of these soldiers were dug in behind the riverbank and bogs of Munster. Menshikov had not had the time to turn the rivers into the same of horror that the Eiter had been for the Hanoverians. However, the bogs provided their own method of deterring attackers.

    At 12:15 pm the battle finally commenced as the Hanoverians had finally pieced together their army [10]. According to the plan, the Hanoverian army marched forward and began to fire volley after volley into the Russian formations. However, once again the Russians proved their mettle as traded back every volley the Hanoverians gave them. Along the Hanoverian left flank, the British soldiers struggled to make it past the Russians because the river curved to the north and thus guarded the Russian flank. On the Hanoverian right flank, the river curved in the opposite direction to the south and with it so did the Russian line. As a result, the Danish-Norwegian soldiers were unable to round the Russian flank and had their numerical advantage limited. For more than two hours this brutal firefight continued as the Russians showed no sign of weakening or breaking. Wherever a young soldier hesitated he looked around and saw the soldiers of the Peter the Great fighting with everything they had. Up and down the lines Menshikov rode rallying every soldier who wavered and demonstrating no fear as bullets and cannonballs whizzed past him.

    At around 2:50 pm, George received news that Lacy was attacking his rearguard in Soltau. Immediately, George grew anxious about how long the battle had gone on without any real progress and he worried that his rearguard would not be able to hold long enough. Desperate to achieve victory and reach safety, the King ordered the Hanoverian army to attach its bayonets and assault the Russians. Lacking any sort of bridge, the Hanoverians only path was through the waters of the river and the bogs [11]. As the soldiers trudged through these waters many were shot and some dropped. Upon reaching the opposite bank the Hanoverian soldiers were met with a fear wooden stakes and a heavy rain of fire. At this point, some formations were turned back. Others, however, struggled forward and charged right at the Russian brutes. In the harsh melee that followed the ragged and disheveled Hanoverian soldiers unleashed themselves on the hated Russian foes. In the centre, the German soldiers were severely rebuked after only an hour of combat. On the Hanoverian right, the Danish-Norwegians later managed to overpower the southern length of the Russian army. Whereas on the Hanoverian left, the British and Russians infantry still contested the ground. In this heavy and bloody brawl, the Hanoverians seemed as if they might actually succeed.

    Come 4 pm the Hanoverian hopes, however, were crushed. Thousands of Russian, Prussian, and Saxon cavalry emerged on the western horizon and surged towards the British on the left. George was completely surprised. No word of his rearguard falling had arrived, yet somehow the Viennese cavalry was here. It did not make any sense but with thousands of enemies smashing into his flank George need not think about how these enemies had gotten here. George instead needed to figure out how to respond to it. Unfortunately, his centre was still in disarray after its failed assault and much of the Hanoverian reserves had already been committed. The reserves that George had left he quickly dispatched to his left and just prayed that it would be enough.

    Already engaged with Russian soldiers in the front and with many British soldiers split between the two banks of the river, the Hanoverian left flank is a horrible position when the Viennese reinforcements arrived. The initial shock of the cavalry charge broke some of the British units in morale and those which still stood struggled to form up and react effectively. At this moment, Frederick of Hanover, the young Griff, once again displayed his courage and relentlessness as he rode towards fray rather than away from it. Inspired by Griff's example, the British soldiers rallied and began to fight back against the Viennese cavalry with the aid of some fresh reserves. However, this moment did not last long. Now, Viennese infantrymen arrived too and joined the epic melee while also laying down fire where they could. Outnumbered and completed enveloped the British soldiers found themselves the victims of a massacre. Being cut down by Saxon cavalry, gunned down by Prussian musketeers, and run through by Russian footmen, the British were shattered and destroyed.

    The arrival of further Viennese soldiers was not something which King George could understand. It did not make any sense and George did not want it to make sense, not as part of his army was being utterly crushed. George was stunned and so was his army. As his German troops wavered, Menshikov launched his counterattack and thousands of Russian soldiers streamed forth. With the Hanoverian left flank having collapsed, the Viennese soldiers were able to attack the German centre from both the flank and the front. Even overwhelmed and demoralized the German soldiers still put up a good fight before finally being dispersed and defeated by 6 pm. Many of the German soldiers were captured right there and then. Others would be captured by Viennese cavalry and scouts over the next few days.

    The only Hanoverian soldiers who escaped the slaughter at Munster were the Danish-Norwegians and a small group of Germans. Having actually been winning their part of the battle, the Danish-Norwegians had been close to turning the Russian flank before the arrival of Viennese reinforcements. At that point, the Danish-Norwegians continued to fight hard but as they realized just how dire the situation was they instead chose to run while they still could. With them, they took a few thousand Brunswicker-Luneburger men. Among these men was King George II. However, during their retreat, they did end up having to sacrifice further soldiers to delay the Viennese troops just a little longer. Even with the brave sacrifice of those men, the retreat was not easy. The escapees barely stopped or rested in their run towards Holstein. Along the way, many injured men had to be left behind to preserve the speed and integrity of the rest of the army. When the force finally reached the friendly arms of the Danish army in Holstein, it was a starved and damaged thing. Of course, the army lacked any heavy artillery or significant war materials.

    As George later found out, his rearguard had not failed him. Early on July 18th, Lacy was suddenly woken up by General Maurice because the scouts had spotted movement near Soltau. Instantly, Lacy realized that Menshikov was at great risk and with all haste he prepared his army to march to Menshikov's aid. Due to the size of his army and the need for artillery, Lacy had little choice but to march the army towards Soltau. However, Maurice postulated that such a maneuver might take too long and Menshikov could be defeated before Lacy could come to his aid. For this reason, Maurice suggested that Lacy give him 10000 of the best troops that they had so that Maurice could march straight through the Luneburg Heath and reach Menshikov before any disaster could befall him. In an acknowledgment of Maurice's skill and a show of trust, Lacy approved Maurice's plan. Thus while Lacy marched towards Soltau, Maurice went towards the Heath [12].

    Although Maurice's march was difficult he was correct in believing that he could do it and that it was necessary. As Maurice had joined the fight at Munster, Lacy had only just defeated the hard Hessian and Brunswicker-Luneburger rearguard that George had left for him. Had Maurice instead stayed with Lacy then Menshikov's probably would have faltered. At the moment Maurice arrived the British had been making progress and the Danish-Norwegians were already winning their part of the battle. Within an hour or two, Menshikov's flanks could have folded and with it his army destroyed and the Hanoverian army's escape achieved. Instead, Maurice arrived just when he was needed most and routed the Hanoverian army.

    In military terms, the Battles of Munster and Soltau amounted to a military catastrophe for the Hanoverian Alliance. The casualties suffered by the Hanoverians were devastating. More than 14000 Hanoverian soldiers had been killed in battle among them was the Duke of Argyll. A further 13000 men were captured in the immediate aftermath of the battle. This list of prisoners included the Frederick of Hanover. Only 19000 men made it to the safety of Holstein. The last 9000 men were later regrouped in the City of Hanover but there a position was doomed. Accompanying these losses of men, the Hanoverian Alliance lost all ability to contest the control of Brunswick-Luneburg and its dependencies. The region was the Viennese Alliance's to take and would take it in the succeeding weeks. With the Hanoverian threat in Germany vanquished, the Viennese Alliance would be able to refocus and redouble its efforts towards achieving mastery of the Rhine and of the Baltic Coast.

    Regarding the victor of Munster, Menshikov, obviously, treated the victory as an extreme triumph. Despite the fact that the Viennese Alliance suffered nearly 8000 casualties at Munster, Menshikov still had much to be proud of. He had held his ground against a superior foe and, in the end, he and Maurice had shattered the Army of Hanover. The sheer number of casualties inflicted on the Hanoverians alone justified calling Munster the sort of great victory Menshikov had been aiming for. Additionally, the strategic result of the battle made this success comparable to Peter's victory at Poltava. Finally, the carnage of the battle had matched exactly the havoc which the Empress and Menshikov had envisioned when they called for the destruction of Brunswick-Luneburg. All in all, Menshikov was one step closer to his full glory.

    Maurice, the other hero of Munster, also had much to be happy about in the aftermath of the battle. Although publically Menshikov made sure to take as much credit for the victory as possible and to play down the importance of Maurice's intervention, in private Menshikov did recognize the true role of Maurice. Seeing as Menshikov was still the first man of Russian politics, this private praise was a significant breakthrough for Maurice is in ambitions to regain the Duchy of Courland. However, Maurice still had a ways to go. Menshikov was grateful towards Maurice but Maurice was not first among Menshikov's friends [13]. In terms of military advancement, Munster solidified Maurice's place as a top-tier Russian general rather than just one of its many talented subordinate commanders.

    The duo of Lacy and Prince Leopold were able to mark down another victory due to their intelligent command at Soltau. Although the Hessian and Brunswicker-Luneburger rearguard had put up an impressive fight, Lacy and Leopold were able to overcome them with just 700 men being lost. However, as mentioned earlier, the rearguard did waste enough time that Lacy's army did not reach Munster before the battle concluded. Fortunately, Lacy's dispatching of Maurice was enough and Menshikov honored Lacy for the brilliance of it. Underneath Lacy, Duke Charles Frederick of Holstein and Frederick Augustus of Rutowsky fought with a distinction worthy of notice [14]. In Charles Frederick's case, his bravery and leadership contributed to the Russian breakthrough of the enemy lines. While in Hans Hermann's case, his natural aptitude for war resulted in the rearguard's retreat being cut off and thousands of Hanoverian soldiers being captured.

    Immediately following the Battles of Munster and Soltau and their subsequent chases, the Viennese Alliance turned towards finishing their conquest of Brunswick-Luneburg. Already Luneburg, Bremen-Verden, and Lauenburg were under Viennese occupation, however, Brunswick, Osnabruck, and Gottingen remained in the hands of the remnants of the Army of Hanover. Rather than take these locations one by one, Menshikov split up the Viennese army. The King Augustus the Strong and the Saxons were sent to Gottingen, Maurice and some Russians were deployed to Osnabruck, Lacy and Leopold were tasked with taking Celle, and Menshikov himself went for Brunswick-Luneburg's crown, Hanover. Over a period of three weeks, all of these places either surrendered or were overwhelmed.

    In Hanover itself, the defending commander realized the impossibility of his situation and was also scared that the Russian demands for the destruction of Brunswick-Luneburg would actually be carried out. As a result, the commander offered to surrender his whole army of 9000 men and allow them to be imprisoned so long as the city was unharmed. Although a surrender typically lacked the excitement which Menshikov sought, a surrender on this scale was utterly humiliating for the Hanoverian Alliance and was more than enough to appease Menshikov's power-lust. The subsequent Convention of Hanover marked the official end of the Viennese campaign against Brunswick-Luneburg.

    With Brunswick-Luneburg conquered the Viennese Alliance showed its first cracks. After the conquest was finished, Menshikov asked the Saxon army to return to him so that they could pivot towards Holstein. However, King Augustus cared little for the affairs of Holstein and the ambitions of Menshikov. Augustus occupied the territories he wished to control and he had the political clout that he knew he could keep them when peace negotiations arrived. Instead, Augustus turned towards the Holy Roman Emperor, who still had prizes to offer the Elector of Saxony. The Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, Ferdinand Albert II, felt the same way and he too refused the calls of Menshikov [15]. The same could not be said for the Prussians and Mecklenburgers. Although the Prussians had taken most of Pomerania, Stralsund remained under Swedish control and until it was taken the Prussians felt the need to play nice with the Russians. For Charles Leopold of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the Danish presence in Holstein was too great a threat to his newly captured Duchy of Lauenburg. Thus it was only Russia, Prussia, and Mecklenburg which still stood to oppose Denmark-Norway.

    Menshikov like Augustus did not actually care about Holstein. Menshikov recognized that the duchy had some importance to Empress Catherine who had married both of her daughters to princes of Holstein. However, Menshikov's command of Russian politics was so dominant that taking Holstein would do little to grow his power. Indeed, the effects of spending so much time away from St. Petersburg to conquer Holstein could overweigh the political gains of actually taking it. Yet politics so far had not been Menshikov's reason for personally this war and politics certainly played little part in Menshikov's decision to go after Holstein. Already, Menshikov had defeated the Swedes and the British but he not defeated the Danish-Norwegians. Indeed, they were the ones who had escaped Munster. Furthermore, Menshikov had won just two good victories, Fredrikshamm and Munster, but he wanted three. Holstein and the army of Denmark-Norway offered an opportunity to find that third victory and Menshikov wanted it badly [16].

    The Hanoverian army in Holstein was made up of 40000 Danish-Norwegian soldiers and 1000 German survivors from Munster. Although King George was counted among the army's generals, the composition of the army made it so that Reventlow's authority was supreme and that all the important positions were held by Danish-Norwegian commanders. This army was quite formidable in numbers and in skill. However, Reventlow was presented with a true challenge when he saw the army which Menshikov had. With 3000 Mecklenburgers, 32000 Prussians, and 50000 Russians Menshikov assembled an army of 85000 soldiers, more than twice the number Reventlow had. Of course, this number was commanded by men such as Maurice of Saxony, Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau, and Hans Heinrich Graf von Katte. Furthermore, Reventlow had an incredibly long boundary to defend and not a heavily fortified one at that. In fewer words, Reventlow's task was a tall order.

    To invade Holstein, Menshikov placed the majority of his army in Lauenburg and near Altoona. Reventlow matched this array as best as he could but, of course, was outnumbered in both places. As Reventlow dug in, Maurice detached himself from Menshikov's army with 20000 men and marched north along the right bank of the Elbe. From this maneuver, it was obvious to Reventlow that Maurice intended to cross the Elbe and threaten Reventlow's rear. However, Reventlow could do little to stop Maurice. The disparity in numbers between the Danish-Norwegians and the Viennese meant that if Reventlow sent a significant force to defend against Maurice then Reventlow himself would doubtless be attacked and perhaps overwhelmed. Instead, Reventlow could only send 4000 men and just hope they could rebuff Maurice's crossing.

    Rapidly Maurice marched northward along the Elbe but the small Danish-Norwegian army was able to match his speed. Subsequently, Maurice split his army into four and dispersed the different sections along the river, which forced the Danish-Norwegians to do likewise. Finally, as Maurice marched on of these sections north during the day he reversed course at night and then quietly began to cross the river. By morning 4000 Viennese soldiers had amassed in Holstein 7 miles south of Gluckstadt. As the Danish-Norwegian soldiers tried to regroup they left other portions of the river unprotected and so by the end of the day all 20000 soldiers had crossed the Elbe and Holstein security had been breached.

    At this point, Reventlow decided to retreat. The Danish general recognized that his situation was untenable and that he had been beaten. Maurice was a talented commander who might be able to hold out long enough for Menshikov and Lacy to rescue him, which made turning on Maurice a risky decision. Attacking Menshikov's main army was simply out oft he question. The best option and the safest course of action for Reventlow was to concede Holstein and retreat to better ground with shorter lines. For this reason, Reventlow quickly ordered the Danish-Norwegian army to evacuate towards Schleswig and not risk getting caught out by a Viennese pincer attack. Although the decision was a tough one to make it was the right one. Earlier that year, King George's reluctance to give up Brunswick-Luneburg had resulted in the destruction of the Army of Hanover and Brunswick-Luneburg still fell. Here, presented with the same situation, Reventlow chose to preserve his army's strength and trade Holstein so that Schleswig could stand a better chance of surviving [17].

    For the Viennese, the Danish-Norwegian evacuation was a military coup that allowed them to quickly retake Holstein-Gottorp and also occupy Holstein-Gluckstadt. However, Reventlow's withdrawal had deprived Menshikov of his third victory on the field. Despite the success, Menshikov wanted more and was not yet ready to give up on his dreams of a decisive defeat of the Danish-Norwegians. Consequently, when Charles Frederick asked for Menshikov to continue on to Schleswig and retake the duchy for his family, Menshikov acceded. If Holstein could not provide Menshikov with a battle than Schleswig must. However, as the Viennese army began to make its moves towards Schleswig, terrible news arrived.

    To the east, as the Viennese forces under Lacy and Menshikov conquered Brunswick-Luneburg and then Holstein, Prussians under King Friedrich Wilhelm had been continuing their siege against Stralsund. The hardened fortress of Stralsund had managed to survive the dedicated effort of the Prussians for over a year without showing any signs of falling. As the key to Pomerania, Stralsund's capture was necessary to assure the Prussian domination of Pomerania, which is why Friedrich Wilhelm had continued to please and court the Russians even after Brunswick-Luneburg had fallen. He had hoped that after defeating Denmark-Norway the Russian armies would turn to help take Stralsund. Failing that, if Stralsund should survive the war then Friedrich Wilhelm would need Russia to use its victories in Finland to gain Stralsund for Prussia.

    All of this began to change on September 2nd when a lucky mortar shot hit some barrels of powder and ripped a hole in the Stralsund's outer wall. Eager to throw off the shackles of Russian military and political superiority, Friedrich Wilhelm did not hesitate to order an assault of the breach. That evening hundreds of Prussian soldiers stormed towards the breach taking cannon shot after cannons hot and volley after volley without breaking formation. Upon reaching the wall, the Prussian soldiers fearlessly climbed through the rumble and viciously pushed back the Swedes from the wall [18]. Despite repeated Swedish counterattacks, these Prussian soldiers held on to this position and allowed for reinforcements to flood into the outer defenses of Stralsund.

    With Stralsund's outer wall under Prussian control, Friedrich Wilhelm demanded the inner citadel surrender. However, the brave Swedish defenders refused. Friedrich Wilhelm then began to reestablish siege lines within Stralsund so that he could pound the citadel into submission. Before he did this, a young officer, Kurt Christoph of Schwerin, presented Friedrich Wilhelm with a plan to attack the citadel with an escalade attack and then open the gates for the rest of the Prussian army. Friedrich Wilhelm was unsure of the plan but he recognized Schwerin's two decades of experience and constant demonstration of competence and gave Schwerin permission to proceed [19]. Two days later during the night of September 5th, Schwerin and his soldiers quietly and slowly crawled towards the Citadel and got within 100 yards without detection. For the last length, Schwerin's men broke out into a mad sprint towards the walls, musket in one hand and ladder in the other. The Swedish sentries were taken by complete surprise but were still able to raise the alarm. Swedish troops began rushing towards the walls in their nightcaps to repel the attack. And in most cases, they succeeded with four of the six escalades failing. However, with the two units that did successfully establish themselves within the citadel, Schwerin was able to battle his way towards the gate and open it. Within 15 minutes hundreds more Prussian soldiers rushed into the citadel and overran the Swedish garrison. Two hours later, the Swedish commander surrendered and Stralsund was Prussia's.

    For Schwerin's part in taking Stralsund, he was raised to the title of count, made a major-general within the Prussian army, and given extensive financial awards. This was exactly the sort of man which Friedrich Wilhelm sought in all his officers, a man of daring and talent. These traits were also exactly what Friedrich Wilhelm wanted for his own son, who admittingly had shown some promise during the siege and was not the complete coward his father feared he would be.

    From a military and political standpoint, the fall of Stralsund had a considerable impact on Empress Catherine's War. As expected, the capture of the city gave the Prussians full and unchallenged control of Pomerania. All the Prussians had to do was keep control of Stralsund till the end of the war and they should be able to retain it. Considering the fact that Holstein and Brunswick-Luneburg had already been conquered, no German threat to Stralsund existed. There was also no reason to believe that the Swedes would retake Stralsund on their own as they were being pummeled by the Russians in Finland. Altogether, Friedrich Wilhelm had accomplished his wall goals and now lacked any reason to continue to support the aggrandizement of Russian power in Germany. As a result, his next orders to Prince Leopold proved very damaging to Menshikov and Charles Frederick's ambitions.

    With no reason to fight on and all the reasons to stop fighting at all, Prince Leopold separated himself from Menshikov's army and retreated back towards Brunswick-Luneburg. The loss of the Prussians hurt Menshikov's plans to run over Reventlow and his Danish-Norwegian army as Menshikov's army had dropped to just 53000 men. This number of soldiers was still considerably greater than Reventlow's army in Schleswig but the numbers were close enough to warrant some concern. Instead of recklessly chasing after Reventlow, Menshikov now carefully and cautiously pursued the Dane. With the few weeks of campaigning that Menshikov had left he tried to get Reventlow to meet Menshikov on favorable ground but each time Reventlow conceded and avoided the disadvantageous fights that Menshikov offered [20].

    When the campaigning season came to a close, the Viennese Alliance had undoubtedly won the Northern seat of conflict. Brunswick-Luneburg and all its dependencies were occupied, Pomerania was captured, and Holstein was possessed. Furthermore, the main Hanoverian army was destroyed and the crown prince of Great Britain and Brunswick-Luneburg had been captured. However, the indefatigable Viennese Alliance began to strain. The Germans had been willing to fight alongside the Russians so long as they had to. Now that Prussia, Saxony, and Wolfenbuttel saw no further reason to fight for the Russians they left the Russians to fight with just the Holsteiners and Mecklenburgers. This shift in the strategic situation gave Denmark-Norway the reprieve it desperately needed and also thwarted Menshikov's efforts to complete his crown of victories, at least for 1728 that is.

    [1] King George II like OTL is very attached to Hanover. Historically, he spent a lot of time in Hanover after ascending the throne just like his father before him which damaged his popularity in Great Britain. The current popularity of his son in Hanover only intensifies George's attachment to Hanover. George does not want to seem like he failed his subjects and like he is not committed to them. He does not want them to prefer this man he barely knows over himself their God-given ruler.
    [2] Argyll's evacuation of the Army of Spain in 1713
    [3] Argyll's defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Sherrifmuir.
    [4] OTL Frederick of Hanover/Wales tried very hard to please his father and get in his good graces when he first reunited with him. Frederick had gone up with almost no family except the occasional visits from his grandfather and granduncle, so Frederick really wanted a sense of family and love. This is why he takes his father's harsh criticism. He does not want to provoke further anger or estrangement in his father.
    [5] Austracista was a name for the pro-Hapsburg forces in Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession.
    [6] Although another assault or two might have actually succeeded if the Hanoverians tried hard enough, they really are worried that they will just allow themselves to get caught out by the Viennese and so they give up and fall back.
    [7] The Royal Navy essentially committed a full fleet and countless support vessels to this operation, which pretty massive for what is essentially just a transport convoy.
    [8] Fleury does not want to raise and deploy another army which could protect the escape of the Army of Hanover. All Fleury can do is try and distract Prince Eugene with Villars' army. However, Villars is still on the wrong side of the Rhine so there is no guarantee that he can't stop Eugene.
    [9] King George wants an excuse to fight with the Germans hence them being in the centre. Kings typically fight on the right or the centre. The Danish-Norwegians are better than the Germans so they are given the right as they have a better chance of flanking the enemy. That only leaves the centre for George and the Germans.
    [10] Typically it took hours to set up for a pitched battle hence the delay in the battle start and when the armies see each other.
    [11] Bogs are not fun at all for soldiers. Going through dark muddy water with uncertain depths is always a hazard. The river is less of a problem but it is still not a cakewalk.
    [12] Lacy is basically trying to do a V and Maurice going straight. Lacy, however, gets to go using a road whereas Maurice has to make his way through the woods.
    [13] Maurice got Menshikov's favor but he did not instantly earn himself Courland. Maurice will have to provide further services if he wants the Russians to support him in Courland.
    [14] Frederick Augustus is already a major general despite being in his twenties. This is because he is Augustus the Strong's bastard. However, he is talented anyways so he gets to use that talent here and start building up his reputation.
    [15] In case you are wondering why little Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel is asking as tough as an ancient electorate, Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel is directly tied to the Holy Roman Emperor and for that reason is able to act high and mighty.
    [16] Everything is better in threes, right? So far Menshikov has a victory over a minor Swedish army and a bloody victory over the Hanoverians. Menshikov wants a beautiful and clean victory over the Danish-Norwegians.
    [17] Reventlow had a terrible position to defend and he did his best. He decides to trade space for time and for better ground. Turns out to be the right decision as Menshikov's army loses 32000 men while Reventlow loses "0"*
    *Aside from disease, etc.
    [18] The Prussians are already becoming one of the better-trained armies and this is a demonstration of that.
    [19] Schwerin is already a known quantity in Prussian military affairs. However, Schwerin is not yet a top general of the Prussian army. Because of his existing reputation he is able to speak to Friedrich Wilhelm about his plan and is able to get it approved.
    [20] Reventlow does not take Menshikov's bait and keeps maneuvering. Reventlow is not conceding Schleswig, he is trading pieces of it back and forth with the Russians in a campaign of maneuver.

    Word Count: 7571
  4. Jürgen Well-Known Member

    Jul 16, 2016
    A few thoughts the town of Schleswig is a interesting point, because it’s placed at the only possible invasion route into the Duchy of Schleswig, to West lies the swamp and marches and to the east lies the inlet Schlei leaving only a few kilometer wide area for the armies to meet. There’s also in the area remnant of the old fortification Danevirke (but those are likely mostly useless). Also if the Russia army are defeated their retreat will be hard and run into the problem that they need to recross the Eider river, which leave a retreating Russian army weak to attack. The Danes on the other hand have a easy retreat route toward the north with the Oxen/Army Road allowing fast retreat, it will be helped by the fact that at some point northward the fleet can evacuate part of the army to the islands each time.

    Edit: but even if the next battle turn into a disaster for the Russians, there’s a easy way to get the Danes out of the war; give them Holstein-Gottorp. The Duke of Gottorp could always be given Bremen-Verden instead, as the Russians already occupies that. The Danes owes nothing to the rest of their allies, so they would take the offer unless they’re offered something bigger instead (like the Hanoverians giving up Lauenburg and/or Bremen-Verden to keep the Danes aboard[1]).

    Edit again: any British offer could counteroffered by the emperor, simply giving up Holstein as a vassal of the emperor, giving it over to the king of Denmark, which would allow the Danish king to get rid of all Holsteinian autonomy and give him a claim on Hamburg and the Bishopric of Lübeck. The Danish king would still keep influence in Germany as Count of Oldenburg, which would give him a vote in the imperial diet and a place at the table as a German prince.

    [1] Even if it’s occupied at this point.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
  5. Falecius Well-Known Member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Looks like the British should be wise to cut their losses about now.
    Of course, there's the almost untapped strength of their nominal main ally (France) to bet on, and the Danish forces are also still strong. But the Hanoverian camp at large has been getting beating after beating so far, and I get the sense that France is unlikely to throw her full strength into this fight, which after all is close to pointless to them now.
    Did Austria agree to cede sometehing to the Spanish in Italy? They mght consider going after Sardinia to get compensation in that case.
  6. Threadmarks: 13: Blenheim! Bellheim?

    Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    13: Blenheim! Bellheim?
    Prince Eugene of Savoy, Victor of Blenheim and Bellheim

    During the first year of the war, the 17-year old French king, Louis XV, had said very little about his own opinions on the French war effort. Although Louis XV had some ideas and thoughts about what France can and should do in the war, the adolescent king felt that his own experience and education were too lacking for his ideas to have much merit. Instead, at the meetings of his council, Louis sat and listened to what his aged advisers like Claude le Blanc and the Count of Maurepas had to say. Most importantly, Louis listened to the plans of Cardinal Fleury and whenever asked what he thought Louis would defer to the Cardinal. Like this, the French King had allowed the war to be run by Cardinal Fleury without so much the slightest inference for 1727. However, Louis' silence and unwillingness to exert himself did not last into the next phase of war planning. As a young monarch, Louis XV felt the embarrassment of the failure to take Fuentebarria acutely. Louis did not see it as the fault of Fleury or of the Duke of Berwick but rather blamed himself. While Philip had ridden to Fuentebarria and personally inspired its defenders, Louis had remained in Versailles with his newly born twin daughters. As beautiful as the little babies were, Louis knew that he had a responsibility to his Kingdom and his armies to prosecute this war with all vigor, just as his grandfather the Sun King had [1]. As a result of this sentiment, when the government councils met to discuss France's next steps, Louis stood up and simply stated that he thought best that he should ride to the Rhenish front to raise the spirits of his soldiers and inspirit them as they pushed beyond the Rhine. The King's advisers were quick to advocate against such action. They all pointed to the fact that the King was still without a son and that military camps ran rampant with diseases, which the King could easily contract from his interactions with his soldiers. Bombarded with imagery about the chaos and destruction that a succession crisis would bring to France, Louis sat down and once more allowed Fleury to guide France without bother [2].

    Cardinal Fleury himself was worried by Fuentebarria's resilience and Spain's seeming resurgence. In the Cardinal's eyes, Fuentebarria might be a sign that Spaniards could be worthy partners of France. Philip V was the uncle of Louis XV and so long as Philip abandoned his aspirations to the French throne it would be only natural that Philip and Louis become allies. However, as it stood Spain and France were enemies and that had to change before Fleury could more seriously consider an alliance with Spain. Already Fleury had begun to discuss peace with the diplomats of Spain but they too had been affected by Fuentebarria. Although Fleury felt that his offers were more than generous for an inferior power such as Spain, Fuentebarria had emboldened the Spanish to point where they were very grand demands. Although Fleury was willing to make some concessions to the Spanish, he felt that giving them half of Italy, Gibraltar, and Minorca was too much. Spain needed to be brought back to down to earth a bit so that Fleury could secure a more reasonable peace with them. For this purpose, Fleury authorized reinforcement of the Duke of Berwick's army to bring its strength to 30000 men. Additionally, rather than invade Navarre again, the Duke of Berwick was to go for a Spanish gem, Barcelona.

    Besides putting forth a better effort on the Spanish front, Cardinal Fleury was content to allow the rest of France's armies in the Western Theatre to continue their campaigns in a fashion which amounted to nothing more than theatrics. In the north along the border with the Southern Netherlands, Marshal du Ble was ordered to remain stationary and non-threatening. To the east on the Rhine, Fleury preferred that Duc de Villars and Prince Eugene continue their simple dance on their respective sides of the Rhine. Overall, Fleury's strategy amounted to continued minimal action. Only like this could Fleury redefine France's place in European politics from the malicious warmonger to the benevolent diplomat. Of course, the low costs of prosecuting a war in such a fashion provided the additional benefit of allowing France's treasury more breathing room and not derailing its recovery from the Sun King's war [3].

    However, to Cardinal Fleury's surprise, the rest of the Hanoverian Alliance found fault with this strategy. Due to the obstinance of King George II, the Army of Hanover had been placed in a difficult and dangerous position in which they could soon be smashed to pieces by the armies of Peter Lacy and Alexander Menshikov. Faced with this future, the Army of Hanover desires a means of escape. Among the options that the Army of Hanover weighed was a march through Munster toward the Dutch Republic. Although seemingly simple, the fact that Lacy's army had positioned itself to the north of the Army of Hanover pressured the Hanoverians to march along a more southernly path which the Viennese army of Charles Albert might complicate. The Army of Hanover feared that if it marched into the rivers of Westphalia that Charles Albert could delay its march long enough for Prince Eugene or the Russians to catch up. Consequently, King George II and his commanders requested that the French army of Villars aggressively and energetically occupy Prince Eugene's army. If Prince Eugene was removed from the scenario the Hanoverian generals felt that the chances of a successful escape went up significantly.

    Upon receiving this entreaty from his allies, Fleury was more than pleasantly surprised. in Fleury's view, France's primary enemy was the Hapsburg Realm that dominated Germany and directly challenged France on the continent [4]. Thus far in this war, Fleury desire to build up relations with his own allies had encouraged the quiet campaign of Villars. Now, however, Fleury allies were practically begging Fleury to make a dedicated attack against Germany. Presented with this opportunity to humble the Hapsburgs, the Cardinal did not flinch to answer the calls of George II and soon ordered Villars to proceed towards the Fortress of Philippsburg directly. By besieging of the vital Rhenish fortress Fleury knew he would draw the attention of Prince Eugene just as the British wanted him too, but Fleury also expected that capturing of Philippsburg would be a strong blow towards the Hapsburg extreme preeminence in Germany that had existed since Blenheim.

    The sudden and decisive movement of the army of Villars towards the north took Prince Eugene and his subordinates by surprise. Initially, the Germans believed that the French were simply renewing last year's convention of meaningless marches with more gusto. In response, Prince Eugene cautiously paralleled Villars' movement. But when Villars failed to double back or make any effort to trick the Prince, the Prince began to worry. Finally, as the French army's rapid advance turned into true sprint it became clear that the French had no intention of sneaking their way over the Rhine. Instead, the French were bolting towards Philippsburg where confrontation with the Germans was almost certain. This realization almost caused a panic within the German army, however, Prince Eugene still had enough energy and authority to snuff out this weakness as soon as it appeared within his officers. Even though Eugene worried that his army was not good enough he was still going approach his next battle without even the slightest degree of trepidation. Even now at 64, Prince Eugene of Savoy was still the same man who won Zenta and Blenheim [5].

    On this note, the German army, reinforced by troops from Italy, soon started to cross the Rhine and assemble itself on the right bank. The decisive and quick German action was an unpleasant surprise for the Duc de Villars who had little respect for any of the German generals outside of the Prince of Savoy. However, Villars himself was prompt in his reaction. As the German army marched to relieve Philippsburg, the French-built numerous pontoon bridges to connect their formations across the areas numerous waterways and allow for a speedy regrouping in the event of a German attack [6]. Thus when the relief arrived near Philippsburg it found itself confronted with a series of connected and dug-in positions which made any assault a distressing thought. As a result, despite the German advantage in numbers, Prince Eugene relegated his army to simple posturing while he tried to imagine a way through Villars' elaborate contravallation.

    This standoff between the Rhenish armies ultimately came to an end before either Prince Eugene or Duc de Villars could act. Instead, it was an act of God which brought about the conclusion. In late June, the summer rains of the Rhineland began to pour down upon the two armies [7]. Due to the French reliance on pontoon bridges, the rising and gushing waters concerned Villars dearly. Soon enough some of his bridges were carried away by the floods of water and the French defenses started unraveling. With this force of nature breaking apart the French army and threatening to expose the French to the menace of the German army, Duc de Villars recognized that his army might soon be attacked. Rather than idly waiting for such an eventuality, the French marshal assessed that his situation was untenable and ordered that his army organize a retreat. Subsequently, amidst these harsh summer rains, the French army broke its siege of Philippsburg and set about withdrawing. Had it not been for the fact that the Germans were also harried by these torrents of water, Prince Eugene doubtless would have pounced on the French [8]. However, as the weather proved difficult for both the French and Germans neither was able to carry out any type of aggressive action, and the French army was allowed to make its way back towards its previous camp. Or at least that was true for the most part.

    As part of the French rearguard was retiring across a pontoon bridge, the sentries reported that German outriders were in the distance. After receiving this news the young, inexperienced colonel in charge of completing the withdrawal allowed his emotions to overtake his senses. With a look of fright on his face, the colonel ordered that the retreat pick up the pace considerably and overruled his engineer when he claimed that such action would endanger the integrity of the bridge and thus the safety of the men. As could be expected the man who got his rank through hard work and endless studying was right and the man who only got his rank due to his blood was wrong. Within half an hour the overtaxed and creaking bridge finally gave way and collapsed. Before the engineers could even contemplate a quick repair, the river swept the rest of the bridge away. In this instant, many men died, a number of horses were lost, and a few cannon sunk with them. Worse yet 700 men were now stranded on the opposite from the rest of their army and on the same bank as more than 50000 adversaries.

    Presented with this new dilemma, the French colonel surprisingly did not panic a second time. Instead, after establishing that the river was uncrossable at this point, the colonel commanded that his remaining troops abandon all their heavy equipment and march towards the next pontoon bridge with all haste. However, by the time they reached this crossing their fellow Frenchmen had already completed their evacuation and destroyed the bridge afterward. Even though it was obvious at this point that the most likely event was that they would be captured, the colonel told his men to persevere and search on for some means of escape. None, however, was to be found and by the end of the day, a troop of German cavalry and regiment of German infantry had caught up to the French. Perhaps due to the shame, he felt at having caused this calamity the colonel asked his soldiers to stand with him and make a heroic stand for their country and for their king, and perhaps due to some ill-guided hope that there was still a possibility of escape these French soldiers agreed to follow their commander into battle. The following engagement saw the French soldiers bravely charge at their German counterparts. Outnumbered, however, the Frenchmen stood little chance. As soon as they were solidly engaged with the opposing infantry, the German cavalry rode forth and thrashed the French flanks. Within an hour and after 100 French soldiers had lost their lives, the colonel surrendered and this mini-odyssey came to an end.

    This minor skirmish at Hordt was at first nothing more than a footnote in history. Indeed, both commanding generals of the French and German armies felt that way and treated the skirmish as such in their reports. Duc de Villars wrote to Cardinal Fleury about he had successfully withdrawn with almost all of his army but that a few hundred men had been lost due to a pontoon bridge failing and the enemy then capturing the helpless soldiers. In the Prince of Savoy's report, it read that he had failed to interrupt the French flight but that a few unfortunate Frenchmen had been caught out after their bridge collapsed. Overall, both the Duc and the Prince felt that the skirmish had not altered their military situations. The capture of a few hundred Frenchmen did not substantially weaken the French army. The only reason the French retreated all the way back to their initial camp was that their supply situation was not ideal after a few weeks of besieging a far off fortress. The Germans themselves could not take the offensive because they felt no stronger than they had at the beginning of the year.

    However, as is often true, reality is more than just reality. In Vienna, the Holy Roman Emperor had spent the year of 1727 watching his Prussian and Saxon vassals participate in the excellent Battle of Bienbuttel, an overrunning of Lauenburg, the Siege of Stralsund, and the capture of Luneburg. Meanwhile, Emperor Charles VI's armies failed to provide excitement. Flanders was motionless, the Rhine was nothing but maneuvers, and although Milan was saved it was done without even the slightest bloodshed. The year of 1728 seemed as if it would only see more of the same as the Lacy and Menshikov's armies seemed destined to dominate the north and the Hapsburg armies destined for nothingness. Under these conditions, Charles VI felt that his pride and glory were under threat but more so he worried that he would find his place the peace tables minimized. Already people were calling the war Empress Catherine's War, Charles could not let it also be Empress Catherine's peace.

    Due to this sentiment, when Charles VI heard of the clash at Hordt he did not care how minor it was, it was a victory. Right away, the Emperor began to illustrate Hordt as something much more than it was. In fact, rather than publish accounts of the skirmish as the Battle of Hordt, the Emperor renamed the engagement after the nearby Bellheim. Renaming Hordt to Bellheim was not just done to make the name roll off the tongue more easily. In doing this, Charles hoped to draw comparisons between this scuffle and the epic and beloved Battle of Blenheim. However, Charles did not just let people figure out this connection on their own. Instead, Charles actively drew the brawl as a battle of as great of a significance as Blenheim had been. The Holy Roman Emperor wrote and spoke of how at Bellheim, the Prince of Savoy had chased off the French army's attempt to conquer Philippsburg and unleash itself upon the whole of Germany. Soon accounts of a battle of several thousand men began to circulate and songs of another great Hapsburg victory were written. Even in France, this sensationalism of Hordt exploded. Many members of French society called the battle a debacle and bemoaned about the failure to break through the German defenses. The public sentiment of the battle was so poor that Cardinal Fleury and King Louis XV both felt embarrassed and failed to give Villars the credit which was due to him for his well-managed retreat. Ultimately, a fight which initially had been inconsequential became much more as politicians and monarchs distorted and contorted the reports of the combat [9].

    Although Bellheim in itself was actually without significance, what Bellheim represented did indeed matter. The actual capture of some French troops did not affect the Rhenish campaign at all, however, the retreat from Philippsburg had repercussions which extended into Brunswick-Luneburg. Since the French had been unable to sustain a prolonged siege of Philippsburg they were incapable of forcing the German Rhenish army to remain in the Rhineland. The French could not assure the Army of Hanover that they would be able to keep Prince Eugene occupied or otherwise prevent him from marching north to oppose a Westphalian escape. As a consequence, George II and the Army of Hanover lacked the confidence to flee through Westphalia towards the Dutch Republic or France; instead, the Army of Hanover strove to march north and in the process were caught and obliterated at Munster. This was the true importance of the Rhenish campaign of 1728, and when word of the Battle of Munster arrived in Vienna and Paris it only further fueled the distortion of Bellheim as a major war-defining battle [10]. Thus despite the Western front once again remaining relatively quiet it did, in fact, have marked effect on the greater war that it was a part of.

    [1] This era is filled with a lot of rulers who were inspired by the previous generation of warrior-rulers like William III, the Sun King, and Max II Emanuel. All three of them personally were involved in their war efforts and at times participated as commanders. William III and Max II Emanuel, in particular, were noted commanders of the Grand Alliance and Holy League. OTL Louis XV grew up on stories of these men's exploits and was instilled with a sense that he should do similar things. Ultimately he personally accompanied his armies in the War of the Austrian Succession, where he contracted smallpox and was incapacitated for a time. Here, this young, teenage king sees his uncle fighting, sees George II fighting, sees Frederick of Hanover fighting, sees Friedrich Wilhelm I fighting and feels like he too should be fighting despite his youth.
    [2] Right now Louis XV only has two extremely young daughters so the possibility of a succession crisis is very well, especially because France is currently engaged in a war against Spain. Louis recognizes this and backs down from wanting to fight in the war. This episode is really meant to offer a glimmer into Louis' mind more than anything else.
    [3] Oddly enough after years of fighting all of Europe your economy is in a sorry state.
    [4] OTL Fleury considered Austria, not Britain to be France's enemy. This idea drove French politics through until the mid-1740s when new people took power in France and asserted that Britain was, in fact, France's main enemy which led to the eventual Diplomatic Revolution.
    [5] Although by the War of the Polish Succession in 1733 Prince Eugene's mental and physical state had greatly deteriorated. In 1728, the Prince was still one of Europe's best.
    [6] During the 1734 siege, d'Asfeld similarly used pontoons to reposition his army and protect his rear. Here, TTL, Villars makes a similar action.
    [7] Rains could at times make military operations in this region difficult and here they do.
    [8] Although the German army may have access to more true bridges than the French do, typically when an army crosses a river it does not just use the bridge because of the amount of time it would take to march an army across a small bridge. Usually, armies also have sections that will ford the river such as the cavalry and some infantry. When the rivers are flooded, however, this is not possible. As a result, the Germans are also hampered and are incapable of quickly setting themselves upon the French.
    [9] Basically, although Hordt/Bellheim does not actually matter, the Austrians are able to manipulate and distort images of the skirmish to turn it into at least a political victory.
    [10] Again, Bellheim itself is a meaningless and worthless piece of combat. However, because of Bellheim's attachment to the French retreat, Bellheim becomes the battle which led to Munster even though it wasn't.

    Word Count: 3458
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
  7. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    Next update will be Spanish Military Actions and a look into the British Parliament and should be posted by the end of the week.
    Falecius likes this.
  8. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    The part about a new “Blenheim” is great, especially perceptionand propaganda aspect.

    How about throwing one more monkey wrench into this machinery by finally letting Catherine to die? You were already quite generous to her and her death potentially may create a set of the brand new combinations (of course, it is entirely up to you).
    Goldkingy likes this.
  9. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    The thing that is keeping her alive 35k words and 13 updates in is that I'm trying to cover the rest of the war in great detail. So far she has only survived 1 extra year. Fear not though she will not make it to 2 extra years. Depending on how much I have to write about Spain, Italy, and Finland, however, Catherine may make it to 50k words.
    Tarabas and alexmilman like this.
  10. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    Thanks, you are quite accommodating (and I hate to see it ending).:)

    I understand that she is kind of a necessary fixture (one of the major driving forces even if she personally does little and understands little) for the wide specter of the events you are describing so well. It is just that I never liked (historic) Menshikov even if he was an interesting figure on his own right and Catherine, as a ruler, was just a dumb cow. Not that OTL Peter II was remarkable for anything but a complete absence of anything remarkable (well, at his age his grandfather was not noticeably better) but he was surrounded by the interesting people who can (if you make it a long war) impact the events in more than one way. Pro-Austrian party is getting stronger while the Holstinian one becomes quite insignificant so it may end up as “Charles War” or “Peter’s Peace”.
  11. Diego Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2014
    Califórnia, Paraná, Brazil
    Really liked this Battle of Hordt/Bellheim, it is not everyday that we see this type of propaganda warfare portrayed and portrayed so well.
  12. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    Yes, it is getting quite close to the Persian report from “Adventures of Hajji Baba from Ispagan”: the initial espisode is encounter of the Persian cavalry with 2 Russian soldiers (after which few thousands of cavalry fled). Immediate report from the Persian leader to the Great Vizier talks about a full scale victorious battle and report sent by the Great Vizier to the Shah describes a great battle in which tens thounds of the infidels are killed and so many are taken prisoners that the costs on the slave markets significantly dropped. “If this not true, it will be true sooner or later”. :)
    Talus I of Dixie and Diego like this.
  13. Colonel flagg Banned

    Apr 4, 2019
    Who the next emperor of Russia?
  14. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    Peter Alexeyevich
  15. Threadmarks: 14: Kaboom or How Spain Took Back the Rock

    Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    14: Kaboom or How Spain Took Back the Rock
    King Felipe V of Spain at Gibraltar

    The victory of Spain at Funtebarria was met with extreme and immediate excitement from the Spanish Court. Many courtiers thought that this evidence of Spain's resurgence to the status of being a great power within Europe. With this feeling in their hearts, they encourage the King to continue the war and reject any peace offers from the Hanoverian camp that did not return to Spain both Gibraltar and Minorca. However, these were not the only voices in King Felipe V's ears. Although most saw Fuentebarria as a sign that Spain could fight on and actually defeat France and Britain, others pointed out that the War of the Quadruple Alliance had similarly had an optimistic opening. Once the Quadruple Alliance actually even slight pressure on Spain, the Spanish war effort crumbled. These individuals looked to France's initial limit to its war machine and worried that France would remove those limitations and smash Spain to pieces. The pessimism of these nobles combined with Felipe's own melancholy memories nearly led him to accept the peace terms put before him by France and Britain [1]. Ultimately, however, the biggest voice of all, Elisabeth Farnese, expelled those thoughts from Felipe's mind [2]. Although Queen Elisabeth cared little for Gibraltar and Minorca she cared deeply for Spanish pretensions in Italy. Regarding Italy, the French and British had promised simply to reaffirm Don Carlos' rights to Parma and Piacenza. This was insufficient for the Farnese queen who looked lustily at the Grand Duchy of Tuscany [3]. Consequently, when France and Britain refused to yield Tuscany to Spain, Elisabeth made sure that her husband put to the bed the idea of peace for the time being.

    Since Spain had chosen to continue its fight within Empress Catherine's War, it was necessary for Spain to consider how best to continue that fight. The previous year had seen Spain split its army of around 35000 men between the Siege of Gibraltar and defending against the French invasion. In regards to Gibraltar, the Marquis de Verboom claimed to be making good progress. He did request for more men but was mainly concerned with supplies and munitions. Along the border, the Count de Montemar was more urgent in his request for reinforcements as he shared the concern of some Spanish officials that France would greatly increase its dedication towards subduing Spain. To meet these demands, the Spanish government took advantage of the patriotic sentiment of the Spanish people in light of Fuentebarria and made a significant effort towards recruiting and training new soldiers. This effort ultimately allowed for the army at Gibraltar to be reinforced to just 14000 men and for a total of 10000 men to be added to the lists of defenders of the northern border by May of 1728.

    To oppose the expected French invasion, Montemar took advantage of his bolstered numbers to defend both possible routes of invasion: Navarre and Catalonia. In Navarre, Montemar considered the work done to restore Fuentebarria to its former effectiveness had largely succeeded, which would make an invasion through that gateway exceedingly difficult and painful for France. Thus Montemar was content to only deploy 7000 men to defend the fortress and its environs. Montemar felt that this force would be able to hold long enough for reinforcements from the rest from the country to arrive and drive off the French attackers. To command this army, Montemar selected a native of Fuentebarria and a veteran of all of Spain's recent wars, General Gabriel Jose de Zuloaga y Moyua. General Zuloaga was one of Spain's more esteemed commanders and most importantly was expected to be able to keep the Basque people under control. In Catalonia, Montemar had more to be concerned about, which is why he felt it necessary that he personally command the defense of Catalonia and also that 28000 soldiers were placed in Catalonia (which was more than three times the number of soldiers in Navarre). The problems with Catalonia were many. Firstly, Catalonia was less fortified than Navarre and had less restrictive geography. Secondly, Catalonia's biggest center, Barcelona, could easily be pummeled by the superior French navy. Thirdly, the Catalans were no good friends of the current Spanish government which had stripped them of their traditional rights after they had fought for the Austracistas. Nonetheless, if it came to it, Montemar was determined to defend Catalonia. And it did come to it.

    As Spain foresaw, France had felt it necessary to increase their commitment to the war against Spain in light of the lack of success at Fuentebarria. However, the reinforcements that the Duke of Berwick received did not create the feared horde of Frenchmen that Montemar and some Spanish nobles had predicted. Even though Cardinal Fleury was willing to put more into this war effort, he still saw Spain as an inferior power with an inferior military. Indeed, Fleury did not think that it was Spain's strength that needed to be curbed but rather Spain's ego. As a result, Fleury only raised Berwick's army up to 30000 men, which was barely more than Montemar's Army of Catalonia. Furthermore, Spanish anxiety over the possibility of a French naval bombardment of Barcelona proved unnecessary as Fleury kept his fleets in port for the purpose for limiting costs. The contrast of Spanish vigor and French foot-dragging is reflective of the overall difference in energy between the Viennese camp and the Hanoverian camp, and just as that difference had cost the Hanoverian Alliance thus far it would do so again in Spain.

    The French invasion of Catalonia was allowed to cross the Franco-Spanish border without any incidences. Quickly, the French managed to capture the towns of Camprodon and Figueres. However, as the French advanced towards Girona, their advance stalled. There Montemar dug his army in and promised to bloodily oppose any further French march. Due to the small disparity in numbers and the surprisingly poor quality of French soldiers, Berwick had little confidence about pushing forward [4]. Although Berwick did make some attempts to upset Montemar's position, the Spaniard refused to budge and permit Berwick to march on Barcelona. The fact that the French navy was providing no additional threat to the coastal city allowed Montemar to sit comfortably as long as he kept near to Berwick.

    Another issue which complicated the French invasion was the opposition of the local population, which was a considerable shock for the French but has a very clear explanation. Although Felipe V had taken away the rights of the Catalans and earned their disdain for it, it was actually the Duke of Berwick who had brutally conquered them during the War of the Spanish Succession. Berwick's role in the suppression of the Catalans had promoted a sense of distrust towards the general. However, the main sense of distrust and dislike towards Berwick and France as a result of their actions during the previous War of the Quadruple Alliance. In that war, Berwick ejected the Spanish military presence entirely from the Basque counties with the help of the locals. As a result, the Basque people offered to make themselves a part of France as long as they were granted autonomy. Cardinal Fleury and Berwick rejected this offer and then abandoned the Basque counties in the subsequent peace treaty. Due to this interaction, the Catalans felt that helping the French would only lead to an even worse situation when France and Spain made peace. Instead, the Catalans treated the French coldly and some even fed information about their movements to Montemar's army.

    Since Montemar was able to contain Berwick's army by himself Zuloaga's army seemed almost pointless. Or at least that is what people lacking the imagination and ambition of the Spanish court would think. To them, even the small number of 7000 soldiers could be used for any number of campaigns. As soon as the Spanish court realized the opportunity before them they began debating a number of different uses for the army. Some suggested that Zuloaga and Montemar join together to inflict a decisive defeat on Berwick, but Montemar himself was quick to veto that idea. Montemar had managed to establish a good situation for his army and did not want to risk throwing that away in a chancy battle. The other ideas included making a naval assault on Gibraltar's southern side, retaking Menorca, or seizing some land in Italy. Anyway, all the remaining ideas involved a naval expedition. As a consequence, Zuloaga's army was marched to Valencia, where it waited for the King to make his decision.

    To the south, at Gibraltar, the Marquis de Verboom continued his siege. Verboom was happy to see that his numbers were somewhat replenished from what had thus far been a harsh siege. Under Verboom's command, the Spanish siege efforts had become more organized and concentrated which had resulted in ever-increasing damage to Gibraltar's fortifications and casualties among its defenders. However, the integrity of the fortress remained intact and although the garrison was battered it was not beaten. These two facts provided the Governor of Gibraltar, the Earl of Portmore with some solace. Such solace was crucial since Portmore was feeling extremely neglected by the British government. Already, in the latter half of 1727, Portmore had been forced to accept the fact that Britain would not be reinforcing his garrison any further. Now, in 1728, Portmore was incredulous when he heard that his request for supplies would only partially be met. Apparently, the Admiralty felt that Germany was more deserving of its naval resources than Gibraltar [5]. As a consequence of the focus on Germany, the lasting damage of the Baltic mission, and French naval nothingness, the Royal Navy could not supply Gibraltar as effectively as Portmore desired. Additionally, with the majority of the combat happening in Northern Europe, most risk-loving merchants preferred to trade in the Baltic rather than Gibraltar as the potential profits in the north were higher. All in all, this led to a subpar supply situation in Gibraltar and facilitated the breakout of scurvy among the garrison. However, as stated earlier, the defenses remained strong enough that Portmore did not feel pressured to surrender. On the Spanish side, there was also a problem of rampant disease and poor logistics. Yet the progress Verboom was making above ground was promising. Additionally, King Felipe had ridden to Gibraltar to help raise the spirits of his besieging army. Most importantly, Verboom's effort to mine under Willis' Battery was proceeding at a reasonable pace and gave Verboom hope that he could drastically change the situation that lay before him.

    In late June, King Felipe finally decided how to use Zuloaga's army. At the behest of Elisabeth Farnese, Felipe opted to have Zuloaga invade the island of Sardinia. In doing so the Spanish would increase their influence in Italy and could promote Elisabeth's efforts to put her son, Don Carlos, on the thrones of Parma, Piacenza, and Tuscany. This meant that Gibraltar and Menorca would go unassailed. However, the Spanish military did not let that news slip out just yet. As the situation stood, the Royal Navy was stretched thin by its current operations and the fallout of its Baltic blunder, which meant that the Royal Navy lacked the complete supremacy of the Mediterranean that it had grown accustomed to. The British certainly still had superiority over the Spanish but the imbalance was not as favorable as the British would have liked. As a consequence, the British could not afford to attempt to catch Zuloaga's expedition outside of Valencia because if the British failed to catch Zuloaga there then the forces left at Gibraltar or Port Mahon would be insufficient to prevent a Spanish landing [6]. Instead, the British were forced by circumstance to split their ships between Gibraltar and Port Mahon so that if the Spanish approached either, the landing could be intercepted or at least interfered with. So long as the British continued to believe that Gibraltar or Port Mahon was at risk, the Spanish navy would be able to sneak Zuloaga's army to Sardinia and avoid a catastrophe like Cape Passaro. For this reason, the destination of the Spanish army was not revealed by Zuloaga until after the army had already put to sea [7]. Thus as the Spanish ventured into the Mediterranean it practically vanished as far as the British were concerned.

    Three weeks later the Spanish fleet arrived at Sardinia on July 28th. This time similarly to 1717, the Spanish landed unopposed due to their naval and military edge over the island's defenders. However, due to the Savoyard focus on defending its mainland territories and the worse military and economic situation of the Savoyards in 1728 relative to the Austrians in 1717, the island's defense was far weaker than it had been in the last war. Lacking any major opposition, the Spanish captured most of the island within a few weeks. By the end of August, all that was left in Savoyard hands were the forts of Alghero and Castellaragonese and city of Cagliari. However, once these places were subjected to the full strength of the Spanish invasion force they fell one after another. Eventually, on September 17th, the last of the Savoyard soldiers surrendered and the island had once more been reconquered by Spain. The ease of this conquest was heavily facilitated by the continued favorable Sardinian opinion of Spain as well as the lack of an established loyalty towards the government of Turin.

    A few days after the Spanish army landed on Sardinia, the Siege of Gibraltar erupted into explosive, quite literally. On August 1st, after over a year of hard work working away at the limestone underneath the Rock, Verboom and his engineers were finally able to set off a bomb below the troublesome Willis' Battery. With a loud blast, the slope on which Willis' Battery stood shook and suddenly collapsed. Amidst the quake, the cannon fire from Willis' Battery went wild and through the most unfortunate circumstances, the magazine behind the battery was lit and soon after blew to kingdom come. This dramatic and frightening sight was accompanied by the deaths of all the soldiers and artillerymen who had been stationed at the battery. The gravity and immenseness of this event crushed the weakened soul of the Earl of Portmore who proclaimed that "All is lost and the Rock has fallen!" Portmore's exacerbation combined with the lack of knowledge as to where the Zuloaga's army was headed might have been enough to provoke the surrender Gibraltar. Fortunately, in this moment of crisis, Gibraltar's Lieutenant Governor, Jasper Clayton, stepped up and supplied the needed resoluteness for the garrison to reject Verboom's demand for surrender. Still, the loss of Willis' Battery was acutely felt as the Spanish siege lines quickly advanced over the next weeks until they were dealing severe and direct damage to Gibraltar's defenses [8].

    For the tragedy of Munster to be so followed in succession by the Spanish landing at Sardinia and the explosion at Gibraltar was lethal to the British effort. Even in the Americas the British did not find success as they received news in July that latest admiral they had sent to oversee the Blockade of Porto Bello had also succumbed to the diseases of the tropics [9]. Across the Channel, the fact that Berwick had failed to accomplish anything of note could easily be called another Spanish victory. Overall, somehow, someway the ruinous Spain had managed to not only defend itself against the actions of two of Europe's heavyweights but had also managed to take offensives of its own and find success with them. Although Spain's victories did match its wildest dreams, they certainly exceeded the wildest expectations that the rest of Europe had for the former hegemon. And on that note, the governments of France and Britain found themselves inclined to give up entirely on mastering the difficult Spain and finally make peace on the terms of Madrid rather than the terms of Westminster or Versailles. Spain's return? has become Spain's return!

    In France, this amounted to a sullen Cardinal Fleury deciding that peace with Spain was France's only recourse left after a discussion with the other members of the governing councils. In Britain, however, the decision to make peace came as part of a vicious and violent debate within the Parliament. Ever since Robert Walpole had been replaced by Spencer Compton as Prime Minister, Walpole had been doing everything in his power to disparage and diminish Compton's leadership. From Walpole's perspective, Compton had taken away the war from Walpole's capable hands and was at fault for every defeat that Britain had suffered since. Walpole clearly pointed to the mishandling of the campaign in Brunswick-Luneburg but was careful not to attack King George's leadership during that campaign since doing so would only hurt Walpole's effort to be renamed Prime Minister. Walpole's main focus, however, was on the utterly catastrophic note that the Baltic mission had ended on and blamed Compton for not pressing Denmark-Norway or Sweden hard enough to provide support to Wager. Walpole also pandered to the merchants by bringing up how Britain's extensive trade with both Russia and Spain had been interrupted by the war. Although this lack of trade affected Britain's enemies more dearly, Britain's merchants were far more influential than their foreign counterparts. As a consequence of this fact, the harm felt by the British merchants thus far was exerting significant pressure on Compton's government while Russia and Spain's governments were able to ignore worse economic situations [10]. This latest set of disasters with Spain only added to Walpole's toolbox. For Gibraltar to be under real threat, for the Royal Navy to be bamboozled, and for the Caribbean to be nothing but a tropical hellhole was unacceptable in Walpole's eyes as well as the eyes of most of Parliament. The only reason that Compton avoided a no-confidence vote was that Walpole had no desire to be the one to sign the humiliating peace treaties with Spain and Russia that Britain's current situation warranted [11]. Consequently, it was Compton who was left to negotiate with Spain and without much of a mandate to rule at that.

    Between Fleury and Compton, it was agreed that France and Britain would make a number of concessions to Spain. However, before Fleury and Compton revealed these concessions they awaited Spain's offer in some hope that Spain might be timid in its demands, Spain was not. Spain demanded, Gibraltar, Menorca, an end to all British commercial rights in the Spanish empire, Sardinia, and strong guarantees to be backed by British and French arms if necessary for the rights of Don Carlos to the Duchies of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. This excessive list was, of course, rejected by France and Britain but their counteroffer was still a triumph for Spain. Under the terms of the Treaty of Madrid, Gibraltar and Sardinia were returned to Spain and Don Carlos' succession to the thrones of Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, and Tuscany. France and Britain agreed to support Don Carlos' succession with their own militaries if necessary. In return, Spain reaffirmed Britain's possession of Menorca, accepted Britain's commercial rights in Spain's colonies, and removed Don Carlos from the Spanish line of succession [12]. Soon after France and Britain forced the rest of its allies, particularly Savoy, to accept this treaty. Thus ended Spain's role in Empress Catherine's War.

    [1] Felipe's unstable emotional state makes him susceptible to taking this peace offer even if it is not everything he wants.
    [2] Elisabeth Farnese dominated Felipe, not to the extent historians make it out to be but still a lot. Hence her desires prevail over the desires of the others within the Spanish court.
    [3] Farnese is Italian and OTL held Italian ambitions for all her sons hence her desperately wanting Tuscany for Don Carlos.
    [4] France's troop quality between 1700 and 1750 was surprisingly bad and well noted by most contemporaries, including France's own generals like Maurice de Saxe. During this time period, French military success mainly came off the backs of great leadership.
    [5] This is referring to the Verden evacuation attempt.
    [6] Port Mahon is the name of the British naval base on Menorca.
    [7] Ports were often filled with many foreign agents, which resulted in invasion fleets often being found out. In recognition of this fact the Spanish do not try to hide the fact that they are going to invade somewhere they focus on hiding where though.
    [8] Willis' Battery is not the biggest or most crucial fortification of Gibraltar, which is why its destruction is not an auto-loss for the British. However, the battery controls the eastern approach to Gibraltar so its fall makes the advancement of Spanish siege lines possible.
    [9] This new admiral is Edward Hopson.
    [10] In other words: Britain's merchants have real government influence, the same can not be said for Russian and Spanish merchants.
    [11] Walpole does not want to be the one who lost the peace.
    [12] Treaty of Madrid. Also, Don Carlos removed from Spain's succession just like when he became King of Naples and Sicily.

    Word Count: 3547
  16. LordofWhy Well-Known Member

    Mar 10, 2015
    Austria to Spain: "Hold on, this whole operation was your idea."
    Varo12345, AlexG, FossilDS and 4 others like this.
  17. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    And as Austria says that, Menshikov replies but now it's my operation.
  18. Nonfiction Well-Known Member

    Apr 10, 2008
    Most important result for Spain isn't even the treaty, it's the respect of the other powers
  19. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    In particular the respect of France.
  20. isabella Well-Known Member

    Mar 22, 2012
    @Archduke: you will do better in establishing a permanent separation between Spain and don Carlos’ new lands (as was done in OTL) making the two crowns mutually exclusive not removing him from the Spanish succession.
    In OTL don Carlos became Carlos III of Spain after the childless death of both his half-brothers and when became King of Spain he was forced to abdicate the Crown of Naples in favor of his first available son (aka the next one after his heir in Spain) instead of his younger brother (the Duke of Parma) as originally planned.
    Plus why do not have France and Britain offering back Sardinia as part of Carlos’ land? That would be useful for them and acceptable to Spain as would give a royal title of his own to Carlos
    Circonflexe likes this.