Saturday, October 31, 2015

Campaign Post Operations Report #9 - Politics enters the game I

Count Haugwitz, former foreign minister of Prussia
Unknown to the Allied commander, portraying Schwartzenberg, there was a secret set of three 'informed players' from the ANF that would step into the roles of King Fredrick Willem, Emperor Francis of Austria and Tsar Alexander of Russia.  Only a lack of communication or a gap in space of 12 miles for a day by the Allied military commander would cause this to 'activate'.

The activation came on the night of 21 August, as it appeared that Schwartzenberg was too ill to attend to his command and staff duties (or the player was unreachable working in Iceland!).

To that end, first came some news for the Prussian King:

You will be fully aware, Euerer Majestaet, that following the setback at Luetzen the enemy armies now lie further east than Berlin and greatly outnumber your tapfere remnants. I am sure General Wittgenstein will do his best, but it would hardly be very wise to fight the Emperor of the French himself at this point. If only we had the army of General von Buelow with us, 30,000 men abandoned at Rosslau who did nothing at the time of the last battle! But they now are all that stands between the enemy and your capital, and should Bonaparte move that way, even just with a significant part of his forces, he might be dining at Potsdam in a week. He has already just persuaded that fathead King of Saxony to rejoin the Rheinbund-and you stand here on Saxon soil, after all. At the hour when he put his boots up on on the fauteuil of your illustrious great-uncle at Sans Souci, all of north Germany would be his again, all the little Rheinbuender his loyal allies.
You will be equally aware, natuerlich, how such a move into the heartlands of the kingdom would disrupt the entire ingenious Kruempersystem, which sad to say has not delivered anywhere near as many recruits as were promised initially but which absolutely depends on a measure of administrative stability to operate to build up the army you need. It would place him in a position to threaten Russian communications through Poland from the north, and-schrecklich zu sagen-menace you with an advance up the Oder and Warthe and a reprise of Jena on the borders of Silesia...although in such a case I am sure General Wittgenstein would do his best, of course.
But still worse, the Habsburgers are proving to be as tricky as they ever were. Of course they were showing an interest before Luetzen, who would not have done? But now, I have it on excellent authority that they plan to close the border to us, not only in the event of any difficulty, but with an active intention to deprive the allied armies of any true room for manoeuvre. The only way to avoid this would be for the armies to set out north again, to protect the capital, indeed, but also to ensure that you are not trapped up against the Bohemian mountain frontier. There may be little time to lose.
This move should not preclude an active diplomacy, not not at all. You should-Entschueldigung, Euerer Majestaet, darf ich vorschlagen-that emissaries go now to the enemy camp, with offer of an armistice, just a couple of months, but so as to enable you to secure your historic possessions in the north and reposition the army where it can be more effective. That will give you time to bring up more Russians, ach, so few of them have arrived so far, to complete undisturbed the recruitment of an army worthy of the name of Prussia; and to expose the Austrian machinations for what they are. Time is on your side, Euerer Majestaet, the French are far from home, surrounded by peoples who do not love them, and hoping for nothing more than one of their quick victories. Another unsuccessful action like the one at Luetzen simply cannot be borne, it would be the end of the Coalition. By August, say by September, our chances are so much better!

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The (game) plot thickens ...

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Later he had more to say:

Ausgezeichnet, Euerer Majestaet!

Now, obviously our first condition has to be that the siege of Berlin be lifted and that in return the Prussian armies will undertake to realign themselves to the north to protect the capital and ensure the fighting remains firmly limited to Saxony-where its ill-effects are thoroughly deserved, ja sicher. Does your Majesty think it would be going too far-in just the right circles-to breath the word neutralitaet?

It might be proper do you not think at that point to make a return entry to the city, up a flower-strewn Unter den Linden to the Royal Palace, for would you not then be the effective liberator of your capital and its people?

And would this move not also thwart all Bonaparte's efforts to outflank the place d'armes of Upper Saxony to the north, both limiting the effectiveness of his own campaign and keeping the fighting-and all those rampaging Cossacks-outside the kingdom? How could the Tsar object to that? His own lines of communication through Poland would be safeguarded at the very same moment!

Whilst the secret parley goes ahead, your Majesty's armies might do well to mark time until we hear that this, and any other conditions which your Majesty might discover, have been agreed, and to adapt the position of the army accordingly-sad to say, your devoted Minister too has not been vouchsafed a glimpse of the staff map, which remains shut up in the quartermaster-general's dropbox, er lock-box, that is...

Map of the conditions that the King and former minister were discussing ...
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amazingly the Prussian King was considering a separate peace with Bonaparte!

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Es freut mich viel, Euerer Majestaet, to discover that our thinking is so closely aligned. We should be careful of course-as I supervise the moving of my furnishings and baggage from a remote corner of the camp into the tent next to the Royal Pavilion-not to allow the dreadful Habsburgers to understand our purposes too well from any contacts with them. And urgent action may have to be taken, may I respectfully suggest, about the position of the Army, which is not favourable for a redispositioning such as you have ordained. From a copy of the staff map which I have been sent by one of my agents, it appears that in my absence the Army commanders-our army that is-have allowed a very dangerous situation to develop, in which (no doubt as a deliberate result of Habsburg policy) our forces seem to be divided by the Austrian army at Bautzen and sent instead to pursue footling missions on the flanks, placing them in extreme danger of being trapped in the mountains (this after all is the so-called Saxon Switzerland, the frightful tangle of peaks and rivers in which your Majesty's thrice-illustrious great uncle encircled and then enlisted the faithless Saxons at Pirna) or of dwindling away into irrelevance on the Bober-all this whilst the capital burns!

Wollen wir eine zweitende Moskau an der Spree?

The King responds:

Again, exactly my thinking, on reviewing the map at my headquarters. How has this unfortunate position been allowed to develop? With a third force under Blucher still some distance away, there remains the risk, I would have thought, that the Emperor may decide to try to defeat his enemies in detail with a series of lightning strikes, and we in Bohemia could very well be the first victims. We should therefore organise a strategic withdrawal to the North, leaving light cavalry forces to screen our withdrawal, and at the same time, if our diplomats think it wise, assuring our Hapsburg delinquent cousins that we are simply consolidating our positions to avoid encirclement. What does my illustrious advisor have to say? And my military advisors - how quickly can this be accomplished?

Count Haugwitz counters:

I would say that the strategic withdrawal in the mountains is the trickest operation of all, but may be accomplished, Gott sei Dank, by means of the road from Marienberg to Komotau and then on to Leitmeritz and back to Allied HQ. It cannot be managed by means of a northward movement, obviously, as the French are ensconced at Dresden.

But young Steinmetz, one of my promising military assistants, points out that this movement must be commenced without the slightest delay, begging your pardon, your Majesty. He notes that not only is the way very long, in effect the outer circle of all the armies, and through Habsburg territory where snares of all kinds might be devised to delay the troops further, but with your Majesty's cousin the King of Saxony now back in the French camp, the vital fortresses, Koenigstein in particular, in the Elbe valley passing through to Bohemia, are to all intents and purposes in French hands as well. This offers Bonaparte, should he be at Dresden for example, the opportunity just as your Majesty has so ably discerned to descend from the north by way of Aussig and Teplitz upon our tapfere Soldaten as they march home.

On the other hand, with this force endlich under your Majesty's direct supervision at Allied HQ, as it would be upon successful arrival there, your ability to ensure further rearrangements would be as secure as it could possibly be, until sturdy Bluecher comes up...

The King continues in something of a tizzy ...

The more I look at the map, the more horrified I am that we have allowed ourselves to be inveigled into this adverse situation by the scheming Hapsburgs. I agree completely with you that we must withdraw in the fashion you describe. Once we reach Allied HQ, however, we have a potential diplomatic and military encounter of a rather serious kind to manage. How are we going to explain our need to withdraw further? And how will this, in fact, be accomplished? Is there any word from the Emperor?

After the Czar and Francis meet, they respond with this missive about the coming progress:

We agree that the opportunity presented to us is too good to let go. Let the forces of the Austrian Empire attack Marshal Marmont and General Reynier. The second Battle of Bautzen will be a great Austrian victory for the forces of this alliance!

It will show my fellow monarchs that the forces of my empire are ready for this crucial struggle, particularly since we have not been left to stand alone as we were in '09.

Francis I

To which the King of Prussia responded:

Outstanding, my Emperor! You will not be standing alone! We Prussians are as you know rushing to your assistance. You will not be risking an assault on your flank during the great battle to come.  I am quite sure you are right, this will be a great victory for the noble Hapsburg Monarchy.....

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more of the machinations from the Count continued though:

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Your Majesty, there is not a moment to lose!

The Habsburgers are sleepwalking to disaster in their insane bid to gain credit for an impossible victory-and when they fail, as they must, our army in Bohemia is irretrievably lost! The Habsburg plan-how did your Majesty's generals ever concur in it?-has turned their army in the centre at Bautzen into our Bohemian army's only flank protection, and if it goes, there is nothing to stop the Beast descending over the passes to wipe us out. But they must be on the road already, surely, and they must force-march in long stages to reach safety and link up with the doughty Bluecher at Zittau. Your Majesty, assure me that the order has gone out!

C.v.H.

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This plot line was not done with by any stretch of the imagination ...

2 comments:

  1. Prussian treason and treachery revealed at last!
    FI

    ReplyDelete
  2. It was the best way forward for Europe!

    ReplyDelete