As the British Government was finally getting back to business, the East India Company was brought to heel with the Government of India Act, passed on the 18th. The Act made it so that the British Government now had complete control over the sub-continent instead, creating a Council of India and even a post in the Cabinet for Secretary of India. The almost-War with China had really scared the British Government and it was determined not to risk anything like that again. As the British Government took control of India, the dissent of the locals against the insensitivity of the policies of the EIC was noted.
To this end, the British Government began to work with various Indians to avoid policies which would antagonise the populace. This change of pace was welcome and would later come out very well for the Empire.
The War in Europe resumed this month as Prussia and Austria once again went on the offensive against the Meiningen Pact and France. The fighting along the Pyrenees also started again but only in a sporadic fashion, having already suffered War with Britain much to their cost and the Federacion desperately wanted peace, having driven France from the Basque Counties. Napoleon II was having little of it however, wanting all of Spain to be brought to heel as punishment for its transgressions against the French Empire.
As late March progressed and the Armies came close to clashing in Germany and Italy, the fate of Europe was in the balance. Prussia and Austria wanting for them to finally become the dominant powers of Europe while France and the Meiningen Pact were determined to keep themselves free from foreign domination and secure their place on the continent.
One piece which had not yet been brought into play was Poland. With strong French sympathies and a modern, yet small, Army, Poland presented a key part in any European conflict. But surrounded by Prussia and Austria as well as Russia, it needed to tread very carefully. That said however, King Jozef II used his place as Commander-in-Chief to organise two separate Armies, one for Prussia and one for Austria. They were far back from the border and were displaced throughout Poland itself, several people were actually convinced that Poland was preparing an attack against Russia with Europe distracted.
With Poland believed to have been a non-threat, Prussia and Austria poured all their resources against France and the Meiningen Pact, wanting to finally end French domination once and for all. As March turned to April, the Armies of Europe were marching to fight once more in a War which would only be the first step in the Continent’s near destruction.
In the US, President Buchanan’s inaugural address was greeted with some enthusiasm. After the disastrous Oregon War and the collapse of the Democratic-Republican Party, the American people needed a change they could live with. The National Party with James Buchanan and his Secretary of State Abraham Lincoln had a huge amount of support as it represented a new trend in politics. The younger Lincoln symbolising the new guard of American statesman who mostly came out from the West, having popular support which Lincoln used to his great advantage. Annoyed and threatened by Lincoln’s popularity, Buchanan sent him on various diplomatic trips throughout the next four years, citing his role as Secretary of State. Lincoln used this to his advantage as was seen by the friendship he built up with the young King Alfred during a visit in 1846, a factor in the young King’s notorious Liberal attitudes during his reign.
The first major battle between Austria and France took place several miles east of Verona as an Austrian attack Army was poised in its assault against France and its Allies. That said, the Austrian Empire was under severe strain as nationalism had reared its ugly head and nationalistic sentiments (Encouraged by French agents for several years) were rife throughout the various minorities of the Empire. The War had allowed some unity to be reached but the tensions remained regardless. The Empire had hoped for a quick War with France to strengthen the position of unity but Prussia’s declaration of War on the Meiningen Pact had crushed those hopes, resigning the German powers to a drawn out and destructive conflict.
The War was decided to be concentrated in two theatres, Italy and Germany with Prussia fighting in the north and Austria in the south. The bulk of the Prussian Army was directed into central Germany where it was hoped it would crush the forces of the Meiningen Pact completely before going on towards France itself. Austria’s aims were to strike direct onto Italy itself, taking their rightful place as the dominant force on the peninsula once more. They had managed to reach as far as Verona before French forces scrambled to defend against the assault. France itself was under huge pressure, having to fight a three-front War along the Pyrenees, in Germany and Italy. Although the fighting against Spain had died down to an extent, Napoleon II was determined to launch another offensive in the region.
Despite the wishes of the Emperor however, the Army insisted on concentrating against Prussia and Austria. Spain was weakened after the War in the Americas after all, their turn could wait. Napoleon II reluctantly agreed to a defensive War in the Pyrenees and allowed himself to bide his time until vengeance would be taken upon the old enemy.
With that in mind, the Battle of Verona was an overwhelming victory for the French who had more modern equipment that the Austrian Army and much better led. With a rapid attack upon Austrian lines with infantry following an almighty artillery blast that devastated the Austrian forces. Forced into a retreat, the withdrawal became a complete rout that left the Austrian Army almost destroyed and the French still in control of Northern Italy. The only good news from the Austrian point of view was that France was unable to send anymore forces into the region due to a lack of manpower as their Armies were divided. Austria on the other hand, was free to send more Armies into the region as they piled the pressure on France.
Further north, Prussian troops had quickly driven into Bavaria, scattering opposition. The Pact had been taken by surprise, believing that the Prussian attack would go west rather than south and their forces had been aligned as such. Bavaria had only a meagre force for defence that was quickly brushed aside by several small scale battles with the Prussians. Before long, all of Northern Bavaria was within Prussian control while Meiningen Pact forces rushed to the area, trying to stem the Prussian flow of soldiers. The build up of forces in Northern and Western Bavaria was set to lead to a clash in the next month.
News in France temporarily interrupted the flow of the War for Royal Family and indeed, the country. News came out that the Empress was with child, the horror of War momentarily forgotten as the Bonaparte Dynasty gained another addition. Although it wouldn’t be until the next year for when the child was born, Napoleon II already began to make plans for the celebrations of the birth of his child, using it as a political move to further his interests in Italy by starting plans to unify it, thus increasing his popularity with the rising number of moderate Italian nationalists as well as further bringing Italy closer into France’s domain as a one country would be easier as a vassal rather than several. Napoleon II planned to give his child the title of Prince of Italy, much like Britain’s Prince of Wales. The only opposition came from the Pope who had no wish to let his territories be dismissed in such a manner. Napoleon II eventually forced him into a compromise where, although the Pope would still retain his power and influence with his territories, they would nevertheless become a part of the new unified Kingdom of Italy and be subject to its laws. In return, Napoleon II promised to uphold the Catholic Church as the Empire’s state Religion.
The War nevertheless continued as Austria sent further Armies into Italy and Bavaria to aid Prussia in its fight there. France managed to scrape together an Army to fight in Germany with the Pact forces although it was still concentrating on Italy as its main theatre. Prussia was going all out for the War, its Armies going into Bavaria as a way to overwhelm its opponents with sheer numbers, not believing that the Pact forces would be able to hold for long and that France was too overstretched to offer much of a threat. Poland was also believed to be too busy with Russia to actually attack anyone else, and so the Eastern borders were stripped of troops almost completely. The extent of the Polish deception was masterful, going so far as to make the Russians send forces to their own borders in the belief they were going to be attacked. In reality, the Polish Army sat in Central Poland, awaiting orders to move west and south. All that was needed was a cause…
Elsewhere in Europe, Prussia and Austria were gradually making progress as French forces were forced into retreat in the face of overwhelming numbers to the west. Prussia also clashed in Bavaria with Pact forces in three distinct battles near and around Bamberg where Prussia won the first two in a brilliant defensive strategy before being surprised by a third Army and forced to retreat north. The Prussian Army regrouped and reinforced however, marching back down south to fight once again, this time in co-ordination with an Austrian Army of 25,000 which had been sent to help in Germany. This Army however was the worst that the Austrian Empire had to offer, taken from minorities within the Empire, desertion was rife and morale low, the best troops being reserved for Italy.
The entire of North-eastern Italy was now under Austrian domination at this point although not without sporadic resistance not unlike the guerrillas of Spain during the Peninsular War. Although this was minor at first, it soon grew into a huge problem. The main Austrian objective was the Papal States, to win a major propaganda victory in ‘liberating’ the Pope. The French Army had concentrated in and around the Papal States however, making a showdown inevitable. As Austrian forces moved down through Eastern Italy, a French Army moved to intercept them, hoping for a battle which would stop the Austrians in their tracks.
As the War in Europe was brought to a new height, the War in the Houses of Parliament in Britain was also heating up over the issue of electoral reform. While the Peel administration had managed to put the issue on the back burner during the War, the issue had now reared its head once again and the Liberals were making noises about it as well as the populace. Trying to divert attention from this issue, Peel brought about the Factory Act, a law which was to set basic standard safety and working measures for those in the new factories which were becoming common in Britain. This did have a positive impact upon the Tories and for a while, their position was secure. But although the Factory Act passed, the issue of electoral reform would not go away and would only increase during the year.
The Prussian position in Bavaria strengthened as their reserve forces poured into the area, managing to secure all but the Western region which was still under Pact control. From that point, Prussia sent out an Army of 45,000 to strike into Western Bavaria and then into the other Pact states. Meeting this Army was a Pact one of 42,000, made from the various nations of the Pact and commanded by a Bavarian General. The Armies were to meet at Wurzburg where the Prussians were to attack with a general onslaught against the Pact forces. The Battle of Wurzburg opened up at 11:00 AM on the 17th with an artillery bombardment by the Pact forces against the Prussians to gain the initiative.
The Prussians responded in kind and the battle was on. The Prussians led with a general infantry movement against Pact forces which was badly mauled after a controlled and expertly done cavalry attack which then withdrew in good order. The Prussians then sent their own cavalry to the Pact’s right flank, only for it to be stopped the infantry managed to get into square in time. The Prussian Army was unable to actually penetrate the Pact defences and was constantly repulsed when it tried to do so. After six hours of fighting with no result, the Prussian command ordered a withdrawal, not willing to risk further damage for little gain. At 9000 casualties to the 5000 of the Pact, it had been Prussia’s first major defeat in the War and freed Western Bavaria from the fear of being overrun, for now at least.
In Italy, the French and Austrians clashed along the border of the Papal States in a series of battles which displayed the problems of the Austrian Army. Plagued by desertions, dissent and discord, the Austrian Armies fought badly and were forced out of Central Italy by the 24th. They still had the overwhelming numbers advantage though North-east Italy remained under their dominance. The problems from that however were many as Italian guerrillas constantly struck at Austrian supply lines and messengers, making the situation incredibly hard for the Austrians. As they were forced back from the Papal States, the Austrian High Command made a decision to stage a defensive action around Vienna, setting the stage for a bloody campaign over the following months.
One other major event of this time was not to do with warfare but the publishing of a small book of text, named Evidences of Natural History, published by Robert Chambers. With Britain as the most (Albeit, quite reluctant at times) liberal nation in Europe, Chambers felt that it was the only nation where he could freely publish his work. Evidences built upon the work of earlier scientists of Erasmus Darwin in that, it proclaimed that Humanity had not been created instantly out of mud, but was the result of transmutation (A word which was first used for the process, eventually becoming the byword for it), a period which stretched ages. Using proof of geology, fossils and various other sciences, the work pointed out that man was descended from the transmutation process of untold centuries.
When published, the work spread like wildfire. While Chambers was scorned by Conservatives and various Theologians for his writings, his work gathered such notice in the scientific community that similar publications were gradually published throughout the 1850’s and 1860’s which supported his findings (Although they were criticised as being rudimentary and several were later disproved altogether). By the turn of the century, transmutation had gone from being the ideals of Radicals and the fringe of science to established scientific fact.
Battles raged in Italy and Bavaria once more as the Pact and French went on the offensive against Austria and Prussia. The French offensive initially went well until stopped around Venice itself, the Austrian defences proving too strong against the French and a siege went underway with the French bringing up artillery to pound away at the Austrians. The defences held throughout the month however and the French were stuck for the time being.
The Pact assault on Prussian positions in Bavaria went much better however as the Pact forces were able to be much more fluid in their assaults. With three Armies at 30,000 each, the Pact Army repeatedly struck at the larger Prussian Army, making quick hit and run manoeuvres which wore down the larger and unwieldy Prussian Army greatly. The Austrian Army was engaged and defeated on the 20th, forcing it to withdraw back into the Austrian Empire. Southern and Western Bavaria were back in Pack hands by the end of the month but Prussia still reigned supreme in the north and east with enough forces to launch an offensive before long. The War had become a bloody stalemate with two factors which the French and Pact felt could swing it their way.
The first factor was the rising nationalism within Austria which was coming close to outright rebellion. The Austrian Army barely functioned at times and all that was needed was a push into the Empire itself to push the nationalities into Revolution. But with France stopped at Venice and the Pact too busy in Bavaria, it seemed that this was an idea which would have to wait.
The other factor was, as ever, Poland. Still seemingly aiming its forces at Russia, not even the Pact or France had any idea to its real intentions. Poland’s Army stood at 80,000 and was still in its central provinces, waiting orders for it to march out and attack. Poland was still waiting for the right time and reason however, not wanting to appear to land grabbing nor wanting to attack when there was a chance it could be beaten. The best option for Poland then, was to watch and wait…
A lull in the fighting in Europe took place with all sides gathering their forces this month, the strategies of both sides needing to be finalised before attacking again. France still pounded away at Austrian defences but beyond that, there were no great attacks or battles. For now, Europe was in the eye of the storm.
The same could not be said for Central America however as several months of planning came to a head when the Army launched a coup against the civil administration. Furious over the loss of California and Texas, the Army, led by Santa Anna, struck at the Government on the 18th. With support from the Army and a decent section of the populace (Who were tired of years of dithering Liberal Governments), the Military cabal hit hard and fast, arresting those involved within the Government and proclaiming a new one, the Kingdom of Mexico, with King Antonio leading the way. A new Constitution was hammered out with power firmly resting in the hands of the King and Military. At last, Mexico had a firm and strong Government, although the weakened civilian side made it clear that to all intents and purposes, a Dictatorship resided within the country.
Two mass assaults, one by Prussia, the other by France took place with one succeeding while the other failed. The assault by the Prussians aimed to drive the Pact forces out of Bavaria and managed to succeed. With two Armies of 50,000 each, the Prussians struck east, going straight into Pact forces and managed to divide them, forcing one to retreat and the other to be almost decimated at the Second Battle of Wurzburg. The Prussians had complete control over Bavaria by the end of the month although the winter forced them to stop on its borders, poised for another assault.
The second assault was carried out by France against the Austrian defences around Vienna and was repulsed bloodily several times. The Austrian defences were well manned and well built, leaving little hope for the French forces to actually break through. After nearly a month of fruitless attacks, the French were finally forced to halt their assaults after losing 15,000 to the Austrians 8000. The attack had been an outright failure and the French mettle for an attack had been blunted. Without any further developments on either side, the War had progressed into a bloody stalemate with no progress for either side. As the French, Pact, Prussian and Austrian Armies bunkered down for the winter, neither side was expecting any further developments.
The Polish Army, now up to 90,000 in two separate Armies, was finally ready to attack against Prussia and Austria as a reason for War had been found… or forged at least. A series of letters were planted in the Prussian embassy by a Polish spy, implicating the Prussians to be conspiring with the Austrians to divide Poland between them due to its neutrality in the War and its quasi-friendship with France. The letters were ‘discovered’ when a Polish representative uncovered them from their rather weak hiding place. Citing the letters as their reason, the Polish Government then declared War on Prussia and Austria and by the 29th; the two Armies had crossed into the opposing countries, much to Prussia and Austria’s dismay and shock.
The letters, which were seen as a great breakthrough in terms of the Polish to wage War, would later be the reason why it would become loathed by nearly every German and ostracised by other nations for nearly an entire generation. Although a triumph for Polish Military aims, it would eventually prove to be a diplomatic and political disaster. At the time though, the march into Austria and Prussia only promised the golden laurels of victory and glory…