In America, Tecumseh was trying to come to grips with leading a new Native American Confederacy. Uniting the various tribes into a single cohesive state proved exceedingly difficult due to long standing religious beliefs, rivalries and grudges. Tecumseh’s leadership abilities were able to hold things together but it was a sheer cliff struggle throughout. Help arrived from an unexpected source…
After the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson turned the Creek War to his advantage by grabbing 23 million acres of land from both Allies and Enemies during the war. Forced from their homes, most of the refugees went north to their former leader, Tecumseh. Bolstered by stories of the horrors of the invading American army and the loss of their land led to several tribes to go north where old loyalties to Tecumseh sprang up, enlarging his support base considerably.
When the reality of what the Americans have done to a tribe that was an Ally sunk in, most of the tribes began to rethink their position and gradually came round to thinking that a Confederacy might not be all that bad. Tecumseh organised a huge conference to take place in May of 1815 while Britain agreed to send representatives to help sway opinion in favour of a united Native American Confederation with the promise of weapons, supplies and general aid in establishing a proper government.
Back in Europe, war plans for Prussia came to a steady halt as all was prepared except for a catalyst for invasion. Prussia however had been preparing for a war with France and had been able to find to Allies against Napoleon. One was the Kingdom of Spain which wanted the territory lost by the Treaty of Madrid. The other Ally was none other than Regent Bernadotte of Sweden and Finland, who wanted a united Scandinavian kingdom by attacking Napoleon’s ally, Denmark.
The one Ally missing that could have really affected the outcome of the upcoming war was Austria. Despite the attempts of Metternich, Austria wanted to keep out of any conflict unless France suffered a severe loss. Inspired by the Peninsular Warfare of Wellington, the Prussian High command redrew their tactics to copy Wellington’s own style of battle. Despite severe opposition in some quarters, the more pragmatic elements of Prussian High Command forced the measures through and the Prussian Army prepared for the oncoming onslaught.
All this was completely blown out of the water however when on the 18th of March, during an inspection of troops outside of Magdeburg, Napoleon almost died in an assassination attempt. While driving in a carriage to inspect troops during a tour in the Confederation of the Rhine (Which was really a cover for him to prepare for invasion), a bomb that was hidden in a cart disguised as a wine barrel blew up as his cart passed by.
Although he wasn’t killed by the attack, Napoleon suffered severe injuries along his right side and his face was permanently scarred. After a brief scouring of the crowd, the French Army grabbed hold of the owner of the cart and arrested him. A brief struggle ensued with several civilians who fought the troops over the man. Shots were fired by the troops and several of the civilians were killed which soon made the situation deteriorate into a full blown, anti – Napoleon riot.
With Napoleon’s health in mind, the French Command withdrew from Magdeburg as army reinforcements arrived and the riot is put down with a huge amount of bloodshed on either side. Though the riot was put down, the news spread throughout all of Europe about the massacre. Prussia was appalled and Austria agreed to join the Alliance whenever war was declared on the basis that Napoleon’s wife and child were to be put into Austrian custody.
Demands by Prussia and other European powers were made to the French government for the soldiers involved in the Magdeburg Massacre to be brought to justice. But with Napoleon incapacitated and the French government in chaos, no reply was forthcoming. Therefore, on the 28th of March, Prussia, Austria, Sweden and Spain declared war on the French Empire, citing the infractions of German sovereignty as a casus belli. The true irony of the situation being that Napoleon now had his war, but was unable to do anything about it.
The British Parliament debated over whether or not to interfere in the latest war but declined on the basis that no immediate threat to Britain was present. When news of the War reached Wellington while he was shaving, his answer was characteristic to say the least “War you say? Well I must say I’m not altogether shocked.” He then carried on shaving.
The War between the French Empire and the Allies got off to a laughable start. As events had progressed so rapidly and Napoleon still incapacitated from his injuries, the first half of the month constituted of the Allies calling up armies and trying to get them to the front while France had the armies but no sufficient leadership.
Eventually leadership of the army was divided into three with Ney taking the Spanish front; Murat took the Italian front while Massena took control of troops in Germany. A provisional government was set up in Paris with Talleyrand as its President, though still some what chaotic, the system of control did allow a structure of command to exist that made the war easier to fight.
The real fighting began on the 22nd of April when an Austrian Army converged upon the Italian border while a Prussian army marched into the Confederation of the Rhine. While an Army under Murat marched to fight off the Austrian Army, Massena was forced to pause along the border of the Confederation as the huge public uprising against France was still continuing. Massena decided that his army of 60,000 was better served fighting a defensive war rather than marching through an extremely hostile country.
Ney on the other hand, took the fight to the Spanish Army and invaded Spain, taking the route from San Sebastian. Ney marched west with an Army of 60,000 to push Spain out of the war. The Prussian Army also marched west, in order to converge on Holland, liberate it and then move south into France itself. This was coincided to match with the strategy of the Allies; each was to march into an area that particularly resented French occupation (Holland, the Papal States and the occupied territories of Spain) liberate it, and use the resources of that area to further fight France.
Though this plan was widely over optimistic though, for Prussia at least, it seemed to be working as the Confederation of the Rhine fell apart and the people welcomed the Prussian Army as liberators. For Austria though, Murat’s Army stood at the Venetian territories and they kept at a wary distance until further reinforcements. The Spanish Armies were barely organized however, when word reached them of Ney having crossed the border. An Army of 48,000 under Jose de Zayas immediately marched east to counter the threat but the troops were of low quality compared to the French Army and it was plagued throughout the march by numerous troubles.
The Meeting between the Shawnee Tribes and the refugee tribes from the south was a success. Rumours and stories of American atrocities spread by the refugees really mad various tribes worried about losing their own way of life. An agreement was reached between the factions to form a new Confederacy. The Leaders of the Tribes also began work on a new Constitution, which would bind the Tribes together but there were divisions within the Confederacy from the outset as some wanted aid from Britain to set up a government while others rejected the notion outright. These would later evolve into the Nationhood Party (Those against British aid and the more conservative Party) and the Union Party (Those who favoured British aid and the more liberal Party).
The shape of a central government was agreed whereby the Chiefs of the Tribes would set up a Great Council for them to meet and discuss the issues affecting the Native Tribes. This would eventually evolve into the Shawnee Parliament. With two houses of government with one being made of selected officials while the other was made up of the Chiefs of various tribes who were given the power over the passage of any laws that the lower house passed through.
In Europe, the War between France and the Allies continued with France starting off better than most people expected as Ney fought the Spanish Army by the Ebro and pulverized it, losing 3000 men to Zaya’s 12,000 and threatening to march onto Madrid. Ferdinand VII instantly caved into pressure and agreed to pull Spain out of the War while also agreeing to cancel all debts over the captured Spanish territories. By the end of the month when the Treaty of Barcelona was signed, Ney was back in France ready to reinforce Murat.
The Italian theatre of War was also going well for France as Murat was able to push the Austrian Army back to Dalmatia after a fierce battle on the edge of the Venetian territories. Though heavy reinforcements later caused him to retreat to Northern Italy where he reassembled his forces to counter the new Austrian threat. The German theatre was the only place where French Armies suffered difficulties at this time. With the attack upon Holland by a Prussian Army, Massena fought to a bloody draw and was forced to withdraw further west as even more Prussian Armies converged on the border. Reinforcements in the form of an Army under Marmont arrived before an actual invasion of French territory occurred and the two enemy forces paused along the border, waiting for their first move.
The War in Europe became bloodier as French, Prussian and Austrian forces clashed in Italy and Holland. Massena managed to defeat Blucher’s oncoming force but was unable to pursue him into Germany due to disagreements with Marmont over the progression of the assault. This was to be the immediate pattern of the war, while French Commanders were usually able to defeat their Prussian and Austrian counterparts; their own squabbles prevented them from pressing the advantage.
These events were seen also in the Italian theatre where Murat and Ney sharply disagreed over how to progress against the Austrian Army and were subsequently forced to retreat to North West Italy when an Austrian army of 80,000 converged onto their position. Having retreated as far as Milan, Murat finally decided to set Ney straight and pulled rank, as King of Naples, he didn’t have to put up with Ney of all people. Murat ordered Ney to return to France while he took control of the Italian front, if he was unwilling to do so; Murat made it clear that France would lose an Ally in the Kingdom of Naples.
Spitting blood, Ney had no other choice to comply with Murat’s demand. He left Italy in mid-June with his Army and upon reaching Paris, told the Provisional Government what had taken place. Talleyrand allowed Ney to draw up plans to avenge this insult but realised that it was also a depressing indictment of the Napoleonic Empire. Without Napoleon himself, his supposed Allies were more than eager to turn on the state the Emperor had created.
Elsewhere in Europe, King Ferdinand was in deep trouble. Not only had he got Spain involved in a War that cemented French control over the Basque regions but had also started to prove himself anything but the great hope for the liberalisation of Spain as he had rejected the Constitution of 1812 practically out of hand. The Army (Particularly the guerrilla bands who had risen to prominence during the Peninsula War) and the Liberals who had gained power during the chaos were quickly becoming hostile to the new King.
In order to secure his power base, Ferdinand ordered the arrest of several leading Liberals who had opposed his reign since his return from France. The plan went awry though and the Liberals were tipped off about the conspiracy against them. After fleeing the capital, the Liberals gained support from elements in the Army and prepared to fight to restore the Constitution that Ferdinand had refused. Leading the forces of the Liberals was Colonel Rafael Riego, a commander who was determined to end Fernando’s tyranny.
In the far north of Europe, Swedish forces finally managed to defeat the last standing Danish Army in Norway. Having never really recovered from the second Battle of Copenhagen, the Danish Navy was unable to match up to the Swedish Navy and its (Albeit patchy) blockade of Danish ports. With Norway now under his control, Bernadotte then began to move away from the general campaign against France. Though he had gained support from Prussia in the form of equipment and several units of soldiers, Bernadotte himself was very reluctant to return the favour lest he risk losing everything.
Having allowed the Prussian units to return home, Bernadotte concentrated on a naval campaign against France, using his Army to subjugate elements hostile to the rule of Sweden, Bernadotte proclaimed the United Kingdom of Sweden-Norway-Finland on the 18th of July. The Union of the three nations was furthered with plans of a grand Parliament centred in Stockholm with representatives of all the nations meeting to rule the Realm. Though many people in Norway were hostile to the idea, the Finnish were agreeable to it, however, seeing as any government was better than the Russians.
Further south, the war was continuing apace for France as both Austria and Prussia began preparing for large offences against Holland and the Kingdom of Naples. Unable to count upon neither Spain nor Sweden, Prussia and Austria resolved to take the fight upon themselves and destroy French power in Germany and Italy. More pragmatic elements began to realise that an actual invasion of France would be next to impossible without aid from another nation. Overtures towards Russia were turned down as the nation was still recovering from the chaos of the French invasion and the memories of the might of the French Army were quite overwhelming. Tsar Nicholas was eager to avenge his brother’s death but had no means to accomplish this.
In France, things were hardly any better. The French Marshals had gathered hastily at the Northern Front to sort out the question of command once and for all. Talleyrand was present to preside over the meeting and sooth over the egos to help save France. The meeting quickly descended into a shouting match between the Marshals, each pushed his case forward to be the one to lead the Armies of France. Tempers soon began to run high and it looked as if no agreement was going to be reached when Talleyrand finally interrupted the proceedings.
After banging his fist on the table, Talleyrand reminded the Marshals of their duty to France, to the state and to the Emperor. If they could not work together, then all would be lost. Talleyrand then put it to the vote, which among them would the Marshals want as their overall commander? After a few tense moments, the Marshals began to vote for Ney as Commander with Massena refusing to acknowledge the vote, his experiences with Ney in Spain and wanting to retain command of the Northern Front colouring his view.
Wanting to keep a united front, Ney allowed Massena to lead the Army of the North, giving him authority to run the campaign as he saw fit. Massena grudgingly accepted the offer though it rankled that he would be unable to gain complete command. Ney also sent an Army of 80,000 under Marshal Claude Victor-Perrin down south to the border with Naples, unwilling to trust Murat after his actions. Another Army of 60,000 under Marshal Jozef Antoni Pontiatowski was sent as reinforcements to the other French forces in the Basque Counties. The destabilising situation in Spain meant extra security was needed for French interests in the area.
By the end of July, Prussian and Austrian Armies were converging on French and Naples territory once more. With the Confederation of the Rhine now dissembled and Jerome Bonaparte having to flee his Kingdom as it was overran by Prussian forces, it looked unlikely that the glory days of 1805 could ever be recovered. Ney and Talleyrand both agreed that with Napoleon still recovering from his injuries, it would have been unwise to pursue a campaign in Germany. Better to defend core French territory and cut their losses it seemed.
Elsewhere in Europe, Spain was starting to descend into a full Civil War. While Ferdinand VII was drumming up support from Spain’s central regions, the rebel forces had gained much support along the outer regions of Spain. The loss of support of the Liberals, the Army and the disastrous campaign against France had cost Spain dearly. As a result, Ferdinand’s only supporters were the reactionary nobility and the more conservative elements of the Church and peasantry. At the end of July, Armies of both sides were marching out to determine the fate of Spain and what remained of her ravaged colonies.
On the 3rd August, an Army under Murat managed to repel the Austrian invaders back to the Venetian territories, leaving Naples safe for the time being. In the Netherlands however, a combined Prussian force of 100,000 moved onto the Northern Netherlands under the overall command of General Blucher who was determined to regain Prussian honour on the battlefield. He would be countered by three French Armies of 40,000 each under Marmont, Massena and Oudinot with Massena as overall commander.
The invading Prussian force had been split into two major forces, one with 70,000 men was sent to attack the Northern Netherlands in the Groningen province under Hermann von Boyen. Blucher remained in Germany with 30,000 to secure communications and a supply route. While gradual reinforcements were expected, it was believed by the Prussian High Command that the sooner the French Army could be overcome before Napoleon had recovered, the better.
The Prussian Army under Boyen tried to move quickly and secure the most of the Netherlands as possible. Massena, the spoilt child of victory had other ideas however. Ten miles east of the city of Groningen, the Prussian Army under Boyen had advanced with a forward force of 40,000 soldiers. Boyen had sent scouts before him who informed the General that the French forces were at least two days march away to the south. And they were right, to an extent; it had been Marmont’s force that the scouts had come across while Massena and Oudinot’s Armies were barracked fifteen miles west of Groningen itself. Believing there to be only one French Army in the Netherlands, Boyen failed to send any further significant scouting troops in the area. When Massena realised the gift he had been given, he took it with relish.
Ordering Oudinot to take a long Northern route that curved around the Prussian Army, Massena led his own force out to fight the enemy. His strategy being that while the French Army under himself attacked the Prussians head on, Oudinot would circle around the battle and strike from the rear. On the 12th August, the Battle of Groningen took place, resulting in a complete French victory over the invading forces. The strategy devised by Massena was a complete success, the Prussian forces were surprised and then overwhelmed by the French. Crushed in a classic pincer movement, the Prussian lines were broken easily, resulting in 12,000 Prussian casualties and 8000 prisoners to 1500 French casualties. The cherry on the cake was the fact Boyen himself was one of the prisoners as the Prussian Army fled the field.
To say that Blucher was furious at the news was like saying Russia was a bit big. Taking those who had escaped, Blucher joined them to his own force and ordered a march westwards, leaving 15,000 to secure supplies and communications, Blucher took the remaining 65,000 and marched onto the Netherlands. When he heard of the victory in the Netherlands, Talleyrand approached Ney with an idea. If France could keep its ‘natural frontiers’ (Plus Naples, the Basque territories, the Netherlands and Switzerland), couldn’t they sacrifice other territories and let the Allies fight amongst themselves as to who got what? The Grand Duchy of Warsaw, the Dalmatian territories and even the Venetian territories were unnecessary to France’s defence so let the Allies squabble over them.
Ney, though appalled at the idea, did agree that it made some sense in the long term. Talleyrand also made a suggestion concerning Murat, if Austria wanted the Venetian territories, let them on the bargain that France would be rid of the traitor without Austrian interference in the matter. Wanting to avenge the humiliation he had gone through in Italy, Ney readily agreed to this on the provision that any move would wait until the Prussians were safely out of the Netherlands, wanting to negotiate on a position of strength.
Ney was to get his wish when Massena received word at his camp in Slochteren that Blucher was marching towards him with his Army. Massena called Marmont up from the south to aid him in driving Blucher from the Netherlands and prepared his forces in a defensive position. With 75,000 troops, Massena was confident of victory and only called up Marmont’s forces as an afterthought. The two Armies met at Slochteren where Blucher looked to avenge Tislit. He was to be very disappointed.
The Battle of Slochteren was another great French victory as Blucher found himself outmanned and outgunned from the outset. On the 20th August, fifteen miles of east of Slochteren, the Armies of France and Prussia met once more to decide the fate of Europe. The battle began with a Prussian bombardment at 10:17 AM on the French positions while the Prussian infantry advanced onwards. The attack faltered however as the French line continually managed to send the Prussians into retreat with their constant firing.
At 12:46, Massena launched a counter attack from his right flank, sending his columns into the Prussian lines, overwhelming them. When the Prussian left flank had almost crumbled, a desperate cavalry charge saved them from complete and utter defeat. The French infantry was sent reeling back in panic as the Prussian cavalry cut through them. By 1:49 PM, the lines had stabilised but it was quickly becoming clear that the Prussians needed a miracle to actually win the battle. They weren’t to get it.
As Massena ordered an advance from his infantry in the centre at 2:20 PM, Blucher received news that his beleaguered left flank was once more under pressure, but not from Massena, Marmont had arrived. Upon hearing the sound of cannon, Marmont had doubled the speed of his march and struck forward. After finally reaching the battlefield, Marmont sent his forces to attack Blucher’s right flank while also sending a messenger to Massena to tell him what was happening. By the time the messenger had managed to meet with Massena however, the Prussian lines had all but crumbled before the oncoming French attack.
At 2:52 PM, an assault by Marmont’s infantry on the Prussian flank finally caused it to break and the Prussians began to flee from battle. With his entire right flank now being turned, Blucher had no choice but to order a retreat. But due to the crumbling Prussian lines and Marmont’s fresh forces, the retreat soon developed into an utter rout with large portions of the Prussian Army being overrun by the French cavalry. The total casualty list for the battle was 19,000 Prussian dead and wounded with 10,000 prisoners while the French lost roughly 12,000 soldiers during the battle.
By sunset the chase had been called off and had finished with the Prussian Army in complete chaos and having to flee the Netherlands. Massena prepared to march onto the former Confederation of the Rhine when he received word from Paris, a cease fire had been reached between France and the Confederation. On the 29th August, in the city of Siegen, French, Prussian, Swedish and Austrian diplomats met to hammer out another treaty to change the face of Europe once more.
These events had little bearing on what was happening in Spain however as Royalist and Revolutionary forces clashed outside Madrid. The battle which took place was quite laughable compared to what was happening in the rest of Europe at the time. The troops of King Ferdinand were utterly routed as the better led Revolutionary forces struck them from the field of battle. The Army of Rafael Riego quickly captured Madrid after the battle and took King Ferdinand prisoner. As August ended, the cowed King was forced to accept the Constitution of 1812 and a new Liberal government. With no help forthcoming from other sources, King Ferdinand was stuck with his situation.
Negotiations in Siegen went on apace as the French diplomats (Led by Talleyrand) managed to keep one step ahead of their counterparts. Amazed with the French concessions, the joy of the Prussians and Austrians almost instantly turned to backbiting when they began to argue over Poland. Talleyrand also sent word to Russia, managing to earn the ire of the Tsar who saw this as a threat to Russian interests.
Using the other Powers against each other, Talleyrand managed to lessen the damage done to France and managed to wrangle the agreements that failed to hurt France to any substantial amount. The Treaty of Siegen which was signed on the 20th September agreed to the following clauses:
1: Peace between the four nations would begin immediately with an exchanging of prisoners and withdrawal of troops.
2: The Confederation of the Rhine was to be broken apart. While the nations created by Napoleon were to remain, those governments deposed during the German Rebellion (As it came to be known) were banished and new governments were set up be Prussia though all were more or less the same in form as the Napoleonic ones.
3: All states agreed to recognise the United Kingdom of Sweden-Norway-Finland and Bernadotte as its King.
4: The Duchy of Warsaw was to be spilt thusly; Prussia was to regain the territories that had been taken from it at Tislit, Austria was to gain the city of Krakow and its territories while the rest was to be turned into a buffer state against the Russian Empire. Realising that none of the states could trust a German or Frenchman in charge of the State, Talleyrand suggested that Marshall Jozef Poniatowski be made King of this new Polish state. Well known for being a proud Polish soldier and popular in his homeland, Prussia and Austria reluctantly accepted him as King of Poland on the clause he agreed to surrender his French titles completely.
5: Both Prussia and Austria pledged to protect the new Kingdom of Poland from any outside interference. To say Russia was upset at this, is like saying the sea is rather damp.
6: Austria was to regain Dalmatia and the Venetian territories with a secret clause that they wouldn’t interfere with the French invasion of the Kingdom of Naples and the overthrow of Murat.
With the Treaty signed at the end of the month, Europe was once more at peace. It should be noted that the Treaty of Siegen was the start of the ‘Great Isolation’ of Russia from European affairs. Insulted and mortified at the creation of this new Polish state without even consulting Russia, the nation began to withdraw from European affairs (Apart from keeping an eye on Poland itself) and began to look at Central Asia and Siberia to bolster its position in the World.
The Treaty only hit with one problem however, it needed the signature of Napoleon Bonaparte himself in order to finalise it. Napoleon up to this point had been residing in his Palace outside of Paris, recovering from the attempt on his life and spending time with his son. He had been constantly fed news of great victories by his Marshals and had been expecting yet further concessions from the European Powers (Even the elimination of Prussia) with the end of the War. What he got however, was something completely different.
What transpired on the 25th September was to shake the foundations of the Imperial government itself. Napoleon had given a private interview to Talleyrand and several of his Marshals (Ney, Massena and Marmont) concerning the end of the War. When Talleyrand began to outline the clauses of the Treaty, Napoleon flew into a rage. Abandon the Venetian territories? Hand the Duchy of Warsaw over to his enemies without firing a single shot in retaliation? Why had they agreed to such clauses?
The final words ever spoken by Napoleon Bonaparte were of extreme venom against his former favourite Marshals and diplomatic aide “What is this? Are the Marshals of France such cowards that they agreed to sully the name of their nation so? Cowards! Traitors! You are so much shit in medals and silk! You…”
In mid rant against the four men, Napoleon suddenly stopped, gasped and then collapsed to the ground. The fit of rage brought on by news of the Treaty had overcome the weakened Emperor and caused him to have some sort of seizure. As he lay on the floor, it was Ney who was the first to rush to Napoleon’s side only to mutter “My God, he’s dead.” When he realised the truth. A horrified moment of uncertainty was overtaken when the ever opportunist and pragmatic Talleyrand offered a quick solution. Pointing out that the death of Napoleon could destroy France at this point, he suggested that the death be kept a secret until such a time when Europe was settled and France would be unthreatened from the machinations of their enemies.
The Marshals still horrified at Napoleon’s death, agreed on this and began to further the plan. The news would be put out that Napoleon had suffered a relapse and though too weak to see anyone, appeared to be in a position to recover at some point. Ney would rush down to Naples and deal with Murat once and for all while Napoleon’s signature would be forged and the Treaty finalised. The Empress and the Prince would be kept under house arrest so that the news would never get out until it was time. The four organised Napoleon’s body to be buried in a quiet, remote location while the actual funeral of Napoleon would be undertaken with a weighted coffin.
The Treaty of Siegen was fully ratified by the Great Powers when Talleyrand presented Napoleon’s signature to the other diplomats. While in the south of France, Ney prepared an Army that would overrun Naples and destroy the traitor Murat. Only time would tell the full affects of the duplicity of the four men however…