Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Antonio the Komnenoi, Oct 10, 2019.
Eh, I'd read that, though as long as there are explanations for each stroke of the wanking.
XXVI: THE RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN I
The French Emperor and the Russian Tsar never really trusted one another even after Tilsit, Alexander I expanded the Russian military to 400,000 men by 1811, while Napoleon continued arming his Polish buffer state. The mistrust was shown in the aftermath of the breakup of the Habsburg Empire, when Napoleon refused to give Galicia to the Russians and instead almost doubled the size of his Polish State. When Russia left the Continental system in 1810, both sides knew that war was coming, for Russia the strategy was the problem, and that’s where the Tsar has to choose between two tactics: The Plan of Barclay de Tolly, or The Plan of General Kutuzov.
De Tolly created a plan to let attrition destroy the French army by forcing it to invade Russia itself, the army would avoid direct confrontation and instead would apply scorched land tactics, burning farms, cities, infrastructure and anything the French could use, and when the army was sufficiently devastated, deliver a killing blow. Kutuzov hesitated to leave the extension of Russia to be devastated by the army, instead he proposed an aggressive plan to invade the Duchy of Warsaw and divide the French forces by using Napoleon’s own tactics against him. The two plans planned to defeat Napoleon, but Alexander had to decide how far to go to defeat the Emperor of the French, but he knew one weakness that Napoleon could exploit if he invaded Russia: Serfdom.
The great majority of the Russian population was composed of agrarian serfs, many of whom that hated their overlords, if the French invaded Russia, Napoleon could apply the French Civil Code and abolish serfdom in the middle of the war. That could potentially turn his population against him, and Alexander decided to do the safer Kutuzov plan, while it was riskier to fight the fully strengthened French Army, Russia could recover from a loss, but couldn’t do so in de Tolly’s plan. On the Spring of 1811, 300,000 Russian troops crossed into Poland divided into two armies, led by Generals Kutuzov and Bragation, set to capture Warsaw and Danzig.
Napoleon expected this ever since the Austrian defeat in 1809, with a large part of his army tied into Iberia, he was exposed to enemy attacks like in the 5th Coalition War. His spies had caught information of a large mobilization of the Russian forces in December 1810, and he quietly started to organize a massive Pan-European force to fight the Russian Hordes, he also contacted his allies to prepare for the war. Hundreds of thousands of men began to move into Prussia and Saxony, the Grand Army was set to march again. On the 12th of April of 1811, Russian troops crossed into Poland headed to Warsaw, and Napoleon marched an army of equal numbers against them.
While the Russians didn’t have the surprise they expected or the numerical advantage overall, the first phase of the invasion proceeded smoothly. Napoleon feared that sending a united army to the Polish border would dissuade the invasion of the Tsar’s armies, instead the Grand army was divided into smaller Corps who would merge upon the invasion, and that allowed the Russians free reign over Poland. The Tsar ordered his generals to not invade East Prussia, perhaps hoping to see a Prussian betrayal, that exposed the flank of his army to the incoming Franco-Prussian forces. Prussians indeed hated the French, and between 1807 and 1811 their army and state underwent deep reforms that made their forces some of the best in the world, but King Ludwig wasn’t suicidal, he saw what happened to his kingdom in 1807 and Austria in 1809, it wasn’t wise to betray the Emperor, so he left part of his forces at French disposal reluctantly.
The local Polish forces, outnumbered almost 6-1, fought valiantly, but were defeated near the village of Siedlce, allowing the Russians to besiege and capture Warsaw on the 18th of April. Napoleon’s army was divided into two forces, one led by Marshal Masséna composed of 210,000 men would strike from the south, and a smaller 110,000 force would be led by Napoleon himself to strike from the North via Eastern Prussia. Kutuzov was aware that the Prussians wouldn’t betray Napoleon, Ludwig was not going to do that until the Emperor was defeated personally. So instead he left Bragation’s half of the army to hold the French forces under Masséna in the south of the Vistula, holding the French larger force while marching his 140,000 men army to meet Napoleon head on, seeking to force him into a decisive battle, in order to defeat him and show the entire world that the Emperor of the French could defeated. (Yes, he was defeated in Essling, but trapping a fourth of his army and attacking it AND STILL get defeated later is not really a victory, is it ?)
And on the 1st of May of 1811, the two armies meet in the fields outside Neidenburg.
Let the speculation of the incoming battle begin.
Anyone ? Comments ?
I really don't think the Russian high command had any reason to fear Napoleon freeing the serfs; to do so would be a flawed policy for a number of reasons. They never took it seriously as a risk.
It’s not the Russian high command who did it, I added this as a fear for the Tsar.
Well, the Tsar didn't fear it either, but I suppose Alexander is young enough that butterflies could make him a different person.
Shame Napoleon never tried to liberate peasants/serfs in OTL invasion of Russia
Well, in any case it would never have worked.
Firstly, Napoleon would not have been able to conquer enough of Russia fast enough to offset the mobilization; Russia was capable of mobilizing more soldiers in a war of national defense than had the Grande Armee; given time they would have outnumbered Napoleon by hundreds of thousands. Secondly, turning this war into an existential one for the Russian nobility was the exact opposite of what Napoleon should have done; even assuming it would have worked it would have been a long and painful effort of nation-building, and after beating the nobility in a brutal war of attrition. Finally I'm not at all convinced the peasants would have bought it; no one likes armed missionaries, as Robespierre said, and the serfs were likely to care far less about abstract concepts like freedom than they would have about the foreigners with guns demanding food; live off the land had been the French strategy for 2 decades at this point, so unless Napoleon wanted to build an entire logistical support system from scratch he was going to need to take food from the peasants he was supposedly going to be liberating. War on the Chateau hadn't worked in the War of the First Coalition and it wasn't going to work now. You cannot invade a country without hurting the civilian population no matter what you want to liberate them from.
XXVII: THE RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN II
Napoleon reviewing his Imperial Guard before the Battle
The Battle of Niedenburg is subject of several books, being one of Napoleon’s largest battles, from military historians to Alternate History fans. It is one of those battles where a change could’ve turned the entire history of the world around, until very recently when some historians like Henry Stinger of the Royal University in Winchester. Stinger claims that even in a defeat, the campaign of Napoleon could be salvaged via the superior forces of the Grande Armee still in the West Bank of the Vistula, and a Russian victory wouldn’t automatically result into a Prussian betrayal like Kutuzov expected, he bases his knowledge on recently discovered correspondence made by King Ludwig I with his Army Staff commander, the Prince of Gneisenau.
The battle in Neidenburg was once described by the Emperor in his memoirs: “I have fought many battles, and the ones I hated the most were the ones that something was out of my control. Like I n Neidenburg, where I had a group of unreliable troops that had a dagger pointed at my back all the time”. Napoleon was referring to a Prussian corps of 30,000 elite soldiers who joined his Grand Army, the Prussians hated the French, and it didn’t start with the Napoleonic Wars, but 50 years before in the Seven Years’ War, and now this whole body of Napoleon‘s men was composed of potential backstabbers who would be delighted to slash his throat. But the Prussians were not stupid either, if Napoleon defeated Kutuzov Prussia would be doomed in case of a betrayal, as much as he hated to admit it, King Ludwig had to bide his time.
Kutuzov pursued a cautious approach, planning to use his superior numbers to slowly push back Napoleon and make him seem to be losing enough to provoke a Prussian betrayal. The battle happened in the forest on the North of the city, where Kutuzov started a general advance towards Napoleon’s position. But in a few hundred feet, the French Grand bombard fires with full strength on the left flank. Kutuzov halted and sent his reserves to prepare for an attack in that area, only to see thousands of French troops charging on the right, a combined assault of Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery shattered Kutuzov’s right. At that moment where the Russians seemed to be losing, Napoleon sent the Prussians from his reserves, a core of 30,000 elite forces led by General Scharnhorst, throwing them into the mix, essentially preventing any coordination with the Russians since they were now killing one another in the woods. Kutuzov managed to reform his lines after the French charge, sending his reserves to the Right, then night came and both sides settled down.
Napoleon wasn’t planning to sit idle, he ordered his men to sleep hours before the Russians, being woken up at the 3 AM and charging the Russians in the middle of the night. It was a risk to leave his guard down hours before the Russians did, but was one the Corsican was willing to take and it paid off. The Russians woke up after the French started screaming less than a hundred feet away, barely having time to grab rifles as the entire camp went into mayhem, the Russians couldn’t distinguish friend or foe amidst the chaos, as officers couldn’t draw battle lines, the army dissolved into small squares of infantry attempting to survive, while those that tried to escape the woods had to deal with Napoleon’s Polish lancers. Kutuzov woke up in his tent and attempted to rally the men, only to get shot and taken away by French soldiers, his second in command was General Barclay, Prince de Tolly, who was against the whole invasion from the beginning. De Tolly sounded the Retreat, getting his cavalry and personal guard to hold off the French enough for the army to regroup. The “Night Assault” was a extremely risky move by Napoleon, some military historians claim that such move was only possible due to the Russian army being literally drunk on Vodka and Beer. The French casualties reached 21,000, while the Russians suffered astonishing 57,000 including their commanding General and over 150 artillery pieces captured.
The capture of General Kutuzov and the shattering of a superior Russian force in Neidenburg destroyed the morale of the Russian army. General Bragation ordered a general retreat towards Minsk, but before that, he ordered Warsaw to be burned to the ground, the city razed before Napoleon’s eyes once he arrived, his Polish Lancers broke their discipline and massacred over 5,000 Russian prisoners in retaliation. The remaining 200,000 men of the Grand Army arrived in the city on the month of June, and Napoleon was now ready for his revenge, marching against Russia itself. Napoleon’s invasion was divided into 3 forces: One under Marshal Berthier and 180,000 men would head North towards St. Petersburg, the second one under himself would head towards Moscow with 240,000 to attract the Russians into a decisive battle and do to the city the same that was done to Warsaw, and the last one under Marshal Soult with 140,000 men would march into Ukraine to capture Kiev and the breadbasket of Russia. The Ottoman Empire under Selim III, using his newly modernized troops after finally subduing the Janissaries, declared war in support of Napoleon in the end of May, the Sultan promised 200,000 men in a invasion of Ukraine under the promise to restore the Crimean Khanate,. While Napoleon doubted the Sultan would mobilize such a force, he figured they could be an useful distraction. With the plans drawn, Napoleon’s men crossed into Russia on the 14th of July, the anniversary of the French Revolution, beginning Napoleon’s biggest campaign yet: The Russian Campaign.
Images of the Russian campaign: The Battle of Borodino, Napoleon in Moscow, [REDACTED], Napoleon directing his men in the Battle of Smolensk
Will Napoleon’s more sound strategy work this time ?
With the core Russian army suffering such casualties Napoleon should win; 1812 was a very near run thing IOTL, and with the modernized Ottomans on Napoleon's side he should win.
Really hoping Russia can pull off a victory and crush Napoleon under the boot of third Rome.
Hoping that General Winter doesn't enter the fray and bite Nappo on the ass.
Didn’t you see the images ? Winter is coming.
I like it a lot.
This is good i like this. I hope napoleon wins honestly.
You may thank @Confederate Liberal
Light Green: Russia / Blue: American Empire / Light Blue: Grand Duchy of Quebec / Orange: Spain / Green: United Republics of America
Rule #1 of invading Russia: Don't invade Russia.
Rule #2-#100: Read rule #1.
Unless you are, wait for it...
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