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Thread: Ambition - A Stateless General's AAR

  1. #1

    Ambition - A Stateless General's AAR

    Ambition
    Memoirs of Louis André d'Blanc, Adjutant to General Halen

    Prelude


    One man can change the world.

    Once, some men believed otherwise. The world, they said, was a vast and complex place, home to hundreds of millions. The institutions that existed were hundreds of years old, and the leaders of even the greatest powers could hardly budge the Earth from its ingrained framework. A King or a general might try, strain against the standing order to war and conquer, but the forces of the status quo would soon push him back his position. The time of men like Caesar, Alexander the Great, and the Khans of the East were long past, they said. No more was the world dominated by the whims of kings and warlords, but governed by a vast and complex social fabric that rebelled against change and fought against the men who would be gods.

    Napoleon proved them all wrong. He shattered their foolish notions of the importance of numbers and politics on the battlefield. The time came when the entire world spoke his name in whispered awe, an all of Europe was at his feet. Only by the might of titans, half of whom he cowed in his fight for dominance, did the world finally bring the Emperor of the French under control.

    From that day forward, no one ever again believed in the stability of the balance of power. To an extent, the world returned to the way it had been, but the scars that Napoleon had left in his vast campaigns across Europe could still be seen on any map. The Great Powers adopted the new notions and ideas of warfare that Napoleon had left them, but kept the Emperor under careful lock and key on the island of St. Helena until the day he finally died. Still they feared him. A man like no other.

    Or was he? Napoleon had been born no one. He was the son a minor noble family of no relevance in French Corsica, and of even less importance following the Revolution. He had been given a rushed albeit elite military education and served in the French army for a few years in Italy. The only thing that set him apart from all the others who had even done the same was the greatness of his skill, eclipsed only by magnitude of his ambition. It was this and nothing else that allowed him to become General at 24 and Emperor at 35.

    But this book is not about Napoleon, though he will be mentioned at least once more before it is done. I merely mention the great Emperor to prove that leaders are born, not made. After Napoleon, all the powers of Europe knew this, but somehow they did not consider it. Surely, they thought, such a man appeared only once in a lifetime. Little did they suspect, that not only was there a second such man, but that he was already a General, and his exploits would soon be heard in every court in Europe.


    -------------------
    Hello and welcome to Ambition, an AAR that focuses on a single stateless and quite mercenary general rather than a nation.

    The AAR will be narrated by our friend Louis d'Blanc (whose writing you've already sampled above), but will focus on the fictional character of General Halen, a General who will mod into the game and change between various countries. He'll go where the wars are, often favoring the underdog. The point of the AAR isn't to conquer as much as possible for any one nation but instead to see how much one rogue general can change the world.

    Halen is what a loosely term a "legendary" general. I won't say what his attributes are, but he's better than any general you could normally get in-game, but not in any one stat. I modded in two attributes for him specifically ("Legendary" as Background and "Unbowed" as Personality), so I'll let you guess what they mean. I'll be dropping hints about his stats in d'Blanc's narrative.

    To test Halen's power (with no significance in the narrative whatsoever) I gave him to Tripoli and put him in command of their three brigades in the starting war against the Ottomans, which is very heavily stacked against them. Halen defeated the initial 2-brigade force. They regrouped with another 3 brigades of Ottoman reinforcements and defeated the combined force in a series of bruising battles, which included two defeats and a handful of victories. After that, the Ottomans hit with another 3 brigades which he wiped off the map in one battle. Then, the Ottomans mobilized (‽) and hit Tripoli with overwhelming force. Halen's brigades were destroyed. Note the Ottoman general in this war gave -2 to both attack and defense.

    By this test, I assess Halen to be "very good but not insurmountable", which is exactly where I want him to be. He can fight slightly superior numbers and technology, but not overwhelming of either.

    This AAR will be very short (probably only covering fifty years of history, if that), because it will necessarily conform to Halen's life. It will also be updated infrequently - that is to say, whenever I have time, because I'm running Shadow of the Andes which is quite time-consuming. I had the idea for this AAR when I was tinkering around with adding generals into the game for Shadow of the Andes.
    Last edited by ThunderHawk3; 03-10-2011 at 21:13.
    Follow Halen, a Stateless General in Ambition - Won Character Writer of the Week, 10/10/11, WritAAR of the Week, 10/16/11, First to win both on the same week, Runner Up for the 2011 VictAARian Cross

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    Sir ThunderHawk3, Knight of the Order of the Large and Intimidating Robert

  2. #2
    Last edited by ThunderHawk3; 05-10-2011 at 07:07.
    Follow Halen, a Stateless General in Ambition - Won Character Writer of the Week, 10/10/11, WritAAR of the Week, 10/16/11, First to win both on the same week, Runner Up for the 2011 VictAARian Cross

    Become El Presidente, by vote or by coup, in Shadow of the Andes - Nominee for the 2012 VictAARian Cross

    Build Belgium from the ground up in Edge of Europe

    Sir ThunderHawk3, Knight of the Order of the Large and Intimidating Robert

  3. #3
    Indefatigable Psychotic tamius23's Avatar
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    If he is a good general, he will be dead within 6 months. It's how these games work.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by tamius23 View Post
    If he is a good general, he will be dead within 6 months. It's how these games work.
    When he does die or what have you, I'll put him back in the game. He'll also be switching nations, which will require modding/savegame editing to do.
    Follow Halen, a Stateless General in Ambition - Won Character Writer of the Week, 10/10/11, WritAAR of the Week, 10/16/11, First to win both on the same week, Runner Up for the 2011 VictAARian Cross

    Become El Presidente, by vote or by coup, in Shadow of the Andes - Nominee for the 2012 VictAARian Cross

    Build Belgium from the ground up in Edge of Europe

    Sir ThunderHawk3, Knight of the Order of the Large and Intimidating Robert

  5. #5
    Slacker Extraordinaire Zzzzz...'s Avatar
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    I like this
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  6. #6
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    If he's always fighting for the underdog (uncivs and civs with a few secondarys thrown in is the meaning I'm taking) I give him 5-10 years before hes assassinated.
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    Know it while you have it.
    The gods wait to delight in you.

  7. #7
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    Sounds very interesting. Maybe you could add a brigade to his entourage later on to simulate the loyal veterans he's attracted over his career. Give them decent experience and see what they can do.
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  8. #8

    Chapter 1: Cancha Rayada


    Halen's origins have been a question of no small debate. I myself do not know where he came from. I never even learned his full name, and to this day I do not know if "Halen" was his first name or his last. I only know that whenever he was asked for his name or title, he simply replied "Halen", pronounced "Hay-lehn", and nothing else. He rarely even used his rank.

    I know that he spoke English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Swedish conversationally but with an irregular accent that I was never able to identify. Some have told me that they thought he was Dutch or Belgian and that his native language was Flemish, accounting for his accent. Others have speculated that he was a Norseman or a Finn, and yet others told me that they thought he was not a westerner at all, but instead came from some dark province of the far east or beyond.

    I find all these unlikely. Halen was tall and tan, and quite European in appearance. I believe that Halen kept his origins deliberately secret to disguise his past. His accent may have even been thrown. Why I cannot say.

    I first met Halen in the Argentine in 1817. He wasn't a general then, and I wasn't an adjutant. Rather, he and I were both mercenary artillerymen in the patriotic army of South America under Bernardo O'Higgins, himself a general to San Martin. Following the turbulence of the Napoleonic Wars, many soldiers became mercenaries in the New World, and Halen was no exception. Before he brought attention to himself, I remember only that he was quiet and efficient and exceptional in aiming his own artillery pieces and nothing else. I was a logistics officer and he was a sergeant in charge of a towed eight-pounder - we spoke only in matters of strictly military importance.

    I also bore witness to the start of Halen's career as an officer.

    It was March 1818, and the 7,000 men of the Army of the Andes had crossed into Chile to confront Osorio and the Spanish army at their stronghold at Talca. San Martin ordered the city besieged. Osorio, realizing that he must either break the siege or lose the battle for Chile, swung his force around and launched a surprise attack on our flank as we prepared the artillery positions at Cancha Rayada. His men came as if from nowhere and fell amongst the O'Higgin's artillerymen with a fury. O'Higgins himself was shot in the thigh in the opening minutes of the battle and was evacuated from the field. Colonel Hilarión de la Quintana, O'Higgin's second-in-command, was in conference with General Martin at Headquarters and was not present on the field.

    Left without commanders, the artillery company quickly began a disorderly rout. I was stationed to the rear of the company in a logistics tent, when the withdrawal began. The men I saw were no longer soldiers, and the marchers were no longer an army. They were a hysterical mob, retreating in blind panic before the advancing Spanish, many dropping their weapons as they fled.

    My tent, as it happened, was on a hill behind the front lines next to the medical tent in the rear. This location afforded me full view of the retreat ahead and below us and the great stampede of men that were desperately fleeing in our direction. As fate would have it, the tent adjacent to mind was also where O'Higgens was brought for surgery and where Halen, by virtue of a logistics need for his gun, found himself at the time of the retreat. My mind had gone quite blank during the retreat. San Martin had won us battle after battle in the liberation of the Argentine and Chile, but now it seemed that our fortunes had been reversed. I was numbed by the prospect of defeat. Halen too, remained silent, but I imagine in retrospect that he was considering the situation.

    A half-hour or so after the rout began, a runner arrived, quite out of breath, on the hill above the Cancha Rayada apologizing profusely for his lateness but explaining that his mount had been shot out from under him. He said he brought urgent orders from San Martin for General O'Higgins, and had been told that he could find the later here. I replied that the general was in surgery, being treated for the bullet-wound he had taken to the thigh, and was likely unconscious. At this, the runner seemed to despair.

    Halen told the man that he might give the message to us, to which the runner replied that San Martin ordered them to hold fast against the attack as the Andes infantry was advancing to relieve the shattered artillery corps. To this, Halen only nodded and thanked the man, telling him that he should return to headquarters and explain the situation. When the runner had departed, Halen walked over to the side of the medical tent and picked up a jacket that I hadn't noticed before. The jacket was O'Higgens', adorned with a general's insignia and all the regalia of war, slightly bloodstained, but cast unceremoniously aside as the Chilean had been hauled into surgery.

    My companion put on the jacket. As he did, something seemed to change about Halen. It seemed to fit him well, as if he were born to be a general, and he slipped it on I began to believe in him. He once again looked out across the battlefield and saw the panicked retreat, then turned to me.

    "I can fix this," he said, absolute calm in his voice, "but I will need a horse."

    I looked around wildly for a horse, but perversely there were none in our small camp. Glancing down the hill, I saw one approaching with saddle and stirrup but no rider, charging wildly away from the field. I ran down the hill calling to it, though I did not expect it to answer, and managed to reach the plains at the hill's base before it passed me. I remember that I did not stand and flail in front of it, as fools do, but nudged up against its side as it passed me and clung to it. I was dragged for some distance but my weight slowed it, and soon the beast had calmed and was under my control. I rode it up the hill to Halen, where I dismounted and gave the reins to the sergeant in the General's jacket.

    He thanked me briefly and rode off. I could see him from the top of the hill, charging down into the mob and darting amongst the fleeing soldiers, stopping a few there and a few here, sending one pack to his post and then another. Soon, groups of men, then dozens, began to stop at once and I watched in amazement as a new line was established. Halen charged back towards the spaniards with a hundred or so men on foot, not to attack (as I first though, since that would have been suicidal) but to recover discarded weapons and hand-tow the guns back to the new line.

    Soon, the entire regiment had come to stop along Halen's new line and the officers were listening to his every word. Halen directly a half-dozen long-barreled six-pounders to the hillside where I stood and they began to roar at the advancing Spanish infantry, erratically at first. Then Halen appeared and shouted to the artillery sergeants, and suddenly their aim was deadly.

    With that, Halen rode back down to the plains, creating an army where only minutes ago there had been a mob. The odd Spanish cavalryman who had been chasing the retreating force hit the line and pulverized, and the cavalry soon turned back to re-unite with the main Spanish force. Suddenly, as Halen charged along our line, our chances no longer seemed so hopeless. He briefly rode away and out of sight and returned with more men, then stayed on the line as the Spanish advanced. Amazingly, I saw our numbers were equal, but they were only infantry while we had artillery.

    Our guns thundered and Halen shouted words that were lost to me above him, but the line held as the Spanish grouped for another assault. An hour or so passed as we fired on one another, our guns shredding the core of the Royalist assault, but our enemies held firm for a time. Night was upon us by the time the Spanish broke and a haggard cheer rose from our line as the Spaniards fled. No sooner had they than I heard a bugler in the distance, and San Martin's cavalry changed into view, sweeping into the broken enemy lines. Now it was the Spaniards turn to flee.

    I found out after the battle that Halen had grouped nearly two thousand men along the new line and the new artillery positions along the hill with nothing to his name but a stolen horse, a stolen jacket, and a spirit all his own. They had held firm against an equal number - 2,000 - Spanish infantry for hours and broken the enemy, who were run down and killed or captured by San Martin long before they could return to their own lines - seven miles away, in Talca. The night fell on our field. The battle on the plains of Cancha Rayada would be Osorio's last offensive.


    1. Argentine Cavalry falls on a retreating Spanish line, Talca in the distance


    Later, when Halen had returned to the hill to survey the camping Army of the Andes below him, we received an unexpected visitor. None other than José de San Martin himself, Supreme Captain and General of the combined armies of Argentina, Chile, and Peru arrived on our little hill. When I saluted him crisply and asked him why he was here, the defender of South America replied that he wished to congratulate O'Higgins on his victory. Unable to restrain myself, I replied that it had not been O'Higgins in command, as he had been in surgery during the battle.

    A surprised San Martin asked me who had been in charge, and I gestured to my friend, still standing alone on the hillside in O'Higgin's jacket. San Martin asked him who he was, to which the hero of the day simply replied "Halen."

    The two men talked briefly afterwards, Halen explaining how I had given him a horse and he had taken O'Higgin's jacket to rally the fleeing army and establish a new line against the Spanish, turning a rout into a victory. At the end of the battle, San Martin slapped his gloves against his knee and declared that Halen was now a proper general in service to Argentina.

    Halen said that he was a mercenary, to which San Martin replied that if he could engineer such a victory again, then Halen could name his price. Halen agreed, much to my surprise, on the condition that I become his adjutant (I barely knew him at this time). The new general said that I had stepped in front of charging horse for him on faith alone, and he would not be able to find a more loyal adjutant than I. San Martin agreed without hesitation, and Halen was given command of the artillery regiment for the remainder of the war in South America.

    A week later, Osorio surrendered, his 5,000 man force encircled at Talca and bombarded until broken. It was the end of Spain's hopes of retaining her colonies in South America. Though some holdouts of the Royalist armies remained in the south of Argentina and Chile, they would never again threaten the independence of the continent. Halen's contract as a general expired some months later in the fall of 1818.

    He would name his price.


    -------------------
    One historical note: In the real battle of Cancha Rayada, San Martin was defeated. The entire artillery regiment was killed, captured, or dispersed and Talca remained in Royalist hands. It wasn't until Maipú, a month later, that San Martin defeated Orosio for good.

    I'm sorry that this post was so long. I may - eh - have gotten carried away.
    Follow Halen, a Stateless General in Ambition - Won Character Writer of the Week, 10/10/11, WritAAR of the Week, 10/16/11, First to win both on the same week, Runner Up for the 2011 VictAARian Cross

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  9. #9
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThunderHawk3 View Post
    I'm sorry that this post was so long. I may - eh - have gotten carried away.
    Not at all, I think it's an excellent introduction for your main characters. I'm picturing Halen as a sort of land-bound Captain Nemo.
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  10. #10
    Slacker Extraordinaire Zzzzz...'s Avatar
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    Excellent update. It's not too long for my taste.
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  11. #11
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    Intriguing...

    Great intro...already I want to know where he goes next!
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  12. #12
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    I'm very impressed so far not only with the idea of this story but your execution as well. Great job and looking forward to the next update!
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  13. #13

    Chapter 2: The Man In Africa


    Halen was always a very quiet man, though his infrequent remarks hinted at a dangerous intelligence beneath his impassive exterior. He was never self-aggrandizing, even in his later years when his genius had won him many victories. Yet, I think he had always known that he was special - that he would accomplish things in his lifetime that only the most legendary figures in the history of warfare would match. I think Halen's perspective is much evidenced by his meeting with the man in Africa, a little-publicized and clandestine encounter that would set the greatest country in the world against Halen.

    When our contracts expired with San Martin's Army of the Andes in mid-1818, Halen opted not to serve in the Argentine for another year. The Spanish, he said, were defeated - at least on land - and there were other battles to fight elsewhere. Indeed, the Royalist armies were crushed in Argentina and Peru and on the run in Southern Chile and Equador. Spanish defeat was even close at hand in Venezula, Columbia, and Central America - though we did not know it then.

    What we did know was that for us, the fight in South America was done. We, the European mercenaries in the employ of the patriots, left with a pouch of gold each for our efforts. Halen left San Martin's command with a full general's honors. In a meeting with San Martin himself after the ceremony in Buenos Aires, Halen reminded San Martin of his promise that Halen could name his price for his service. The new general requested only two things - one, a generous but not unreasonable stipend for his service, and two, from the Fleet of the Pacific, the service of a single Argentinean Man O' War and her crew for a period not to exceed one year.

    I think this second demand struck both myself and San Martin as strange, but Halen explained that he wished to travel to Africa and wished a warship to navigate the treacherous waters. Regardless, San Martin granted this request at once. Since early 1817, Argentina had been building up her fleet, purchasing excess warships from the United States and the UK with the hopes of breaking the Spanish blockade on Valparaíso and permanently ending Royalist naval power in the Americas. Since the battle of Cancha Rayada, the Argentinian navy had swelled in size and the Spanish had evacuated their fleets to Puerto Rico.

    Perhaps as a sign of his gratitude, San Martin put the San Martin, the ship that bore his name and the flagship of First Chilean Navy, at Halen's disposal. She sailed around the Cape and met us in Buenos Aires three weeks later. She was a 1300 pound, 60-gun fourth rate, bought in London earlier that year, 133 feet bow to stern with a veteran crew of 450 and several victories to her name already. I had already decided that I would go with Halen, wherever he went, and I gaped that in under a year Halen had gained this vessel as his personal transportation.

    We did not leave immediately when the ship arrived. I found that a few hundred of the mercenaries who had served with Halen had decided (quite wrongly, as history proved) that the fighting in South America was over and that it was time to return to Europe. A small fleet of transport ships formed around us as we departed from Buenos Aires for South Africa, where Halen had set our destination. While many of our mercenary compatriots were eager to follow Halen there, many believing they could work policing the colony or in the periodic bush wars between Great Britain and the locals, I did not believe this was Halen's goal. When I asked him the purpose of our journey, he only said that he wished to meet a man, and would say nothing else. I did notice that he spent quite a bit of time with the navigator, often asking where we were and what route we would take.

    With little else to do on the San Martin, I spent a good deal of my time wondering who Halen could possibly wish to meet in South Africa. The answer, as I soon discovered, was no one. He had never intended to go to South Africa. San Martin was a fast vessel despite her size, built as she was on an Indiaman's frame, and the wind was often at our back, but the crossing took us near three weeks. A little less than two weeks into our journey, Halen visited the San Martin's captain and told him that he wished to issue a course correction.

    The Captain, Commodore Nathaniel Dance, barely reacted at all but merely asked for the new course. He and Halen retreated into the navigator's room and had a private conservation. When they returned, Halen told the Captain that they should strike the ship's colors, saying that he did not wish his actions to reflect poorly on San Martin after the man had put so much faith in him. To my amazement, the Captain complied and signaled for the small fleet traveling with us to do the same, and we proceeded afterwards like brigands - with no flags to identify ourselves. I again asked Halen where we going, and said still to South Africa - we were merely to make a stop first.

    Commodore Dance gave me no answers either, so I was forced to wait for several days. I recall it was the early evening - the sun had recently set - when the observer in the crow's nest declared he had sighted land. I knew we were still on an open sea far from Africa, so I realized it must be an island the man had sighted. I again asked Halen where we were going - or more aptly where we were - and he replied that we would make port at Saint Helena this evening.

    I knew then who Halen wished to see.

    Our little fleet approached the island that evening, flying no flag. We encountered only one ship during our approach - a little eight-gun schooner flying the Union Jack. Perhaps because she recognized us as an Indiaman, she did not challenge us, and we pulled into the little harbor there not long afterwards. Commodore Dance, ever the professional soldier, asked us if we wished any of his marines to go with us. Halen replied that he did not, as this was purely a cordial visit, and bid only me accompany him.

    We went together into the night, though we did not know our way. Halen stopped a passing workman - a Chinaman, to my amazement - and asked him the way to Longwood House. The easterner pointed us towards it and we set off away from the Port. It was several kilometers to Longwood House and we hiked the distance in silence down the lonely road, the occasional sign indicating that we were going in the right direction. We eventually reached Longwood House itself - a lonely manner on a windswept plain far from the coast, seated on a sloping hill with an orchard below it.


    1. Longwood House, Saint Helena


    He approached the door, lit by a single candle that hung from a nearby lantern, and knocked. At first there was nothing (it was well after dark, perhaps close to midnight), so he knocked several times and more insistently. Eventually, a man in a gown and a waistcoat appeared at the door. Halen asked him if he might be William Balcombe and the man said that he was. Balcombe asked for Halen's name, to which my friend simply replied, "Halen."

    Halen, hat under arm, then said he wished to speak with Emperor Napoleon.

    To his credit, Balcombe hardly batted an eye. He simply asked us if we were expected. When Halen said that we were not, Balcombe replied that the General (I later found out that all persons on the island were forbidden from referring to him as "Emperor," and this immediately identified us as outsiders) was sleeping, and that Halen might stay the night and speak with Napoleon in the morning. To my astonishment, Halen took up Balcombe's offer, but turned to me and said that I should go back to the ship and if he had not returned in a day's time to seize the island by force.

    Happily, no such contingency occurred. I returned to the San Martin that evening and spent a troubled night in my cabin and against Halen's orders, made my way back to the cabin in the morning with two platoons of Chilean marines. When we approached Longwood House after two hour's march, we found the manor secured by half-dozen British soldiers (who were clearly on regular guard duty and not expecting an attack). They challenged us on our approach but with the numbers clearly against them, accepted my request to be admitted into the house.

    I found Halen and Napoleon seated together around a breakfast table, chatting pleasantly in French. I bowed low to my own Emperor, as I had served under Napoleon during his reign. When I arrived, Halen also gave a little bow to Napoleon and said that it was time for him to depart but that he had enjoyed their chat immensely, having found it most useful. I then realized that Halen had no delusions of freeing the Emperor, as I had hardly dared hope, but genuinely had merely wished to speak to him. I still do not know what words passed between - if they were of military significance or any importance whatsoever. I think that Halen merely wished to speak to his hero - or perhaps, with greater foresight still, the only man he believed to be his equal.

    It was the last time I would see Napoleon and the only opportunity I had in my life to speak with him directly. I only remember saying that France mourned in his absence. Ah this, the Emperor disappeared into another room and returned with a pile of papers. He said that this was correspondence that the British had refused to let him send and he asked me if I might be so kind as to deliver it to Paris for him. I replied that I would be honored. Napoleon then said that he would very much like to accompany us to the coast, but his captors did not permit him to leave the house.


    2. Napoleon looks out over the island's coast


    We departed Longwood House with that. I rather think that the guards were relieved to see that we left without Napoleon, as they had been quite worried that our mission was to free him rather than to seek an audience with him. We returned to the San Martin without incident and reached South Africa (which had apparently not been informed of our transgression) in peace. Most of our mercenary compatriots left us there, though a few dozen chose to follow Halen back to Europe. The San Martin reached port in France some weeks later, where Halen chose to disembark. We visited Paris briefly, where I delivered Napoleon's correspondence and for some weeks the papers ran headlines about his mistreatment on the island. Sadly, William Balcombe was dimissed from Longwood House thereafter, officially for leaking the correspondence I delivered -- unofficially because he had not surrendered Halen to the British. It was the first in a long series of events that would foster antipathy between Halen and the British Crown.

    Napoleon died in 1821. Officially, the British doctors said the Emperor died of stomach cancer, but the Bonapartists, including myself, have always had their doubts. We were in Greece when we heard the news. Halen barely reacted, but even as I fell into tears, I saw something in his eyes that told me something had changed. I think that from then on he felt he was alone. From then on, he was peerless. The battles to come would prove that.



    -------------------
    Historical notes: In reality, Napoleon's residence was guarded at night by order of Governor Lowe, but the 800-man garrison on the island was notoriously unreliable. Lowe's inability to enforce discipline amongst the guards led his near-paranoia over escape fears and caused him to impose stricter and stricter restrictions on Napoleon until the latter's death.

    Again, sorry for the long post. I think some people are getting scared away by the size of these.
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  14. #14
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThunderHawk3 View Post
    Historical notes: In reality, Napoleon's residence was guarded at night by order of Governor Lowe, but the 800-man garrison on the island was notoriously unreliable. Lowe's inability to enforce discipline amongst the guards led his near-paranoia over escape fears and caused him to impose stricter and stricter restrictions on Napoleon until the latter's death.

    Again, sorry for the long post. I think some people are getting scared away by the size of these.
    Of course, Napoleon's previous exile and escape led (according to wiki) to over 100,000 casualties during the Hundred Days, so Lowe's behaviour was somewhat justified.

    Anyway, a nice handing over the baton scene. Is the Greek revolt up next?
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    Nice ending sentences...

    'Peerless'...

    ...and hinting at future glories...

    Can't wait!
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    This is neat! Waiting for Halen's next moves!
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  17. #17

    Chapter 3: The Halenic Campaign


    Our departure from France marked the beginning of the unhappiest period of Halen’s career, though it was considerably better received by the small band of dozens of mercenaries that my friend’s genius had managed to attract. We had returned to Europe in 1818 to find the continent at peace, of all things, and there was little work for mercenaries or men of war. We camped in France for the winter, during which time Halen had me take the first roll and inventory of the company. We numbered sixty men exactly, excluding both myself and Halen, each man carrying his own rifle but with no horses or heavy artillery to speak of. I formalized the payroll during this period, establishing each man’s contract with our host. Halen appointed three sergeants after he had gotten to know the men. I recall that Halen also purchased a horse during this period - a chestnut runner of uncertain breed that he bought for a pittance in the French countryside. This horse, which answered to Reu (Roo), would stay with us for more than a decade.

    In January of 1819, word reached our ears that Czar Alexander of Russia had need of fighting men to quell some upstart tribesmen in the Caucuses. Halen held a conference with the company, who were mostly in favor of this new opportunity despite the long journey. Halen himself remained quiet for the duration of the conference. He had told me in confidence that he believed this conflict to be below his talents or indeed any competent general (and he would prove correct with time), but that he was at heart a general and his blood boiled for combat. We enlisted a ship (along with some other mercenaries leaving for the same purpose) and departed for Istanbul, where we arrived just over a week later. I gather the Turks were not happy to have us in their country but we passed through Ankara and up north without incident.

    When we marched into Tbilisi, of the Russian Georgia governate, where we secu red an audience with Aleksey Petrovich Yermolov. Yermolov was a distinguished veteran of the Napoleonic Wars and more reminiscent of a bull-dog than a man. He had the build a heavyweight champion, and was very intimidating in person. He also had the ear of the Czar, and as the commander of the Georgian Army seemed very skeptical about the Empire’s need for mercenaries. I recall that Halen pulled him aside and spoke with him in private for a while, and when the pair returned Yermolov declared Halen the commander of all mercenary forces in the Caucuses and enlisted us at a generous rate. I asked Halen how he had achieved this; Halen replied that Yermolov too had begun his career as an artillery officer.

    We were payed well and in specie (most of us had expected a general’s script), but our time in the Caucuses was exceedingly dull. Halen once told me that he had 3,000 mercenaries under his command but nothing to fight - indeed, the tribal revolt that the Czar feared had not materialized, and the troublesome locals we had been told about were a few thousand at the most who melted away at the first sign of combat. It was an era of dull patrols and drills, with more police-work than contact. I think our own host enjoyed it, as did the broader mercenary detachment and the Russian army itself, but Halen disliked it immensely. Nevertheless, this was our employment for more than two years.

    Greek independence became the talk of the Caucuses in 1821, and when our contract expired in the fall of that year, Halen declined to renew it, instead proposing that we should make our return to Eastern Europe to fight in a patriotic war, as we had in South America. While I would never have called Halen “popular” with the men, he commanded tremendous loyalty amongst his company and even the mercenary brigade he commanded, and I think the both they and the Russian army was sad to see him go. Our host of sixty men - none of whom had been lost in the meager fighting in the Caucuses - agreed to go with Halen to Greece.

    We traveled North from Georgia, recognizing that we would not be welcomed by the Ottomans if they discovered we were travelling to Greece to fight against them. Instead, we traveled through Southern Russia and later Austria to reach port in Croatia, from whence we hired a schooner to take us to the Peloponnese, then in open rebellion against the Ottomans. I will not devote overly much attention to the campaign in Greece, as it was largely an experience of persistent chaos and anarchy rather than true military battles.

    Halen, though slow to voice his opinions, would often grumble to me about the battles fought for independence in Greece. The Ottomans were slow to respond and hardly sent soldiers to Greece in the time we were there - those they did dispatch under the Pashas were poorly organized and quickly smashed by ragtag revolutionary forces. Indeed, it seemed the Sublime Porte was content to argue with its nominal vassal, Egypt, over whose responsibility Greece was rather than actually fight. The greatest threat to the Greek revolution was frankly infighting between various military and political factions, which prevented the formation of an effective government. Much of the fighting also took place at sea, beyond the scope of our small fellowship.

    Politics was also one of Halen’s biggest complaints during the Greek revolution. Politics, he said, as it happened in so many revolutionary wars, would decide the fate of Greece. The world’s great powers - England, Prussia, Austria, and Russia - were sympathetic to the Greek cause, and this more than anything else caused Ottoman timidness in the penisula. Halen predicted that Greece’s fate would not be decided by the Greeks, but instead by foreign navies and armies. He sometimes commented on the great success of Bolivar’s campaigns in Columbia and Venezula, the failure of the Mexican reconquista, and the wave of independences that was now sweeping across the New World. I asked Halen if he regretted the decision to leave the Americas; he only said that he did not and that he would not return to the New World for the forseeable future.

    For our part, Halen obtained a commission as a siege commander from Theodoros Kolokotronis. In the early days of the war, the Ottomans had effectively retreated from the countryside into their line of fortresses throughout Greece - to end Ottoman power in Greece, these fortresses had to fall. Halen’s campaign against them would prove successful albeit dull. Our most notable victory was in the siege of Turkish Patras - without artillery, Halen obtained the redoubt’s surrender in just two days when he had its walls successfully undermined. I myself learned much about modern siege warfare during the Greek campaign, and the men were satisfied as they helped themselves to the fallen forts’ riches.

    We stayed in Greece for three years until March 1824, when the Greek Civil War broke out. When Halen heard the news, he sent a terse message to Kolokotronis that they should consider our contract terminated and we had evacuated to Austrian Croatia within the week. Halen would always refer to this as the “Hellenic Campaign,” successful but dull and easy and the antithesis of what he stood for as a general. I would jokingly refer to it as the “Halenic Campaign,” which I think my friend took in good humor.

    Our host returned to the Russian Caucuses in Spring 1824, where Halen was restored to his previous rank (Russia having been sympathetic to Greece in the struggle against the Turks) and we continued in our comfortable existence (albeit in the incomfortable climate of the Caucuses, a far cry from temperate Greece) until December 1825, which saw the death the Czar Alexander. Once Nicholas I had restored order following the Decembrist revolt, he called an end to the campaign in the Caucuses. Halen planned to leave Russia in the summer of the following year, when our contract expired.

    Our plans changed in July 1826, when 40,000 Persian infantry thundered across the border into Azerbaijan.


    -------------------
    Historical notes: The largest battles of the Greek revolution would occur in 1826 and later, after Halen left.

    The 1821-1825 campaigns in the Caucuses were much more timid than the later invasions, which became the hotbeds of resistance that we know today. In the 20’s, the Russians were unwilling to attack too far south into the mountains and tended to confine themselves to loyal regions, excepting Chechnya. Resistance to Russian rule in the Caucuses continues into present day.
    Last edited by ThunderHawk3; 06-10-2011 at 03:44.
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  18. #18
    Indefatigable Psychotic tamius23's Avatar
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    A little nitpick - you've written January of 1919 (1819?)

    Great adventures.

  19. #19
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    Good thing he didn't left Russia before the Persian invasion.
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  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by tamius23 View Post
    A little nitpick - you've written January of 1919 (1819?)

    Great adventures.
    Fixed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zzzzz... View Post
    Good thing he didn't left Russia before the Persian invasion.
    Perhaps.
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