Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Campaign Post Operations Report #18 - Yet More Prussian intrigue

King Fredrick William III
Our Prussian ADC player had this to say on Oct 19, 2013:
Metternich on the King of Prussia at this time:
The King of Prussia, calm in the midst of a highly excited people, and by nature little inclined to believe in easily gained victories, even where his army thought them certain, was a severe critic of all plans (without himself bringing forward any) for the intended operations...
Seems pretty close to the way FW is being played, I think.
He displays the Russian army as such as being quite reluctant to press the war into Germany west of the Oder, the reconquest of Poland being quite enough for them; and suggests that if Kutusov had been alive still he would have prevented it, Alexander being the mainspring of the move when it came, and part of his boldness owing to the realisation that he needed to wrap things up quickly or lose the faith of his troops. One must wonder what effect the current inane countermarching and gentle skirmishing must be having on the patience of his generals and their men, as they contemplate winter quarters in battered Germany or the return march into Russia.
The Prussian army I suspect Metternich has trouble characterising-at the start of the campaign describing it as a nullity, later on he describes it as composed largely of fanatic volunteers, whose only thought is revenge, a war of extermination, as was the feeling of much of the educated people of the kingdom-which is to say, not a good thing from Metternich's point of view at all. There seems little doubt that both Unser Fritz and Metternich himself were thoroughly conscious of the national genie which they were allowing to escape from the bottle, and full of forebodings about what this would later cost them and Germany.
Francis he describes politely as a model of wise statesmanship, ripened by nature in the school of experience, and so on and so forth, as you might expect. There is no reference to the dynastic connection to Napoleon which he had established not long before, and which must be giving both Alexander and our Freddie some cause to wonder just which side the man will come down on in the end. Who was it who described him as a skeleton whom the worth of his ancestors had placed on the throne?
Is Moreau still considered to be alive, and directing the Tsar's military strategy? With Jomini? And is Duroc still considered to be alive and advising the grand bete?


To which the player performing as King Fredrick William III said:

Yes, it seems to me that without the influence of my dear wife, I will be reliant on news of victories to stay within the Coalition, and despite the absolutely masterful spin emerging from Bautzen, it is clear enough that my Imperial colleagues have in fact totally failed to destroy the French Army there, whilst nothing has been achieved either in the siege of Berlin. I really do see little point in committing Blucher to further marching up and down, with no clear objective, whilst I am looking to a reply from the Emperor....how many days now since the message was sent, meinen Herren?


More from Haugwitz:

Euerer Majestaet displays his invariable wisdom, if he will allow his humble courtier to venture an opinion...has a single man, pray, in the Habsburg army, yet moved a step closer to the rescue of imperilled Berolina? May we have an accounting of the number of guns taken from the enemy at Bautzen, the customary measure of victory in these cases, I am told? There has been time to count the guns, surely, by now, has there not?
What, not one?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Campaign Post Operations Report #17 - More Prussian intrigue

Haugwitz will not let go:

Indeed, Euerer Majestaet, always most perceptive, if I may say so. I should think that the slight inconvenience imposed upon the French Emperor by the skirmish at Bautzen may serve at least to make him take more seriously the approach which we are making on behalf of all Europe. He can see that there will be some hard fighting, should he press his ambitions to recover eastern Germany and Poland, but that there is an obvious alternative, in our proposals.
Surely the high regard in which the head of our mission is held by his French counterparts, and the able arrangements which young Steinmetz should have put in place for his conveyance, will have sufficed by now to get our message into the gilded salon of the Great Beast? Where is he said to lie, at this moment?
In the meantime, Euerer Majestaet shows great wisdom as always, and tapfer Bluecher should indeed keep his powder dry, at least until this new combination of the August Habsburger reveals itself as a fresh device. The Emperor Francis' little triumph on the upper Spree will have done nothing to secure the necessary success on the middle Spree, of course, and I would be very surprised if he really means to detach more than a tithe of his forces for what he no doubt truly regards as a pointless adventure; the relief of the capital, which should be as I have advised many times the obvious result of the policy and strategy of the King of Prussia, not the gift of the so-called allierte Monarchen, must come with Euerer Majestaet at its head, crowned with laurels and bearing the supreme gift of peace, with which purpose in mind the Army of the doughty Bluecher needs to be kept in being.
Where, by the way, are the reinforcing columns of our gallant detachment marching back east from Marienburg? Have they got lost in the wilds of Bohemia? Are they hunting bears? Would it not be convenient to wait for them, in any case? Was, aus Westen nichts neues?
Euerer hochtreuester Ergebener,


Players again were reminded that only a day had passed, for the 'news' to arrive ...

Then some thoughts came back on the proceedings:

... but my recollection is that FW
was a bit flakey all round, he needed his gallant wife to jack him up
whenever there was any fighting to be done, or even resistance to
Napoleonic impositions, and left to himself like the goose-down pillow
he tended to bear the impression of the last person who sat on him.

When he was well into the company of Alexander he tended to be safe
enough for the Allied cause, as the Tsar was pugnacious enough for
both, but my supposition is that some other advisers are getting at him
now, the more pro-French lobby that I have identified, for reasons that
may have to do with the way that the armistice ended in this timeline,
not sure about that...his capital being under threat yet again might
also have had an effect-and the way that the Prussian army has been
handled, no watchdog of the Nation but the Emperor Francis's poodle,
scattered all over Saxony and Bohemia on minor missions, will have
disgruntled a lot of senior officers and people with family influence
on the King.

He has also been roughly handled in the eyes of his
people and of Europe in recent years, one humiliation after another,
and Prussia needs to restore some prestige, one way or another. And the
people have stepped onto the stage of Prussian history, haven't they,
thanks to the equivocal contributions of vom Stein and the
Kruempersystem commanders, the "battlecruisers" as we might call them-
if the king is not careful he will have brought a People's Army into
existence to combat the French levee-en-masse and will have nothing to
show for it at the end. As this was the motif of Prussian political
history for the next few decades I don't think it's a stretch to see
Unser Fritz getting cold feet about more fighting now.

I was reading
Metternich's autobiography last night, in fact, and he is very
interesting about the Prussians at this time-he sees their army as
practically a nullity, before and after Luetzen and still more after
Bautzen, the Prussian commanders looking for an out and even the Tsar
willing to consider pulling his own forces back into Poland and trying
again next year. Everyone he meets (including on the French side) is
desperate for peace and keeping people fighting-when Austria is neutral-
is a big headache for Metternich.

Negotiations-I'm still in the bit
before the armistice ends, though-seem pretty easy to set up: it seems
like they exchange letters or low-level chit-chat to fix a time and
place for a meet, and then both sides turn up on the day, or they
don't. There aren't continuous front lines so finding a good spot which
both sides can get to is not difficult.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Campaign Post Operations Report #16 - French Orders

The French plans were never shared with any other players than the core French team:

Orders and dispatches from Napoleon and others
Written at 23.30hrs on August 24, 1813

Napoleon with the Polish Lancers (at14/24) to move cross country to 16/25 & then by road to 18/26
Guard Light Cavalry under Dejean (at 14/24) are ordered to escort the prisoner Bernadotte to Torgau, moving through Furstenwalde, Teupitz and Dennewitz.
ADC to take message to Davout informing him that Bernadotte has been captured and for him to parley with the Swedish troops at Schwerin. Davout can offer them safe passage to the Baltic port of Straslun where they can embark and return to Sweden. They have 24 hours to commence their withdrawal from the War, failure to comply will result in their being attacked by the Emporer and his Imperial Guard as well as Davout’s troops

The Imperial Guard (at 16/23), under Mortier, are to move to 17/25 with the Guard Heavy Cavalry moving to Furstenwalde; both advancing along the road.

Orders sent to Latour-Maubourg to move from Lubben to Luckau and send out patrols towards Cottbus and Elsterwerda.
Orders sent to Flahault to advance no further than Lubben and await Napoleon and the remainder of the Imperial Guard.

ADC with despatch for Oudinot – report your situation by return; I am marching towards Lubben with the Imperial Guard and I Cavalry Corps

Oudinot (at29/30) orders the troops under Drout (at 29/30) to direct their retreat northward towards Luckau

Oudinot to send orders to VII Corps and the II Cavalry Corps (at 28/33) to move directly away from the enemy to 28/32 using VII Corps Cavalry to cover their movement and provide a rearguard.

Davout (at 8/7) sends out the following orders:
To the Danish Auxillary force at Hamburg (8/1) to move to Gudow (8/5)
To V Cavalry Corps (at 7/8) to move to 9/8 via 8/7
To XIII Corps (at 9/8) to move to 8/7
To 9th Light Cavalry (at 5/9) maintain your position on one of the enemy’s lines of supply; should the enemy at Schwerin move against you then you may retreat towards Lubeck if faced by overwhelming numbers
To 30th Light Cavalry (at 10/7); I would commend you on your action against the Swedish Cavalry Division at Karstadt. However should they advance on your position I require you to move towards Gudow.

Despatch to Napoleon – My Emperor, my troops have been confining the enemy at Schwerin. Cutting their lines of supply has had the effect of their having to send a force out to secure their supply lines. This happened yesterday, Aug 23rd, and the infantry then retired back to Schwerin. The Swedish Cavalry Division however advanced into contact with my 30th Light Cavalry and received a bloody nose with their having a Hussar Regiment destroyed.
The comparative size of the opposing forces means that I do not have a force large enough to storm and take Schwerin. I have sent orders to the Danish Auxillary force in Hamburg to move towards Gudow primarily as a show of force and to give them something additional to consider.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Campaign Post Operations Report #15 - French Command disarray

Bonaparte was not a well man in 1813
Unknown to almost all players in the campaign at the time, indeed the GM was only aware that the Napoleon player was not responding to email contacts, the French high command was 'not well'.

Our Napoleon player, who has been doing Napoleonic games since the 1970's as was intrigued by the prospect of a intercontinental game, had been briefly hospitalized and was 'out of action' ~ while this made the communication gap with the Allied command easier to take time resolving, it did cause some concern ~ at least with the GM, where was our Napoleon player?  Was he alright?

Eventually we did hear from the player, then all went quiet again, still no orders, though not an issue as the front line commands knew what to do from earlier directives, it would become an issue in a few game days.

Then again, news came:

My apologies for lack of input this last week. I unfortunately had a relapse and was taken back into hospital.
I have been discharged, this morning, and my daughter has just brought me home. Although still feeling a little shaky I am positively loads better than this time last week.

Xxxxxx, bless her, wouldn't bring my computer/iPad into the hospital insisting I get complete rest. So I have a stack of mails to read and am tackling the latest first. (maybe not the best way)

I will get up to date with the progress of the campaign during today and get a set of orders etc off to you tonight/tomorrow am

Best regards

Once again we had a Napoleon player and the status of the French command was set.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Campaign Post Operations Report #14 - Allied Monarchs Orders

Allied Monarchs in 1813
Unable to find Schwartzenberg, the Allied Monarchs issued a directive to their field armies:

The Monarchs are unanimous; Berlin must be relieved!
We order Schwarzenberg to await the arrival of Gallitzin V's reserve cavalry, Raevsky's grenadiers and Yermolov's Russian Guard and then to take command of these troops plus the army of Bohemia (except for Klenau's IV Korps) and march to join FM Blucher near Lohsa. This combined force is then to proceed to Berlin via Grossraschen, Cottbus, Lubben and Teupitz.

Klenau is hold at Bautzen and await the arrival of Sacken and Scherbatov. This combined force, under the command of von Müssling, will proceed towards Dresden to join forces with Barclay de Tolly.

Francis I
per Alexander I and Frederich-William III

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Campaign Post Operations Report #13 - Allied Monarchs are roused

Driven by the messages of the 19th and 20th of August, that Berlin was now under siege and only the citadel was being defended by Russian troops under the command of Pozzo di Borgo, Count Haugwitz continued his tirade about the situation to King Frederick of Prussia:

Count Haugwitz
"Vorwaerts, immer vorwaerts, I always said it-on to the relief of Berlin, surely, Euerer Majestaet...
...unless for some reason, of course, our Habsburg allies and friends have some cause to delay the advance? Surely not, surely not-why they are our friends, and victory is theirs-ours, I should say, for all have played their part. If Vienna was in similar danger, I doubt not that we would all rush to the Danube, after all.
Some reason for delay, Euerer Majestaet/ Surely not, surely not!
Euerer hochtreueste Ergebener,
To which the King responded:

This splendid victory of which we have heard so much, meinen herren, can someone perhaps describe it to me? I shall be delighted to receive Metternich at the earliest juncture, except of course that Potsdam has not been relieved yet so I cannot even celebrate in my own palace, as far as I recall...

The discussion continued:

That is because it has not really happened, Euerer Majestaet, as I am sure that you perceive...
I predict that we shall see by and by that far from having routed the French at Bautzen, and sent the eagles flying in terror back over the Elbe, we shall learn that the results of this action are meagre, that the Emperor Francis himself does not think them worthy of any particular military movement in consequence, no swift pursuit, no daring combination, no strategic or even tactical advantage having accrued whatsoever, upon which we can depend. I think we will see the signs of this quite soon, even if the August Habsburger seeks to keep up as long as he can the pretence that his armies at long last won a victory, because he will not want to take any risks as a result of this, what shall we say, Begegnung, this encounter..
But none would be more delighted than your Majesty's truest Servant, to find that suddenly the way is clear to Berlin, that the shadow of war is lifted from the Kingdom, and our Habsburg allies, having depended on us to shield at great risk to ourselves their territories in Bohemia, are ready now to do their part and drive the enemy from the gates of our own capital. Why do we not put this to the test, eh?

Unknown to any of the Allied GHQ, Prince Charles John (formerly French Marshal Bernadotte) has deployed his forces in a more 'land grab' mode into Mecklenberg.

Allied Army of the North, Charles John, 19 August

 However by the 24th the situation had greatly changed ... and the Allied command knew nothing of this at the time:

Allied Army of the North, 24 August
So the North Commander had this message regarding the deployment of his forces:

If possible the Swedes will now head east to Pritzwalk, if not then Parchim.

Bulow and co appear to be engaged against the French so I don't think I can
do much there.
I would like the Swedes to meet up with Bulow if possible but they are to
try and prevent the French from getting past them. 

Clearly the situation in the north had deteriorated ... and now the Allied Monarchs were to meet formally for a detailed council of war.   

Meaning we were arranging a 5 continent, 22 time-zone conference call on Skype.

Campaign Post Operations Report #12 - News arrives at the Allied Supreme Headquarters - 24 Aug 1813

detail from the Leipzig Battle painting
Below are the messages and information received at Allied Monarchs Supreme Headquarters on 24 Aug 1813:

At about 0800:
Swedish Courier:
Messenger to Allied Monarchs
Siege of BERLIN

Message Dated: 19 August 1813

At about 1000
Prussian Liaison: Generalmajor Baron von Krusemark

Prince Charles John has abandoned BERLIN, retreating to Pomerania.  Only Russian forces are hoding the citadel.  Under command of Pozzo di Borgo.

Supplies will last until spring 1814.

Expect no further messages until siege is lifted.

Message Dated: 20 August 1813

Pozzo di Borgo
At about 1300:

BERLIN surrounded by French forces.

Demanding surrender.

Pozzo di Borgo

Dated: 20 August 1813

Feldmarschall Fürst Carl zu Schwarzenberg has still not been seen in the Headquarters and is assumed to be touring the recent battlefield at Bautzen.

Are there any directives/orders from the monarch(s) forthcoming?