Talonsoft Napoleonic games, while having superb graphics, only expose the wargamer to the tactical side of Napoleonic warfare. Players can tire of having to worry about where this skirmisher company can detach or where that battalion should form square. Indeed, they might find themselves muttering, "Can't the Colonel of that Regiment handle these orders?!". With this in mind I have begun running an Avalon Hill board game, Empires in Arms, via E-mail with several club members. For those of you unfamiliar with Empires in Arms, the game is a grand strategic view of the Napoleonic Era. Players take on the personalities of Alexander, Napoleon, Franz and their fellow sovereigns. Each game turn is one month long, and we complete a turn every week. Gamers are responsible for building, maintaining and, as they have found most difficult at times, moving their armies. Empires in Arms (hereafter abbreviated as EIA) places great emphasis on diplomacy and on logistics, which, it can be argued, is the single most critical factor which faces an army of the era. After a year and a half of game time, I think my players are realizing just how difficult it can be to maneuver an army in the face of the enemy, keeping your forces concentrated and all the while trying to protect your supply lines. I am the GM (Gamemaster) for our enterprise, which I have named Some Desperate Glory, and what follows is the first essay in a series that will tell the history of our game-world, taking place in an alternate universe circa 1805. I shall shortly be turning this essay over to the slightly long-winded British Historian of the Era (and my alter ego for this paper), Lord John Greystoke. Lord Greystoke (who must have Irish in his blood, for his sympathies do not always lie with Great Britain) assures me that he commanded the British Man- of-War Achilles during the era and was thus witness to many of the events which transpired. Whether or not this is true, I find his record to be both colourful and enlightening. First let me introduce our participants, who hereafter will only be referred to as their in-game personae:
And now, without further ado, let us begin the story......
In the Dark Months preceding January 1805, the mighty Nations of France and Great Britain were preparing for a titanic clash of arms that would leave one of them the master of Europe and the other joining the likes of Carthage or Macedon as former world powers. Lord Pitt, the British Prime Minister, knew that he could not directly defeat the newly-proclaimed French Emperor with British soldiers alone, so he went to Europe looking for allies in his cause to restore the Bourbons to the throne of France. Johann Sebastien, the Prussian Minister of War, and Baron von Wilsey, Austrian Foreign Minister, met with Britain's Ambassador at Prague to form the Third Coalition, with their avowed goal being the destruction of the French Empire. Baron von Wilsey worked strenuously to get Tsar Alexander I to join this coalition, and talks were progressing well until Lord Pitt sent the Tsar a virtual order to not build any more ships. The Tsar, taking this letter as an infringement upon Russian Sovereignty, coldly declined the offer to join the Third Coalition. Lord Pitt sent an equally brash letter barring ship-building in Spain, and Monterico/Godoy was soon thereafter rumored to be conspiring with Napoleon. Meanwhile, in a diplomatic coup, France and the USA formed an alliance and the USA declared War on Great Britain. Thus, as the snows of January began to fall, Great Britain, Prussia and Austria were at war with France, and the USA at war with Great Britain.
Surprisingly, in light of the logistic difficulties involved, the Austrian and Prussian armies decided to march forward into Bavaria and begin the campaign in the Winter. Napoleon launched his own attack into Italy and moved to support Bavaria. In the first major clash of the war, Marshal Massena confronted the Austrians under General Mack at the Battle of Verona.
In mid-January, the French IV and V Corps under Marshal Massena moved quickly through Northern Italy to engage General Mack and his Austrian IV and V Corps in the vicinity of Verona. Marshal Soult, leading the V Corps, opened the battle at 8 am by sending St. Hilaire's division forward to come to grips with the Austrians. Mack chose to defend his ground and personally took command of the Austrian IV Corps. General Rosenberg supported Mack with the Austrian V Corps. The French numbered some 55,680 Infantry and 2240 cavalry along with 42 guns. Mack's Austrians were 24,960 in number with 12 guns. Despite the numerical disparity, Mack was resolute, certain that he could hold out until darkness.
St. Hilaire pushed the initial French attack, but it made little headway against the Austrians, who were dug in behind formidable entrenchments. Vandamme's division was soon thrown into the fray but Soult, being removed from the main battle lines, had difficulty controlling the coordination of his Corps. Marshal Massena intervened at this time by sending Colonel Dubert to form several batteries of 12-pounder guns from both the IV and V Corps into a grand battery. Covered by General de Brigade Mangaron's Hussar division, this battery began to punish the center of the Austrian line, which was being doggedly held by General Kienmayer.
Despite the barrage of cannonfire, the Austrians refused to break. However, by 11 am, the fighting was beginning to take its toll. Gen. Rosenberg sat pale and grim on his horse, feeding his last reserves into the Austrian left flank, which was anchored around a series of vineyards. Général de Brigade Oudinot of the IV Corps was furiously attempting to break through this position, but finding the hilly terrain rough going. A pair of well-placed Austrian 3-pounder guns were wreaking havoc on the leading battalions, and the French attack ground to a halt.
The fighting in the center was growing perilous. Acrid smoke was hanging heavy in the bitter January air and the Austrian lines were in heavy disorder. As 2 PM passed, Soult sent in his last reserve, under Général de Division Legrand. As Legrand's men were forming up, a steady snow began to fall on the battlefield. The French guns continued to ply their thunder, and the combined weight of Legrand's push and the sustained carnage of the cannon proved too much to bear: Mack's center was shattered and his two Corps were split apart.
The Austrian General Kienmayer tried frantically to rally his broken Corps, but Legrand's push was inexorable. Both St. Hilaire and Vandamme's men were invigorated by the attack and surged forward. Mangaron's Hussars thundered forward in an effort to exploit the breakthrough, but the 48th and 55th Hungarian Line formed square and held back the brilliantly bedecked French horsemen. As the Hussars retired, Dubert's grand battery turned its deadly gaze upon the squared Austrians and began to mow them down by the dozen. Broken bodies were soon stacked like cordwood; when one of Vandamme's brigades advanced towards them, the Hungarians collapsed. Mack's center now completely disintegrated, and masses of demoralized Austrians taken prisoner by the French.
General Rosenberg was continuing to resist Oudinot's and Rey's divisions, but his position was rapidly becoming untenable. He sent a courier back to search for General Mack, but as it drew towards 4 PM and he had still heard no reply, he tried to withdraw on his own initiative. Massena saw his chance, and launched Mangaron's Hussars at the Austrians as they were attempting to form columns and leave the field. In the dusk, with the snow falling, the Austrian could not form square and were sabred down like wheat before the scythe. Oudinot and Rey surged forward; Rosenberg's V Corps was virtually destroyed in the vise.
As night fell the French were too exhausted to pursue. Marshal Massena was pleased with the
day's results and didn't want to risk losing troops in the snowy darkness. He retired to his tent
and prepared a message to his Emperor telling him of his victory at Verona.
Total French losses were 5735 killed and wounded.
Total Austrian losses were 22,614 killed, wounded, captured.
This lightning stroke by La Grande Armée sent a wave of panic through the Austrian High Command. Mack fell back to Munich and tried to prevent the capture of Vienna as Napoleon approached with the main French forces. Emperor Franz ordered the Archduke Charles, who was collecting a joint Prussian/Austrian army at Theresienstadt, to attack, attack, attack, and immediately! Charles protested that the brutal winter weather and impassable roads would make a long, rapid march tantamount to a death sentence. However, the Austrian High Command would hear none of these excuses, and ordered Charles to bring his army without delay to Mack's and Vienna's aid. Charles, ever the loyal soldier, did his duty and tried to reach Mack and the rest of the Austrian army, which was attacked by Napoleon at the Battle of Vaterstettin, 11 February 1805. This battle, and its consequences, would determine the outcome of the campaign.
Following Mack's defeat at Verona and the subsequent loss of Mantua, the unfortunate General rode north to take command of the III, VII and VIII Austrian Corps besieging Munich. He turned over command of the remnants of the Austrian Army of Italy, now preparing to defend Venice, to General Klebelsburg, a drunken, pompous man, unfit for field duty, but who could be reasonably expected to hold a town under siege, at least as long as the wine held out. Klebelsburg was also much favored in Vienna, and his presence in Venetia would allay some of the worries haunting the capital.
Once at Munich, Mack sent repeated messages to the Archduke Charles that Napoleon was concentrating, and that there was no possible way he could stand up alone to the full might of the Grande Armée. Charles assembled his army at Theresienstadt, expecting to be joined by two Prussian Corps under General Lestocq, and the Archduke John with the Austrian Cavalry Reserve. He rubbed his eyes while looking despondently upon his map: Munich was so far away, and in the snow, could a forced march succeed?
Napoleon arrived in Zurich on February 2nd. Though he only had Davout's Corps, the Guard, and Murat with the Cavalry Reserve on hand, he expected Massena with the IV and V Corps and join him at Munich. Time was running out for General Mack...
February 2nd – Bologna:
"But Sir, I believe l'Empereur wished you to begin your march to Venice at once, it's right here in the letter..." Lieutenant Marbot, aide-de-camp to Marshal Massena, began to extend his orders to Marshal Bernadotte again, but was abruptly stopped.
"Do you dare to presume that I need the military opinions of some Lieutenant, or his interpretations of l'Empereur's wishes?"
"Of course not, Sir, but Marshal Massena requires that you besiege the Austrians at Venice before he may move his Corps to join l'Empereur."
"I am not under the command of Marshal Massena!" Bernadotte spat, with a sneer. "I shall besiege Venice when I am able to do so. Do you think it is an easy thing to move an army, Lieutenant? Tell me, in your vast experience leading Corps, have you found it an easy task?"
Realizing that any further arguments were futile, Lieutenant Marbot bowed his head and waited to be dismissed.
February 5th - Mantua:
"Damn Bernadotte and all his children!" Massena roared. "Has he made any move to besiege Venice?"
"None yet, Sir", replied Marbot.
"Well if we wait for him, we will never arrive at Munich, at least not until Spring! We shall have to cross the Alps."
"In the winter, Sir?", Marbot inquired.
"It's our only chance to reach Napoleon now. I just hope we get to Munich in time". Massena stalked out of the room, wondering all the while how Bernadotte ever managed to get a baton.
February 9th - Munich:
General Mack stared around the room at the uneasy faces of his staff. The siege of Munich was not going well. The Bavarians refused to come out to fight and his troops could not even make a breach in the not-very-formidable walls of Munich. Every day that he spent here, Napoleon got closer, while he didn't know whether Charles was even coming to his aid. The prospect of facing the entire French army was not very appealing to his military sensibilities. With a final look at the map he sighed and looked around the room, searching for some show of support, some sign that this decision was not his alone; but of course, it was. "We shall raise the siege and pull back to Salzburg via Wassenburg. Once we cross the River Inn we shall be safe from Napoleon until Charles arrives."
Charles' Army stretched out across the windswept road. Snowdrifts eight feet high barred the path at every depression in the terrain. His men stumbled forward, angry still, which was a good sign. When their anger left them, when despair set in, that was when the danger would begin. "I must reach Mack," he thought to himself. "If Mack is destroyed, the road to Vienna is open. I won't let that happen, no matter what..."
February 10th – Germering (a village outside of Munich):
"And Massena still has not come up?" Napoleon inquired of his aide-de-camp, Général de Brigade Rapp.
"No sire. He is several days away. The snow makes the going hard."
"He's probably looting again," scoffed Marshal Murat .
"And what could he possibly be looting in the snow-covered Alps?" Marshal Davout acidly replied.
Murat glowered at Davout. Their hatred for each other was well-known, and Napoleon did not wish this to degenerate into an argument.
"I will know why Bernadotte did not get to Venice, before this is over. His lethargy could cost us this campaign. We can wait no longer; we shall strike Mack before Charles can arrive."
Southeast of Munich:
General Mack felt confident in his situation. He had expected the entire Grand Armée, but it appeared that he faced only three French Corps. Granted, two of those were the Imperial Guard and Murat's Cavalry Reserve, but his position was a good one, and his Austrians were spoiling for a fight after the tedium of besieging Munich for a month. His force totaled some 45,000 men, with 3300 cavalry and 55 guns. Lichtenstein commanded the III Corps, Trautenberg the VII, and Gottesheim the VIII. He had deployed his men in a strong line anchored in the forest with his left flank resting securely around the town of Vaterstettin. It would not be easy to push through this position, especially under winter conditions.
The Battle began at 10 AM as Davout's III Corps, perhaps the finest in the Grande Armée opened the attack by advancing in Echelon, with Général de Division Caffarelli's 1st Division leading the attack against Lichtenstein's III Corps. GdD Friant with the 2nd Division would engage Trautenberg and the VII Corps, while GdD Gudin would finally hit the town of Vaterstettin and the VIII Corps under Gottesheim. While the French were clearly outnumbered, Davout's infantry numbering only some 30,000, he trusted in the quality and élan of his men. General de Division Sorbier concentrated the fire of the III Corps reserve artillery on Lichtenstein's Corps as the battle opened.
Caffarelli immediately found the going difficult. Deep drifts of snow prevented his men from coming to grips with Lichtenstein and the artillery fire of the III Corps 12-pounder guns was not very effective. Lichtenstein was content to hold his position, as it would be foolish to leave the comfort of the trees, even to strike at the disordered columns Caffarelli was bringing forward. He was very cognizant of Murat's massive Cavalry Reserve, some 14,000 horsemen (Murat also having absorbed the III Corps cavalry into his force, much to the irritation of Marshal Davout) and he knew he couldn't risk bringing his Austrians into the open.
Due to Caffarelli's troubles with the terrain, Friant and the 2nd Division lost contact with his
flanks and advanced ahead of the others.
"Friant is marching alone toward the center of the Austrian position!" cried Général de Brigade Daultane, Davout's Chief of Staff. Davout snapped shut his eyeglass and ordered forward an aide to slow down Friant's advance. The aide had his horse shot from underneath him, and before Davout could send another, Friant began deploying into line in preparation for his attack on the Austrian position. Trautenberg could not believe his good fortune: A single French division stood in front of his and Lichtenstein's two Corps!. Friant quickly found himself overwhelmed with heavy Austrian fire. Lichtenstein ordered General Jurczik to lead forward the Kaiser Franz II Regiment and the Josef Mittrowsky Regiment, both of which began pouring fire into Friant's flank. After a good 15 minutes of this punishing fire, Trautenberg ordered the Merveldt Uhlanen and Hessen-Homburg Hussaren regiments under General Stutterheim to charge Friant. Friant's 2nd Brigade, the 48th and 111th Ligne, formed square to hold off the attack.
The presence of enemy cavalry lurking about was all the invitation Marshal Murat needed to go into action. Murat led forward the 4th Dragoon Division and flew down the snow-peppered slope at a gallop. He crashed into the Merveldt Uhlanen and shattered them. The Uhlanen mingled with the Hessen-Homburg Hussaren and the Dragoons leading to the rout of the mingled bunch. General Mack cursed this misfortune, and Trautenberg's unwise order to send them forward, as he could not hope to match the French in a cavalry battle. The 4th Dragoons retired behind Friant, having given him a much-needed reprieve.
As Noon neared, Gudin's 3rd Division was in action against Vaterstettin and Gottesheim's VIII Corps. The Austrians had assembled a good amount of artillery in the town and Gudin's men were being fiercely handled. Napoleon, never one to let a situation get out of hand, ordered his aide-de-camp GdB Mouton to assemble a grand battery with the Artillery of the Imperial Guard and began pouring fire into the town. Storms of iron belched forth from both sides, with Gudin retiring slightly to allow the Guard gunners to ply their wicked trade.
Caffarelli's 1st Division was finally in action and was engaged in a fierce struggle with Lichtenstein's men. The fighting degenerated into tree-by-tree sniping as French Voltigeurs tried to pick off Austrian officers and create general havoc in the Austrian lines. Caffarelli simply did not have the strength to push Lichtenstein out of the position, and Lichtenstein was no coward; he wasn't going to run, and so the fighting in this sector would continue in an attritional manner for the rest of the battle.
Napoleon quickly realized that the battle would have to be won either in the center by Friant, or by turning Mack's flank by seizing Vaterstettin, thus making the Austrian position untenable. He realized he sorely lacked infantry, and so he ordered Murat to test the Austrian center with a cavalry charge. Murat led forward General de Division Nansouty's 1st Heavy Cavalry Division, with the 1st Dragoon Division under GdD Klein in reserve. The Carabiniers and Cuirassiers were disordered in the wretched terrain and had little impact on the Austrians. After another fruitless attempt, Murat sent an aide to Napoleon telling him that the center was impossible to break with cavalry.
"Then it must be the town," Napoleon said with finality to his Chief of Staff, Marshal Berthier. The Austrians defending Vaterstettin had continued to take a pounding from the French Guard Artillery, but by 3 PM, Napoleon no longer believed that Gudin's men had enough élan to take the town on their own. He therefore ordered the gallant Marshal Bessières, the Bayard of the Grande Armée, to lead forward the infantry of the Imperial Guard. Tall men, in tall bearskin hats, these were veterans of all of Napoleon's Italian campaigns. "Soldats!" Napoleon shouted, "Take that town with the bayonet!" "Hurrah!! Vive l'Empereur!" yelled the Guard, and Bessières led them forward. The Austrians could do nothing against this inexorable wave of personified glory. Gottesheim took a long drink from his bottle of schnapps, and fled with his staff. His soldiers soon took his example and were streaming out of Vaterstettin as fast as their legs could carry them. The Guard were too few to pursue far, but with Gudin's division coming up to aid them and the Guard Artillery limbering to move forward, Mack knew it was time to withdraw. Both Lichtenstein and Trautenberg withdrew in good order, and darkness, along with the wooded terrain, prevented any French pursuit.
February - 12th somewhere north of Nuremburg:
"We must reach Mack, we must reach Mack, we must reach Mack..." Charles abruptly jerked himself out of his thoughts. He looked along his column of men and cringed. Thousands had dropped out of the ranks. Many more thousand had died in the snow each night along the march. Men set roadside houses on fire in an attempt to stay warm each night. Many had slept so close to the fire they were burned alive in their sleep. Many more just dropped off into the woods each night, too exhausted to look for either food or shelter, and never saw dawn. He estimated that he had lost almost half his army. The soldiers, those left with any conscious thoughts, had christened this march Die Knochenbahn, or the lane of bones. Charles' depots had not been set up, the rate of the march was too fast, and there was no food to be found in the frozen countryside.
"How can I protect Vienna with half my men dead?" Charles rode at the head of his skeleton column, consumed by dark thoughts.
Charles eventually did reach Munich, and with Massena still unable to support him, Napoleon abandoned the city and withdrew into the mountains. Murat expertly covered the retreat; Charles was unable to penetrate the cavalry screen. Charles' exhausted men collapsed around Munich and feebly took up the siege of the Bavarians inside. Somewhere on the outskirts of Venice, Bernadotte was sampling the favors of the local Italian girls.....The Archduke Charles reached Munich too late, and in the process he had lost over half his effective strength to cold, exhaustion, and starvation. This, combined with the earlier defeats, compelled Emperor Franz to send Baron von Wilsey to the Emperor of France to beg for peace.
Meanwhile, hundreds of miles to the north, Prussian Field Marshal Hohenlohe undertook a brilliant campaign, while France's armies were occupied in South Germany and Italy. Hohenlohe, who became known as the "Lion of the North", took Lubeck, Hanover, and Minden, and was threatening Amsterdam, when a bolt of lightning struck the Third Coalition: The Austrians had made peace with France! Abandoning the field and leaving their Prussian allies to their fate, Austria had made a separate peace with France, Napoleon giving Franz very generous terms. Ratified on March 5th, the Treaty of Munich ended hostilities between France and Austria.
Where were the British during all of this you, my readers, might ask? Great Britain seemed to be everywhere, yet nowhere, during the first few months of war. British resources were spread all over the globe, and this lack of concentration was highlighted by the disastrous Battle of Charleston, South Carolina, in January 1805. The Royal Navy attempted to force a landing at Charleston harbor and extinguish United States naval power in a single blow, in the style of Nelson's attack on Copenhagen. However, the American shore batteries and small Navy were up to the task, and inflicted an embarrassing and costly defeat upon the British (six ships-of-the-line sunk, and the invading West Indies Corps destroyed, for the loss of only one Yankee vessel). The British launched a vigorous winter ground offensive from Canada, despite having only Militia and a small nucleus of Regulars available. The Canadian Militia were brilliantly led by General Isaac Brock, who aspired to a European Field Command. Brock besieged and took Detroit, sending the young United States into a panic. President Thomas Jefferson urged the people to stay the course, warning them that trials of fire would have to be faced. Militia were called, the various States of the fledgling Nation responding with differing and sometimes abysmal enthusiasm, some never fulfilling their quotas in the course of the war. Since the regular U.S. Army was pitifully small, and fully a fourth of its number had been captured at Detroit, the brunt of the fighting against the British would have to be born by these ill-trained farmers and tradesmen. Meanwhile, General Brock had concluded tentative negotiations with Tecumseh, legendary Indian Warrior, the 'Napoleon of the Northwest'. Tecumseh promised the British that the Indians of the Great Lakes, Iroquois, Huron, and Potowatami, would rally and fight for the Great English Chief.
Occupied thus, the British were unable, or unwilling, as the Emperor Franz suspiciously hinted, to support the Germanic Nations against the French. Prior to the Austrian surrender, Baron von Wilsey had railed against Lord Pitt, wondering aloud why Great Britain could find time to invade and conquer Sardinia, and to declare War and begin fighting in Cyrenaica, yet was unable to help its allies in their moment of peril.With Austria's neutralized army moving back to Vienna, Prussia was left to face Napoleon alone. You must remember that Lestocq's two Corps had been brutalized by Charles' winter march, and with his Austrian allies marching away, Lestocq alone had to face the whole of the Grand Armée. Hohenlohe, the Lion of the North, was persuaded by British promises to attack Amsterdam instead of falling back on Berlin and protecting his capital. Whether the British promised him a duchy in Hanover, or paid him in gold, cannot be known. What is known, is that Hohenlohe's choice left only Lestocq between Napoleon and Berlin. Furthermore, it is related that Queen Louise of Prussia and FM Hohenlohe made public and outrageous predictions of Prussian victories over France. Queen Louise's coterie of Officers and admirers making up the Prussian "War Faction" spoke loudly and boastfully from Berlin. Apparently, they had spent their time more in salons then in considering military matters. A furious Napoleon send this Proclamation from Zurich..........
Soldats de l'Empire!
The Austrian Empire bows before you, unable to further bear the brunt of your merciless courage. In two short months you have made short work of their impetuosity and brought countless Glories to your Eagles and to France.
The Austrians have been treated rigorously but justly, for your Empereur is a sympathetic man and does not strike a proud people down when they are at their lowest. No, sadly, the Austrian politicians were tricked by our true enemies, seduced by the silver tongue of their banality.
The audacity of that Queen and her cabal of rotting cowards! She will rue the day she left her salon and entered the dangerous world of politics.
Fear not, brave soldat, your Empereur will not let you down.
The Prussians say they will fight to the death, then to death they will go; for they belong not to the Army of Frederick the Great who deserves the greatest martial respect, but they are an army of feeble dandies and bearded women.
Soldats de l' Empire, you are the heroes of France.
Soldats de l' Empire, you will become the heroes of the World.
Napoleon then proceded to rout Lestocq's two Prussian Corps at Ingolstadt, in what can hardly be called a battle. The road to Berlin was now thrown open and the reality of Prussia's predicament struck home to König Friedrich Wilhelm III. Wilhelm dispatched his braggart Queen to beg Napoleon for mercy. However, the Emperor was in no mood for mercy. After hearing her impassioned pleas for the better part of two hours, Napoleon left the meeting unmoved. He sent Armand de Caulaincourt to speak with the formerly proud, but recently humbled Johann Sebastien. Caulaincourt conveyed to the Prussian Minister of War that the Emperor wished to express his deepest chagrin that the once mighty Prussian Empire had been duped by the English into a wasteful war; that it pained the Emperor to inflict such suffering upon the Prussian Army, which he respected and admired deeply; that indeed, the Emperor was a great admirer of Frederick I, considering him his scholastic and military father. The Emperor however was much angered by the advance of that fool Hohenlohe into the French protectorate of Holland. How could he consider appeasement when such a belligerent act was conducted against a peaceful and uninvolved ally of France? Therefore the terms were far harsher than they would have been had the King put a leash on this errant dog of Louise's, and retreated from Hanover as promised in his last communiqué. The terms for the Unconditional Surrender of Prussian arms to the Emperor would be:
"Consider these terms well, dear Sire, and remember next time what brought
you into this ruinous war so that you may not repeat that mistake again.
May there be Peace and Friendship between our Sovereign Peoples."
War Minister Johann Sebastian was heard to be weeping after this meeting, but he and his nation had no choice. Hohenlohe's Army in Holland was disbanded; Hohenlohe was sent to Russia in disgrace. Prussia was left in ruins by the Treaty of Amsterdam, ratified 8 April 1805, and France's star rose unchecked.
While France and the USA were pitted against Prussia, Austria, and Great Britain, the nations of Russia, Turkey and Spain were not idle. Spain was doing its best job of riding the fence, allying neither with France nor Britain. However, Royal Navy spies were reporting that Spanish sympathies might be leaning towards France. American suspicions of a possible Spanish stab- in-the-back were inflamed by the surreptitious introduction of Spanish troops into British Jamaica. Either way, Spain was taking advantage of the conflict in Europe by occupying Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Very quietly, Spain was building up its base of power while playing diplomatic Russian Roulette between the two Great Powers.
Tsar Alexander I watched the progression of the War in Europe with scorn. He ridiculed the stupidity of Charles' winter march and was stunned when Austria surrendered after only two months of war. The capitulation of Prussia one month later led the Tsar to roll out his map of Europe and contemplate Russian interests now that the Germanic states were weakened (although Austria was in far better shape than Prussia due to its favorable terms of surrender). The Tsar ordered General Kutusov to begin preparing for an invasion of Sweden. Great Britain desperately wanted to prevent this, but British resources were stretched to the breaking point and they could send Sweden no aid. Austria was trying to form an alliance between Turkey and Sweden and was trying until the 11th hour to help Sweden, but without a Navy, Austria could only offer the Swedes moral support, and that kind of support is sorely inadequate when facing a foe that outnumbers, outguns and out-supplies you. In March, when the Baltic ice thawed and freed the Russian fleet from its winter ports of St. Petersburg and Riga, General Kutusov sailed to Sweden with 3 Corps and began the conquest of that Northern Nation.
Turkey too took advantage of the war to try and extend its influence. With subtle British aid, Turkey accomplished an easy and relatively blood-free conquest of Egypt, a major coup for the Turks. In a surprising, and perhaps over-aggressive move, Turkey also invaded Naples. While they did this with Austrian blessing, Austria was in no position to aid them and France and Spain were unlikely to look kindly on Turkish occupation of Naples. This bold stroke by the Turks was bound to turn France and Spain's attention to them soon.
In the near-trackless forests of North America, campaigning slithered to a halt in the mud of March and April, but May 1805 found the Americans seeking their revenge for the fiasco at Detroit: While General Wilkinson riveted the attention of the Anglo-Canadian forces along the Niagara, Dearborn lunged north out of Plattsburgh and seized Montreal, severing the logistic lifeline of H.M. forces in Upper Canada. In June, fast-marching Kentucky Militia staging out of Montreal laid siege to the fortress of Quebec, while the combined U.S. and French West Indian fleets blockaded the St. Lawrence. The tide in the New World was turning, and Britain's native allies grew nervous as a strong force of Ohio and Virginia Militia moved steadily north from Cincinnati toward the Michigan Territory. The War of 1805 was not over...
This brings us up to about the beginning of July 1805. Further history will follow at a later date, as in an alternate universe eight proud nations engage in a titanic struggle for Some Desperate Glory.
Not many people know that the historical Thomas Jefferson was an avid player of an early, limited-edition version of Empires in Arms. As can be seen in this excerpt from his letter to co-player John Langdon in an 1810 Play-by-Snail-Mail match, Jefferson's group used not only the America in Arms expansion rules as we are in Some Desperate Glory, but an additional Asia in Arms module allowing campaigning through the Near East and India.
The fear that Buonaparte will come over to us and conquer us also, is too chimerical to be genuine.
Supposing him to have finished Spain and Portugal, he has yet England and Russia to subdue. The maxim
of war was never sounder than in this case, not to leave an enemy in the rear; and especially where an
insurrectionary flame is known to be under the embers, merely smothered, and ready to burst at every
point. These two subdued, (and surely the Anglomen will not think the conquest of England a short work)
ancient Greece and Macedonia, the cradle of Alexander, his prototype, and Constantinople, the seat of
empire for the world, would glitter more in his eye than our bleak mountains and rugged forests. Egypt,
too, and the golden apples of Mauretania, have for more than half a century fixed the longing eyes of
France; and with Syria, you know, he has an old affront to wipe out. Then come ‘Pontus and Galatia,
Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,’ the fine countries on the Euphrates and Tigris, the Oxus and Indus, and all
beyond the Hyphasis, which bounded the glories of his Macedonian rival; with the invitations of his new
British subjects on the banks of the Ganges, whom, after receiving under his protection the mother country,
he cannot refuse to visit. When all this is done and settled, and nothing of the old world remains
unsubdued, he may turn to the new one. But will he attack us first, from whom he will get but hard knocks
and no money? Or will he first lay hold of the gold and silver of Mexico and Peru, and the diamonds of
Brazil? A republican Emperor, from his affection to republics, independent of motives of expediency, must
grant to ours the Cyclop’s boon of being the last devoured.
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Governor John Langdon,
5 March 1810