Discussion in 'Imperium OffTopicum' started by Nuka-sama, Aug 26, 2019.
New war declarations are locked.
Can I still join? Is there any playable nation to join after the next update?
I need orders for the following players as soon as possible
@Crezth @thomas.berubeg @Reus
Thank you for your cooperation
@christos200 let me check in post update with you on that
Crisis Update, 1793
The Russo-Polish War
The growth of the power of the Commonwealth, and the alarm which this inspired in Russia made war inevitable. The karmazyni, Russia’s strongest allies, were dead or in exile and with that went any Russian hope for dividing the Commonwealth against itself. Nevertheless, no scrap of paper was proof against Russian arms! At stake was the legacy of the Empress, the reputation of Potemkin and Russia’s status as the hegemon of Europe — or so the Russians told themselves.
Potemkin moving with decisiveness had moved Russia’s strength to the border and the Poles had reciprocated. Six armies, three apiece, now watched each other across the forests and lakes of the Baltic, the wide plains of the Ukraine and the forests and marshes of eastern Lithuania. There has been no fighting in the opening months. Both sides await news. The news will come, war has been declared but the poor roads means that peace will hold until six men, their uniform so dusty the pickets will challenge them, worried about an enemy trick, and riding horses fit to drop come bearing a piece of paper that will set the generals to ordering, guns to rumbling and men, of all ranks, screaming in unison, if in half a dozen languages, for mothers, wives, children and homes they will never see again.
To those six scraps of paper will be added one more for, in 1793, Berlin honored her alliance with Warsaw and declared war on Saint Petersburg. The alliance had initially been aimed at Austria. The Poles and the Prussians were having their own reasons for loathing the Habsburgs. Its character as an anti-Russian alliance was not Berlin’s intention, in fact, it was anything but, and the split between Russia and Austria had been the cause of considerable celebration. In fact, many within Berlin had concluded that if Russia and Austria split definitively, the Polish alliance should be abandoned wholesale. Prussia’s declaration of war against Russia, a country which she had no quarrel with, except her alliance with Austria, therefore came as a surprise to all sides. Even Warsaw had been sanguine about the potential.
What was even more surprising to all involved was the total Austrian abandonment of their Russian allies. This caught all parties off guard. The Prussians had agreed beforehand with the Poles that in the advent of a two-front war, Prussia would handle the fighting against Austria freeing the Poles to delay the Russians while the Prussians broke the Austrian back and then redeployed their forced to aid Poland. Left unsaid was what would happen if the Prussians failed in Silesia again. Russia was the least surprised of the three participants, knowing full well of the contempt that Austria held them in, and having known in advance of the likely response had already incorporated Austrian perfidy into its planning.
In hindsight, Austria’s actions make perfect sense when viewed in the context of what was happening in Hungary. But to a Prussian staff who had focused almost exclusively on waging war against Austria, it was a disaster. All of Prussia’s careful preparations, the supplies laid out, the disposition of her forces, even the map she had on hand were aimed at Austria. A small force under Friedrich Adolf, Count von Kalckreuth had been ready to march into Poland, but that was merely to watch the Polish-Austrian border to ensure an Austrian force didn’t try and slip into the Prussian rear. It also doesn’t help matters that the Prussian staff suspect an Austrian ruse and have protested mightily against stripping forces from the decisive theatre.
News out of Hungary has gone some way to reassuring them, but the fear remains that the Hungarians might yet negotiate, allowing Vienna to redirect her forces against Prussia. Worried by this they have insisted on maintaining numerical parity, which is in practice supremacy. They have also, quite rightly, noted that the Russo-Commonwealth frontier is a long way from Prussia. At best, the staff estimate they could transfer an additional 20,000 men by next year on top of the 10,000 men under Friedrich Adolf’s command who are already on the field. Friedrich Adolf has of his own initiative has started marching towards the Ukraine to aid the Commonwealth forces there under Dabrowski. The staff in Berlin were apoplectic but have accepted the need to provide at least some aid to the Commonwealth.
The Poles, for their part, are simply pleased that the Prussians against their own interests declared war on distant Russia. Many in Poland would have celebrated had the Prussians just exploited Austrian disarray, seized Silesia and called it a day. That alone would have been a huge help since it would have assured the Poles of a single front war against Russia, which the Poles believe they can win against everyone else’s better judgment and broken Austria’s back for the foreseeable future. In a bear case scenario, the Prussians shaky finances, inadequate manpower and the distraction of incorporating Silesia would have seen them distracted for a decade. Prussia’s actions might be confusing, but her aid is welcome nonetheless.
Into the fray! Denmark declares war!
With neither side having the strength or stomach to commit bodily to war, both sides looked to consolidate their political positions. The King, ensconced in Helsinki, hammered out an autonomy agreement with the Finns in exchange for Finnish support for the war. The Royal Navy, the larger of the rival Swedish fleets, divided its attention between keeping the Riskdag’s fleet stuck in Stockholm and trying to effect a blockade, ferrying Finnish soldiers to Skane while smaller vessels extracted royalists who were caught behind the lines. The demands placed on the navy stretched it past capacity. Had the Riksdag’s fleet left port, it could have savaged the Royal Navy ships left to blockade Stockholm and potentially have broken the Royalists advantage at sea. Fortunately, for the Royalists, it did nothing of the sort.
The royal army, smaller and less experienced than the Riksdag, meanwhile devoted considerable effort to repairing fortifications in Skane and putting its newly raised troops through their paces. The arrival of Finnish troops in strength proved a boon for the royalists who soon set the Finnish horse to securing recruits and taxes from the vast territory between the two sides strongholds of Skane and Stockholm. The Riksdag's horse proved less effective than the Finns, but Finnish exactions of men and money embittered the Swedes caught on the wrong side against the royalist cause. The clashes, however, resulted in few casualties, the area involved being simply too large.
The Riksdag, by contrast, had made good use of its superior resources and had greatly expanded its army. With more officers and regulars, the conscripts were swiftly integrated into existing units while new units were raised with a backbone of regulars to stiffen them. The Riksdag responded to Finnish raids by planting garrisons in strategic towns. This helped close off territory to the enemy, but it did much to dilute its advantage in numbers. The royalists had they attacked could have overwhelmed these isolated posts and won victories that would have bloodied their troops and improved morale. But the royalists did not budge worried that their troops were not up to the task.
The Riksdag despite having the larger army and superior resources found itself divided on two key questions. The first was how to pay for the war, the cost of which had exhausted revenues. The threat of blockade made the issue even more acute. The second issue was what to do about the Swedish crown. Most favored making no change until rupture had become inevitable. Among those who favoured change, opinion had consolidated around importing a Saxon Wettin to be King. The two debates dragged on to the consternation of the generals who found themselves sidelined.
The discussions would have consumed more time had the Danes not intervened and put the cat among the pigeons. The Danes offered the Riksdag aid in the civil war against the King if the Riksdag gave the Danes Skane. The Riksdag refused out of hand. It had no intention of selling Skane for so cheap a price. It was, after-all, the stronger of the two parties and knew it. The Riksdag thinking the matter settled was about to turn back to bickering when the Danish declaration of war in defense of the Riksdag arrived. The Riksdag's hesitation over tax increases were swept aside as the members voted for tax increases and authorized the raising of new loans. The debate on what to do about the King was put aside as the Riksdag declared war on the Danes. The King, having received the news a few days earlier, having already done so. Skirmishing between the Riksdag and King stopped as both sides awaited the arrival of the Danes.
Hungary in Revolt
Relations between Emperor Joseph and the Hungarian nobility long-strained have finally ruptured. In the eyes of the Hungarian nobility, the Emperor’s sins are many. He refused to be crowned and swear the sacred oath to uphold the Golden Bull! He has refused to call the diet which by ancient right must be consulted before the change of any law! He has ignored the hallowed constitution which sets out how Hungary is to be treated! He has abused the sacred liberties of the Hungarians! The Emperor has heard these objections and is not moved. He sees the words ancient, hallowed and sacred and thinks only of rationality, of intellect. and the triumph of truth over error. With neither side able or willing to compromise both sides have resorted to force of arms to settle the matter.
The Emperor bears the lion’s share of the blame for the outbreak of hostilities. It was he who turned his back on the careful policies of his Habsburg forebears to manage Hungary. When the Hungarians objected, it was he who sent foreign troops to occupy Buda and other sites and Imperial troops were marshaled within sight of Vienna. Shocked at this action, loyalist magnates tried to bring the Emperor to reason and found their efforts rebuffed. With news that the Emperor intended to arrest them as rebels, they returned home as former loyalists. Under the guns of the garrison in Buda Castle, the Confederated Estates of the Kingdom of Hungary met and declared that it would raise its banner to defend the rights and liberties of the Hungarians against their own King.
The Imperial position in Hungary soon collapsed. The entire administration went over to the diet. Hungarian regiments in the army defected. Hungarians in foreign service rushed home. Veterans flocked to the colours. The magnates smarting from their poor treatment raised their own forces. To command the army supreme authority was vested in Baron József Alvinczi de Borberek, a veteran soldier with long experience in the Habsburg service. The Hungarian army numbers forty thousand men experienced men and half again as many raw recruits. The Hungarians are amply provided with horses and small arms but lack cannon. The imperial army meanwhile has withered to a core of forty-thousand men and is desperately short of horse but remains well provisioned in cannon and small arms. To supplement the imperial army another twenty thousand men veterans from previous campaigns have been raised in haste.
The few remaining loyalist imperial units in Hungary spread out across Hungary have for the most part been taken prisoner. Some were taken by surprise as Hungarian regiments arrested them following the diet session. Others were placed under siege and without realistic prospect of aid or adequate supplies were forced to surrender. Imperial forces still hold out in Buda Castle under Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld but the castle is practically indefensible. Nevertheless, Prince Josias with fifteen hundred men has spurned offers of surrender and has vowed to hold till his forces are relieved. It has fallen to the elderly Baron Kray to take the castle for the Hungarians.
The majority of the Imperial army is under the command of Francois Sebastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt. A Walloon, Count Francois, is the Emperor’s most able general. His army is made up of the best troops the Empire has left. But the Hungarian defections have robbed him of most of his horse which augurs poorly for the Imperial advance in the flatlands of Hungary. The Hungarian horse meanwhile is under the brilliant command of General-Major Johann Meszaros von Szoboszlo. The General-Major made a name for himself by convincing imperial garrisons the units under his command were the vanguard of a much larger Hungarian army. By offering terms, he insisted would not be repeated, he secured the surrender of significant numbers of imperial troops.
A third Austrian army, under the command of Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser, is stuck in Transylvania. Wurmser has struggled to form up his forces and remains reluctant to march out of fear that the Ottomans might take advantage of Habsburg weakness. The greater part of the Hungarian army under de Borberek is said to be in the vicinity of Raab and is said to be marching towards Vienna. A victory for either side would, in all likelihood, determine the outcome of the war. Neither side has the reserves of experienced men required to sustain operations through a large defeat. Even a few small victories would be as likely to undo the victor as the vanquished. Both sides therefore have resolved at least for now on patience and careful maneuver to try and achieve a decisive victory that will vindicate their cause. Whether the Emperor or the diet is prepared to accept this slow dance of death remains another question.
The Emperor’s problems are not limited however to Hungary. The Imperial garrisons in Bavaria have been stripped and the Bavarians have grown increasingly hostile to imperial officials and soldiers. Abuse on the streets is now common, cobblestones have been hurled from roofs and fights in the pubs of Munich have become a daily occurrence. Angry crowds have formed and only with the greatest effort been dispersed. The governor of Bavaria has asked for more men to be sent to help with the situation but there are no men to spare. The rest of the Empire has remained quiet for now, but for how long who can say. Already, there has been talk of trouble in Italy fermented by fleeing Genoans. In Vienna there are rumors of insurrection by the Emperor’s enemies at court. A decisive victory would put these issues to rest.
The Hungarians are also facing their own issues. Some of the magnates have started to hedge their bets while the minorities in Hungary have refused to help finance the war. The Serbs, in particular, settled on the frontier to defend against the Ottomans have risen up in the name of the Emperor. Though few in number, they have proven to be savages, burning villages and murdering the inhabitants. Other groups have also begun to use the absence of law and order to their advantage. Some peasants in the hills have refused to pay taxes. Others have taken the diet’s actions as an excuse to settle scores against landlords. Without troops to maintain order, chaos is spreading. A decisive victory would put these issues to rest.
Sardinia on the March!
The House of Savoy’s longing to annex Genoa and gain itself a port on the Medditerean is a century-long obsession. The French and Austrians had long opposed, for differing reasons, the Savoyards controlling the two main routes from France into Italy. The French out of fear that Savoyards would unite with the Austrians. The Austrians out of fear that the Savoyards would unite with the French. Both, therefore, had an interest in maintaining Genoese independence.
So it became a great shock to many in Europe that the Sardinian aggression had nary a peep from either. The Austrians understandably were consumed by the Hungarian situation and were not in position to oppose; the French ally in Rome meanwhile was giving overt support over to the Sardinians, causing some at Versailles to wonder if some bargain had been struck in secret with Turin. Whatever the case, Sardinia seemed assured that aggression would not invite intervention and declared war upon Genoa.
Sardinia’s declaration of war caused shock in Genoa and confusion elsewhere. The Sardinian's rationales for war were nothing short of farcical. The Genoese were informed they were atheists and republicans, charges that even Edmund Burke would find hard to make stick. And it was only libel, the Genoans argued, if the charges were untrue.
Despite the injustice of the situation though, the Sardinians marched onwards, forcing the Genoans to act. The fleet has made arrangements for a siege and is confident it can supply the city with food for as long as needed. Therefore, the Sardinians will need to force the city open; a very difficult, but not impossible, task for the Sardinian regulars. The Genoan army might be in a sad state, but its morale is high and it has been supplemented by patriotic volunteers, ready to defend their home. It is expected that casualties will be high on both sides, though there is wonder that if the situation seems hopeless that Genoa might declare itself an open city.
Some Genoan elites have made their way to Venice, where their war against the forces of injustice has become a cause célèbre amongst the populace. Many others, particularly the middle orders, fled to Venice as well, but also to enlightened Milan, to the concern of Austrian officials; they believe they may be overwhelmed with refugees soon.
The only notable foreign reaction thus far has been the Spanish; some thirty thousand soldiers and an accompanying fleet arrived in the province. For now, they are there to ensure stability in Spanish Italy, but there is some wondering if Spain might be opportunistically looking to further their power in Italy.
@All involved in the wars here, please send your orders for 1793 by no later than Wednesday; the earlier the better, if possible
When will we be appointed AP?
All AP has been appointed
Camera low. A path through a birch forest on a winter dawn. Long shadows cast on pristine snow. Vertical lines of white and black.
A spash of red color- a cardinal alights gently on a branch.
Horse’s hooves in the snow- rhythmic crunching sound echo crisply through the. Gentle whinnying. Bells tinkling. Horse sounds intensifies. Sleigh runners sliding sound on snow. First shadows, then two riders appear. Soldiers. Ostentatious imperial Russian costume. Behind them, an ornate covered sleigh pulled by four large horses (Russian Ardennes). Horses and sleigh are bedecked in bells. The sleigh driver sits high, his costume ostentatious also. His whip lies unused at his side. No view of the inside of the sleigh.
Startled, the cardinal takes to the sky.
Later. Sound of sleigh carries into new scene without breaking. Dusk. The winter palace, St. Petersburg. Camera, low, faces gateway. Stone and snow. Light and warmth radiate from the many windows. Distant violin. Imperial guards holding lanterns high on iron poles.
Bells and sleigh louder. Hooves of a horse pass quickly in foreground, left to right. The runners of the sleigh passes, slowing and comes to a stop. Guards rush to the foreground, their figures unseen above the knee. Words spoken in Russian. No translation provided. The sound of the sleigh door opening and a boot, trimmed in rabbit fur steps out. Turning back to the sleigh. New boots, one adults and children’s boots in various sizes step onto the snow. Six pairs in total. Soldiers boots appear from stage right. Sleigh pull away with a gentle command from the driver.
The boots walk away from the camera and towards the palace, the figure appearing within frame as they do. A regal blonde women in heavy furs carrying a child on her hip. A shabbier older woman, a nanny maybe, carrying a second, slightly larger child. Five older children trailing behind in a wide V like migrating geese. Soldiers escort.
The palace door opens and an older women emerges leading a entourage of courtesans and well-dressed nobles. Camera zooms. The tsarina, a wide grin on her face.
Consider this a statement of intent to lurk, because this is great.
Crisis Update 1793Peace in Hungary
With the Hungarians on the march and the Bavarians believed to be waiting only for secret signals to rise, it seemed the Habsburg monarchy was beginning to falter. Emperor Joseph bedridden and his health failing could do little. With no firm hand at the tiller, even one so hated as Joseph, and the enemy at the gates the government had all but ceased to function. It came therefore as a relief to all when the Emperor expired. His last words in his diary were a fitting epitaph: “the world shall not miss such a cruel, viscious, and incompetent tyrant”.
Under normal circumstances, the death of an Emperor in a time of crisis would have caused panic. In Vienna, by contrast, the mood lifted. Joseph alone, it was felt, bore responsibility for alienating the Bavarians and the Hungarians. Joseph’s brother, the new Emperor Leopold, had as it transpired already been on his way Vienna at his brother’s request with a mandate to save the situation. Leopold had ruled Tuscany as enlightened ruler but he was much more amenable to compromise than his unbending brother.
The new Emperor immediately reached out to the Hungarians to seek terms. The Hungarian magnates proved amenable to negotiate. They proclaimed that their problem had been with the Emperor Joseph and not the Empire. There was some truth to this, but other reasons could be found. The Prussian entry into the war with Poland had ended hope for aid from the quarter. The Bavarians had also declined to rise, perhaps in the hopes of securing concessions from the new Emperor.
With both sides prepared to talk, negotiations moved quickly. The two parties had almost come to terms the previous year. The sticking point had been serfdom. The Hungarians had wanted it returned and Joseph had not. Leopold’s terms were no different to his brothers, but he was an accomplished negotiator. With negotiations in progress, he soon realized that the Hungarian camp was a divided one. The magnates and lesser nobles could not bring themselves to agree on much. The magnates’ interests were in controlling Hungary, the lesser nobles opposed that. Leopold set about splitting the Hungarian tent along its seams.
The strategy yielded some results. The Hungarian diet was restored and Hungarian consent required for Imperial laws to have force there. But the Emperor won the gratitude of the magnates and lesser nobles by agreeing that the throne should have the right to veto the diet on matters that might touch on the entire empire. This might seem absurd but both the magnates and lesser nobles were concerned that the other party might seize control of the Diet and use it against the other and saw the Emperor as a neutral party. This understandably pleased the Emperor who gained considerable influence he would not have otherwise had in Hungary but ran the risk of dragging the monarch into the fractious world of Hungarian politics in the future.
The Diet was given the right to tax and spend as it saw fit. Foreign policy was to be retained in Vienna. The Hungarians were required to maintain Hungarian regiments for imperial use with only those regiments permitted within Hungary without the express permission of the diet. For their part, the Hungarians agreed to maintain laws regarding the end of serfdom and continued religious freedom. The Austrians also secured a promise that the Hungarians would not enact undue reprisals minorities who had sided with the Emperor. In a purely symbolic gesture, the Crown of Saint Stephen was return to Hungary and all future kings of Hungary were to be crowned in Hungary. Hungary autonomy has put an end to Joseph’s dreams of a unified empire. Hungary now only shares a monarch, foreign policy and an army with Austria. But the Hungarians are satisfied and believe they got the better end of the deal.
Following the peace, the Austrian and Hungarian armies went their separate ways, to restore order in Bavaria and Hungary respectively. In the former, the arrival of fresh troops helped to calm the situation but the Bavarians are now demanding that Joseph’s reforms be rolled back in Bavaria too. Leopold has given the move serious consideration, reckoning that he could reconcile the Bavarians at a stroke to Austrian rule if he were to do so. Some within the court have argued against such a move, noting that the Bavarians are to weak to fight back. For the Hungarians, things were a bit more brutal. Many who had taken to brigandry were either put to the sword or imprisoned and set to work. One group that had received special provisions from the Emperor, the Serbs, were mostly allowed to return to their homes unmolested, with the Hungarians realizing they were too valuable on the frontier against the Turks to make a permanent enemy of them.
Reconciliation in Sweden and a Quiet War
With the Danish poised to invade Sweden, many within the Riksdag began making plans to deal with the potential invasion. A few members of the Riksdag began quietly reaching out to the royalist camp in hopes of reconciliation. Secret negotiations were opened between the two camps, but quickly broke down. Gustav was unwilling to become a roi fainéant or abdicate while the Riksdag felt that the former king was the reason the country was in the midst of civil war in the first place. In their view, inviting Gustav back would merely result in a second civil war in the near future.
While the proposal to reconcile with Gustav was rejected, word of the negotiations were leaked to a restless populace. The decision to negotiate was viewed with contempt among the bourgeois and tradesmen of the capital who had in recent months begun to organise themselves into democracy clubs along the Polish model. Whispers of a ‘patriotic coup’ carried out by elements of the officer corps, with the support of the people, became loud. The Riksdag entered into a hurried debate to decide what to do, fearful that if something was not announced the people might well force a decision on them.
Fearing both the chaos of what a republic might bring and wary of crowning a foreign king, the well-respected Count Charles von Stauden declared had been advised by Mamsell Arfvidsson, Sweden’s preeminent fortune teller, that if the Riksdag waited a week God himself would intervene to deliver peace at home, defeat for the Danes and prosperity abroad.The Riksdag didn’t much care for Arfvidsson’s prediction, but von Stauden’s recommendation of waiting for a week found favour. The waiting crowds were disappointed but dispersed when asked by officers who promised, in an ominous sign, that a result would be known soon.
Mamsell Arfvidsson might not have been able to tell the future, but she was well-connected with a great many powerful men (and women) coming to her for advice which she passed along to others when it suited her. What she knew, and nobody else knew, was that Prince Karl, brother of Gustav, had sent her a letter.
In the letter, Karl confessed that while the King’s forces did indeed include hard-line loyalists, most were ambivalent to the King. He also reported that there unease among the royalists about what precisely they were fighting for. Defending the dynasty was important. But the nobleman had no no desire to support the ambitions of the new men while the new men opposed the ambitions of the nobleman. The Finns were pleased with their newfound autonomy, but were not interested in going down alongside the King. The Swedes meanwhile distrusted the Finns and saw in their autonomy as a threat to the unity of the state.
What Karl left unsaid in his letter but Arfvidsson intuited was that most everyone in the royalist camp, including Karl, agreed that things would be better if the King were out of the way. Arfvidsson replied to Karl offering a summary of the goings on in the Riksdag and suggested further that if Karl had a plan, she left unsaid what that plan was or should be, the timing was right to execute it. It is not clear if von Stauden was aware of the plot, or was a genuine believer in Arfvidsson’s powers. But whatever the case, King Gustav was assassinated not long afterwards by a disgruntled army officer who fled across the border to Russia.
With the King dead his son aged 12, Gusatv IV, was crowned with Karl as regent. The news shifted opinion in the Riksdag firmly behind peace. Terms were quickly decided on which saw the restoration of some noble privileges, the Riksdag given control over the public purse and its legislative functions returned. The King meanwhile retained control of the ministers and was allowed a significant amount of executive power. Finally, the courts were made independent of both.
The compromise was not without its detractors though. The new men of Gustav’s reign were allowed to return to their positions, but the final terms of the compromise did not fully satisfy them, and they feared that birth, not ability, would determine their future prospects. The democracy clubs which had hoped for a reform along Polish lines took the restoration of the monarchy badly and have become more strident in their calls for change. The Scanians felt themselves cheated and there have been persistent rumours of a rising against Sweden rule. The Finns meanwhile got nothing and the only thing stopping a revolt is Karl who enjoys good relations with the Finns and has promised to resolve Finland’s issues upon conclusion of the war with Denmark. This promise might have stopped the Finns taking up arms, but it did not stop them withholding aid to the crown.
Sweden now looks to the south to prepare to fend off a Danish invasion. The Danish fleet has managed to seize control of the seas in the absence of a Swedish fleet willing to fight it. However, this advantage was completely squandered as the main Danish army left to twiddle its fingers in Copenhagen. With the Swedish navy now forming up in Stockholm, the early Danish advantage at sea is now completely gone. Fortunately for the Danes, Prince Charles of Hesse-Kessel, in charge of the Norwegian army saw an opportunity and attacked. The Swedes had little to respond to Charles thrust with. The royalist foot was in Kalmar while the Riksdag’s foot was in Stockholm. Both sides cavalry meanwhile was spread all around central Sweden. With nothing to stop him, Charles seized the great Swedish fortress of Gothenburg with scarcely a shot fired.
The arrival of peace one would think should have helped the Swedes organise their resistance but it ended up causing no end of confusion. Gustav III death had deprived the royalist army of a leader. His second in command was Karl, but the Regent left immediately after his brother’s death for Stockholm to negotiate and neglected to appoint anyone to overall control in his absence. This led to bickering, which was compounded by the refusal of the royalist officers to accept orders from the republican Minister of War. The arrival of a new commanding officer who had served on the other side did not help matters. Efforts on his part to get army to move were frustrated by royalist officers who were suspicious that the Riksdag might be playing a trick on them. The fact that the Riksdags forces were not moving themselves only confirmed the impression of perfidery.
The fall of Gothenburg made things worse. The royalists embarrassed by the debacle choose to believe that the city had been betrayed by Riksdag sympathisers. The Riksdag meanwhile accused the royalists of betraying the city. The truth of the matter was that the reduced garrison was simply too small to hold the city and was caught off guard by the rapid Norwegian advance. Both sides refused to budge and it was only through the heroic efforts of Arfvidsson that a renewed civil war was avoided.
Charles had wanted to capitalise on his good fortune by seizing the strategic port of Helsingborg which would have allowed Danish troops from the mainland to land in strength. But short of men and realistic about his prospects, he instead fortified Gothenburg against the Swedes. Gothenburg was a strong fortress, well provisioned and a valuable bargaining chip to hold. It also kept the Swedes from marching on Oslo.
With confusion reigning on both sides, the Swedes have offered to Denmark a white peace. Many in the Danish establishment are keen on accepting considering that Denmark is the weaker power and that its only possibly ally, Russia, is distracted in Poland. Charles has argued that he might be able to seize Helsingborg and Malmo should he received reinforcements before the Swedes start to arrive in strength. But he is not confident he could hold out against the Swedes or defeat them in the field without aid, particularly with most of Denmark’s forces remaining in Sjælland. But even with those reinforcements, Charles fears that Danish and Norwegian manpower is simply inadequate to the task to fight a united Sweden.
The Song War
The Genoans knew that the French, Spanish and Austrians had interests in Northern Italy. Therefore, Genoa’s strategy was to delay the Sardinians in the hopes that the international situation would change in their favor. Of the three, the Genoans pinned the most hope on the French. The French had saved the city from the Sardinians and Austria during the 1747 siege. The French crown had remained silent but the Estates-General was strongly supportive of the Genoan cause. Some supported Genoa on idealistic grounds, but most hewed to the far more practical line that a stronger Sardinia would complicate future French campaigning in Italy and benefit Austria. This support was not negligible, and while the Estates-General could not declare war, it could make threats and agitate; when it was heard that the Papacy supported the Sardinian cause, they made further noise against the pact with Rome.
The Spanish meanwhile had holdings in Parma, Lucca, and Modena that a stronger Sardinia might look askance at. The arrival of Spanish troops in Italy was viewed in a hopeful light, but the Spaniards kept to barracks. Quite what the Spanish intended by moving troops to Italy was anyone’s guess. Some suspected that they might be intended for use against Naples.
The final and least welcome option were the Austrians. Everyone knew Austria had long desired to reduce Genoa to subjugation and in doing so expose the south of France to assault in a future war. While that was far from a desirable outcome, it would ensure French intervention in defense of Genoa. News of the war in Hungary was a setback, but the sudden resolution of the conflict occasioned joy. Leopold, it seems, was not as impulsive as his brother.
Genoese strategy was helped by the Sardinians. The Sardinian general, Charles-Francois Thaon, Count of Saint-André, was familiar with Genoa’s extensive fortifications. That familiarity made Charles-Francois cautious. True, the Sardinians had a qualitative and numerical edge, but their numbers were insufficient to force the city. That meant a siege if Charles-Francois could not pull something out of his hat. Charles-Francois’s first hope was to destroy the Genoese army in the field which the Genoese General Michelangelo Alessandro Colli-Marchi, a veteran of Austrian service, did his best to avoid fearful that his army would not survive a battle. This proved mistaken with the Genoese rearguard giving a good account of themselves in a sharp action at Busalla. Busalla did much to reassure Colli that his army would fight and while he declined to give battle again, instead opting to retreat behind the walls of Genoa, the ‘victory’ had done much to build morale.
The Genoese had need of it because Charles-Francois’ second trick was to try and break the morale of the city by drowning it in shot. The Genoans however took the assault in their stride. For ten days, the Sardinians fired at the walls with cannon and used howitzers and mortars to shell the city proper. The howitzers and mortars proved destructive, but the Sardinians had few (and none in the larger calibers) and soon exhausted their store of shells. The Sardinians were better provisioned with cannon, but they had little effect on the Mura Nuove which had been built with just such an eventuality in mind.
Left with no choice, Charles-Francois settled in for a siege. He chose to approach from the east. To even reach the walls he first had to reduce the redoubts of Santa Tecla and Quezzi which sat at some remove from the walls. Colli had reinforced their garrisons, provisioned them well and the officers in command had proven energetic men who had done much to improve the strength of the fortifications by throwing out earthen breastworks around the fort and digging trenches within for shelter. Charles-Francois set his sappers to digging trenches to bring his men close and began, by increments, to choke the life out of the redoubts. Sallies by the defenders at night from the main walls equipped with axes, spikes and torches succeeded a number of times in spiking guns, setting powder alight and damaging siege works. These nocturnal raids did much to improve morale and were greatly aided by an intensive program of training that Colli forced on the defenders. No amount of raiding however could stop the Sardinians reducing Santa Tecla and Quezzi. They fell after three weeks, providing a boost to Sardinian morale. But the length of their survival was greatly aided by Charles-Francois having to reluctantly detach some of his men to reduce remaining holdings on the mainland.
With the redoubts reduced and the threat to his flank neutralized, Charles-Francois’ men set began digging trenches towards the Romana and Pila Gates. Work remained slow as the Sardinians struggled with manpower shortages. Efforts to get civilians to dig the trenches floundered with few workers to be found, most having fled within the walls. The bigger problem was the Sardinian dearth of shelter and supplies. Powder and shot was once again plentiful, but food was scarce and there was little shelter, Colli having burned what he could not take within the walls. This made life a misery for the Sardinians who soon began to die of typhus. Charles-Francois was not to be dissuaded, however, and continued to dig.
The Genoese for their part remained in good health and humor. The Genonese citizenry in the midst of Charles-Francois’ barrage held a public vote that found the Sardinian effort inferior to the French bombardment of 1684, the pockmarks of which scarred many of the city’s buildings, to the considerable embarrassment of Charles-Francois. Pamphlets made light of the siege and provided news, usually within hours, of the goings on. News of the fall of Santa Tecla and Quezzi was widely covered in Europe and closely followed in Italy.
Efforts by the city to evacuate citizens made little progress. Abandoning one’s city, fellow citizens, friends, family and indeed entire life — including much of one’s wealth, much of which was in their homes, which could hardly be moved — proved unpopular. Some men did leave but they were cursed as cowards, and the mob riled up with propaganda was apt to jump anyone trying to leave who, in their eyes, should remain. Those with friends or family outside of the city and money evacuated their women and children. Paying for Genoese women and children to evacuate has become a popular cause elsewhere in Italy, especially in Milan, Venice, Lucca, and Florence. Some wealth was moved outside the city, but more was secreted away within the city.
By far the more interesting story of the siege was the arrival of volunteers. Idealistic Frenchman and Italians made up most of the volunteers. Among the Italian contingent, politically motivated Neapolitans fleeing political persecution were well represented. The arrival of former Neapolitan officers proved a major boon. Venetian idealists who found the politics of their homeland stultifying were also well represented. A small group of Sardinian dissidents were present and news of the execution of a number of their fellows following the fall of Santa Tecla did nothing to break their resolve. These Sardinians also included a few former officers among their number. The Neapolitans and Sardinian officers, along with men Colli had brought along with him from Austrian service, make up a significant portion of the Genoese officer corps. Some wags within the city have taken calling the Genoese army, with a degree of amusement, the Italian army in recognition of its diverse officer corps.
Charles-Francois’ logistics remained precarious. The typhus outbreak eventually burning itself out as the weather turned cold. But it had taken a toll with two thousand men dead, ten times the number of men who had fallen in battle, and twice that number ill and recovering only slowly. With the siege showing no sign of ending and conditions cooling, Charles-Francois made a decision to construct winter quarters for his men. The wounded he sent away to nearby towns to recover which proved unpopular with the Genoese. Most of his army however remained in place. Digging slowed as rain and the cold conditions took a toll on the sappers. All that broke up the tedium was the dull roar of cannons and occasional sorties by the defenders. Charles Francios believes that he will have his trenches well enough advanced to take down the walls by early next year at which point he believes the city will surrender. At least, that’s what he hopes will happen. Storming the breach would be costly.
For their part, Genoans remain divided on the city’s next steps. Many have spoken of surrendering once the walls fall, showing that Genoa fought with honor, and hope that foreign intervention would force Sardinia to withdraw. There are others, represented most heavily amongst the foreign volunteers, who believe that Genoa should fight to the end but doing so though would guarantee the city would be sacked in the event of a Sardinian victory.
The War of the Constitution
Rather than simply advancing from all directions and overwhelming the Poles with superior numbers, the War Ministry in Saint Petersburg decided on destroying the Polish army in the field. The central army, under Suravov, was to be the striking arm to this end. Suravov was to destroy Poniatowski’s army in the centre and then quick march north to trap Kosciuszko’s army in Lithuania. To this end, the Ukraine and Baltic armies were stripped of men which saw Suravov’s army swell to almost a hundred thousand men. The plan, however, almost immediately fell apart.
Suravov’s first goal was to destroy Poniatowski’s army. To effect this Suravov’s army marched from Smolensk in the direction of Minsk and Warsaw in the hope of forcing Poniatowski to fight him. The problem was Poniatowski had no intention of giving battle and abandoned his positions on the border falling back on Minsk ahead of Suravov’s forces. As Poniatowski retreated, his frustrated men left a trail of destruction in their wake and took any opportunity to attack Russian foragers and scouts. Suravov expected the Poles would fight to hold Minsk but Poniatowski defied expectations again and marched straight through the city but not before he had torched it.
Suravov found himself in a quandary. His men had already marched 300 kms. His logistics were fraught and the Polish campaign of burning supplies and attack his foragers and scouts had scarcely helped matters. The attack on the scouts had also denied Suravov intelligence about Poniatowski’s forces. He had no idea their numbers, disposition and most importantly had only a sketchy understanding of where the Poles were. The capture of Minsk was a welcome success and offered up the possibility of marching on Warsaw and ending the war at a stroke. But his orders were to destroy Poniatowski’s army and Suravov was inclined to keep to them. Leaving the Poles running free in his rear would have been folly.
Poniatowski’s orders were even more difficult to carry out than Suravov’s. Warsaw envisioned Poniatowski sweeping north to link up with Kosciuszko’s men and rout Bagration’s force in the Baltics before turning back and defeating Suravov. The problem was that Suravov’s drive on Minsk was not something Poniatowski could ignore. He worried that if he was to race north, Suravov would be in Warsaw and the war lost before he had a chance to turn around. The other issue was that his men were loathe to abandon the fight as they saw it. They knew Suravov’s forces were the bulk of Russian strength and that whatever was in the Baltic and Ukraine were much reduced in strength. Poniatowski’s solution was to let his men fight Russian foragers and scouts to keep up morale and to play for time by remaining in contact with Suravov but denying battle in the hopes that something would change.
After the fall of Minsk, Poniatowski had headed east guessing that Suravov would prefer to take the Lida and Grodno road to Warsaw which was better in quality and had more people to forage off. Suravov pursued Poniatowski intent on destroying him. Poniatowski then misread Suravov’s pursuit as a drive on Wilno. Poniatowski saw in this a miracle. Wilno was strategically irrelevant, but every step towards it took Poniatowski closer to Kosciuszko’s men. He also perceived correctly that the Russians were tired, short of supplies and that Suravov’s force had been bled from the skirmishing, that he had been forced to detach men to garrison Minsk and the other towns along his line of advance and that sickness had taken a toll.
Suravov, starved of intelligence by the Polish cavalry, believed Poniatowski’s army a spent force that was not willing to fight and was collapsing under the pressure. He, like Poniatowski, viewed every step he advanced as a good thing, in his case because it would further dispirit Poniatowski’s men and bought him closer to Bagration and much needed resupply. To that end he sent messengers to Bagration to prepare a march south to link with his own troops and bring much needed supplies. Together, he believed, the two could pin the demoralised Poles down and destroy them.
The problem was that the Poles were anything but demoralised. True, the loss of Minsk and before long Wilno (also burned) had hurt. But news had arrived that Kosciuszko was marching towards them and that Friedrich Adolf with his Prussians were close, having completed a march of almost 800kms in record time. The Poles also knew that Bagration was unlikely to come to Suravov’s aid having retreated to the comparative safety of Riga, his token forces unequal to the task of confronting Kosciuszko. Kosciuszko, for his part, had been told to avoid battle but upon finding out how small Bagration’s forces were, he pounced, dealing a number of sharp blows to the Russians. Of this Suravov deep into enemy territory knew nothing.
With this in mind, Poniatowski turned his forces and took up positions. His army, following the latest in French military theory, was divided into three corps. It was the independent movement of these corps that had so confused Suravov and led him to underestimate the strength and location of the Poles having only ever come into contact one or two of the corps at a time. Poniatowski’s deployment did nothing to dispel the confusion because only his corp and half of a second was visible to the enemy that morning. The site Poniatowski picked for the battle let him deploy a full corps on a low rise in full view of the Russians. His left flank was anchored by a lake and swamp while his right was flat ground, with a forest some distance away. Poniatowski deployed only light forces on his left, content to rely on the terrain, and left his right on the flat ground weak with only half a corps to hold. He however held back significant reserves. A full corps and half of another was concealed behind the hill in his centre.
Suravov saw Poniatowski’s deployment, noted the weak right and added troops to exploit it. He had no inkling that half of Poniatowski’s men were held in reserve.
The battle began early with a Russian general advance. The fighting on the left flank proved inconclusive with the Russians struggling in the rough terrain against Poles fighting in loose formation. The right went well for the Russians whose numbers soon began to tell, despite the best efforts of the Polish skirmishers and batteries. The latter causing horrible casualties on the advancing Russians. The centre meanwhile was close fought, with the Polish infantry throwing back Russian infantry and cavalry assaults. Polish gunnery, which was concentrated into batteries that moved to where they were needed, proved an even greater scourge in the centre firing from the crest of the rise into the Russians. The Rusisans artillery meanwhile struggled to keep up and spread out into many smaller batteries proved far less capable.
At ten the Polish right began to give way. The Russians began to advance, but in advancing the opened a gap between themselves and the centre which had made no ground. Poniatowski seized the opportunity and threw his reserves at the break in the line. The fresh Polish advanced through the gap and fell upon the Russian flanks. Polish artillery batteries redeployed in haste to take advantage of the situation tore holes in the Russian lines. With the right and centre of his two army now threatening to come apart, Suravov threw his own reserves in to plug the gap. He would have been fine had his centre not began to give way. Fighting soon shifted from the heights to the field as the Poles advanced. On the left the Russians were exposed having advanced too fast, leaving another gap and were moreover disorganised. The Russians seeing the potential for disaster as the centre gave way began to reform and turn around. The Russians on the right having come close to sweeping the Poles aside, now found themselves cut off from the centre and with a mass of Poles on their flank. So began a desperate attempt by the Russian right to withdraw and relink with the centre.
It was at this moment that the vanguard of Kosciuszko’s forces began to arrive on the field on the Polish right. With Poles on both flanks and Poles to their fore, the Russian right routed with the Poles in close pursuit. The Russians on the left had by this stage managed to extract themselves and with the Russian centre managed to retire in good order. Poniatowski keen to conserve his forces, saw that the Russians had retained discipline and with the Russian right now, seemingly, in hand declined to pursue. Russian losses total some twenty two thousand men of the eighty four thousand men deployed, seventy guns and thirty standards. The slow pace of the Russian guns helped keep their losses to a minimum. Russian losses on the right were the heaviest, but the centre had suffered losses too. The Russians on the left saw few casualties as the fighting there had been quite light. The Poles meanwhile lost twelve thousand of their sixty thousand men deployed, no guns and one standard. Polish losses were heaviest on the right where fighting had been hardest and many of the units there had ceased to exist as viable formations.
Poniatowski’s victory was greeted with wild celebrations in Warsaw where just days earlier defeatism had reigned supreme. The loss of Wilno and Minsk and the refusal of the army to give battle had been a bitter pill for the Poles to swallow, but the victory washed away those concerns. Some have called upon the King and Sejm to negotiate with the Russians from strength, using the victory and the arrival of the Prussian regulars in great numbers while others believe that with the Prussians at their side, a decisive battle might drive Suratov from Lithuania, and forever end their ambitions on the Commonwealth.
Perhaps the greatest detractor of the Polish situation was the man who was its engineer. The victory seemed nothing of the sort to Poniatowski, who saw it as a disaster for the Commonwealth. While he had inflicted greater casualties, his own were not negligible and he moreover could not replace them as readily as Suravov. He also believed he had been robbed of the chance for a historic victory by the late arrival of Kosciuszko. Kosciuszko had promised he would arrive on the field early that day. As it was, he arrived towards lunch. Had he arrived earlier before the Polish right and centre had been mauled, Poniatowski believes that he could have bagged not only the Russians on the right, but the entire army. Kosciuszko for his part complained that Poniatowski could have simply waited until he arrived before giving battle. Poniatowski countered that had he done so the surprise would likely have been lost and Suravov would have declined battle.
Whatever the case, the loss was an unwelcome blow to Suravov, who thought himself lucky for having extracted himself. He likewise found a scapegoat in Bagration who he blamed for being passive and allowing Kosciuszko to steal upon him. Suravov also conjectured that Poniatowski reserve corps was part of Kosciuszko’s army and blamed Bagration for understating the strength of Kosciuszko’s forces. Quite what Bagration was meant to have done against Kosciuszko’s supposedly much superior forces with his limited numbers, at least according to Suravov, was left unsaid.
In Saint Petersburg, many were surprised about the resilience of the Polish Army, but any concerns that might be aired about the conduct of the war have been at best, whispered. Potemkin is currently in control of the court and few are willing to go against him in fear that the Empress’ next favorite would be in the vein of Zubov. For her part, Catherine is determined to achieve victory to ensure her legacy and to go down as a ruler even greater than Peter.
So there can be new war declarations?
I second this question. I consider attacking Burma, but don't know if I can.
Yes, correct; new war declarations can happen; I will be confirming new deadline for war orders shortly
If war orders for 1794 could be provided by Friday, that would be appreciated
Final call for any last-minute war declarations
I would love to join this if there is space somewhere
Peace in the North
The latest Danish-Swedish wars ended not with a bang but a whimper. The fall of Gothenburg notwithstanding, neither side was prepared to risk a drawn-out war. The Swedes were hobbled by their uncertain domestic situation, with the civil war threatening to break out once more. This state of affairs was a great aid to the Danes, but it was still inferior to the state of civil war that the Danes had relied upon. The decision to negotiate was therefore not unexpected. The Danes received a hefty indemnity for Gothenburg and the return of Swedish prisoners that covered most of Danish outgoings during the war. The Norwegians returned home with considerable loot and many were pensioned off with gifts of land and cash near the frontiers.
Swedish internal dysfunction cannot be understated. The Riksdag was suspicious of the war, seeing in it a chance for Prince Karl, an experienced soldier, to use any victories on the field to build his base in the army and strengthen his domestic position at their expense. Karl’s demand for a rationalization of the military chain of command did not help matters. The fact it was an eminently reasonable suggestion, given how it had already cost Sweden Gothenburg, merited little attention from the Riksdag. Karl meanwhile was suspicious of the Riksdag’s motives seeing its attempts to micromanage the purse strings and diffuse control of the army among many hands as an attempt to sabotage the campaign. The decision to pursue peace, by both sides, was therefore met with relief in all quarters.
The negotiation process was however fraught with difficulty. The first problem was that Karl went it alone on the negotiations. Legally Karl was within his rights to do so. Diplomacy was the King’s responsibility. But the Riksdag took offence at not being kept in the dark. The second problem was that Karl’s terms included payment of an indemnity the raising of which and the payment of required the Rikdag insisted required its approval to pay. The Riksdag used this opening to attack Karl and delayed the payment of the indemnity for sometime. They eventually relented, for the terms Karl had negotiated were good ones.
There had been costs to this course of action. Riksdag grandstanding against Karl was amplified by the radical republican aligned press who whipped the general populace into a frenzy. Karl, who had previously been well regarded in the capital, found himself the target of vicious slanders and attacks in the radical press. The more conservative elements among the Riksdag deplored this and when Karl requested that the Riksdag suppress publication of the worst offenders they voted with the regent. The moderates demurred taking considerable pleasure in what they saw as harmless. The radicals, inside the Riksdag, obviously voted against the measures.
With the radical press emboldened and the Democracy Clubs free to agitate the capital took on a dark air. Conservative members of the Riksdag withdrew to the estates in the outskirts travelling into the city with guards. Those who remained fortified themselves into their homes. With Karl due to the return to the capital, anonymous tracts calling for him to assassinated or tried for treason began circulating. Karl, at the request of conservative members of the Riksdag and with the urging of key royalists, lodged in an estate on the outskirts to wait for things to cool down.
Karl’s distance from the Riksdag, physically and politically, proved a stumbling block for his other initiatives to reconcile with the Finns and Scanians. Among the Finns, Karl’s star was high and his close relations with the Finns were credited for their continued loyalty to the Crown. Karl’s reception of a Finnish delegation and his willingness to listen and entertain their concerns alone went a long way to healing the rift.
But good feelings did nothing to resolve the question of Finnish autonomy, which Karl worried would inevitably lead to Finnish independence, its subjugation by Russian and in due course lead to the end of Swedish independence at Russian hands. Karl instead tried another option and proposed that the Finns could instead be included in the Riksdag. This would not have been acceptable to the Finns had Karl not already charmed them. Their acceptance was therefore both unexpected and most welcome.
The Riksdag was not as receptive. Yes, it much preferred this outcome to the alternative and had it trusted Karl it would have signed off on the matter and counted itself lucky. But relations between Karl and the Riksdag were toxic. The defection of conservative Riksdag members to Karl’s camp over the moderate and radical refusal to suppress the Republican press had created the spectre of the Riksdag coming under Karl’s influence. The prospect of adding new Finnish members who would likely be sympathetic to Karl personally and indebted to him politically made that spectre suddenly very real. The Riksdag majority consequently stonewalled the proposal.
The stonewalling had the practical effect of drawing the Finns closer to Karl. The Finns were bewildered that their willingness to accept such generous terms were now being thrown in their face and the attacks on them personally and on Finns generally in the Riksdag did little to encourage confidence in the Riksdag. The conservative members poured fuel on the fire by repeating Finnish attacks on the majority. With battle lines hardening, the Finns and conservatives lined up alongside Karl and the royalists, and the moderates and radicals drawing closer Sweden’s domestic situation remains unstable. The mob in Stockholm has become ever bolder and more violent with attacks on the empty houses of the better sorts becoming common. Carriages are another favoured target with the mob pelting them with stones. The Scanians meanwhile who were also promised concessions found themselves forgotten.
As for Denmark, the domestic political situation has turned mutinous. The war was seen by many nobles as an enterprise doomed from the start. Fighting Sweden, even in the midst of a civil war, was seen as folly. The relatively free press in Denmark had enhanced the perception by cataloguing a long list of missteps including, but by no means limited to: The bungling of the Scanian negotiations; the decision to support the Riksdag who had already refused Danish aid; and the failure to land troops to support Prince Christian. The decision to seek peace before things went got any worse was seen as a lucky break and the only good decision the government had made. All in all, the war was viewed by many as a complete disaster.
A small minority cursed the government on slightly different grounds. These militarists, formerly close allies of chief minister, Andreas Peter Bernstorff, the architect of the war argued that the war was winnable and that Bernstorff had lost it. Bernstorff found himself with no domestic political support but still managed to stagger on with royal support. The more enterprising nobles see an opportunity to remove Bernstorff and install someone might be more accommodating to their interests. The King, a committed absolutist, has declined to take this step fearing it might result in him being forced to restore noble privileges as a means of buying domestic stability. Digging in and waiting things out remains his preferred option. Some in the court have suggested that a crackdown might be in order to reassert royal power but this is an extreme option.
The Song War-Genoa Falls
It is a testament to the House of Savoy’s diplomacy that the war between Genoa and Sardinia remained localized. Both the Bourbons and Habsburgs seemed to think that a strengthened Sardinia was a benefit to them, or at least, a greater hindrance to the other. Quite how Turin managed to sell both sides the same conclusion is a cause of considerable interest and amusement in Europe.
The space afforded by France and Austria sitting out the war, let Charles-Francois focus on advancing his trenches. This proved slow work with acute shortages of men, powder and shot, food, uniforms and boots. With the siege close to collapse, the government borrowed sizeable sums and began trying to procure supplies. Food, uniforms and boots proved simple enough with domestic productive capacity sufficient. But Sardinia had never planned to wage a war on its own and had instead counted on its allies providing with power and shot. At a pinch it had envisioned purchasing powder and shot from the other Italian states. With no ally, and with the other Italian states wary, it had to look further afield to Britain. British merchants proved happy to fill its requirements, but it was a time consuming process and supplies proved intermittent
The fact that the Sardinians had to turn to the British showed the limits of the Sardinian diplomatic charm offensive. The French Estates General was increasingly hostile and did all it could to deny the Sardinians access to French power and shot. (in reality French powder and shot was never seriously considered given its high cost). Austria meanwhile had nothing to sell to the Sardinians, with the new Hungarian army having contracted most of domestic supply as it tried to build itself into a viable fighting force. Neither side, in short, was willing to lift a finger to help the Sardinians.
The Sardinian resupply therefore proceeded slowly and the Genoans did what they could to disrupt things. It was easy to slip soldiers past the walls and into the Ligurian countryside, where small groups could strike deep into the Sardinian rear. This forced Charles-Francois to divert men to guard his rear. Charles-Francois’ lack of men saw use of extreme violence to root out the raiders in the hopes that this would see the Genoese people refuse to cooperate or, better yet, see them turn in the raiders. The opposite occurred, with brigandage becoming popular pastimes. Charles-Francois unable to quell the problem made do as best he could, but the flows of reinforcements he was receiving were only adequate to replace his loses and did nothing to improve his overall position.
Even so, by summer, the Sardinian siege lines had advanced close enough to the walls to cause panic within. Genoa’s elites, and much of the populace, found themselves resigned to a Sardinian occupation. The problem was that Sardinians had not made their terms clear and this hamstrung efforts to negotiate. Charles-Francois’ keen to end the war and with no interest in the ideological preoccupations of the King and his cohorts chose to handle negotiations himself. A professional soldier of impeccable honour proved an agreeable partner for the Genoan negotiators. His terms proved moderate with guarantees given for life, property and liberty and assurances that the ancient rights of the city would be upheld and honored.
With the terms agreeable, General Colli surrendered the city, allowing the Sardinians to occupy the rest of the city. Charles-Francois, ever the gentleman, paroled the foreign volunteers. He was obliged to hang the Sardinian deserters, but exercised no particular effort to locate them. One officer was hung, his former compatriots having recognised him. The poor fellows handed him over to trial in tears. The transition proved orderly, with Charles-Francois ordering the execution of a number of opportunistic looters and a few of his own men for ill discipline. The volunteers and the Sardinian deserters soon left for elsewhere in Italy with most going to Venice, Rome or Austrian Italy. Within months, pamphlets, tracts and books appeared relating their experiences during the siege and decrying Sardinian tyranny. These proved popular reading material, and cities and towns all across Italy celebrated the arrival of their sons home.
The Sardinians had hoped that the Genoese would quickly reconcile themselves to Saridnian rule. Charles-Francois’ liberal terms had been intended to help with just that. But this proved hopelessly optimistic. The Sardinian presence was hated. Sardinian soldiers walking alone at night were found with knives in their backs in the morning. Fights were common between Genoese men and the garrison. Outright riots remained rare after the Sardinians proved willing to open fire on the crowd. The departure of Charles-Francois and his replacement by a hardliner favored by the King did not help matters. Some, of course, collaborated willingly with the new regime. Some within the elite saw this as a business opportunity. This proved harder to effect than one might have hoped. The Sardinians did themselves no favors by refusing to socialise with “merchants”, “republicans” and “atheists”. The majority of the Genoese already inclined to dislike the Sardinians had their views confirmed.
The new regime also proved puritanical. The cities brief flirtation with a cultural revival has ended. The coffee houses are empty. The Sardinains closed them as “hotbeds of resistance” which, truth be told, they were. The printing presses are silent, the Sardinians having banned printing, a major industry in the city entirely. The theatres are closed and the opera is shuttered. Prominent artists have left. The city is quiet, for now, but there is a growing realization on the part of the Sardinians that there are elements within the city planning an uprising to restore Genoese liberty. Republican agitators have relocated to Paris, where they have helped harden the Estates General against the Sardinian occupation and Venice which has helped shift the debate there towards in favour of reform. The Venetians cannot help but see in the Genoese example their potential fate.
The Constitution War
Following the inconclusive fighting in Lithuania and with Prussian reinforcements approaching, Suvorov decided to retreat for safety behind the Daugava and winter in Riga where he could take Bagration’s forces into his own army, replenish his own men and supplies, give the troops much needed rest after their long march, and prepare for a drive upon Warsaw in the summer. The Poles had much the same idea, but hoped against all evidence that the Prussians marching north might help trap Suvorov if he chose to winter in the Commonwealth. His decision to withdraw north into safety gave the Poles pause. Poniatowski knew his forces were in no condition to fight the Russians, and knew that Suvorov and that the Russian infantry would maintain discipline in a retreat. Poniatowski elected therefore to let the Russians withdraw while he consolidated his own strength and waited for the Prussians to arrive.
With the Poles granting them the field, the Russian withdrawal was in good order, and upon their arrival in Riga, the army was greeted by the presence of the Baltic fleet under Admiral Fyodor Ushakov carrying supplies and reinforcements, gratefully accepted, and the most dreadful news imaginable! The Empress Catherine was dead and had been succeeded by her son, Paul, now Emperor Paul I. The fleet was not just there to resupply the army though; Suvorov was instructed that the Russian army was to march down the Baltic coast, to Danzig while maintaining contact with the fleet. The plan was that the army, supplied by the navy, would force the coastal cities to submit under threat of overwhelming firepower. This strike would take the Russian army deep into East Prussia and in short measure place Danzig, the greatest Prussian port, and a key logistics hub under threat.
The death of the Empress rove Suvorov into a deep despair during the winter and his physical health too declined for, he claimed, he was an old man and the present campaign had proved too much for his him. Citing ill health, Suvorov asked the court to accept his resignation so he could recover his health at home. Some within the court questioned whether he was ill, or if he simply was attempting to protect his reputation against a campaign he feared would fail no one could say. A small group around the Emperor whispered even more darkly that Suvorov hated Paul and that he was stepping down in the hopes of sabotaging the campaign. They wisely kept this view to themselves for Suvorov was a national hero.
Bagration, apparently forgiven by Surovov, was therefore handed control of the army and had within a short period of time repaired the damage of the campaign. He was however passed over for command. Some whispered it was due to a campaign mounted by Surovov who was not as forgiving as he seemed. But others laid the blame at the feet of the Emperor who was said to have distrusted Bagration because of his good relations with Surovov! Finding a replacement for Bagration proved difficult. Paul ruled out many. Others declined pleading age or inability. In the end, command fell to Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly who was a Baltic German, and was therefore most agreeable to the Prussiaphile Paul, with the requisite experience and skills, whose hunger to prove himself in command outweighed his prudence.
Tolly arrived with fresh troops and officers, but graciously he kept Bagration amongst his commanders, and leaned upon Suvorov’s officers who had stayed for advice on how to deal with the Poles. With the arrival of the campaign season, Tolly set upon his first target, Memel. The Poles, having wintered at Wilna, were caught off-guard and rationalized their decision to decline to defend Memel not on the basis that they were caught with their pants down, but rather on the far more defensible military basis that it was strategically worthless, which it was. Faced with the army, the Russian Baltic Fleet, and with no hope of relief, the city fell without a shot being fired.
With Memel secured and his forces in good order, Tolly began his next move, the capture of Königsberg in East Prussia. Knowing his logistical situation would be difficult because of the awful roads even with the fleet assisting in resupply, Tolly left Bagration 10,000 men, including many of his heaviest guns to protect Riga and secure his line of retreat. Another 2,000 were left to protect Memel itself. The army amounted therefore to some 50,000 men, with a great mostly lighter pieces and was heavy in cavalry. Tolly having learned from Surovov the effectiveness of the Polish cavalry was in no mood to let them have free reign again.
This move shocked the allies who had linked up at Wilna in preparation for a Russian assault on the city. With the Russian target clear, the Prussian commander, Friedrich Adolf, Count von Kalckreuth, demanded that the allied army move to intercept and defend the city. Poniatowski viewed the city as strategically irrelevant; he would have preferred to counter with a march on Riga against Bagration’s smaller army, but Kalckreuth concerned with Prusisan prestige and fearful of the consequences should he left the city fall would not be swayed. Poniatowski agreed reluctantly to be a good ally.
With Tolly keeping to the coast for his march, he was forced to advance through difficult, backwoods terrain with roads more suitable for deer than carts and horses. More often than not his men were forced to march through marshes and forests. Tolly had prepared for this, having left his heaviest guns behind in Riga, but he soon found that he had to leave ever more of his guns behind until he his forces were left with only his lightest cannon. Worse still, his advance was torturously slow, even with the assistance from the Russian fleet. The Polish and Prussian forces meanwhile advancing along good roads arrived at Königsberg well ahead of the Russians. The allies used their time well preparing the city for a siege. Coastal defenses were improved, breastworks were thrown up, positions for guns were built were put in place, and the allies waited, well-supplied and prepared for the enemy.
Upon his arrival, Tolly immediately realized the futility of his position. His men were tired, their shoes were falling off their feet and they were short of cannon. His ships fired on Königsberg, but their bombardment proved ineffectual as the allied guns on land forced them to fire at range. Meanwhile on land, the allied forces now enjoyed a sizeable advantage in numbers of guns and men. Tolly therefore declined to fight and began to withdraw. Had the allied forces realized Tolly’s condition, they would surely have taken him to battle. But Tolly’s strong cavalry screen kept the allies from gaining much intelligence. This fed a suspicion by Poniatowski that Tolly’s force was nothing more than a feint attack. The Prussians, for their part, disagreed and thought a decisive victory possible but Friedrich Adolf in the interests of being a good ally this time, declined to press his case too forcefully. Poniatowski, fearful that a Russian army might appear on his rear or flank, declined to chase Tolly. In doing so he lost a chance to crush the Russians decisively.
Tolly’s retreat to Memel was a success, a testament to his skills as a logistician, with his army worse for wear but by no means incapacitated as Suvorov’s was. He considered himself quite lucky all things considered; Bagration had successfully secured the remainder of Courland to protect Riga and had even threatened Kaunas, though the presence of Kosciuszko dissuaded him from pressing his luck. Bagration, though he had an aggressive nature, did not wish to disobey direct orders; besides, he respected Kosciuszko’s prowess, and did not have enough men to force the issue in any case. Kosciuszko for his part did not feel he could rely on the bulk of his forces, mostly hastily raised new regiments, and was content to let his reputation do the fighting for him.
With some 60,000 men still available to him, Tolly looked to hold Memel with a smaller force, backed up by the guns of the Russian navy, which he felt would make the city difficult to assault. He has begun concentrating his forces north of Wilna, securing Mitau, Dyneburg, and Schaulen. His positions have been reinforced, and he is confident that should the Poles march north, he can bloody them. Just south, there are nearly 80,000 allied soldiers under Poniatowski and Kalckreuth. However, neither side is eager to engage in a costly assault where defeat would likely mean the end of the war and blame for the loss.
In the south in Ukraine, the war was quite a bit different. Instead of having massive armies positioned against one another, the two sides were forced to rely primarily on militia and partisans in small skirmishes. The Russians outnumbered the Poles, but with only 20,000 troops, were hard pressed to occupy anything of note; instead, their favored tactic was looting and pillaging primarily in Polish Ukraine, while the Poles did the same against Russian Ukraine. A chaotic portion of the country has gone even further into flames, and it is believed it will take some time for the region to recover from the war. For now though, the frontiers have barely moved, with neither side able to decisively push against the other.
Both sides are coming to the conclusion that the war should likely come to an end. For many in the Sejm, Polish honor has been preserved and its independence has been protected; they believe that if the Russians could be brought to the negotiating table, a deal might be reached. Some hardliners refuse the idea of negotiations at all and insist that the Poles fight until the Russian partitions are reversed, but their opinion is deeply in the minority. The prevailing view amongst King, Sejm, and country is peace with honor. In Saint Petersburg, the mood too has decisively turned to one of peace. The new Emperor Paul was not particularly happy to inherit the war of his mother and Potemkin, and believes it to be a waste of money; he is eager for peace so he might have a free hand domestically. Emperor Paul is also a known Prussophile and this is said to be material to his desire for peace.
Potemkin still in control for now has tried to deflect blame onto the dead Zubov, blaming him for the loss of Russian influence in Poland and the deterioration of the alliance with Austria. Even if it were true, Potemkin’s legacy and political future will be determined by the peace he negotiates with the Commonwealth. Were he to fail to gain anything for the high price Russia paid, it would give Paul the opportunity to make Potemkin a scapegoat and clear his court of Catherineans. Potemkin is negotiating for his political (and perhaps, after what happened with Zubov, his physical) life.
For Berlin, the reaction to the war is mixed. The defense of Königsberg by the allied army vindicated Poland as a trustworthy ally, and played into the King’s idea of a “war of chivalry and honor”. However, with Austria’s troop build up in Silesia, numbering some forty to fifty thousand, there is a growing sense that peace negotiations should begin, lest a bloody battle in Courland sap Prussia’s strength.
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Austria declares war on Prussia.
Prussia declares war on Austria.
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