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?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Campaign Post Operations Report #11 - a diplomat emerges

Julius August Reinhold von Grawert
Count Haugwitz continued ...

May I respectfully suggest to your Majesty the following excellent fellow, Julius August Reinhold von Grawert (1746–1821), awarded the Pour le Merite, former governor of Silesia, General der Infanterie,and hardened on campaign but well-known to his French counterparts and only recently retired as a corps commander to his estates near Landeck in Lower Silesia-you may recall taking the waters at the Marienbad by Ober-Thalheim, your Majesty, as many have done in happier times, and the general lives nearby. As it is a truce we are talking about, we need the delegation to be headed up by a soldier, and I am sure that he will pass muster with the French, and as staff assistant I would nominate my own adviser the elder Steinmetz brother-no friend of the French he, like his younger sibling, but a tapfer Kerl who famously slipped through French lines at besieged Breslau, if he can do it once, he can do it again...

As political adviser, surely your Majesty could do no better than Hans, Graf von Buelow, at the moment your finance minister and at headquarters as he cannot get into Berlin at the moment on his way back from Liegnitz-this versatile man has actually met and negotiated with Napoleon in his time and also has good connections in the enemy camp, although he fell out with the preposterous Jerome of Westphalia when at that court some years ago, he has a realistic eye for what can be done in Germany. He will be in a position too to insist upon seeing the French Emperor and not being palmed off with a lackey in ostrich feathers and tight breeches.

The suggestion is being made that this all may go awry, however-surely your Majesty, we have a system of passwords agreed with the other side to ensure that nobody has to carry signed letters or risk getting entangled with minor functionaries? Do the French want to negotiate or not? A proper meeting of ambassadors can take place later, I should say, to sign off the deal.


(Historical note: Grawert headed the Prussian contingent in the Grande Armee and is a Francophile; the elder Steinmetz on the other hand was a fire-eater against the French and was killed at Leipzig, his younger brother being the famous Steinmetz who commanded in the 1866 and 1870 campaigns; Hans von Buelow was finance minister both of Westphalia and later of Prussia and a supple political character, just the party we need, eh?)


The players in charge of the Prussian issues happening now were unclear about the reality of communicating on the 1813 battlefield.  As the game master here explains:

> There is no way to get a message to the French Emperor *immediately*.
> This is 1813, you are crossing a FEBA (forward edge of the battle
> area) and the fastest communications is by horse.
> Your supreme command is coming out of the eastern Bohemian Mountains,
> with your troops out of Potsdam, some 200 miles away. Even with the
> fastest horses that is TWO DAYS before the message could reach them!
> I shall not reveal, at all, how far away Bonaparte is; let alone
> comment on the likelihood that Prussian Officers - whatever their
> mission - will be so easily permitted to travel in the territory
> controlled by France.
> The battles are happening,as you have summoned the messengers, and
> they are still to arrive at the Allied Monarchs Supreme Headquarters
> in the field near Zittau. You will have news of Bautzen before
> sending off the emissaries to communicate with Bonaparte.
 Further explanation was needed:

> The, troops in the north are under the overall command of Swedish
> Crown Prince Charles John. Generallieutenant Bülow commands the
> forces that have marched to victory south of Potsdam and are now
> attacking to force the French away from Potsdam completely.
> As Monarch, you have had little or no contact with Berlin or the
> Northern forces for at least two weeks.
> Since the 17th of August 1813 (the current game turn is 23 August) you
> have been in the Allied Monarchs HQ in Bohemia, now marching out.
> -- in game we have been stuck on the 23rd for more than a month, not
> what I wanted and we are dealing with it --
> This means that the game is *frozen* at the moment and there is
> nothing to do until after the battles are resolved.
 The challenges with the one player were (mostly) resolved and James had this commentary:

As I have said several times previously, I am really enjoying this campaign. I particularly like the way that the fog of war is playing out. Julian as Frederick is deep in that fog now...!
 To which the player responded with:

Want of a telegraph, I suspect...

There were whispers ...

 here is some news from "a source close to the Czar":
Alexander was bemused to hear rumours that Frederick William is considering treating with "the ogre".
"Why would Frederick consider dealing with Napoleon?" he asked.
 "What is he thinking?"
"I do not know sire, they are only rumours..."
"Surely he would not be so foolish as to do such a treacherous thing? It will cost him his crown!"
"Should he be so stupid he will regret his loss of reason when I burn Berlin!"

Tsar Alexander, looking over his shoulder at Prussian "Allies"