What if Napoleon didn't try to become friends with Russia in 1807?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Atterdag, Oct 10, 2019 at 5:23 AM.

  1. Atterdag Well-Known Member

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    Napoleon tried to build a Franco-Russian anti-british alliance in 1807, but it didn't last because Russia had to much to gain from being friendly to Britain. What if Napoleon foresaw that Russia couldn't be kept friendly? Would there still be peace in the summer of 1807 or would the war carry on?
     
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  2. von Adler Generallöjtnant

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    Russia had been defeated at that point - Prussia had been knocked out of the war, and the Russians had lost at Preußisch-Eylau. Even if Napoleon did not seek friendship and alliance with Russia, a peace akin to Tilsit is bound to be the result. If the Russians somehow hand in there, they might join up with the Austrians once they get going in 1809.

    The main result will probably be that Napoleon does not prod the Russians to attack Sweden and without the rapid collapse of the Swedish defences including Sveaborg Russia does not sieze Finland.
     
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  3. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer

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    This is a pretty fair summary. 1809 would become close to 1813 as Wagram (which was already a close run thing) would be transformed with an extra 100,000 Russians.

    Not only the Finnish war is butterflied in all probability but Russia probably settles with the Ottomans and Persia in the South in 1807 instead of broadening the war.
     
  4. Atterdag Well-Known Member

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    Oh hey I think I've seen your posts on reddit.

    Napoleon never considered pushing into Russia in 1807 to conquer land from them then?
     
  5. von Adler Generallöjtnant

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    I don't think the Russians at this point have the ability to support and supply 100 000 men that far outside Russia - they had 60 000 at Austerlitz, 67 000 at Preußisch-Eylau and 145 000 at Leipzig - the Russian Imperial Army reformed and advanced a lot during these years, especially when it came to logistics, staff planning, marching dispersed and concentrating, allowing them to field, support and supply much larger armies further from their own territory.

    70-80 000 would be stretching it, and they would need to gain control of or at least containing Congress Poland/the Duchy of Warsaw before moving deep into Austria. Napoleon have not lost his veterans at this point, and migth very well be able to keep the Austrians and Russians separated through manouvre warfare and defeat them in turn.

    It took until 1812 for the coalition(s) to learn to be resilient and stay in the field even with hard defeats to keep the pressure up on the French.

    Then again, with continued war, the Russians may learn Napoleonic warfare faster.
     
  6. von Adler Generallöjtnant

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    Exactly what Napoleon would do if the Russians just keep fighting is not easy to imagine. The Austrians are still a threat, the Swedes, while lacking the ability to inferfere in any way on the continent, still defy his continental system, Spain is an open sore and he has just defeated Prussia and will be re-organising the Holy Roman Empire into a bunch of client states.

    He might rebuild his armies and try an invasion of Russia in 1808, or at least a limited campaign to expand the borders of the Duchy of Warsaw at the expense of Russia. Breaking off the Baltic states might also be on the map - I doubt that he'll attempt a Grande Armée style invasion before he can prod Austria to participate in it.
     
  7. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer

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    Russia will offer an armistice - that is almost certain. And Napoleon would be a fool to reject it for the reasons you outlined. Napoleon may be able to push on after Friedland and establish a larger Poland (or Poland-Lithuania) but that will anger the Russians and Napoleon needs to resolve his other problems in Germany and Spain before Austria returns. And Spain prevents a major Russian campaign unless 1812 level of preparations are undertaken..
     
  8. funnyhat Well-Known Member

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    This is hard to know for sure. If Russia is still fighting after 1807, that may butterfly the whole Iberian adventure, or at least the overthrow of the Spanish Bourbons.
     
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  9. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    Apr 24, 2018
    Actually, Russians considered Eylau to be their victory or at least a draw. Most probably you are confusing it with Friedland, which was a clear Russian defeat.

    However, in purely practical terms Napoleon could do little if this war continued: campaign was costly for both sides and at best Napoleon could expect to occupy Russian-held parts of the former PLC. It is not like Russia completely run out of the troops or could not raise the new ones so low intensity conflict could continue for quite a while and almost definitely continue all the way to 1809 (*).

    I quite agree that, without Russia being Napoleon’s ally and part of the CS, the prerequisites for the war of 1808 - 09 would be absent and Finland would remain Swedish.

    (*) In 1806 Russia had 18 infantry divisions (6 regiments each), in 1807 (Friedland campaign) - 22, in 1808 - 24, in 1809 at the end of the Swedish War) - 26 infantry and 4 cavalry divisions and the numbers kept growing: in 1812 there were 30 infantry and 11 cavalry divisions.
     
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